The Following of Christ, Book I, Chapter XXIII

cover of the ebook 'The Following of Christ'Of the thoughts of death

1. Very quickly must thou be gone from hence: see then how matters stand with thee: a man is here today, and tomorrow he is vanished.

And when he is taken away from the sight, he is quickly also out of mind.

O! the dullness and hardness of man’s heart, which only thinks on what is present, and looks not forward to things to come!

Thou oughtest in every action and thought so to order thyself, as if thou wert immediately to die.

If thou hast a good conscience, thou wouldst not much fear death.

It were better for thee to fly sin, than to be afraid of death.

If thou art not prepared today, how wilt thou be tomorrow?

Tomorrow is an uncertain day; and how dost thou know that thou shalt be alive tomorrow?

2. What benefit is it to live long, when we advance so little?

Ah! long life does not always make us better, but often adds to our guilt!

Would to God we had behaved ourselves well in this world, even for one day!

Many count the years of their conversion; but oftentimes the fruit of amendment is but small.

If it be frightful to die, perhaps it will be more dangerous to live longer.

Blessed is he that has always the hour of his death before his eyes, and every day disposes himself to die.

If thou hast at any time seen a man die, think that thou must also pass the same way.

3. In the morning, imagine thou shalt not live till night: and when evening comes, presume not to promise thyself the next morning.

Be therefore always prepared, and live in such a manner, that death may never find thee unprovided.

Many die suddenly, and when they little think of it: For the Son of Man will come at the hour when he is not looked for. – Matthew 24 When that last hour shall come, thou wilt begin to have quite other thoughts of thy whole past life: and thou wilt be exceedingly grieved that thou hast been so negligent and remiss.

4. How happy and prudent is he who strives to be such now in this life, as he desires to be found at his death.

For it will give a man a great confidence of dying happily, if he has a perfect contempt of the world, a fervent desire of advancing in virtue, a love for discipline, the spirit of penance, a ready obedience, self-denial, and patience in bearing all adversities for the love of Christ.

Thou mayest do many good things whilst thou art well: but when thou art sick, I know not what thou wilt be able to do.

Few are improved by sickness; they also that travel much abroad seldom become holy.

5. Trust not in thy friends and kinsfolks, nor put off the welfare of thy soul to hereafter: for men will sooner forget thee than thou imaginest.

It is better now to provide in time and send some good before thee, than to trust to others helping thee after thy death.

If thou art not now careful for thyself, who will be careful for thee hereafter?

The present time is very precious: Now are the days of salvation: now is an acceptable time.

But it is greatly to be lamented, that thou dost not spend this time more profitably: wherein thou mayest acquire a stock on which thou mayest live for ever! The time will come, when thou wilt wish for one day or hour to amend: and I know not whether thou wilt obtain it.

6. O my dearly beloved, from how great a danger mayest thou deliver thyself: from how great a fear mayest thou be freed, if thou wilt but now be always fearful, and looking for death! Strive now so to live, that in the hour of thy death thou mayest rather rejoice than fear.

Learn now to die to the world, that then thou mayest begin to live with Christ.

Learn now to despise all things, that then thou mayest freely go to Christ.

Chastise thy body now by penance, that thou mayest then have an assured confidence.

7. Ah! fool! why dost thou think to live long, when thou art not sure of one day?

How many thinking to live long, have been deceived, and unexpectedly have been snatched away.

How often hast thou heard related, that such a one was slain by the sword; another drowned; another falling from on high, broke his neck: this man died at the table; that other came to his end when he was at play.

Some have perished by fire; some by the sword; some by pestilence; and some by robbers.

Thus death is the end of all, and man’s life passeth suddenly like a shadow.

8. Who will remember thee when thou art dead; and who will pray for thee?

Do now, beloved, do now all thou canst, because thou knowest not when thou shalt die: nor dust thou know what shall befall thee after death.

Whilst thou hast time, heap up to thyself riches that will never die; think of nothing but thy salvation; care for nothing but the things of God.

Make now to thyself friends, by honouring the saints of God, and imitating their actions; that when thou shalt fail in this life, they may receive thee into everlasting dwellings.

9. Keep thyself as a pilgrim, and a stranger upon earth, to whom the affairs of this world do not in the least belong.

Keep thy heart free, and raised upwards to God; because thou hast not here a lasting city.

Send thither thy daily prayer, with sighs and tears; that after death thy spirit may be worthy to pass happily to our Lord. Amen.