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count of their own works.” 1 From which it seems
I. That at the coming of Christ all men will be dead.
II. That at the coming of Christ all men, whether good or bad, will rise immediately, simul et semel, without any exception.
To this also may be answered, that neither proposition is proved by the words of the symbol. The symbol declares, in the first place, that Christ will come "to judge the living and the dead.” Now, if Christ, when He comes, has to judge the living and the dead, it is evident that at His coming He shall find some men who are living. These men who are to be judged by Christ while they are still living, cannot rise at His coming, because at that time they are not dead, and the dead alone can rise. And if they cannot rise at His coming, it clearly follows that it is not true, that at the coming of Christ all men, whether good or bad, will rise, simul et semel, without any exception. But here it will be asked, how are we to understand those words of the symbol where it is said, that, at Christ's coming, "all men have to rise with their own bodies ?” These words may be understood in this sense, that the coming of Christ is an essential condition for the resurrection of the dead to life. After this condition shall be fulfilled, the resurrection of the dead will take place, but always according to the order appointed by Providence; namely, the elect shall rise immediately on the coming of Christ, and the reprobate as well as the elect, who shall not have risen before,
· Inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos ; ad cujus adventum omnes homines resurgere habent cum corporibus suis, et reddituri sunt de factis propriis rationem,
shall rise immediately at the time of the universal judgment. Thus will also the other words of the symbol, by which it is said that all men, after being risen with their bodies, shall give an account of all their actions, be perfectly verified.
THE CHANGE OF THE JUST, STILL LIVING UPON EARTH, AND
THEIR UNION WITH CHRIST.
This great mystery is thus declared by the apostle St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet : for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality.”. What the apostle here teaches he still more expressly declares in his first letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “We would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful even as others who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them who have slept through Jesus will God bring with Him. For this unto you
in the word of the Lord, that we This reading is found in the Greek and Syriac copies, and followed by St. John Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Origen, and other ancient writers. (See Cornelius a Lapide on this place.).
! i Cor. xv. 51--53.
who are alive, who remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who have slept, for the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with commandment, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead who are in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air, and so shall we be always with the Lord.” 1 From these passages it seems clear that soon after our Lord Jesus Christ shall have come down from heaven and the elect shall have risen to life, the just and holy people who shall then live upon the earth, and who by their perfect charity shall be fit to be closely united with Christ, will be suddenly changed from their state of mortality and passibility into a state of immortality and glory, and shall be taken up together with the other saints in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air. This seems declared also by our Blessed Saviour in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. “ Wheresoever the bodies shall be," He says, in St. Matthew, “there shall the eagles also be gathered together.”3 And again : “Then two shall be in the field : one shall be taken, and one shall be left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill: one shall be taken, and one shall be left. Watch ye, therefore, because ye know not at what hour your Lord will come.” 1 In St. Luke, after declaring the manner of His coming, our Blessed Saviour continues thus : “I say to you, in that night, there shall be two men in one bed: the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together: the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left; two men shall be in the field: the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. They answering, say to Him : Where, Lord? Who said to them: Wheresoever the body shall be, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” 2 Here we must observe that the words of Christ relate to mortal men still living upon the earth; for they speak of persons, who at His coming shall be resting in their beds, or shall be grinding at the mill, or working in the field. This opinion is also confirmed by the parable of the ten virgins. This parable is especially applicable to the second coming of Christ : for it was uttered by our Lord after the description of his second coming, and begins by the words, “ Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins," words which clearly show that the parable relates to the time of Christ's second coming. The object of the parable is to show that of such as shall be alive at His coming, only those who are altogether prepared will be admitted at once into the marriage feast with the Divine Spouse. Here it may be asked, whether St. Paul, by those words, “We shall not all sleep; but we all shall be changed," means that those holy people who at the time of the coming of Christ will be taken up to meet Him in the air, shall be exempt from the general law of death ? St. Thomas says: “ The sense of the words may be this. The dead 1 Matt. xxiv. 40–42.
11 Thess. iv. 12–16.
? Some writers thus explain these passages of St. Paul :--At the coming of Christ, the saints who shall have died in the Lord shall rise immediately. Then the persons who shall yet be alive, and those who shall live afterwards, as they die, and are perfectly purified from every stain of sin, shall soon be changed into a state of glorious immortality, and shall be taken up, together with the saints, to meet Christ, into the air.
3 Matt. xxiv. 28.
shall rise uncorrupted, and we who are alive, although we shall not rise, because we shall not have died, shall pass from the state of corruption to that of incorruption."1 Without exempting any one from death, St. Paul may be explained with St. Austin, to signify that to some persons will be granted in the end, by their sudden change, not to feel death. Other interpreters observe, that St. Paul does not say in the above passage,
that those who are alive at the time of the coming of Christ shall not die, but says merely that they shall not sleep, as if to signify that they shall not remain dead for any length of time. “This passage,” says (Ecumenius, “we shall not all sleep, must be understood in this way, that we shall not sleep a long sleep, as if there were any need of the grave, or dissolution, or corruption; those who shall then be alive will undergo a sudden and momentary death." 3
Non omnes quidem moriemur, sed omnes immutabimur, potest legi sic: mortui resurgent incorrupti, id est ad statum incorruptionis ; et nos qui vivimus, licet non resurgamus, quia non morimur, tamen immutabimur de statu corruptionis in incorruptionem. (In hunc locum.)
? Hoc quibusdam in fine largietur, ut mortem repentina mutatione non sentiant. (Retract. ii. xxxiii. Epist. cxciii. 9-11.)
3 Istud: non omnes dormiemus hoc modo oportet accipere, quod non dormiemus diuturna dormitione, ut opus sit sepulcro et solutione ad corruptionem ; sed brevem mortem sustinebunt qui tunc reperientur.