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ON THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS WHICH WILL FOLLOW THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
It is of faith that our Blessed Saviour will come with great power and majesty to judge the living and the dead. Yet, whether the universal judgment will follow immediately after His coming, or whether some time will intervene between these two admirable events, is still an open question.1 Those who think that some time will intervene, ground their opinion on those passages of the Gospel, where Christ, after speaking of the signs which shall precede His coming, and describing the coming itself, says that all these things will show that the kingdom of God is not yet come, but at hand. “They shall see the Son of Man," says Christ, in St. Luke, “coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty. And when these things begin to come to pass,
up your heads : because your redemption is at hand. And He spoke to them a similitude. See the fig-tree and all the trees: when they now shoot forth
Cornelius a Lapide thinks it probable, that after the overthrow of the Antichrist, a particular triumph of the Church over the whole world will follow, when those who are fallen will rise to the life of grace, Jews and Gentiles shall be converted to God, and all Israel shall be saved. “Probabile est,” says he, “Diabolum cum Antichristo deturbandum in Tartara, ut paulo ante finem mundi plena detur orbi et ecclesiæ pax post tam immanem eamque extremam Antichristi persecutionem ; ut in ea lapsi peniteant ac resurgant, Judæi et Gentes convertantur, omnisque Israel salvus fiat." (Comment. in Apoc. cap. xx. v. 9.)
their fruit, you know that summer is nigh, so you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, , know that the kingdom of God is at hand." i
They shall see the Son of Man,” says He, in St. Matthew, “coming in the clouds of heaven, with great power and majesty. ... Now learn a parable. When the branch is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors." The same thing is repeated by St. Mark, in the thirteenth chapter, twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth verses. St. Austin, commenting upon these passages, says that the coming of Christ must precede for some time the universal judgment. After citing the passages of St. Luke and St. Mark, where it is said: "When you shall see these things come to pass," he asks: “What things but those of which Christ had before spoken? Amongst which is also that which says: They shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with great power and glory, and then shall He send His angels to gather His elect. Therefore the end will not be then, but it will be near.” 3
This also is confirmed by the manner in which Jesus Christ speaks of His second coming, and of the universal judgment, in St. Matthew's Gospel. First of all, He describes His coming, in the twenty-fourth chapter, saying: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her
1 Luke xxi. 27-31.
2 Matt. xxiv. 32, 33. 3 Quid est, cum videritis hæc fieri, nisi ea quæ supra dixit? In quibus est etiam illud quod ait: Et tunc videbunt Filium Hominis venientem in nubibus cum virtute multa et gloria. Non itaque tunc erit finis, sed tunc erit in proximo. (Epist. cxcix. 43.)
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 the tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty." After this He speaks of the resurrection of the elect, and of the assumption into glory of the holy people who shall then be alive. And then towards the end of the chapter He recommends the greatest watchfulness and readiness to receive Him whenever He shall come. At the beginning of the next chapter, He proposes the parables of the ten virgins, and of the talents, which a man going into a far country delivered to his servants. And to show that they were applicable to the time of His second coming, of which He was speaking, He begins by saying: “ Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like.” ? After proposing the said parables, He mentions again His coming, and then proceeds to describe the universal judgment; not because these two events were immediately connected in point of time, but because the universal judgment is an event which must certainly follow after His coming, and because the universal judgment is the consummation of the works of mercy and justice, to which His coming is directed.
The principal events mentioned by St. John in the Apocalypse, as following the coming of Christ, are :
1. The kingdom of Christ upon earth with His saints for a thousand years.
2. The loosing of Satan and his seduction of the nations after the thousand years. · Matt. xxiv. 29, 30.
2 Ib. xxvi.
3. The final and utter destruction of the enemies of Christ.
4. The second and general resurrection.
ON THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST UPON EARTH WITH HIS SAINTS
FOR A THOUSAND YEARS.
WONDER not, gentle reader, at the title of the present chapter. I am not ignorant of the false and absurd doctrines which have been broached concerning the millennium, by many who have made shipwreck in the faith. I know that the errors invented on this subject by heretics have covered it with a dark cloud, and that the faithful are consequently accustomed to look upon it with feelings of apprehension and distrust. Knowing all this, and keeping constantly before my mind the teaching of the Church of the living God, which is the pillar and the ground of the truth, lest I should in any way offend against it, I venture to enter upon the subject with an earnest hope that it
may tend to the honour of God, and to the glory of the Lamb that was slain, " who is worthy to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and benedic.
Three distinct classes of Millenarians. The first step to clear the way for our discussion on the kingdom of Christ upon earth with his saints for a thousand years, is to make an accurate partition of the Millenarians into their various classes, carefully assigning to each that which properly and strictly belongs to it.
Ecclesiastical history distinguishes the Millenarians into three principal classes. The first comprehends all those heretics, who, under Cerinthus their head, teach a sensual millennium-a millennium most repugnant to sanctity. St. Dionysius says that this heresiarch, being deeply plunged in the mire of impurity, and desperately abandoned to carnal lust, dreamt that the vile and base gratifications of the flesh would constitute the blessedness of the elect after their resurrection for a thousand years, during which time the saints should indulge, more or less, in corporal gratifications in proportion as they had mortified themselves during their mortal existence. We need not say that we look upon this millennium with the greatest horror. “ The kingdom of God,” says St. Paul, “is not meat and drink, but justice and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” 2 « When they shall rise from the dead,” says our Blessed Lord, “ they shall neither marry nor be married, but are as the angels in heaven.
The second class comprehends all those who teach a millennium framed according to the Jewish ideas, saying that during the millennium the Mosaic i Lib. 7, Hist. c. 20.
2 Rom. xiv. 17. 3 Mark xii. 25.