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.
This will still be more evident, if we but consider the greatness of the divine justice which inflicts this punishment; and we may see more of it, in those dreadful examples we have in the Holy Scriptures. How remarkably did God punish Dathan and Abiron (Num. xvi.), with all their accomplices, by making the earth to open and swallow them alive, and by sinking them down into hell for rebelling against their superiors ! Who ever heard of any threats or curses like those that are to be read in Deuteronomy, against the transgressors of the law ? These are some of those many dreadful communications: "I will send armies of enemies against you, says God, which shall besiege your cities, and shall bring you into such straights, that the tender and delicate woman among you, which would not venture to set the sole of her foot upon the ground, for delicateness and tenderness, shall devour the afterbirth, with the blood and the rest of the uncleanness that flows from her. She shall eat them, for want of all things, secretly in the siege." Deut. xxviii. 50, 52, 55, 56, 57. These are, indeed, most terrible punishments; and yet neither are these, nor any others whatsoever, that man can suffer in this life, any more than a mere shadow, or a faint resemblance, in comparison of those which are reserved for the next. Then will be the time that the divine justice shall organize itself against those who have here despised his mercy. If, therefore, the shadow and the resemblance be so frightful, what shall we think of the substance and original ? And if the chalice of the Lord be so unpalatable now, when there is water mixed with it, and when the severity of justice is lessened so much by the mildness of mercy, how bitter must the potion be, when we shall be forced to drink it off without any mixture at all! and when those persons who would not accept God's mercy shall feel nothing but the effects of his judgments ! And yet these torments, though so great, are all infinitely less than what our sins deserve.
Besides the consideration of the greatness of God's justice, another way to make us understand the rigor of these punishments he will inflict, is to reflect on the effects of his mercy, on which sinners so much presume. For what greater subject of astonishment can we have, than to see a God taking human flesh on him, and suffering in his body all the torments and disgraces which he underwent, even to the dying on the cross? What greater mercy could he show, than thus to humble himself, to carry the burden of all our sins, that he might thereby ease us of their weight, and to offer up his most precious blood for the salvation of those very wretches who shed it ? Now, as the works of the divine mercy are wonderful in themselves, so will the effects of God's justice be. For since God is equal in all his attributes, because all that is in him is God, it follows, that his justice is no less in itself than his mercy is; and as, by the thickness of one arm, we may judge how big the other is, so we may know how great the arm of God's justice is, by that of his mercy, since they are both equal.
If God, when he was pleased to make known his mercy to the world, performed such wonderful and almost incredible things, that the same world looked on them as folly, what do you think he will do at his second coming, which is the time designed for manifesting the severity of his justice? especially since every sin that is committed in the world gives him a new occasion to exercise it; whereas he never had any motive to mercy but that same mercy itself; there being nothing at all, in human nature, that deserves his favor: but as for justice, he will have as many reasons to execute its utmost rigor, as there have been crimes committed by mankind. Judge by that how terrible it must be.