Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ."

As there are treasures of good things, and God has crowns and scepters in store for his saints and servants, and coronets for martyrs, and rosaries for virgins, and vials full of prayers, and bottles full of tears, and a register of sighs and penitential groans, so God hath a treasure of wrath and fury, of scourges and scorpions for the wicked. When the Lion of the tribe of Judah shall appear upon his own mountain of the Lord, in his natural dress of majesty, and that Justice shall have her chain and golden fetters taken off, then Justice shall strike, and Mercy shall not hold her hands; she shall strike sore strokes, and Pity shall not break the blow; and God shall account with us by minutes, and for words, and for thoughts, and then he shall be severe to mark what is done amiss; and that Justice may reign entirely, God shall open the wicked man’s treasure, and tell the sums and weigh grains and scruples; and then shall be produced the shame of lust, and the malice of envy, and the groans of the oppressed, and the persecutions of the saints, and the cares of covetousness, and the troubles of ambition, and the insolences of traitors, and the violence’s of rebels, and the rage of anger, and the uneasiness of impatience, and the restlessness of unlawful desires…..

We may guess at the severity of the Judge by the lesser strokes of that judgment which he is pleased to send upon sinners in this world, to make them afraid of the horrible pains of doomsday --- I mean the torments of an unquiet conscience, the amazement and confusions of some sins and some persons. For I have sometimes seen persons caught and surprised in a base action, and taken in the circumstances of crafty theft and secret injustices, before their excuse was ready.
They have changed their color, their speech hath faltered, their tongue stammered, their eyes did wander and fix nowhere, till shame made them sink into their hollow eye-pits to retreat from the images and circumstances of discovery; their wits are lost, their reason useless, the whole order of their soul is discomposed, and they neither see nor feel, nor think, as they used to do, but they are broken into disorder by a stroke of damnation and a lesser stripe of hell…
If guilt will make a man despair – and despair will make a man mad, confounded, and dissolved in all the regions of his senses and more noble faculties, that he shall neither feel, nor hear, nor see, anything but specters and illusions, devils and frightful dreams, and hear noises, and shriek fearfully and look pale and distracted, like a hopeless man from the horrors and confusions of a lost battle, upon which all his hopes did stand – then the wicked must at the day of judgment expect strange things and fearful, and such which now no language can express, and then no patience can endure.

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