Today's contemplation


11th July

On the condition of the body after death

Consider first, that the soul is no sooner departed from the body but this wretched carcass which she leaves behind immediately becomes pale, stiff, loathsome, and frightful; insomuch that the dearest friends of the deceased can scarce endure to watch one night in the same room with it, and would not be induced by any consideration to lie in the same bed. Even the greatest beauties are now turned ugly and hideous; and their former admirers can no longer bear the sight of them. O ye children of men, how long will ye be fond of these painted dunghills! We read that St. Francis Borgia was so touched with the ghastly countenance of the corpse of the Empress Isabella, (whom he had seen a little while before in all her majesty and all her charms,) seeing the strange change that death had so suddenly wrought in her, that he conceived upon the spot an eternal disgust for this world, and a happy resolution of wholly consecrating himself to the love and service of that great king who never dies. O that the like consideration of the dismal change that death shall so quickly make in all mortal beauties might effectually move us to the like resolution!

Consider 2ndly, that a person is no sooner dead but the body begins to corrupt and smell, and in a very short time it becomes so insupportable that surviving friends are obliged to make haste to get it out of the house, and to lay it deep under ground that it may not infect the air. And were the grave, after some weeks, to be opened again, and this carcass to be brought out to view, what a filthy carrion should we meet with? what a sight, what a smell would it afford? And what should we think of a person that should be tied down to such a companion, a barbarity said to have been exercised by a certain tyrant, in binding the living to the dead, and letting them linger away in these noisome embraces? Surely the worst of torments would not be half so insupportable: so foul, so detestable a thing is a corpse that is half putrefied. O mortals, why will you then not remember what your composition is, and what you are quickly like to come to? O filth and corruption, why wilt thou be proud?

Consider 3rdly, what companions, what attendants, these bodies of ours must meet with in the grave? Ah! no others than worms and maggots, or such like foul insects. ‘Under thee shall the moth be strewed, and worms shall be thy covering,’ Isaia xiv. 11. For these, O man! thou art preparing a banquet when thou art pampering thy body. These are to be thy inheritance, or rather they are to inherit thee: whatever thou art to-day, to-morrow thou art to be the food of worms. See here, vain worldlings, what will soon be the end of all these beauties which you are so fond of, and which are so apt to draw you into sin; filthy maggots shall very shortly prey upon these pretty faces

Conclude to make small account of the beauty of the body, or of anything else that death can take away, and to turn thy thoughts towards the better part, by laying up immortal riches for thy immortal soul, and procuring for her such ornaments of Christian virtues as may be out of the reach of death.



12th July


On the soul's first entering into another world

Consider first, how the soul in death shuts her eyes in a moment to this world, and to all persons and things which she has affected here, never to take any more part in the transactions of this life, and immediately opens them to a new and surprising scene, quite strange to her, in a region of spirits, an unknown land, of which before she had no idea. She awakes, as it were, out of a dream which is now slipt away from her, and leaves both her hands and her heart empty; all is over with her as to this world, she is estranged for ever from all conversation of mortals; no one of her dearest friends can accompany her or attend her now; she finds herself abandoned by all her lovers, quite naked, and what is most frightful, encompassed with infernal furies, that use their utmost efforts to lay violent hands upon her. Good God, who shall protect us at that hour from these our mortal enemies?

Consider 2ndly, the immense difference there is found at this time between the souls of the servants of God and the souls of the wicked. For although both the one and the other are to expect that the common enemy with all his hellish forces will exert himself on this occasion, and do his worst to get their souls into his claws, yet the servants of God are defended from his assaults by the care of their guardian angels, and under the cover of their wings go forward with joy and security, being also encompassed on all sides with their good works as with a strong rampart, which both keeps the devil at a distance and gives them a comfortable assurance of coming off well at their trial. Whereas the wicked, that have made no such provision for themselves, shall now lie at the mercy of the infernal spirits, having nothing else to carry with them to the bar but the consciousness of their past crimes, which shall be more terrible to them than the devil himself. O! my soul, let us at least be more wise, and take care, whilst we have time, to lay up for ourselves a store of good works; and thus make ourselves friends to stand by us at that hour that is to decide our eternal doom. Such as these will be friends indeed that will never forsake us, but will effectually plead our cause at the bar where no other eloquence shall be regarded.

Consider 3rdly, in what a wretched plight poor worldlings shall find themselves now who have provided no such friends as these to plead for them, who have seldom or never thought of this hour, but have lived as if they were never to die. Alas! what will all their honours, riches, and pleasures avail them now? Where is now their state and retinue? Where are all their servants and attendants? What is become of the multitude of their flatterers and visitors? See how they have left them all alone in the evil day, and whatever way they now look for help or comfort, they meet with none – their time is past, they are hurried away to be immediately tried and examined at the dreadful bar of a just judge, and all things, both within and without them, declare to them the horrible sentence that is just going to fall upon their heads for eternity. Sweet Jesus, preserve me from ever having any part to act in so dismal a tragedy!

Conclude to live now in such a manner as to have no reason to apprehend this scene of dismal evils, which shall terrify the sinner at this departure hence, but that thy passage into eternity may be to the gate of a life that knows no death. O take care to carry nothing with thee hence that may give the enemy any hold of thee then.




13th July


On the particular judgment after death

Consider first, that besides the general judgment that shall be at the end of the world, there is a particular judgment that passes upon the soul presently after death, according to that of the apostle, (speaking of the time when we are discharged from the body,) 1 Cor. v. 10. ‘We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.’ Thus we see, in the case of Dives and Lazarus, Luke xvi., that their doom was immediately decided after death, and the one sentenced to the torments of hell the other carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom. See then, my soul, what thou art to look for as soon as thou art parted from the body; thou must be presented before the judgment-seat of Christ, in order to give an account of thy whole life, even of all that thou hast thought, said, or done, during thy abode in the body, and to receive sentence accordingly for life or death eternal, and the sentence that shall pass then shall be ratified in the general judgment at the last day. O reflect then, how thy accounts stand at present with thy God. O what couldst thou be able to say for thyself if this night thou shouldst be cited at the bar? It may perhaps be thy case, for the judge has long ago declared that he will come when thou least expectest him – take care then to be always ready.

Consider 2ndly, the qualities of this judge by who we are to be tried after death. He is infinitely holy, and therefore cannot endure iniquity. He is infinitely wise, and therefore cannot be deceived; his all-seeing eye is ever upon all our ways; all the thoughts and motions of our hearts are naked and open to his sight; they are all recorded on his book; not one of them all can escape his notice or memory. He is also infinitely powerful, and therefore there is no resisting or withstanding his judgment; no dignity, no authority, no strength, no subtilty, no fraud, no learning or wit can be available at his tribunal; he made both great and little – king and beggar are equally his subjects – and there is no respect of persons with him, nor appeal from him. In fine, he is infinitely just, and therefore ‘will render to every man’ at that time ‘according to his works’. No favour is to be expected then for sins unrepented of. The time of merit and of acceptable repentance is now at an end. Ah! Christians, let us think well on these truths whilst it is our day in which mercy reigns; let us clear up all our accounts while we have time; let us wash away our sins now with penitential tears; let us store up to ourselves immortal treasures before the night overtakes us. All that we can then do will come too late.

Consider 3rdly, some other circumstances of this great trial, particularly the law by which we are to be tried; the accusers and witnesses that shall appear against us, and the nature of the sentence that shall be pronounced after the hearing of the whole cause. The law by which we shall be tried shall be the Commandment of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ; by this law, by these heavenly rules we must stand or fall; these shall acquit us, or condemn us for eternity. O let us then study them well, and in practice conform our whole lives to them. Our accusers shall be the devils, and the unhappy accomplices of our crimes, more especially such as we have drawn into sin, the blood of whose souls shall cry to heaven for vengeance against us. The witnesses shall be our own guilty conscience. And the sentence shall be an unchangeable, irrevocable eternal doom, either to heaven or hell. O let us remember these things, and we shall never sin.

Conclude to let thy whole life henceforward be a preparation for this great trial, and thou shalt not fail of a happy issue.



14th July


On the examination of the soul in judgment

Consider first, my soul, what an account will be here demanded of thy stewardship. For thou shalt be here examined how thou hast discharged thyself of every branch of thy duty, both in general and particular to thy God, to thy neighbour and to thyself? How thou hast employed all thy precious time? What use thou hast made of the talents God has intrusted thee with? In what manner thou hast corresponded with the graces thou hast received: What profit thou hast reaped from the sacraments, from the word of God, and from the favourable circumstances in which God has placed thee? How thou hast acquitted thyself of the duties of thy calling, &c. O! poor wretch, what wilt thou be able to answer under so strict an examination, where thy all is at stake for eternity? ‘O what shall I do,’ said holy Job, (chap. xxxi. 14.,) ‘when God shall arise to judge? And when he shall examine, what shall I answer him?’ Alas! who shall be able to endure his scrutiny, or ‘to answer one thing for a thousand! O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servants; for in thy sight no man living shall be justified,’ Ps. cxlii.

Consider 2ndly, that at this great trial the whole history of thy life shall be set before thee; and all thy hidden sins, all thy sins of commission or omission, even to every idle word and every thought and motion of thy heart, shall be exposed in their true colours. Ah! what treasures of iniquity shall here come to light when the veil shall be removed which hides at present the greatest part of our sins from the eyes of the world, and even from our own, and it shall be said of us – Behold the man with all his works; behold all his abominations; behold all his pride and contempt of God; behold all his filth, & c. O my soul, how shalt thou be able to bear such a sight! O let us then make it our study now to know our sins, and to efface them by penance while we have time, that they may not then appear in judgment against us and condemn us at the bar.

Consider 3rdly, that the poor soul shall not only be brought here to a strict examination with regard to all the evil she has done and to all the good she has left undone during the whole time of her pilgrimage in this mortal body, but even all the good she thinks she has done, the very best of her works, her prayers, her fasts, her alms-deeds, her confessions and communions shall all be nicely sifted, as well with relation to the intention with which she has undertaken them as to the manner in which she has performed them, & c. And all shall be weighed, not in the deceitful balance of the judgment of men but in the unerring scales of the sanctuary – that is, of divine justice – in which the works that are most admired by deluded mortals are often found to be of no weight at all. Alas! poor soul, what astonishment, what anguish, what confusion shall it be to thee to see so many things rise up in judgment against thee, now charged upon thee as heinous sins, of which in thy lifetime thou hast made but small account, and to find at the same time that those good works with which thou wast in hopes the scales should be turned in thy favour have either not been accepted for want of just weight, or have been corrupted and vitiated by pride or self-love?

Conclude to have always before thy eyes the exact account thou must one day give of every thought, word, deed, and omission of thy whole life. Remember they all pass from thy hands to the hands of God, to be recorded in his great book, by which thou art to be tried: see thou order them accordingly.



15th July


On the different states of departed souls before the last day

Consider first, that according to the different issue of this trial in the particular judgment, the condition of departed souls shall bee very different. For such as, like the rich glutton, (Luke xvi.,) shall be found at the time of their departure quite void of grace and charity – and in a word, all such as have died in mortal sin shall, like the rich glutton, be immediately buried in the flames of hell, where the worm never dies, and the fire is never extinguished. Ah! how strangely shall the men of riches, the great ones of this world, the ladies that have been slaves to their pleasures, here find their condition altered? A bed of fire, instead of their soft couches; the want of every thing that can afford the least comfort, even to a drop of water, instead of their former affluence; insulting devils instead of their servants and attendants; eternal torments for momentary satisfactions, &c. In fine, they that could never brook the least thing contrary to their own humour, appetite, or will, now find themselves in an instant plunged into that bottomless pit where they shall never know what it is to be indulged in any one desire or inclination. O! that the children of this world, the unhappy slaves of their passions and pleasures, would think of this whilst they have time.

Consider 2ndly, the very different condition of the souls of the children of God after their departure hence. For as many of them as like the martyrs and other saints, shall be found, when they are presented before the judge, without blemish of sin, or deb of punishment due to divine justice on account of former offences not sufficiently expiated, shall be immediately translated to heavenly joys. ‘Their earthly house of this temporal dwelling is now dissolved, but they have a building of God – a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven,’ 2 Cor. v. 1. ‘They are absent from the body, but present with the Lord,’ v. 8. They enjoy what the apostle so much longed for when he ‘desired to be dissolved and to be with Christ,’ Philip. i. 23. ‘They are now before the throne of God, and in his temple, and he that sitteth on the throne dwelleth over them, an the Lamb leads them to the living fountains of waters,’ Rev. vii. 15, 17 – even the happy waters of eternal life, which ever flow from the throne of God. ‘They follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth,’ chap. xiv. 4, ‘and they live and reign with him,’ chap xx. 4. ‘They even sit with him on his throne,’ Rev. iii. 21, ‘and exercise with him power over the nations,’ chap. ii. 26. See, Christians, if you will but dedicate yourselves in good earnest to the love of God during your short pilgrimage, what great things are prepared for you in your true country, and that immediately after your departure hence. How little reason, then, have the true lovers of God to apprehend a death that shall bring them in an instant to the very fountain-head of true and everlasting life! O what a happiness it is to shut in a moment the eyes with which we see this world and mortals, and to open them immediately to the sight of God and of Christ! – S. Cyprian.

Consider 3rdly, that as all are to be tried after their departure by their works, and to be rewarded according to their works which they carry with them hence to the judgment-seat of Christ, so those whose dead works have not been fully expiated by penance – whose devotions and other good works have been full of imperfections – who have built only with wood, hay, and stubble, though not to the destroying of the foundation of the faith and grace of Christ – shall suffer loss in this fiery trial, and instead of being immediately admitted into the presence of God in his heavenly temple, where nothing defiled shall enter, must wait till the dross they have carried with them out of the world be purged away, and they be fitted for the sight and enjoyment of their sovereign good. O how few souls shall be found at their departure so perfectly pure as to be qualified to fly up immediately to the embraces of God! How very few are there that carry with them no spot, no blemish, no debt, nor even of an idle word, into the other world, where, by the fixed decrees of heaven, every soul shall be judged and rewarded according to what she carries hence!

to spare no pains now to rid thyself by penitential exercises of all thy spots, stains, and debts whilst thou art on the way, lest if thou leave them to be discharged in another world, thou mayest be cast into that prison of which it is written, Matt. v. 26, ‘Amen, I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou pay the last farthing.’



16th July


On the sufferings of souls in the middle state

Consider first, that in this middle state of souls, (which are neither so perfect and pure as to be presently associated with the angels and saints in heaven, nor yet so bad as to be condemned to that lower hell, out of which there is no redemption,) these spirits in prison suffer much from their being kept at a distance from their God, their only true and sovereign good. They are perfectly sensible now how infinite he is in himself, in goodness, beauty, truth, and all perfections; and what an infinite happiness it is to be with him and to enjoy him eternally. All those created goods that before claimed any share in their affections are now vanished away, and their whole hearts are now carried towards him with such vehement, longing desires as by us mortals can neither be expressed or conceived; so that their being detained from him, in whom alone they can find repose, is an unspeakable anguish to their souls. And what adds to their torture is the sense they now have of their sins – of all those spots and stains which disqualify them for the enjoyment of their God, and of those unhappy debts that keep them at a distance from him, which they resent with so great horror that heaven itself would be no heaven to them if their sins were to follow them thither.

Consider 2ndly, that besides these two kinds of sufferings from the absence of God and the presence of sin, which are common (though not in equal degree) to all those imprisoned spirits, there are other great torments inflicted on such as have been great debtors and negligent penitents, but all with a just proportion to their sins. ‘They shall be saved,’ says the apostle, ‘yet so as by fire,’ 1 Cor. iii. 15. But what kind of fire? O! a fire kindled by the wrath of God – a fire which shall penetrate their whole souls and burn without consuming – in some for many years, in some perhaps even to the day of judgment! But because it is said they shall be saved this fire is made light of, saith St. Austin, (Psalm xxvii.,) but surely, though they shall be saved by it, yet is this fire more grievous than whatsoever a man can suffer in this life. Christians, see, then, how much you are enemies to your own souls when, for fear of hurting these sinful carcasses, you neglect to punish your sins by mortifications and penance, and by this means reserve so much more fuel for this purging fire.

Consider 3rdly, that however rigorous the divine justice is in the punishments it inflicts on account of sin upon those souls that are in this state of a fiery purgation, yet their condition admits of many comforts that are denied to the damned, which make an immense difference between the one fire and the other. For as these souls have departed this life in the state of charity and grace, true penitents though imperfect, they are here comforted with a good conscience, and with the assurance they have that they love God and are loved by him: they know that they are his children and under his protection, and that their sufferings shall soon have an end, (for all time is short,) and shall terminate in the never-ending joys of a happy eternity. In the meanwhile the love they have for God gives them a perfect conformity with his blessed will, and a certain peace, content, and joy in all they suffer, because such is his will; they even desire that divine justice should be satisfied, and lovingly embrace those flames that are to purify them from the rust of sin and to fit them for him. O how happy should we be if, under all our sufferings here, we entered into the like sentiments! Such a purgatory as this, of temporal sufferings endured with resignation, humility, and love, would go a great way towards purifying our souls from our sins, and fitting them for heaven.

Conclude, since nothing impure can ever come to be united to the infinite purity of God till it be first thoroughly purged, either in this world or the next, to make it thy business to get thyself thoroughly purified here by penitential labours, by patience in sufferings, and by fervour in the practice of all virtues, but especially of divine charity. For this will be to thee a far more easy, mild, and wholesome purgatory than the dreadful fire of the world to come.



17th July


On the terrors of the last day

Consider first, that nothing can be conceived more terrible than the prospect the Scripture gives us of the last accounting day, with all the prodigies that shall go before it. The sun shall be darkened, the moon red as blood; the stars without light, and seeming to fall from the firmament; the earth shall be shaken with violent earthquakes; the sea swelling and roaring with unusual tempests; the elements all in confusion, and whole nature in disorder. ‘The great day of the Lord is near,’ said the prophet, (Sophon. i. 14, 15,) ‘it is near and exceeding swift:’ ‘That day is a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and distress, a day of calamity and misery, a day of darkness and obscurity, a day of clouds and whirlwinds,’ &c. But oh! what shall then be the thoughts of unhappy sinners who shall see themselves threatened with all these frightful signs of the divine indignation? Alas! they shall presently ‘wither away,’ according to the expression of the Gospel, (Luke xxi. 26,) ‘for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world;’ and through the apprehension of that dismal tragedy, which shall suddenly follow after these frightful preludes.

Consider 2ndly, that these terrors shall chiefly affect the wicked, against whom they are all levelled: so that ‘they shall begin to say to the mountains, fall upon us; and to the hills, cover us,’ (Luke xxiii.30,) ‘and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?’ Apoc. vi. 16, 17. But as for the true servants of God – who are his friends and children – when these things shall begin to come to pass, they are told, (Luke xxi. 28,) ‘to look up and to lift up their heads, because their redemption is at hand.’ and surely the more they love God, and take to heart the interest of the glory of Christ, and the coming of his everlasting kingdom; the more will they rejoice at the approaches of that day that shall be so glorious to him, and so happy for all his elect. The day in which he shall be publicly acknowledged by the whole universe for the great lord and judge of all; the day in which he shall finally triumph over all his enemies, and make all his servants sharers in his triumph and glory; the day in which he shall put an end to the usurpation of Satan and to the reign of sin and death, and send them all to their proper place, never to come out any more; the day in which he shall abolish for ever the corruption of the flesh, together with the old man, and all the errors and lying fooleries of a deluded and a deluding world, and shall establish the eternal reign of incorruption, justice, and truth. In fine, the day in which he shall wonderfully renew both heaven and earth, and bring all his servants into the never-ending joy of their Lord. O when shall that happy day come!

Consider 3rdly, that after all those frightful symptoms above rehearse, of the last agony and final expiring of this sinful world, a fire shall come raging like a torrent that shall at once involve all the kingdoms of the earth in devouring flames, sweeping off and consuming all it shall find upon the whole face of the globe, and reducing all to smoke and ashes. Where then, O ye worldlings, will be all those painted toys you are now so found of? Where will be your gardens and palaces? Where your gold and silver, your costly plate and jewels, your pompous equipages, and whatever else you seem to possess in this dream of your mortal life. Alas! all these things shall end in smoke, and when you wake you shall ‘find nothing in your hands,’ Ps. lxxv. ‘O that men would be wise, and would understand, and would provide for their last end!’ Deut. xxxii. 29. Do thou at least, O my soul, learn to be wise by the consideration of this last fire, that shall so suddenly put an end to all these worldly bubbles; and take thou care to provide for thyself by laying up thy treasure in heaven, where alone it shall be out of the reach of this fiery deluge.

Conclude to be always afraid of sin; to fly and abhor it above all evil, and thou shalt have nothing to fear at the last day.



18th July


On the General Resurrection

Consider first, that this world being now at an end, the archangel shall sound the last trumpet, and with aloud voice shall call for all the dead to arise, and to come to judgment; this voice shall at once be heard over all the universe, and presently obeyed; it shall pierce the highest heavens and penetrate down to the lowest abyss of hell. At this voice, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, by the almighty power of our great creator, all the children of Adam, from the first to the last, shall arise from the dust, and every soul shall again be united to its own body, never more to part for eternity; that as the soul and body have in this world been partners in good or evil, so they may, in the world to come, be sharers also in reward or punishment. Christians, let the sound of this last trumpet always echo in your ears.

Consider 2ndly, the wonderful difference there shall be at the time of this general resurrection between the bodies of the just and those of the wicked. The just shall rise in bodies most beautiful, purer than the stars, brighter than the sun, immortal and impassible; but the wicked shall rise in bodies suitable to their deserts, foul, black, hideous, and every way loathsome and insupportable; immortal ‘tis true, but to no other end than to endure immortal torments. Oh! what an inexpressible torture shall it be to these wretched souls to be forced into such odious carcasses; and to be condemned to an eternal confinement in such a horrid and filthy prison? O learn then, my soul, to keep thy body now pure from the corruption of carnal sins, lest otherwise it come to be at that day a sad aggravation of thy never-ending misery.

Consider 3rdly, with how much joy and delight the souls of the just shall be again united to their bodies, which they have so long desired; and with what affection they shall embrace those old companions and partners of all their labours, of all their sufferings and mortifications; and now designed to share with them in the glory of the heavenly Sion, and to give no small addition to their everlasting happiness. But oh! what dreadful curses shall pass at the melancholy meeting of the souls and bodies of the reprobate? Accursed carrion, shall the soul say, was it to gratify thee, and to indulge thy brutal inclinations, that I have forfeited the immortal joys of heaven? Ah! wretch, to give thee a filthy pleasure of a moment, I have damned both myself and thee to all eternity. O thrice-accursed carcass, ‘tis just that thou who hast been the cause of my damnation should be my partner in eternal woe! But oughtest not thou rather, O unhappy soul, to be a thousand ties over accused by thy body, since it was thy business, and was in thy power, to have subjected its passions and lusts to the rules of reason and religion; and thou didst rather choose for the sake of a momentary delight, to enslave thyself to sensual inclinations, and so to purchase hell both for thyself and it? Ah, Christians, let us at least learn to be wise, and so to keep both our body and soul in good order here, that they both may be eternally happy together hereafter.

Conclude to prevent the terrors that shall seize the wicked at the great summons of the last trumpet, which shall call the dead from their graves to go forth to meet the judge, by giving ear now to another summons of the great trumpet of the Holy Ghost, calling upon thee by the apostle, (Eph. v. 14,) ‘Rise, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,’ (that is, from the death of sin to the life of grace,) ‘and Christ shall enlighten thee.’ Thus by having part in the first resurrection thou shalt provide in time against that great day when time shall be no more. Thus thou shalt escape the second death.



19th July


On the coming of the Judge

Consider first, that the dead, being risen, shall immediately be assembled together from all places to meet the judge: and this, as ‘tis thought, near Jerusalem, in the sight of Mount Olivet, and of Mount Calvary, where our Lord heretofore shed his blood for our redemption. O! what a sight will it be to behold our redemption. O! what a sight will it be to behold here all the children of Adam, an innumerable multitude of all nations, ages, and conditions, standing together, without any distinction now of rich or poor, great or little, master or servant, monarch or subject; excepting only the distinction of good or bad which shall be wonderful and eternal. Alas! how mean a figure shall an Alexander or a Caesar make at this appearance; or any of those celebrated heroes of antiquity, whose very name has made whole nations tremble? Those mighty monarchs that had once the world at their beck, are now levelled with the meanest of their slaves, and would wish a thousand times they had never worn the diadem. And hast thou, my soul, ever well considered the part thou shalt have to act in this last scene?

Consider 2ndly, how the great judge shall immediately make his appearance, and every eye shall see him coming down from heaven, with great power and majesty; armed with all the terrors of his justice, and surrounded by all his heavenly legions. O how different from his first coming shall this his second appearance be! His first coming was with wonderful meekness and humility; because that was our day, in which he came to redeem us by his mercy; but at his second coming, it will be his day, in which his justice will revenge upon sinful man the cause of his injured mercy, with a final vengeance once for all. Ah, miserable sinners! how shall you then be able to stand before his face, or bear his wrathful countenance? How shall you then wish to hide your guilty heads, even in the lowest hell, rather than to endure his dreadful appearance? But all in vain; you must stand it out.

Consider 3rdly, how upon this occasion the royal standard of the cross, (the sign of the Son of Man,) shall be carried before the judge, shining more bright than the sun, to the unspeakable comfort of the good, and the intolerable anguish and confusion of the wicked, for having made so little advantage of the inestimable benefit of their redemption. Here they shall plainly see what their God has suffered for their salvation, and how great has been his love for them; that boundless and unparalleled love which brought him down form his throne of glory, and nailed him to the cross. O how shall they now condemn their past obstinacy in sin, with all their blindness and ingratitude! O how shall this glorious ensign justify, in the face of the whole universe, the conduct of God, and the dreadful torments he has prepared for unrepenting sinners! For what less than a miserable eternity can be punishment enough for so much obstinacy in sin, after so much goodness and love?

Conclude to take care, whilst thou hast time, to make a proper provision for this great appearance, by turning now to God with thy whole heart, and embracing a penitential life; for why should thou go on any longer adding daily sin to sin, and ‘treasuring up to thyself wrath against this day of wrath?’ Rom. ii. 5.



20th July


On the separation of the good from the bad

Consider first, how the sovereign judge, being seated on his glorious throne aloft in the air, attended by all his millions of millions of angels, in their different orders and hierarchies, shall presently give his command, which shall be instantly obeyed, for the final and the eternal separation of the good from the bad; after which these two companies shall never, never more meet. Then shall all the true servants of God ‘be caught up in the clouds, to Christ in the air;’ 1 Thess. iv. 16, and shall be placed with honour on his right hand, and such of them as, like the apostles, have in their lifetime quitted all things else to follow him, shall also take their seats with him, as judges both of angels and men, Matt xix. 28. 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3,. But all the wicked, together with the devils whom they have followed, shall be driven with ignominy to the left hand. And thou, my soul, where dost thou expect to stand at that day? In which of these two companies shalt thou be ranked? Thou hast it now in thy choice; but wilt not; have it then. Choose then now ‘in this thy day, that better part, that shall never be taken from thee,’ Luke x.

Consider 2ndly, what will then be the thoughts of the grandees of the world, of the rich, of the worldly wise, of the great heroes, of the fine ladies, & c., when they shall see the poor in spirit, the meek, the humble that were so contemptible in their eyes when they were here in this mortal life, now honoured and exalted, and crowned with immortal glory, dignity, strength, and beauty; but themselves depressed to the lowest extremity of disgrace, contempt, and irremediable want of all things. O! what horror, what confusion what envy, what rage shall oppress their souls to see this strange catastrophe! O what shall then be their sentiments of all those empty toys which they had been so found of in their mortal life! How shall they now condemn their own madness, in having set their hearts upon those lying follies, to the eternal loss of their immortal souls! How shall they now wish, a thousand and a thousand times, they had followed the examples of the saints, and walked in the charming paths of virtue and devotion!

Consider 3rdly, in what manner the sentiments which the wicked shall have on this occasion, are expressed by the spirit of God, (Wisdom v.) ‘These seeing it,’ (viz. the glorious exaltation of the just,) ‘shall be troubled with horrible fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation; saying within themselves, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit: These are they whom we had heretofore in derision, and for a parable of reproach; we fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honour; behold, how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints. Therefore we have erred from the way of truth, and the lights of justice hath not shined unto us; wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity and destruction; and we have walked through hard ways, but the way of the Lord we have not known. What has pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow, and like a post that runneth on, and as a ship that passeth through the waves, whereof, when ‘tis gone by, the trace cannot be found – so we, being born, forthwith ceased to be, and have been able to show no mark of virtue, but are consumed in our wickedness.’ Ah! Christians, mark well these speeches of the reprobate, and take effectual measures whilst you have time, that their misfortunes may never be yours.

Conclude to ‘fly now from the midst of Babylon,’ by standing off from the corruption and infection of a wicked world, and separating yourselves from the society of the wicked in time, that you may not be involved in their eternal misery.



21st July


On the opening of the Books

Consider first, that we read in the word of God of the opening of the books, when God shall sit down to judge, Daniel vii., ‘I beheld,’ saith the prophet, ‘till thrones were placed, and the ancient of days sat down. – Thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: the judgment-seat and THE BOOKS WERE OPENED.’ And Rev. xx. 11, 12, ‘I saw a great white throne,’ saith St. John, ‘and one sitting upon it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away, and there was no place found for them. And I saw the dead great and small, standing before the throne, and THE BOOKS WERE OPENED; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works.’ Christians, attend to these awful truths; and think well on these books, by the contents of which you are to be judged. The study of these will be of infinitely more importance to you than the knowledge of all the books of the belles lettres and human science, which must all perish in the last fire.

Consider 2ndly, what these books are which shall be produced and set open at the day of judgment. In the first place, there shall be the books of our consciences, with all the divine records in which our thoughts, words, and action are punctually registered. In the second place, the books of the gospel of the rules of life prescribed by Jesus Christ, and of the commandments of God. And lastly, the book of life; even that book in the first line of which it is written of Jesus Christ, (Ps. xxxix.,) that he should come ‘to do his father’s will;’ and in which the names of all stand recorded under the name of Jesus Christ, who with him, and through him, have made it the main business of their lives to do the will of him and of his father, and who have embraced the law of his love in the very midst of their hearts. Christians, examine yourselves now by these books, judge yourselves now by these books, and all shall be well with you then. See how your accounts now stand in your own consciences; but oh! beware of the delusions of self-love. Reflect how all your thoughts, words, and actions, in the moment they go from you, are presently enrolled in the divine book. Ah! in what condition are yours to appear there? Will your life be able to stand the trial of the book of the gospel? Or will not rather your faith rise up in judgment against you, and condemn you for having renounced in practice what you professed to believe? Has your name any place in the book of life, where none are entered but such as do the will of God?

Consider 3rdly, how upon the opening of these books, the sins of the reprobate shall not only all appear in their most odious shapes to their own eyes, but also be exposed to the public view of that whole immense assembly of all heaven and earth: visible and evident to the eyes of all, both angels and men, good and bad. Ah! poor sinner, where wilt thou then hide thy head? What shame, what anguish shall oppress thee, when all thy filth and abominations, all thy works of darkness which thou hast committed in the greatest security, and which thou wouldst not have had known to thy friends and acquaintances for all the world; and perhaps couldst not find in thy heart to disclose even to one person bound by all laws to an eternal secrecy, shall now be displayed before thy face, with all their aggravating circumstances, in this great consistory of the whole universe?

Conclude to prevent by a hearty repentance and a sincere confession of thy guilt now, whilst thou hast time, the dreadful confusion which otherwise thou wilt suffer at that day; and the great judge will then ratify the absolution that has been given thee here, by virtue of his commission, and clear thee from all thy sins.



22nd July


On the conversion of St. Mary Magdalene, Luke vii

Consider first, the sudden and wonderful change God was pleased to work in the heart of this glorious penitent. ‘Behold, a woman in the city, that was a sinner,’ (says St. Luke) ‘when she knew that Jesus was at meat in the house of the Pharisee, brought an alabaster box of ointment; and standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hairs of her head, and she kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment,’ Luke vii 37, 38. See here, my soul, a penitent indeed; thoroughly penetrated with the sense of the dreadful evil of her sins, and therefore not to be restrained either by shame or fear, or any consideration of what the world would think or say, from running immediately to her Saviour, though then at table, and in the midst of the Pharisees, and there to do public penance, without regard to their censures or contempt. O see what it is for a soul to have her eyes truly opened to discover the deformity of her sins, and to view those odious monsters in their true shape, which have so long possessed her! She thinks every moment of age till by running to our Lord she can get rid of her guilt, whatever it may cost her, or whoever may scoff at her, or censure her for it.

Consider 2ndly, the chiefest ingredients in Magdalene’s conversion – her faith, her humility, her love, her penitential tears, and her dedicating now to the service of her Lord all that she had before employed in sin. Her faith, joined with her humble confidence in the goodness and mercy of her Saviour, appears in her running to him, to be washed and cleansed by him from all her filth in the true fountain of life. Her humility appears to her not daring to come before his face, nor to address herself to him in words, but standing behind at his feet, and speaking to his heart by floods of tears. Her ardent love shows itself in her often kissing his feet, and in the penitential tears it produces, and is therefore taken notice of by our Lord, as the main disposition towards her justification. ‘Many sins are forgiven her,’ (said he,) ‘for she hath loved much,’ verse 47. And now her hair, her precious ointments, her whole person are wholly dedicated to her Saviour; to whom, from this time forward, she adheres with such an inviolable fidelity and unalterable affection, as not even to suffer herself to be kept off from him either by the ignominy of the cross or the horror of the sepulchre. See, sinners, what it is to be a perfect convert, what it is to be a penitent indeed.

Consider 3rdly, the lessons all Christians may learn from Magdalene’s conversion. And first, a sense of the wonderful mercies of God, who thus changes in an instant the greatest sinners into the greatest saints, that so we may never despair of the conversion of any one, nor ever presume to despise poor sinners, how abandoned soever, to prefer ourselves before any of them, since whatever they are to-day to-morrow they may be great penitents and great favourites of heaven. Secondly, we must learn from this great example a ready compliance with the races and calls of God, with a courage and resolution to overcome the opposition we shall be sure to meet with in our return to God from old habits, human respects, or any other considerations. Alas! if Magdalene had regarded the censures of the world or delayed her conversion, for fear of what the Pharisees should say or think of her, in all appearance she would have died in her sins. Thirdly, we may learn by her example, that the most effectual means for the remission of all our sins and the advancing of our souls to the perfection of all holiness, is an ardent love of our blessed Redeemer, and a repentance influenced by love. Happy we if we can but learn of her to go daily in this penitential spirit to the feet of Christ: he never rejects a penitent lover.

Conclude, if thou hast followed Magdalene in her sins to imitate her also in her conversion; and the more and the greater thy sins have been to make the greater return of love to him who has so mercifully spared thee in thy sins, and so lovingly forgiven thee that immense debt which thou owedst to his justice.



23rd July


On the last sentence of the good

Consider first, that the great assizes of the last day shall be concluded by a definitive sentence, by which the just, after a glorious rehearsal of all their good works, shall be called up to a kingdom where sorrows never enter and joys never end; and the wicked shall be condemned to the dismal dungeons of everlasting fire. But first give ear, O my soul, to that sweet and amiable invitation, (which thou hopest shall be one day thine,) by which our dear Lord shall call his servants, his friends, and his children into the glorious mansions of eternal bliss. ‘Come ye blessed of my father,’ shall he say, ‘possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,’ Matt. xxv. 34. O happy invitation! O happy, thrice happy they that shall be found worthy to partake of this joyful sentence! What unspeakable satisfaction and delight, what torrents of joy and pleasure shall flow into their souls at the hearing of it? But oh! what envy, what rage shall possess the souls of the reprobate when they shall hear this invitation and shall see several of their own acquaintance going to take possession of that eternal kingdom which they might also have so easily purchased, but by their folly and stupidity have blindly exchanged for the flames of hell?

Consider 2ndly, and weigh well at thy leisure the words of this happy sentence: ‘Come,’ says the judge, ‘ye blessed of my father,’ &c. Come, (O sweet invitation!) from the vale of tears to the blissful regions of never-ending joys. Come from a tedious banishment to your true heavenly country; from your mortal pilgrimage in the midst of crosses, labours, conflicts, and dangers, to your blessed home in the fair and lovely mansions of rest and peace, in the eternal Sion where you shall meet with all that your hearts desire to complete your happiness; where you shall be for ever inebriated by the plenty of my house, and drink for ever at the fountain of life. ‘Arise, my beloved, the winter is now past, the floods and storms are all over, arise and come. Come, enter into the joy of your Lord, the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning;’ an universal good, a blessing including all blessings, and extended to endless ages. O my soul, learn thou to despise all other happiness in hopes of having a share one day in this blessed sentence.

Consider 3rdly, that what is most to be admired and loved in this heavenly sentence is, that it brings our souls to an eternal union with God himself, our only true and sovereign good. This come, this sweet word of salvation, draws us to our God, unites us to him, receives us into the very bosom of his goodness, and in a manner transforms us into him. And nothing less could ever truly satisfy our souls! O happy blessing indeed, to be thus ‘blessed of the father’ by an eternal union with himself. O happy kingdom, in which we shall eternally live and reign with the ever-living God! ‘I rejoiced,’ said the royal prophet, Ps. cxxi.,‘at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.’ But, O my soul, how much more oughtest thou to rejoice at the happy prospect of thy being one day called, not only into the house of the Lord, but even to an union with the Lord himself.

Conclude to spare no pains to secure to thyself this happy sentence by a diligence in all good works, more especially works of mercy and charity, which according to the gospel are particularly calculated to ensure to us the sentence of the elect.



24th July

St. Benedict Labre

On the last sentence of the wicked

Consider first,
how the great judge, after having invited the just to his glorious kingdom, turning himself towards the wicked on his left hand, with fire in his eyes and terror in his countenance, shall thunder out against them the dreadful sentence of their irrevocable doom in these words: ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ Matt. xxv. O! sinners, weigh well every word of this frightful sentence. Depart, saith he – go, begone for ever from me, far from the joys of my kingdom and the society of my children, into the place you have chosen and blindly preferred before heaven, into the darksome dungeons of hell below, prepared for Satan and his associates, whose part you have taken against me. O terrible excommunication, to be cut off for ever from the society of Jesus Christ and his saints! O cruel divorce, to be eternally separated from God and all that is good! O dismal and everlasting banishment, to be excluded from the city of God, and sent into the low and horrid region of the second death! Ah! wretches, who make so little now of losing God and his grace by mortal sin; what shall you then think when you shall be doomed to this eternal separation from the source of all good? But whither are you to go from him? Alas! into everlasting fire, there to burn as long as God is God, in the company of the devil and his angels. O dreadful eternity!

Consider 2ndly, that terrible and universal curse which this sentence of condemnation involves! ‘Depart from me, you cursed,’ says the sovereign judge, as if he should say, you shall go from me, but take my curse along with you. I would have given you my blessing but you would not receive it; a curse you have chosen, and a curse shall be your everlasting lot. It shall stick close to you like a garment, which you shall never put off; it shall enter into your very bowels and search into the very arrow of your bones. A curse upon your eyes, never to see the least glimpse of comfortable light; a curse upon your ears to hear no other music for all eternity but frightful shrieks and groans; a curse on your taste to be ever embittered with the gall of dragons; a curse on your smell, to be always tormented with the intolerable stench of the bottomless pit; a curse on your feeling and on all the members of your body, to be for ever burning, and never to consume, in a fire that shall never be quenched. O dreadful complication of irremediable evils!

Consider 3rdly, that this terrible curse shall not only be extended to the body and all its senses and members, it shall also reach the soul and all its powers and faculties. As if the great judge should also say: a curse upon your understanding, never to be enlightened with any ray of truth; a curse upon your will, never to attain to anything it loves or desires, but to be always bound down to what it hates and abhors; a curse upon your memory, to be ever revolving, in the bitterness of a fruitless repentance, the folly and vanity of all those short-lived pleasures and worldly toys for which you have forfeited a happy eternity; a curse upon your conscience, to be ever gnawed by the worm that never dies; a curse upon your whole soul, to be a hell to itself, ever torn to pieces with most violent passions of fury, envy, hatred, and despair. Good God! let me never be so miserable as to incur this dreadful and irrevocable curse. But see how this sentence is no sooner pronounced but the earth opens and swallows down at once all this wretched multitude, with the devils that seduced them, into the lowest hell, and then the gate is shut upon them, never, never to be opened. O the fatal consequences of all worldly pride! O the dismal end of carnal pleasures!

Conclude to turn now to God with thy whole heart, and henceforward to keep close to him; thus thou shalt secure to thyself a blessing at that day instead of a curse.



25th July

On St. James

Consider first, that St. James, the son of Zebedee, the elder brother of St. John the apostle, was one of those disciples to whom our Lord was pleased to show a more particular favour and love. He was one of the three that were chosen to be witnesses of the glory of his Transfiguration; one of the three that were admitted to be present when he raised to life the daughter of Jairus; and one of the three whom he took along with him to stay and watch with him in his prayer and agony in the garden. O how great must the faith and love of St. James have been that he should be such a favourite of Jesus? How happy are they that, like St. James, keep close to Jesus in his sorrows and sufferings no less than in his joys and glory! The zeal and fervour of St. James and his brother St. John in the cause of Christ obtained for them from our Lord the surname of Boanerges, or sons of thunder. This glorious name they made good in their preaching and in their labours – and St. James with this advantage, that he was the first of all the apostles that laid down his life for the love of his master, and sealed his doctrine with his blood. O glorious death! to die for love, nor of any mortal beauty or worldly honour, of friends or country, but for the love of our Lord, the true and everlasting life. O how happy are all those sufferings that are endured for the love of Christ!

Consider 2ndly, from the epistle of this day, (1 Cor. iv.,) what kind of sufferings St. James and his fellow apostles endured daily for the love of Christ, and with what patience and charity they supported them. ‘I think,’ says St. Paul, ‘that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death; because we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake – we are weak – we are without honour. Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode; and we labour, working with our own hands; we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and suffer it; we are ill spoken of, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all even until now.’ See. Christians, in what manner the greatest favourites of heaven were treated by the children of the world. But no wonder, for their master himself was treated no better, and all that will reign with him must be content to suffer with him. O happy those crosses that bring the soul to the eternal enjoyment of her God!

Consider 3rdly, from the gospel of this festival, that St. James and St. John, though they had been now trained up for three years in the school of Christ,, yet before his passion and death, and their receiving the Holy Ghost, had not yet perfectly put off the old man, or purged away the old leaven of ambition or self-seeking; and therefore they induced their mother to petition for them that they might sit, the one on the right hand of Christ, and the other on the left, in his kingdom. Christians, beware of ambition, beware of desiring to be honoured, to be praised, to be exalted or preferred before others; beware of all the subtilties of pride and self-love: if it found its way even into the school of Christ, (as it had done before into the earthly paradise, and even into heaven itself,) it is recorded as a warning for us; that so dangerous and subtile an evil may not make its way with far greater ease into our unguarded souls. But hearken to the words of our Lord upon this occasion. ‘You know not,’ says he, ‘what you ask. Can you drink of the chalice that I shall drink?’ &c. O how true it is that we know not what we ask, when we ask for honours, preferments, riches, pleasures, &c., which, instead of bringing us nearer to our God, are too apt to carry us far away from him! ‘Tis drinking with Christ of the chalice of his passion, ‘tis taking up our cross and following him, is the true means of divine appointment, which is to bring us to Christ, and to entitle us to sit down with him on his throne, and to reign eternally with him.

Conclude to let it be thy great ambition to keep as close as thou canst to thy Lord, with thy cross upon thy shoulders, by diligently working, suffering, and loving, and instead of pretending to high things, sit thee down, by humility, in the lowest place, and the highest shall be given thee.



26th July

On St. Anne

Consider first, that what gives us the highest idea of the supereminent sanctity of St. Anne, and of her blessed consort St. Joachim, is that they were chosen by the decrees of heaven to be the parents of that immaculate virgin who was to bring forth the Saviour of the world, and to be the mother of God. O what grace did they not receive, to qualify them to furnish this virgin spouse to the Spirit of God, and this virgin mother to the Son of God! What a saint-like, what a heavenly education did they not give to their blessed child! How perfectly did they make good thereby that sentence of their divine grandson, that ‘the tree is to be known by its fruit!’ What reverence then, what esteem, what affection, what devotion do we not owe to this blessed couple! All the time children of Christ have ever loved his mother and considered her as their mother; how then can we do otherwise than love also these two great saints to whom we stand indebted for such a mother!

Consider 2ndly, from the lesson or epistle that is read on the feast of St. Anne, (out of Prov. xxxi.,) the properties of a valiant, that is, of a wise and virtuous woman, as all perfectly agreeing in this great saint: particularly her perpetual attention to do good, and not evil, all the days of her life; her unwearied industry in acquiring the spiritual riches of all virtues, and storing up a treasure for eternity; her diligence in the exercise of works of mercy and charity, &c. ‘Strength and beauty are her clothing,’ saith the wise man, speaking of her interior, ‘and she shall laugh in the last day:’ even in that day when the foolish admirers of worldly vanities shall all be sad and sorrowful. ‘She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue:’ by her being ever prudent in her words, and charitably compassionate in excusing the defects of her neighbours. ‘She hath looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idly:’ by a serious application to keep herself always well employed, and to see that all under her charge are orderly. Such was St. Anne, such ought all Christian matrons to be: of such as these the Spirit of God adds, in the conclusion of the chapter, ‘Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:’ the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. Yes, the Lord himself shall give her the eternal reward of the fruit of her hands and the gates of the heavenly Sion shall resound with her praises for ever.

Consider 3rdly, from the gospel of this day, that excellent treasure which St. Anne found and made her own, by giving up all things else to purchase it for herself. ‘The kingdom of heaven,’ says our Lord, Matt. xiii. 44, ‘is like unto a treasure hidden in a field, which when a man hath found he hideth it, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.’ The kingdom of heaven, in this and other passages of the gospel, is understood of the kingdom of God within us, by his grace in the soul; that kingdom by which he lives and reigns in our interior, by faith, hope, and love, and the spirit of recollection and prayer. Now this kingdom of God in our souls is a treasure indeed, of infinite value, which enriches us by the possession of God himself, here by grace and hereafter in glory. This treasure Is hidden from the children of the world,, who are strangers to the value of it, and have a very mean idea of the happiness of a spiritual and internal life; but the children of God, whose eyes are open to the truth, discover this inestimable treasure: and spare neither pains nor cost to get it into their own possession; they even sell all they have to purchase it; that is, they give up their humours, their passions, their worldly affections, their sensual inclinations, their own will, and everything else that opposes so great a happiness; and thus they themselves become God’s kingdom. Thus they begin to enjoy a heaven upon earth.

Conclude to seek first the kingdom of God in thy soul, above all things, and all other things shall be added unto thee: thou shalt also be reimbursed, with infinite advantage, whatever thou hast expanded in the purchase of it; and all good things shall come to thee along with it.



27th July



Consider first, that it will be of no small service to thee, in order to keep thee from going down into hell after thy death, if thou wilt now, by a serious meditation, go down thither whilst thou art alive, and take a view of that wretched place by the help of those lights which the unerring word of God will furnish thee with. Give ear then first to what is said of hell in the Old Testament: where it is called, Job x., ‘A land (from which there is no coming back) dark, and covered with the obscurity of death; a land of misery and darkness; where the shadow of death and no order, but everlasting horror dwelleth.’ And Isaia xxx., where it is called Topheth, (from the name of that dismal valley near Jerusalem, otherwise called Gehenna, where the idolaters burnt their children in sacrifice to the devil,) of which he says, ‘Topheth is prepared from yesterday, prepared by the king, deep and wide. The nourishment thereof is fire, and much wood; the breath of the Lord as a torrent of brimstone kindleth it.’ And what kind of torments are there prepared for the wicked, the same prophet informs us, chap. xxxiii. 14. when he puts the question to them, ‘Which of you can dwell with devouring fire? Which of you shall dwell with everlasting burnings?’ The wise man adds, Eccles. xxxi., ‘That there are spirits that are created for vengeance, and in their fury they lay on grievous torments: in the time of destruction they shall pour out their force, and shall appease the wrath of him that made them. Fire, hail, famine, and death, all these were created for vengeance; the teeth of beasts and scorpions, and serpents.’

Consider 2ndly, what a description our Lord himself has given us of hell in his gospel, where he calls it ‘the gehenna of fire, or the fiery gehenna,’ Matt. v., ‘A fire that cannot be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not extinguished; and where every one shall be salted with fire,’ St. Mark ix. ‘An eternal fire and everlasting punishment,’ St. Matt. xxv. ‘A place of torments in flames, where the wicked shall not be allowed even so much as one drop of water to cool their tongue,’ St. Luke xvi. ‘A furnace of fire where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,’ St. Matt. xiii. ‘A binding hand and foot, and casting into exterior darkness,’ St. Matt. xxii. To which St. John adds, Rev. xiv., ‘that the damned shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God – and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone; and that the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever; and that they have no rest day or night,’ Rev. xx.;‘That they shall be cast into the pool of fire and brimstone,’ which is the second death. To which St. Jude also adds, ‘darkness and everlasting chains,’ verse 6. And St. Paul, 2 Thess. i., ‘that they shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord.’

Consider 3rdly, what a dreadful scene of misery and woe is here set before our eyes in these texts of holy Scripture: what a complication of all the worst of evils, and all of them eternal; how many bitter ingredients of this cup of the divine wrath, of which the wicked must drink in hell for evermore. Take a view of them, O my soul, at thy leisure, that the sight of them may imprint in thee wholesome fear of sin, the only evil that can condemn thee to that place of torments. O! consider well this dying life, or rather this living death of the damned; this darksome land; these dungeons of horror and misery; this binding hand and foot in eternal chains; this pool of fire and brimstone; this salting with fire; these devouring flames which always burn, and yet never consume; this feeling ever fresh for sufferings; these gnawing serpents; this worm that never dies; this dreadful second death; this eternal separation from God and all that is good; this perpetual weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, &c., and that all this is endured in the company of devils and other damned wretches, all hating and cursing one another; all hating and blaspheming God. And that all these insupportable sufferings are to be without end, intermission, or remission. Ah! such is hell according to holy writ; according to God’s infallible word; and who can bear the least part of it? and shall Christians, that believe the word of God, dare to sin?

Conclude, seeing thou canst endure so little here, to take the most effectual means thou are able, now whilst thou hast time, to keep thyself from ever coming into this place of torments. The fire of hell can burn nothing but wilful sin. Get rid of this enormous evil, and hell can have no hold of thee.




28th July


Some other considerations on Hell

Consider first, that as it is said in holy writ, 1 Cor. ii. 9, that ‘eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him:’ so we may also say with truth, that neither eye hath seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of any mortal to conceive what dreadful torments are prepared in hel’ for obstinate sinners that wilfully die enemies of God. The Almighty is infinite in all his attributes, as in his power, wisdom, goodness, &c., so in his avenging justice too. He is a God in hell, as much as in heaven. So that by the greatness of his love, mercy, and patience here, we may measure the greatness of his future wrath and vengeance against impenitent sinners. By his pure goodness and love he has drawn them out of nothing, and made them for himself and a happy eternity; he has preserved them and sustained them for a long time, ever loading them with his benefits; he has even come down from his throne of glory, to seek them when gone astray; he has suffered himself to be nailed to a disgraceful cross for their eternal salvation; he has frequently delivered them from the dangers to which they were daily exposed; has patiently borne with their repeated insolence and treasons; still graciously inviting them to return to him by repentance; and still offering them his mercy and all good, both for time an eternity. Ah! how justly then does his patience and goodness, after being so long abused, turn into fury! His mercy at length gives place to justice; and a thousand woes to those wretches that must for ever feel the dreadful weight of the avenging hand of the living God.

Consider 2ndly, that beatitude, according to divines, is defined ‘A perfect and never-ending state of happiness, comprising at once all that is good, without any mixture of evil.’ If then damnation be the opposite to beatitude, it must needs be an everlasting deluge of all that is evil, without the least mixture of good, without the least alloy of ease, without the least glimpse of comfort; a total privation of all happiness, and a chaos of all misery.

Consider 3rdly, that the misery of the damned is unchangeable, because they carry with them out of this world the enormous guilt of mortal sin; an infinite debt, of which they can never discharge the least part; a dreadful poison which has tainted and corrupted their whole souls, for which there is now no medicine; a dismal stain which has penetrated them through and through, and never can be effaced; which is even proof against all the flames of hell, which it continually nourishes; and all the gnawings of the never-dying worm, which eternally preys upon it. For as there is no remission of sins in hell, the whole guilt remains unchangeable in the soul, with all the debt and all the stain; and consequently calls without ceasing for all the wrath of God’s avenging justice; which cannot but eternally hate and eternally punish everlasting sin. Oh! how true it is that this dreadful evil of mortal sin is the very worst of all the ingredients of eternal damnation, and the source and cause of all the rest!

Conclude ever to detest and fly from this monster, sin; which is thus odious to thy God, and pernicious to thy soul; and thou shalt have no need to apprehend eternal damnation.




29th July


On the prison of Hell

Consider first, that hell is a prison that lies deep in the bowels of the earth, in which the damned are confined for all eternity; a prison whose gates are eternally shut down and bolted upon them by the irreversible decrees of heaven; so as to prohibit for ever to them all intercourse or communication with the world above; to stop up all access to all manner of good, comfort, or ease; and to shut in with them all that can make them completely miserable. Hell is a dismal dungeon, of black and fetid flames; and crammed brimful with the black and fetid carcasses of the damned, eternally frying in those dark flames. O my soul, what a prison! What a dungeon! What dreadful locks and bars, which shut out all good, and admit of nothing of God but his avenging justice!

Consider 2ndly, that this prison of the damned is every way most hideous and loathsome, and full of horror and darkness. No sun, no moon, no stars ever appear in that gloomy region; but a dismal night reigns eternally there; a night that knows no morning, nor ever expects a return of the dawning of the day. No breath of air from above, no glimpse of light, can ever penetrate into that deep, that bottomless pit. The very fire that rages there is black and darksome; it affords no light to the wretched prisoners, except it be to represent to their eyes such odious objects as may serve to increase their misery. O who can bear the thought of such a scene of woe!

Consider 3rdly, that in this frightful dungeon the damned are bound down in eternal chains, so that they can neither stir hand nor foot – St. Matt. xxii. – in fiery chains that wrap up their whole bodies, and penetrate them on all sides, and fix them immovable to their place of torments. That head which by their pride and rebellion they had lifted up against God, is now eternally nailed down at an immense distance from him; that stiff neck which they refused to submit to his sweet yoke, is now loaded with the enormous weight of the chains of hell; and all their senses and members which they gratified in their life, by indulging them in the false liberty of sinful pleasures, are now condemned to an everlasting confinement and slavery, in links of grinding flames. Oh that sinners would be wise, and would think of these things, and would cease from sin!

Conclude, thou at least my soul, to take care whilst thou hast time to provide effectually for thy eternal welfare; that thou mayest never come to be cast into this dreadful and everlasting prison.



30th July


On the entertainment of Hell

Consider first, what kind of entertainments are prepared in a miserable eternity, to succeed the banquets, and revellings, and other extravagances of a voluptuous life, in which worldlings pass the short time of their mortality. Oh. how strangely shall the scene be altered, when immediately after death they shall find their souls buried in hell! Ah! what kind of feasting shall they meet with there! What ravenous hunger and thirst, without being ever able to obtain so much as one drop of water! ‘Their wine is the gall of dragons, and the venom of asps, which is incurable,’ Deut. xxxii. 33. ‘Their cups are full of the wine of the wrath of God,’ Rev. xiv. Cups of liquid fire, and fetid sulphur. Their gardens of pleasure are turned into a pool of fire and brimstone. Their carnal embraces into the eternal gnawings of infernal serpents, ever preying upon their bosoms.

Consider 2ndly, the music with which these wretches shall be for ever entertained in hell: eternal howlings and yellings; eternal shrieks and groans; eternal curses and blasphemies; the insulting voices of the tormentors, scoffing at their sufferings; the lashes of their scourges, &c. Ah! unhappy sinners, how will you like such entertainments as these? Surely if there were nothing else in hell, but the being condemned to an everlasting night, in the midst of all this horror and confusion of so many frightful noises, dismal groans, and horrid blasphemies, any reasonable man would choose the worst of temporal evils rather than to be condemned for eternity to such a melancholy entertainment.

Consider, 3rdly, that the sense of smelling in the damned will also have its share in this infernal feast; where it will be for ever regaled with the loathsome exhalations of those filthy dungeons below, and with the intolerable stench of those half putrefied carcasses that are broiling there. And what shall come in to complete the misery of their entertainment, will be the abominable company which thy must have with them for endless ages, of so many hideous spirits; so many merciless devils; and what will be worse to them than devils, the unhappy partners of their sins. O what bitter hatred, what hellish rage and fury, will their former love be now turned into? O how will they now curse, how will they tear and torment one another; being eternally chained together, in those black fiery links, which by their dark passions and lusts they have in their lifetime made for themselves. O worldlings, break then your bonds asunder now, whilst you have time; withdraw yourselves now from all the objects of your criminal passions, and all disorderly affections; lest if you carry them with you out of this world, they serve for nothing else but to add so many fiery links to your everlasting chains, and to bind you down to as many devils.

Conclude to fly for the future from a voluptuous life, and all the sinful entertainments of the children of this world; ‘who have their consolation here; and who laugh now, but shall mourn and weep hereafter;’ St. Luke vi., and for thy part to lament henceforward the shall thou hast had with them, whilst thou hast walked on with them in the broad road of a worldly life; and by these penitential tears, joined with a new life, thou wilt escape having a share with them in the entertainments of hell.

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