« PreviousContinue »
keep their loins girt, and their lamps burning in their hands, in earnest expectation of the coming of their Lord! The generality of men are totally absorbed in the love of earthly things; their hearts, instead of aspiring after the blessings of grace, after the treasures of heaven, aim only at the accumulation of wealth, at the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. They have substituted mammon worship for Christ's law of love; they have exchanged the purity and humility of the cross for the pride and corruption of their own hearts.
The last feature, which will mark the period of Christ's second coming, is the spirit of infidelity. How far this feature corresponds with our times, we may argue from this, that the present age has by infidel writers been even expressly denominated the age of reason ; an appellation which, in their phraseology, means no other than the age of unbelief. Who can deny that there are now many in every country who make an open and systematic profession of unbelief- -men who scornfully reject Jesus Christ and His doctrine, who despise all revealed religion, who make their own proud and corrupt reason the only rule of truth and righteousness — men who oppose everything supernatural and divine, and exalt themselves, as it were, above everything which is called God? It is now some years since persons of this description began their infernal mission amongst men, and unfortunately they have effected great ruin amongst the nations.
“Reason," says the patriarch of modern infidelity, “ shall be the only book of laws, the sole code of man. This is one of our great mysteries. Man is wicked; because religion, the state, and bad example pervert him. Let reason at length be the religion of man; and the problem is solved. During the first age men enjoyed the inestimable blessings of equality and liberty: they enjoyed them to their utmost extent. As families multiplied, the means of subsistence began to fail; the nomade life ceased; and property started into existence. Hence liberty was ruined in its foundation, and equality disappeared. Men then had passed from their peaceable state to the yoke of servitude: Eden, that terrestrial Paradise, was lost to them. The secret schools of philosophy, which have been in all ages the archives of nature and of the rights of man, shall one day retrieve the fall of human nature: and princes and nations shall disappear from the face of the earth.”
Let us now mark the completion of these projects, which were carried on through the medium of secret societies, particularly that of the corrupted freemasonry of the Continent.
"On the 11th of November, 1793,” says an eye-witness of what he details, “a grand festival, dedicated to Reason and Truth, was celebrated in the late cathedral of Paris. In the middle of this church was erected a mount; and, on it, a very plain temple, the front of which bore the following inscription : "To Philosophy.' Before the gate of this temple were placed the busts of the most celebrated philosophers. The torch of Truth was on the summit of the mount upon the altar of Reason, spreading light. The Convention and all the constituted authorities assisted at the ceremony." Such are the signs of the times; and as, on the one hand, they indicate the near approach
Baruel, Mem. of Jacobin.
of the coming of the Son of Man, so, on the other hand, they ought to arouse our faith, and urge us carefully to watch and to make ourselves ready for the great day.
EXTRAORDINARY SUCCOURS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN THE TIME
OF GREATEST NEED,
Man was created by God in the state of original righteousness, and endowed by Him with many excellent gifts of nature and grace; but having rebelled against his Creator, he forfeited His grace, and condemned himself to eternal misery. Sad indeed would have been the state of man, had God then abandoned him; but instead of this, He opened to him anew the way of salvation. He promised him that from the seed of the woman should one day arise a deliverer, who should crush the serpent's head, should atone for his transgression, and make joint heirs with Himself in His kingdom all those who should adhere to Him by faith and love. The revelation which God made to Adam was transmitted to his posterity, from father to son, and for some time preserved religion in the breast of man. But in process of time God was forgotten, and men fell into a state of the deepest corruption. “All flesh had corrupted its way," and God was provoked to a most exemplary vengeance by the universal deluge.
But here again God did not fail to exhibit His goodness to man, and to succour him in his necessity. To this end He saved the just Noah with his family from the common ruin, comforted him with His promises, and delivered to him and to his children His sacred ordinances. This helped the descendants of Noah much to act righteously and to refrain from evil. Yet again the mass of mankind fell by degrees into a forgetfulness of the divine judgments and precepts, and in the space of four centuries the worship of the true God was almost obliterated.
In this state of degeneracy God manifested again His goodness in behalf of man, and came forward to his succour. He chose for Himself a particular nation, which He took especially under His protection, ruling and governing it with particular care. Abraham was the father of this chosen people, who thus became also the father of all true believers. God made an alliance with him, which He sanctioned by an oath and the solemn rite of circumcision. He also gave him a promise, that out of his seed the great Messias should come, in whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. In order to bind the particular nation which He had chosen closely to Himself, He favoured it with the choicest blessings, wrought in their behalf the most stupendous prodigies, and delivered unto them, with the table of the law, a most solemn form of worship by the hands of Moses. He destroyed their enemies, and put them in possession of a fruitful land promised to Abraham. The Jews, thus especially favoured by God, evinced for some time great zeal for religion and piety, and exhibited many bright examples of holiness and justice. Yet they also by degrees began to degenerate from their fervour, and to fall into great disorders. The evil went so far, that with few exceptions both the pastors and the
people lost the true spirit of religion, and contented themselves with a mere external show of godliness, which they also made subservient to pride and ambition. In this extremity, all genuine piety seemed banished, not only from the nations, which were sitting in darkness and in the misery of idolatry, but also from the children of Israel. But now God came forward again in behalf of mankind in a most wonderful manner. then that He sent His only begotten Son, made of the woman, made under the law, that He might redeem those who were under the law. Yes, God, who at sundry times and in divers manners had spoken to us by his prophets, was then pleased to speak to us by His Son, whom He gave a redemption for our sins. It was then that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us. Angels announced His birth to shepherds; wise men from the east, conducted by a star, came to adore Him; and to the bulk of the Jewish people He was pointed out, by St. John the Baptist, and by a voice from heaven, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him."
The incarnate God entered into His sacred mission by doing and teaching; and lastly, in obedience to His Father's will, perfecting the tokens of His love, He shed His blood, and expired as a malefactor nailed on an infamous cross. Afterwards, having raised Himself from the dead, and being about to ascend into heaven, He breathed His own spirit into the Apostles, and commissioned them to go and preach His Gospel to all nations. The Apostles, in obedience to the injunction of their Lord and Master, after the descent of the Holy Ghost, burning with the heavenly fire