Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Divine Judgment

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 8
Divine Judgment

by John Ambrose McHugh

This subject will be treated under four heads:

I. Divine Judgment Subjectively and Objectively Considered;

II. Pre-Christian Beliefs Concerning Judgment after Death.

III. Particular Judgment

IV. General Judgment.


I. DIVINE JUDGMENT SUBJECTIVELY AND OBJECTIVELY CONSIDERED

Divine judgment (judicium divinum), as an immanent act of God, denotes the action of God's retributive justice by which the destiny of rational creatures is decided according to their merits and demerits. This includes:


  • God's knowledge of the moral worth of the acts of free creatures (scientia approbationis et reprobationis), and His decree determining the just consequences of such acts;
  • the Divine verdict upon a creature amenable to the moral law, and the execution of this sentence by way of reward and punishment.

It is clear, of course, that the judgment, as it is in God, cannot be a process of distinct and successive acts; it is a single eternal act identical with the Divine Essence. But the effects of the judgment, since they take place in creatures, follow the sequence of time. The Divine judgment is manifested and fulfilled at the beginning, during the progress, and at the end of time. In the beginning, God pronounced judgment upon the whole race, as a consequence of the fall of its representatives, the first parents (Gen., iii). Death and the infirmities and miseries of this were the consequences of that original sentence. Besides this common judgment there have been special judgments on particular individuals and peoples. Such great catastrophes as the flood (Gen., vi, 5), the destruction of Sodom (Gen., xxviii, 20), the earthquake that swallowed up Core and his followers (Num., xvi, 30), the plagues of Egypt (Ex., vi, 6; xii, 12), and the evil that came upon other oppressors of Israel (Ezech., xxv, 11; xxviii, 22) are represented in the Bible as Divine judgments. The fear of God is such a fundamental idea in the Old Testament that it insists mainly on the punitive aspect of the judgment (cf. Prov., xi, 31; Ezechiel, xiv, 21). An erroneous view of these truths led many of the rabbis to teach that all the evil which befalls man is a special chastisement from on high, a doctrine which was declared false by Christ. There is also a judgment of God in the world that is subjective. By his acts man adheres to or deviates from the law of God, and thereby places himself within the sphere of approval or condemnation. In a sense, then, each individual exercises judgment on himself. Hence it is declared that Christ came not to judge but to save (John, iii, 17; viii, 15; xii, 47). The internal judgment proceeds according to a man's attitude: towards Christ (John, iii, 18). Though all the happenings of life cannot be interpreted as the outcome of Divine judgment, whose external manifestation is therefore intermittent, the subjective judgment is coextensive with the life of the individual and of the race. The judgment at the end of time will complement the previous visitations of Divine retribution and will manifest the final result of the daily secret judgment. By its sentence the eternal destiny of creatures will be decided. As there is a twofold end of time, so there is likewise a twofold eternal judgment: the particular judgment, at the hour of death, which is the end of time for the individual, and the general judgment, at the final epoch of the world's existence, which is the end of time for the human race.


II. PRE-CHRISTIAN BELIEFS CONCERNING JUDGMENT AFTER DEATH

The idea of a final readjustment beyond the grave, which would rectify the sharp contrast so often observed between the conduct and the fortune of men, was prevalent among all nations in pre-Christian times. Such was the doctrine of metempsychosis or the transmigration of souls, as a justification of the ways of God to man, prevailing among the Hindus of all classes and sects, the Pythagoreans, the Orphic mystics, and the Druids. The doctrine of a forensic judgment in the unseen world, by which the eternal lot of departed souls is determined, was also widely prevalent in pre-Christian times.

The Egyptian idea of the judgment is set forth with great precision of detail in the "Book of the Dead", a collection of formulae designed to aid the dead in their passage through the underworld (EGYPT). The Babylonians and the Assyrians make no distinction between the good and the bad so far as the future habitation is concerned. In the Gilgames epic the hero is marked as judge of the dead, but whether his rule was the moral value of their actions is not clear. An unerring judgment and compensation in the future life was a cardinal point in the mythologies of the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. But, while these mythological schemes were credited as strict verities by the ignorant body of the people, the learned saw in them only the allegorical presentation of truth. There were always some who denied the doctrine of a future life, and this unbelief went on increasing till, in the last days of the Republic, skepticism regarding immortality prevailed among Greeks and Romans.

With the Jews. the judgment of the living was a far more prominent idea than the judgment of the dead. The Pentateuch contains no express mention of remuneration in the future life, and it was only at a comparatively late period, under the influence of a fuller revelation, that the belief in resurrection and judgment began to play a capital part in the faith of Judaism. The traces of this theological development are plainly visible in the Machabean era. Then arose the two great opposing parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, whose divergent interpretations of Scripture led to heated controversies, especially regarding the future life. The Sadducees denied all reward and penalty in the hereafter, while there opponents encumbered the truth with ludicrous details. Thus some of the rabbis asserted that the trumpet which would summon the world to judgment would be one of the horns of the ram which Abraham offered up instead of his son Isaac. Again they said: "When God judges the Israelites, He will stand, and make the judgment brief and mild; when He judges the Gentiles, he will sit and make it long and severe." Apart from such rabbinical fables, the current belief reflected in the writings of the rabbis and the pseudographs at the beginning of the Christian Era was that of a preliminary judgment and of a final judgment to occur at the consummation of the world, the former to be executed against the wicked by the personal prowess of the Messiah and of the saints of Israel, the latter to be pronounced as an eternal sentence by God or the Messiah. The particular judgment of the individual person is lost sight of in the universal judgment by which the Messiah vindicate the wrongs endured by Israel. With Alexandrian Judaism, on the contrary, with that at least of which Philo is the exponent, the dominant idea was that of an immediate retribution after death. The two dissenting sects of Israel, the Essenes and the Samaritans, were in agreement with the majority of Jews as to the existence of a discriminating retribution in the life to come. The Essenes believed in the preexistence of souls, but taught that the after-existence was an unchanging state of bliss or woe according to the deeds done in the body. The eschatological tenets of the Samaritans were at first few and vague. Their doctrine of the resurrection and of the day of vengeance and recompense was a theology patterned after the model of Judaism, and first formulated for the sect by its greatest theologian, Marka (A.D. fourth century)

III. PARTICULAR JUDGMENT


A. Dogma of Particular Judgment

The Catholic doctrine of the particular judgment is this: that immediately after death the eternal destiny of each separated soul is decided by the just judgment of God. Although there has been no formal definition on this point, the dogma is clearly implied in the Union Decree of Eugene IV (1439), which declares that souls leaving their bodies in a state of grace, but in need of purification are cleansed in Purgatory, whereas souls that are perfectly pure are at once admitted to the beatific vision of the Godhead (ipsum Deum unum et trinum) and those who depart in actual mortal sin, or merely with original sin, are at once consigned to eternal punishment, the quality of which corresponds to their sin (paenis tamen disparibus). The doctrine is also in the profession of faith of Michael Palaeologus in 1274, in the Bull "Benedictus Deus" of Benedict XII, in 1336, and in the professions of faith of Gregory XIII and Benedict XIV.


B. Existence of Particular Judgment Proved from Scripture

Ecclesiastes 11:9; 12:1 sq.; and Hebrews 9:27, are sometimes quoted in proof of the particular judgment, but though these passages speak of a judgment after death, neither the context nor the force of the words proves that the sacred writer had in mind a judgment distinct from that at the end of the world. The Scriptural arguments in defence of the particular judgment must be indirect. There is no text of which we can certainly say that it expressly affirms this dogma but there are several which teach an immediate retribution after death and thereby clearly imply a particular judgment. Christ represents Lazarus and Dives as receiving their respective rewards immediately after death. They have always been regarded as types of the just man and the sinner. To the penitent thief it was promised that his soul instantly on leaving the body would be in the state of the blessed: "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). St. Paul (II Corinthians 5) longs to be absent from the body that he may be present to the Lord, evidently understanding death to be the entrance into his reward (cf. Philemon 1:21 sq.). Ecclesiasticus 11:28-29 speaks of a retribution at the hour of death, but it may refer to a temporal punishment, such as sudden death in the midst of prosperity, the evil remembrance that survives the wicked or the misfortunes of their children. However, the other texts that have been quoted are sufficient to establish the strict conformity of the doctrine with Scripture teaching. (Cf. Acts 1:25; Apocalypse 20:4-6, 12-14.)


C. Patristic Testimony Regarding Particular Judgment

St. Augustine witnesses clearly and emphatically to this faith of the early Church. Writing to the presbyter Peter, he criticizes the works of Vincentius Victor on the soul, pointing out that they contain nothing except what is vain or erroneous or mere commonplace, familiar to all Catholics. As an instance of the last, he cites Victor's interpretation of the parable of Lazarus and Dives. He writes:


For with respect to that which he (Victor] most correctly and very soundly holds, namely, that souls are judged when they depart from the body, before they come to that judgment which must be passed on them when reunited to the body and are tormented or glorified in that same flesh which they here inhabited — was that a matter of which you (Peter) were unaware? Who is so obstinate against the Gospel as not to perceive those things in the parable of that poor man carried after death to Abraham's bosom and of the rich man whose torments are set before us? (De anima et ejus origine, 11, n.8.)


In the sermons of the Fathers occur graphic descriptions of the particular judgment (cf. S. Ephraem, "Sermo de secundo Adventu"; "Sermo in eos qui in Christo obdormiunt").


D. Heresies

Lactantius is one of the few Catholic writers who disputed this doctrine VII:21). Among heretics the particular judgment was denied by Tatian and Vigilantius. The Hypnopsychites and the Thnetopsychites believed that at death the soul passed away, according to the former into a state of unconsciousness, according to the latter into temporary destruction. They believed that souls would arise at the resurrection of the body for judgment. This theory of "soul slumber" was defended by the Nestorians and Copts, and later by the Anabaptists, Socinians, and Arminians. Calvin (Inst. III, 25) holds that the final destiny is not decided till the last day.


E. Prompt Fulfilment of Sentence

The prompt fulfilment of the sentence is part of the dogma of particular judgment, but until the question was settled by the decision of Benedict XII, in 1332, there was much uncertainty regarding the fate of the departed in the period between death and the general resurrection. There was never any doubt that the penalty of loss (poena damni), the temporal or eternal forfeiture of the joys of Heaven, began from the moment of death. Likewise it was admitted from the earliest times that the punishment following death included other sufferings (poena sensus) than the penalty of loss (Justin, "Dial.", v). But whether the torment of fire was to be included among these sufferings, or whether it began only after the final judgment, was a question that gave rise to many divergent opinions. It was a common belief among the early Fathers that the devils will not suffer from the flames of hell until the end of the world. Regarding the reprobate souls there was a similar belief. Some of the Fathers contended that these souls do not suffer the torment of fire until reunited with their bodies in the resurrection, while others hesitated (cf. Tert., "De Test. an.", iv). Many, on the contrary, clearly taught that the punishment of hell fire followed speedily upon the particular judgment (Hilary, In Ps. cxxxviii, 22). This is evident from the words of Gregory the Great: "just as happiness rejoices the elect, so it must be believed that from the day of their death fire burns the reprobate" (Dial., IV, 28). Early Christian writers also refer to a purgatorial fire in which souls not perfectly just are purified after death.

Some of the early Fathers, misled by Millennarian errors, believed that the essential beatitude of Heaven is not enjoyed until the end of time. They supposed that during the interval between death and the resurrection the souls of the just dwell happily in a delightful abode, awaiting their final glorification. This was apparently the opinion of Sts. Justin and Irenaeus, Tertullian, St. Clement of Alexandria, and St. Ambrose. According to others, only the martyrs and some other classes of saints are admitted at once to the supreme joys of heaven. It cannot, however, be inferred from these passages that all of the Fathers quoted believed that the vision of God is in most cases delayed till the day of judgment. Many of them in other parts of their works profess the Catholic doctrine either expressly or by implication through the acknowledgment of other dogmas in which it is contained, for instance, in that of the descent of Christ into Limbo, an article of the Creed which loses all significance unless it be admitted that the saints of the Old Testament were thereby liberated from this temporal penalty of loss and admitted to the vision of God. As to the passages which state that the supreme happiness of Heaven is not enjoyed till after the resurrection, they refer in many instances to an increase in the accidental joy of the blessed through the union of the soul with its glorified body, and do not signify that the essential happiness of heaven is not enjoyed till then. Notwithstanding the aberrations of some writers and the hesitation of others, the belief that since the death of Christ souls which are free from sin enter at once into the vision of God was always firmly held by the great body of Christians (cf. St. Cyprian, De exhort. mart.). As the earliest Acts of the Martyrs and Liturgies attest, the martyrs were persuaded of the prompt reward of their devotion. This belief is also evidenced by the ancient practice of honouring and invoking the saints, even those who were not martyrs. But the opposite error found adherents from time to time, and in the Middle Ages was warmly defended. The Second Council of Lyons (1274) declared that souls free from sin are at once received into heaven (mox in caelum recipi), but did not decide in what their state of beatitude consisted. A number of theologians maintained the opinion that until the resurrection the just do not enjoy the intuitive or facial vision of God, but are under the protection and consolation of the Humanity of Jesus Christ. Pope John XXII (1316-1334) at Avignon, as a private theologian, seems to have supported this view, but that he gave it any official sanction is a fable invented by the Fallibilists. His successor, Benedict XII, ended the controversy by the Bull "Benedictus Deus".


F. Circumstances of Particular Judgment according to Theologians

Theologians suppose that the particular judgment will be instantaneous, that in the moment of death the separated soul is internally illuminated as to its own guilt or innocence and of its own initiation takes its course either to hell, or to purgatory, or to heaven (Summa Theologica Supplement 69:2, 88:2). In confirmation of this opinion the text of St. Paul is cited: "Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ (Romans 2:15-16). The "Book of Judgment", in which all the deeds of men are written (Apocalypse 20:12), and the appearance of angels and demons to bear witness before the judgment seat are regarded as allegorical descriptions (St. Aug. "De Civ. Dei", XX, xiv). The common opinion is that the particular judgment will occur at the place of death (Suarez in III, Q, lix. a. 6, disp. 52).

(Judicium Universale, Last Judgment).


I. EXISTENCE OF THE GENERAL JUDGMENT

1. Few truths are more often or more clearly proclaimed in Scripture than that of the general judgment. To it the prophets of the Old Testament refer when they speak of the "Day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31; Ezekiel 13:5; Isaiah 2:12), in which the nations will be summoned to judgment. In the New Testament the second Parusia, or coming of Christ as Judge of the world, is an oft-repeated doctrine. The Saviour Himself not only foretells the event but graphically portrays its circumstances (Matthew 24:27 sqq.; 25:31 sqq.). The Apostles give a most prominent place to this doctrine in their preaching (Acts 10:42; 17:31) and writings (Romans 2:5-16; 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; James 5:7). Besides the name Parusia (parousia), or Advent (1 Corinthians 15:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:19), the Second Coming is also called Epiphany, epiphaneia, or Appearance (2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1; Titus 2:13), and Apocalypse (apokalypsis), or Revelation (2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Peter 4:13). The time of the Second Coming is spoken of as "that Day" (2 Timothy 4:8), "the day of the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 5:2), "the day of Christ" (Philemon 1:6), "the day of the Son of Man" (Luke 17:30), "the last day" (John 6:39-40).

2. The belief in the general judgment has prevailed at all times and in all places within the Church. It is contained as an article of faith in all the ancient creeds: "He ascended into heaven. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead" (Apostles' Creed). He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead" (Nicene Creed). "From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead, at whose coming all men must rise with their bodies and are to render an account of their deeds" (Athanasian Creed). Relying on the authority of Papias, several Fathers of the first four centuries advanced the theory of a thousand years' terrestrial reign of Christ with the saints to precede the end of the World (see article on MILLENNIUM). Though this idea is interwoven with the eschatological teachings of those writers, it in no way detracted from their belief in a universal world-judgment. Patristic testimony to this dogma is clear and unanimous.

3. The Roman Catechism thus explains why, besides the particular judgment of each individual, a general one should also be passed on the assembled world: "The first reason is founded on the circumstances that most augment the rewards or aggravate the punishments of the dead. Those who depart this life sometimes leave behind them children who imitate the conduct of their parents, descendants, followers; and others who adhere to and advocate the example, the language, the conduct of those on whom they depend, and whose example they follow; and as the good or bad influence or example, affecting as it does the conduct of many, is to terminate only with this world; justice demands that, in order to form a proper estimate of the good or bad actions of all, a general judgment should take place. . . . Finally, it was important to prove, that in prosperity and adversity, which are sometimes the promiscuous lot of the good and of the bad, everything is ordered by an all-wise, all-just, and all-ruling Providence: it was therefore necessary not only that rewards and punishments should await us in the next life but that they should be awarded by a public and general judgment."


II. SIGNS THAT ARE TO PRECEDE THE GENERAL JUDGMENT

The Scriptures mention certain events which are to take place before the final judgment. These predictions were not intended to serve as indications of the exact time of the judgment, for that day and hour are known only to the Father, and will come when least expected. They were meant to foreshadow the last judgment and to keep the end of the world present to the minds of Christians, without, however, exciting useless curiosity and vain fears. Theologians usually enumerate the following nine events as signs of the last judgment:

1. General Preaching of the Christian Religion. Concerning this sign the Saviour says: "And this gospel of the kingdom, shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the consummation come" (Matthew 24:14). This sign was understood by Chrysostom and Theophilus as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, but, according to the majority of interpreters, Christ is here speaking of the end of the world.

2. Conversion of the Jews. According to the interpretation of the Fathers, the conversion of the Jews towards the end of the world is foretold by St. Paul in the Epistle to the Romans (11:25-26): "For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, . . . that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved as it is written: There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob".

3. Return of Enoch and Elijah. The belief that these two men, who have never tasted death, are reserved for the last times to be precursors of the Second Advent was practically unanimous among the Fathers, which belief they base on several texts of Scripture. (Concerning Elijah see Malachi 4:5-6; Ecclesiasticus 48:10; Matthew 17:11; concerning Enoch see Ecclesiasticus 44:16.)

4. A Great Apostasy. As to this event St. Paul admonishes the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:3) that they must not be terrified, as if the day of the Lord were at hand, for there must first come a revolt (he apostasia).The Fathers and interpreters understand by this revolt a great reduction in the number of the faithful through the abandonment of the Christian religion by many nations. Some commentators cite as confirmatory of this belief the words of Christ: "But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8).

5. The Reign of Antichrist. In the passage above mentioned (2 Thessalonians 2:3 sqq.) St. Paul indicates as another sign of the day of the Lord, the revelation of the man of sin, the son of perdition. "The man of sin" here described is generally identified with the Antichrist, who, says St. John (1 John 2:18), is to come in the last days. Although much obscurity and difference of opinion prevails on this subject, it is generally admitted from the foregoing and other texts that before the Second Coming there will arise a powerful adversary of Christ, who will seduce the nations by his wonders, and persecute the Church.

6. Extraordinary Perturbations of Nature. The Scriptures clearly indicate that the judgment will be preceded by unwonted and terrifying disturbances of the physical universe (Matthew 24:29; Luke 21:25-26). The wars, pestilences, famines, and earthquakes foretold in Matthew 24:6 sq., are also understood by some writers as among the calamities of the last times.

7. The Universal Conflagration. In the Apostolic writings we are told that the end of the world will be brought about through a general conflagration, which, however, will not annihilate the present creation, but will change its form and appearance (2 Peter 3:10-13; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Apocalypse 3:3, and 16:15). Natural science shows the possibility of such a catastrophe being produced in the ordinary course of events, but theologians generally tend to believe that its origin will be entirely miraculous.

8. The Trumpet of Resurrection. Several texts in the New Testament make mention of a voice or trumpet which will awaken the dead to resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; John 5:28). According to St. Thomas (Supplement 86:2) there is reference in these passages either to the voice or to the apparition of Christ, which will cause the resurrection of the dead.

9. "The Sign of the Son of Man Appearing in the Heavens." In Matthew 24:30, this is indicated as the sign immediately preceding the appearance of Christ to judge the world. By this sign the Fathers of the Church generally understand the appearance in the sky of the Cross on which the Saviour died or else of a wonderful cross of light.


III. CIRCUMSTANCES ACCOMPANYING THE GENERAL JUDGMENT

1. Time. As was stated above, the signs that are to precede the judgment give no accurate indication of the time when it will occur (Mark 13:32). When the Disciples asked the Saviour: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" He answered: "It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father hath put in his own power" (Acts 1:6-7). The uncertainty of the day of judgment is continually urged by Christ and the Apostles as an incentive to vigilance. The day of the Lord will come "as a thief" (Matthew 24:42-43), like lightning suddenly appearing (Matthew 24:27), like a snare (Luke 21:34), as the Deluge (Matthew 24:37).

2. Place of the Judgment. All the texts in which mention is made of the Parusia, or Second Coming, seem to imply clearly enough that the general judgment will take place on the earth. Some commentators infer from 1 Thessalonians 4:16, that the judgment will be held in the air, the newly risen being carried into the clouds to meet Christ; according to others the prophecy of Joel (3:1 sq.) places the last judgment in the Valley of Josaphat.

3. The Coming of the Judge. That this judgment is ascribed to Christ, not only as God, but also as Man, is expressly declared in Scripture; for although the power of judging is common to all the Persons of the Trinity, yet it is specially attributed to the Son, because to Him also in a special manner is ascribed wisdom. But that as Man He will judge the world is confirmed by Christ Himself (John 5:26-27). At the Second Coming Christ will appear in the heavens, seated on a cloud and surrounded by the angelic hosts (Matthew 16:27; 24:30; 25:31). The angels will minister to the Judge by bringing all before Him (Matthew 24:31). The elect will aid Christ in a judicial capacity (1 Corinthians 6:2). The lives of the just will in themselves be a condemnation of the wicked (Matthew 21:41), whose punishment they will publicly approve. But the Apostles will be judges of the world in a sense yet more exact, for the promise that they shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28) seems to imply a real participation in judicial authority. According to a very probable opinion, this prerogative is extended to all who have faithfully fulfilled the counsels of the Gospel (Matthew 19:27-28). Nothing certain is known as to the manner in which this delegated authority will be exercised. St. Thomas conjectures that the greater saints will make known the sentence of Christ to others (Supplement 88:2).

4. Those to be Judged. All men, both good and bad, according to the Athanasian Creed, will appear in the judgment to give an account of their deeds. As to children that have personally done neither good nor evil, the baptized must be distinguished from the unbaptized. The former appear in the judgment, not to be judged, but only to hold the glory of Christ (Supplement 80:5), while the latter, ranked with the wicked, although not judged, will be enabled to realize the justice of their eternal loss (Suarez). The angels and the demons will not be judged directly, since their eternal destiny has already been fixed; yet, because they have exercised a certain influence over the fortunes of men, the sentence pronounced on the latter will have a corresponding effect on them also (Supplement 89:8).

5. Object of the Judgment. The judgment will embrace all works, good or bad, forgiven as well as forgiven sins, every idle word (Matthew 12:36), every secret thought (1 Corinthians 4:5). With the exception of Peter Lombard, theologians teach that even the secret sins of the just will be made manifest, in order that judgment may be made complete and that the justice and mercy of God may be glorified. This will not pain or embarrass the saints, but add to their glory, just as the repentance of St. Peter and St. Mary Magdalen is to these saints a source of joy and honour.

6. Form of the Judgment. The procedure of the judgment is described in Matthew 25:31-46, and in the Apocalypse 20:12. Commentators see in those passages allegorical descriptions intended to convey in a vivid manner the fact that in the last judgment the conduct and deserts of each individual will be made plain not only to his own conscience but to the knowledge of the assembled world. It is probable that no words will be spoken in the judgment, but that in one instant, through a Divine illumination, each creature will thoroughly understand his own moral condition and that of every fellow creature (Romans 2:15). Many believe, however, that the words of the sentence: "Come, ye blessed", etc. and "Depart from me", etc. will be really addressed by Christ to the multitude of the saved and the lost.


IV. RESULTS OF THE GENERAL JUDGMENT

With the fulfilment of the sentence pronounced in the last judgment the relations and the dealings of the Creator with the creature find their culmination, are explained and justified. The Divine purpose being accomplished, the human race will, as a consequence, attain its final destiny. The reign of Christ over mankind will be the sequel of the General Judgment.

J. A. McHugh.