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other, that the hostility of the world to the truth, and to those that witness for it, may be much modified and change its form from age to age. In different ages, very different portions and aspects of the same truth are the particular objects of hostility ; at one time it will be some fundamental article of the Catholic faith, at another some doctrine of the Gospel derived from that faith ; at one time it will be the forms that embody and set forth the truth that are hated, at another it will be the worship of God in spirit and in truth that is the object of contempt. But that which St. John said * of those who, in his time, denied the fundamental truth of the Incarnation, is fulfilled in all, even to the present hour, who in any degree, or in any direction, pervert, obscure, or explain away to suit the fleshly reason of man the truth which God has revealed. “They are of the world, therefore' speak they as of the world, and the world heareth them.” 2. But Holy Scripture teaches me to look
1 John. iv. 5.
* "is not
beyond the hostility of the world for the cause of those who bear witness for the truth being exposed to suffering as their Lord Himself was. our wrestling,” St. Paul reminds us, against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual hosts of wickedness.” The history of our Blessed Lord, who, as soon as He was anointed by the Spirit of God for His work on earth, was assailed by the Evil One at all points at which human nature is capable of temptation, is a warning to us who are called to the same work, as to the trials to which we are exposed from the same
All the persecutions of God's servants are attributed—in the Book of Revelation, for example t-to the malice of this great adversary; and the various temptations to which we are liable, as well as the outward hindrances to the work of the Gospel, are traced by the Apostle Paul I to the same
And certainly, in regard to the deceits
* Ephes. vi. 12.
| Rev. ii. xii.
7-12. # Rom. xvi. 20, 1 Cor. vii. 5, 2 Cor. ii. 11, xii. 7, 1 Thess. ii. 18.
and delusions by which the truth is perverted or resisted, it is of the utmost importance that we should not be ignorant of his devices, one of which is to gain advantage on us on the very side where we least expected it, or as a reaction from an opposite evil. * We must remember that the purpose for which the Son of God was manifested was "that He might destroy the works of the devil ;” and, therefore, in proportion as we bear witness for the truth, even as Christ did, in that proportion will Satan's designs be frustrated, and in the same proportion will all the strength and subtlety of the Evil One be on the watch to foil that witness.
To bring this truth more directly home to the heart of each of us in regard to “my work for God,” it is well that I should realise, in its application to myself personally, the full meaning of the solemn warning given by our Lord to St. Peter: Simon, Simon, behold Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat. But I made supplication for thee, that
* cf. 2 Cor. ii. 5-11.
+ Luke xxii. 31, 32.
thy faith fail not, and do thou, when thou hast turned again, stablish thy brethren.” Were those words spoken for Peter only? Must not each of us consider them as a warning to himself? “My work for God” cannot be genuine and effective without exciting the malice, perhaps the special hostility against myself personally, of the Prince of Darkness. Well may I pray, day by day, “ Deliver us from the Evil One.” Well may I place myself continually under the shelter of Christ's intercession, as that which alone can defeat the attempts of Satan. His endeavour will be, through my falls, to stultify all my previous witness for the truth, and make my name a stumbling block to all generations, as that of Peter would have been, had not his repentance been as deep, his conversion as complete, as edifying to the Church, and as convincing to the world, as his sin was scandalous and aggravated.
WHY ALL WORK FOR GOD IS THROUGH
THE causes which have been examined in the previous chapter are of themselves sufficient to teach us the necessity both of being prepared for severe trials of faith in our work for God, and of watchfulness against those temptations that would rob us of our crown. But for the confirmation of our faith under these trials, we must look further into the question, why work for God must be through suffering. And here again the example of Him who “though He was a Son, yet learned obedience through the things that He suffered” – O most profound, and, to finite thought, fathomless mystery ! throws a light on the connection between our witness for God's truth and the suffering which it is His will that we should endure, such as we cannot elsewhere obtain. For it was not because He had, as we have, the tendencies of