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Scripture: that they will differ from Catholic truth in their being confined to particular times and place, and not found in all time and in all place: that not only will they come with great pretensions, but will at last work great signs and wonders; but above all, that they will in some sense or other stand in the Holy Place, where they ought not.”
St. Gregory says, in St. Thomas, "Why however is it said with a doubt, if it were possible, when the Lord knows beforehand what is to be ? One of two things is implied; that if they are elect, it is not possible; and if it is possible, they are not elect. This doubt therefore in our Lord's discourse expresses the trembling in the mind of the elect. And He calls them elect because He sees that they will persevere in faith and good works; for those who are chosen to remain firm, are to be tempted to fall by the signs of the preachers of Antichrist.”
And Sadler: “But take ye heed; behold I have foretold you all things. The ye is emphatic. Could it be that any of the Apostles were in danger from false Christs? We cannot tell; but they represent the Church, and in them the Lord warns first the Church in the age immediately succeeding His own—then the Church in all ages. The Church of Christ has always been in danger, not only from the world
without, and the flesh within, but from false teachers, even from false Christs, who come with claims of a special revelation, and from false prophets who come with a claim of special inspiration."
First Thought.–Our Lord warns His followers against being deceived by false Christs. They looked for His second coming speedily, and it was natural that they should confuse the signs and portents which heralded the destruction of Jerusalem with those which must precede the last day. Therefore when it should be told them that this or that wonder-worker was announcing himself as the Lord for Whom the faithful looked, there was danger lest some should be stirred out of their patient waiting for the Master. He had told them plainly that His second coming should not be here or there, but like the lightning's flash, its awful glory instantaneously manifest to all the inhabiters of earth.
There is a fascination about the personal work and teaching of the Master, which makes earnest ones ever desirous of getting into closest touch with Him. So it is a common enough thing in our day to hear of this or that new teacher who manifests the Christ-life in the most marvellous way, or preaches the doctrine
of Christ with extraordinary power, and convincing directness. He seems to those who have been influenced by him, to bring back the very ways and words of the Lord as none of the formal religious teachers do. The believer is not to forget that the Lord is not to be looked for here or there, but only in the Church universal, spread throughout the world. In the Catholic body He has from the first vouchsafed His presence, and uttered His words. No new teachers of these days can declare Christ as the Church does, none can live the Christ-life except in the ways of the Church. Furthermore we are bound to speak and to live as those who know the Lord is among them of a truth. We are to say to those who would find the Master, Seek Him not here nor there, but where He is to be found, in the Church.
1. His fullest authority is exercised by her ministry—“As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Her bishops, in council assembled, declare the faith which He taught, and govern the faithful in His name.
2. In her He has stored all the treasures of His grace, and her ministers have been empowered by Him to dispense that grace, and only they.
3. In her alone is found His abiding presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
Second Thought.-Who are the elect, that are in danger of being diverted from the right way? There are two elections, the first to grace, the second to glory. We know that we have been elected of God to know His will, and to live in the ways of the true religion. We do not know that we have been elected to glory, but we know that if we persevere in the way of grace, we shall surely be found among the elect at the last day. Our election to glory is in our own hands; we may surely be saved if we will. So St. Peter exhorts those to whom he writes, “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Satan does not know who God's elect are, but he knows whether or not we are living in the state of grace, and all such as are he makes tireless efforts to seduce.
1. The elect are in peculiar peril just because they care a great deal. They are so eager to advance Christ's cause in every way that they are more easily persuaded than less earnest folk, to look kindly upon, and cooperate with the missionary efforts of everyone who is manifestly in earnest, and full of love for our Lord. So in our day the most devout Church-folk are often persuaded to take part in interdenominational schemes, and great projects for the spread of the Gospel in union with non-Catholic workers of many names. Christ's religion is not
furthered by our coöperation in the labours of heresy and schism.
2. The elect are also in peculiar peril just because they are so sure of their own hearts. They know that they love our Lord; how then can they go far wrong? St. Peter loved his Master devotedly, yet how lamentably he lapsed ! Great love may prove only a snare, if it be not kept well in hand by obedience and humility. It is the special temptation of the mystic to fancy that his whole-hearted devotion to his Lord sets him free from loyal submission to the ordinances of the Church.
Third Thought.-The Master adds: "I have foretold you all things.” It is a note of the divine religion that our Lord has given to His Church once for all the fulness of revelation. There never can be any further truth discovered. He foresaw every new phase of this world's life through which His Church should have to pass, and provided for it. He foresaw every difficulty which each one of His people should have to meet until the end of the world, and furnished in His revelation a solution of it.
1. The Church has often to face new problems, to put forth definitions of the Faith, to publish new laws for the guidance of her children in right living; but she looks for no new