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which affect us through the medium of the senses; and its daughters are gluttony, drunkenness, sloth, impurity, idleness, curiosity, envy, anger, &c.
Examine your conscience, therefore, with a view to discovering whether you exceed the limits of moderation in eating or drinking; whether you pamper your body by the use of delicate clothing, by treating yourself to an over-soft bed, or by indulging in overmuch sleep ? whether you have an aversion to labour 1 whether you indulge an inordinate love of pleasure 1 whether you go in search of amusements 1 whether you love indolence? whether you permit your eyes to glance freely where they will? whether you regard with envious feelings the ease and tranquillity enjoyed by others? whether you cultivate particular friendships 1 whether you love your relatives with an overdue affection. Strive to discover to which of these failings you are most inclined, and then use every endeavour to eradicate it from your heart, mindful of that sentence of Thomas a Kempis, "Truly we deceive ourselves through the inordinate love we bear to our flesh" (a).
N.B.—The first point of the following meditation may be read preparatory to it; and the fourth may be read at leisure after the meditation. Those who devote two days to this subject, may meditate on the two first points to-day, reserving the others for consideration on the morrow.
(a) "Imitation," book i. c. M.
As regards the punishment of the body, the sinner who is lost will suffer in his senses, 1, all the pains which are possible to humanity. He will suffer them all; and all at one and the same time; and he shall suffer not only those pains of which we have knowledge, but all possible pains together—" every sorrow shall fall upon him " (a). What horror! On the authority of Galen, the human head alone may become the subject of several thousand different pains ; and the damned wretch shall be tortured by all of them at the same moment. The pains are innumerable which may attack, from natural causes, or through human agency, the eyes, the ears, the heart, the hands, the feet, and other portions of the human body; and yet, in hell, all these will torture the sinner at one and the same time. Yes! All of them—as many as the ferocity of tyrants, the cruelty of executioners, and the rage of savages have been able to invent and put in practice—all of them shall wreak vengeance on the sinner, and shall do so united!
2. And the sinner shall suffer all these pains in a most intense' degree; though still a finite one, and proportioned to his sins. S. Thomas assures us that the least degree of the pain of hell surpasses in intensity all the torments endured by the martyrs, all
, (a) Job xx. 22.
the possible agonies of sickness, and the most severe punishment ever inflicted on criminals, even though all these were put together. How intense, then, how inconceivably great must be the highest degree of the torments of hell 1 Ah! many a time a toothache is sufficient to madden us, and drive us into frenzy. What shall it be, then, to be compelled to endure for ever those innumerable, most acute, and most intense tortures, which shall be rained down for ever upon the damned!
3. And this shall last for ever. Alas ! for ever!— without ever a change, ever a respite, ever relief, ever a comfort of any kind; but eternally, continuously, despairingly, mercilessly. In this present life, every pain, anguish of whatever kind is tempered by some intervals of relief; but within that abyss of punishment the torture is never, never relaxed. Ah! we would deem it an unsufferable punishment, were we compelled to pass even a single night in a most luxurious bed without being able to move: what shall it be, then, to find ourselves chained immovable in that deep abyss, amid such terrible torments ! to find ourselves, after the lapse of a thousand centuries, tortured by the same intense pains which devoured our very vitals on our first entry into that furnace! to find that neither the lapse of time, nor the habit of suffering brings the slightest alleviation of the agonies which we endure! O mortals !—" which of you can dwell with devouring fire t which of you can dwell with everlasting burningsf" (a)
(a) Isaias xxxiii. 14.
1. As regards the punishments of the soul, the most terrible torment of the damned in hell will be this thought: God died upon the cross to save me—and, nevertheless, I am lost. Christ shed every drop of His blood to rescue me from hell—and, yet, I am damned. The Holy Ghost left no means untried to make me a citizen of heaven—and, after all, my abode is in the infernal abyss. I, a Christian, . . . a religious, ... a priest, . . . who have been brought up in the bosom of the Church, who have lived in the secure abode of a religious house, who have been fed so often with the Bread of Life, . . . Alas! I, who was created for heaven, who had used to meditate so often on the punishments of hell, who taught so many others the way of salvation—Alas! I, myself am lost!
2. And I am lost through my own fault. Ah! how easily I might have secured my salvation! I had in abundance the means to do so; copious streams of grace were ever flowing round me; nor were bright examples wanting to urge me on. Behold ! the selfsame crown which now encircles the brow of one who was my companion upon earth, the same resplendent robe in which he is now clad, was destined for me as well, if I had only persevered in the good
career upon which I had entered But, (oh,
anguish !) I was inconstant in my good purposes. I am lost—and through my own fault.
3. And, I have chosen this miserable lot, for a nothing: "for a handful of barley, and a piece of bread" (a) and " a little honey " (b), and " thepottage of lentils" (c). Ah! for a momentary pleasure. I now endure the eternal torments of hell! ... In one word: I, who was prevented by so many graces, —through my own fault, and of pure malice—and for a nothing—am buried in hell.
4. And, I have buried myself here by " walking through hard ways" (d); enduring heavier afflictions, greater hardships and labours, in the way of iniquity and perdition, than I should have had to endure had I pursued the path of virtue. Ah ! unhappy wretch that I am! I have purchased hell at a dearer price than it costs the saints to win heaven; and I have had to suffer more to burn for ever in this fiery prison, than they have borne to enjoy Paradise for eternity. Such are the lamentations which will burst forth in hell from those who have sinned and "are consumed in their wickedness" (e).
And this is that regret, this the worrying thought, which, ever revolving in their brain, shall punish with unspeakable torture the intellect of the damned. Their memory will be tormented by the remembrance of the vanity of their past, the miseries of their present, and the gloomy eternity which the future opens up before them. Their will, plunged in an abyss of sorrow and despair, agitated by the fury of its own passions, enraged against itself, and, as it were, devouring itself, shall, amidst the most horrible blasphemies, "ever wish what never shall be; shall never wish what ever shall be; shall never obtain