Warnings from the Bible and Jesus against death-bed repentances

December 12, 2021 • 4 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 257
By Venerable Louis of Granada

As the final decision of this question depends on the word of God, I pray you to hear what He teaches us through Holy Scripture.

The Eternal Wisdom, after inviting men to practise virtue, utters by the mouth of Solomon [Prov. i. 24-31.] the following malediction against those who are deaf to His voice:

Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and there was none that regarded. You have despised all My counsels, and have neglected My reprehensions.

I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come to you which you feared. When sudden calamity shall fall on you, and destruction as a tempest shall be at hand; when tribulation and distress shall come upon you, then shall they call upon Me, and I will not hear.

They shall rise in the morning, and shall not find Me, because they have hated instruction, and received not the fear of the Lord, nor consented to My counsel, but despised all My reproof.

We have the authority of St. Gregory for saying that these words of the Holy Ghost apply to our present subject. Are they not sufficient to open your eyes and determine you to save yourself from God’s vengeance by a timely preparation for this terrible hour?

In the New Testament we find no less striking authority. Our Saviour, when speaking to His Apostles of the day of His coming [Matt. xxiv. 46 to end], never fails to warn them to be always ready. He says:

Blessed is that servant whom when his lord shall come he shall find watching. Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.

But if the evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long coming, and shall begin to strike his fellow-servants, and shall eat and drink with drunkards, the lord of that servant shall come in a day that he hopeth not, and at an hour that he knoweth not, and shall separate him, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In this parable our Saviour, Who reads the secret designs of the wicked, tells them what they are to expect and what will be the result of their vain confidence.

You [who defer your conversion til your death] are this bad servant, since you cherish the same designs in your heart, and seize the present time to eat and drink and gratify every passion.

Why do you not fear the wrath of Him Who is all-powerful to execute what He threatens? It is to you that His menaces are addressed. Awake, unhappy soul! and hasten to profit by the time that remains to you.

We are devoting much time to this subject, which ought to be clear to all, but we must do so, since there are so many unhappy Christians who endeavor to satisfy their consciences with this false excuse. Hear, then, another lesson of our Saviour:

Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be like to ten virgins who, taking their lamps, went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride.

What time does our Saviour indicate by Then? The hour of general judgment and of each particular judgment, St. Augustine replies, for the sentence uttered in secret immediately after death will be ratified before all men on the last day.

Five of these virgins were wise and five were foolish, our Saviour continues. The foolish virgins took no oil with them for their lamps, and when at midnight—a time of profoundest slumber, when men give least thought to their interests—a cry was heard, “The bridegroom cometh,” all the virgins arose, and they who had trimmed their lamps and furnished them with oil went in to the marriage, and the door was shut. When the foolish virgins, who had gone to seek oil for their lamps, came, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” He answered them saying, “Amen I say to you, I know you not.”

Our Saviour concludes the parable with these words: “Watch, therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.” Could we ask a plainer warning than this? Could we desire a clearer condemnation of the folly of those who rely on death-bed repentances?

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