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.
Should you ask one, what there is in death that can affright such holy men, I will answer you out of St. Gregory's fourth book of Morals (ch. 16, 17, 18), where he says, "The saints, seriously considering how just the Judge is, to to whom they are to give an account of all their actions, are continually thinking on the last moment of their lives, and carefully examining themselves on what answer they shall make to every question their Judge shall put to them. But if they find themselves free from all those sinful actions, which they might have committed, another subject of their apprehension is, lest they should have consented to those bad thoughts to which man's corruption always exposes him. For let us suppose that the overcoming of such temptations as lead to the performance of some sinful action, is no very hard matter, yet you will not find it so easy to secure yourself against the continual war, raised by bad thoughts. And though these holy men are always afraid of the secret judgments of so just a Judge, yet they then particularly fear them most, when they are at the point of discharging the common debt of nature, and when they perceive themselves advancing nigher to their sovereign Master. But this fear of theirs is much greater, at that time when the soul is just going to quit the body. Then it is that the mind is no longer filled with idle thoughts, nor the imagination drawn away by impertinent fancies. Neither does he, that is now done with this world, think of any thing that is in it. Dying men think of nothing but themselves and God who is just before them. They look on every thing else as no concern of theirs. But if, whilst they are in this condition, they cannot think of any good action, which they have knowingly omitted, they are afraid lest they might have omitted that which they did not know; because they cannot pass a true judgment on themselves, nor have perfect knowledge of their own failings. This is the reason of their being seized at death with such great and secret apprehensions, because they know they are on entering into a state, which they shall never afterwards be able to change." These are St. Gregory's own words, which plainly show us there is much more to be feared in this judgment, and at this hour, than worldly men imagine.
If this judgment is so rigorous, and has been so much and so justly dreaded by holy men, what apprehensions ought theirs to be, who are not so? they who have spent the greatest parts of their lives in vanities and trifles, who have so frequently despised God, and his commandments, who have scarce so much as ever thought of their salvation, and have taken so little pains to prepare themselves for their last hour ? If the just man be ready to sink under the weight of his fear, how shall the sinner be able to keep up ? If the cedar of Lebanon be thus shaken, what will become of the reed in the wilderness? And in short, " If," as St. Peter says, " the just man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" 1 Pet iv. 18.