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.
XII. How the Damned will ask in Vain for Mercy, and will be cast down into Hell.
WE know from the testimony of Christ's own words that the damned will be permitted to speak to Him, after they have received their sentence. Then (that is, after the sentence has been pronounced) He tells us, "They also shall answer Him, saying: Lord, when did we ever see Thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee?" (Matt. xxv. 44.)
When the lost souls perceive that there is no remnant of hope that their terrible sentence of condemnation may be mitigated, they will, in their despair, pour out horrible imprecations: "cursed be the parents who gave us birth; cursed be all those who led us into sin; cursed be all men who have lived with us upon this earth; cursed be He Who created us; cursed be the blood of Christ, wherewith we were redeemed; cursed be all the Saints of God!"
What will the Divine Judge do when He hears them revile God in this shocking manner? When He Himself, standing before the Jewish council, acknowledged that He was the Son of God, the high priest Caiphas rent his garments and cried with a loud voice: "He hath blasphemed; now you have heard the blasphemy, what think you?"
And the people answering said: "He is worthy of death." The same scene will take place now, only it will be a thousandfold more terrible. When Christ hears these blasphemies He will exclaim, in holy indignation: "They have blasphemed God, they have cursed Me and My Saints! You have heard it yourselves, now what think you?"
Thereupon all the Angels and Saints will answer: "They are worthy of eternal death, of the everlasting pains of Hell! Away with them to the place of torment, away with them into everlasting fire!"
Then that will be fulfilled which is foretold in the book of Wisdom: "The Divine Judge will take zeal as His armour, and will arm the creature for the revenge of His enemies. He will put on justice as a breastplate, and will take true judgment instead of a helmet. He will take equity for an invincible shield, and He will sharpen His severe wrath for a spear, and the whole world shall fight with Him against the unwise. Then shafts of lightning shall go directly from the clouds, as from a bow well bent. They shall be shot out and shall fly to the mark. And thick hail shall be cast upon them from the stone-casting wrath; the waters of the sea shall rage against them, and the rivers shall run together in a terrible manner. A mighty wind shall stand up against them, and as a whirlwind shall divide them ; and their iniquity shall bring all the earth to a desert, and wickedness shall overthrow the thrones of the mighty" (Wisd. v. 18-24).
In these awful words Holy Scripture, the book of truth eternal, describes the sacred indignation wherewith the supreme Judge will chastise the damned whilst they are still upon the earth. All the elements, thunder, lightning, hailstorms, the raging billows of ocean, whirlwinds, and tempests, all the powers, in short, of nature will become instruments to execute the vengeance of God upon those who have rebelled against Him, against the abandoned wretches whose existence upon earth has been one long and terrible outrage against their Creator. For in their words and works they have blasphemed Him, the God of infinite holiness, power, and loving kindness. They have wantonly offended the Creator and Preserver of the realm of nature; therefore all nature rises up against them in vengeance.
Now, when Christ has poured out upon these unhappy beings all the rage of the powers of nature in their vindictive and primitive fury, the earth will open beneath their feet, and they, together with all the devils, shall be swallowed up.
St. John, in the Apocalypse, says: "And a mighty Angel took up a stone, as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying: With such violence as this shall Babylon, that great city, be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all" (Apoc. xviii. 21).
Do not these words that the Angel uttered signify that all the lost souls will go down into Hell with the impetus of a millstone that sinks to the bottom of the abyss of waters into which it is hurled ?
O, awful fall of the damned! Who can think of it without shuddering! Alas for those for whom it is prepared; better were it for them that they had never been born!
Thus they will descend, and Hell, when they reach it, will, like a fierce dragon, open its jaws to devour them, and they will be engulfed within them, according to the prophecy of Isaias: "Hell hath enlarged her soul, and opened her mouth without any bounds, and then strong ones, and their people, and their high and glorious ones, shall go down into it" (Is. v. 14).
Who can portray the despair of the damned, the rage wherewith in the deep and sombre abyss of Hell they will seek in their fury to tear and lacerate one another. What words can describe the howls and groans that will re-echo through that place of torment ? It is beyond the power of man to conceive. For if Holy Scripture tells us that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man what God hath prepared for them that love Him, may it not also be said that man cannot form any idea of what God has prepared for those who have so frequently, so wantonly, insulted Him? And if the joys of Heaven surpass all our powers of description, will not the torments of Hell also be inconceivably great?
Reflect upon this, O reader, reflect upon it often, and do not fritter away thy life in idle pleasures, but look to it that thou save thy soul. Call upon God with all the fervour of thy heart, and beg Him to grant thee a favourable sentence in the day of final judgment, saying:
Most just God, and Judge of all men ! Many times, and grievously, I have offended Thee, and I have nought to expect from Thy justice but severe chastisement.
Yet I now confess my misdeeds; I repent of them and abhor them, and I firmly purpose from this time forth to be ever faithful unto Thee. Wherefore, I beseech Thee mercifully to pardon my sins, in order that I may escape eternal death, and may attain everlasting felicity. Amen