« PreviousContinue »
to overlook them and not take notice of them, when they come to die; that their souls will slip away privately, and hide themselves in some secret corner, and so escape divine vengeance.
There is no hope that they shall be missed in a crowd at the day of judgment, and that they can have opportunity to hide themselves in some cave or den of the mountains, or in any secret hole of the earth; and that while so doing, they will not be minded, by reason of the many things which will be the objects of attention on that day,--neither is there any hope that they will be able to crowd themselves in among the mul. titude of the saints at the right hand of the Judge, and so go to heaven undiscovered. Nor is there any hope that God will alter bis mind, or that he will repent of what he hath said ; for he is not the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall be not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? When did God ever undertake to do any thing and fail :-1 come now,
III. To show, that as impenitent sinners cannot shun the threatened punishment; so neither can they do any thing to deliver themselves from it, or to relieve themselves under it. This is implied in those words of the text, Can thine hands be strong? It is with our hands that we make and accomplish things for ourselves. But the wicked in hell will have no strength of hand to accomplish any thing at all for themselves, or to bring to pass any deliverance, or any degree of relief.
1. They will not be able in that conflict to overcome their enemy, and so to deliver themselves. God, who will then undertake to deal with them, and will gird himself with might to execute wrath, will be their enemy, and will act the part of an enemy with a witness ; and they will have no strength to oppose him. Those who live negligent of their souls under the light of the gospel, act as if they supposed, that they should be able hereafter to make their part good with God. 1 Cor. x. 22. "Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?”—But they will have no power, no might to resist that omnipotence, which will be engaged against them.
2. They will have no strength in their hands to do any thing to appease God, or in the least to abate the fierceness of his wrath. They will not be able to offer any satisfaction : they will not be able to procure God's pity. Though they cry, God will not hear them. They will find no price to offer to God, in order to purchase favour, or to pay any part of their debt.
3. They will not be able to find any to befriend them, and intercede with God for them. They had the offer of a mediator often made them in this world; but they will have no such offers in hell. None will befriend them ; in hell, all there will be
their enemies. They will have no friend in heaven : none of the saints or angels will befriend them : or if they should, it would be to no purpose. There will be no creature that will have any power to deliver them, nor will any ever pity them.
4. Nor will they ever be able to make their escape. They will find no means to break prison and flee. In bell they will be reserved in chains of darkness for ever and ever. Malefactors have often found means to escape the hand of civil justice. But none ever escaped out of the prison of hell, which is God's prison. It is a strong prison : it is beyond any finite power, or the united strength of all wicked men and devils, to unlock, or break open the door of that prison. Christ hath the key of hell;" he shuts and no man opens."
5. Nor will they ever be able to find any thing to relieve them in hell. They will never find any resting place there; any secret corner, which will be cooler than the rest, where they may have a little respite, a small abatement of the extremity of their torment. They never will be able to find any cooling stream or fountain, in any part of that world of torment; no, nor so much as a drop of water to cool their tongues. They will find no company to give them any comfort, or to do them the least good. They will find no place, where they can remain, and rest, and take breath for one minute : for they will be tormented with fire and brimstone; and will have no rest day nor night for ever and ever.
. Thus impenitent sinners will be able neither to shun the punishment threatened, nor to deliver themselves from it, nor to find any relief under it.
THE FUTURE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED UNAVOID
ABLE AND INTOLERABLE.
Ezek. XXII. 14.
Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days
that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it.
Having shown that impenitent sinners will hereafter be able, neither to avoid the punishment threatened, nor to deliver themselves from it, nor to find any relief under it; I come now,
IV. To show, that neither will they be able to bear it.Neither will their hands be strong to deliver them from it, nor will their hearts be able to endure it. It is common with men, when they meet with calamities in this world, in the first placé to endeavour to shun them. But if they find, that they cannot shun them; then after they are come, they endeavour to deliver themselves from them as soon as they can; or at least, to deliver themselves in some degree. But
But if they find that they can by no means deliver themselves, and see that they must bear them ; then they fortify their spirits, and take up a resolution, that they will support themselves under them as well as they can.
But it will be utterly in vain for impenitent sinners to think to do thus with respect to the torments of hell. They will not be able to endure them, or at all to support themselves under them : the torment will be immensely beyond their strength. What will it signify for a worm, which is about to be pressed under the weight of some great rock, to be let fall with its whole weight upon it, to collect its strength, to set itself to bear VOL. VI.
up the weight of the rock, and to preserve itself from being crushed by it?-Much more vain will it be for a poor damned soul, to endeavour to support itself under the weight of the wrath of Almighty God. What is the strength of man, who is but a worm, to support himself against the power of Jehovah, and against the fierceness of his wrath? What is man's strength, when set to bear up against the exertions of infinite power? Matt. xxi. 44. “Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."
When sinners hear of hell-torments, they sometimes think with themselves ; Well, if it shall come to that, that I must go to hell, I will bear it as well as I can: as if by clothing themselves with resolution and firmness of mind, they would be able to support themselves in some measure : when alas! they will have no resolution, no courage at all. However they shall have prepared themselves, and collected their strength; yet as soon as they shall begin to feel that wrath, their hearts will melt and be as water. However they may seem to harden their hearts, in order to prepare themselves to bear, yet the first moment they feel it, their hearts will become like wax before the furnace.-Their courage and resolution will be all gone in an instant; it will vanish away like a shadow in the twinkling of an eye. The stoutest and most sturdy will have no more courage than the feeblest infant : let a man be an infant, or a giant, it will be all one. They will not be able to keep alive any courage, any strength, any comfort, any hope at all. -- I come now as was proposed,
V. To answer an inquiry which may naturally be raised concerning these things.
Ing. Some may be ready to say, If this be the case, if impenitent sinners can neither shun future punishment, nor deliver themselves from it, nor bear it; then what will become of them ?
Ans. They will wholly sink down into eternal death.There will be that sinking of heart, of which we now cannot conceive. We see how it is with the body when in extreme pain. . The nature of the body will support itself for a considerable time under very great pain, so as to keep from wholly sinking. There will be great struggles, lamentable groans and pantings, and it may be convulsions. These are the strugglings of nature to support itself under the extremity of the pain.There is, as it were, a great lothness in nature to yield to it; it cannot bear wholly to sink.
But yet sometimes pain of body is so very exquisite, that the nature of the body cannot support itself under it; however Joth it may be to sink, yet it cannot bear the pain; there are
a few struggles, and throes, and pantings, and it may be a sbriek or two, and then nature yields to the violence of the torments, sinks down, and the body dies. This is the death of the body. "So it will be with the soul in hell ; it will have no strength or power to deliver itself; and its torment and horror will be so great, so mighty, so vastly disproportioned to its strength, that having no strength in the least to support itself, although it be infinitely contrary to the nature and inclination of the soul utterly to sink; yet it will utterly and totally sink, without the least degree of remaining comfort, or strength, or courage, or hope. And though it will never be annihilated, its being and perception will never be abolished; yet such will be the infinite depth of gloominess into which it will sink, that it will be in a state of death, eternal death.
The nature of man desires happiness; it is the nature of the soul to crave and thirst after well-being: and if it be under misery, it eagerly pants after relief; and the greater the misery is, the more eagerly doth it struggle for help. But if all relief be withholden, all strength overborne, all support utterly gone; then it sinks into the darkness of death.
We can conceive but little of the matter; but to help your conception, imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven, or a great furnace, where your pain would be as much greater than that occasioned by accidentally touching a coal of fire, as the heat is greater. Imagine also that your body were to lie there for a quarter of an hour, full of fire, and all the while full of quick sense ; what horror would you feel at the entrance of such a furnace! and how long would that quarter of an hour seem to you! And after you had endured it for one minute, how overbearing would it be to you to think that you had to endure it the other fourteen!
But what would be the effect on your soul, if you knew you must lie there enduring that torment to the full for twentyfour hours! And how much greater would be the effect, if you knew you must endure it for a whole year; and how vastly greater still, if you knew you must endure it for a thousand years !-0 then, how would your hearts sink, if you knew, that you must bear it for ever and ever! that there would be no end ! that after millions of millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end, and that you never, never should be delivered!
But your torment in hell will be immensely greater than this illustration represents. How then will the heart of a poor creature sink under it! How utterly inexpressible and inconceivable must the sinking of the soul be in such a case !
This is the death threatened in the law. This is dying in the highest sense of the word. This is to die sensibly; to dic and know it; to be sensible of the gloom of death. This is to