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.
|Suicide forest-Picture is from the Vision of hell by Dante Alighieri, popular edition, published in 1892, London-England.|
Why then will we not charitably assist each other? why will we not praise and glorify God before the sun of his justice is set, and before he removes his light from our eyes? We had much better let our tongues be parched with fasting for the short remainder of this life, than having satisfied them in this world, to let them be reduced to the necessity of begging a drop of water in the next, out of all possibility of obtaining it. If we are so nice and tender here, that we cannot suffer the heat of a light fever the space of three days, how shall we be able to endure those eternal burnings? If the sentence of death passed on us by a mortal judge, who cannot take away above forty or fifty years of our life at furthest, be so terrible, why do not we tremble at the sentence that is to be given by a Judge, in whose power it is to deprive us of life everlasting? It terrifies us to see the punishments inflicted on malefactors here on earth, to see the executioners drag them away by force, scourge, disjoint, quarter, tear or burn them; and yet what is this but a mere dream or shadow, in comparison to the pains of hell? For death puts an end to all these sufferings, but there the worm of conscience never dies, there life is never at an end; the tormentors are never tired, and the fire never is put out. Let us, therefore, set what we will against this misery, let it be fire or sword, wild beasts, or any other kind of torment whatever; to this it will appear but as an imperfect draft or representation.
What will these unhappy wretches do, when they shall see themselves deprived of so many blessings, and condemned to suffer such unspeakable miseries? What will they say? How will they cry out against themselves? How horribly will they sigh and groan, and yet to what little purpose ? For neither is the sailor useful after he has lost his vessel, nor the physician when his patient is dead. It is then—but too late, alas!—they will begin to reflect on their sins, and to say, We should have looked better to ourselves, and not fallen into this deplorable state. Alas! how often have we been told of this, and would take no notice of it? The Jews shall then know him, who came in the name of the Lord, but it shall not avail them, because they would not know him when this knowledge might have been beneficial to them. But what shall we, miserable creatures, be able to say for ourselves, when heaven and earth, the sun and moon, night and day, nay, the whole world, shall cry out against us, and be witnesses of the sins we have committed? But should every thing else be silent, we have still our consciences to rise up against and accuse us. This is almost all taken out of St. John Chrysostom, and is sufficient to show us how terrible the idea of this dreadful day must be to those persons, who have not governed themselves by the dictates of reason and virtue. St. Ambrose, as severely as he searched into his own actions, gives us plainly to understand, in his commentaries on St. Luke, that this was his sentiment: his words are these: "Woe unto me, O Lord, if I do not bewail my sins; if I do not rise at midnight to praise thy holy name, if I deceive my neighbor, or if I speak against the truth, because the axe is now laid to the root of the tree." Let him, therefore, who is in the state of grace, endeavor to bring forth the fruits of justice ; let him who is in the state of sin, endeavor to bring forth the fruits of penance. For the Lord is nigh at hand, and comes to gather in his fruit, and will give life to those who work faithfully and profitably, and death to them who are idle and unserviceable.