Meditation On Death II ~ Luis De La Puente
Of the Properties of Death
The II. Point.
The second property of death is, that concerning the day, place, and manner it is most secretly hidden from all men, and manifest only to almighty God.
1. In the which I will ponder first, that we are not able to know the day, nor the hour wherein we are to die; neither the place, nor the occasion, nor season wherein death may attach us, nor the manner how we are to die whither it shall be with a natural death, by sickness, & by what kind of sickness: or whither it shall be with a violent death, by fire, or water: by the hands of men, or by beasts: or by some lightning, or by the tile of a house, that may fall down upon us. This only we know, that death shall come suddenly, or sickness, and the occasion thereof: and that when a man is most careless, it cometh like a thief in the night to scale his house, and rob him of his wealth. So (saith Christ Our Lord) shall the Son of man come to scale your house, which is the body, and to rob and sack the soul of it, and to give judgement thereof.
2. Secondly, I will consider what ends our Lord had in this plot of his providence, that is to say, to oblige us to be always watchful, fearing this hour, providing ourselves for it, doing penance for our sins before death seize upon us, and making haste to merit, and to labor before our light be out least the candle do, die suddenly, and we remain in the dark.. This Christ or Lord concluded in his parables concerning this matter. Sometimes he said. Vigilate, quia nescitis diem neque horam: Watch daily and hourly, because you know not the day, nor the hour of your death. Other sometimes he said: Watch, because you know not what hour your Lord will come: and be you ready, for at what hour you think not, the Son of man will come. With these words I will often exhort myself, saying: Gird thy body with the mortification of thy vices, and passions: and take in thy hands the burning torches of virtues, and in good works, and be always watchful expecting the coming of Christ, for he shall come when thou least thinkest of it, and that hour wherein thou art most forgetful, shall be peradventure the hour that he hath assigned, and if he find thee not well provided, thou wilt be miserably deceived.
3. Thirdly, I will ponder that all sudden unexpected deaths that have happened and do daily happen, are remembrances of this verity given me by our lord, that I may fear, and prepare myself; for death that striketh every man, may likewise strike me. And therefore when I see, or hear said, that some die suddenly by the sword, some by the hands of their enemies; and other some lying down to sleep i good health, slept the last sleep of death: out of all this, I am to draw fear, and advice: for that it may possibly happen, that such a kind of sudden death shall light upon me.
4. Whereupon I am deeply to consider, that any mortal sin whatsoever, if I do not penance for it, deserveth that God's justice should chastise me with this death, as Christ our Lord advertised to this purpose, in two like cases, that happened in his time: the one, that Pilate killed suddenly certain Galileans: the other, that the tower of Siloe fell upon eighteen men: think you (saith he) that these men were the greatest sinners of Galile, or Jerusalem? Non, dico vobis: sed nisi poenitentiam habueritis, omnes similiter peribitis. No, I say unto you, for this hath happened that you may understand, that unless you do penance, you shall all like wise perish: as if he should say: When you see any die suddenly, and of a disastrous death, be not vainly secure, saying: This happened unto them, because they were great sinners: for verily I say unto you, that what sinner soever he be, though he be not so great, if he do not penance, he is worthy of punishment, and shall perish, as these perished. Then if this be truth, as indeed it is, why do not I tremble to live one hour in mortal sin, in what sort soever it be? Who can secure me that the punishment shall not fall upon me, that I so justly have deserved? Who hath excepted me from this general threatening, that Christ our God threatened to all sinners? O Miserable sinner, be merciful to thyne own soul, and endeavour to appease almighty God with penance, before so horrible misery light suddenly upon thee.