Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 204.

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. 


Since all this is so undeniably true, why will we not resolve to walk in the way of virtue, though ever so painful, that we may avoid those punishments we are threatened with, if we take the contrary way? Should God leave it to any man's choice, either to be tormented with the gout or toothache, in such a violent manner, as not to have any hopes of ease either day or night, or else to turn Carthusian or barefoot Carmelite, and undergo all the austerities those religious men are obliged to, it is not to be imagined any man would be so stupid as not to choose either of these two states, though on the bare motive of self-love, rather than suffer such torture for so long a time. Why then do not we accept of so easy a penance to avoid such lasting torments, since the pains of hell are so much more insufferable, of so much longer continuance, and God requires so much less of us than the life of a Carthusian or Carmelite? Why do we refuse to undergo so little pain, 'when by it we may escape so long and so rigorous a punishment ? Can any man be guilty of greater folly than this is ? But the punishment of it shall be, that since man would not, by short penance done here, redeem himself from so much misery, he shall do penance in hell for all eternity, without reaping any benefit by it. The fiery furnace which Nebuchadnezzar commanded to be kindled in Babylon is a type hereof (Dan. iii. 47); for though the flames mounted forty-nine cubits, they could never reach to fifty, the number of years appointed for solemnising the Jewish jubilee; to signify to us, that though the flames of this eternal furnace of Babylon, which is hell, are continually casting forth a most violent heat, and put those souls which are thrown into them to most exquisite pains and torments, yet they shall never obtain for them the grace and remission of the year of jubilee. O unprofitable pains ! O fruitless tears! O penance so much the more rigorous, as it is accompanied with perpetual despair! How small a part of all those evils you are now forced to suffer might have obtained you a pardon, if you would but willingly have undergone it in this life ! How easily might we prevent our falling into such miseries with but a little pains and trouble ! Let our eyes, then, melt into fountains of tears, and let our hearts break forth into continual sighs without intermission. " For this," says the prophet, " I wail and howl; I will go stripped and naked; I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the ostriches; for her wound is desperate; " Mich. i. 8.

If men had never been told these truths, or if they had not looked on them as infallible, we should not wonder to see them fall into that supine negligence they are subject to. But have we not a deal of reason to be astonished, when those very persons who hold what we have here asserted as an article of faith, and know that, as our Saviour has said, Heaven and earth shall pass away y but not my word; that is to say, it shall infallibly have its effect, live so inexcusably careless and unconcerned? Tell me now, O man, blind in body, but blinder more in soul and understanding, what pleasure can you find in all the advantages and riches of the world, to counterbalance the hazard of your eternal salvation? "If," says St. Jerome, " you were as wise as Solomon, as beautiful as Absalom, as strong as Samson, as old as Enoch, as rich as Croesus, and as powerful as Caesar, what good would all this do you, if, when you die, the worms should prey upon your body, and the devils seize on your soul to torment it, as they do the rich glutton's, for all eternity?"

Thus much for the first part oi the exhortation to virtue. We will treat now of the extraordinary favours which are promised it, even in this life.