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INTRODUCTION.

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“THE ETERNAL YEARS" suggest thoughts which are peculiarly suited to our age. The nineteenth century is a feverish age. Though the discoveries in natural science have made our minds familiar with very lengthened periods of time as necessary for the explanation of the facts we observe; though the philosophy of history has taught the student to bring together the events and institutions of distant epochs, and trace the gradual growth of our political and religious life, still the nineteenth century is remarkable for its feverish impatience to see the weightiest problems worked out to their conclusion within a few years, perhaps within a few months. Even those who are professed believers catch something of the infection. The present hour of the Church is one of great trial : there have not been wanting those who say the Church never passed through so dark a period. It is true, present trials always make a very vivid impression; it is quite true that the long reign

. of Pius VI. was a succession of most grievous trials, perhaps as great, perhaps greater, than those which have marked the longer reign of Pius IX. ; it is quite true we now see gleams of hope, we now see promises of a better time which were not seen under Pius VI.; still all allow the trial is sharp and severe. The Eternal Truth has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church; and

1 those who firmly believe in this promise not only pray that the hour of trial may be shortened, they lose patience because the trial continues, and they in a manner complain to God that the triumph of His Church is delayed ;

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they have pictured to themselves the triumph they wish for, they fret because it has not commenced.

“ The Eternal Years” suggest seasonable thoughts to our feverish generation. Turning from the present to the great past, or to the indefinite future; reading the future by the light of the past, we learn the lesson of patience; we cease to torment ourselves about the future. In peace and hope we accept the trials of the present, we strive to fulfil our duties, and we wait in faith, and trust God's hour, and God's solution of the problem of our day.

The material world under our eyes abounds in mysteries. The changes of the seasons, the alternations of heat and cold, the storms in the air and in the sea, the recurrence of periods of plenty and scarcity, the unceasing motion, the endless succession of life and death, the influence of sun and moon, the order and majesty of the worlds which move through space, who can read this wondrous page? The philosopher peers into the darkness; he can catch a glimpse of the mutual dependence of the several elements in the material world; but philosopher and believer agree in confessing their ignorance, in praising the works of their Creator. Both bow their heads in the conviction that in this vast universe all is disposed in order and measure; all obeys the great Lawgiver ; all is blended into one harmonious whole.

Yet more mysterious is the moral world, the liberty of man, the presence of moral evil: who can give the key to the secrets of this world ? the uncertainty of life, its brief duration, the vicissitudes of fortune, the rise and fall of empires, the sufferings of the just, the prosperity of the wicked, the veiled presence of God? The unbeliever gnashes his teeth and declares there is no God. The believer

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