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each of us, that He says with perfect truth, As long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me.
c. Depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Therefore Hell is intended by God only for Lucifer and the rebel angels; and no man enters thither who has not by his own choice become the subject and slave and possession of Lucifer. These words bring out in a very strong light the great truth which we too much forget, that when we yield to temptation and sin, we not only choose a creature, and a little pleasure before God, but we deliberately renounce Christ Jesus and go over to His bitter enemy, Lucifer, and give ourselves to him.
D. Depart into everlasting fire. Three hundred years ago, the then strong-minded men, as they considered themselves, ridiculed the notion of a Purgatory, but had nothing to say against Hell. In our nineteenth century those who consider themselves too clever and intellectual to become little children in order to learn from God, highly approve of Purgatory, at least of a Purgatory remodelled on their plans, but declare Hell to be an outrage to their little minds, and heartless hearts.
E. It is well to bear in mind that even when the doctrine of eternal punishment is believed, it too often proves not strong enough to deter men from indulging their passions and selling themselves to Lucifer. In what state then would the world be if the fear of Hell were removed ?
F. Then again men who exclaim against eternal punishment often represent sin as a momentary act that is past and gone, and yet remembered and chastised for ever by a God Whom we are taught to believe a God infinitely good.
But is it true that sin is a momentary act past and gone?
The sin of Lucifer is to-day as present, as living, as active, as mischievous, as murderous, as truly diabolic, as it was in the first hour. Suicide seems to be a momentary act, but the death it produces is not momentary. For the absence of life and the corruption go on. ་ “Oh, it was the foolish act of a moment, bygones must be
Can we say,
bygones,” and at once reinstate the decaying corpse in its former position in our home?
Impossible! For death and corruption are not a bygone thing, but a state enduring still. So is it with the sin of the lost soul.
G. If a fallen angel had repented of sin and was still chastised, we might have some grounds for saying that there seems to be unintelligible vindictiveness in God. But when we see that Lucifer and his accomplices are as determined in their hatred of God our Lord, and of man the image of God, as they were in the beginning, what wonder that Hell goes on ? If a sin deserves even half an hour of chastisement, it still deserves the half-hour as long as it continues. So long as the sin lasts, the chastisement must last. It is said that there is somewhere in the “ Lives of the Saints" a record of a vision in which a Saint heard our Saviour saying to Lucifer: “You know, Lucifer, that if you had repented you would have found mercy”. And the answer was, Never, never will I repent”.
H. Here then is the mystery-how does sin endure ? The Psalmist answers with this unanswerable question : “Delicta quis intelligit ? "--Who understands sins ? (Psalm xviii.).
man of fourscore years and more, with already one foot, as we say, in the grave. We conjure him to make his peace with God, to break away from some vicious attachment, to forgive an enemy, to restore illgotten goods. He turns away and will hear nothing; and, as far as we can judge, if he lived eight thousand years his obduracy would live on. Who can explain his sin ? “ Delicta quis intelligit ?”
Let the strong minds and wise heads find out some plan for putting an end to sin, and we may be sure that Hell will cease as soon as sin is no more.
I. A loving father, if forced to shut up in prison a son bent on murdering his brother or sister, might forgive and reinstate him as soon as he was thoroughly repentant; but if his father knows that the imprisoned son is still as much as
ever intent on murder will he set him free and reinstate him ? Never.
J. If Hell's gates were in this hour thrown open, and all those confined there were set at liberty, they would all rather a thousand times remain there than be forced to go and keep companionship with God and His Saints. When the possessed men met Jesus on the shores of Tiberias, the devils cried out through their mouths: What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Son of God ? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time ? (St. Matt. viii.). The presence of Christ is the worst of torments to Lucifer. The holiness of Heaven would be infinitely more intolerable to the damned than the sufferings of Hell are. Never would they approach Heaven unless they could vent their fury on God and on all who love Him.
K. I was hungry and you did not give Me to eat. No wonder that all lost souls weep and wail and say, We fools, the serpent deceived me, when they see now quite clearly how easily and how pleasantly they might have won mercy by giving alms and doing mercy. But, some one will say, “ Then the rich have a most unfair privilege, for they can give alms, but I cannot”.
St. Peter answers: Silver and gold I have none, but what I have I give to thee (Acts iii.). We may not have gold and silver, but we can give kind words, and the help of our hands, and our earnest prayers, and our tears, and our fasting and penance.
And thus while the rich man is only giving out of his superfluity, we are giving, out of our necessity, alms that cost us much more, and are therefore much more agreeable to our Lord.
into life everlasting (v. 46).
“ Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”
These are the closing words of our Lord's discourses. The same Divine lips pronounce both words : everlasting punishment; everlasting life. One is as certain as the other. We have the same warrant for both.
THE MOUNT OF OLIVES. WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended all these words,
He said to His disciples : You know that after two days shall be the Pasch, and the Son of Man shall be delivered up to be crucified (St. Matt. xxvi. 1-2).
A. Before entering Jericho, our Blessed Lord foretold all the chief details of the Passion to the Twelve; but, as we read, they understood nothing.. Now He once more reveals His awful secret, and probably with something of the same result. They do not realise what is coming so
Contemplate our Blessed Saviour thus isolated and lonely, carrying about in His Heart this terrible future, and unable to find among His followers one who can enter into His thoughts and sympathise with Him! His Blessed Mother alone can share with Him, but she by sharing with all her Mother's love only doubles His agony.
Many complain of loneliness. How unboundedly grateful the lonely Heart of our Lord would be if they would give up some of those solitary hours, which are a burden to them, to companionship with Him! For His delights are to be with the children of men. How glad He is when we have some little desire to be with Him; yes, some little desire, because He is beyond all precedent or example acquainted and familiar with neglect. My Heart, He says, hath expected misery (Psalm lxviii.). He is, therefore, grateful with an everlasting gratitude whenever He meets with a little sympathy from us.
After two days.
Did our Lord speak these words on Tuesday evening or on Wednesday ?
The Jews, as we know, reckoned the festival from sunset to sunset. If we follow this mode of reckoning, two days before the Pasch which is to be eaten on Thursday, would be Tuesday evening
But some careful and learned students of Holy Scripture tell us that it is all but certain that as we sometimes reckon from midnight to midnight, and sometimes when we speak of a festival. day mean by the word only from dawn to sunset, so among the Jews, in their common parlance, the Pasch was sometimes spoken of as lasting from sunset to sunset ; at other times they cal. culated, as we do, from midnight to midnight; and sometimes also they spoke of the Pasch or the day of the Pasch, as we might do, meaning from daybreak to sunset. If this be correct, our Blessed Saviour might say on Wednesday that the Pasch (Good Friday) would be after two days, and that on that day He would be delivered up to be crucified. Or again, if the Resurrection on Sunday morning can be said to be on the third day, the paschal supper might be said to be after two days, even if He were speaking on Wednesday.
THE HIGH PRIEST'S PALACE. WEDNESDAY.
Now the feast of the Pasch and of the Azymes was after two
days (St. Mark xiv. I). Then were gathered together the Chief Priests and Ancients
of the people into the Court of the High Priest, who was called Caiphas; and they consulted together that by subtlety they might apprehend Jesus, and put Him to death (St. Matt. xxvi. 3, 4).
A. What a terrible lesson we draw from the constant unflagging perseverance of these wretched dupes of Satan, that God at last, when the hour of mercy is past, gives way to the obdurate will of the sinner! God gave them up to the desires of their heart (Romans i.).
“ Ne in furore tuo arguas me (Psalm vi.). Do not, O God, my Creator, chastise me in Thy wrath. Do not give me up to the thoughts and desires of my corrupt heart.”