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laughing and mocking, it is not to be understood literally, but after the manner of men; yet this may show us, that it will be such an act of God, which he cannot more fitly conceive or express under any other notion or name than these, and thus it shows us the extreme severity of the sinner's misery.
IV. Consider who shall be God's executioners of their torment. First, Satan. He that was here sc successful in drawing them from Christ, will then be the instrument of punishing them, for yielding to his temptations. It was a fearful sight to see the man possessed, who was bound with chains, and lived among the tombs; but, alas! that was nothing in comparison with the torment to which Satan will subject sinners in hell, as the reward he will give them for all their service; for rejecting the commands of God, forsaking Christ, and neglecting their souls at his persuasion. Ah! if they had served Christ as faithfully as they did Satan, and had forsaken all for love to him, he would have given them a better reward. Secondly, It is most just also, that they should there be their own tormentors, that they may see that their whole destruction is of themselves; that they who were wilfully the meritorious cause, should also be an efficient cause of their own sufferings; and then whom can they complain of but themselves? They will be no more able to cease their self-tormenting, than men that we see in a deep melancholy, who will by no arguments be diverted from their sorrows.
V. Consider that their torment will be universal, not in one part only, but as all have joined in the sin, so must all partake of the punishment. The soul, as it was the chief in sinning, shall also be the chief in suffering; and as it is of a more spiritual and excellent nature than the body, so will its torments far exceed our present bodily sufferings. And as the joys of the soul do far surpass all sensual pleasures, so will the pains of the soul surpass all corporeal pains.
Besides, it is not only a soul, but a sinful soul that must suffer. The guilt which remains upon it, will make it fit for the wrath of God to work upon. Fire
will not burn, except the fuel be combustible; but if the wood be dry, or if it light upon straw, how fiercely will it then burn! Now, the guilt of his former sins will be as fuel to the flames.
And as the soul, so also must the body bear its part. That body, which must needs be pleased, whatever become of its eternal safety, shall now pay for all its unlawful pleasures. That body which was so tenderly cherished, so highly pampered, what must it now endure! How are its haughty looks brought down! How little will the flames regard its beauty! Those eyes, which were wont to be delighted with curious sights, and to feed themselves upon beauteous objects, shall then see nothing but what will amaze and terrify them; above them an angry, sin-avenging God, and those saints whom they scorned, enjoying the glory which they have lost; and around them will be only devils and damned souls. Those ears which used to be delighted with music, shall hear the shrieks and cries of their lost companions; children crying out against their parents, that set them an example of evil, but did not teach them the fear of the Lord; husbands crying out against their wives, and wives against their husbands; masters and servants, ministers and people, magistrates and subjects, mutually charging their misery upon each other, for discouraging in duty, conniving at sin, and being silent and formal, when they should have plainly warned one another of their misery and danger. Thus will soul and body be companions in woe.
VI. Consider that in the midst of their torments they will have no comfort left to help to mitigate them. In this world, when conscience began to trouble their peace, they had comforts enough at hand to relieve them. Their carnal friends were all ready to speak comfort to them, and promise them that all would at last be well with them; but now they have not a word of comfort either for them or themselves. Formerly they had their business, their company, their mirth, to drive away their fears; they could drink away their sorrows, or play them away, or sleep them
away, or at least, time did wear them away, but now all these remedies are vanished. They had a hard presumptuous, unbelieving heart, which was a wall to defend them against trouble of mind; but now their experience has banished it, and left them naked and exposed to the fury of the flames. Yea, formerly Satan himself was their comforter, and would unsay all that the minister or the Bible said against them. As he said to our first mother, "Ye shall not surely die," so doth he now say, "God is merciful. Who would lose his present pleasures for fear of that which he never saw? Or if there be a hell, why should you fear it? Are not you Christians, and shall you not be saved by Christ? Was not his blood shed for you ?", Thus, as the Spirit of Christ is the comforter of the saints, so Satan is the comforter of the wicked; for he knows if doubts or fears should begin to trouble them, they would bethink themselves of their danger, and so escape it. Never was a thief more careful lest he should awake the inmates when he is robbing a house, than Satan is not to awaken a sinner. But when sinners are dead, and he has caught his prey, and his stratagem has taken effect, then he has done flattering and comforting them. While the sight of sin and misery might have helped to save them, he took all the pains he could to conceal it from their eyes; but when it is too late, and no hope is left, he will make them see and feel it to the utmost. Oh, which way will the poor forlorn sinner then look for comfort? They that drew him into the snare, and promised him safety, do now forsake him, and are forsaken themselves.
VII. But the great aggravation of this misery will be its eternity. When a thousand millions of ages. are pa their torments will be as fresh as the day they began. If there were any hope of an end of their punishment, it would ease them to foresee it; but when they know it must last forever, that thought is intolerable ;-much more will the misery itself be. O, what happy men would they think themselves, if they might have lain still in their graves! How
ready will they be to cry, "O, that I might but there lie down again! What a mercy would it now be to die! O, death, whither art thou now gone? Now come and cut off this doleful life! O, that these pains would break my heart, and end my existence! Alas! that I ever had a being!" Such groans will the thoughts of eternity wring from their hearts. O, what a difference is there between the length of their pleasures and of their pains! The one continued but a moment, the other will endure through eternity. Oh, that sinners would lay this to heart! Remember how time is almost gone. Thou art standing all this while at the door of eternity, and death is waiting to open the door, and usher thee in. Soon thy days and nights shall end; thy thoughts and cares, thy pleasures and pains, shall all be swallowed up by eternity; thou shalt enter on that state which shall never be changed. As the joys of heaven are beyond our conception, so also are the pains of hell. Everlasting torment is inconceivable torment.
But some perhaps will say, "I will never believe that God will thus torment his creatures. What! to delight in their torture, and that for everlasting ages, and all this for the faults of a short time! It is incredible. How can this consist with the infinity of his mercy? I would not thus torment the worst enemy I have in the world, and yet my mercifulness is nothing to God's."
I do not, indeed, wonder that thou art loath to believe such terrible tidings to thy soul, which, if they were believed and apprehended by thee according to their weight, would set thee trembling, day and night, in the anguish of horror. But tell me, Dost thou believe the Scripture to be the word of God? And darest thou give the lie to the God of heaven, and accuse him of speaking that which shall not come to pass, and that in such absolute threats and plain ex pressions? But if thou darest not stand to this, but dost believe Scripture both to be the word of God and to be true, then I shall presently convince thee of the reality of these eternal torments. Wilt thou believe
if an apostle should tell thee? Why hear what Jude says. He speaks of the "vengeance of eternal fire, and the blackness of darkness forever." Or wilt thou believe if thou have it from an apostle that had been wrapt up in revelations into the third heaven, and saw things unutterable? Why, take it then from Paul: "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." And, again, "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Or wilt thou believe it on the testimony of the beloved apostle who saw it in vision? Why, he tells us, "They shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and they shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and they have no rest day nor night; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever." Or, wilt thou believe it from the mouth of Christ, himself the Judge? Why, then, he says, "As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world: The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." In other places he speaks of being "cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched,—where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." And, in giving an account of the last judgment, he says, "Then shall the King say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eter
What sayest thou to all this? If thou wilt not be