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.
Is there any thing more dreadful than these words? God says the sun shall go down at midday, because then the wicked having the multitude of their sins laid before them, and perceiving God's justice is beginning to shorten the course of their life, many of them will be seized with such dread and despair, as to imagine that God has entirely removed his mercy from them. So that, though they are still in broad day, that is, within the bounds of life, a time to merit good or evil, they persuade themselves that, do what they can, it is lost, since it is impossible to obtain pardon. Fear is a very powerful passion; it makes those things which are little seem great, and gives us a near view of that which is furthest from us. If a light apprehension has been able sometimes to do so much, what must a certain and real danger do? Though they see they have a little life left, and all their friends about them, yet they fancy they already begin to feel the torments of the damned in hell. They look on themselves as between life and death, and, grieving at the loss of the goods of this life, which they are just ready to part with, they begin to suffer the pains of the next, which they apprehend. They think those men happy whom they leave behind, and envying the condition of others, increase their own misery. It is then the sun shall truly set to them at noon, when, which way soever they look, the way to heaven shall seem to be blocked up against them, and they shall not see so much as the least glimmering light. If they look up towards God's mercy, they think themselves unworthy of it; if they reflect on his justice, they imagine it is now going to fall on them; that till then it has been their day, but now it is the day of God's wrath ; if they consider their lives past, there is scarce one moment but what rises up in judgment against them; if they reflect on the present time, they see themselves on their death-beds; if they look forward, they imagine they see the judge waiting for them. What can they do, or whither can they fly from so many objects of fear and terror?
The prophet tells them, " that God will darken the earth in the clear day;" which is, that those things, which they have most delighted in before, shall now become the greatest occasions of their sorrow. A man in perfect health loves to see his children, his friends, his family, his riches, and whatsoever else can be any way agreeable to him; but this light shall be then turned into darkness, because all these things will be a great affliction to a dying man; and there is nothing will be a greater torment to him than what he most delighted in. For as we naturally are pleased in the possession of what we love, so are we equally troubled and concerned at the loss of it. This is the reason why they will not let a man's children come near him when he is dying; and why women, that are unwilling to lose their husbands, keep from them at this time, for fear the sight of one another should increase grief and sorrow. And, though the journey is so long, and the period of absence endless, yet grief breaks through all, and scarcely allows him that is departing leisure to bid his friends farewell.
If you have ever been in this condition, you cannot but acknowledge all that I say to be true; but if you have never yet made the experiment, believe those that have. " Let them who have been at sea recount the dangers they have met with there;" Eccl. xliii. 26.