What has been the state of the community for time past? Has not a film been creeping over the spiritual eyesight? Has not mere sociability been taking the place of earnest fellowship? Has not a secularising tendency been slowly asserting itself and getting the upper hand of the new man in the ecclesias? Have not some begun to tire of Bible reading? Has there not been a going back to the false tastes and false standa,rds of the merely intellectual world
from which we had been emancipated? Has not style been taking the place of truth, and literary taste supplanting the robust spiritual appetite that finds edification in stern facts rather than pleasing fancies? Has there not been more punctiliousness about the modes of doing the work than earnest concern to see that it is done, and thankful joy at its accomplishment by whatever means?
These things cannot be gainsaid where there is any spiritual power to discern the situation. Therefore God has permitted a great trial to come upon us. But, beloved, be of good cheer. It is not for destruction: it is for edification. God would have his people ready to receive His Son. When the cloud and the trouble have passed, every true son and daughter will find themselves more prepared as the result of it, hea·rts more humble; love more strong; minds more clear; purpose more earnest; spirit more holy; determination more resolute; to count all things as nothing, that we may win Christ by a more devoted service to his name, forgetting the things that are behind and pressing forward to those things that lie ahead.
What great comfort God has given us in the events that are causing the ears of all men to tingle.' England had Egypt put upon her hands nearly three years ago. Ever since then she has been striving in vain to release herself from the complication. First one thing, then another. has stopped her backing-out movements. Meanwhile, the European despotisms (commanding among them millions of armed men, and desiring a pretext to divide Turkey among them), have been urging England to accept the Egyptian position, and annex the country. "No," England persisted in
* Brother Roberts here makes reference to the signs of the times then current. Britain had unwillingly occupied Egypt in 1882, and ever since tried to withdraw. General Gordon had been given the task of consolidating the control of the Egyptian Government with the aid of British troops, but was assassinated at Khartoum, with the result that the Liberal Government under Gladstone was compelled to order the military occupation of Egypt which subsequently took place. This fulfilled the anticipations of Brother Thomas in Elpis Israel who wrote in 1848:
"God, who rules the world, and marks out the bounds of habitations for the nations, will make Britain a gainer by the transaction. He will bring her rulers to see the desirableness of Egypt, Ethiopia and Seba, which they will be induced, by the force of circumstances, probably, to take possession of. They will, however, before the battle of Armageddon, be compelled to retreat from Egypt and Ethiopia. . ." (p. 445).
If world events in the Middle East should have been a cause of comfort in the days of Brother Roberts, how much more today! saying: "Give me my Gordon, and I will go and leave Egypt to the Egyptians." And she was trying to get her Gordon, and had just laid her hand on him, when, 10, God snatches him from her grasp by the hand of a barbarian imposter; and insults her honour in the eyes of the world by repelling her messengers from Khartoum, and compelling them to flee down the Nile ignominiously before a storm of shells and bulleb. And now the British nation is roused to a desperateness of resolve that Mr. Gladstone is powerless to restrain. At whatever cost of men or money, Britain determines on a new and supreme effort to break the power of the Mahdian effort that all men see commits her to the course desired by the European Powers, and ties her hands in such a way as to liberate them to do their will in the solution of the Eastern Question.