Alas! Brethren, it is an Aweful, painful Mystery of the Justice of Almighty God, corresponding with the Mystery of His Love in our Redemption by the Infinite Merits and the Death of the Only-Begotten Son. Both were foreshadowed from Paradise; both were revealed, in their depth of light and darkness together, by Him, and in Him. It would seem as though they were inseparable. Without the one, we should presume; as, without the other, despair. The loss of an Infinite Good, must be an infinite evil. An Infinite Remedy implies an ill all-but infinite. We can see that it is very fearful to put aside Love so Boundless. It may be a contradiction, that such Love, such light terms of acceptance should be offered, and not entail misery proportioned on those who put them aside.
But what I would point out, is the fact, that our knowledge of the Greatness of our Redemption, the misery of those who would not receive it, and their multitude, became known to us, by degrees, together. Scarcely were the Gates of Paradise closed, with the Promise of Him Who should crush the serpent's head, than the first-born of our fallen race was a murderer! His seed became the mighty of the earth, the discoverers of all earthly wisdom, the corrupters of what remained good in the race of Seth, until "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." ...What is the constant prophecy of Judgment to come? "A remnant only shall be saved."
It is foretold in the name of Isaiah's son; and yet he again, St. Paul says, is the image of us Christians, "the children which God" the Father "hath given" to His Christ. St. Paul again gives this as the sum of the prophecies as to Israel. "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved; " and again, "Except the Lord of Hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah," the cities whom God utterly overthrew, "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
Again, when amid a great forsaking in the midst of the land, a tenth only should remain, even this should again be consumed, and a "holy seed" alone be the hope for the time to come. "A holy seed," "gleaning grapes as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof;" such are the emblems of those who shall be left. And when that former people were restored from that first desolation, the captivity of Babylon, (again an image of our restoration in Christ), how few, in comparison, even of that one tribe returned, from which our Lord was to be born; and when He came, these were divided in divers heresies; and they who believed in Him, although a great multitude, even "many tens of thousands" in Jerusalem alone, were still but "a remnant according to the election of Grace," while "the rest were blinded." What is the very name of Christians in St. Paul, but "the elect," i. e. those "chosen out of" the greater mass who remained; and of those thus chosen, there is yet a smaller body, which, when the larger part are cast away, shall be "the chosen;" "Many are called, but few chosen." Again, the name by which our Lord calls His disciples, is "a little flock. d" He prays for them who are chosen out of the world. They are but as a heap of corn, small, compared to the chaff from which it is sifted. e Such is the history before Christ came and at His Coming; before, few were even called, still fewer chosen; at His Coming "His own received Him not." So many would "not have this Man to reign over them," that St. Paul had to prove that God had not altogether cast away His people, that, in the mass of Israel, there was a hidden number who alone were the true Israel. And what shall be at the end? Our Lord answereth, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find Faith on the earth?" and that, "if it were possible, the very elect" should fail.