Monday, December 12, 2011

Early Remarks on the "Last Days" (Patristics)

"Accordingly, therefore, prophesying concerning the
temple, He said: 'See ye these buildings? Verily I say
to you, There shall not be left here one stone upon
another which shall not be taken away; and this
generation shall not pass until the destruction begin.
For they shall come, and shall sit here, and shall
besiege it, and shall slay your children here.' And in
like manner He spoke in plain words the things that
were straightway to happen, which we can now see with
our eyes, in order that the accomplishment might be
among those to whom the word was spoken. For the
Prophet of truth utters the word of proof in order to
the faith of His hearers" (Clementine Homily 3.15).

"'But immediately after the affliction of those days
the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give
her 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 all
the tribes of the earth shall lament, and shall see
the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with
great power and glory. And He shall send His angels
with a great trumpet, and they shall gather together
His elect from the four winds, from the heights of
heaven, even into the farthest bounds thereof.' And
these are not new or sudden things which are now
happening to Christians; since the good and righteous,
and those who are devoted to God in the law of
innocence and the fear of true religion, advance
always through afflictions, and wrongs, and the severe
and manifold penalties of troubles, in the hardship of
a narrow path" (Cyprian, Treatise 11.11).

"For in the last days false prophets and corrupters
shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned
into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for
when lawlessness increaseth, they shall hate and
persecute and betray one another, and then shall
appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do
signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered
into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things
which have never yet come to pass since the beginning.
Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of
trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall
perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be
saved from under the curse itself. And then shall
appear the signs of the truth; first, the sign of an
out-spreading in heaven; then the sign of the sound of
the trumpet; and the third, the resurrection of the
dead; yet not of all, but as it is said: The Lord
shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the
world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven"
(Didache 16).

"But as the conquering power of things evil is on the
increase-which is the characteristic of the last times
-things good are now not allowed either to be born, so
corrupted are the seminal principles; or to be
trained, so deserted are studies; nor to be enforced,
so dined are the laws" (Tertullian, On Modesty 1).

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