Apocalyptic Spirituality: Treatises and Letters of Lactantius, Adso of Montier-En-Der, Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan Spirituals, Savonarola

By Bernard McGinn | Go to book overview

Preface

The history of Christian Apocalyptic reveals one thing very clearly: the desire of the human soul to find a significant place for itself in the time process. This is rooted in the Judaeo- Christian lineal concept of history, and belief in the soul's immortality is intimately linked with the place of the human personality in an ongoing historical process which has two terminals--an individual one in death and a universal one in the end of the world. This sense of "place" and of "end" is one of the chief roots of morality, and in all generations Christian writers have exhorted themselves and others to be "watchful servants," each playing his allotted role responsibly, "for the end cometh."

Ye servants of the Lord,
Each in his office, wait,
Observant of his heavenly word,
And watchful at his gate.

Watch! 'tis your Lord's command,
And while we speak he's near;
Mark the first signal of his hand,
And ready all appear.

( P. Doddridge)

This eighteenth-century hymn echoes the exhortations of Lactantius in the early fourth century. There is also an element of "waiting" here which is, indeed, common to all human ex

-xiii-

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