SIX VOLUMES IN ONE BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada REV. STEPHEN KEENAN REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J. REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
Tell me now, after all this, what will be your thoughts at that hour, when, having left this world, you appear before the divine tribunal, in a lonely, poor and naked condition, without any other assistance but what your own good works will bring you, without any other company but that of your own conscience; and if your accounts fall short, how miserable will your condition be? To what shame and confusion will your past neglects put you ? The princes of Judah were, without doubt, very much surprised when they saw the conqueror Sesach, king of Egypt, putting all Jerusalem to the sword. Their present punishment brought them to a sense of their former crimes; and yet what was all this in comparison with the trouble and disorder the wicked shall be in, when they are near their end ? What shall they do ? whither shall they go? or what defence shall they be able to make? Their tears will be then unprofitable to them, their repentance will not avail, their prayers will not be taken notice of, nor their promises of future amendment regarded: they will have no time given them to do penance; and as for their riches, their honors, or the respect the world gave them, they will signify least of all. For, according to the wise man, "riches shall not be profitable in the day of vengeance, but justice will deliver a man from death Prov. xi. 4. What will a poor soul do, when it sees itself surrounded with so many miseries ? What will it do but cry out, with the royal psalmist, " The sorrows of death have encompassed me, and the dangers of hell have found me out?" Ps. cxiv. 3. Unhappy wretch that I am! To what a miserable condition have my sins reduced me? how unexpectedly has this unfortunate hour stolen on me? how suddenly has it surprised me when I least thought of it ? what good will all my former titles and honors do me now? All my friends and servants, those riches and revenues which I have once been master of, what service can I expect from them now? Six or seven feet of clay at the most, with a poor winding sheet to bury me in, is to be my whole inheritance ; and to complete my misery, all that money I have been so long hoarding up, with so much pains and injustice, I must now leave behind me, to be squandered away by an extravagant heir, whilst the sins I have been guilty of in getting it, will pursue me to the next world to condemn me to eternal torments. Where is now the delight I took in all my former recreations and pleasures? They are now at an end for ever, and nothing but the pangs of them remain; that is, the scruples and remorse of my guilty conscience, the stings of which pierce my very heart, and will torment me for all eternity. Why did I not rather employ my time in preparing myself for this last hour? How often have I been forewarned of what I suffer, but would never give ear to the advice? "Why have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to them that instructed me?" Prov. v. 12, 13. I have committed all kinds of sins and iniquities, in the very bosom of the Church, and in the sight of all the world.
See here what anxieties and disquietudes the wicked will be rent with. See here what a burden their own thoughts will be to them in this miserable condition. But to preserve you from falling into the same misfortunes, I here advise you to gather, from what has been said, these three considerations, and to keep them continually in your mind. The first is, that of the trouble you will be in at the hour of your death, for all those sins you have committed against God during the whole course of your life. The second is, how you will wish to have served him, that | he might be favorable to you at this moment. The last is, what a rigid penance you would willingly undergo in this world, if you could but obtain the favor of returning thither, that you might begin, from that very moment, to live as you will then desire to have lived before.