If we presume upon God’s Mercy without sight of His Justice, we may be lost to Hell

October 8, 2021 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 270

Tremble for your salvation, and, while always maintaining an unshaken hope, have no less fear of hell. You have no reason to expect that God should treat you differently from other men. Bear in mind the law of His justice, as it has been explained, and so live that you may never expose yourself to its terrible effects here and hereafter.

Be not the victim of a vain confidence which you may flatter yourself is hope, while it is naught but presumption. Rather, in the words of the Eternal Wisdom, “be not without fear about sin forgiven, and add not sin upon sin. And say not: The mercy of the Lord is great; He will have mercy on the multitude of my sins. For mercy and wrath quickly come from Him, and His wrath looketh upon sinners.” [Ecclus. v. 5, 6, 7.]

If, then, we must tremble even for sin which has been remitted, how is it that you do not fear to add daily to your crimes? And mark well these words: “His wrath looketh upon sinners”; for as the eyes of His mercy are upon the good, so are the eyes of His anger upon the wicked.

And this agrees with what David says in one of the psalms: “The eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and his ears unto their prayers. But the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” [Ps. xxxiii. 16, 17.] “The hand of God,” says the inspired author of the Book of Esdras, “is upon all them that seek Him in goodness; and His power and strength and wrath upon all them that forsake Him.” [Esdras viii. 22.]

Be reconciled, therefore, with God; amend your life; and then you can confidently hope for the mercy promised to His faithful servants. “Hope in the Lord and do that which is good,” we are told by the Psalmist; “offer the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord.” [Ps. xxxvi. 3, and iv. 6]

This is hope; any other confidence is presumption. The ark of the true Church will not save its unworthy members from the deluge of their iniquities, nor can you reap any benefit from the mercy of God if you seek His protection in order to sin with impunity.

“Men go to hell,” says St. Augustine, “through hope, as well as through despair: through a presumptuous hope during life, and through despair at the hour of death.” [“De Verbo Dui.,” Serm. 147.]

I entreat you, therefore, O sinner! to abandon your false hope, and let God’s justice inspire you with a fear proportioned to the confidence which His mercy excites in you. For, as St. Bernard tells us: “God has two feet, one of justice and the other of mercy. We must embrace both, lest justice separated from mercy should cause us to despair, or mercy without justice should excite in us presumption.” [“In Cantica,” Serm. 80.]

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