People continue to sin because they think there’s no punishment, and to avoid virtue thinking there’s no benefit

December 16, 2021 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 121
By Venerable Louis of Granada



With such powerful reasons for embracing virtue, I know not what excuse men can make for refusing to practise it.

That pagans, who are ignorant of its value, do not prize it is not astonishing. A peasant digging in the earth and finding a precious stone will probably throw it away, because he does not know its worth.

But that Christians, who have been taught the value and beauty of virtue, continue to live in forgetfulness of God and wedded to the things of this world, as if there were no such thing as death or judgment, or heaven or hell, is a continual subject of sorrowful wonder. Whence this blindness, whence this folly?

It has several causes, the principal of which is the mistaken opinion of the generality of men, who believe that no advantages are to be reaped from virtue in this life, that its rewards are reserved for the life to come.

Men are so powerfully moved by self-interest, and present objects make such an impression upon them, that they think very little of future rewards and seek only their immediate satisfaction.

The same was true even in the days of the prophets; for when Ezechiel made any promise or uttered any threat in the name of the Lord, people laughed at him and said to one another: “The vision that this man seeth is for many days to come; and this man prophesieth of times afar off.” [Ezech. xii. 27.]

In like manner did they ridicule the prophet Isaias: “Command, command again, command, command again; expect, expect again, expect, expect again.” [Isaias xxviii. 10.]

Solomon teaches us the same when he says: “Because sentence is not speedily pronounced against the evil, the children of men commit evils without any fear. … And because all things equally happen to the just and the wicked, to him that offereth victims and to him that despiseth sacrifices, the hearts of the children of men are filled with evil, and with contempt while they live, and afterwards he shall be brought down to hell.” [Eccles. viii. 11 and ix. 2, 3.]

Yes, because the wicked seem to prosper in the world they conclude that they are safe, and that the labor of virtue is all in vain. This they openly confess by the mouth of the prophet Malachias, saying: “He laboreth in vain that serveth God; and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinances, and that we have walked sorrowful before the Lord of hosts? Wherefore now we call the proud people happy, for they that work wickedness are built up, and they have tempted God and are preserved.” [Malach. iii. 14, 15.]

This is the language of the reprobate, and is the most powerful motive which impels them to continue in sin; for, in the words of St. Ambrose, “they find it too difficult to buy hopes at the cost of dangers, to sacrifice present pleasures to future blessings.”

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