16. For this cause the Lord knowing the greatness of the adversary grants indulgence to the godly, saying, Then let them which be in Judæa flee to the mountains. Matthew 24:16 But if any man is conscious that he is very stout-hearted, to encounter Satan, let him stand (for I do not despair of the Church's nerves), and let him say, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ and the rest Romans 8:35? But, let those of us who are fearful provide for our own safety; and those who are of a good courage, stand fast: for then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:21 But thanks be to God who has confined the greatness of that tribulation to a few days; for He says, But for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened ; and Antichrist shall reign for three years and a half only. We speak not from apocryphal books, but from Daniel; for he says, And they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time .A time is the one year in which his coming shall for a while have increase; and the times are the remaining two years of iniquity, making up the sum of the three years; and the half a time is the six months. And again in another place Daniel says the same thing, And he swore by Him that lives for ever that it shall be for a time, and times, and half a time. Daniel 12:7 And some perhaps have referred what follows also to this; namely, a thousand two hundred and ninety days ; and this, Blessed is he that endures and comes to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. For this cause we must hide ourselves and flee; for perhaps we shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come Matthew 10:23 .
17. Who then is the blessed man, that shall at that time devoutly witness for Christ? For I say that the Martyrs of that time excel all martyrs. For the Martyrs hitherto have wrestled with men only; but in the time of Antichrist they shall do battle with Satan in his own person. And former persecuting kings only put to death; they did not pretend to raise the dead, nor did they make false shows of signs and wonders. But in his time there shall be the evil inducement both of fear and of deceit, so that if it be possible the very elect shall be deceived. Matthew 24:24 Let it never enter into the heart of any then alive to ask, What did Christ more? For by what power does this man work these things? Were it not God's will, He would not have allowed them. The Apostle warns you, and says beforehand, And for this cause God shall send them a working of error; (send, that is, shall allow to happen;) not that they might make excuse, but that they might be condemned. Wherefore? They, he says, who believed not the truth, that is, the true Christ, but had pleasure in unrighteousness, that is, in Antichrist. But as in the persecutions which happen from time to time, so also then God will permit these things, not because He wants power to hinder them, but because according to His wont He will through patience crown His own champions like as He did His Prophets and Apostles; to the end that having toiled for a little while they may inherit the eternal kingdom of heaven, according to that which Daniel says, And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book (manifestly, the book of life); and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and same to shame and everlasting contempt; and they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and of the many righteous , as the stars for ever and ever.
18. Guard yourself then, O man; you have the signs of Antichrist; and remember them not only yourself, but impart them also freely to all. If you have a child according to the flesh, admonish him of this now; if you have begotten one through catechizing , put him also on his guard, lest he receive the false one as the True. For the mystery of iniquity does already work. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 I fear these wars of the nations ; I fear the schisms of the Churches; I fear the mutual hatred of the brethren. But enough on this subject; only God forbid that it should be fulfilled in our days; nevertheless, let us be on our guard. And thus much concerning Antichrist.
19. But let us wait and look for the Lord's coming upon the clouds from heaven. Then shall Angelic trumpets sound; the dead in Christ shall rise first 1 Thessalonians 4:16 — the godly persons who are alive shall be caught up in the clouds, receiving as the reward of their labours more than human honour, inasmuch as theirs was a more than human strife; according as the Apostle Paul writes, saying, For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
20. This coming of the Lord, and the end of the world, were known to the Preacher; who says, Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and the rest ; Therefore remove anger from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh;... and remember your Creator... or ever the evil days come ,.... or ever the sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars be darkened ,.... and they that look out of the windows be darkened ; (signifying the faculty of sight;) or ever the silver cord be loosed; (meaning the assemblage of the stars, for their appearance is like silver;) and the flower of gold be broken ; (thus veiling the mention of the golden sun; for the camomile is a well-known plant, having many ray-like leaves shooting out round it;) and they shall rise up at the voice of the sparrow, yea, they shall look away from the height, and terrors shall be in the way. What shall they see? Then shall they see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven; and they shall mourn tribe by tribe. And what shall come to pass when the Lord has come? The almond tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall grow heavy, and the caper-berry shall be scattered abroad. Ecclesiastes 12:5 And as the interpreters say, the blossoming almond signifies the departure of winter; and our bodies shall then after the winter blossom with a heavenly flower. And the grasshopper shall grow in substance (that means the winged soul clothing itself with the body ,) and the caper-berry shall be scattered abroad (that is, the transgressors who are like thorns shall be scattered ).
21. You see how they all foretell the coming of the Lord. You see how they know the voice of the sparrow. Let us know what sort of voice this is. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God. 1 Thessalonians 2:16 The Archangel shall make proclamation and say to all, Arise to meet the Lord. And fearful will be that descent of our Master. David says, God shall manifestly come, even our God, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall burn before Him, and a fierce tempest round about Him, and the rest. The Son of Man shall come to the Father, according to the Scripture which was just now read, on the clouds of heaven, drawn by a stream of fire , which is to make trial of men. Then if any man's works are of gold, he shall be made brighter; if any man's course of life be like stubble, and unsubstantial, it shall be burnt up by the fire. And the Father shall sit, having His garment white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. Daniel 7:9 But this is spoken after the manner of men; wherefore? Because He is the King of those who have not been defiled with sins; for, He says, I will make your sins white as snow, and as wool Isaiah 1:18, which is an emblem of forgiveness of sins, or of sinlessness itself. But the Lord who shall come from heaven on the clouds, is He who ascended on the clouds; for He Himself has said, And they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory Matthew 24:30 .
22. But what is the sign of His coming? Lest a hostile power dare to counterfeit it. And then shall appear, He says, the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. Ib Now Christ's own true sign is the Cross; a sign of a luminous Cross shall go before the King , plainly declaring Him who was formerly crucified: that the Jews who before pierced Him and plotted against Him, when they see it, may mourn tribe by tribe Zechariah 12:12, saying, This is He who was buffeted, this is He whose face they spat on, this is He whom they bound with chains, this is He whom of old they crucified, and set at nought. Whither, they will say, shall we flee from the face of Your wrath? But the Angel hosts shall encompass them, so that they shall not be able to flee anywhere. The sign of the Cross shall be a terror to His foes; but joy to His friends who have believed in Him, or preached Him, or suffered for His sake. Who then is the happy man, who shall then be found a friend of Christ? That King, so great and glorious, attended by the Angel-guards, the partner of the Father's throne, will not despise His own servants. For that His Elect may not be confused with His foes, He shall send forth His Angels with a great trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds. Matthew 24:31 He despised not Lot, who was but one; how then shall He despise many righteous? Come, you blessed of My Father , will He say to them who shall then ride on chariots of clouds, and be assembled by Angels.
23. But some one present will say, I am a poor man, or again, I shall perhaps be found at that time sick in bed; or, I am but a woman, and I shall be taken at the mill: shall we then be despised? Be of good courage, O man; the Judge is no respecter of persons; He will not judge according to a man's appearance, nor reprove according to his speech. He honours not the learned before the simple, nor the rich before the needy. Though thou be in the field, the Angels shall take you; think not that He will take the landowners, and leave you the husbandman. Though thou be a slave, though thou be poor, be not any whit distressed; He who took the form of a servant Philippians 2:7 despises not servants. Though thou be lying sick in bed, yet it is written, Then shall two be in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Luke 17:34 Though thou be of compulsion put to grind, whether thou be man or woman ; though thou be in fetters , and sit beside the mill, yet He who by His might brings out them that are bound Exodus 11:5, will not overlook you. He who brought forth Joseph out of slavery and prison to a kingdom, shall redeem you also from your afflictions into the kingdom of heaven. Only be of good cheer, only work, only strive earnestly; for nothing shall be lost. Every prayer of yours, every Psalm you sing is recorded; every alms-deed, every fast is recorded; every marriage duly observed is recorded; continence kept for God's sake is recorded; but the first crowns in the records are those of virginity and purity; and you shall shine as an Angel. But as you have gladly listened to the good things, so listen again without shrinking to the contrary. Every covetous deed of yours is recorded; your every act of fornication is recorded, your every false oath is recorded, every blasphemy, and sorcery, and theft, and murder. All these things are henceforth to be recorded, if you do the same now after having been baptized; for your former deeds are blotted out.