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be withdrawn, and the splendours of God's countenance shall expose those many secret defilements, which are unseen by the world, and often hidden from our own eyes! Alas! unhappy soul! there is now no room for subterfuge, or palliation: neither eloquence nor patronage can avail thee aught; naked and forlorn, even separated from thy companion, the body, thy good works only can befriend thee. Even repentance is now too late, and one half hour, which in life had been so little considered, so often found tedious, and heavy upon thy hands, one half hour is in vain desired. A sentence will be soon pronounced, and when passed, will immediately take effect, irrevocable and eternal. Intreaty and humiliation are of no avail : in life we have a God of mercy and kind compassion; in judgement he is inexorable. Truly the judgement of God is a subject of meditation, awful, and tremendous ! It has terrified even the greatest saints. At the thought of appearing before the judgement seat of the Most High, holy Job trembled ; a David-a Jerome were appalled, and even an Hilarion, after three score and ten years spent in the service of his divine Master.
But, my brethren, the meditation on the account which we must give to God is most salutary in its effects. It withdraws from sin, and all affection to it; it is a strong inducement to expiate our guilt by works of penance, and powerfully stimulates to the constant practice of all virtue. I have kept the ways of the Lord, says holy David, and have not done wickedly against my God, for all his judgements are in my sight. (Ps. xvii. 22.) In fact, while we have the severity of God's judgements, and the punishments reserved for sin in our thoughts, and before our eyes, how is it possible that we can dare to offend him?
How can we presume to disobey, when we consider that in the very moment of transgression, he can summon us from this life, to appear at his dread tribunal, and punish our guilt with the infliction of sufferings of inconceivable rigour, and endless duration? If on the other hand we feel any desire of future bliss and endless glory, how can we refuse to follow virtue, when we reflect that our future Judge considers all our actions ; observes all our virtuous deeds, and will reward our perseverance with everlasting happiness ?
This reflection should animate us under difficulties, and support us with soothing consolation under the weight of sorrow; under calumny and persecution suffered for the sake of God. This should console us, when the iniquitous judgement of men falsely and unjustly condemns us, and the thought of God's just judgements gives joy to the soul of the Christian in the
formance of actions, known only to his Sovereign Judge, and performed with no other view than to please his God. I was mindful of thy judgements of old, says the royal prophet, and I was comforted. (Ps. cxviii. 52.) Let me then conjure you, my brethren, frequently to call to remembrance, and attentively to ruminate on the strict account you will shortly have to give of your stewardship, in temptation, in affliction, and every earthly misfortune; but in a particular manner when you are about to approach the holy tribunal of penance. The forgetfulness of God's judgements, and of the wrath to come, is the great cause of public and secret delinquency, therefore David, speaking of the sinner, says, his ways are defiled at all times ; thy judgements are removed from his sight. (Ps. ix. 26.) And what the Scripture says of the two elders, who, forgetful of their age and rank, assailed the purity and traduced the virtue of the chaste Susannah, may be applied to all those who fall into crimes, from which we are astonished that mere reason, and a regard for exterior decency, and their own character did not preserve them. They perverted their own mind, and turned
that they might not look unto heaven, nor remember just judgements. (Dan. xiii. 9.)
Second. The effects which the meditation
upon this important subject will necessarily produce on your conduct, will be the means of making you prepared against the day, when it shall be said to you, “ Give an account of your stewardship.” Its influence will be seen and felt in your conduct towards yourselves, towards your neighbour, but principally towards Almighty God. Towards ourselves we shall be impartially just, weighing and examining our actions, not according to the dictates of selflove, but according to the rules of the Gospel, and the maxims of true religion. With justice shall we scrutinize, and estimate our thoughts, our desires, and the motives by which we are actuated in all we do, or leave undone. If we would judge ourselves, says St. Paul, we should not be judged. (1 Cor. xi. 31.) By a seasonable severity towards ourselves, we shall disarm the anger of our offended God; by penance move him to mercy. In consequence of this unbiassed impartiality towards ourselves, our bad habits will be substituted by works of piety and religion ; our evil inclinations will, by careful investigation, be traced to their source ; our corrupt propensities will be detected; we shall no longer be affectedly blind to our greatest faults, because we shall be convinced that it is for our true interest to discover and correct them, and having come to a sense of our guilt,
we shall expiate it by penitential tears, and works of mortification. As to our good works, instead of seeking, or desiring to purchase by them the world's applause, we shall refer all the honor where it is due to the grace of God; for without him we can do nothing, and instead of cherishing an absurd vanity, on account of our own supposed merit, we shall give thanks to him, who strengthens and supports us, acknowledging that, after all, so little is our own,
still unprofitable servants. Towards our neighbour we shall be just and charitable ; not unkindly judging, or interpreting his actions, motives, and intentions; but, in the Spirit of genuine charity, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things, thinking no evil. (1 Cor. xiii. 7.) Judge not, and ye shall not be judged ; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned : forgive, and
ye shall be forgiven. (Luke, vi. 37.) We shall then be diligent in giving our neighbour every aid in our power, anxious to afford him every corporal and spiritual assistance, and this not with a view to our terrestrial emolument, or any earthly applause, but to please the Almighty, and merit his approbation. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matt. v. 7.) but judgement without mercy to him that hath not done mercy. (Jac. ii.