SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
THE TWELFTH ARTICLE OF THE CREED.
Q. Which is the twelfth article?
A. Life everlasting.
Q. What is the capital point to be believed by this article?
A. That there is a future state, wherein both the just and wicked shall remain for eternity. The wicked in everlasting "punishment, and the just in everlasting pleasures; by enjoying the sight of God himself. Whereby are condemned all Atheistical principles of those who denied the soul's future being and immortality, especially the Epicureans, who placed man's happiness in riches, honors, pleasures, or a pretended content of mind.
Q. This is what I suppose you call true happiness, or beatitude. Pray give me a general description of it?
A. Beatitude, or the final happiness of the just, is a state wherein we are freed from all that is evil, and enjoy all that is good.
Q. Why is beatitude everlasting?
A. Because otherwise it would not be perfect, since the fear of losing it would be a continual torture to the mind.
Q. Can you give me a description of happiness in the next life, as to the particulars following, viz.: What is it to see God ? Will the corporal eyes behold him ? Did any one ever see God whilst living? What is it the blessed see in God? Have all the just an equal share of happiness? Will the just be happy immediately after their decease, or not till after the general resurrection?
A. As to those particulars, some points we are to believe as articles of faith; in others the learned are divided, and may be free to judge at pleasure. God cannot be seen by ^the corporal eye, because he is a pure spirit; hence the Anthropomorphites were condemned as heretics, for affirming God had a body essentially belonging to him. The corporal eye can only see God's visible effects. Again, no man living can see God according to the general law of Providence; for though the Scriptures sometimes seem to say, that the ancient patriarchs and prophets saw God; yet it is to be understood only of angels or some visible thing representing him, not that they saw God in his own substance. I purposely say, according to the general law of Providence ; for it is a disputed point among divines, whether Moses, St. Paul, and St. Stephen, were not by a particular privilege, favored with the sight of God, even while they were alive. It is an article of faith, that the soul is not naturally adapted to see God, without some supernatural assistance, which divines call the light of glory. The contrary doctrine being condemned by the general council of Vienna, against those heretics called Begardi and Beguines, Anno 1311. As to what the blessed will see in God, the Scriptures affirm 1 Jo. iii. 2, that they will see him as he is in himself, face to face, 1 Cor. xiii. 12, which imports, that they will see the divine nature, and three persons with his attributes, and what is essential to the deity, Psalm xxxv. 10. As is defined by the council of Florence against the Armenians, Anno 1438. It is also a certain truth, that the saints will one way or other, have the knowledge of several things, especially such as belong to them, particularly the prayers that are directed to them, by the faithful on earth; it being defined in the council of Trent, that it is not a foolish practice to address ourselves to the saints by prayer: and from hence we may infer, that it is a rashness to affirm that they do not hear or know our petitions; after all, we must not pretend that we can have a comprehensive knowledge of God. As to the equality of happiness, all equally share it, as to the primary blessing of seeing God; but there is an inequality in the manner, according to every one's deserts, this distribution is required by the divine justice which rewards men proportionally. As to the time when the saints shall be admitted to see God, it is an article of faith, defined in the council of Florence, that with regard to such as have nothing to be purged away, it will happen immediately upon their decease.