Four last things

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Hieronymus Bosch's 1500 painting The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. The four outer discs depict (clockwise from top left) Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.

In Christian eschatology, the Four Last Things or four last things of man (Latin: quattuor novissima[1]) are Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell, the four last stages of the soul in life and the afterlife.[2][3] 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."[4] Traditionally, the sermons preached on the four Sundays of Advent were on the Four Last Things.[5]

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".[6] Pope John Paul II wrote in 1984 that the "judgment" component encompasses both particular judgment and general judgment.[7]


Numerous theologians and Christian apologists have written on the Four Last Things; published accounts include:

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's L'eternelle vie et la profondeur de l'ame (1947) has been published in English as Life Everlasting: A Theological Treatise on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell (1991); however, the sections are "Soul immensity in our present life", "Death and judgement", "Hell", "Purgatory", and "Heaven".[15]


The Four Last Things are a common theme of artistic and literary works as well as theological works.

Works about the Four Last Things
Work Type Creator Year Notes Refs
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 [16][17]
"One Thing is Needful, or Serious Meditations upon the Four Last Things" Poem John Bunyan 1683 [18]
"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 [19]
"The Four Last Things" Sculpture Joseph Stammel c.1760 In Admont Abbey [20]
"The Four Last Things" Oratorio Joseph Leopold Eybler 1810 German title Die vier letzten Dinge; HV 137 [21]
"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 [22]
The Four Last Things Poetry collection Madeleva Wolff 1959 Poems with theological themes
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 [23]


  1. ^ Mühling, Markus (2015-06-18). T&T Clark Handbook of Christian Eschatology. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 9780567655684. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  2. ^ Martin, Regis (1998). The Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven. Ignatius Press. p. 15. ISBN 9780898706628. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  3. ^ Pohle, Joseph (2006-02-03). Eschatology: or, The Catholic Doctrine of the Last Things: A Dogmatic Treatise. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 2. ISBN 9781597525626. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  4. ^ Bacci, Pietro Giacomo (1847). "Maxims and sayings". The Life of Saint Philip Neri, Apostle of Rome, and Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory. T. Richardson & Son. p. 444; February 18. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  5. ^ Cooper, Helen (1999). "The Four Last Things in Dante and Chaucer: Ugolino in the House of Rumour". In Scase, Wendy; Lawton, David; Copeland, Rita. New Medieval Literatures. 3. Clarendon Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780198186809. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Eschatology". Catholic Encyclopedia. 1909. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  7. ^ John Paul II (2 December 1984). "Reconciliatio et Paenitentia". Apostolic Exhortations. Holy See. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  8. ^ Cox, Michael, editor, The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-19-860634-6
  9. ^ "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 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Internet Archive. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  10. ^ "The four last things : death, judgment, hell, heaven : Martin, von Cochem, 1634-1712 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Internet Archive. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  11. ^ Nancy L. Matthews (8 July 2004). William Sheppard, Cromwell's Law Reformer. Cambridge University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-521-89091-5.
  12. ^ Blair Worden (5 May 1977). The Rump Parliament 1648-53. Cambridge University Press. pp. 120–. ISBN 978-0-521-29213-9.
  13. ^ Bates, William. The Four Last Things, Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Internet Archive. Manchester: S. Johnson. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  14. ^ Paulson, Ronald (2003-10-29). Hogarth's Harlot: Sacred Parody in Enlightenment England. JHU Press. p. 253. ISBN 9780801873911. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  15. ^ Garrigou-Lagrange, Réginald; Op, Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (1991). Life Everlasting and the Immensity of the Soul: A Theological Treatise on the Four Last Things : Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell. Tan Books. ISBN 9780895552037. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  16. ^ Koerner, Joseph Leo (2004-02-27). The Reformation of the Image. Reaktion Books. pp. 217–8. ISBN 9781861898326. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Die Kirche" (in German). Weltenburg Abbey. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  20. ^ "the four last things". Stift Admont. Admont Abbey. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  21. ^ Mathew, Nicholas (2013). Political Beethoven. Cambridge University Press. p. 127. ISBN 9781107005891. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Archiv". Horst Lohse Komponist (in German). Retrieved 20 November 2015.

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