« הקודםהמשך »
the true Christ, but only a saviour of their own fancy? The success of the false christs lies in their appeal to the sinful lusts of the human heart. Men want a Redeemer who shall take away earthly ills, afford them free rein for the gratification of their natural desires and ambitions. The Master Whom the Church reveals to us is the Divine Word come in human flesh, demanding of us the fullest homage, the obedience we owe to God. He has offered Himself a sacrifice for sins in our stead: He requires of us the fullest acceptance of His authority, a life of hardness and obedience, the development in our souls of a superhuman holiness, with the promise of reward only in the world to come, and the solemn warning that everlasting punishment will be our fate if we fail in our loyalty. Most men do not want such a Christ as that; therefore they turn from Him to the false christs, who promise them earthly prosperity, and a future with no fear of hell in it. It is well that we ask ourselves whether we would make our Master different from that the Church reveals Him to be, if we could ? Would we have Him of less heroic moral type ? Would we have Him more evident in our earthly matters, prospering us in temporal things? Would we have Him less terrifying in
judgment, leaving out all teaching of hell, and freely offering heavenly blessedness to all ? Do we want the true Christ?
Third Thought.—The Master does not hesitate to teach that His followers shall be few in comparison of the many who shall acknowledge the false christs. The argument from numbers is always a snare to poor humanity, we cannot but feel that they who draw after them the greatest crowds are the chosen of God. Is it not true that the voice of the people is the voice of God? Alas, no.
It had been so, but for the unhappy fall of man; as it is human nature is hopelessly depraved, save as divine grace shall supernaturally raise it up again to better things. The voice of the common body of the faithful in the Church is indeed the voice of God, but it must express itself in formal fashion, according to the Church's order of sacred council, her liturgy, and traditional teaching. It is unhappily true that the common practice of the majority of Christian people falls far short of the Master's precepts. We are safer to be on the side of the strict few than of the easy-going many.
God does not go by majorities. One may fear Pharisaism in the self-satisfaction of the stricter few, but the remedy is the constant testing of one's faith
and practice by that which has been plainly handed down in the Church universal from the beginning. If we be with the tradition we need not fear being with the minority.
“And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows."-St. Mark xiii. 7, 8.
Exposition.-Swete says: "A second warning. The Apostles are not to permit the political troubles which would surely precede the end to distract them from their proper work. Wars and rumours of wars, that is, wars in actual progress, or commonly expected and on all men's tongues. . The reference is primarily, no doubt, to the disturbed state of Palestine during the interval between the ascension and the fall of the city. To the early Jewish Church, which is immediately in view, the suspense which these and other outbreaks occasioned must have been unsettling and disquiet
ing. St. Paul uses the same word in deprecating the restlessness which was occasioned in a Gentile Church by the expectation of a speedy coming of Christ, and the warning is doubtless necessary at all seasons of feverish unrest. Such things must needs be, that is, Such is the divine purpose.
Such disasters are frequently foretold by the Old Testament prophets as marks of divine visitation. They belong to the imagery of an apocalyptic passage, and while it is interesting to note particular fulfilments in the Apostolic age, the wider reference is not to be left out of sight. Each age brings public troubles which excite disquietude, and may at times suggest the near approach of the end. Yet the end is not reached by such vicissitudes; they are but the beginning. ... The word sorrows is used of the sharp pangs of childbirth. Either may be thought of here: these things are the first deaththroes of the old order, or the first birth-pangs of the new; but the hopefulness of Christian eschatology is in favour of the second thought being at least the more prominent.”
"Rumours of wars”, says Isaac Williams, "in distinction from wars, may signify wars heard of at a distance, or else that state of agitation and alarm which fears even where no fear is. Be ye not troubled. In this encouragement of