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yet an assassin, justly brought to death by his own confession ;-a mock hero, joining at first in the reproaches, and reaping a miserable popularity by heaping curse and vile imprecation upon the innocent Victim of Calvary, for it is written in one of the Evangelists, "The thieves also, which were crucified with Him cast the same in His teeth': "ambo ex eâdem malignitate venientes,' says an old homily.
In the illumination of a supernatural faith recognising, in the Dying Sufferer beside him, the Divine and predestined King, this poor penitent now turns to Him with prayer that after years, or maybe ages, of dark sojourn in the dismal realm of death, (for such seems to have been the utmost of his hope), He would grant him a place, even the lowest, in the glory of His kingdom. Then he receives at once the gentle answer, ‘To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise ;
yoke of the stranger which God had imposed on His people for the chastisement of their sins, and which, therefore, it behoved them meekly to accept. This man may have been one of these, seeking at the outset of his career to work by the wrath of man what he counted the righteousness of God. Yet he adds : ‘Presently a fugitive from Roman justice, compelled to take to the mountains, and to live there by rapine, he may have gradually learned less and less to discriminate between friend and foe, may have earned only too well the title under which he was at last to expiate his offences on a Roman cross. His own confession implies as much. There is a great deal of truth in his later words : 'Hitherto as a victim of Roman justice, as one of the robbers described just now -i.e., as one of the latest champions of Jewish freedom-a member probably of the band of Barabbas, and sharing in the popular interest which he excited, this man had been an object of sympathy and admiration to all the scorners and blasphemers of Calvary. He would have become so still more, openly joining, as his companion did, in their insults and outrages against the Holy One of God. But to all this he prefers the reproach of Christ, which surely he did not escape, when he made that bold confession of his faith, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom.”
* Cf. Bishop Wordsworth, Comment. (Greek Test.) on 2 Cor. xii. 2, 3.'
words the full meaning of which he should understand that very evening,* when the clubs of the soldiers had done their work upon his tortured body, and brought an earlier death to his release. Oh, the marvels of the day of the Divine Passion! An Apostle lost as an apostate, and gone to 'his own place,' and a malefactor's soul gathered from perdition into the sheaf of everlasting life, and into Paradise! Such are the supernatural mysteries of the day of the Passion of God !t
But let us recall our thoughts to that more hidden operation of grace wrought in the soul at death. For, surely, as marvellous an interior change must be wrought in the instant of death upon the passing soul as was before wrought upon the conscience of that poor murderer in his conversion, if the soul is to live in the pure and holy Paradise of God. Nor less certainly in every soul, though it were the most sanctified and holy, ere it can be admitted into that dear land, must this entire renovation be done. In the old Rabbis there is a parable, that represents the soul as dropping the sackcloth of the flesh at death to be then invested with the white and shining robe of peace. We may well adapt the parable to the supernatural change which must take place at the moment of death even in the saintliest souls. We have spoken of death as an act, not as a state, and so may compare it to the act of dropping the mantle of the flesh; and that not, indeed, the loosing only of the girdle of this mortal flesh, the nexus peregrinationis meæ,' or 'bonds of our pilgrimage' (St. Anselm), but also, God be praised ! of the soiled raiment of corruption which is called emphatically the flesh’in Holy Scripture, and which is suffered to remain a burden of shame and a discipline of sorrow and anguish, until the latest moment of life in this world, that humility may never give place to pride, nor the fountains of life and grace in the most precious Blood be forsaken or forgotten.* But when, by the kindly hand and ministry of death, we are released from the burden of the flesh, which was often a chain upon the spirit, we shall also be finally and for ever delivered from the thraldom of the body of sin; every relic and vestige of that ancient evil being destroyed, and the soul rendered in the instant, by the transforming miracle of the grace united to the act of death, perfectly pure, and absolutely fit for the mystical embrace of God, which will receive and enfold the soul, as well in the early morning-hours of the intermediate life in Paradise, as in the final and noonday glory of the immediate and beatific Presence.
* In a beautiful sermon ascribed to Faustus--but strangely included in the works of St. Augustine (154, tom. v. 191), though the Benedictine editors have rightly put in the margin, “Cave semi-Pelagiano'—it is said : Why dost thou weary the faith that is perfected in thee with looking to the promise as if so far-distant when yet it says, " To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise ?” Arid, with delicate allusion to this penitent's evil life as a robber, it is added, “There is in this heavenly Paradise no death-bringing meat, nor any prohibition, neither any tree that thou needest fear to touch. I will be there to thee both nourish; ment and life. And that thou mayest not fear any enemy, or that ancient robber, lying in ambush in that blessed grove, thy possession shall be confirmed by My conduct of thee thither. For as Satan drave man from Paradise, so doth God now bring him again within."' TO these ancient words we may add those of a profound modern commentator, Bengel: ‘More happy trees grow in this Paradise than in Gol. gotha, with immortality and life.'
† How terrible is the contrast presented to this promise to the dying thief in the last words of the famous Rabbi Jochanan b. Zachai, a scholar of Hillel, and contemporary of Gamaliel : ‘There are two roads before me, one to hell, and the other to Paradise, and I know not by which I shall go.'--Etheridge, 'Hebr. Lit.,' p. 50.
There is, then, we will believe, no Purgatory, † whose lurid * Cf. John Owen, D.D., ‘On Psalm cxxx.,' Works, vi. 341.
+ How miserably the Roman Catholic exposition of these glorious words detracts from their consolation and power, let the interpretation light is the cruel invention of priestcraft to wring the hardlypurchased Masses for the dead from the hearts that love, and by this ghastly phantom* to scare and terrify the bereaved into a compelled liberality to the coffers of the Church. No fires of purgation, though refined away into thin veils, through which visions of angels are seen, † can await the souls of our blessed dead, upon whom there is by the Divine grace the inward sign of the most precious Blood, the Blood of God, I which has, therefore, an infinite merit to cleanse from sin. There is no barrier of imperfection intervening between them and the final beatific embrace of the Vision of God; only the perfect, though intermediate, blessedness of the soul, dwelling awhile in this dear middle home of peace and
of their great expositor, Cornelius à Lapide, prove : 'It is certain that Christ with that thief, on the day on which He died, did not ascend into heaven, but descended into the limbus patrum' (i.e., the fictitious place of detention in which the souls of the Fathers are said by this Church to have lain), 'and that then there was vouchsafed to them for their blessedness the Vision of Christ's Divinity. Wherefore, then, Christ changed their lot, making their prison Paradise, so that those who dwelt below were on high, and the infernal place became heaven.' Though it is their policy not to unveil the horrors of Purgatory too rudely, this is the doctrine of modern Romanism, set to sost strains and poetical melodies :
• It is a rest, yet torment dire-
F. W. FABER, ‘All Saints' Day.' Cf. also the fearful description in chapters xviii.-xxi. of a modern author, H. J. Coleridge, S.J., in “The Prisoners of the King.'
* Cf. Bishop Hooper's admirable sermon on Rev. xiv. 13-Works, p. 567, and even ‘Tract XC.,' 28.
+ Cf. St. Aug., vi. 838 A., App. These sermons are, however, not the saint's, but falsely ascribed to him.
I Acts xx. 28; and cf. Waterland, iii. 425, 426; also Liddon, ‘On Our Lord's Divinity,' Bampton Lectures, pp. 385-389 and 487; and for a good and clear statement of the doctrine called in theology the 'communicatio idiomatum'; Shedd, 'Hist. of Christian Doctrine,' i. 403-405. * Canon Swaine, 'The Blessed Dead,' p. 12.
quietness. The moment the last sad article of death is over the pilgrim enters into an untroubled and perpetual rest. If any heart had ever need of such cleansing fires as the dogma of Purgatory has feigned, surely after this stormy sunset, in which the cloud-shapes of gloom and evil seemed to pursue the sinner to the very dividing-line between life and death, the sun of life being so nearly sunk below the darkened horizon, this unhappy soul had such need. But no; in death, even in death by crucifixion and the cruel clubs, the entire renewal was done by the transforming power of the Divine grace, as in conversion first, so afterward in the act of death itself; and that night with Christ, his Deliverer, the thief entered, not Purgatory, but Paradise.
Our Lord's words are as true for each of His dying now, as then for the malefactor on the cross : “To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.' It would be infinitely inconsistent with the true and perfect consolation of the words, spoken by the Dying to the dying, to suppose that Paradise was used 'only as a figure.' The consequence of the refusal to receive our Lord's promise into a simple faith is shown by such unhappy words as these: When Christ speaks further of Paradise, I know not—I say it with all reverencewhether He does not so far weaken the force of His great promise. For Paradise is again a figure ;'* and yet the writer is obliged in some measure to recall these painful words in the rest of the sentence. But no; a thousand times no ! These are not words said in a parable. They have in them all the solemnity of the occasion of their utterance, spoken, as they were, by the dying lips of the Truth Himself to a dying soul. That tremendous hour was no fitting time for figurative and indirect expression. When the pulse is failing fast, and all the voices of earth are already becoming muffled, and are sounding strangely, as if