Saturday, 5 March 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 12.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada


Q. Which is the seventh article ?

A. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

Q. What difference do you observe between the first and this latter coming of our Saviour?

A. At his first coming, he appeared in quality of a redeemer, showing to mankind continual instances of mercy, and in his behavior conformed himself, as if he had been only a common person, deprived of all those advantages, which otherwise were due to his character. At his second coming, he will appear as a judge, pronouncing sentence to the utmost rigor of justice, and clothed with all the outward marks of authority and majesty.

Q Are not all mankind judged at their death; what occasion is there for a second and general judgment?

A. Yes they are, but a second and general judgment is requisite upon several accounts. First, to justify before the whole world, the conduct of divine providence, in regard to the different treatment of the just, and the wicked, the one being permitted to live under tribulation, whilst the other flourished and enjoyed their ease; for then it will be made appear by the difference of their fate, that the just were not deserted by Almighty God, seeing that they are considered with an eternal reward for their past sufferings. A second reason why a general judgment is appointed, is, to do public justice to the injured part of mankind, who suffered in their reputation, or otherwise, for then all fraudulent dealings, rash censures, sinister intentions, and other insincere practices, will be laid open, and every man appear in his true colors, to the comfort of the injured; and confusion of the oppressor. A third reason, for this general judgment, is, that whereas, at a person's decease, sentence was only pronounced upon the soul, at the general judgment, the soul and body being reunited, it will pass upon the whole man ; that as they had mutually concurred in good and bad actions, they may receive a sentence suitable to their behavior in both respects.

Q. What is meant by the quick and the dead, are those that are living at the approach of the general judgment, to appear alive before the judge?

A. By the quick and the dead, we understand all mankind, that ever inhabited the earth, from the creation down, of all nations and states, both infidels, Jews, Turks, heretics, and true believers, all who live under the law of nature, the old law, and law of grace. And as for those persons who are. alive upon the approach of the last day, Ps. xcvi. 3, it is the most probable opinion they will be all consumed by fire, when the world shall perish, by a general conflagration, and immediately make their appearance before the judgment seat.

Q. But then, as to the time, when this general judgment will happen, and the place where it will be executed, how shall we come to know these matters?

A. The time when, is a secret locked up in the breast of the Almighty; Mat. xxiv. 36. And for the same reason, that we are not made acquainted with the time of our death, viz.: That being always prepared, we may not be surprised, and called to an account, when we are unprovided to give it; which appears to be a rational way of proceeding; seeing that if the time was revealed, persons would be apt to defer their repentance, until that hour approached, as they now commonly do, though uncertain that they shall be allowed a moment; and would be much more inclined to defer it, in case they had any certainty of the time when death would happen. However, as sickness and age, give persons notice of approaching death, so there will be certain visible tokens, forerunners of the general judgment; besides universal wars, plagues, and famines ; antichrist will make his appearance, who by persecution and false miracles, will for three years exercise a tyrannical power over the world, and draw unto his party a great part of mankind; but, at last will be baffled by Enoch and Elias, who are still reserved to return again upon the earth, for that purpose. As the day of judgment approaches nearer, there will be visible tokens in the heavens, earth, and seas, which will strike a terror into all mankind, and make them wither and pine away with fear.

Q. Methinks these visible admonitions will be capable of working men up to repentance, and make them prepare themselves against that great day ?

A. Much to the contrary: our blessed Saviour tells us, they will be in a state of insensibility, as mankind was when Noah foretold the destruction of the world at the general deluge; for though he frequently admonished them of it, for a hundred years together, they still continued in their wickedness until the judgment fell upon them.

Q. Can you give me any information as to the place, or any other circumstance ? Will the trial be general or particular and what have sinners to apprehend upon the occasion ?

A. We are informed in the Scriptures, that the place will be the valley of Josaphat, near Jerusalem, in the sight of Mount Calvary; Joel iii. 2. So that the Son of God will exercise the severity of his justice, where he showed such tokens of his mercy; a sad remembrance to the Jews, who put him to death, and to wicked Christians, who crucified him by their scandalous lives.—Whether the trial w ? ill be general or particular, with such like circumstances, is only known to God. Thus much we may be certain of, that though it may be general, and pass over in an instant, yet it will affect every one in particular, as much as if he were the only person that was called to the bar. Lastly, as to the apprehensions sinners will lie under upon the occasion, there are three circumstances which will throw them into the utmost confusion, viz.: The qualities of the judge, who cannot be imposed upon by bribes, nor inclined through partiality to favor : the nature of the evidence, which will be a man's own conscience, with the corroborating proofs of the devil, and all those he has injured, will appear against him: the severity of the scrutiny, which will take in all our thoughts, desires, wishes, affections, words and works, though never so secret; the intention, motive, and circumstances of them; the use of our will, memory, and understanding; all the faculties of both body and soul; the use of God's holy graces; the neglect of doing good, and misspent time; and not only all our own sins, but others which we have any ways occasioned: for our Saviour assures us, " That nothing is hid that shall not be revealed, nor secret that shall not be known." Mat. x. 26.

Q. Are there any more circumstances to be considered in this general judgment? Will Christ sit to judge as God or as man ? What kind of punishment will the wicked be condemned to ? Will their punishment be everlasting, or have an end, or at least be subject to a mitigation ? Will the fire spoken of in Scripture really affect the soul, or is it only a metaphorical expression, to signify the sharpness of pain ?

A All the three divine persons will sit in judgment, which is- attributed to the Son, because it is a work of wisdom; at the same time, Christ as man, will hear and give sentence, according to St. John ; chapter v. 27.—" The Father hath given him power to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man." As to the punishment, fire is commonly expressed, which we are to understand literally and properly ; but in what manner it will affect the soul, is not declared. This punishment will have no end, no intermission, as Origen erroneously taught.

Q. How shall the just and reprobate be placed, and what shall be the sentence of the just, and that of the wicked?

A. The just shall be placed on the right, and the reprobate on the left hand of the judge. The judge will say to the just, " come ye blessed of. my Father, and receive the kingdom which is prepared for you; for I was hungry, and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink," etc. Mat. xxv. 34, 35. How joyful this sentence will be to them, all the tongues of men and angels are not able to express: nor is it easier to describe the envy, malice, and despairing rage of those on the left hand; when having heard this sentence, they begin to hear the thunder of their own-" Go ye cursed into eternal fire, which hath been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink," etc. Mat. xxv. 41, 42. To depart from God, by losing him and all that is good; never to see God's face, nor ever to enjoy his favor; this is that hell of hells, which the divines call pain of loss. But then not only to lose all good, but also to be sunk for ever into the abyss of everlasting evils, without any hope of comfort, is that pain of sense, which even the worst of sinners cannot firmly believe without trembling.