Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
~ Isaiah 14:9, Isaiah 27:11, James 3:6
Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
~ Isaiah 3:11, Isaiah 5:14
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
~ Mark 16:16, Hebrews 2:3-4, Hebrews 12:25-26, Revelation 19:20
Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
~ Romans 9:20c-d, Romans 9:21-23
A Few Sighs From Hell, Or The Groans of the Damned Soul, Or An Exposition of Those Words in Sixteenth of Luke, Concerning the Rich Man and the Beggar, Wherein Is Discovered the Lamentable State of the Damned; Their Cries, Their Desires In Their Distresses, With the Determination of God Upon Them. A Good Warning to Sinners, both Old and Young, To Take Into Consideration Betimes, and To Seek By Faith In Jesus Christ, To Avoid, Lest They Come Into the Same Place of Torment. Also, A Brief Discourse Touching the Profitableness of the Scriptures for Our Instruction in the Way of Righteousness, According to the Tendency of the Said Parable,
By That Poor and Contemptible Servant of Jesus Christ, John Bunyan.
The following contains an excerpt from his work.
John Bunyan wrote this two years before being placed in Bedford Prison. This is the third book he wrote.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
~ Luke 16:22-24
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
~ Psalm 9:17
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
~ Revelation 20:15
Verse 23.– And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
The former verse speaks only of the departure of the ungodly out of this life, together with the glorious conduct(12) that the godly have into the kingdom of their Father. Now our Lord doth show, in this verse, partly what doth and shall befal to the reprobate after this life is ended, where he saith, ‘And in hell he lifted up his eyes.’ That is, the ungodly, after they depart this life, do lift up their eyes in hell.
From these words may be observed these things, First. That there is a hell for souls to be tormented in, when this life is ended. Mark, after he was dead and buried,’In hell he lifted up his eyes.’ Second. That all that are ungodly, and do live and die in their sins, so soon as ever they die, they go into hell: he died and was buried;’And in hell he lifted up his eyes.’ Third. That some are so fast asleep, and secure in their sins, that they scarce know well where they are till they come into hell; and that I gather from these words, ‘In hell he lifted up his eyes.’ He was asleep before, but hell makes him lift up his eyes.
(First.) As I said before, it is evident that there is a hell for souls, yea, and bodies too, to be tormented in after they depart this life, as is clear, first, because the Lord Jesus Christ, that cannot lie, did say that after the sinner was dead and buried, ‘In hell he lifted up his eyes.’
Now if it be objected that by hell is here meant the grave, that I plainly deny:1. Because there the body is not sensible of torment or ease; but in that hell into which the spirits of the damned depart, they are sensible of torment, and would very willingly be freed from it, to enjoy ease, which they are sensible of the want of; as is clearly discovered in this parable, ‘Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.’ 2. It is not meant the grave, but some other place, because the bodies, so long as they lie there, are not capable of lifting up their eyes, to see the glorious condition of the children of God, as the souls of the damned do. ‘In hell he lifted up his eyes.’ 3. It cannot be the grave, for then it must follow that the soul was buried there with the body, which cannot stand with such a dead state as is here mentioned; for he saith, ‘The rich man died’; that is, his soul was separated from his body. ‘And in hell he lifted up his eyes.’
If it be again objected that there is no hell but in this life; that I do also deny, as I said before: after he was dead and buried, ‘In hell he lifted up his eyes.’And let me tell thee, O soul, whoever thou art, that if thou close not in savingly with the Lord Jesus Christ, and lay hold on what he hath done and is doing in his own person for sinners, thou wilt find such a hell after this life is ended, that thou wilt not get out of again for ever and ever. And thou that art wanton, and dost make but a mock at the servants of the Lord, when they tell thee of the torments of hell, thou wilt find that when thou departest out of this life, that hell, even the hell which is after this life, will meet thee in thy journey thither; and will, with its hellish crew, give thee such a sad salutation that thou wilt not forget it to all eternity. When that scripture comes to be fulfilled on thy soul, in Isaiah14:9, 10, ‘Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they,’ that is, that are in hell, shall say, ‘Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?’ O sometimes when I have had but thoughts of going to hell, and consider the everlastingness of their ruin that fall in thither, it hath stirred me up rather to seek to the LordJesus Christ to deliver me from thence, than to slight it, and make a mock at it.’And in hell he lifted up his eyes.’
(Second.) The second thing I told you was this, that all the ungodly that live and die in their sins, so soon as ever they depart this life, do descend into hell. This is also verified by the words in this parable, where Christ said, He ‘died and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes.’ As the tree falls, so it shall be, whether it be to heaven or hell (Eccl 11:3). And as Christ said to the thief on the cross,’Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.’ Even so the devil in the like manner may say unto thy soul, To-morrow shalt thou be with me in hell. See then what a miserable case he that dies in an unregenerate state is in; he departs from a long sickness to a longer hell; from the gripings of death, to the everlasting torments of hell.’And in hell he lifted up his eyes.’ Ah friends! If you were but yourselves, you would have a care of your souls; if you did but regard, you would see how mad they are that slight the salvation of their souls. O what will it profit thy soul to have pleasure in this life, and torments in hell? (Mark 8:36). Thou hadst better part with all thy sins, and pleasures, and companions, or whatsoever thou delightest in, than to have soul and body to be cast into hell. O then do not now neglect our LordJesus Christ, lest thou drop down to hell (Heb 2:3). Consider, would it not wound thee to thine heart to come upon thy death-bed, and instead of having the comfort of a well spent life, and the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with the comforts of his glorious Spirit: to have, first, the sight of an ill-spent life, thy sins flying in thy face, thy conscience uttering itself with thunder-claps against thee, the thoughts of God terrifying of thee, death with his merciless paw seizing upon thee, the devils standing ready to scramble for thy soul, and hell enlarging herself, and ready to swallow thee up; and an eternity of misery and torment attending upon thee, from which there will be no release.
For mark, death doth not come alone to an unconverted soul, but with such company, as wast thou but sensible of it would make thee tremble. I pray consider that scripture (Rev 6:8), ‘And I looked and behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and hell followed with him.’ Mark, death doth not come alone to the ungodly, no, but hell goeth with him. O miserable comforters! O miserable society! Here comes death and hell unto thee. Death goeth into thy body, and separates body and soul as under; hell stands without, as I may say, to embrace, or rather, to crush thy soul between its everlasting grinders. Then thy mirth, thy joy, thy sinful delights will be ended when this comes to pass. Lo it will come. Blessed are all those that throughChrist Jesus his merits, by faith, do escape these soul-murdering companions. ‘And in hell he lifted up his eyes.’
(Third.) The third thing you know that we did observe from these words was this,That some are so fast asleep, and secure in their sins, that they scarce know where they are, until they come into hell. And that I told you I gather by these words,’In hell he lifted up his eyes.’ Mark, it was in hell that he lift up his eyes. Now some do understand by these words that he came to himself, or began to consider with himself, or to think with himself in what an estate he was, and what he was deprived of; which is still a confirmation of the thing laid down by me. There it is that they come to themselves, that is, there they are sensible where they are indeed.Thus it fares with some men that they scarce know where they are, till they lift up their eyes in hell. It is with those people as with those that fall down in a swoon; you know if a man do fall down in a swoon in one room, though you take him up and carry him into another, yet he is not sensible where he is till he cometh unto himself, and lifteth up his eyes.
Truly thus, it is to be feared, it is with many poor souls, they are so senseless, so hard, so seared in their conscience (1 Tim 4:2), that they are very ignorant of their state; and when death comes it strikes them as it were into a swoon, especially if they die suddenly, and so they are hurried away, and scarce know where they are till in hell they lift up their eyes: this is he who ‘dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet’ (Job 21:23).
Of this sort are they spoken of in Psalm 73, where he saith, ‘There are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.’ ‘They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men.’ And again, ‘they spend their days in wealth, and in a moment,’ mark, ‘in a moment,’ before they are aware, they ‘go down to the grave’ (Job 21:13).
Indeed this is too much known by woeful and daily experience; sometimes when we goto visit them that are sick in the towns and places where we live, O how senseless, how seared in their consciences are they! They are neither sensible of heaven nor of hell, of sin nor of a Saviour; speak to them of their condition, and the state of their souls, and you shall find them as ignorant as if they had no souls to regard.Others, though they lie ready to die, yet they are busying themselves about their outward affairs, as though they should certainly live here, even to live and enjoy the same for ever. Again, come to others, speak to them about the state of their souls, though they have no more experience of the new birth than a beast, yet will they speak as confidently of their eternal state, and the welfare of their souls, as if they had the most excellent experience of any man or woman in the world, saying,’I shall have peace’ (Deut 29:19). When, as I said even now, the Lord knows they are as ignorant of the new birth, of the nature and operation of faith, of the witness of the Spirit, as if there were no new birth, no faith, no witness of the Spirit of Christ in any of the saints in the world. Nay, thus many of them are, even an hour or less before their departure. Ah, poor souls! though they may go away here like a lamb, as the world says, yet, if you could but follow them a little, to stand and listen soon after their departure, it is to be feared, you should hear them roar like a lion at their first entrance into hell, far worse than even did Korah, &c.,when they went down quick into the ground (Num 16:31-35).
Now, by this one thing doth the devil take great advantage on the hearts of the ignorant, suggesting unto them that because the party deceased departed so quietly, without all doubt they are gone to rest and joy; when, alas! it is to be feared the reason why they went away so quietly, was rather because they were senseless and hardened in their consciences; yea, dead before in sins and trespasses. For, had they had but some awakenings on their death-beds, as some have had, they would have made all the town to ring of their doleful condition; but because they are seared and ignorant, and so depart quietly, therefore the world takes heart at grass,(13) as we use to say, and make no great matter of living and dying they cannot tell how; ‘therefore pride compasseth them as a chain’ (Psa 75:6). But let them look to themselves, for if they have not an interest in the Lord Jesus now, while they live in the world, they will, whether they die raging or still, go unto the same place; ‘and lifted up their eyes in hell.’
O, my friends, did you but know what a miserable condition they are in that go out of this world without an interest in the Son of God, it would make you smite upon your thigh, and in the bitterness of your souls cry out, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?’ (Acts 16:29- 31). And not only so, but thou wouldst not be comforted until thou didst find a rest for thy soul in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 23. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Something, in brief, I have observed from the first part of this verse, namely, from these words, ‘And in hell he lifted up his eyes.’ And, indeed, I have observed but something, for they are very full of matter, and many things might be taken notice of in them. There is one thing more that I might touch upon, as touched in this saying, and that is this:–Methinks the Lord Jesus Christ doth hereby signify that men are naturally unwilling to see or take notice of their sad state, I say by nature; but though now they are willingly ignorant, yet in hell they shall lift up their eyes.That is, in hell they shall see and understand their miserable condition; and, therefore, to these words: ‘In hell he lifted up his eyes,’ he adds, ‘being in torments.’ As if he had said, though once they shut their eyes, though once they were willingly ignorant (2 Peter 3:5), yet, when they depart into hell, they shall be so miserably handled and tormented, that they shall be forced to lift up their eyes. While men live in this world, and are in a natural state, they will have a good conceit of themselves, and of their condition–they will conclude that they are Christians, thatAbraham is their father, and their state to be as good as the best (Matt 3:7-9).They will conclude they have faith, the Spirit, a good hope, and an interest in theLord Jesus Christ; but then, when they drop into hell, and lift up their eyes there, and behold first their soul to be in extreme torments; their dwelling to be the bottomless pit; their company thousands of damned souls; also the innumerable company of devils; and the hot scalding vengeance of God, not only to drop, but to fall very violently upon them; then they will begin to be awakened, who all their lifetime where in a dead sleep. I say, when this comes to pass, lo it will; then in hell they shall lift up their eyes, in the midst of torments they shall lift up their eyes.
Again, you may observe in these words, ‘And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments,’ that the time of the ungodly men’s smarting for their sins will be in the torments of hell. Now here I am put to a stand, when I consider the torments of hell into which the damned do fall. O unspeakable torments! O endless torments!Now that thy soul might be made to flee from those intolerable torments into which the damned do go, I shall show you briefly what are the torments of hell. First.By the names of it. Second. by the sad state thou wilt be in, if thou comest there.
First. The names. It is called a never-dying worm (Mark 9). It is called an oven fire, hot (Mal 4:1). It is called a furnace, a fiery-furnace (Matt 13). It is called the bottomless pit, the unquenchable fire, fire and brimstone, hell fire, the lake of fire, devouring fire, everlasting fire, eternal fire, a stream of fire (Rev 21).
(Second. By the sad state thou wilt be in, if thou comest there.)
1. One part of thy torments will be this, thou shalt have a full sight of all thy ill spent life, from first to last; though here thou canst sin today and forget it by to-morrow, yet there thou shalt be made to remember how thou didst sin againstGod at such a time, and in such a place, for such a thing, and with such a one, which will be a hell unto thee. God will ‘set them in order before thine eyes’ (Psa 51:21).
2. Thou shalt have the guilt of them all lie heavy on thy soul, not only the guilt of one or two, but the guilt of them all together, and there they shall lie in thy soul, as if thy belly were full of pitch, and set on a light fire. Here men can sometimes think on their sins with delight, but there with unspeakable torment; for that I understand to be the fire that Christ speaketh of, which shall never be quenched(Mar 9:43-49). While men live here, O how doth the guilt of one sin sometimes crush the soul! It makes a man in such plight that he is weary of his life, so that he can neither rest at home nor abroad, neither up nor in bed.(14) Nay, I do know that they have been so tormented with the guilt of one sinful thought, that they have been even at their wits’ end, and have hanged themselves. But now when thou comest into hell, and hast not only one or two, or an hundred sins, with the guilt of the mall on thy soul and body, but all the sins that ever thou didst commit since thou camest into the world, altogether clapped on thy conscience at one time, as one should clap a red hot iron to thy breasts, and there to continue to all eternity: this is miserable.
3. Again, then thou shalt have brought into thy remembrance the slighting of the gospel of Christ; here thou shalt consider how willing Christ was to come into the world to save sinners, and for what a trifle thou didst reject him. This is plainly held forth in Isaiah 28, where, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of salvation, verse 16, he saith of them that reject the gospel, that, when the overflowing scourge doth pass through the earth, which I understand to be at the end of the world, then, saith he, it shall take you morning by morning, by day and by night shall it pass over you; that is, continually, without any intermission. ‘And it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.’ ‘A vexation,’ that is, a torment, or a great part of hell only to understand the report, to understand the good tidings that came into the world by Christ’s death for poor sinners. And you will find this verily to be the mind of the Spirit, if you compare it with Isaiah 53:1, where he speaks of men’s turning their backs upon the tenders of God’s grace in the gospel, he saith,’Who hath believed our report?’ or the gospel declared by us? Now this will be a mighty torment to the ungodly, when they shall understand the goodness of God was so great that he even sent his Son out of his bosom to die for sinners, and yet that they should be so foolish as to put him off from one time to another; that they should be so foolish as to lose heaven and Christ, and eternal life in glory, for the society of a company of drunkards; that they should lose their souls for a little sport, for this world, for a strumpet, for that which is lighter than vanity and nothing;I say this will be a very great torment unto thee.
4. Another part of thy torment will be this: Thou shalt see thy friends, thy acquaintance, they neighbours; nay, it may be thy father, thy mother, thy wife, thy husband, thy children, thy brother, thy sister, with others, in the kingdom of heaven, and thyself thrust out (Luke 13:28). ‘There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham (your father), and Isaac, and Jacob, (together with your brethren), and all the prophets in the kingdom of heaven, and you yourselves thrust out.’ Nay, saith he, ‘they shall come from the east, and from the west’–that is, those that thou didst never see in all thy life before, and they shall sit down with thy friends, and thy neighbours, thy wife and thy children, in the kingdom of heaven, and thou, for thy sins and disobedience, shall be shut, nay, thrust out. O wonderful torment!
5. Again, thou shalt have none but a company of damned souls, with an innumerable company of devils, to keep company with thee. While thou art in this world, the very thoughts of the devils appearing to thee makes thy flesh to tremble, and thine hair ready to stand upright on thy head. But O! what wilt thou do, when not only the supposition of the devils appearing, but the real society of all the devils in hell will be with thee howling and roaring, screeching and roaring in such a hideous manner, that thou wilt be even at thy wits’ end, and be ready to run stark mad again for anguish and torment?
6. Again, that thou mightest be tormented to purpose, the mighty God of heaven will lay as great wrath and vengeance upon thee as ever he can, by the might of his glorious power. As I said before, thou shalt have his wrath, not by drops, but by whole showers shall it come, thunder, thunder, upon thy body and soul so fast, and so thick, that thou shalt be tormented out of measure. And so saith the Scripture (2 Thess 1:9),speaking of the wicked, ‘Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,’ when the saints shall be admiring his goodness and glory. Again, this thou shalt have, as I said before, without any intermission; thou shalt not have any ease so long as while a man may turn himself round; thou shalt have it always every hour, day and night; for their worm never dies, but always gnaws, and their fire is never quenched; as it is written in Mark 9.
7. Again, in this condition thou must be for ever, and that is as sad as all the rest. For if a man were to have all his sins laid to his charge, and communion with the devils, and as much wrath as the great God of heaven can inflict unto him; I say, if it were but for a time, even ten thousand years, and so end, there would be ground of comfort, and hopes of deliverance; but here is thy misery, this is thy state for ever, here thou must be for ever: when thou lookest about thee, and seest what an innumerable company of howling devils thou art amongst, thou shalt think this again, this is my portion for ever. When thou hast been in hell so many thousand years as there are stars in the firmament, or drops in the sea, or sands on the sea-shore, yet thou hast to lie there for ever. O this one word ever, how will it torment thy soul!
Friends, I have only given a very short touch of the torments of hell. O! I am set,I am set, and am not able to utter what my mind conceives of the torments of hell. Yet this let me say to thee, accept of God’s mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ, lest thou feel that with thy conscience which I cannot express with my tongue, and say, I am sorely tormented in this flame.
‘And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.’
When the damned are in this pitiful state, surrounded with fears, with terrors, with torment and vengeance, one thing they shall have, which is this, they shall see the happy and blessed state of God’s children. He seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom; which, as I said before, is the happy state of the saints when this life is ended. This now shall be so far from being an ease unto them, that it shall most wonderfully aggravate or heighten their torment, as I said before. There shall be weeping, or cause of lamentation, when they shall see Abraham, and Isaac, andJacob, in the kingdom of heaven, and themselves thrust out.
1. Observe, Those that die in their sins are far from going to heaven; he seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And, indeed, it is just with God to deal with them that die in their sins according to what they have done; and to make them who are far from righteousness now, to stand far from heaven to all eternity. Hearken to this, ye stout- hearted, that are far from righteousness, and that are resolved to go on in your sins, when you die you will be far from heaven; you will see Lazarus, but it will be afar off.
Again, he ‘seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.’
These are some of the things the damned do behold, so soon as they come into torment.Mark, and he ‘seeth Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom.’ Lazarus, who was he? Why even he that was so slighted, so disregarded, so undervalued by this ungodly one while he was in the world, he seeth Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom.
From whence observe, That those who live and die the enemies of the saints of God, let them be never so great, or stout, let them bear never so much sway while they are in the world, let them brag and boast never so much while they are here, they shall, in spite of their teeth, see the saints, yea, the poor saints, even the Lazaruses or the ragged ones that belong to Jesus, to be in a better condition than themselves.O! who do you think was in the best condition? who do you think saw themselves in the best condition? He that was in hell, or he that was in heaven? He that was in darkness, or he that was in light? He that was in everlasting joy, or he that was in everlasting torments? The one with God, Christ, saints, angels, the other in tormenting flames, under the curse of God’s eternal hatred, with the devils and their angels, together with an innumerable company of howling, roaring, cursing, ever-burning reprobates? Certainly, this observation will be easily proved to be true here in this world, by him that looks upon it with an understanding heart, and will clear itself to be true in the world to come, by such as shall go either to heaven or to hell.
2. The second observation from these words, ‘And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom,’ is this; they that are the persecutors of the saints of the Lord now in this world, shall see the Lord’s persecuted ones to be they that are so highly esteemed by the Lord, as to sit or to be in Abraham’s bosom, in everlasting glory, though they, the enemies to the children of God,(15) did so lightly esteem them, that they scorned to let them gather up the dog’s meat that falls under their table.This is also verified, and held forth plainly by this parable. And therefore be not grieved, O you that are the tempted, persecuted, afflicted, sighing, praying saints of the Lord, though your adversaries look upon you now with a disdainful, surly, rugged, proud, and haughty countenance, yet the time shall come when they shall spy you in Abraham’s bosom!
I might enlarge upon these things, but shall leave them to the Spirit of the Lord, which can better by ten thousand degrees enlarge them on thy heart and conscience, than I can upon a piece of paper. Therefore, leaving these to the blessing of theLord, I shall come to the next verse, and shall be brief in speaking to that also, and so pass to the rest.
Verse 24.– And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
You know I told you that verse 22 is a discovery of the departure of the godly and the ungodly out of this life; where he saith the beggar died, and the rich man also died. The 23d verse is a discovery of the proper places, both of the godly and the ungodly after death; one being in Abraham’s bosom, or in glory, the other in hell.Now this 24th verse is a discovery of part of the too late repentance of the ungodly, when they are dropped down into hell; ‘And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me.’ From these words, ‘And he cried,’ we may observe,
First. What a change the ungodly will have when they come into hell. ‘He cried.’It is like he was laughing, jesting, jeering, drinking, mocking, swearing, cursing, prating, persecuting of the godly in his prosperity, among his filthy companions.But now the case is otherwise, now he is in another frame, now his proud, stout, currish carriage, is come down; ‘And he cried.’ The laughter of the ungodly will not last always, but will be sure to end in a cry; ‘The triumphing of the wicked is short’ (Job 20:5). Consider, you must have a change either here or in hell. If you be not new creatures, regenerate persons, new-born babes, in this world, before you go hence, your note will be changed, your conditions will be changed; for if you come into hell, you must cry. O did but the singing drunkards, when they are making merry on the ale bench,(16) think on this, it would make them change their note, and cry, What shall I do? Whither shall I go when I die? But, as I said before, the devil, as he labours to get poor souls to follow their sins, so he labours also to keep the thoughts of eternal damnation out of their minds; and, indeed, these two things are so nearly linked together, that the devil cannot well get the soul to go on in sin with delight unless he can keep the thoughts of that terrible after clap out of their minds.
But let them know that it shall not always be thus with them; for if, when they depart, they drop down into eternal destruction, they shall have such a sense of their sins, and the punishment due to the same, that it shall make them to cry; ‘And he cried.’O what an alteration will there be among the ungodly when they go out of this world?It may be a fortnight, or a month before their departure, they were light, stout, surly, drinking themselves drunk, slighting God’s people, mocking at goodness, and delighting in sin, following the world, seeking after riches, faring deliciously, keeping company with the bravest; (17) but now, they are dropped down into hell, they cry. A little while ago they were painting their faces, feeding their lusts, following their whores, robbing their neighbours, telling of lies, following of plays and sports, to pass away the time; but now they are in hell, they do cry. It may be last year they heard some good sermons, were invited to receive heaven, were told their sins should be pardoned if they closed in with Jesus; but, refusing his proffers, and slighting the grace that was once tendered, they are now in hell, and do cry.
Before, they had so much time, they thought that they could not tell how to spend it, unless it were in hunting, and whoring, in dancing, and playing, and spending whole hours, yea, days, nay, weeks, in the lusts of the flesh; but when they depart into another place, and begin to lift up their eyes in hell, and consider their miserable and irrecoverable condition, they will cry.
O what a condition wilt thou fall into, when thou dost depart this world; if thou depart unconverted, and not born again, thou hadst better have been smothered the first hour thou wast born; thou hadst better have been plucked one limb from another; thou hadst better have been made a dog, a toad, a serpent, nay, any other creature in the visible world, than to die unconverted;(18) and this thou wilt find to be true, when in hell thou dost lift up thine eyes, and dost cry.
Here then, before we go any further, you may see that it is not without good ground that these words are here spoken by our Lord, that when any of the ungodly do depart into hell, they will cry. Cry, why so? 1. They will cry to think that they should be cut off from the land of the living, never more to have any footing therein. 2.They will cry to think that the gospel of Christ should be so often proffered them, and yet they are not profited by it. 3. They will cry to think that now, though they would never so willingly repent and be saved, yet they are past all recovery. 4.They will cry to think that they should be so foolish as to follow their pleasures, when others were following of Christ (Luke 13:28). 5. They will cry to think that they must be separated from God, Christ, and the kingdom of heaven, and that forever. 6. To think that their crying will now do them no good. 7. To think that, at the day of judgment, they must stand at the left hand of Christ, among an innumerable company of the damned ones. 8. They will cry to think that Lazarus, whom once they slighted, must be of them that must sit down with Christ to judge; or together withChrist, to pass a sentence of condemnation on their souls for ever and ever (1 Cor 6:2,3). 9. Cry to think that when the judgment is over, and others are taken into the everlasting kingdom of glory, then they must depart back again into that dungeon of darkness from whence they came out, to appear before the terrible tribunal. There they shall be tormented so long as eternity lasts, without the least intermission or ease.
How sayest thou, O thou wanton, proud, swearing, lying, ungodly wretch, whether this be to be slighted and made a mock at. And again tell me now, if it be not better to leave sin, and to close in with Christ Jesus, notwithstanding that reproach thou shalt meet with for so doing, than to live a little while in this world in pleasures and feeding thy lusts, in neglecting the welfare of thy soul, and refusing to be justified by Jesus; and in a moment to drop down to hell and to cry? O! consider, I say, consider betimes, and put not off the tenders of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, lest you lift up your eyes in hell, and cry for anguish of spirit.
(12) Guard, convoy, or escort. See Pilgrim’s Progress, the entrance into the celestial city.–Ed.
(13) This proverb was very probably founded upon Jeremiah 50:11: ‘Ye are grown fatas the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls.’–Ed.
(14) Bunyan is here expressing what he had most acutely felt. ‘I blessed the condition of the dog and toad, because they had no soul to perish under the everlasting weight of hell. I was broken to pieces,’ until he found refuge in Jesus. See Grace Abounding,No. 104.–Ed.
(15) The first edition has, ‘and the practice of the saints.’ This was left out in all the subsequent editions.–Ed.
(16) Ale bench, in Bunyan’s time, was very similar to a taproom; more generally the place of resort for the idle tipplers, but sometimes of refreshment to the weary traveller.–Ed.
(17) Formerly designated not only a courageous man, but his counterpart, a braggart, a bully, or a dandy. In these latter senses it is obsolete.–Ed.
(18) These feelings appear in awful reality in Grace Abounding, Nos. 87 and 104.–Ed.