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CHRIST WILL COME SUDDENLY.
The Jews despised the miracles of the Son of God, and refused to acknowledge the truth of His divine mission, because they did not know the time of His first coming foretold in the Scriptures; and thus they were overtaken by the evils which had been predicted to them; so will it also be that, through ignorance of the time of Christ's second coming, the greater part of the inhabitants of the earth will not be aroused by the signs which will precede it, and that the great day of the Lord will surprise them without their being prepared.
There will be signs foreshowing the near approach of the great day, but these signs will make no more impression upon men then, than have those which up to this day have appeared in nature. Then men for the most part will easily persuade themselves, that all those great events are only such as are to be instanced in the past; war, pestilence, famine, and earthquakes, which will ravage the world, will be looked upon as no extraordinary events, and such as humanity will have frequently witnessed ; and the false prophets who will appear in the world, and even the persecution of the Antichrist, will not arouse them
sæculi, quibus completis requies erit veræ sanctitati, et fideliter credentibus in resurrectione Christi. Nam nulla erit ibi pugna contra diabolum, qui tunc ubique detinebitur suppliciis religatus. (In Tractatu 10.)
This stupidity on the part of men, and their insensibility at the sight of the awful calamities which shall fall upon the world, will happen because they will not perceive that they are the signs which have been foretold, and they will not put themselves to the trouble to know the time of the second coming of the Son of Man. Hence the day of the Lord will come suddenly upon them as a thief in the night. We are assured of this by the doctrine of revelation.
In the Gospel of St. Luke it is related, that Jesus being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come, thus answered : “ The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, Behold here, or behold there As the lightning that lighteneth from under heaven, shineth unto the parts that are under heaven, so shall the Son of Man be in His day.
As it came to pass in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat and drink, they married wives and were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark: and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it came to pass in the days of Lot: they did eat and drink, they bought and sold, they planted and built; and in the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man shall be revealed.” 1 And again, in St. Matthew, He says: “Watch ye, because you know not at what hour your Lord will come. But this know ye, that if the good man of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch,
I Luke xvii. 20—30.
and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Wherefore be ye also ready, because you know not at what hour the Son of Man will come.” 1 Hence the apostle St. Paul thus writes to the Thessalonians: “Of the times and moments, brethren, you need not that we should write to you. For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord shall so come, as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and security; then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape.
... Therefore let us not sleep as others do: but let us watch and be sober." 2
CHRIST WILL COME GLORIOUSLY.
To effect the work of our redemption Christ appeared in our mortal flesh, humble and lowly, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
But far different will be His second coming. “The sun shall be darkened," says our Lord, “and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty.” 3
» 3 And again : “There shall be 1 Matt. xxiv. 42–44.
2 1 Thess. v. 1-6. 3 Matt. xxiv. 29, 30.
signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves. Men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. And then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty."i As Christ ascended into heaven from mount Olivet, near Jerusalem, it seems very probable that He will particularly manifest Himself and show forth His glory there. Hence the two angels, who appeared to the astonished disciples whilst they were beholding their Lord going up to heaven, said to them : “ Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking up to heaven? This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen Him going into heaven." Yet as Jesus will appear in His glorified humanity, He will soon make Himself manifest everywhere. This seems clearly indicated by our Lord in the Gospel of St. Matthew ; for, speaking of his second coming, he says: lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even to the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” 3
1 Luke xxi. 25, 26, 27.
3 Matt. xxiv. 27.
2 Acts i. 11, 12.
CHRIST WILL COME TRIUMPHANTLY.
The great triumph which will accompany the coming of Christ was shown to the apostle St. John, in a prophetic vision, by the image of a great warrior and valiant conqueror, who on His coming strikes and defeats His enemies. “I saw," says he, “heaven opened, and behold a white horse : and He that sat
was called faithful and true, and with justice doth He judge and fight. And His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many diadems, and He had a name written which no man knoweth but Himself. And He was clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood : and His name is called The WORD OF GOD. And the armies that are in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean: And out of His mouth proceedeth a sharp two-edged sword; that with it He may strike the nations. And He shall rule them with a rod of iron : and He treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of God the Almighty. And He hath on His garment and on His thigh written : KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."1
The ancient prophets thus describe the triumphant character of Christ at His second coming: "The lofty eyes of man,” says Isaias, “shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be made to stoop. And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day; because the day of the Lord of hosts
Apoc. xix. 11-16.