Monday, 27 March 2017

Sins are Numbered - Tremble and Sin No More

St. Alphonsus Liguori

From the Book, 
"Preparation for Death: Considerations on Eternal Truths" 
by St. Alphonsus Liguori

Consideration XVIII: The Number of Sins

“Because sentence is not speedily pronounced against evil, 
the children of men commit evil without fear.” – Eccles. 8:11

The Measure is Determined for Each One

IF God instantly chastises the man who insults him, we certainly should not see him so much outrages as we do at present.  But because the Lord does not instantly punish sinners, but waits for them, they are encouraged to offend him the more.  It is necessary to understand that, though God waits and bears, he does not wait and bear forever.  

It is the opinion of many holy Fathers – of St. Basil, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and others – that as God, according to the words of Scripture, 

Wis. 11:21, 
Thou hast ordered all things in measure, 
and number and weight has fixed for each 
the number of his days, the degrees of health and talent 
which he will give to him, 
so he has also determined the number of sins 
that he will pardon; 
and when this number is completed, 
he will pardon no more.  

Eusebius of Caesarea says the same thing: “God waits up to a certain number, and afterwards abandons;” and so speak also the above-mentioned Fathers.

And these Fathers  have not spoken at random, but according to the sacred Scriptures.  In one place the Lord says that he restrained his vengeance against the Amorrithes, because the number of their sins was not as yet filled up:  For as yet the iniquities of the Amorrithes (Amorites*) are not at the full (Gen 15:16).  In another place he says: I will not add any more to have mercy on the house of Israel (Os. I,6).  Again he says: All the men who have tempted Me ten times shall not see the land (Num. 15:22).  Thou hast, says Job, sealed up my offences as it were in a bag (Job 14:16).  

Sinners keep no account of their sins; but God keeps an account of them, that when the harvest is ripe, that is, when the number of sins is completed, he may take vengeance on them.  Put ye in the sickles; for the harvest is ripe (Joel 3:13).  

handwriting on the wall—Mene, Thecel, Phares
In another place he says: Be not without fear about sin forgiven, and add not sin to sin (Sirach 5:5**).  As if he said: O sinner! You must tremble even on account of the sins which I have forgiven you; for it you add another, if may happen that this new sin, along with those which have been pardoned, may complete the number, then there will be no more mercy for you.  The Lord waiteth patiently, that when the day of judgment shall come, he may punish them in the fullness of their sins (2 Mac. 6:14).  God waits till the measure of iniquities is filled up, and then he chastises the sinner.

Of such chastisements there are many examples in the Scriptures.  Saul disobeyed God a second time, and was abandoned.  When he entreated Samuel to intercede for him, saying: Bear, I beseech thee, my sin, and return with me that I may adore the Lord, Samuel answered:  I will not return with thee, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee (1 Kings15:25).  

We have also the example of Balthasar, who, after having profaned the vessels of the temple at table, saw a handwriting on the wall—Mene, Thecel, Phares. Daniel came, and in explaining the words, among other things, said: Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting (Dan. 5:27).  By these words he gave the king to understand that in the balance of divine justice the weight of his sins had made the scale descend.  The same night Balthasar, the Chaldean king, was killed.  

Oh ! how many miserable sinners meet with a similar fate!  

They live many years, multiplying sins; 
but when the number is filled up, 
they are struck dead, and cast into hell! 

 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment they go down to hell (Job 21:13).  

There are some who spend their time in investigating the number of the stars, the number of the angels, or the number of years which each one will live.  

But who can discover the number of sins 
which God will pardon each individual?  

We should, therefore, tremble.  

My brother, it may be that God will pardon you no more after the first criminal pleasure which you indulge, after the first thought to which you consent, or after the first sin which you commit.

Contrite Heart
and Prayers

Behold me, O my God!  at Thy feet.  I am that disgusting dog that has so often eaten the forbidden apples, which I before detested.  I do not deserve mercy: but, O My Redeemer!  The Blood which Thou shed for me encourages me and obliges me to hope for it.  

How often have I offended Thee and Thou hast pardoned me!  I promised never more to offend Thee, and I have afterward returned to the vomit: (Prov 26:11) and Thou has again pardoned me! What do I wait for?  Is it that Thou mayest send me to hell, or that Thou mayest abandon me into the hand of my sins, which would be a greater punishment than hell?  

No, my God!  I wish to amend: and in order to be faithful to Thee, I will put all my confidence in Thee, I will, whenever tempted, always and instantly have recourse to Thee.  

Hitherto I have trusted in my promises and resolutions, and have neglected to recommend myself to Thee in my temptations: this has been the cause of my ruin.  Henceforth Thou shalt be my hope and my strength, and thus I shall be able to do all things.

I can do all things in Him that strengthened me. (Phil 4:13).  Give me grace then, O my Jesus, through Thy merits, to recommend myself to Thee, and to ask Thy aid in my wants.  I love Thee, O Sovereign Good, amiable above every good.  I wish to love Thee alone; but it is from Thee I must receive aid to love Thee.  

O Mary, my Mother! Do thou also assist me by thy intercession; keep me under thy protection, and make me always invoke thee when I am tempted.  Thy name shall be my defence.

*Amorites (Amorrithes)
The Amorites

. . . the isolated remnants of the Amorites, who in pre-Philistine and pre-Israelitish times had occupied a large part of the country west of the Jordan.

Amorites.(From the pylon of the Ramesseum.)

In Tosef., Shab. (vii. [viii.] 23), and generally in post-Biblical literature, the Canaanites are usually spoken of as the Amorites (compare Assumptio Mosis, xi. 16; B. M. 25b); and they were characterized by R. Jose, the chronicler, as the most intractable of all nations. To the apocryphal writers of the first and second pre-Christian century they are the main representatives of heathen superstition, loathed as idolaters, in whose ordinances Israelites may not walk (Lev. xviii. 3).

A special section of the Talmud (Tosef., Shab. vi.-vii. [vii.-viii.]; Bab. Shab. 67a et seq.) is devoted to the various superstitions called "The Ways of the Amorites." 

According to the Book of Jubilees (xxix. [9] 11), "the former terrible giants, the Rephaim, gave way to the Amorites, an evil and sinful people whose wickedness surpasses that of any other, and whose life will be cut short on earth." In the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (lx.) they are symbolized by "black water" on account of "their black art, their witchcraft and impure mysteries, by which they contaminated Israel in the time of the Judges."

**Sirach 5:5-7 Sirach 5:5-7Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

5 Be not without fear about sin forgiven, and add not sin upon sin:
6 And say not: The mercy of the Lord is great, he will have mercy on the multitude of my sins.
7 For mercy and wrath quickly come from him, and his wrath looketh upon sinners.