« AnteriorContinuar »
works of creation, providence and redemption ; and of the happiness and misery, that exist in every part of the universe, which will keep their minds in the most painful reflections and anticipations, in spite of their utmost exertions to banish then from their thoughts. He will give them no rest and no hope. Let us now,
II. Take a serious view of their bitter reflections in the regions of despair. 1. They will realize what they are.
Here they are told, that they are rational and immortal creatures. But the truth of their immortal existence makes very little impression on their minds. It gives them neither much pleasure, nor much pain. Their powers of reason, conscience and memory they lightly esteem and are ready to bury them in a napkin and neglect to use them for the purposes, for which they were given. It gives them no pleasure to think, that they are to survive the grave, to be spectators of the whole intelligent universe at the great day, to know all the transactions of God, of Christ and of holy and unholy beings ; and in consequence of this knowledge, to be perfectly holy and happy, or perfectly sinful and miserable forever. But as soon as they exchange time for eternity, they will no longer view their rational powers and faculties and immortal existence in such a low and despicable light, as they do here ; but find that they are creatures of vast importance to themselves & that their rational & immortal powers were of immense value to them, if they had rigbtly improved
but by abusing them, they are become sources of unspeakable misery. It seems that Dives was grossly ignorant of himself, wbile he thought that he had nothing to do, but to feed and clothe his body ; but as soon as he lifted up his eyes in torment, he found that he had a rational and immortal soul, which was infinitely more valuable than his body, which he had left behind to corrupt & perish in the grave. And all gospel sinners, who shall meet his awful doom, will know, to their sorrow, that they are, what they were told they were, rational and immortal beings, who can never cease to exist, nor to suffer.
2. They will realize where they are. Though they had often read and heard of hell, yet they would not believe it to be such a dismal place as the Bible and min. isters represented. But as soon as they lift up their eyes in torment, they will find it to be a place of confinement, from which there is no deliverance. The keys of death and hell being in the hands of Christ, who shutteth & no man openeth, were it in the hearts of the whole creation to release them, the omnipotent hand of Christ would prevent it. Being delivered to the judge and by the judge to the officer and by the officer cast into prison, they can never come out thence. What a painful reflection must this be! But this is not the worst. They will reflect with whom they are confined: with the devil and bis angels ; with the dregs of mankind ; with those, who are devoid of every amiable quality, being hateful and hating one another. How must it make the heart stoop, to think of forever seeing and feeling the haneful influence of all the malignant passions, rising higher and higher and putting on still newer and more dreadful forms. O, says the damned spirit, where am I? I am certainly in hell.
3. The damned will reflect whence they came to that place of torment. They will reflect upon the land of light and the precious advantages they there enjoyed, before they were confined to the regions of darkness. They will call to mind how many days and years of peace and comfort they had spent on earth. They will remember how they lived under the smiles of providence and in the enjoyment of the bounties of heaven. No place they were in, no scenes they passed through, no favours they enjoyed, will be forgotten, but called to remembrance with bitterness and sorrow. This Abraham suggested to Dives. “Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things : and likewise Lazarus evil things ; but now he is comforted and thou art tormented.” The damned spirit will say to himself, O my soul, never canst thou forget the innumerable privileges, favours and blessings, which a kind, and merciful God bestowed upon thee and by which thy ungrateful and impenitent heart treasured up to thyself wrath against the
day of wrath and righteous judgment of thine injured and abused Sovereign. Othat I could forget that world, where: I first received my existence and drew my breath ; where I was mercifully placed as a proba. tioner; where life and death were set before me ; where I trified away a blessed eternity and prepared myself for this world of wo. But I never can forget the good things, which I once enjoyed and abused.-I never can forget the infancy of my beiny & the place from which I kave fallen, never to rise again. These bitter reflections must fill the minds of the damned, with unuiterable pain and anguish.
4. They will reflect upon all that was done for them, to prevent them from falling into the pit of perdition. They will then know how much had been done for their future and eternal good, which will be a source of mos! painful reflections. They will remember what God did for them, in sending his Son to redeem them, in offering salvation to them and in waiting upon them even to long suffering to accept bis invitations of pardoning mercy. They will remember what Christ did for them in suffering and dying to open the door of mercy to them. Nor will they forget the faithful instructions and tender warnings and counsels of their pious and affictionate parents. Nor the solemn instructions and exhortations of Christ's faithful ambassadors. Nor the still, small, powerful voice of conscience. Nor especially the Bible, that sacred, solemn important book, which they had often read and as often slighted and contemned. They will be ready to say to themselves, How plain was the divine character described ? how clearly was Christ exhibited ? how justly was our own character and conduct delineated ? and with what plainness and solemnity was even this place of torments set before our eyes ? What more could have been done that was not done, to restrain us from evil, to reclaim us from folly and bring us to God and beaven? We had line upon line and precept upon precept. We were urged by considerations, the best suited to impress the minds of rational and immortal creatures, to escape from the wrath to
come. How often bad we been called to the house of mourning? How often had we been led to the sides of the grave ? How often did we sit under the joyful sound of the gospel ?. How time was lavished upon
What precious seasons did we enjoy for reading, meditation and prayer ?
And O the Sabbath! what a weariness it was to us ? How did we profane it, or neglect its services, or hypocritically perform them ? But alas ! notwithstanding all that has been done for us to prevent our ruin,, we are ruined ; and every effort for our good has been lost upon us and only serves to render us more inexcusable and more miserable than we could have been, if we had not enjoyed and abused such great and undeserved mercies.
5. They will realize that they destroyed themselves, which will be a source of bitter and perpetual reflections. They will be conscious to themselves, that they choose the path of ruin, that they hated the light ex. hibited before them ; that they resisted the strivings of the Spirit ; that they loved vanities and after them they would go.; that they would not examine their spiritual state, nor see the plague of their own hearts; that they put far away the evil day and would not consider their latter end; but counteracted all the means used to save them. Their conscience will tell them, that they cannot cast the blame of their destruction on God, nor on Christ, nor on the Holy Spirit, nor on saints, nor on sinners, nor on the great deceiver. They will be conscious, that nothing could have destroyed them, without their own choice and consent. They will find, that they were bound merely by the cords of their own iniquities. They will be convinced, that neither the native depravity of their own hearts, nor all the sins of their lives could have destroyed them, if they had not remained impenitent and continued to reject the counsel of God against themselves. They will know, that the chief of sinners were saved, by returning to God through faith and repentance ; and that they might have been saved upon the same gracious and condescending terms. They will stand guilty and condemned, not only by God, but by the verdict of their own
bonsciences. They will be constrained to say, “ This is our condemnation, that light came into the world, but we loved darkness rather than light, because our deeds were evil.” Therefore while their whole souls are wrung with the keenest tortures, they will utter these mournful accents, “How have we hated instruction and our hearts despised reproofs; and have not obeyed the voice of our teachers, nur inclined our ears to those, who instructed us ! Had we been wise, we should have been wise for ourselves ; but since we foolishly scorned, we alone must bear it.”
6. They will reflect upon what they had done, not only to destroy themselves, but others. Whether they will retain their natural affections, or not, they will doubtless deeply regret that they were instrumental in destroying the souls of men. The rich man in hell is represented as deprecating the torments of others and especially of his own relatives, whom wbile living his vicious life had corrupted. He could not bear the thought, that his brothers should share his fate. Many of the damned will be chargeable with the guilt of corrupting and destroying precious and immortal souls, which must give them bitter reflections. How can unfaithful parents, unfaithful ministers and ring-leaders in vice, bear to meet those, whom they have been instrumental in leadiag in the broad road to destruction ? Such ruined creatures must be perpetual objects of their dread and subject them to the insupportable pain of self-reproach and self-condemnation, The miseries and reproaches of those, whom they have ruined, will add an awful emphasis to their own torments, which will last as long as they can see, or hear or remember.
7. They will reflect upon what good they might have done, while they lived in the world. They will remember what a price was put into their hands to get and diffuse wisdom, to restrain folly and vice and to promote holiness and happiness. It will give them extreme pain to recollect what talents they buried or perverted and what numerous opportunities of doing