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 II. THE LAST JUDGMENT.
XI. On the Publication of the Sentence Passed upon the Good and the Bad.
WHAT has hitherto been said concerning the Last Judgment is indeed most awful, but that which is now to come is yet more so: we are about to speak of the sentence pronounced upon the wicked, and how they will be cast down into Hell. This is so terrible that nothing in all eternity can be found equal to it in horror.
When the supreme Judge shall have searched the hearts of all men, and weighed all their actions in the balance of justice, when all has been made open and manifest to the whole world, He will pass sentence upon the good and upon the bad. He will first turn a kindly countenance to His elect (who stand on the right hand), and address to them the consoling words: "Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in, naked and you covered Me, sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me" (Matt. xxv. 34-36).
You have been faithful to Me unto your life s end. You despised the world and all the things of the world, you loved Me and sought above all else to promote My glory. You suffered much whilst upon earth, you performed hard works of penance, you were despised and oppressed by the votaries of the world and by the wicked. But now the time of suffering is over and the time of happiness begins; your sorrow shall be turned into joy, eternal joy which no man can take from you.
"Therefore come, O My friends, come ye blessed and chosen of My heavenly Father, come from toil to rest, come from grief to joy, come from the realms of darkness to the regions of light, come from earth to Heaven. Come and possess the celestial country, for which you have longed so often, come and reign with Me forever, for by your good works you have merited this reward. Your felicity shall endure as long as I am God, and in My presence you shall enjoy the bliss of Heaven to all eternity." The hearts of the elect will overflow with joy and consolation and delight when they hear these propitious words. They will look up to the benign countenance of their Judge, and say to Him with joy and gratitude: "Most gracious God and Lord, Thy loving kindness towards us is infinite, and Thy bounty knows no bounds. How have we deserved to receive from Thee so rich a recompense?
What have we done to entitle us to endless felicity? It is of Thy mercy and infinite charity alone that Thou dost admit us to Thy kingdom of glory. Be Thou blessed for evermore; our mouth shall continually extol Thy majesty!"
After this, Christ will command His Angels to bring all the Saints before Him. And as they come up to His throne, He will array each one in a garment of glory, brilliant and beautiful, so that they will shine like stars. On their heads He will place golden crowns of surpassing brightness, and into their hands He will give lilies, roses, palm-branches, and a sceptre, to betoken the victory they have achieved over the world, the flesh, and the devil.
The lost will witness the glory and exaltation of the Saints. They will hear their shout of triumph and it will be to them gall and wormwood. They will gnash their teeth in rage and remorse; all the pleasure they felt in their sins will now be gone. They will mourn and lament, and say, amid sobs of deep despair: "Alas, how unfortunate, how miserable we are! What have we done ! Behold those whom once we despised now so happy, so enraptured, so honoured and glorified, and we, who thought scorn of them, are now so unhappy, so miserable, so disgraced, branded forever with every sign of reprobation! And yet we might have won for ourselves the same glorious destiny as they; the toil and difficulty would not have been beyond our strength. But we in our accursed folly have trifled away the supreme Good, and deprived ourselves of eternal felicity for the sake of worthless and transient pleasures. Oh, what folly, what madness on our part! How could we allow ourselves to be dazzled to such an extent by the vile debaucheries of the world!"
After these unhappy beings have bewailed their misery for a considerable time, the trumpet will again send forth a mighty sound. This blast of the trumpet is to announce the sentence passed upon the reprobate, and it will impose silence on every one present. Then the Judge will turn to the wicked, and, looking at them with a countenance kindled with holy wrath, He will say:
"O foolish, O blind sinners! Now the dreadful day has come whereof I spoke to you when I was upon earth the day, the hour of judgment." Now He stands before you whose enemy you have always shown yourselves. In your arrogant presumption you caused all manner of pain and injury to Me, to My Church, to My brethren and sisters, to all the children of God. Behold the wounds you inflicted on Me; behold the side which you pierced; behold the Cross whereon you nailed Me; behold the pillar at which you scourged Me, and to which in after years you bound My Church, my spotless spouse, for century after century, lacerating and tearing her flesh with the scourge of your insolent mockery, your unbelief, your scandals, your seductions, your infamous deeds of every sort.
" Out of love for you I came down from Heaven, and out of love for you I endured the cruelties of death. And yet My love, so wondrous in its extent, awakened no response in your hearts, met with no love in return ; on the contrary, you thrust Me away with contempt and hatred when I stood at the door of your heart as a suppliant, desirous of gaining admittance there. How often did I call to you, and you would not listen to Me. I stretched out my hands to you, but you drew back from My embrace. I employed threats, I visited you with many a loving chastisement, but you would not bow your proud neck beneath My sweet yoke. You deliberately chose to serve the devil as your god, and therefore you shall share his lot now, and be with him in the abyss of damnation to all eternity. I also will laugh at your destruction. Behold My servants, all the just, shall eat and be filled, whilst you shall hunger everlastingly. My servants shall be given to drink in abundance, whilst you shall thirst, and your thirst shall never be quenched. My servants shall rejoice and you shall mourn. My servants will exult in rapturous bliss, and you will shriek in agony and despair. Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his Angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me not to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me not to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me not in, naked and you covered Me not, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me."
This verdict, pronounced by the just Judge, will strike the ears of the damned like a thunderclap; they will fall prostrate upon the ground, overwhelmed by these terrible words, and then they will raise such a cry of despair and rage, that the very Heavens and the earth will tremble at the sound.
"O woe betide us, accursed and miserable that we are ! We must now be banished from the presence of God and of the Saints to all eternity! We must burn forever and ever with the devils in the fires of Hell ! Depart into the everlasting fire! Oh, what an awful sentence from the lips of our Judge! Everlasting burning! Everlasting torment! No hope of rescue ! Woe betide us, wretched sinners; woe betide us, woe betide us!
Thus will the lost souls complain, and weep, and lament. Yet the time of grace is over; the sentence has been passed; there is no more mercy, no more clemency for them.
" Understand these things, you that forget God; lest He snatch you away and there be none to deliver you" (Ps. xlix. 22). Yes, understand this, O unhappy sinners, and see to it that a like doom does not overtake you. Think how you would feel, were you amongst the number of these reprobates. Consider what you would then wish that you had done, and what you would give as the price of your ransom, were it possible for you to be liberated.
Well, then, do now what you would then wish to have done. Confess and bewail your grievous sins whilst there is yet time, and pray God to preserve you from never-ending torment.
O most merciful God, Thou hast told us by the lips of Thy prophet: "In an acceptable time I will hear thee, and in the day of salvation I will help thee." Behold now is the day of salvation, wherefore I call upon Thee with the utmost confidence, and from the bottom of my heart I beseech Thee that Thou wouldst grant me grace and help in proportion to my necessities, that I may not finally be cast away. For the dead praise Thee not, O Lord neither those that go down into Hell, but the living, we who live in Thy presence, will extol Thy holy name forever and ever. Amen.