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me, that ye might have life." What a sad change of circumstances ! Now he frowns, and says, “ Depart!” They are not fit to remain in his glorious presence. Sin has made them contemptible, and the righteous Judge beholds them with contempt. Entreaties to remain with him would now be vain. There was a time when they might have been heard with kind attention, but that time is past and gone for ever.” Henceforth, should they pray, their 'prayers will never reach the throne of God.
2. They depart from Christ, the HOLY ONE OF GOD, who lived and died for sinful man. In departing from him, they depart from all bis blessed followers. On earth they mixed with : the wise : and good, and many blessings which they then enjoyed was owing to that --happy circumstance; but now the chaff is separated from the wheat, and must be burned up with unquenchable fire. Perhaps they have relations, friends, and acquaintance at the right-hand of the Judge; but they must depart, and never see them more to all eternity. This is not all: for in der parting from Christ, they depart from all the joys and glories of heaven. Their eyes shall never behold those happy plains of light, where God will reign with saints
and angels. O what a loss! The loss of ten thousand worlds, were we in possession of them all, would be a trifle to the loss of Christ and heaven!.
II. THEY ARE BANISHED WITH A CURSE. $. 1. A curse stands directly opposed to a blessing; the one is followed by a communication of good, and the other by an infliction of evil. When God curses men, real evil is intended, and will unavoidably fall down upon them. . Impotent men may call down mischief, and wish evil, and no evil may follow their daring imprecations ; but the curses of Gød should be regarded in the most solemn manner, because they will be followed with suitable vengeance. How awful, then, are the curses of Heaven ! When the ground avas cursed for the sin of man, it brought' forth briers and thorns, When Cain was cursed, he went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, a Hebrew word, signifying wandering, trembling, and shaking. Noah, under a divine impulse, cursed Canaan, and he became vile both in his own person, and in his posterity. Jesus cursed the figtree, and immediately it withered.
2. Wicked men are under a curse now; but mercy spares them. In the day of judgment, the curse will not only be pronounced, but fully executed.: Banishment
from Christ will be dreadful in itself; but banishment with a curse will be much more dreadful. Under his blessing, we may be happy any where ; but under his curse, we can be happy no where. No doubt the curse of Christ will greatly increase the torment of the damned. They will reflect with grief upon his gracious undertaking's for them; his repeated offers of mercy; his calls and warnings : and when they recollect that the last time they saw and heard him,' he pronounced a curse upon them, we may suppose they will be filled with extreme anguish. O, cursed spirits, how can ye escape? Whither can ye flee from that vengeance which pursues you? Who can remove your curse, or deliver you from its direful effects? You have no friend in the universe! There is no eye to pity-no hand to save !
Ill. THEY ARE BANISHED INTO THAT FIRE WHICH WAS PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS.
1. Angels, as well as men, were created to be happy; but those angels which kept not their first estate, . were banished into hell. Hell was prepared for them at first; but guilty men, influenced, directed, and governed by the infernal powers, must share their punishment. O how dreadful to mix with devils, and to be confined with them in the same prison for ever!
2. Some have maintained that the fire of hell will be like the fire with which we are acquainted. The venerable Mr. Wesley says, Does not our Lord speak as if it were real fire? No one can deny or doubt this. Is it possible then to suppose that the God of truth would speak in this manner, if it were not so? Does he design to fright his poor creatures? What, with scarecrows? With vain shadows of things that have no being? O let not any think so! Impute not such folly to the Most High."
3. Others suppose that the fire of hell is a strong figure, denoting extreme torment. Fire is that element which gives the greatest pain of any other; and if the fire of hell should prove very different from our common fire, yet it must be allowed that it implies the infliction of inexpressible and inconceivable torment. Matthew Henry says,
- This fire is the wrath of the eternal God, fastening upon the guilty souls and consciences of men that have made themselves fuel for it. Our God is a consuming fire, and sinners fall immediately into his hands."
4. But it is of greater moment to avoid the fire of hell, than to determine the. question about its nature and properties. Whether that fire be literal or figurative, it must be allowed to imply punishment which far exceeds any thing that words can describe. It is probable that the damned will suffer throughout the whole man, and that every part, both of body and soul, will be tormented with dreadfut misèry. Nevertheless, as their punishment will be inflicted by the hand of impartial justice, we must suppose that some will suffer more than others. But who would run the dreadful risk of suffering the fire of hell in the smallest degree? The smallest degree of pain, in those horrid regions, will be more acute than any sufferings in this present life. ':"
II. THEY ARE BANISHED FOR EVER. - 1. It is generally allowed that the joys of heaven will know no period; and the same word* being used to express both the duration of those joys and the duration of torment in hell, we cannot suppose the one to come to an end, without supposing that the other may also end. He, therefore, who maintains that the word ever: lasting signifies no more than a limited period, though it be for ages and ages, shakes the foundation of eternal blessedness, destroys the best hopes of holy men, and throws a damp upon the glory of heaven.
* αιωνιον, ,