THE FOUR LAST THINGS ---- DEATH, JUDGMENT, HELL and HEAVEN
FATHER MARTIN VON COCHEM, O.S.F.C.
Father Martin von Cochem was born at Cochem, on the Moselle,
in the year 1625, and died at Waghausel in 1712.
“Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.”
HOLY REDEEMER LIBRARY
Nihil Obstat: Thomas L Kinkead, Censor Liborium
Imprimatur: Michael Augustine --- Archbishop of New York (New York October 5, 1899)
Copyright, 1899, by Benziger Brothers
PART I. ON DEATH.
IV. On the Fear of Hell.
DEATH is rendered yet more bitter to us by the fear of Hell and the clear view of eternity before us. For when we are dangerously ill, and death stares us in the face, the terror which fills us at the prospect of eternity is so overwhelming, that we are filled with fear. For we see plainly that in a few days a few hours perhaps we must enter eternity, and we know not what awaits us there. The dread lest we should be lost everlastingly is so great as to cause us to shudder.
Moreover, the alarm that tortures us is not a little augmented by the remembrance of the sins whereby we have oftentimes deserved Hell; for no man can be certain whether he has done penance aright, and whether he has really obtained pardon. This is explained by a passage from the writings of the aforementioned Pope St. Gregory, who describes this fear in the following words:
"The just man who is truly concerned about his eternal salvation will from time to time think of his future Judge. He will meditate before death overtakes him upon the account he will have to give of his life. If there are no great sins wherewith his conscience reproaches him, he still has cause for alarm on account of the daily sins of which he perhaps takes little heed. For how often do we not sin in thought? It is comparatively easy to avoid evil deeds, but it is a far more difficult matter to keep one s heart free from inordinate thoughts. Yet we read in Holy Scripture: Woe to you that devise that which is unprofitable and work evil in your thoughts (Mich. ii. i). And again: In your heart you work iniquities (Ps. Ivii. 3).
"Hence the just are ever in fear of the awful judgments of God, for they are conscious that all these secret sins will be brought to judgment, as St. Paul says: In that day God shall judge the secrets of men (Rom. ii. 16). And although all his life long a good man will walk in fear of the judgment, yet this fear will notably increase as he draws near to the end of his days. It is said of Our Lord, that when the time of His death approached, He began to be sorrowful and to fear, and being in an agony, He prayed the longer. Was not this intended to teach us how it would be with us in our latter end, and what distress and anguish would overwhelm us?"
Such are the words of Pope St. Gregory, calculated to inspire not only sinners, but also the just with fear, since, as the Saint says, even those who are not conscious of having committed any grievous sins, are yet full of apprehension in regard to the sentence that will be passed on them. If the just are not devoid of alarm, what can we poor sinners do, who know ourselves to be guilty of many and manifold transgressions, and who every day add sin to sin? What will become of us? What can we do? Is there no means we can employ to obtain mercy of God? I know no better counsel than that which Christ Himself gives us in the words: "Watch ye therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to come, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke xxi. 36).
Since Christ points out to us prayer as the best and easiest means, let each one faithfully follow this exhortation and diligently call upon almighty God and His Blessed Mother, and all the Saints, imploring them day by day to protect him, and commending to them his latter end.