Today’s ✠Challoner Meditation

Fast forward past the Angelus to hear today’s ✠Challoner Meditation recording

July 27th On Hell

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.

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