Saturday, 21 January 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 203.



A thorough consideration of all these things is sufficient to make us understand what torments the wicked are to suffer. For who can imagine, from what has been said, but that these pains must be very great? What can a man expect from the greatness of God himself; from the greatness of his justice in punishing sin; from the greatness of his patience in bearing with sinners; from the infinite multitude of favours and graces by which he has endeavoured to invite and draw them to himself; from the greatness of the hatred he bears to sin, which deserves to be infinitely hated, because it offends an infinite Majesty; and from the greatness of our enemy's cruelty and fury? What can we, I say, expect from all these things, which are so great, but that sin should meet with a most severe and terrible punishment? If, therefore, so severe a punishment is ordained for sin, and no doubt can be made of it, since faith testifies this truth, how can they, who pretend to own and believe it, be so insensible of the heavy weight every sin they commit throws on them, when, by giving way to but one offence, they bring themselves into the danger of incurring a penalty, which on so many accounts appears so terrible?

§ I. Of the duration of these Torments. —But though all these considerations are sufficient, without any further addition, to make us tremble, we shall have much more reason to be afraid, if we do but reflect with ourselves on the duration of the pains mentioned. For if, after several thousands of years, there should be any limits set, or any ease given to these sufferings, it would be some kind of comfort to the wicked: but what shall I say of their eternity, which has no bounds, but will last as long as God himself? This eternity is such, that, as a great doctor tells us, should one of the damned, at the end of every thousand years, shed but one tear, he would sooner overflow the world than find any end to his miseries. Can any thing, then, be more terrible ? This is certainly so great an evil, that, though all the pains of hell were no sharper than the prick of a pin, considering they were to continue forever, man ought to undergo all the torments of this world to avoid them. O! that this eternity, this terrible word forever were deeply imprinted in your heart! how great would be the benefit you would reap by it! We read of a certain vain and worldly-minded man, who, considering seriously one day on this eternity of torments, was frightened with the duration of them into this reflection: No man in the world in his right senses would be confined to a bed of roses and violets for the space of thirty or forty years though he were at this price to purchase the empire of the whole earth. If so, said he to himself, what a madman must he be, that will, for things of much less value, run the hazard of lying infinite ages on a bed of fire and flames! This thought alone wrought him up to such and so immediate a change of life, that he became a great saint and a worthy prelate of the Church. What will those nice and effeminate persons say to this, whose whole night's sleep is disturbed and broken if a fly be but buzzing in their chamber? What will they say, when they shall be stretched out on a bed of fire, and surrounded on all sides with sulphurous flames, not for one short summer's night, but for all eternity? These are the persons to whom the prophet Isaias (ch. xxxiii. 14) put this question: "Who among you can dwell with the devouring fire ?

Who among you can dwell with everlasting burnings ?  Who can be able to bear such a scorching heat as this for so long a time ? O foolish and senseless men! lulled into a lethargic sleep by the charms of this old deceiver of mankind! Can any thing be more unreasonable than to see men so busily providing for this mortal and corruptible life, and at the same time to have no greater concern for the things which regard eternity ? If we are blind to this mistake, what will our eyes be open to ? What will we be afraid of, if we have no apprehension of this misery? or what shall we ever provide against, if not against a matter of such importance?