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The Doctrine Of Christ

Epilogue

This has been a modest summary of the most precious knowledge that is given to men: the doctrine of Christ. Although this exposition can in no way be compared to the inspired classic of St. Athanasius, from whom we have borrowed extensively, we shall be bold enough to use the last two sections of The Incarnation of the Word of God as an epilogue. Yet more than an epilogue, may this quotation serve as an exhortation to all who would know the doctrine of Christ wherein we have life.

56.     Search then, the Scriptures, if you can, and so fill up this sketch. Learn to look for the Second Coming and the Judgment.

Let this, then, Christ-loving man, be our offering to you, just for a rudimentary sketch and outline, in a short compass, of the faith of Christ and of His Divine appearing to usward. But you, taking occasion by this, if you light upon the text of the Scriptures, by genuinely applying your mind to them, will learn from them more completely and clearly the exact detail of what we have said. 2. For they were spoken and written by God, through men who spoke of God. But we impart of what we have learned from inspired teachers who have been conversant with them, who have also become martyrs for the deity of Christ, to your zeal for learning, in turn. 3. And you will also learn about His second and glorious and truly divine appearing to us, when no longer in lowliness, but in His own glory, -no longer in humble guise, but in His own magnificence, - He is to come, no more to suffer, but thenceforth to render to all the fruit of His own Cross, that is, the resurrection and incorruption; and no longer to be judged, but to judge all, by what each has done in the body, whether good or evil; where there is laid up for the good the kingdom of heaven, but for them that have done evil everlasting fire and outer darkness. 4. For thus the Lord Himself also says: " Henceforth ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven in the glory of the Father." (Mt. 26:64) 5. And for this very reason there is also a word of the Saviour to prepare us for that day, in these words: "Be ye ready and watch, for He cometh at an hour ye know not." (Mt. 24:42; Mk. 13:35) For, according to the blessed Paul: "We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive according as he hath done in the body, whether it be good or bad." (II Cor. 5:10; Rm. 14:10)

§ 57. Above all, so live that you may have the right to eat of this tree of knowledge and life, and so come to eternal joys...

But for the searching of the Scriptures and true knowledge of them, an honourable life is needed, and a pure soul, and that which is according to Christ: so that the intellect guiding its path by it, may be able to attain what it desires, and to comprehend it, in so far as it is accessible to human nature to learn concerning the Word of God. 2. For without a pure mind and a modeling of the life after the saints, a man could not possibly comprehend the words of the saints. 3. For just as, if a man wished to see the light of the sun, he would at any rate wipe and brighten his eye, purifying himself in some sort like what he desires, so that the eye, thus becoming light, may see the light of the sun; or as, if a man would see a city or country, he at any rate come to the place to see it;--thus he that would comprehend the mind of those who speak of God must needs begin by washing and cleansing his soul, by his manner of living, and approach the saints themselves by imitating their works; so that, associated with them in the conduct of a common life, he may understand also what has been revealed to them by God, and thenceforth, as closely knit to them, may escape the peril of the sinners and their fire at the day of judgment, and receive what is laid up for the saints in the kingdom of heaven, which "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of, man," (I Cor. 2:9) whatsoever things are prepared for them that live a virtuous life, and love the God and Father, in Christ Jesus our Lord: through Whom and with Whom be to the Father Himself, with the Son Himself, in the Holy Spirit, honour and might and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. IV, St. Athanasius, "Select Works and Letters," pp. 66-67


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