31 January 2023

Bishop Challoner's Meditations - January 31st


Consider first, that besides all the sad effects of mortal sin already mentioned, which are more than sufficient to demonstrate how heinous this worst of evils is in the sight of God, there still remains divers other convincing arguments of the hatred God bears to it, from the manifold judgments he has of old, and daily executes upon them who are guilty of it; and will continue to execute to the end of the world, and even to all eternity. Witness, of old, the judgment of the deluge, which in punishment of the general corruption of all flesh, swept off at once all the sinners of the earth, and hurried them down to hell. Witness the judgment of fire from heaven, on Sodom and the neighbouring cities; witness the many judgments on the rebel Israelites in the wilderness, particularly that remarkable one of the earth opening and swallowing up alive Kore, and his companions; and the fire from the Lord destroying in an instant fourteen thousand seven hundred of their abettors, Num. xvi. Witness, in every age of the world, millions that have been hurried away when they least expected it, by violent or untimely death in punishment of their crying sins; besides many instances of flourishing cities yea, and of whole nations too, destroyed by wars, pestilences, famines, earthquakes, &c., all brought upon them by their sins. O great God! who shall not fear thy almighty wrath, which always looks towards wilful sinners? Who shall not fear the dreadful evil of mortal sin, which thus provokes thy avenging justice. 

Consider 2ndly, that though these visible judgments of God upon impenitent sinners, by which they are snatched away before their time by unprovided death, in the midst of their sins, be both very common, and very terrible; yet there is another kind of more secret judgments, which he daily executes upon thousands which is far more dreadful damnation. And that is, when in punishment of their abuse of grace and obstinacy in sin, he gives them up at length to a reprobate sense, and to a blindness and hardness of heart; so that they have now no more fear or thought of God or his judgments, or any concern at all for their souls, or for eternity. Now this is indeed the broad road to final impenitence, and is, in its consequences, the very worst of all God's judgments. It was thus he did by the Jews, according to the prediction of the royal prophet, Ps lxviii, 'Letting their eyes be darkened, that they should not see, and bowing down their back always - adding iniquity upon their iniquity,' &c., viz., by withdrawing his lights and his graces from them, and so giving them up to their own wicked inclinations; and thus he daily does with thousands of habitual sinners, in punishment of their slighting and resisting his repeated calls, Proverbs i. 24, &c., suffering them to go on in their wretched ways, and to add daily sin upon sin (without ever thinking of repentance), and consequently hell upon hell; which proves in the long run a far more dreadful judgment upon them than if, upon their first sin, the earth had opened and swallowed them down alive into hell.

Consider 3rdly, the judgments of God upon mortal sin, in the eternal duration of the torments of hell. O, sinners, go down, now whilst you are alive, into that bottomless pit and take a serious view of the rigour of God's justice there, of that worm that never dies, of that fire that never is extinguished, of that everlasting rage and despair, and of all that complication of the worst of evils that is to be found in that woeful dungeon, and then tell me what you think of the hatred God must bear to every mortal sin, when he, who is infinitely good and infinitely just, and cannot punish any one beyond what he richly deserves, condemns every soul that dies under any such guilt, to all this extremity of misery for all eternity. Surely the dismal prospect of this scene of woe must suffice to convince you of the enormity of mortal sin. But if anything be here wanting to full conviction, turn your eyes upon Jesus Christ the Son of God, and see how he was treated by the justice of his Father for our sins, which he had taken upon himself to expiate; see him agonizing in the garden, and sweating blood, under their enormous weight; see the multitude and variety of torments he endures for them, till his expiring upon a cruel and disgraceful cross; and how, notwithstanding the infinite dignity of his person, the divine justice would admit of nothing less than all these sufferings of his own Son for the expiation of any one mortal sin; and I am persuaded that the sight of a God, crucified for sin, must more effectually demonstrate to you the hatred God bears to this monstrous evil than the sight of hell itself, with all its dreadful and everlasting torments.

Conclude by giving thanks to God for having spared thee so long in thy sins, and resolving now to labour in earnest to avert, by a serious and speedy conversion, those judgments, which thou mayest have reason to apprehend are actually hanging over thy head for thy sins.

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