All confess that they must die, and die but once; and that there is nothing of greater consequence than this; for our eternal happiness or our eternal unhappiness depends upon the moment of death. We all know a happy or an unhappy death depends upon the life we have led. And yet, how is it that nearly all Christians live as if they would never have to die, and as if dying a happy or an unhappy death could be of little importance? Truly we lead a wicked life, because we think not upon death. “In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.” (Sirach 7:40) We must be persuaded that the hour of death is not the proper time to set our accounts in order, nor to make the great concern of our eternal salvation secure. The wise ones of this world, in worldly matters, take every precaution at the proper time towards obtaining that gain, that post, that matrimonial alliance; when the health of their body is concerned, they lose no time before applying the needful remedies. What would you say of anyone who, having undertaken an academical contest, would defer preparing himself for it until the time was come? Would not that general be indeed mad, who should wait until besieged, to lay in stores of provisions and arms? Would not that pilot be mad, who should forget to provide himself with cable and anchors until the time of the tempest?
That Christian is even in this state, to whom the hour of death arrives before his conscience is made clean in the sight of God. “When your fear cometh as desolation …. then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer, therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way.” (Prov. 1: 27-28, 31.) The time of death is a time of tempest and confusion; then will sinners call upon God to help them, but only for fear of hell, to which they see themselves so near, and without a sincere conversion, and therefore God will not hear them. And therefore also very justly they shall then reap truly the fruits of their evil life. Alas for them, it will not be enough to take the Sacraments. It is necessary to die hating sin and loving God beyond all things; but how can he hate forbidden pleasures, who, until that time, has loved them, so much? and how can he love God beyond all things, who, until that time, has loved the creature more than God?
–Preparation for Death, Consideration X
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