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“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this

prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein : for the time is at hand."

It is impossible to observe with any attention the signs of the present times, and not to perceive that we are arrived at what may be termed an era, not only in regard to events affecting intimately the welfare of the Christian Church, but also especially, —and as arising naturally out of such a crisis,-in regard to the interpretation of Sacred Prophecy. The spirit of inquiry which is abroad in the earth upon every subject of human knowledge or speculation, must necessarily make its presence to be felt not least in matters which most deeply concern man's immortal interests, and which touch the innermost springs of his being. And it is indeed well for us that, in times which seem to answer to the prophetic description of the days when“ many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased ?,” men's thoughts are not engrossed and absorbed altogether in the things of time and sense, things

1 Preached Nov. 28, 1841.

2 Dan. xii. 4.

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Present Crisis in the

[LECT. that “ perish with the using , the improvements of mechanical art, the comforts of life to which those improvements minister, the laws and ordinances of the material universe, a system “beautiful in its time“," yet rapidly hasting to destruction. It is assuredly a great gain, and must be so regarded by every one in whose estimate of things mind and spirit rank higher than the material and the bodily, that, amid the downward tendencies of a confessedly mechanical age, the minds of men should, in whatever degree, have been turned to the higher and more heavenly objects amongst which, as partakers of a spiritual nature, we are privileged, even in this preparatory state, to “live, and move, and have our being.” It is a sign to be hailed with thankfulness, if, amidst the process which in other departments of knowledge and inquiry is going on,—of exploring to the foundation what had before been viewed only as existing and established; discarding ancient prejudices and bringing to light, from beneath the mass of accumulated error, real or supposed, the long hidden truth,—there has been something akin to this in operation, in regard to matters of religion, to the first principles of our holy Faith, the original foundations of the Christian Church. We can hardly fail to regard it as a matter of satisfaction, if there has been awakened in men's minds a deeper sympathy with the past, as well as a more lively interest in the yet undeveloped future; more of that natural piety which will not suffer one generation to sever itself, in proud contempt or heartless selfsufficiency, from those that have gone before; but would link one to another by the sense of a common

3 Col. ii. 22.

4 Eccles. iii. 11.

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