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The repentant and unrepentant malefactors
35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers with them also derided, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be the Christ, the chosen of God.
39 And one of the malefactors who were hanging beside Him blasphemed Him, saying, If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us.
Doc. of the Lord 12. The Lord came into the world to subjugate the hells and to glorify His Human, and the passion of the cross was the final combat, whereby He fully conquered the hells, and fully glorified His Human.
By these temptations, however, are meant all His temptations even to the last of them. He revealed no more to His disciples concerning them; for it is said in Isaiah:
He was oppressed, yet He opened not His mouth; as a lamb that is brought to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth (Isa. 53:7)….
Temptations are nothing else than combats against the hells.
AE 600:6. The “two robbers who were crucified, one of them on the right hand and the other on the left hand of the Lord” …have a similar signification as the “sheep” and the “goats.” Therefore to the one who acknowledged the Lord it was said that he should be with Him in paradise.
Miracles and Signs 8. There is a general belief today that all are saved who, at the close of life, have certain pious thoughts and from their heart speak about salvation and concerning the Lord, especially if they then confess that the Lord suffered for them. They confirm this opinion by our Lord’s words to the thief, and by the oft-quoted assertion that “where the tree falls, there it will lie,” and this no matter how the man has lived through the whole course of his life. Such teachings may afford some consolation to those at the point of death; they may allay anxious thought about one’s previous life, but the truth is quite otherwise. It is the previous life that determines a man’s future happiness or unhappiness, and piety just before the hour of death does not take anything away from that life. It is the present state of fearing death, that makes a man think and talk piously, and especially the cessation of the love of self and of the world, or the lulling of bodily and worldly cares. When these cease, or are put to sleep, every one behaves in the same way; for it is the same bodily and worldly loves that present the only barrier to the reception of the good that inflows continually from the Lord. As to the thief to whom the Lord’s words were spoken, he had been prepared beforehand; and with regard to the assertion that where a tree falls, there it will lie, this is simply untrue. Still it may prove helpful as a consolation to the dying, for it is impossible to know the interior quality of any man in his previous life.
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