Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;
~ Job 3:20
Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness. Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame? To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living. He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.
~ Psalm 119:123 Job 6:9, Jeremiah 20:18, Job 33:30, Job 33:28
And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.
~ 1 Samuel 1:10
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD, But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
~ Ecclesiastes 7:2, Ecclesiastes 7:4, Isaiah 22:12, Joel 1:14, Jonah 3:8
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
~ Luke 23:28, Luke 18:7
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
~ Hebrews 12:16
Meditations on the Miserable State of Those Not Reconciled to God in Christ, by Lewis Bayly. The following is from his work, “The Practice of Piety”.
O wretched man! Where shall I begin to describe your endless misery, who are condemned as soon as conceived; and judged to eternal death, before you were born to a temporal life! A beginning indeed, I find—but no end of your miseries. For when Adam and Eve, being created after God’s own image, and placed in Paradise, that they and their posterity might live in a blessed state of life immortal, having dominion over all earthly creatures, and only restrained from the fruit of one tree, as a sign of their subjection to the almighty Creator; though God forbade them this one small thing, under the penalty of eternal death; yet they believed the devil’s word before the word of God, making God, as much as in them lay, a liar. And so being unthankful for all the benefits which God bestowed on them, they became malcontent with their present state, as if God had dealt enviously or niggardly with them; and believed that the devil would make them partakers of far more glorious things than ever God had bestowed upon them; and in their pride they fell into high-treason against the Most High; and disdaining to be God’s subjects, they attempted blasphemously to be gods themselves, equals to God. Hence, until they repented they became like the devil; and so all their posterity, as a traitorous brood (while they remain impenitent, like you) and are subject in this life to all cursed miseries, and, in the life to come, to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Lay then aside for a while your doting vanities, and take the view with me of your doleful miseries; which duly surveyed, I doubt not but that you will conclude, that it is far better never to have been born, than not to be by grace, a practitioner of religious piety.
Consider therefore your misery:
1. In your life.
2. In your death.
3. After death.
In your life,
1. The miseries accompanying your body;
2. The miseries which deform your soul.
In your death, The miseries which shall oppress your body and soul.
After death, The miseries which overwhelm both body and soul together in hell.
I. Miseries in this present life.
A. The miseries of the body from infancy to old age.
And, first, let us take a view of those miseries which accompany the body in the four ages of life, namely infancy, youth, adulthood, and old age.
1. What were you, being an infant—but an helpless unconscious creature, having the human form—but without speech or reason? You were born with the stain of original sin, and cast naked upon the earth. What cause then have you to boast of your birth, which was pain and anguish to your mother, and to yourself the entrance into a troublesome life? The greatness of which miseries, because you could not utter in words, you did express as well as you could in weeping tears!
2. What is youth—but an untamed beast? All whose actions are rash and crude, not capable of good counsel, when it is given; and, ape-like, delighting in nothing but in toys and baubles? Therefore you no sooner began to have a little strength and discretion—but immediately you were kept under the rod, and fear of parents and masters; as if you had been born to live under the discipline of others, rather than at the disposition of your own will. No tired horse was ever more willing to be rid of his burden, than you were to get out of the servile state of this bondage—a state not worth the description.
3. What is adulthood but a sea, wherein, as waves, one trouble arises on the crest of another—the latter worse than the former? No sooner did you enter into the affairs of this world—but you were enwrapped about with a cloud of miseries. Your flesh provokes you to lust, the world allures you to pleasures, and the devil tempts you to all kinds of sins; fears of enemies affright you; lawsuits vex you; wrongs of bad neighbors oppress you; cares for wife and children consume you; and disquietness from open foes and false friends do in a manner confound you; sin stings you within; Satan lays snares before you; conscience of past sins, dog behind you.
Now adversity on the left hand frets you; anon, prosperity on your right hand flatters you! Over your head God’s vengeance due to your sin is ready to fall upon you; and under your feet, hell’s mouth is ready to swallow you up! And in this miserable estate, where will you go for rest and comfort? The house is full of cares, the field is full of toil, the country is full of crudeness, the city is full of factions, the court is full of envy, the church is full of sects, the sea is full of pirates, the land is full of robbers. Or in what state will you live, seeing wealth is envied—and poverty despised; wit is distrusted—and simplicity is derided; superstition is mocked—and religion is suspected; vice is advanced—and virtue is disgraced?
Oh, with what a body of sin are you compassed about, in this world of wickedness! What are your eyes—but windows to behold vanities? What are your ears—but flood-gates to let in the streams of iniquity? What are your senses—but matches to give fire to your lusts? What is your heart—but the anvil whereon Satan has forged the ugly shape of all lewd affections?
Are you nobly descended? You must put yourself in peril of foreign wars to get the reputation of earthly honour; oft-times hazard your life in a desperate combat to avoid the aspersion of a coward. Are you born in poverty? What pains and drudgery must you endure at home and abroad to get maintenance; and all perhaps scarcely sufficient to serve your necessity. And when, after much service and labor, a man has got something, how little certainty is there in that which is gotten? You see in daily experience, that he who was rich yesterday, is today a beggar; he that yesterday was in health, today is sick; he that yesterday was merry and laughing, has cause today to mourn and weep; he that yesterday was in favour, today is in disgrace; and he who yesterday was alive, today is dead! And you know not how soon, nor in what manner you shall die yourself! And who can enumerate the losses, crosses, griefs, disgraces, sicknesses, and calamities, which are incident to sinful man? To speak nothing of the death of friends and children, which oft-times seems to us far more bitter than present death itself.
4. What is old age—but the receptacle of all maladies? For if your lot be to draw your days to a long date, in comes old bald-headed age, stooping under dotage, with his wrinkled face, decaying teeth, and offensive breath; testy with irritability, withered with dryness, dimmed with blindness, obscured with deafness, overwhelmed with sickness, and bowed together with weakness; having no use of any sense—but of the sense of pain, which so racks every member of his body, that it never eases him of grief, until it has thrown him down to his grave.
Thus far of the miseries which accompany the body. Now of the miseries which accompany chiefly the soul in this life.
B. The miseries of the soul from infancy to old age.
The misery of your soul will more evidently appear, if you will but consider— The felicity she has lost.
The misery which she has brought upon herself by sin.
1. The felicity the soul has lost was,
First, the fruition of the image of God, whereby the soul was like God in knowledge, enabling her perfectly to understand the revealed will of God (Col. 3:10; Rom. 12:2).
Secondly, true holiness, by which she was free from all profane error.
Thirdly, righteousness, whereby she was able to incline all her natural powers. And to frame uprightly all her actions, proceeding from those powers. With the loss of this divine image, she lost the love of God, and the blessed communion which she had with Him, wherein consists her life and happiness. If the loss of earthly riches vex you so much, how should not the loss of this divine treasure perplex you much more?
2. The misery which the soul has brought upon herself by sin, consists in two things:
1. Sinfulness is an universal corruption both of the soul’s nature and actions. The soul’s nature is infected with a proneness to every sin continually (Eph. 2:3; Gen. 6:5). The mind is stuffed with vanity (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:17). The understanding is darkened with ignorance (1Cor. 2:14). The will affects nothing but vile and vain things (Phil. 2:3). The soul’s actions are evil (Rom. 3:12). Yes, this deformity is so violent, that often in the regenerate soul, the appetite will not obey the government of reason, and the will wanders after, and yields consent to sinful motions. How great, then, is the violence of the appetite and will in the reprobate soul, which still remains in her natural corruption! Hence it is that your wretched soul is so deformed with sin, defiled with lust, polluted with filthiness, outraged with passions, overgrown with vile affections, pining with envy, overcharged with gluttony, surfeited with drunkenness, boiling with revenge, transported with rage—and the glorious image of God transformed into the ugly shape of the devil (Jn. 8:44)—so far as it once “repented the Lord, that ever he made man!” Gen. 6:6.
2. From the former flows the other part of the soul’s miseries, called cursedness (Dt. 27:26; Gal. 3:10; Ps. 119:21); whereof there are two degrees:
in the fullness thereof
1. Cursedness in part is that which is inflicted upon the soul in life and death, and is common to her with the body.
2. The cursedness of the soul in life, is the wrath of God, which lies upon such a creature so far, as that all things, not only calamities—but also very blessings and graces turn to ruin (Rom. 2:4,5; Jer. 28:13; Isa. 28:13); terror of conscience drives him from God and his service, that he dares not come to his presence and ordinances (Gen. 3:8,10; 4:14; Heb. 2:15)—but is given up to the slavery of Satan, and to his own lusts and vile affections (Rom. 1:21,24,26; Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13). This is the cursedness of the soul in life. Now follow the cursedness of the soul and body in death.
II. The misery of the body and soul in death.
After that the aged man has battled with long sickness, and having endured the brunt of pain, and now expect some ease—in comes death, nature’s slaughter-man, God’s curse, and hell’s supplier—and looks the old man grim and black in the face; and neither pitying his age, nor regarding his long-endured dolours, will not be hired to refrain either for silver or gold; nay, he will not take to spare his life, skin for skin (Job 1), and all that the old man has! But death batters all the principal parts of his body, and arrests him to appear before the dreadful Judge. And as thinking that the old man will not despatch to go with him fast enough, Lord!—how many darts of calamities does he shoot through him—pains, aches, cramps, fevers, obstructions, weak heart, shortness of breath, colic, stone, etc. Oh, what a ghastly sight it is, to see him then in his bed, when death has given him his mortal wound! What a cold sweat over-runs all his body—what a trembling possesses all his members! The head hangs limp, the face waxes pale, the nose purples, the jaw-bone hangs down, the eye-strings break, the tongue falters, the breath shortens and smells foul, and at every gasp the heart-strings are ready to break asunder!
Now the miserable soul sensibly perceives her earthly body to begin to die; for as towards the dissolution of the universal frame of the great world, the sun shall be turned into darkness, the moon into blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven, the air shall be full of storms and flashing meteors, the earth shall tremble, and the sea shall roar, and men’s hearts shall fail for fear, expecting the end of such sorrowful beginnings; in like manner, towards the dissolution of man, which is his little world, his eyes, which are as the sun and moon, lose their light, and see nothing but blood- guiltiness of sin; the rest of the senses, as lesser stars, do one after another fail and fall—his mind, reason, and memory, as heavenly powers of his soul, are shaken with fearful storms of despair, and fierce flashings of hell fire—his earthly body begins to shake and tremble, and the phlegm, like an overflowing sea, roar and rattle in his throat, still expecting the woeful end of these dreadful beginnings.
While he is thus summoned to appear at the great assises of God’s judgment, behold, a quarter-sessions and jail-delivery is held within himself; where reason sits as judge, the devil puts in a bill of indictment, wherein is alleged all your evil deeds that ever you have committed, and all the good deeds that ever you have omitted, and all the curses and judgments that are due to every sin. Your own conscience shall accuse you, and your memory shall give bitter evidence, and death stands at the bar ready, as a cruel executioner, to dispatch you. If you shall thus condemn yourself, how shall you escape the just condemnation of God, who knows all your misdeeds better than yourself? (1Jn. 3:20) Gladly would you put out of your mind the remembrance of your wicked deeds that trouble you; but they flow faster into your remembrance, and they will not be put away, but cry unto you—We are your works, and we will follow you!
And while your soul is thus within, out of peace and order, your children, wife, and friends trouble you as fast, to have you put your goods in order; some crying, some craving, some pitying, some cheering; all, like flesh-flies, helping to make your sorrows more sorrowful (Lk. 12:20). Now the devils, who are come from hell to fetch away your soul, begin to appear to her; and wait, as soon as she comes forth, to take her, and carry her away. Your soul would like to stay within—but that she feels the body begin by degrees to die, and ready, like a ruinous house, to fall upon her head. Fearful she is to come forth, because of those hell-hounds which wait for her coming.
Oh, she that spent so many days and nights in vain and idle pastimes, would now give the whole world, if she had it, for one hour’s delay, that she might have space to repent, and reconcile herself unto God! But it cannot be, because her body, which joined with her in the actions of sin, is altogether now unfit to join with her in the exercise of repentance—and repentance must be of the whole man.
Now she sees that all her pleasures are gone, as if they had never been; and that but only torments remain, which never shall have an end of being. Who can sufficiently express her remorse for her sins past, her anguish for her present misery, and her terror for her torments to come?
In this extremity she looks everywhere for help, and she finds herself every way helpless. Thus in her greatest misery, desirous to hear the least word of comfort, she directs this or the like speech to her eyes—O eyes, who in times past were so quick- sighted, can you spy no comfort, nor any way how I might escape this dreadful danger? But the eye-strings are broken, they cannot see the candle that burns before them, nor discern whether it is day or night.
The soul, finding no comfort in the eyes, speaks to the ears—O ears, who were accustomed to recreate yourselves with hearing new pleasant discourses, and music’s sweetest harmony, can you hear any news or tidings of the least comfort for me? The ears are either so deaf, that they cannot hear at all, or the sense of hearing is grown so weak, that it cannot endure to hear his dearest friends speak. And why should those ears hear any tidings of joy in death, who could never abide to hear the glad tidings of the gospel in this life? The ear can minister no comfort.
Then she intimates her grief to the tongue—O tongue, who were accustomed to brag it out with the bravest, where are now your big and daring words? Now, in my greatest need, Can you speak nothing in my defence? Can you neither daunt these enemies with threatening words, nor entreat them with fair speeches? Alas! the tongue two days ago lay speechless—it cannot, in his greatest extremity, either call for a little drink, or desire a friend to take away with his finger the phlegm that is ready to choke him.
Finding here no hope of help, she speaks to the feet—Where are you, O feet, which once were so nimble in running? Can you carry me nowhere out of this dangerous place? The feet are stone-dead already—if they be not stirred, they cannot stir.
Then she directs her speech to her hands—O hands, who have been so often approved for manhood, in peace and war, and wherewith I have so often defended myself, and conquered my foes, never had I more need than now. Death looks me grim in the face, and kills me—hellish fiends wait about my bed to devour me—help now, or I perish forever. Alas! the hands are so weak, and do so tremble, that they cannot reach to the mouth a spoonful of liquid, to relieve languishing nature.
The wretched soul, seeing herself thus desolate, and altogether destitute of friends, help, and comfort, and knowing that within an hour she must be in everlasting pains, retires herself to the heart (which of all members is prime faculty), from whence she makes this doleful lamentation with herself.
O miserable coward that I am! How do the sorrows of death encompass me! How do the floods of Belial make me afraid! (2 Sam. 22:5) Now have, indeed, the snares both of the first and second death overtaken me at once. O how suddenly has death stolen upon me with insensible degrees! Like the sun, which the eye perceives not to move, though it be most swift of motion. How does death wreak on me his spite without pity! The God of mercy has utterly forsaken me; and the devil, who knows no mercy, waits to take me! How often have I been warned of this doleful day by the faithful preachers of God’s word, and I made but a jest of it! What profit have I now of all my pride, fine house, and mirthful apparel? What is become of the sweet relish of all my delicious foods? All the worldly goods which I so carefully gathered, would I now give for a good conscience, which I so carelessly neglected. And what joy remains now of all my former fleshly pleasures, wherein I placed my chief delight? Those foolish pleasures were but deceitful dreams, and now they are past like vanishing shadows! But to think of those eternal pains which I must endure for those short pleasures, distresses me as hell—before I enter into hell.
Yet justly, I confess, as I have deserved I am served; that being made after God’s image a reasonable soul, able to judge of my own estate, and having mercy so often offered, and I entreated to receive it—I neglected God’s grace, and preferred the pleasures of sin before the pious care of pleasing God; lewdly spending my short time, without considering what accounts I must make at my last end. And now all the pleasures of my life being put together, countervail not the least part of my present pains! My joys were but momentary, and gone before I could scarcely enjoy them; my miseries are eternal, and never shall know an end. O that I had spent the hours that I consumed in card-playing, dice-throwing, and other vile exercises—in reading the scriptures, in hearing sermons, in weeping for my sins, in fasting, watching, praying, and in preparing my soul—that I might have now departed in the assured hope of everlasting salvation! O that I were now to begin my life again! How would I despise the world and its vanities! How piously and purely would I lead my life! How would I frequent the church, and use the means of grace!
If Satan should offer me all the treasures, pleasures, and promotions of this world, he could never entice me to forget these terrors of this last dreadful hour. But, O corrupt carcass and loathsome carrion! How has the devil deluded us! And how have we served and deceived each other—and pulled swift damnation upon us both! Now is my case more miserable than the beast that perishes in a ditch—for I must go to answer before the judgment-seat of the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, where I shall have none to speak for me! And these wicked fiends, who are privy to all my evil deeds, will accuse me, and I cannot excuse myself; my own heart already condemns me; I must needs therefore be damned before his judgment-seat, and from thence be carried by these infernal fiends into that horrible prison of endless torments and utter darkness, where I shall never more see light, that first most excellent thing that God made.
I, who gloried heretofore in being a free man, am now enclosed in the very claws of Satan, as the trembling partridge is within the gripping talons of the ravenous falcon. Where shall I lodge tonight—and who shall be my companions? O horror to think! O grief to consider! O cursed be the day wherein I was born—let not the day wherein my mother bore me be blessed! Cursed be the man who showed my father, saying, “A child is born unto you,” and comforted him; cursed be that man because he slew me not! O that my mother’s womb might have been my grave! How is it that I came forth of the womb to endure these hellish sorrows—and that my days should thus end with eternal shame? Cursed be the day that I was first united to so vile a body! O that I had but so much favour as that I might never see you more! Our parting is bitter and doleful—but our meeting again, to receive at that dreadful day the fullness of our deserved vengeance, will be far more terrible and intolerable.
But what do I mean thus—by too late lamentation, to seek to prolong time? My last hour has come, I hear the heart-strings break! This filthy house of clay falls on my head! Here is neither hope, help, nor place of any longer abiding. And must I needs be gone, you filthy carcass? O filthy carcass! Farewell, I must leave you!
But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul will be demanded from you. Now who will get the things you’ve accumulated?” (Luke 12:20). And so all trembling, the lost soul comes forth from the body, and instantly is seized upon by infernal fiends, who carry her with violence to the bottomless lake that burns with fire and brimstone; where she is kept as a prisoner in torments until the general judgment of the great day (Rev. 21:8; Jude, verse 6; 1Pet. 3:19.)
The loathsome carcass is afterwards laid in the grave. In which action, for the most part, the dead bury the dead; that is, they who are dead in sin, bury those who are dead for sin. And thus the godless and unregenerated worldling, who made earth his paradise, his belly his God, his lust his law; as in his life he sowed vanity, so he is now dead, and reaps misery. In his prosperity he neglected to serve God—in his adversity God refuses to save him! And the devil, whom he long served, now at length pays him his wages. Detestable was his life, damnable is his death. The devil has his soul, the grave has his carcass—in which pit of corruption, den of death, and dungeon of sorrow —let us leave the miserable sinner, rotting with his mouth full of earth, his belly full of worms, and his carcass full of stench; expecting a fearful resurrection, when the body shall be reunited with the soul; that as they sinned together, so they may be eternally tormented together!
Thus far of the miseries of the soul and body is death, which is but cursedness in part —Now follows the fullness of cursedness, which is the misery of the soul and body after death.
III. The misery of a man after death, which is the fullness of cursedness.
The fullness of cursedness, when it falls upon a creature, not able to bear the brunt of it, presses him down to that bottomless deep of the endless wrath of Almighty God, which is called the damnation of hell (Lk. 8:28, & 16:23; 1Th. 1:10; Mt. 23:33). This fullness of cursedness is either particular or general.
Particular is that which, in a less measure of fullness, lights upon the soul immediately, as soon as she is separated from the body (Lk. 16:22,23; 1Pet. 3:19; Jude, verses 6,7); for in the very instant of dissolution she is in the sight and presence of God—for when she ceases to see with the organ of fleshly eyes, she sees after a spiritual manner; like Stephen, who saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at his right hand (Acts 7:5); or as a man who, being born blind, and miraculously restored to his sight, should see the sun, which he never saw before. And there, by the testimony of her own conscience, Christ, the righteous Judge, who knows all things, takes her, by his omnipresent power, to understand the doom and judgment that is due unto her sins, and what must be her eternal state. And in this manner standing in the sight of heaven, not fit, for her uncleanness, to come into heaven, she is said to stand before the throne of God. And so immediately she is carried by the evil demons, who come to fetch her with violence into hell, where she is kept, as in a prison, in everlasting pains and chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day; but not in that extremity of torments which she shall finally receive at the last day.
The general fullness of cursedness is in a greater measure of fullness which shall be inflicted upon both soul and body, when, by the mighty power of Christ, the supreme Judge of heaven and earth, the soul shall be brought out of hell, and the body out of the grave, as prisoners, to receive their dreadful doom, according to their evil deeds (2Pet. 2:9; Jude, verse 7; Rev. 11:18; Jn. 5:28,29; Rev. 20:13). How shall the reprobate, by the roaring of the sea, the quaking of the earth, the trembling of the powers of heaven (Mt. 24:29; Lk. 21:24,25), and terrors of heavenly signs—be driven, at the world’s end, to their wits’ end! Oh, what a woeful salutation will there be between the damned soul and body, at their reuniting at that terrible day!
O sink of sin, O lump of filthiness (will the soul say to her body), how am I compelled to re-enter you, not as to an habitation to rest—but as a prison, to be tormented! How do you appear in my sight, like Jephtha’s daughter, to my great torment! Would God you had perpetually rotted in the grave, that I might never have seen you again! How shall we be confounded together to hear, before God, angels, and men—laid open all those secret sins which we committed together! Have I lost heaven for the love of such a foul carrion? Are you the flesh for whose pleasures I have yielded to commit so many fornications? O filthy belly! How did I become such a fool as to make you my god! How insane was I, for momentary joys—to incur these torments of eternal pains! You rocks and mountains—why do you skip away from me—and will not fall upon me, to hide me from the face of him who comes to sit on yonder throne; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? (Rev. 6:16,17) Why tremble you thus, O earth, at the presence of the Lord—and will not open your mouth, and swallow me up, as you did Korah—that I may be seen no more?
O evil fiends! I would you might without delay tear me in pieces—on condition that you would tear me into nothingness!
But while you are thus in vain bewailing your misery, the angels (Mt. 13:41) drag you violently out of your grave to some place near the tribunal-seat of Christ; where being, as a cursed goat, separated to stand on the left hand of the Judge—Christ will pass sentence upon you (Mt. 25:33).
Within you, your own conscience (more than a thousand witnesses) shall accuse you. The devils, who tempted you to all your lewdness, shall on the one side testify with your conscience against you! And on the other side shall stand the holy saints and angels approving Christ’s justice! Behind you, an hideous noise of innumerable fellow-reprobates waiting to receive you into their company! Before you, all the world burning in flaming fire! Above you, an wrathful Judge of deserved vengeance, ready to pronounce his sentence upon you! Beneath you, the fiery and sulphurous mouth of the bottomless pit, gaping to receive you! In this woeful estate, to hide yourself will be impossible, for you would wish that the greatest rock might fall upon you! (Rev. 6:16,17). To appear before the holy Lamb will be intolerable, and yet you must stand forth, to receive with other reprobates, this sentence—”Depart from me, you cursed one, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!”
Depart from Me—there is a separation from all joy and happiness.
You cursed one—there is a black and direful exclusion from a holy God.
Into fire—there is the cruelty of pain.
Everlasting—there is the perpetuity of punishment.
Prepared for the devil and his demons—there are your infernal tormenting and tormented companions.
O terrible sentence! From which the condemned cannot escape; which being pronounced, cannot possibly be withstood; against which a man cannot deny, and from which a man can nowhere appeal—so that to the damned, nothing remains but hellish torments, which know neither ease of pain, nor end of time! From this judgment-seat you must be thrust by angels, together with all the devils and reprobates, into the bottomless lake of utter darkness, that perpetually burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8). Whereunto, as you shall be thrust, there shall be such weeping, woes, and wailing, that the cry of the company of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, when the earth swallowed them up, was nothing comparable to this howling! Nay, it will seem unto you a hell, before you go into hell—but to hear of it.
Into which lake, after that you are once plunged, you shall ever be falling down, and never meet a bottom; and in it you shall ever lament, and none shall pity you; you shall always weep for pain of the fire, and yet gnash your teeth for the extremity of cold; you shall weep to think, that your miseries are past remedy; you shall weep to think, that to repent is to no purpose; you shall weep to think, how, for the ‘shadows of short pleasures’—you have incurred these sorrows of eternal pains; you shall weep, to see how weeping itself can nothing prevail; yes, in weeping, you shall weep more tears than there is water in the sea; for the water of the sea is finite—but the weeping of a reprobate shall be infinite!
There your lascivious eyes will be afflicted with sights of ghastly spirits; your curious ears affrighted with hideous noise of devils, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth of reprobates; your dainty nose will be cloyed with noisome stench of sulphur; your delicate taste pained with intolerable hunger; your drunken throat will be parched with unquenchable thirst; your mind will be tormented to think how, for the love of pleasures, which perished before they budded—you so foolishly did lose heaven’s joys, and incur hellish pains, which last beyond eternity! Your conscience shall ever sting you like an adder, when you think how often Christ by his preachers offered the remission of sins, and the kingdom of heaven freely to you, if you would but believe and repent; and how easily you might have obtained mercy in those days; how near you were many times to have repented, and yet did allow the devil and the world to keep you still in impenitency; and how the day of mercy is now past, and will never dawn again. How shall your understanding be racked, to consider, that, for momentary riches—you have lost the eternal treasure, and exchanged heaven’s felicity for hell’s misery; where every part of your body, without intermission of pain, shall be continually tormented!
In these hellish torments you shall be forever deprived of the beatifical sight of God, wherein consists the sovereign good and life of the soul; you shall never see light, nor the least light of joy—but lie in a perpetual prison of utter darkness, where there shall be no order—but horror; where there shall be no voice—but of blasphemers and howlers; where there shall be no noise—but of tortures and tortured; where there shall be no society—but of the devil and his angels, who being tormented themselves, shall have no other ease but to wreak their fury in tormenting you; where shall be punishment without pity; misery without mercy; sorrow without support; crying without comfort; mischief without measure; torment without ease—where the worm dies not and the fire is never quenched; where the wrath of God shall seize upon the soul and body, as the flame of fire does on the brimstone. In which flame you shall ever be burning, and never consumed; ever dying, and never dead; ever roaring in the pangs of death, and never rid of those pangs, nor knowing end of your pains.
So that after you have endured them so many thousand years as there are grass on the earth, or sand on the sea shore—you are no nearer to have an end of your torments, than you were the first day that you were cast into them! Yes, so far are they from ending, that they are ever but beginning! But if, after a thousand times so many thousand years, your lost soul could but conceive a hope that her torments should have an end, this would be some comfort—to think that at length an end will come. But as oft as the mind thinks of this word never—it is as another hell in the midst of hell!
This thought shall force the damned to cry, “Woe! Woe!” as much as if they should say, not ever, not ever, O Lord, not ever, not ever torment us thus! But their conscience shall answer them as an echo, “Forever! Forever!” Hence shall arise their doleful woe, and alas forevermore!
This is that second death, the general complete fullness of all cursedness and misery, which every damned reprobate must suffer—so long as God and his saints shall enjoy bliss and felicity in heaven forevermore.
Thus far of the misery of man in his state of corruption—unless he is renewed by grace in Christ.