GOD WILL PUNISH SINNERS “IN THE FULNESS OF THEIR SINS.”
When God, at length, sees that we will not respond to benefits, nor threats, nor admonitions, nor amend our lives, He is forced by our own very selves to punish us. God will then chastise us because we ourselves force Him to chastise us.
When God, at length, sees that we will not respond to benefits, nor threats, nor admonitions, nor amend our lives, He is forced by our own very selves to chastise us, but while punishing us, He will place before our eyes the great mercies He has extended to us: Thou thoughtest unjustly that I shall be like to thee; but I will reprove thee, and set before thy face (Ps. xlix. 20). He will then say to the sinner: Think you, O sinner, that I had forgotten, as you had done, the outrages you put upon Me, and the graces I dispensed to you? St. Augustine says that God does not hate but loves us, and that He only hates our sins. He is not wroth with men, says St. Jerome, but with their sins. The Saint says, that by His nature God is inclined to benefit us, and that it is we ourselves who oblige Him to chastise us, and assume the appearance of severity, which He has not of Himself. St. Jerome, reflecting on those words which Jesus Christ on the day of the General Judgment will address to the reprobate: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. xxv. 41), inquires, who has prepared this fire for sinners? God, perhaps? No, because God never created souls for hell, as the impious Luther taught: this fire was kindled for sinners by their own sins. He who sows in sin, shall reap chastisement. He that soweth iniquity shall reap evils (Prov. xxii. 8). When the soul commits sin, it voluntarily obliges itself to pay the penalty thereof, and thus condemns itself to the pains of hell. For you have said; we have entered into a league with death, and we have made a covenant with hell (Is. xxviii. 15). Hence, St. Ambrose well says, that God has not condemned any one, but that each one is the author of his own punishment. And the Holy Ghost says, that the sinner shall be consumed by the hatred which he bears himself: with the rod of his anger he shall be consumed (Prov. xxii. 8). He, says Salvian, who offends God has no more cruel enemy than himself, since he himself has caused the torments which he suffers. God, he continues, does not wish to see us in affliction, but it is we who draw down sufferings upon ourselves, and by our sins enkindle the flames in which we are to burn. God punishes us, because we oblige Him to punish us.
You will say the mercies of the Lord are great: no matter how manifold my sins, I have in view a change of life by and by, and God will have mercy upon me. God does not wish you to speak thus. Say not the mercy of the Lord is great, he will have mercy on the multitude of my sins (Ecclus. v. 6). The reason is this, for mercy and wrath quickly come from him (Ibid. 7). Yes, it is true, God has patience, God waits for some sinners; I say some, for there are some whom God does not wait for at all: how many has He not sent to hell immediately after the first transgression? Others He does wait for, but He will not always wait for them; He spares them for a certain time and then punishes. The Lord patiently expecteth, that when the day of judgment shall come, he may punish them in the fulness of their sins (2 Mach. vi. 14). Mark well, when the day of judgment shall come: when the day of vengeance shall arrive, in the fulness of their sins. When the measure of sins which God has determined to pardon is filled up, He will punish. Then the Lord will have no mercy, and will chastise to the full.
The city of Jericho did not fall during the first circuit made by the Ark, it did not fall at the fifth, or at the sixth, but it fell at last at the seventh. And thus it will happen with thee, says St. Augustine, “at the seventh circuit made by the Ark the city of vanity will fall.” God has pardoned you your first sin, your tenth, your seventieth, perhaps your thousandth; He has often called you, He now calls you again; tremble lest this should be the last circuit of the ark, that is, the last call, after which, if you do not change your life, it will be over with you. For the earth, says the Apostle, that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it … and which bringeth forth thorns and briars is reprobate, and very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burned (Heb. vi. 7). That soul, he says, which has often received the waters of Divine light and grace, and instead of bearing fruit produces nought but the thorns of sin, is nigh unto a curse, and its end will be to burn eternally in hell fire. In a word, when the time comes, God punishes.