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.
CHAPTER VIII. OF THE EIGHTH MOTIVE THAT OBLIGES US TO THE PURSUIT OF VIRTUE, WHICH IS, THE LAST JUDGEMENT, THE SECOND OF THE FOUR LAST THINGS.
AS soon as ever the soul has left the body, immediately follows its particular judgment, and after that, the general one of all mankind together; at which time shall be accomplished what the Apostle said: "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil;" 2 Cor. v. 10. Having treated, in another place, of those dreadful signs, which are to be the forerunners of the general judgment-day, I shall speak here of nothing but that severe and exact account, which will be then required from us, and of what is to follow, that this may teach man how much he is obliged to the pursuit of virtue.
As to the first, which is the strict , inquiry God will make into all our actions, it is so frightful, that there was nothing surprised holy Job more than to consider, that God, whose majesty is so great, could show so much rigor towards man, notwithstanding his being so frail a creature, as to set down every word, every thought, every motion of his, in his book of justice, to require a particular account thereof. After having said a great deal to this purpose, he goes on thus: "Why dost thou hide thy face, and lookest upon me as thy enemy ? Thou exercisest thy power against a leaf which is driven to and fro by the wind, and thou pursuest the dry stubble. For thou writest bitter things against me, and hast a mind to destroy me for the sins of my youth; thou hast put my feet in the stocks, and hast observed all my paths, and hast taken notice of the steps of my feet. I who am to be consumed as a rotten thing, and as a garment that is moth-eaten ; " Job xiii. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28.
Immediately after he adds, " Man that is born of a woman, and has but a short time to live, is full of miseries. He comes forth like a flower, and is trodden down; he flies away like a shadow, and never continues in the same state. And dost thou think fit to open thy eyes upon such a one, and to bring him into judgment with thee? Who can make that clean which is conceived of unclean seed ? Who but thou alone ? " Job xiv. 1, 2, 3, 4. These are the terrible words which Job spoke, filled with surprise and astonishment at the severity the divine justice exercises against so poor and helpless a creature as is man; against one so bent on any thing that is evil, and that drinks up iniquity like water. For that God should be so severe to the angels, who are spiritual, and very perfect creatures, is not to be a matter of so much wonder: but for his justice to call men, whose vicious inclinations are numberless, to so strict an account, as not to pass over any one circumstance of their whole lives, not to leave out any one idle word, nor so much as one moment of time that has been misemployed, without a very narrow inquiry into it, is a subject of the greatest amazement. For who can hear these words of our Saviour without astonishment? "I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment;" Matt xii. 36. If we are to give an account of such words as these are, that hurt nobody, what an examination will be made into lewd discourses, unchaste thoughts, bloody hands, and lascivious looks ? What, in short, into all that time men have spent in committing sinful actions? And if this be true, as doubtless it is, what can a man say of the severity of this judgment, but will fall far short of it ? What a fright will a poor man be in, to see himself accused before so venerable an assembly, of some light word he spoke in his lifetime, without any design or intention ? Who will not be surprised at so strange a charge? or who would have dared to affirm this, had not God himself said it? Was there ever any prince that called his servant to account for the loss of a pin or a needle ? O the excellence of the Christian religion I what perfection and purity dost thou teach, and how strict an account wilt thou require of it, and with how rigorous a judgment wilt thou examine into it!