Summary Against Modern Thought: The Everlasting Fire

Summary Against Modern Thought: The Everlasting Fire

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What does the “everlasting fire” mean?


1 But a doubt can arise as to the manner in which the devil, who has no body, and the souls of the damned before the resurrection, can suffer from the bodily fire by which the bodies of the damned will suffer in hell. As our Lord says: “Depart from Me you cursed into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat. 25:41).

2 One must not, then, judge the matter thus: that non-bodily substances can suffer from bodily fire so that their nature is corrupted by fire, or altered, or in any other way at all transmuted, as our corruptible bodies do now suffer by fire; because non-bodily substances have no bodily matter so as to be able to be changed by bodily things, and they are not even receptive to sensible forms except intelligibly—such reception, of course, is not proper to punishment, but tends, instead, to perfect and to please.

3 Neither can it be said that they suffer affliction from bodily fire by reason of any contrariety, as the bodies will suffer after the resurrection, because the non-bodily substances do not have organs of sense and do not use sense powers.

4 Therefore, the non-bodily substances suffer from bodily fire in the manner of a certain bondage. For spirits are able to be bound by bodies: this can be by way of form, as the soul is bound to the human body to give it life; or it can be without being the form of a something, as the necromancers by the power of devils bind spirits by images or that sort of thing. Therefore, much more can the divine power bind the spirits to be damned by bodily fire. And this is to them the greater affliction: they know they are in bondage to the lowliest things as a punishment.

5 It is also becoming that the damned spirits should be punished by bodily penalties. For the sin of every rational creature grows out of this: It is not subject to God in obedience. Punishment, of course, should answer to fault proportionally, with this result: that in its punishment the will suffer an affliction which is the contrary of that for whose love it sinned. Therefore, a befitting punishment to a sinning rational nature is this: to be subject somehow to the bondage of things which are its own inferiors, namely, bodily things.

6 Again, the sin committed against God deserves not only the punishment of loss, but the punishment of sense, as we showed in Book III, for the punishment of sense answers to the fault in regard to the soul’s disordered turning toward a changeable good, as the punishment of loss answers to the fault in regard to its taming away from the unchangeable good. But the rational creature, and especially the human soul, sins by its disordered taming to bodily things. Therefore, its becoming punishment is affliction by bodily things.

7 It furthermore, an afflicting punishment be due to sin, the one we call “the pain of sense,” such punishment ought to come from that which can bring on affliction. But nothing brings on affliction except so far as it is the contrary of the will. But it is not contrary to the natural will of a rational nature that it be united to a spiritual substance. Say, rather, this is a pleasure to it, and belongs to its perfection, for it is a union of like to like and of intelligible to intellect, since every spiritual substance is intelligible in itself. But it is contrary to the natural will of a spiritual substance to be in subjection to a body from which in the order of its own nature it ought to be free. It is, then, fitting to punish a spiritual substance with bodily things

8 In consequence, this, too, is clear: Grant that one understands the bodily aspects of the rewards of the blessed mentioned in Scripture spiritually, as was said about the promise of food and drink, nonetheless, when Scripture threatens certain bodily punishments to sinners, these are to be understood in a bodily fashion and taken in their own meaning. For there is nothing suitable about rewarding a superior nature by the use of an inferior one—the reward, rather, is in the union to the superior—but a superior nature is suitably punished by being turned over to its inferiors.

9 For all that, there is no reason why even some of the things we read in Scripture about the punishments of the damned expressed in bodily terms should not be understood in spiritual terms, and, as it were, figuratively.

Such is the saying of Isaiah (66:24): “Their worm shall not die”: by worm can be understood that remorse of conscience by which the impious will also be tortured, for a bodily worm cannot eat away a spiritual substance, nor even the bodies of the damned, which will be incorruptible.

Then, too, the “weeping” and “gnashing of teeth” (Mat. 8:12) cannot be understood of spiritual substances except metaphorically, although there is no reason not to accept them in a bodily sense in the bodies of the damned after the resurrection. For all that, this is not to understand weeping a loss of tears, for from those bodies there can be no loss, but there can be only the sorrow of the heart and the irritation of the eyes and the head which usually accompany weeping.


  1. C-Marie

    God is Love. Perhaps the fires of Hell are the knowledge for those there, that they will never partake of His Love, ever. And they will have the full realization of the loss that they caused for themselves. And this knowledge will work to destroy them, but they will never be freed to be utterly destroyed, and so will suffer forever.
    All thanks and praise be to God for He is wholly merciful.
    God bless, C-Marie

  2. David Marwick

    I can already hear the the arrogant scoffs of the Modernists and other “enlightened” types saying: “How could a loving and merciful God do such a thing as allow sentient beings to condemn themselves to such horrors?”

    I answer that Love is in Justice and that mercy without Justice would be a “hate crime” in which the unrepentant perverse attain the beatitude due only to the wise and good. There is no Trinitarian Love of Good and True in that scenario.

  3. C-Marie

    The sentient beings, those who know His commandments and refuse them, they are placing themselves to be their own god, and so, have knowingly refused Him Who created them. I think it not an easy thing to be condemned to Hell, for in each person is the longing to be fathered by God Himself, and God has placed this desire within us, and this longing must be so stood against, so as to never give in to it.
    God bless, C-Marie

  4. David Marwick

    I rather think, C-Marie, that beings “condemned to Hell” go there of their own volition because they repudiate God’s good order and they will not tolerate that there is a transcendent good and true that is not dependent on their convenience or fancy.

    I’m no expert on exorcisms and all that, but, with the little that I know it seems fairly common that the demons possessing do not want Heaven because it would mean subjection to a higher order which every unrepentant Mortal Sinner also rejects.

  5. cdquarles

    There is no greater torment that I can think of than being eternally separated from The Father. Thus, I do not want that. I want to be with Him eternally.

  6. Vermont Crank

    God created us for His own Glory and our happiness and we can not be happy unless we are eternally in the presence of His Glory.

    God/Jesus established His Catholic Church for two main reasons;



    That is the only thing in life that matters, not being famous, popular or accepted by our enemies.

    The vast majority of prelates never speak of this because they can not talk about what they do not know.

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