Page images

Observe the continual succession of hours, days, months, and years, ho v one ftill follows upon one another; and think of eternity, where in there is a continual succession without end. When you go out in the night, and behold the stars of heaven, how they cannot be numbred for multitude, think of the ages of eternity; considering withal; there is a certain definite number of the stars, but no number of the


of eternity. When you see a water running, think how vain a thing it would be, to sit down by it, and wait till it should run out, that you may pass over ; look how new water still fucceeds to that which passeth by you: and therein you will have an image of eternity, which is a river that never dries up. They who wear rings, have an image of eternity on their fingers; and ihey who handle the wheel have an emblem of eternity before then: for to which part loever of the ring or wheel one looks., one will still fee another part beyond it; and on whatsoever montent of eternity you condescend, there is still another beyond it. When you are abroad in the fields, and behold the piles of the grass on the earth, which no man can reckon; think with your selves, that, were as many thousand of years to come, as there are piles of grass on the ground, even those would have an end at length, but eternity will have none. When you look to a mountain, imagine in your hearts, how long would it be, ere that mountain should be removed, by a little bird coming but once every thousand years, and carrying away but one grain of the dust thereof at once; the moun. tain would at length be removed that way, and brought to an end; but eternity will never end. Suppose this with respect to all the mountains of the earth; nay, with respect to the whole globe of the earth; the grains of duft, whereof the whole earth is made up, are not infinite, and therefore the last grain would, at long-run, come to be carried away, in the way supposed : but when that flowest work would be brought to an end, eternity would be, in effect but beginning.

These are some rude draughts of eternity; and now add misery ånd woe to this eternity, what tongué can express it? What heart can conceive it? In what balance can that misery and that woe be weighed?

Secondly, Let us take a view of what is eternal in the state of the damned in hell. Whatsoever is included in the fearful sentence, determining their eternal state, is everlasting: therefore all the doleful! ingredients of their miserable state will be everlasting; they will never end. The text expressly declares the fire, into which they must de. part, to be everlasting fire. And our Lord elsewhere tells us, that in hell the fire shall never be quenched, (Mark ix. 43.) with an eye to the valley of Hinnom, in which, besides the already mentioned fire, for burning of the children to Molech, there was also another fire burning continually, to consunie the dead arcases, and filth of Jerzfalenz; so the scripure representing hell-fire by the fire of that valley, fpeaks it not only to be most exquisite, but also everlasting. Seeing then the damned must depart, as cursed ones, into everlasting fire, it is evidence that,


ist, The damned themselves thall be eternal: they will have a being for ever, and will never be fubftantially destroyed, or annihilated. To what end is the fire eternal; if these who are cast into it, be not eternally in it! It is plain, the everlasting continuance of the fire, is an aggravation of the misery of the damned: but surely, if they be anni. hilated, or substantially destroyed, it is all a cafe to them, whether the fire be everlasting, or not. Nay, but they depart into everlasting fire, to be everlastingly punished in it; Matth. XXV. 46.- They shall go away into everlasting punishment. Thus the execution of the sentence, is a certain discovery of the meaning of it. The worm, that dieth not, must have a subject to live in: they, who shall have no rest, day nor night, (Rev. xiv. 11.) but fhall be tormented day and night for ever and ever, (chap. XX. 10) will certainly have a being for ever and ever, and not be brought into a state of eternal rest in annihilation Destroyed indeed they Ihall be: but their destruction will be an everlening destruction, (2 Theff

. i. 9.) a destruction of their well-being, but not of their boong. What is destroyed, is not therefore annihilated; Art thou come to destroy us? said the devil unto Jesus Christ, Luke iv. 346 Howbeit the devils are afraid of torment, not of annihilation, Matth. , viii. 29. Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? The state of the damned is indeed a state of death : but such a death it is, as is opposite only to a happy life ; as is clear from other notions of their state, which necessarily include an eternal existence, of which before. As they, who are dead in fin, are dead to God and holiness, yet live to lin: so dying in hell, they live, but separated from God, and his favour, in which life lies, Psal. xxx. 5. They shall ever be under the pangs of death; ever dying, but never dead, or absolutely void of life, How desirable would such a death be to them! but it will fly from them for ever. Could each one kill another there, or could they, with their own hands, rent t.- nfelves into lifeless pieces, their mifery would quickly be at an end: but there they must live, who chused death, and refused life; for there death lives, and the end ever begins.

2dly, The curse shall fly upon them eternally, as the everlasting chain, to hold them in the everlasting fire; a chain that shall never be loosed, being fixed for ever about them, by the dreadful sentence of the eternal judgment. This chain, which spurns the united force of devils held fast by it, is too strong to be broken by men, who being folemnly anathematized, and devoted to destruction, can never be rem covered to any other use.

3dly, Their punishment shall be eternal; Matth. xxv. 46. They Jhail go arvay into everlafiing punisment. They will be, for ever, separate from God and Christ, and froin the society of the holy angels and saints; between whom and them an impassible gulf will be fixed, Luke xvi. 26. Between us and you, (says Abraham, in the parable, to the richjman in kell) there is a great gulf fixed, so that they which would.

[ocr errors]

pafs from hence to you, cannot: neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. They shall for ever, have the horrible society of the devil and his angels. There will be no change of company for evermore, in that region of darkness. Their torment in the fire will be everlasting: they must live for ever in it. Several authors both ancient and modern, tell us of earthen flax, or Salamander's hair ; that cloth made of it, being cast into the fire, is so far from being burnt or consumed, that it is only made clean thereby, as other things are by washing But, however that is, it is certain, the damned fall be tora mented for ever and ever in hell fire, and not substantially destroyed, Rev. xx. 10. And indeed nothing is annihilated by fire, but only dif. solved. Of what nature soever hell-fire is, no question, the same God who kept the bodies of the three children from burning in Nebuchad. nezzar's fiery furnace, can also keep the bodies of the damned from any such dissolution by hell-fire, as may infer privation of life.

fily, Their knowledge and finfe of their misery thall be eternal, ana they shall assuredly know that it will be eternal. How desirable would it be in them, to have their senses for ever locked up, and to Jose the confciousness of their own misery; as one may rationally suppofe it to fare at length with some, in the punilhınent of death inflicted on them on earth, and as it is with some mad people in their miserable case! but that agrees not with the notion of torment for ever and ever, nor the worm that dieth not. Nay, they will ever have a lively feel. ing of their misery, and strongest impressions of the wrath of God against them. And that dreadful intimation of the eternity of their punishment, made to them, by the Judge, in their sentence, will fix such impressions of the eternity of their miserable flate upon their minds, as they will never be able to lay aside, but will continue with thein evermore, to complete their misery. This will fill them with cverlasting despair, a molt tormenting pallion, which will continually rent their hearts, as it were in a thousand pieces. To see floods of wrath ever coming, and never to cease; to be ever in torment, and witlial to know there shall never, never, be a release, will be the cape. ftone put on the misery of the damned, If hope deferred, maketh the heart Jick, (Prov xiii. 12.) how killing will be, hope rooted up, Nain outright, and buried for ever out of the creature's fight! this will fill them with hatred and rage against God, their known irreconcileable enemy; and under it, they will roar for ever like wild bulls in

a net, and fill the pit with blasphemies evermore.

Lastly, I might here shew the reasonableness of the eternity of the puni hment of the damned; but having already spoke of it in vindicating the justice of God, in his subjecting men in their natural state to eternal wrath, I only remind you of three things, (1.) The infinite dignity of the party offended by fin, requires an infinite punisoment to be inflated for the vindication of his honour: since the demerit of fin riserh according toahe dignity and excellency of the person against wlwm it is connitted. The party offended is the great God, the chief


good : the offender, a vile worm; in respect of perfection infinitely difiant from God, to whom he is indebred for all that ever he had, implying any good, or perfection whatsoever. This then requires an infinite punishment to be inflicted on the finner, the which, lince it cannot, in him, be infinite in value, muft needs be infinite in duration, that is to say, eternal. Sin is a kind of iufinite evil, as it wrongs an infinite God; and the gult and defilement thereof is never taken away, but endures for ever, unless the Lord himself in mercy do remove it. God, who is offended, is eternal, his being never comes to an end: the finful foul is immortal, and the man- Thall live for ever: the finner being without firength, (Rom.v.6.) to expiate hisgult, can never put away the offence; therefore it ever remains, unless the Lord do put it away him. felf, as in the elect, by his Son's blood. Wherefore the party offended, the offender, and the offence, ever remaining, the puniíhment cannot but be eternal. (2.) The finner would have continued the course of his provocations against God, for ever without end, if God had not put a check to it by death. As long as they were capable to act againft him, in this world, they did it; and therefore justly he will act against them, while he is; that is, for ever. God who judgeth of the will, intents, and inclinations of the heart, may justis do against Linners, in punishing, as they would have done against him, na finning. Lastly, (though I put not the stress of the inatter here, yet) it is just and realonable the damned suffer eternally, since they will fin eternally in hell, gnashing their teeth (Mitih viii. 12.) under their pain, in rage, envy, and grudge, (compare Acts vii. 54. Plal. cxii. 10. Luke xiii. 28.) and blafpheming Gea there, (Rev. xvi. 21.) whither they are driven away in their wickedness, Prov. xiv. 42. That the wicked be punished for their wickedness, is just: and it is noways inconsistent with justice, that the being of the creature be continued for ever: wherefore, it is just, that the damned, continuing wicked eternally, do fuffer eternally for their wickedness. The misery, under which they fin, can neither free them from the debt of obedience, nor excufe their sinning, and make it blameless. The creature, as a creature, is bound unto obedience to his Creator, and no punishment, inflieted on him, can free him from it, more than the malefactor's prisons, irons, whipping, and the like, do set him at liberty, to commit anew the crines for which he is imprisoned, or whipt. Neither can the torments of the damned excuse or make blameless their horrible linning under them, more than exquisite pains, inflicted upon men on earth, can excuse their murmuring, fretting, and blafpheming against God under thein: for it is not the wrath of God, but their own wicked nature, that is the true cause of their sinning under it: and fo the holy Jesus boře the wrath of God, without so much as one unbecoming thought of God, and far less any one unbecoming word.

Use I. Here is a measuring reed: 0! that men would apply it. First, Apply it to your time in this world, and you will find your t me to be very short. A prospech of much ciine to come, proves the ruin of


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

for the firé, there will be bundles of covetous persons, of drunkards, profane iwearers, unclean perlons, formal hypocrites, unbelievers, and despisers of the golpel, and the like: the several hundles being calt inte hellfire, fome will butu more keenly than others, according as their fins haye been more heinous than these of others: a fiercer flame will feize the bundles of the profane, than the bundle of unfančtified moralists; the furnace will be hotter to those who finned against light, than to these who lived in darkness, Luke xii. 37, 38. * Thac fervant whichi knew his Lord's will, and prepared

not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten “ with many Gripes. But be char knew not, and did commit things

worthy of stripes, fhall be beaten with few stripes.” But the sentence common to theni'ail, (Maith. xiii. 30.) Bind them in bun. dles to burn them, speaks the grea elt vehemency and exquisiteness of the loweit degree of torment in hell.

4. They will be uninterrupted, there is no intermission there ; no ease, no not for a moment. They Mall be tormented day ane night for ever and ever, Rev. xx. 10. Few are lo tofled in this world, but foinetimes they get reft; but the damned fall get none: they touk their rest in the time appointed of God for labour. No ftorms are readily seen, but there is some fpace between huwers: but no intermillion in the storm that falls on the wicked in hell. There deep will be calling unto deep, and the waves of wrath continually rolling over them. There the heavens will be always black to them, and they shall have a perpetual night, but no rest, Rev. xiv. 1). They have no reft day nor night

5. They will be unpitied. The punishments inflicted on the greateft malefactors on earth, do draw forth some compaflion from them who behold them in their torments : but the damned shall have none to pity them. God will not pity them, but laugh at their calarity, Prov. i. 26. The blessed company in heaver shall rejoice in the execution of God's righteous judgment, and sing while the smoak riseth up for ever, Rev. xix. 3. And again they said Allelujah: and her smoke rose up for ever and cver. No compaflion can be expected from the devil and his angels, wlto delight in the ruin of the children of men, and are, and will be for ever void of pity. Neither will one pity ano. ther there, where every one is weeping and gnalhing his teeth, under his own insupportable anguish and pain. There natural affections will be extinguished: the parents will not love their children, nor children their parents: the mother will not pity the daughter in these flames, nor will the daughter pity the mother: the son will shew no regard to his father there, nor the servant to his master, where every one will be roaring under his own torment.

Laftly, To complete their misery, their torments Mall be eternal, Rev. xiv. 11. And th: /incke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever. Ah! what a frightful care is this, to be tormented in the whole body and soul, and that not with one kind of torment, but many; all


« PreviousContinue »