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the Gospel shall be preached in all the world, literally taken, before the great and final end
The apostasy of the latter days, and the universal dispersion of missions, are the two great signs of the end drawing near.”
And St. Augustine, in St. Thomas: "If then we know not when it shall be that the whole world shall be filled with the Gospel, undoubtedly we know not when the end shall be; but it shall not be before such time."
Origen likewise, in St. Thomas: "When every nation shall have heard the preaching of the Gospel, then shall come the end of the world. For at this time there are many nations, not of barbarians only, but of our own, who have not yet heard the Word of Christianity."
And Bede, in St. Thomas: “Since then the Lord knew that the hearts of the disciples would be saddened by the fall and destruction of their nation, He relieves them by this consolation, to let them know that even after the casting away of the Jews, companions in their joy and heavenly kingdom should not be wanting, nay that many more were to be collected out of all mankind than perished in Judea.”
First Thought.-Our Lord's followers have often to be reminded to take heed to themselves; by which it is not so much meant that we should
look out for our own interests, those being often imperilled when men are loyal to the true faith : we are perhaps mundane enough still to do that-few learn to be so self-forgetting as to give no heed to their own security in days when religion is threatened—but:
1. We are to take heed that we be not disturbed in our faith when we see the divine religion delivered up to councils, beaten in the synagogues, and brought before rulers and kings. The followers of Christ are rarely persecuted in these days in their own bodies, but they are still often subjected to very grievous trial in beholding the Church set upon, despoiled and maltreated in the house of those who profess to be her friends. In our times ecclesiastical assemblies, convocations, conventions, are fain to treat the old faith and the Church's tradition as things not settled, but to be altered and amended to suit the prevailing fashion in belief. In the synagogues, that is, in our parish churches, the old religion is often as it were beaten, grievously misused, and ridiculed. We have to bear such things in our own Communion, and one sometimes feels that they are harder to bear than the ancient persecutions could have been. Then we are to take heed to ourselves, that we lose not faith and patience:
God is able to take care of His own; we have but to be stedfast in our personal loyalty.
2. Again we are to take heed to ourselves, in days of the Church's trial, lest by our unchristlike ways, our bitterness of speech, our anger in retort, our unseemly vehemence in argument, we damage the cause we would defend. It is easy to forget that our lives speak far more forcibly than our lips; we best overcome the assaults of the Church's foes by letting all men see plainly that our religion is able to make us at least in some degree Christ-like.
Second Thought.—The Master adds, "Ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.” It is still true in many parts of the world, where the Church is recognized as such by the State, that although individual believers may not be subjected to legal penalties, the clergy are brought before the civil power to answer for refusal to obey legislation which conflicts with the Church's obedience to her divine Lord. The State passes laws concerning the education of the young, or concerning marriage and divorce, which the servants of Christ cannot obey. We, in this country, may be secure against any such invasion of our ecclesiastical rights on the part of the civil government, yet we may not always
escape being brought into conflict with a popular opinion, wholly intolerant of divine law. We are bound to take strong ground for the right of the Church to instruct her children in holy religion, even in the public schools. We are bound to resist in every lawful way all divorce, on the part of Christians, from the marriage bond. We are bound to oppose to the utmost of our power all forms of open immorality. To do this must make us unpopular in the midst of a self-pleasing and unrestrained public.
1. We are to take our stand for His sake. The appeal He makes is to our chivalrous devotion to Himself; to our filial piety, as His children; to our gratitude, for we owe Him more than can be told.
2. We are also to take our stand, in this sort, for a testimony to the world. The rulers and kings of olden time would perhaps never have heard of the divine religion but for the fact that the Apostles were brought before them for judgment. And in our day, but for the tenacity with which the servants of Christ insist upon their right to give religious training to their children, the indissolubility of Holy Matrimony, and moral decency in public places, a large part of the world would remain in ignorance of the demands which God makes upon man in these
particulars. Thus it comes to pass that the opposition which believers are called upon to meet in championing their faith becomes a powerful agency for the spreading of the true religion.
Third Thought.—We are not to forget that it is our Lord's will that the Gospel should be published among all nations. It is most needful in these days to accent the fact that the Catholic religion is the only real Gospel. Millions of non-Catholics are sending their travesties of the Gospel far and wide, with a splendid enthusiasm of missionary effort. Yet we know very well that Christ's Gospel must first of all proclaim Him as divine, God of God, of one substance with the Father. No mere teaching of "Jesus”, as the perfect man, the "Elder Brother” of our race, will save the world, if His divinity be ignored. Christ's Gospel must furthermore proclaim the authority of the Church, on which the Faith rests, and whence the spiritual functions of the ministry are derived. Yet again, Christ's Gospel must set forth the sacramental life, the only revealed way for the sanctification of men's souls. We are not to be content with the fact that non-Catholic missions are converting to their humanlydevised systems milllions of the world's people. We are to be insistent upon the spread of the