Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/750

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Then, also, by day and night, a careful watch is kept for the signs of land. But it sometimes happens that, despite all such precautions, a ship is lost; for there are conditions of weather which, occurring when a ship is nearing shore, render the most careful lookout futile. These conditions may be regarded as included among ordinary sea-risks, by which term are understood all such dangers as would leave a captain blameless if shipwreck occurred. It would be well if no ships were ever lost save from ordinary sea-risks; but, unfortunately, ships are sometimes cast ashore for want of care; either in maintaining due watch as the shore is approached, or taking advantage of opportunities, which may be few and far between, for observing sun, or moon, or stars, as the voyage proceeds. It may safely be said that the greater number of avoidable shipwrecks have been occasioned by the neglect of due care in finding the way at sea.

 
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SECULAR PROPHECY.

ALTHOUGH prophecy is usually supposed to be the special gift of inspiration, nothing comes more glibly from secular pens. Half of the leading articles in the daily newspapers are more or less disguised predictions. The prophecies of the Times are more numerous, more confident, and more explicit, than those of Jeremiah or Isaiah. "Secular Prophecy fulfilled" would be a good title for a book written after the model of those old and half-educated divines who zealously looked through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and the Apocalypse, for shadowy hints that Hildebrand would enforce celibacy on the clergy of the Latin Church; that Luther would cut up the Christianity of the "West into two sections; that Cromwell would sign the death-warrant of Charles I.; and that the Stuarts would become wanderers over the face of the earth. There are still, we believe, devout, mystical, and studious sectaries, who find such events as the disestablishment of the Irish Church and the meeting of the Vatican Council plainly foretold in the book of Revelation. They also find Mr. Gladstone's name written in letters of fire by inspired pens that left their record while the captivity of Babylon was a recent memory, or while Nero was the scourge of the Church. Nay, Dr. Cumming, who is as different from those mystical interpreters as a smart Yankee trader is from Parson Adams, sees that the Prophet Daniel and St. John had a still more minute acquaintance with the home and Continental politics of these latter days. But "Secular Prophecy fulfilled" would show a much more wonderful series of glimpses into the future than we find in the interpretations of Dr. Cumming, and it would certainly bring together a strange set of soothsayers.