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sources, have astonished even the most sanguine. As a nation, we appear to have suffered nothing from the loss of our commerce with the Confederate States. Never were our exports so great. New fields have opened in every part of the world, and never was our commerce so extensive. A harvest the most abundant ever known—for never previously were the soils of England brought under cultivation to so great an extent, nor was the produce at any time more plenteous—has crowned the year, and filled the hearts of those who recognize a Father's hand in the affairs of nations, with mingled praise and deep humiliation.
For the moral and spiritual condition of England fills them with anxiety. There is reason to fear that we are fast running into a period of national debauchery, such as disgraced the reign of Charles the Second, when all the polite literature of the day gave its assistance to hide the worst features of vice, and to lend the charms of wit and song to gross licentiousness. To this point, indeed, we have attained already in some degree. For some time past, the subjects of our operas have been such that " it is a shame even to speak of them;" and yet these are seen and listened to with perfect complacency by the noblest in the land. And while we are writing, our attention is called to a review of two of our most popular novels, by a medical journal, which shows to what depths of degradation even a female writer of fiction has learned to descend. We have thought it right to place the quotation upon record in our pages. If the judgment of God should full heavily upon us, let it be known hereafter that it is not without a cause.*
All this, no doubt, is met, and in some degree counteracted, by a more extensive, if not a more faithful, preaching of the Gospel of Christ than was ever known. But the separation between the Church and the world is once more growing distinct; the boundaries of each may be more easily defined. For the Church, at least, it is well that it should be so. The world has a religion of its own, and the rapid growth of this we mark with sorrow. It is but infidelity revived, not by any means in a milder form, but merely under an altered character. In the times of Shaftesbury and Bolingbroke, it was witty and argumentative; in the days of Paine, insolent and coarse. It is now polite, and professedly liberal; though on a slight provocation it ruffles its dark plumage, and screams defiance. Yet it is popular; it is gaining ground: for of sin it is very tolerant; and of hell, of the power of Satan, and of the wrath to come, it never speaks. It has been our painful duty through the year to show how much of our current theology is tainted with it. To the scandal of our Church, Dr. Colenso, one of its most fearless advocates, is still a bishop; and he has his allies and apologists in some of those who, it is said, are marked out for the episcopate. Meantime it is little considered, and perhaps little known, to what an alarming extent our daily, weekly, and monthly literature is under the influence of those who, in a greater or less degree, are infected with this subtle poison.
• The Medical Critic and Psycho- be had to the most debased works of
logical Journal has the following:— French novelists. With the English
"There is u peculiarity in the two well- writers of the present day, as a rule,
known novels Lidy Awlley's Secret, and suicide is the tragic culmination of utter
Aurora Floyd, which has not hitherto misery or of criminal folly; the act of
received the attention it deserves. The an insensate, or of those whoso sense of
peculiarity in question is the manner in moral accountability has been blunted
which the authoress plays with the idea or extinguished by wretchedness or im
of suicide. Suicide is an act neither morality; a crime against the state, a
nnf.uniliar in England, nor ignored by sin against God. If it has been sought
English writers of fiction. But for a to enlist compassion for the unhappy
parallel to the fashion in which self- suicide, sympathy has never been asked
murder is dealt with in Lady And ley's for the crime itself; nor has it been
Secret and Aurora Floyd, recourse must attempted to deck the latter with spurious sentiment. At the most, where of the stories; it is suggested in their
Thus the enemy comes in like a flood; and if our services were ever wanted, they are surely wanted now, under circumstances such as these. Who are to detect the presence of the poison before it makes itself apparent? Who are to put the men upon their guard who, pure in heart themselves, and occupied in the Master's service, have no time to investigate, through volumes of plausible casuistry, the presence of the evil principle, or the absence of sound doctrine? Who is to expose the true character of the charming tale, or poem, or volume of sermons, which, if left unnoticed, would go forth deceiving many? Is not this the special province of the religious press—of those who, with ourselves, take the Bible as our only standard, and receive the grand evangelical truths maintained in the Articles and Homilies of the Church of England, resolved to fight for them to the last?
And this we will do, God being our helper. Wc hope to do so without acrimony, remembering that there is a sense in which the servant of God must not strive. Yet there must be no compromise. We would rather bo guilty of all the rudeness of Luther, than want Luther's honesty or Luther's faith. Nor must we, in guarding against danger from a new quarter, forget the perils through which the Church has passed, and seek alliances with those against whom we have long been fighting. We are not to go down to the Philistines to sharpen our goads. The evil from the high sacramental system is not the less, because that of the Colenso school is just now the more potent one. It is said that there is a tendency at present in Evangelical churchmen to forget the past, and to seek for a closer union with those against whose principles they and their fathers have had a contest for thirty years. Against this danger, too, we hope to bo on our guard.
tlie ghastly fact has not at all times been pleasantest as well as'their most mise
troited with that gravity which befits rable scenes; it serves as the foil to
to trasjic a subject, an absurd colloquial- happiness, the legitimate accompaniment
Urn may have been indulged in, such as of wretchedness, folly, or wickedness,
men under the influence of transitory and it is made to give sharp point to a
vexation, or from a mere redundancy of playful 6inile. Suicide, as a fact, does
vigour and satiety of prosperity, may not form any portion ot the two stories,
give expression to. Hut in Lady but the notion is rarely absent from tlic
Audley't Secret and Aurora Floyd, readers mind. Self-murder, or murder,
mkide is dealt with far otherwise. is indeed being almost continually sn^
'Jiiere the idea is intruded into the gested by the authoress, giving singular
brightest as well as the darkest aspects ghastliucss to both novels."
Such, then, are the perils of the Church as the year closes. Yet in the midst of danger the lamp of God shines brightly. At home, and in many a distant land, where it is our high privilege to hold forth the lamp of life, wc have abundant evidence that God is with us of a truth. Sinners are converted; believers are edified; Christ is magnified. We have to work heartily, for the time is short. We should but repeat the glowing language of Dr. Arnold, whom few will charge with enthusiasm in religion, if we say that the world itself seems hurrying on at a quicker pace, as if conscious that her end was near, and that her work must be done at once, or the opportunity lost for ever. The signs of the times are, as we said in our opening sentence, very solemn. It becomes us to watch and pray, and quit ourselves like men. The recent earthquake,* slight as it was, awakening our curiosity rather than our fears, should leave behind it some profitable lessons. It may at least remind us that the end of all things is at hand. The world itself passeth away, and the fashion thereof. The materials are there, and the train is laid; the command only is wanting,and they will do His bidding. How trifling all worldly pursuits will then appear, except in their relation to an eternal state! And yet with what calm joy may a believer look forward to the great day, when the Lord shall array Himself in majest}', and come again in His glory, and " shake terribly the earth."
* On tlic Ctli of October, at about twenty minutes past three in the morning, and felt throughout the whole of England, chiefly in the south and midUnd counties.