In Christian eschatology, the Four Last Things or four last things of man (Latin: quattuor novissima) are Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell, the four last stages of the soul in life and the afterlife. They are often commended as a collective topic for pious meditation; Saint Philip Neri wrote, "Beginners in religion ought to exercise themselves principally in meditation on the Four Last Things." Traditionally, the sermons preached on the four Sundays of Advent were on the Four Last Things.
The 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia states "The eschatological summary which speaks of the 'four last things' (death, judgment, heaven, and hell) is popular rather than scientific. For systematic treatment it is best to distinguish between (A) individual and (B) universal and cosmic eschatology, including under (A): (1) death; (2) the particular judgment; (3) heaven, or eternal happiness; (4) purgatory, or the intermediate state; (5) hell, or eternal punishment; and under (B): (6) the approach of the end of the world; (7) the resurrection of the body; (8) the general judgment; and (9) the final consummation of all things.". Pope John Paul II wrote in 1984 that the "judgment" component encompasses both particular judgment and general judgment.
Numerous theologians and Christian apologists have written on the Four Last Things; published accounts include:
16th century and earlier
- Cordiale quattuor novissimorum (15th century) attributed to Gerardus de Vliederhoven and to Denis le Chartreux; translated into French by Jean Miélot and thence into English as Cordiale, or Four Last Things by Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers in 1479
- The Four Last Things (1522) by Thomas More; unfinished (published posthumously).
- The Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell, and Heaven (1631) by Robert Bolton; published posthumously in 1639
- The four last things: death, judgment, hell, heaven by Martin of Cochem
- Four Last Things (1649) by William Sheppard, whose preface supported the Rump Parliament against the Presbyterians
- Sinnliche Beschreibung der vier letzten Dinge ("A Sensuous Representation of the Four Last Things") (1675) by Angelus Silesius
- Four Last Things–Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell (1691) by William Bates
- Myfyrdodau bucheddol ar y pedwar peth diweddaf ("Devout musings on the four last things") (1714) by John Morgan
- Thoughts upon the Four Last Things (1734) by Joseph Trapp
- Four discourses on the four last things (1751) by Thomas Greene
- The Four Last Things (1960) by Harry Williams
- L'eternelle vie et la profondeur de l'ame (1947) by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. Published in English as Life Everlasting: A Theological Treatise on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell
- The Last Things: Concerning Death, Purification After Death, Resurrection, Judgment, and Eternity (1965) by Romano Guardini
The four last things
Martin of Cochem explains that "there are three principal reasons why all sensible people fear death so much: First, because the love of life, the dread of death is inherent in human nature. Secondly, because every rational being is well aware that death is bitter, and the separation of soul and body cannot take place without inexpressible suffering. Thirdly, because no one knows whither he will go after death, or how he will stand in the Day of Judgment."
The Last Judgment
Of the final judgment, Alphonsus Liguori writes that, "the last day is called in Scripture a day of wrath and misery; and such it will be for all those unhappy beings who shall have died in mortal sin; for on that day their most secret crimes will be made manifest to the whole world, and themselves separated from the company of the saints, and condemned to the eternal prison of hell, where they will suffer all the agonies of ever dying yet always remaining alive."
Of heaven, Richard Challoner in his famous work Think Well On't writes, " Consider, that if God's justice is so terrible in regard to his enemies, how much more will his mercy, his goodness, his bounty declare itself in favour of his friends! Mercy and goodness are his favourite attributes, in which he most delights: his tender mercies says the royal prophet, Ps. 144. are over all his works.
Luis de la Puente writes concerning The nature of hell: "Hell is a perpetual prison, full of fire and of innumerable and very terrible torments, to chastise perpetually such as die in mortal sin. Or, again, hell is an eternal state, wherein sinners, for the punishment of their sins, want all that good which they may desire for their content, and endure all kinds of evils which they may fear for their torment. So that in hell is joined together the privation of all that good which men enjoy in this life and angels in the other, and the presence of all those evils which afflict men in this life and the devils in the other."
The Four Last Things are a common theme of artistic and literary works as well as theological works.
|The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things||Painting||Hieronymus Bosch||c.1500|
|Christ painting the Four Last Things in the Christian Heart||Engraving||Anton Wierix||1585||One of 18 copperplate engravings published as Cor Iesu amanti sacrum|||
|"One Thing is Needful, or Serious Meditations upon the Four Last Things"||Poem||John Bunyan||1683|||
|The Four Last Things (German: Die vier letzten Dinge)||Sculpture||Anton Neu, based on ideas from the Asam brothers||1751||Stucco cartouches in the vestibule of Weltenburg Abbey chapel|||
|The Four Last Things||Sculpture||Josef Stammel||c.1760||In Admont Abbey|||
|Novissima (Portuguese: Novíssimos)||Paintings||José Gervásio de Sousa Lobo||1792–3||Originally made for the sacristy of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black Men in Ouro Preto; currently in the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in the same city.|||
|Die vier letzten Dinge||Oratorio||Joseph Leopold Eybler||1810|||
|Die letzten Dinge||Oratorio||Louis Spohr||1826|
|Cantata of the Last Things of Man||Cantata||Ladislav Vycpálek||1920–22||Czech title Kantáta o posledních věcech člověka|||
|The Four Last Things||Poetry collection||Madeleva Wolff||1959||Poems with theological themes|
|No. 18 (unfinished)||Film||Harry Everett Smith||1990s||Intended as his masterwork|
|"Die vier letzten Dinge (Quasi una Sinfonia da Requiem)"||Symphony||Horst Lohse||1996–97||For organ and orchestra|||
- Mühling, Markus (2015-06-18). T&T Clark Handbook of Christian Eschatology. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-56765568-4. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- Martin, Regis (1998). The Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven. Ignatius Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-89870662-8. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
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- Cox, Michael, editor, The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-19-860634-6
- "The four last things: Thomas More (1903)". Internet Archive. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
- "Mr. Boltons last and learned worke of the foure last things, death, iudgement, hell and heaven. With his assises-sermons, and notes on Iustice Nicolls his funerall. Together with the life and death of the authour : Bolton, Robert, 1572–1631". Internet Archive. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- "The four last things : death, judgment, hell, heaven : Martin, von Cochem, 1634–1712". Internet Archive. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- Nancy L. Matthews (8 July 2004). William Sheppard, Cromwell's Law Reformer. Cambridge University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-521-89091-5.
- Blair Worden (5 May 1977). The Rump Parliament 1648-53. Cambridge University Press. pp. 120–. ISBN 978-0-521-29213-9.
- Bates, William. The Four Last Things, Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Internet Archive. Manchester: S. Johnson. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- Paulson, Ronald (2003-10-29). Hogarth's Harlot: Sacred Parody in Enlightenment England. JHU Press. p. 253. ISBN 9780801873911. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- Garrigou-Lagrange, Réginald (1991). Life Everlasting and the Immensity of the Soul: A Theological Treatise on the Four Last Things : Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell. Tan Books. ISBN 978-0-89555203-7. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- Guardnin, Romano (1965). The Last Things: Concerning Death, Purification After Death, Resurrection, Judgment, and Eternity. Cluny Media. ISBN 1-94989948-9.
- Cochem, Martin of (1899). . The four last things: death, judgment, hell, heaven. Benziger Brothers.
- Liguori, Alphonus (1836). . The Way of Salvation: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Dublin.
- Challoner, Richard (1801). . Think Well On't or, Reflections on the great truths of the Christian religion for every day of the month. T. Haydock.
- de la Puente, Lius (1852). . Meditations On The Mysteries Of Our Holy Faith. Richarson and Son.
- Koerner, Joseph Leo (2004-02-27). The Reformation of the Image. Reaktion Books. pp. 217–8. ISBN 9781861898326. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- Smith, Jeffrey Chipps (2002). Sensuous Worship: Jesuits and the Art of the Early Catholic Reformation in Germany. Princeton University Press. p. 36, Fig.19. ISBN 9780691090726. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- One thing is needful, or, Serious meditations upon the four last things, death, judgment and heaven, hell unto which is added Ebal and Gerizzim, or, The blessing and the curse : with prison meditations and a catalogue of all this author's books / by John Bunyan. London: Nath. Ponder. 1683. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- "Die Kirche" (in German). Weltenburg Abbey. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- "the four last things". Stift Admont. Admont Abbey. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- Campos, Adalgisa Arantes (2012). "Notas sobre um pintor lusobrasileiro e a iconografia dos Novíssimos (a Morte, o Juízo, Inferno e o Paraíso) em fins da época colonial" [Notes on a Portuguese Brazilian painter and the iconography of the Novissima (Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven) in late colonial times] (PDF). Fênix – Revista de História e Estudos Culturais (in Portuguese). 9 (2). ISSN 1807-6971. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
- Mathew, Nicholas (2013). Political Beethoven. Cambridge University Press. p. 127. ISBN 9781107005891. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- Newmarch, Rosa (1923). "Some Czechoslovak Choral Works. II. Vycpalek's Cantata of the 'Four Last Things,' Op. 16 (Continued)". The Musical Times. 64 (969): 762. doi:10.2307/911531. ISSN 0027-4666.
- "Archiv". Horst Lohse Komponist (in German). Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- Göttler, Christine (2010). Last Things: Art and the Religious Imagination in the Age of Reform. ISD. ISBN 978-250352397-2. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- Kowzan, Jacek (2012-01-17). "Memorare Novissima Tua; The Iconography of the Four Last Things as a Representation of the Religious Identity.". In Cardarelli, Sandra; Anderson, Emily Jane; Richards, John (eds.). Art and Identity: Visual Culture, Politics and Religion in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Cambridge Scholars. pp. 97–126. ISBN 978-1-44383670-8. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- Thiel, John E. (September 2013). Icons of Hope: The "Last Things" in Catholic Imagination. University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 9780268042394.
- Media related to The Four Last Things at Wikimedia Commons