Imágenes de páginas


The greatness of Prussia is not so much in the diplomacy of her statesmen, nor in the strategy, generalship and bravery of her armies, as in the universal education of her

When the predecessor of William nobly resolved, at the risk of his throne, to instruct the masses by a system of free schools, he laid the foundation of the greatness of Prussia. Her people thus have an immense advantage over the uneducated masses of France. While the French soldier, only inspired to battle by the vision of glory, little capable of realizing the moral aspects of the struggle he may be engaged in, is demoralized when his bubble is pierced by the bayonets of defeat, the German, having decided that he is fighting for a principle, and capable of reasoning on the subject, esteems temporary defeat an honor, and, with more unyielding determination, nerves himself anew for the conflict whose success with him is a moral certainty, because it is right. Had the armies of Napoleon the First met the soldiers of William on the tremendous fields of Jena and Auerstadt, the result of that awful day of battles would, undoubtedly, have been different. That the Germans believe that they have been repelling unprovoked aggression in this conflict, no one doubts; and all thinking men will admit that this is one great secret of their success. So one great lesson of this war, to rulers and statesmen, is, to educate the masses. It is time to dismiss the idea that ignorance in the common soldier promotes obedience—that the thinking bayonet is not the ready instrument of thorough military discipline. It is, doubtless, true that the soldier must be ignorant to be the ready tool of an unmitigated despotism. But if he is to fight for humanity, and not to decide the quarrels of kings, in which he really has very little interest, he must be educated. Religious, moral and intellectual instruction for the masses, is the great want of France to-day. Without it, we have little hope of her maintaining a republican form of government. If the Republic can retain its power until the light of science and of a pure religion beams upon the darkened masses, we may hope that it will become permanent, but not without.

The sympathizers with France—and it is a little curious that these are nearly all Catholics-claim that this struggle

las none of the features of a religious war. They refer, by way of proof of the correctness of their claim, to the example of the Catholic States of Germany.

If Catholicism, they ask, were arrayed against Protestant Prussia, why should not these States be against her? But this is no proof. The Emperor calculated upon their siding with him, and all thinking men will see that Catholicism was the chief ground of this expectation. But he reckoned without his host. The Ecumenical Council had been in session at Rome; the dogma of Papal Infallibility had been proclaimed, against the protests of German bishops. Estranged, to a great extent, by this, from Rome, these States would naturally follow their national sympathies. So, the folly of the Pope has aided in the downfall of Napoleon, and hastened his own. And it does not appear that Jesuitism did not connive with Napoleon's ambition to cripple the strongest Protestant power on the continent, thus to forward its own schemes of ambition. The result appears in a dethroned and captive. Emperor, the great army of France defeated, demoralized, almost annihilated, and a victorious Prussian army, swarming like grasshoppers around doomed and trembling Paris, and thundering at her gates. Future historians will place William among the champions of Protestantism, along with Frederick the Great. Thus, in our day, Providence has raised up the German power, a granite mountain, against which Latinism has been dashed to pieces in the behalf of human liberty.

The moral lessons of these great events cannot be enumerated here. We can only glance at some of them. One is Providential retribution in the affairs of nations. Jesus Christ said, long ago, All they that take the sword shall perish by the sword.” We have seen this verified in history too often to be skeptical. The first Napoleon carved his way to the Empire of France, and to the dictatorship of Rome and of Europe, with his merciless sword. The star of his destiny began to wane on the frozen steppes of Russia; it was shaken from its hight on the tremendous field of Leipsic, to rise again, to blaze for a hundred days in the eyes of an astonished world, but it set in blood on the awful field of Waterloo. The third Napoleon followed in

[ocr errors]

his uncle's steps, so far as his genius and the spirit of the age would permit-wading through the blood of revolution to an imperial throne. The sword of execution raised him to his throne; the sword of Jehovah, in the hand of Germany, has laid him low. And the last act in this drama is the most striking illustration of all. He took the sword, on ihe most shallow pretext, to humble an envied rival; it is turned against his own bosom, and he is smitten from his throne.

Here is another astonishing lesson of Providence. The Pope had just arrived at the summit of his earthly ambition; he had just procured the pompous proclamation of his own infallibility, when lo! the shifting scene! The bayonets which have upheld his waning power are withdrawn from his support; his last imperial defender is crushed under the avalanche which his own hand had loosened, and His Holiness is left drifting on the sea of revolution, with Italian nationality and unity knocking at the gates of Rome. Will his infallibility save him? We shall see.

Here, too, is another lesson on the vanity of human greatness. It was but yesterday that the third Napoleon sat upon the throne of the greatest nation in Europe, wielding the destiny of millions, dictating the policy of nations—the dread of the civilized world. To-day, where is the pride of his greatness! Where is the glittering crown which begirt his ambitious temples! Where the pomp and splendor of his imperial court! Where are the purple robes of state ! Where the adulation of millions whose thundering “Vive l'Empereurs” were wont to tingle in his ears! Where is that magnificent martial array which poured through the gates of Paris, with waving banners, and dancing plumes, and gleaming armor, the tramp of whose splendid cavalry shook the earth around? They went gaily, boastfully forth, joyful with life and vigor, as if to a summer pic-nic on the fair banks of the Rhine. Where are they now? Their mangled carcases lie weltering in gore upon the battle-fields of the frontier; horse and rider have gone down in the shock of battle; the fowls of heaven swarm to their feasts upon the unburied slain, and the wail of the widows of France goes up from the length and breadth of that unhappy land. Napoleon a prisoner in a German fortress! His Empress flying for her life from the multitudes which once fawned upon her footsteps! His child an exile in a foreign land! He himself proscribed by his own countrymen, and covered with their curses! His palaces invaded by the mob! His royal tables feasting the palates of the sans-culottes! The symbols of his imperial sway indignantly torn down and trampled in the dust! How have the mighty fallen! “Sic transit gloria mundi !Will ambitious men learn a lesson ? Will the worldly learn to “set their affections on things above, and not on things on the earth ”?

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Wide o'er the astonished world an angel soars. — CANTO I, STANZA 35.

And the first [angel] went and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast and upon them which worshiped his image.--REV. XVI. 2.

This is the beginning of one of the most solemn and awful delineations of the Word of God. Such startling symbols must be portentous of great calamities upon the class of men here designated, whoever they may be. Of course, no wise man will be very positive that he has found their true meaning. Yet they are in the Word of God, in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show unto his servants. They must have been designed to be understood at some time, or they could not be called revelations, for that is no revelation which conveys no meaning with it. It must have been designed for study and meditation; and if we engage in it with a humble and teachable spirit, there can be no doubt but it will be profitable for us.

It was, undoubtedly, the intention of this symbolism to shadow forth something falling upon a large class of men which might be called a plague or sore. Any thing which would produce such an effect would answer the conditions of the symbols. Whatever the contents of the vial might symbolize, whether something in itself good or evil, if it pro. duced such an effect upon them, they would certainly call it evil; to them it would be a plague, a sore. The beast is, beyond all question, a symbol for the same things which the woman and the monster on which she rode symbolize, to which I alluded last Sabbath evening, viz. : civil and religious despotism. Mr. Barnes calls them the civil and ecclesiastical powers of Rome; but as Rome has not been the

« AnteriorContinuar »