Chap.  6. - 'The Misery of Those Who, Besides Losing the Saints' Rest, Lose the Enjoyments of Time, and Suffer the Torments of Hell.'


I. The obstinate sinner convinced of his folly in venturing on these torments; and entreated to fly for safety to Christ.

As "godliness has a promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come;" and if we "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," then all lower "things shall be added unto us;" so also are the ungodly threatened with the loss both of spiritual and temporal blessings; and because they sought not first God's kingdom and righteousness, therefore shall they lose both it and that which they did seek, and there "shall be taken from them that little which they have."

If they could but have kept their present enjoyments — they would not have much cared for the loss of Heaven. If they had "lost and forsaken all for Christ," they would have found all again in him; for he would have been all in all to them. But, now they have forsaken Christ for other things — they shall lose Christ, and that also for which they forsook him, even the enjoyments of time, besides suffering the torments of Hell.

1. They shall lose their presumptuous belief of their interest in the favour of God and the merits of Christ. 

This false belief now supports their spirits, and defends them from the terrors that would otherwise seize upon them. But what will ease their trouble when they can believe no longer, nor rejoice any longer? If a man is near to the greatest harm, and yet strongly believes that he is in safety, he may be as cheerful as if all were well. If there were no more to make a man happy but to believethat he is so, or shall be so — then happiness would be far more common than it is like to be.

As true faith is the leading grace in the regenerate — so is false faith the leading vice in the unregenerate. Why do such multitudes sit still when they might have pardon — but that they truly think they are pardoned already? If you could ask thousands in Hell, what madness brought them there? they would most of them answer, "We thought we were sure of being saved — until we found ourselves damned! We would have been more earnest seekers of regeneration and the power of godliness — but we truly thought we were Christians already. We have flattered ourselves into these torments, and now there is no remedy!"

Reader, I must in faithfulness tell you that the confident belief of their good state, which the careless, unholy, unhumbled multitude so commonly boast of — will prove in the end but a soul-damning delusion! There is none of this false believing in Hell. It was Satan's stratagem, that being blindfold, they might follow him the more boldly; but then he will uncover their eyes, and they shall see where they are!

2. They shall lose also all their HOPES. 

In this life, though they were threatened with the wrath of God — yet their hope of escaping it bore up their hearts. We can now scarcely speak with the vilest drunkard, or swearer, or scoffer — but he hopes to be saved, for all this. O happy world, if salvation were as common as this hope! Nay, so strong are men's hopes, that they will dispute the cause with Christ himself at the judgment, and plead their "having ate and drank in his presence, and prophesied in his name, and in his name cast out devils;" they will stiffly deny that ever they neglected Christ, in hunger, nakedness, or in prison, until he confutes them with the sentence of their condemnation. O the sad state of those men when they must bid farewell to all their hopes!

"When a wicked man dies — his expectation shall perish; and the hope of unjust men perishes. But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp." As the soul departs not from the body without the greatest pain, so does the hope of the wicked depart. The soul departs from the body suddenly, in a moment, which has there delightfully continued so many years; just so does the hope of the wicked depart. The soul will never more return to live with the body in this world; and the hope of the wicked takes an everlasting farewell of his soul. A miracle of resurrection shall again unite soul and body — but there shall be no such miraculous resurrection of the damned's hope.

Methinks it is the most pitiable sight this world affords, to see such an ungodly person dying, and to think of his soul and his hopes departing together. With what a sad change he appears in another world! Then if a man could but ask that hopeless soul, "Are you as confident of salvation as you were accustomed to be?" what a sad answer would be returned! O that careless sinners would be awakened to think of this in time!

Reader, rest not until you can give a reason of all your hopes, grounded upon Scripture promises: that they purify your heart; that they quicken your endeavors in godliness; that the more you hope the less you sin, and the more exact is your obedience. If your hopes are such as these, go on in the strength of the Lord, hold fast your hope, and "never shall it make you ashamed." But if you have not one sound evidence of a work of grace on your soul, cast away your hopes. Despair of ever being saved, "except you be born again;" or of "seeing God — without holiness;" or of having part in Christ — except you "love him above father, mother, or your own life."

This kind of despair is one of the first steps to Heaven. If a man is quite out of his way, what must be the first means to bring him in again? He must despair of ever coming to his journey's end in the way that he is in. If his home be eastward and he is going westward, as long as he hopes he is right, he will go on and as long as he goes on hoping, he goes further amiss. When he despairs of coming home, except he turns back, then he will return, and then he may hope. Just so it is, sinner, with your soul: you are born out of the way to Heaven, and have proceeded many a year; you go on and hope to be saved, because you are not so bad as many others. Except you throw away those hopes and see that you have all this while been quite out of the way to Heaven — you will never return and be saved. There is nothing in the world more likely to keep your soul out of Heaven, than your false hopes of being saved, while you are out of the way to salvation. See then how it will aggravate the misery of the damned, that, with the loss of Heaven, they shall lose all that hope of it which now supports them.

3. They will lose all that false PEACE OF CONSCIENCE which makes their present life so easy. 

Who would think, observing how quietly the multitude of the ungodly live — that they must very shortly lie down in everlasting flames? They are as free from the fears of Hell as an obedient believer; and for the most part have less disquiet of mind than those who shall be saved. Happy men, if this peace would prove lasting! "When they shall say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." O cruel peace, which ends in such a war!

The soul of every man by nature is Satan's garrison; all is at peace in such a man, until Christ comes and gives it terrible alarms of judgment and Hell, batters it with his threats and terrors, forces it to yield to his mere mercy, and take him for the governor; then does he cast out Satan, "overcome him, take from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divides his spoils," and then does he establish a firm and lasting peace.

If, therefore, you are yet in that first peace, never think it will endure. Can your soul have lasting peace, in enmity with Christ? Can he have peace, against whom God proclaims war? I wish you no greater good than that God break in upon your careless heart, and shake you out of your false peace, and make you lie down at the feet of Christ, and say, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" and so receive from him a better and surer peace, which will never be quite broken — but be the beginning of your everlasting peace, and not perish in your perishing, as the groundless peace of the world will do.

4. They shall lose all their CARNAL MIRTH. 

They will themselves say of their "laughter — it is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?" It was but "as the crackling of thorns under a pot." It made a blaze for a while — but it was presently gone, and returned no more. The talk of death and judgment was irksome to them, because it damped their mirth. They could not endure to think of their sin and danger, because these thoughts sunk their spirits. They knew not what it was to weep for sin, or to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. They could laugh away sorrow, and sing away cares, and drive away those melancholy thoughts.

To meditate and pray, they imagined, would be enough to make them miserable, or run mad. Poor souls, what a misery will that life be, where you shall have nothing but sorrow — intense, heart piercing, multiplied sorrow; when you shall neither have the joys of saints nor your own former joys! Do you think there is one merry heart in Hell? or one joyful countenance or jesting tongue? You now cry, "a little mirth is worth a great deal of sorrow." But surely a little godly sorrow, which would have ended in eternal joy, had been worth much more than all your foolish mirth; for the end of such mirth is sorrow.

5. They shall also lose all their SENSUAL DELIGHTS. 

That which they esteemed their chief good, their heaven, their god — must they lose, as well as God himself. What a fall will the proud ambitious man have from the height of his honors! As his dust and bones will not be known from the dust and bones of the poorest beggar — so neither will his soul be honored or favored more than theirs. What a number of the great, noble, and learned will be shut out from the presence of Christ! They shall not find their magnificent buildings, soft beds, and easy couches. They shall not view their curious gardens, their pleasant meadows, and plenteous harvests. Their tables will not be so furnished nor attended. The rich man is there no more "clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day." There is no expecting the admiration of beholders. They shall spend their time in sadness — and not in sports and pastimes.

What an alteration will they then find! The heat of their lust will be then abated. How will it even cut them to the heart to look each other in the face! What an interview will there then be, cursing the day that ever they saw one another!

O that sinners would now remember and say, "Will these delights accompany us into the other world? Will not the remembrance of them be then our torment? Shall we then take this partnership in vice, for true friendship? Why should we sell such lasting incomprehensible joys — for a taste of seeming pleasure? Come, as we have sinned together, let us pray together that God would pardon us; and let us help one another toward Heaven, instead of helping to deceive and destroy each other." O that men but knew what they desire, when they would so earnestly have all things suited to the desires of the flesh! It is but to desire their temptations to be increased and their snares strengthened. 

II. As the loss of the saints' rest will be aggravated by losing the enjoyments of time — it will be much more so by suffering the torments of Hell

The exceeding greatness of such torments may appear, by considering,

1. The principal AUTHOR of Hell-torments is God himself. 

As it was no less than God whom sinners had offended — so it is no less than God who will punish them for their offences. He has prepared those torments for his enemies. His continued anger will still be devouring them. His breath of indignation will kindle the flames. His wrath will be an intolerable burden to their souls.

If it were but a creature they had to do with, they might better bear it. Woe to him that falls under the strokes of the Almighty! "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" It were nothing in comparison to this, if all the world were against them, or if the strength of all creatures were united in one to inflict their penalty.

They had now rather venture to displease God than displease a customer, a master, a friend, a neighbor, or their own flesh; but then they will wish a thousand times, in vain, that they had been hated by all the world — rather than have lost the favor of God.

What a consuming fire is his wrath! If it be kindled here but a little, how do we "wither like grass!" How soon does our strength decay and turn to weakness, and our beauty to deformity! The flames do not so easily run through the dry stubble — as the wrath of God will consume these wretches! Those who could not bear a prison, or a gibbet, or a fire for Christ, or scarcely a few scoffs — how will they now bear the devouring flames of Divine wrath?

2. The place or state of torment is purposely ordained to glorify the JUSTICE of God. 

When God would glorify his power, he made the worlds. The lovely order of all his creatures declares his wisdom. His providence is shown in sustaining all things. When a spark of his wrath kindles upon the earth, the whole world, except only eight people, are drowned; Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim are burnt with fire from Heaven; the sea shuts her mouth upon some, the earth opens and swallows up others; the pestilence destroys by thousands.

Yet the glorifying of the mercy and justice of God is intended most eminently for the life to come. As God will then glorify his mercy in a way that is now beyond the comprehension of the saints who must enjoy it, so also will he manifest his justice to be indeed the justice of God. The everlasting flames of Hell will not be thought too hot for the rebellious; and, when they have there burned through millions of ages, God will not repent of the evil which has befallen them. Woe to the soul that is thus the object of the wrath of the Almighty, as a bush that must burn in the flames of his jealousy and never be consumed!

3. The torments of the damned must be extreme, because they are the EFFECT OF DIVINE VENGEANCE. 

Wrath is terrible — but vengeance is implacable. When the great God shall say, "My rebellious creature shall now pay for all the abuse of my patience; remember how I waited your leisure in vain, how I stooped to persuade and entreat you — did you think I would always be so slighted?" Then will he be avenged for every abused mercy, and for all their neglects of Christ and grace. O that men would foresee this, and please God better in preventing their woe!

4. Consider also, that though God had rather men would accept of Christ and mercy — yet, when they persist in rebellion, he will take pleasure in their execution. 

He tells us, "Fury is not in me;" yet he adds, "Who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together." Wretched creatures, when "he who made them will not have mercy upon them, and he who formed them will show them no favor. As the Lord rejoiced over them to do them good — so the Lord will rejoice over them to destroy them, and bring them to nothing."

Woe to the souls whom God rejoices to punish: "He will laugh at their calamity, he will mock when their fear comes; when their fear comes as desolation, and their destruction comes as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come upon them." Terrible thing, when none in Heaven or earth can help them but God — and he shallrejoice in their calamity! Though Scripture speaks of God's laughing and mocking, not literally — but after the manner of men; yet it is an act of God in tormenting the sinner, which cannot otherwise be more fitly expressed.

5. Consider that Satan and themselves shall be God's executioners. 

He who was here so successful in drawing them from Christ, will then be the instrument of their punishment for yielding to his temptations. That is the reward he will give them for all their service; for their rejecting the commands of God, forsaking Christ, and neglecting their souls at his persuasion. If they had served Christ as faithfully as they did Satan — he would have given them a better reward. It is also most just that they should be their own tormentors; that they may see their whole destruction is of themselves and then, whom can they complain of but themselves?

6. Consider also that their torment will be UNIVERSAL. As all parts have joined in sin, so must they all partake in the torment.

The soul, as it was the chief in sinning — shall be the chief in suffering; and as it is of a more excellent nature than the body, so will its torments far exceed bodily torments; and as its joys far surpass all sensual pleasures, so the pains of the soul exceed corporeal pains. It is not only a soul — but a sinful soul that must suffer. Fire will not burn except the fuel be combustible; but if the wood be dry, how fiercely will it burn! The guilt of their sins will be to damned souls, like tinder to gunpowder, to make the flames of Hell take hold upon them with fury.

The body must also bear its part. The body which was so carefully looked to, so tenderly cherished, so curiously dressed — what must it now endure! How are its haughty looks now brought down! How little will those flames regard its loveliness and beauty!

Those eyes which were accustomed to be delighted with curious sights — must then see nothing but what shall terrify them! an angry God above them, with those saints whom they scorned enjoying the glory which they have lost; and about them will be only devils and damned souls! How will they look back and say, "Are all our feasts, and games, and revels come to this?"

Those ears, which were accustomed to music and songs, shall hear the shrieks and cries of their damned companions; children crying out against their parents, who gave them encouragement and example in evil; husbands and wives, masters and servants, ministers and people, magistrates and subjects, charging their misery upon one another, for discouraging in duty, conniving at sin, and being silent when they should have plainly foretold the danger. Thus will soul and body be companions in woe.

7. Far greater will these torments be, because WITHOUT MITIGATION

In this life, when told of Hell, or if conscience troubled their peace, they had comforters at hand; their carnal friends, their business, their company, their mirth. They could drink, play, or sleep away their sorrows. But now all these remedies are vanished. Their hard, presumptuous, unbelieving heart was a wall to defend them against trouble of mind. Satan was himself their comforter, as he was to our first mother. "Has God said, you shall not eat? You shall not surely die! Does God tell you that you shall die in Hell? There is no such matter; God is more merciful. Or, if there be a Hell, what need you fear it? Are not you Christians? Was not the blood of Christ shed for you?" Thus as the Spirit of Christ is the Comforter of the saints, so Satan is the comforter of the wicked.

Never was a thief more careful lest he should awake the people when he is robbing a house, than Satan is not to awaken a sinner! But when the sinner is dead, then Satan has done flattering and comforting. Which way, then, will the forlorn sinner look for comfort? Those who drew him into the snare, and promised him safety — now forsake him, and are forsaken themselves. His comforts are gone, and the righteous God, whose forewarnings he made light of; will now make good his word against him to the last tittle.

8. But the greatest aggravation of these torments will be their ETERNITY. 

When a thousand millions of ages are past, they are as fresh to begin as the first day. If there were any hope of an end, it would ease the damned to foresee it; but FOREVER is an intolerable thought! They were never weary of sinning — nor will God be weary of punishing. They never heartily repented of sin — nor will God repent of their suffering. They broke the laws of the eternal God, and therefore shall suffer eternal punishment. They knew it was an everlasting kingdom which they refused, and what wonder if they are everlastingly shut out of it? Their immortal souls were guilty of the trespass — and therefore must immortally suffer the pains.

What happy men would they think themselves, if they might have lain still in their graves, or might but there lie down again! How will they call and cry, "O death, where are you now gone? Now come and cut off this doleful life. O that these pains would break my heart, and end my being! O that I might once at last die! O that I had never had a being!" These groans will the thoughts of eternity wring from their hearts.

They were accustomed to think sermons and prayers long; how long then will they think these endless torments! What difference is there between the length of their worldly pleasures — and their eternal pains! The one continued but a moment, the other endure through all eternity.

Sinner, remember how time is almost gone. You are standing at the door of eternity; and death is waiting to open the door, and put you in. Go, sleep out a few more nights, and stir about a few more days on earth — and then your nights and days shall end: your thoughts, and cares, and pleasures shall all be devoured by eternity; you must enter upon the state which shall never be changed. As the joys of Heaven are beyond our conception, so are the pains of Hell. Everlasting torment is inconceivable torment!

But methinks I see the obstinate sinner desperately resolving, "If I must be damned, there is no remedy. Rather than I will live as the Scripture requires, I will put it to the venture; I shall escape as well as others, and we will even bear it as well as we can." Alas poor creature, let me beg this of you, before you do so resolve, that you would lend me your attention to a few questions, and weigh them with the reason of a man.

Who are you, that you should bear the wrath of God? What is your strength? Is it not as the strength of wax or stubble to resist the fire, or as chaff to the wind or as dust before the fierce whirlwind? If your strength were as iron, and your bones as brass; if your foundation were as the earth, and your power as the heavens — yet would you perish at the breath of his indignation. How much more, when you are but a piece of breathing clay, kept a few days from being eaten with worms, by the mere support and favor of Him whom you are thus resisting!

Why do you tremble at the signs of almighty power and wrath? at peals of thunder or flashes of lightning or that unseen power which rends in pieces the mighty oaks, and tears down the strongest buildings; or at the plague, when it rages around you? If you had seen the plagues of Egypt, or the earth swallow up Dathan and Abiram, or Elijah bring fire from Heaven to destroy the captains and their companies — would not any of these sights have daunted your spirit? How then can you bear the plagues of Hell?

Why are you dismayed with such small sufferings as befall you here: a tooth-ache, a fit of the gout or stone, the loss of a limb, or falling into beggary and disgrace? And yet all these put together will one day be accounted a happy state — in comparison of that which is suffered in Hell.

Why does the approach of death so much affright you? O how cold it strikes to your heart! And would not the grave be accounted a paradise, compared with that place of torment which you slight? Is it an intolerable thing to burn part of your body by holding it in the fire? What, then, will it be to suffer ten thousand times more forever in Hell!

The thought or mention of Hell occasions disquiet in your spirit; and can you endure the torments themselves? Why does the rich man complain to Abraham of his torments in Hell? or your dying companions lose their courage, and change their haughty language? Why cannot these make as light of Hell as yourself? Did you never see or speak with a man in despair? How uncomfortable was his talk! how burdensome his life! Nothing he possessed did him good: he had no sweetness in food or drink; the sight of friends troubled him; he was weary of life, and fearful of death. If the misery of the damned can be endured, why cannot a man more easily endure these foretastes of Hell?

What if you should see the devil appear to you in some terrible shape! Would not your heart fail you, and your hair stand on an end? And how will you endure to live forever where you shall have no other company but devils and the damned, and shall not only see them — but be tormented with them and by them?

Let me once more ask, if the wrath of God be so light, why did the Son of God himself make so great a matter of it? It caused "his sweat to be, as it were, great drops of blood, falling down to the ground." The Lord of life cried, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." And on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Surely if anyone could have borne these sufferings easily, it would have been Jesus Christ. He had another measure of strength to bear it than you have. Woe to you, sinner, for your mad security! Do you think to find that tolerable to you — which was so heavy to Christ? Nay, the Son of God is cast into a bitter agony and bloody sweat, only under the curse of the law — and yet you, feeble, foolish creature, fear not to bear also the curse of the Gospel, which requires a "much sorer punishment." The good Lord bring you to your right mind by repentance, lest you buy your wit at too dear a rate!

And now, reader, I demand your resolution. What use will you make of all this? Shall it be lost to you? or will you consider it in good earnest? You have cast away many a warning of God; will you do so by this also? Take heed; God will not always stand warning and threatening. The hand of vengeance is lifted up, the blow is coming, and woe to him on whom it lights! Do you throw away this book, and say it speaks of nothing but Hell and damnation. Thus you used also to complain of thepreacher. But would you not have us tell you of these things? Should we be guilty of the blood of your soul, by keeping silent that which God has charged us to make known? Would you perish in ease and silence, and have us perish with you — rather than displease you by speaking the truth?

If you will be guilty of such inhuman cruelty, God forbid we should be guilty of such sottish folly! This kind of preaching or writing is the ready way to be hated; and the desire of applause is so natural, that few delight in such a displeasing way. But consider, are these things true — or are they not? If they were not true, I would heartily join with you against any that frighten people without a cause. But if these threatenings are the word of God — then what a wretch are you, who will not hear it and consider it!

If you are one of the people of God, this doctrine will be a comfort to you, and not a terror. Preaching Heaven and mercy to you, is entreating you to seek them, and not reject them; and preaching Hell, is but to persuade you to avoid it. If you were quite past hope of escaping it, then it were in vain to tell you of Hell; but as long as you are alive — there is hope of your recovery, and therefore all means must be used to awaken you from your lethargy.

Alas! what heart can now possibly conceive, or what tongue express, the pains of those souls that are under the wrath of God! Then, sinners, you will be crying to Jesus Christ, "O mercy! O pity, pity on a poor soul!" Why, I do now, in the name of The Lord Jesus, cry to you. "O have mercy, have pity, man — upon your own soul!" Shall God pity you, who will not be entreated to pity yourself? If your horse sees but a pit before him, you can scarcely force him in; and will you so obstinately cast yourself into Hell, when the danger is foretold you?

"Who can stand before the indignation of the Lord? and who can abide the fierceness of his anger?" Methinks you should need no more words — but presently cast away your soul-damning sins, and wholly deliver up yourself to Christ. Resolve on it immediately, and let it be done, that I may see your face in rest among the saints. May the Lord persuade your heart to strike this covenant without any longer delay! But if you are hardened unto death — yet say that you were faithfully warned, and had a friend that would gladly have prevented your damnation. 

 

CONTENTS

1. They shall lose their presumptuous belief of their interest in the favour of God and the merits of Christ. 

2. They shall lose also all their HOPES.

3. They will lose all that false PEACE OF CONSCIENCE which makes their present life so easy.

4. They shall lose all their CARNAL MIRTH.


1. The principal AUTHOR of Hell-torments is God himself.

2. The place or state of torment is purposely ordained to glorify the JUSTICE of God.

3. The torments of the damned must be extreme, because they are the EFFECT OF DIVINE VENGEANCE.

4. Consider also, that though God had rather men would accept of Christ and mercy — yet, when they persist in rebellion, he will take pleasure in their execution.

5. Consider that Satan and themselves shall be God's executioners.

6. Consider also that their torment will be UNIVERSAL. As all parts have joined in sin, so must they all partake in the torment.

7. Far greater will these torments be, because WITHOUT MITIGATION.

8. But the greatest aggravation of these torments will be their ETERNITY.