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may be of blasphemy; words of falsehood about others. And then the thoughts of the heart, which those about us, even our most intimate acquaintance never suspected; shameful thoughts, vain thoughts, jealous and envious thoughts; thoughts we should have blushed to own to anyone for whom we had respect.
The affliction of the soul in being compelled to plead guilty to all these things, while realizing that by reason of them one has over and over again crucified our Lord afresh, and done despite unto the Spirit of Grace, will be of a sort such as has never been experienced in this life, bringing home to it the sense that the pains of hell could only be worse because they are hopeless. Happily the servant of Christ need not be hopeless despite all the affliction he must endure in that day through compunction for his failure in this life.
Third Thought.—Had the Lord not "shortened” the day of the believer's affliction, none of us should be saved. How has He shortened our trial time in our passing? Of course supremely, and in a very real sense only, through the precious Blood of our Lord, blotting out for His sake all the handwriting in the book of the recording angel which was contrary to us. It is well, however, that we should often call to mind
the truth that the pardoning mercy of the precious Blood of Christ is applied to our souls normally through the sacraments. He shortens the days for us through our absolutions. Every time we penitently confess our sins, the angel blots out the record of them from his book; they have gone before to judgment, as the Apostle says, being opened beforehand in the confessional. The judgment shall not be unbearable for those who faithfully use the sacrament of Penance. And it is doubtless true likewise that the days of that temporal punishment which the elect must endure in purgatory, shall be greatly shortened because of the prayers and sacrifices of the faithful on earth for their brethren departed.
XCIV. “And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, He is there; believe him not: for false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things."—St. Mark xiii. 21-23.
Exposition.-Swete says: “The warning is with special reference to the circumstances of the last days of Jerusalem. Such a crisis would be sure to call up a host of pretenders to Messiahship, whether the title were used or not. Too little is known of the life of the Church at Pella to enable us to say whether it was disturbed by such reports. But the tidings of the siege which reached the refugees from time to time would have predisposed them to accept any stories which chimed in with their growing belief that the second coming of our Lord was at hand. Believe him not: incredulity is sometimes a Christian duty. There were false prophets under the old covenant; and the Lord
had at the outset of the ministry warned His disciples against this class of men, for the return of a true prophecy would bring back the spurious imitations. . . The false Christ is necessarily a far more uncommon character. St. John's Antichrist presents a different conception; the Antichrist opposes Christ, the false Christ is merely a pretender to the Messianic office. The pretended Messiahs were scarcely a source of serious danger to the Church, after the end of the Jewish polity; and it is to these only that the Lord's words directly refer. . . But take ye heed. But ye, for your part, be on your guard. I have foretold you all things: all that is necessary to direct your conduct. If the prediction was not full or exact enough to gratify curiosity, it was sufficient to create responsibility and supply practical guidance.”
Isaac Williams comments as follows: "We may well suppose that at such a depth of perplexity and distress men should catch at any hope that superstition or religion might suggest; and that the Evil One, availing himself of the excited fears and hopes of mankind, should supply false pretenders to delude them, and invest them with all his powers of deceiving. And this our Lord now proceeds to mention, and the warning He here so emphatically gives is one which He now repeats for the third
time in this discourse, dwelling on the exceeding deceitfulness of these false prophets. And perhaps His threefold mention refers to three different periods, when evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse.
There is a distinct reference to the last days and the end of the world. “Then shall Satan be unchained,' says St. Augustine, “and work through Antichrist in all his power wonderfully indeed, but falsely.' . . . What we know therefore of Antichrist is this, that there were many in Apostolic times, but that there will be more, far worse and more bitter, as St. Chrysostom says, before Christ's last coming; that these are but forerunners of the one and chief Antichrist; that the word applies to false doctrines, and also to persons; that so in the last case there will be an apostasy in men's minds, and then the great apostate; to whom they will give heed on account of this apostasy in their own minds; that these antichrists are exceedingly deceivable, coming with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, and will deceive many; for, as Origen adds, broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; that they come with great pretensions; that some will establish themselves in the Scriptures, giving them a private interpretation of their own; others will be without, and independent of