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CHAPTER CXLVIThat Sins are punished also by the experience of something Painful

PUNISHMENT ought to be proportionate to the fault. But in a fault not only is there an aversion of the mind from the last end, but also an undue conversion of it to other objects as ends. Not only then should the sinner be punished by exclusion from the end, but also by other things turning to his pain.

2. No one is afraid to lose what he does not desire to gain. They then who have their will turned away from their last end, have no fear of being shut out from it. Consequently that mere exclusion would not be enough to call them off from sinning. Some other punishment then must be employed, which sinners may fear.

3. One who puts to undue use the means to a certain end, not only is deprived of the end, but incurs some other hurt besides. Thus inordinate taking of food not only does not bring health, but further induces sickness. But whoever sets up his rest in creatures does not use them as he ought: he does not refer them to their last end. Not only then ought he to be punished by going without happiness, but also by experiencing some pain from creatures.

Hence divine Scripture not only threatens sinners with exclusion from glory, but also with affliction in other ways. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire (Matt. xxv, 41). He shall rain nets on sinners: fire and brimstone and the breath of stormy winds shall be the portion of their cup (Ps. x, 7).828828We live by the light and heat of the central fire of the sun. Electricity, which we may call a fire, is now taken to be the essential basis of all matter. All the bright and delicious things of life come of fire. Without fire, no civilisation, no humanity, no joy on earth. If then the saying holds that “in the things wherein a man has sinned, in the same shall he be punished,” fire forms not an unfit punishment for one who has abused the good things of our present existence.

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