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The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage, by Jan van Ruysbroeck, [1916], at





Five kinds of men shall appear before this Judge.

The first, and the worst, are those Christians who have died in mortal sin, without repentance and without regret; for these have despised the death of Christ and His sacraments, or else they have received them unworthily and in vain. And they have not practised the works of mercy, showing charity toward their neighbours, as God has commanded. And for this they are doomed to the depths of hell.

The second kind are the unbelievers, Pagans and Jews. These must all appear before Christ, though they were damned already during their lives; for, in their time, they possessed neither Divine grace nor Divine love, and for this reason they have always dwelt in the eternal death of damnation. But these shall have less pain than the evil Christians; for, since they received fewer gifts of God, they owed Him less loyalty.

The third kind are those good Christians who, from time to time, fell into sin, and rose again through contrition and penance; but who have not made full satisfaction for their sins according to justice. These belong to purgatory.

The fourth kind consists of those men who have kept God's commandments; or, when they broke them, they have returned to God with contrition and with penance, and with works of charity and mercy and so have made satisfaction; so that their souls coming forth from their mouths go straight to heaven, without passing through purgatory.

The fifth kind are all those who, above all outward works of charity, have their sojourn in heaven, and are noughted and lost in God, and God in them, so that there is no other thing between God and them but time and their mortal nature. When these men are made free from their bodies, they enjoy, in that very moment, eternal bliss; and they are not judged, but shall themselves judge other men, with Christ, in the Day of Doom. And then all mortal life, and all temporal sorrows, both on earth and in purgatory, shall end, and all the souls of the damned, together with the Fiend and his companions, shall sink and disappear in the deeps of hell, in a corruption and everlasting horror without end. And in the twinkling of an eye the blessed shall be with Christ their Bridegroom in eternal glory; and they shall see and taste and enjoy the fathomless riches of the Being of God, eternally and for ever.

This is the third coming, which all of us await, and which is still to happen. The first coming, when God became man and lived in humility among us, and died for the love of us, this coming we should imitate, outwardly by fulfilling the perfect moral virtues, inwardly by the practice of charity and true humility. In the second coming, which happens in the present time, He comes with grace within each loving heart; and this coming we should long for and pray for every day, that we may remain steadfast and grow in new virtues. The third coming, at the Judgment, or in the hour of death, we should expect with longing, with trust, and with awe; that we may be set free from this misery and enter into the house of glory.

This coming in its three ways is the second point of the four chief points, wherein Christ says: Sponsus venit, The Bridegroom cometh.

Next: Chapter XI. Of a Spiritual Going Out With All Virtues