« PreviousContinue »
darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.” 1
How can we suppose that, soon after the passion of Christ, the devil has been bound in the infernal abyss, and prevented from hurting the nations for a thousand
when we consider the diabolical fury with which the kings and princes of the earth rose against the Church, and strove to destroy it in its infancy? How can we believe that the devil was prevented from exerting his evil influence over the nations of the earth, when we behold the awful schisms and heresies, and scandals which have arisen in almost every century, to afflict and desolate the immaculate Spouse of God?
Moreover, the binding of Satan is described by St. John as a fact which takes place after the destruction of Babylon. But the destruction of Babylon, even in the opinion of those who explain it by the fall of Pagan Rome, cannot possibly be dated from the passion of Christ.
Again, the binding of Satan, according to St. John, happens immediately after the second coming of Christ. For St. John, in the preceding chapter, says that he saw the Word of God coming down full of majesty and power, to strike the kings and the nations of the earth. The coming of Christ which is here described, is not in humiliation and suffering, as it was when He appeared in mortal flesh for our redemption, but it is one of majesty and glory, as when He shall appear to rule the nations and to judge the living and the dead. Lastly, it must be observed that
Eph. vi. 10–13.
the binding of Satan happens after the King of kings and Lord of lords has obtained a complete triumph over Antichrist and his followers. Other writers by the thousand years, during which Satan is bound and hindered from hurting the nations, understand the time between the fall of Pagan Rome and the appearance of Antichrist. But this also is an opinion which is opposed by strong and solid reasons.
1. The strength of this opinion lies in the supposition that ancient Pagan Rome is the Babylon of the Apocalypse. But, as we have shown, the supposition seems destitute of solid foundation.
2. The binding of Satan is an event which, as we have already remarked, immediately follows the defeat of Antichrist and his followers. But we learn, both from Scripture and the fathers, that the overthrow of Antichrist and of his followers will be effected by the power of Christ on His coming in majesty and glory; it cannot therefore have had its fulfilment in the past.
3. The binding of Satan is immediately followed by the first resurrection and by the reign of the saints with Christ. For St. John, soon after describing the binding of Satan, thus continues: “And I saw seats: and they sat upon them: and judgment was given unto them: and the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had not adored the beast nor his image, nor received his character on their foreheads, or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not, till the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Now, whatever explanation be given to these
Apoc. xx. 4, 5.
words, it seems clear that this event cannot be traced from the fall of ancient Pagan Rome. For if the first resurrection and the reign of the saints with Christ be explained by the resurrection of the soul to the life of glory, by which the saints live and reign with Christ in heaven, then I say that this event began to be fulfilled long before the fall of Pagan Rome, namely, immediately after the resurrection of Christ; for soon after the resurrection of Christ, the souls of the holy Patriarchs, and other just men of the Old Testament, were admitted to the beatific vision of God, and those of the New Testament who departed this life in a state of justice, also were received into heaven as soon as they were perfectly purified from every stain. But if the first resurrection and the reign of the saints with Christ, be explained by the rising of the elect in their glorified bodies in the last day, and their reign with Christ upon earth for a thousand years, then it is clear, that instead of tracing this event from the fall of Pagan Rome, we must trace it from the second coming of Christ.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION.
Holy faith teaches us that all men, whether good or bad, elect or reprobate, will rise one day and appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to hear from His lips the sentence of eternal salvation or everlasting damnation. “Amen, amen, I say unto you,” they are the words of our blessed Lord
in the gospel of St. John, “the hour cometh, and
" now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so He hath given to the Son also to have life in Himself. . The hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that have done good things, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment." " Christ is risen from the dead,” says the apostle St. Paul, “the first fruits of them that sleep; for by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.'
The hope of a future resurrection afforded the greatest comfort and jubilation to holy Job in the midst of his grievous trials and sufferings. “I know,” says he, “that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God. Whom I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. This, my hope, is laid up in my bosom.”3
This article of Catholic belief is expressly declared in the Apostles' Creed, where we profess to believe “the resurrection of the body."
But, although all men, whether good or bad, elect or reprobate, must rise one day and stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, yet some Catholic writers think that not all shall rise at one and the same time, but that the elect only will have part in the first resurrection which happens immediately after the coming of Christ. 1 John v. 25–29.
2 1 Cor. xv. 20, 21. 3 Job xix. 25–27.
They ground their opinion on the following passages.
1st. The apostle St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, after stating that all will be made alive by the power of Christ, thus continues : “But every one in his own order; the first-fruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in His coming. Afterwards the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God the Father, when He shall have brought to nought all principality, and power, and virtue.” Here the apostle distinguishes three classes of persons who all have a part in the resurrection, but at different times. The first is Christ Himself, who rose from the dead, the first-fruits of those who are asleep. The second comprehends those who have believed in the coming of Christ, and conformed their life to their belief. These will rise as soon as Christ shall appear in the clouds of heaven, when “He shall send His angels to gather His elect from the farthest part of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them.” And the third comprehends all those who shall rise in the general resurrection at the end of all things, when all men, whether good or bad, who have not risen before, shall have to rise and to assemble before the tribunal of Christ for the universal judgment. It is only at this last and general resurrection that death shall be entirely destroyed. Hence the apostle St. Paul, after describing the order of the resurrection, thus concludes: “And the enemy death shall be destroyed last.” Soine divines are of opinion that the order of resurrection here mentioned by St. Paul is not one of time, but of dignity. They say
11 Cor. xv. 23, 24.