The Following of Christ, Book I, Chapter XXIV

cover of the ebook 'The Following of Christ'Of judgment and the punishment of sins

1. In all things look to thy end, and how thou shalt be able to stand before a severe Judge, to whom nothing is hidden: who takes no bribes, nor receives excuses, but will judge that which is just.

O most wretched and foolish sinner, what answer wilt thou make to God, who knows all thy evils? thou who sometimes art afraid of the looks of an angry man.

Why dost thou not provide for thy self against the day of judgment, when no man can be excused or defended by another; but every one shall have enough to do to answer for himself?

At present thy labour is profitable; thy tears are acceptable; thy sighs will be heard, and thy sorrow is satisfactory, and may purge away thy sins.

2. A patient man hath a great and wholesome purgatory, who receiving injuries is more concerned at another person’s sin than his own wrong; who willingly prays for his adversaries, and from his heart forgives offences; who delays not to ask forgiveness of others; who is easier moved to compassion than to anger; who frequently useth violence to himself, and labours to bring the flesh wholly under subjection to the spirit.

It is better now to purge away our sins, and cut up our vices, than to reserve them to be purged hereafter.

Truly, we deceive ourselves through the inordinate love we bear to our flesh.

3. What other things shall that fire feed on but thy sins?

The more thou sparest thyself now, and followest the flesh, the more grievously shalt thou suffer hereafter, and the more fuel dost thou lay up for that fire.

In what things a man has more sinned, in those shall he be more heavily punished.

There the slothful shall be pricked forward with burning goads, and the glutton will be tormented with extreme hunger and thirst.

There the luxurious and the lovers of pleasure will be covered all over with burning pitch and stinking brimstone, and the envious, like mad dogs, will howl for grief.

4. There is no vice which will not have its proper torments.

There the proud will be filled with all confusion; and the covetous be straitened with most miserable want.

There one hour of suffering will be more sharp, than a hundred years here spent in the most rigid penance.

There is no rest, no comfort for the damned: but here there is sometimes intermission of labour, and we receive comfort from our friends.

Be careful at present, and sorrowful for thy sins: that in the day of judgment thou mayest be secure with the blessed.

For then the just shall stand with great constancy against those that afflicted and oppressed them. Wisdom v.

Then will he stand to judge: who now humbly submits himself to the judgment of men.

Then the poor and humble will have great confidence: and the proud will fear on every side.

5. Then it will appear that he was wise in this world, who learned for Christ’s sake to be a fool, and despised.

Then all tribulation suffered with patience will be pleasing, and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Psalms cvi.

Then every devout person will rejoice, and the irreligious will be sad.

Then the flesh that has been mortified shall triumph more than if it had always been pampered in delights.

Then shall the mean habit shine, and fine clothing appear contemptible.

Then shall the poor cottage be more commended than the gilded palace.

Then constant patience shall more avail, than all the power of the world.

Then simple obedience shall be more prized, than all worldly craftiness.

6. Then a pure and good conscience shall be a greater subject of joy, than learned philosophy.

Then the contempt of riches shall weigh more than all the treasures of worldlings.

Then wilt thou be more comforted that thou hast prayed devoutly, than that thou hast fared daintily.

Then wilt thou rejoice more that thou hast kept silence, than that thou hast made long discourses, or talked much.

Then will holy works be of greater value than many fair words.

Then will a strict life and hard penance be more pleasing than all the delights of the earth.

Learn at present to suffer in little things, that then thou mayest be delivered from more grievous sufferings.

Try first here what thou canst suffer hereafter.

If thou canst now endure so little how wilt thou be able to bear everlasting torments?

If a little suffering now makes thee so impatient, what will hell fire do hereafter?

Surely thou canst not have thy pleasure in this world, and afterwards reign with Christ.

7. If to this day thou hadst always lived in honours and pleasures: what would it avail thee, if thou wert now in a moment to die?

All then is vanity, but to love God, and to serve him alone!

For he that loves God with his whole heart, neither fears death, nor punishment, nor judgment, nor hell: because perfect love gives secure access to God.

But he that is yet delighted with sin, no wonder if he be afraid of death and judgment.

It is good, however, that if love, as yet, reclaim thee not from evil, at least the fear of hell restrain thee.

But he that lays aside the fear of God, will not be able to continue long in good, but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil.