Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 200.



Another proof of this we have, in the extraordinary patience with which God bears, not only the world in general, but every sinner in particular. How many do we daily see, who, from the very first moment they came to the use of reason till their latter days, have been employed in nothing but sin, without ever regarding God's promises or threats, his mercies or commands, or any other thing that tended to their conversion ? And yet this sovereign goodness has been all the while expecting them with patience, without cutting off" one minute of their unhappy lives, and has not ceased to make use of several means to bring them to repentance, but all to no purpose. What, therefore, will he do, when, after having exhausted this long patience, his anger, which has been so long a time gathering in the repository of his justice, shall overflow the banks which kept it in? With how much force and violence will it rush in on them! This is what the Apostle meant, when he said, "Knowest thou not, O man, that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance? But according to thy hardness, and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his works; " Rom. ii. 4, 5, 6.

What can he mean by treasurest up to thyself wrath, but as they who hoard up riches daily heap gold on gold, and silver on silver, for the increasing of their stock; so God daily adds to the treasure of his anger, in proportion to the number of the sinner's crimes. Were a man to be altogether employed for fifty or sixty years together, in heaping up treasures, so as not to let one day or hour pass without making some addition to it, what a mighty sum would he find at the end of that time! How miserable, then, must your condition be, since you scarce suffer one moment of your life to slip without adding something to the treasure of God's wrath, which is every minute increased by the number of your sins! For though nothing else were to be put in but the immodest glances of your eyes, the malicious and vicious desires of your heart, and the oaths and scandalous words that come from your mouth, these alone would suffice to fill a whole world. Then, if so many other enormous crimes as you are daily guilty of, be added to these, what a treasure of wrath and vengeance shall you have heaped against yourself at the end of so many years!

If, besides all this, we make a serious reflection on the ingratitude and malice of the wicked, it will, in a great measure, show us with what severity and rigor this punishment is to be inflicted. To pass a true judgment on this matter, we should consider, on one side, how merciful God has dealt with men, what he did and said for them whilst he was here on earth, and how much he suffered for them, what dispositions and means he has found for their leading a virtuous life, how much he has pardoned or seemed not to take notice of, the benefits he has done them, the evils he has delivered them from, with infinite other graces he is always bestowing on them. Let us consider, on the other hand, how forgetful men have been of God, their ingratitude, their treason, their infidelities, blasphemies, the contempt they have had of both him and his commandments, which has been carried so far, that they have trampled him under foot, not only for a trivial interest, hut very often for nothing, and out of mere malice; nay, they are come to such a degree of impudence, that the laws of God are the frequent matter of their pleasantry, ridicule and impiety. What do you think those persons who have despised so high a majesty can expect, those who, as the Apostle says (Heb. x. 29), "have trodden under foot the Son of God, and have esteemed the blood of the covenant unclean, with which he was sanctified," but to be punished and tormented on that day, wherein they must render an account of themselves, according to the affronts and injuries they have offered? For, God being a most equitable judge, that is to say, such a one as will punish the offender proportionably to the offence given, and being, besides, the party offended, how great must the torments be, which the soul and body of the criminal, delivered up to his justice, shall suffer, since they are to equal the grievousness of the crimes by which the divine Majesty has been affronted! And if it was necessary that the Son of God should shed his blood to satisfy for those sins which had been committed against him (the merits of the person supplying what might be wanting to the rigour of the punishment), what must follow when this satisfaction is to be made by no other way but by the severity of the punishment, without any consideration of the person at all?