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            WHILE everybody knows that an event called “the end of the world” had been foretold for the year 1881, few know how numerous have been the predictions to the same effect, the ground on which they rested, or even what it is that was meant by “the end of the world.”


            And not only are these predictions many in number, they are also various in kind. For, some of them specify dates only; some describe, without dates, conditions of society or cataclysmal events by which the period would be marked; and some give both dates and conditions or events. And though most of them seem to imply a physical catastrophe to the planet, there is good ground for believing that they, one and all, are couched in mystical or symbolical language, and really imply changes which are spiritual rather than physical.


            The well-known doggrel ending, –


“The world to an end shall come,

In eighteen hundred and eighty-one,” –


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ascribed, in whole or part, to a “wise woman” of the 16th century, is far from being the only one of its kind in popular vogue. The belief has long been prevalent in Bohemia and the Tyrol that the year 1874 would be followed by a sad and heavy period for the whole world, lasting seven years, of which by far the most calamitous would be 1881. The same year was fixed upon by Leonardo Aretino, an Italian of the 14th century, as that in which the earth would be destroyed by a series of tremendous convulsions, during the first half of November. A French astrologer of the 16th century fixed on August 3rd of the same year for a grand catastrophe of the same kind. And the famous Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahé, who lived in the latter half of that century, left, in some manuscripts which have recently been discovered, a prediction, based upon astronomical calculations, that 1881 would witness the end of the political, religious, and social order subsisting up to that time; and the commencement of a new era – the end and beginning, that is, of a cycle – a period which would be marked by great troubles, and be supremely eventful.


            Terms greatly varying from each other have been employed to designate a period which was to bring about some radical change in the condition either of the planet or

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of its inhabitants. It is spoken of in classical song as “the return of the Gods,” and of Astræa, the presiding genius of the Golden Age, who, when men exchanged their natural innocent diet for the flesh of animals, quitted the earth in promising some day to return bringing with her a race of Divine men, her own sons, to inaugurate a new Golden Age. It is spoken of, especially in the Christian Scriptures, as the end of an old generation or dispensation, and the beginning of a new one; as a new Avâtar of some great prophet of the past; as the second advent, or manifestation anew, of the Christ; as the coming of Michael and his angels to discomfit the Dragon, and give the victory to the Elect; as a new day or week in the spiritual creation of man; and as the restoration of the woman from her fall, and her exaltation to her due place in the human system, intellectual and spiritual, as well as social, when her sons – like those of Astræa and the hosts of Michael – should make war with the Dragon and get the victory over him.


            It is thus spoken of as a time of renovation no less than of destruction. “Behold,” say the Scriptures in reference to it, “I make all things new,” – even “a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness,” or justice. And, as will duly appear in these pages, the nature of the changes thus prefigured is precisely that of those now in process of occurrence.


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            These predictions are, thus, not confined to any particular period, people, or religion. They are ancient and modern, local and general, sacred and secular. They are Hindu, Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, Christian, and Mohammedan. And as with the last-named they anticipate for the Ottoman Empire at this time the loss of its independence; so with Christians they point to a crisis no less momentous in the history of the Church, and to a marked development of the spiritual consciousness of the race, to occur through, or to be manifested in, some definite event.



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