“THE HAND OF THE LORD IS NOT SHORTENED.”
True it is that from time to time divers heresies have sprung up in the Church, which have been productive of much evil; but the hand of the Lord hath not been shortened. Even in these latter days we have had authentic accounts of very considerable advances made by the Church, both among heretics and pagans. A learned author writes that ten thousand Arians have recently been converted in Transylvania. In Prussia a very large number of Catholic churches have been erected. In Denmark the public profession of the Catholic Religion is now tolerated. The missions in England are being carried on with very happy results. We have been assured by persons of authority and undoubted veracity, that in the East forty thousand Armenian and other oriental heretics have been received into the communion of our holy Church; that in Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Chaldea the number of Catholics is every day increasing; and that during the last few years several Nestorian Bishops have abjured the errors of that sect. Finally, during the present Century a considerable number of pagans have been converted in India and China.
But to return to the Martyrs. The number of Christians who had received the Crown of Martyrdom previous to the accession of Constantine was almost incredible. Many authors calculate the number of those who had laid down their lives for the Faith to have been nearly eleven millions! So that if this number were equally distributed in the course of one year, thirty thousand would be allotted to each day.
Oh, the beautiful harvest of holy Martyrs that Paradise has reaped since the preaching of the Gospel! But, O God, what will be the confusion of the tyrants and of all the persecutors of the Faith on the day of General Judgment, at the sight of the Martyrs once so despised and so maltreated by them, when these celestial heroes shall appear in glory, extolling the greatness of God, and armed with the sword of divine justice to avenge themselves for all the injuries and cruelties exercised against them, as was foretold by David: The high praises of God in their mouths, and two-edged swords in their hands to execute vengeance upon the nations; to bind their kings in fetters, and their nobles in manacles of iron (Ps. cxlix. 6). Then shall the Martyrs judge the Neros, the Domitians, and other persecutors, and shall condemn them; yea, as we read in the Gospel of St. Matthew, even to the exterior darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. xxii. 13).
But it will be for us a subject of more profitable meditation to reflect upon another scene which the great day of general and irrevocable doom will present — the despair of so many Christians who, having died in mortal sin, will behold with unavailing anguish the triumph of so many Martyrs, who, rather than lose God, suffered themselves to be despoiled of all things, and underwent the most horrid torments that hell could suggest or tyrants inflict; while they, rather than yield a point of honour or forego a momentary gratification, despised the suggestions of divine grace and lost their souls forever!