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Again, the punishment of the wicked is represented in Scripture by a worm that dieth not—as we read, Mark ix, 44, Where their worm dieth not.” By the worm that dieth not, we are to understand a guilty conscience. However it may now be lulled to sleep, or seared as with a hot iron, conscience will then be awaked to perform its office. The sinner's crimes will be set in order before him; they will be recalled to his recollection, and conscience will continually upbraid and sting his soul at their remembrance; and a wounded spirit who can bear?” Prov xviii. 14. When the sinner looks back, and views his crimes with all their aggravations; when he considers how many opportunities he had to escape misery, and how many calls and warnings he received; when he recollects for what he slighted them, and for what he lost his soul; and when he looks forward, and can discover no end to his miseries-surely the stings of conscience must be dreadful. Of the dreadfulness of this ingredient in future misery, we may form some faint idea, from what we see some suffer in this life, when their consciences are awaked to a sense of their guilt and danger.
Again, the wicked are represented as covered with shame and everlasting contempt. “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake-some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Dan xii. 2. They will be disgraced in the eyes of all holy beings, and also in the eyes of their companions in misery, and in their own opinion of themselves. And they will be despised by God, by angels, and by saints; and we have reason to believe also by devils and by one another.
Further the miseries of the wicked are represented by weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. As we read Mat. viii. 12. “The children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Mat. xii. 42. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” They shall weep under an exquisite sense of their present torments. They shall wail or lament over their folly, which brought them to this place of torment. And they shall gnash their teeth with pain, and with envy at the happiness of the righteous of which they will be sensible, and with rage and malice against God
and one another, and through despair under a sense of their helpless and hopeless condition.
Once more, the society of the wicked in hell will greatly aggravate their misery. The wicked will there be associated, not only with each other; but also with the devil and his angels. For they will be sentenced to “depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Mat. xxv. 41. Devils will there be their tormentors; for if they now delight in destroying them, and bringing them to that place of torment, they will doubtless then delight in tormenting them._And wicked men also will there torment one another. For they will mingle together, with all those dreadful passions which they possess, let loose, and inflamed, and unrestrained by those checks which now keep them within some bounds. Amidst all the restraints under which wicked men now are, they often greatly torment one another. What will they then do hereafter, when their wicked propensities and passions will be greatly increased, and the restraints under which they now are be removed ?
Such, my hearers, is the scriptural account of the future torments of the wicked. Of these torments there will doubtless be different degrees. Though the very least degree which shall be endured will be unspeakably dreadful; yet a greater degree of punishment will doubtless be inflicted on some than on others. The greatest sinners all circumstances considered, will be punished with a greater misery, than those who came short of them in sin. This is an equitable principle; and the Scriptures frequently teach that this will be the case. It is taught in the following passage, Luk. xii. 47, 48. “That servant which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” The greater abilities and opportunities persons have to know the will of God, and their duty; and the longer they enjoy them, the greater, if they perish, will be their misery. What an awakening consideration should this be to us! For we are exalted to heaven in point of privileges. And if we should perish, we must have our portion in the hottest regions of the infernal
world. Let this dreadful thought have its due weight upon our minds.
The future misery of the wicked, whether it be greater or less, will, we have reason to believe, be in all complete. All will be full of torment, though the capacity of some to bear it, will be greater than that of others; as in vessels of greater and less dimensions, all may be equally full, and yet some contain more than others. All these miseries will be without intermission. For we are told, “ they have no rest day nor night.” Rev. xiv. 11. If they might have, now and then, a short respite from pain, or only a short mitigation, it would be a great relief. But they shall not have an hour's or a moment's relief or mitigation. On the contrary, it is probable, their capacities for torment, and their torments Themselves will continually increase.
And what is of all others the most terrible consideration is, that all this unspeakably dreadful torment will be eternal or strictly without end. For, as our text declares, “ these shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Here the same word is used in the original, to express the duration of the misery of the wicked, as in the latter clause of the verse is used to express the duration of the happiness of the righteous." But the righteous into life eternal.” Numerous texts of Scripture might be quoted to establish the same point, that the duration of the misery of the wicked will be strictly without end. But as we have already particularly attended to the proofs of this doctrine, when treating of the misery of that estate into which the fall brought mankind, we shall not here dwell upon this point.
Review now, brethren, this dreadful subject. What an unspeakably and inconceivably terrible punishment awaits the wicked! To be separated from all the little happiness they enjoyed in this life! To be banished from God, and excluded from his presence and favour! To be shut out of heaven, and denied its blessedness! To be shut up in the bottomless pit of hell! To be always enduring the agonies of death, and yet forbid to die! To be cast into outer darkness, and the mist of darkness, and the blackness of darkness—the victims of horror and despair! To be plunged into a lake burning with fire and brimstone! To be unceasingly harrassed with the worm that dieth not-a guilty conscience! To be covered with shame and everlasting contempt! To be continually weeping and wailing and gnashing the teeth! To be associated with devils, and fellow damned spirits! To endure all this torment without a moment's relief or mitigation--no rest, day or night! And all this too, without a gleam of hope that the misery will ever terminate! Who can endure such wretchedness! We can now scarcely bear to hear of it. The recital makes us shudder. What then will it be to experience it ?
And are any of you, my hearers, in danger of all this unspeakably dreadful misery? Look into the word of God, and you may there find the characters drawn for whom it is prepared. If any of these characters belong to you, you are in danger. Thou art the man or the woman who shall soon experience all this torment, unless you speedily repent, and by faith flee to Christ for refuge from the wrath to come. The unbeliever, the scoffer, and the reviler; the
profane who dare now to trifle with the name of God and with damnation; the blasphemer, the perjured, the Sabbath breaker, the disobedient to parents, the malicious, the revengeful, the unforgiving, the murderer, the drunkard, the unclean, the unjust, the extortioner, the oppressor, the thief, the liar, the backbiter, and the covetous; the prayerless, the unregenerate, the impenitent, the selfrighteous, the formalist, and the hypocrite. All these, and such like characters, are in danger; and unless they repent, believe in Christ, and live new and holy lives, they will assuredly have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.—If any of these characters belong to any of you, you are in danger.
I beseech you, my hearers, to pause and consider. Do not turn away from ihis subject; and shocked at its dreadfulness, or disgusted with the preacher for thus wounding your ears, and attempting to disturb your peace, refuse to consider your state and danger. I have told you the plain truths of God's word, in the very language in which he has thought proper to have them recorded; and you must hear these truths now, and profit by them, or you must feel them forever hereafter. Be wise therefore, and examine yourselves carefully, that you may know whether pain than
you are in danger or not. Can you dwell with devouring fire? Can you endure everlasting burnings? Can you bear the miseries which have been but faintly described ? Will you risk these torments for the momentary pleasures of sin ?
O think of that tremendous word, forever. You are sometimes almost distracted with a pain in a single member for an hour or a night. How long and insupportable does a single night appear, when you are in this condition? With what anxiety do you look for the morning, hoping that with it may come relief?. With what solicitude do you inquire after the hour of the night? Can
you then endure to be tormented with inexpressibly greater
you ever felt in this life, not merely in one part, or one member, but in all your members, and in every part, both soul and body? And this too without a moment's intermission, and without end? In vain will you there look for morning. For there is the blackness of darkness forever. Not a ray of hope that you will ever be relieved, will ever beam upon your soul. When you have spent millions of millions of ages, in indescribable anguish, should you ask the hour of the night, the answer would be—forever. When you have passed again through the same long period, should you repeat your question, still you would receive the same answer-forever ; and will be as far from the termination of your misery, as you • were the first moment it commenced.
O my hearers! the subject is overwhelming! It is painful to dwell upon it! From those slippery places on which you stand, where you are every moment in danger of sinking into the fiery gulf below, let me direct and hasten you to a place of safety. You are yet prisoners of hope. God is still waiting to be gracious. He is now exhorting you to flee from the wrath
to come. He is now saying to you, “ As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Christ the Saviour is now inviting you to him for protection and safety. Flee to him by faith, without delay. If you would escape, lose no time. Escape quickly. Escape for thy life. You are walking on the brink of eternal ruin, and the next step you take forward in your present course, your feet may slide, and you plunge