Page images

to 5,700; in 1829 to 7,850; and in 1833 to at least 8,136. In the hospitals at Lyons the number of foundlings in 1700 was not more than 582, while in 1760 it had increased to 863; in 1800 to 1,535; in 1820 to 1,681 ; and in 1836 to 1,865. In the last two specified cases it will be seen that there was a fluctuation in the ratio, and more especially in the period of the first revolution, when even a diminution is perceptible, owing no doubt to the disordered state of the public institutions generally. From that time, however, the ratio has been uninterruptedly on the increase on such a scale as to render it pretty certain that, without efficient reform, or the intervention of some unforeseen impeding circumstances, the number of foundlings in France twenty-five years hence will be no less than 250,000. That the increase is the exclusive and absolute result of the system itself, and not the effect of some local and national causes, is evident from the example of Belgium, where the average number of foundlings from 1815 to 1822, had likewise steadily increased from 10,953 to 12,700. The advocates of the Catholic system, and more especially M. Gaillard, in the first work on our list, object to the arguments drawn from this calculation on the ground of the increased population of France. They are of opinion that the increase of the foundlings is the natural effect of the increase of the population, and that the proportion between the two numbers has rather decreased. The observation, however plausible, is nevertheless inapplicable to the case before us, as we shall immediately show.

At the outbreak of the French Revolution, for instance, the population of France was estimated at twenty-four millions, and in 1833, at thirty-two millions, showing an increase of one fourth of the total number. Adopting now the same standard of ratio for the increase of foundlings, their number, which at the beginning of the revolution was 40,000, ought to have grown in 1833 to no more than 53,000 instead of 120,000, as is actually the case. It is obvious that the causes of the enormous increase must be sought in some other circumstances than in those arising out of the increased population, and, if we do not err, we think we shall be able to trace them to their real sources.

It is but natural to suppose that public institutions, established for the especial purpose of releasing parents from the care of their children, the longer they exist and the further the sphere of their operation extends, the more do they become naturalized to the views and feelings of the nation at large, and the more do the feelings of the people become habituated to the method pursued. The feeling of shame at deserting one's own child loses its acuteness in proportion as the example increases; and the parental anxiety for the well-being of the offspring


2 G

Let us

diminishes in equal proportion as the improvements effected in the institutions increase the probabilities of health and safety for the infant.

now turn to the heavy expenditure accruing from the system. When foundling hospitals were first introduced into France the expenditure was calculated not to exceed 40,000 francs annually, but it soon greatly supassed this limit, and compelled the state to levy direct taxes for the special purpose of maintaining the hospitals, the expenses having increased to more than ten millions of francs annually. Of the 97,775,613 francs, the total amount of the expenditure for the maintenance of those hospitals for the years 1824–1833 inclusive, eleven and a half millions were taken from the standing funds of the hospitals themselves; two millions from some special revenue, such as fines, &c., which the state appropriated to that purpose; twenty-one and a half millions were levicd from the parishes where the hospitals are situated, and sixty millions from the various departments. The department of Rhone and Lyons had to contribute annually 700,000 francs; while the expenditure of the hospitals at Paris alone exceeds 1,600,000 francs. The expenditure is on the increase despite the lessening of the individual expenses : at Lyons, for instance, in 1826, 83 francs, 46 cents was the sum paid for the board of a foundling, while in 1833 it only cost 66 francs, 87 cents. The same reduction also took place in Paris, where in 1824, the board of a foundling cost as much as 119 francs, 82 cents; while in 1833 it was reduced to 104 francs, 45 cents.

After all it is evident that the evil can only be eradicated with the system itself, and if the state be determined not to bear the heavy burden any longer, it were far better openly to disavow the principle and abandon the system altogether, than to attempt to counteract its effects by a sort of underhand manœuvre. Indeed, it is incomprehensible how clear-sighted men such as Terme and Monfalcon, though they plainly see and complain of the moral and physical evils arising out of the Roman Catholic system, should still approve of the principle ; and at the same time propose remedies which evidently give it the lie. We shall, however, leave our French neighbors to themselves, aware that they, of all nations, are the last to bear patiently the burden of heavy taxes merely because they are sanctioned by custom. The French have before them the example of the German States, and more especially the example of England, which latter country, after many fruitless trials, at last determined to give up the system of foundling hospitals altogether : and it does not appear to fare the worse for it.

Even Catholic Russia, which generally models her institutions after those of the French, has not suffered the establish

ment of new hospitals in its two capitals since 1808. And we may venture, in conclusion, to predict that though vanity may prevent the French from acknowledging in plain words that the Germanic nations have at all times evinced more tact and sounder judgment in their views on social relations, they will ere long contrive to discover in the question at issue, as they have done on many other occasions, if not a new form, at least an original name for their conversion to the German system, without avowing, at the same time, the fallacy of their existing


Art. VI. 1. Dissertations on Unaccomplished Prophecy. By WILLIAM

SNELL CHAUNCY. 2. The Second Advent of Christ the blessed Hope of the Church. By W.

URWICK, D.D. 3. The Personal Reign of Christ. By ORLANDO T. DOBBIN, A.B.,

Trinity College, Dublin. 4. The Millennium a Spiritual State, not a Personal Reign. By John

JEFFERSON. 5. An Elucidation of the Prophecies, being an Exposition of the Books of

Daniel and the Revelation, fc. By JOSEPH Tyso. 6. Millenarianism Unscriptural ; or a Glance at some of the Conse

quences of that Theory. 7. The Question, Will Christ's Reign during the Millennium be Perso

nal ? answered from Scripture. By CHARLES MORRISON, Belfast. 8. Israel's Return ; or Palestine Regained. By JOSEPH ELISHA FREE


THE prophecies of Scripture, notwithstanding all the unpro

fitable speculation and the unchristian tempers with which they have been perplexed and dishonored, still maintain their prominence as subjects of inquiry; and many who have been accused of regarding them with too much carelessness and neglect, are coming forward to prove that the charge was groundless, and that though they did not obtrude their views unduly in their public instructions from the pulpit, nor throw themselves with indecent haste into the arena of controversy, yet that they were not unmindful of the importance of studying the whole scheme of prophecy, and forming a decided judgment on the questions which have so long vexed and divided the Christian church.

We have no doubt that from hence a considerable aniount of good has arisen, and that the fanatical extravagancies which

have accompanied it, will wear themselves out, or soon retire from the sight of sober and sacred elucidation.

The students of prophecy who pursue their inquiries with a devout and diffident spirit, have long been aware that their chief difficulties lie, not in the grand outline, but in the detail. It is to this that the very judicious comment of Sir Isaac Newton on the words of Daniel may most appropriately be applied. The vision is 'sealed unto the time of the end ;' and before that time, if not altogether clothed in obscurity, it will be susceptible of only a very partial and imperfect interpretation. Yet ought not this to deter those who are qualified for the task from using diligently all legitimate means for obtaining clear and satisfactory views as far as they advance, and to leave what is now inexplicable to the development of time. The prophecies stand not as anomalies in the moral and spiritual world; they are in this respect on a footing with many other mysteries which it is known and confessed will never be fully explained or understood; but of which it has never been said that the time, and pains, and learning devoted to them have been thrown away. Who, indeed, would even dare to insinuate that this is the case ? Who will say that the laborious volumes which have been written on predestination, free will, the origin of evil, the incarnation, and the doctrine of the Trinity, have been utterly futile ? Certainly the main body of the difficulty has not been removed ; and to persons unaccustomed to reasoning, and indisposed to research, little benefit may accrue ; for the case is not similar to that of an invention or discovery, in which the public may at their ease, without care or trouble, reap the advantages which the silent, and patient, and laborious researches of the learned may have procured for them. On the contrary, it is a case in which each individual must labor for himself; and whatever advantages he would derive, he must gain by his own exertions. That which lies before him is a process of abstract reasoning, and he must travel through it for himself, or he will not be able to appreciate the conclusion to which it leads; the utmost reach of extraneous assistance is to point out to him the steps by which he may proceed in order at last to arrive at the conclusion. It is, therefore, only to those who have themselves gone through the requisite process on subjects such as we have alluded to, that a true appeal can be made as to the value of the studies, or of the works that have been written on them; but surely there will be none of these who will think that they have gained nothing, and who will not declare, that though some obscurity may still remain, yet that a general light has been thrown on the whole question—that the apparent contradictions and inconsistencies which seemed to attach to it, have in great measure vanished-and, in fine, they

will be conscious that they do know more, and understand more than before they attempted the investigation. And thus it is with regard to the prophecies. The best commentaries and expositions have confessedly failed in giving sufficient and satisfactory explanations, and others seem only to have rendered

darkness visible;' but yet, to the sober minded student, there has resulted a sort of general illumination ; he feels that he knows more of the grand scheme of providence, of the fundamental principles and system of divine government, and that he can trace some of its footsteps more accurately.

But it is only by the cautious and sober-minded student that such benefits may be reaped. Piety is, indeed, indispensable; without it no intellectual capacity, no aptitude for scientific, philosophical, or critical research can be accepted as alone sufficient for an exposition of the mysteries of prophecy. But piety associated with a radical defect of judgment-piety in alliance with a heated imagination-piety which regards itself as an object of divine favoritism rather than as the product of divine grace operating by scriptural influence instead of miraculous

inspiration-piety' enthralled by such conditions we regard as a total disqualification for this, or indeed any other study involving the character of religion and the final interests of the church of God.

To persons who in any remarkable degree fall under this category the language of prophecy acts as a kind of ignis fatuus, and misleads by its deceitful and fatal facility of application. Whether with respect to past or passing events, they are betrayed into the most strange and dangerous delusions. Indeed, from whatever cause, most of the writers who have undertaken to publish commentaries on the prophecies have more or less furnished an illustration of this unfortunate fact. The sacred words seem to have been tortured into every form that human ingenuity could devise or human perversity desire; and thus they have been made to countenance not only crude and wild speculations, but sometimes the practical bearing of these speculations has threatened the very constitution and framework of civil society. So early as the first ages of Christianity did something of this kind take place, and to such an extent did it soon proceed, that the Apocalypse itself fell into disrepute; and the same spirit though we must own in some of its less virulent forms-has descended to our times. Without, however, further enlarging in our description of such erroneous interpretations, as each has its precise cause from whence it has arisen, by pointing out these we may guard the future inquirer against their ensnaring influence, however temptingly they may lie in his way.

The first and most fundamental rule for all expositors, and

« PreviousContinue »