Escape Hell

Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
~ Psalm 76:7, Psalm 50:22, Psalm 90:11, Isaiah 33:14, Hebrews 10:29-31

But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
~ Hebrews 10:27, Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:5

For our God is a consuming fire.
~ Hebrews 12:29

Exhortation to Escape Hell, by Jonathan Edwards. The following is an excerpt from his work, “The Eternity of Hell Torments”.

We may learn the folly and madness of the greater part of mankind in that for the sake of present, momentary gratification, they run the venture of enduring all these eternal torments. They prefer a small pleasure, a little wealth, or a little earthly honour and greatness that can last but for a moment to an escape from this punishment. If it be true that the torments of hell are eternal, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mar 8:37)…Eternal misery, though they lie every day exposed to it, is a thing neglected…And if they do take pains for a little while, they soon leave off: something else takes up their thoughts and concern.

Thus you see it among young and old. Multitudes of youth lead a careless life, taking little care about their salvation. So you may see it among persons of middle age and with many advanced in years, when they certainly draw near to the grave…How strange is it that men can enjoy themselves and be at rest when they are thus hanging over eternal burnings. At the same time…not knowing how soon the thread by which they hang will break, nor indeed do they pretend to know. And if it breaks, they are gone, they are lost forever, and there is no remedy!

I shall improve this subject in a use of exhortation to sinners to take care to escape these eternal torments. If they be eternal, one would think that would be enough to awaken your concern and excite your diligence. If the punishment be eternal, it is infinite, as we said before. Therefore, no other evil, no death, no temporary torment that you ever heard of or that you can imagine is anything in comparison with it…Therefore here,

(1) Be entreated to consider attentively how great and awful a thing eternity is…Do but consider what it is to suffer extreme torment forever and ever; to suffer it day and night, from one year to another, from one age to another, from one thousand ages to another, and so adding age to age and thousands to thousands, in pain, in wailing and lamenting, groaning and shrieking, and gnashing your teeth; with your souls full of dreadful grief and amazement, with your bodies and every member full of racking (pain) without any possibility of getting ease; without any possibility of moving God to pity by your cries; without any possibility of hiding yourselves from Him; without any possibility of diverting your thoughts from your pain; without any possibility of obtaining any manner of mitigation, help, or change for the better.

(2) Do but consider how dreadful despair will be in such torment. How dismal will it be, when you are under these racking torments, to know assuredly that you never, never shall be delivered from them; to have no hope. When you shall wish that you might be turned into nothing, but shall have no hope of it; when you shall wish that you might be turned into…a serpent, but shall have no hope of it; when you would rejoice, if you might but have any relief, after you shall have endured these torments millions of ages, but shall have no hope of it. After you shall have worn out the age of the sun, moon, and stars in your dolorous groans and lamentations, without rest day and night or one minute’s ease, yet you shall have no hope of ever being delivered. After you shall have worn a thousand more such ages, you shall have no hope, but shall know that you are not one whit nearer to the end of your torments—but that still there are the same groans, the same shrieks, the same doleful cries, incessantly to be made by you and that the smoke of your torment shall still ascend up forever and ever. Your souls, which shall have been agitated with the wrath of God all this while, will still exist to bear more wrath. Your bodies, which shall have been burning all this while in these glowing flames, shall not have been consumed but will remain to (burn) through eternity, which will not have been at all shortened by what shall have been past…The more the damned in hell think of the eternity of their torments, the more amazing will it appear to them. Alas! They will not be able to keep it out of their minds. Their tortures will not divert them from it but will fix their attention to it. O how dreadful will eternity appear to them after they shall have been thinking on it for ages together and shall have so long an experience of their torments! The damned in hell will have two infinites perpetually to amaze them and swallow them up: One is an infinite God, Whose wrath they will bear and in Whom they will behold their perfect and irreconcilable enemy. The other is the infinite duration of their torment.

A man in his present state, without any enlargement of his capacity, would have a vastly more lively impression of eternity than he has, if he were only under some pretty sharp pain in some member of his body and were at the same time assured that he must endure that pain forever. His pain would give him a greater sense of eternity than other men have. How much more will those excruciating torments that the damned will suffer have this effect!…O be entreated, ye that are in a Christless state and are going on in a way to hell, that are daily exposed to damnation, to consider these things. If you do not, it will surely be but a little while before you will experience them, and then you will know how dreadful it is to despair in hell. It may be before this year, this month, or this week is at an end, before another Sabbath or ever you shall have opportunity to hear another sermon.

(3) That you may effectually escape these dreadful and eternal torments, be entreated to flee and embrace Him Who came into the world for the very end of saving sinners from these torments. (Jesus Christ) has paid the whole debt due to the divine Law and exhausted eternal (sufferings) in temporal sufferings. What great encouragement it is—to those of you who are sensible that you are exposed to eternal punishment—that there is a Saviour provided, Who is able and Who freely (saves sinners) from that punishment in a way that is perfectly consistent with the glory of God—yea, (in a way) that is more to the glory of God than it would be if you should suffer the eternal punishment of hell. For if you should suffer that punishment, you would never pay the whole of the debt. Those who are sent to hell never will have paid the whole of the debt that they owe to God, nor indeed a part that bears any proportion to the whole…Justice therefore never can be actually satisfied in your damnation, but it is actually satisfied in Christ. Therefore, He is accepted of the Father, and all who believe are accepted and justified in Him. Therefore, believe in Him, come to Him, commit your souls to Him to be saved by Him. In Him, you shall be safe from the eternal torments of hell. Nor is that all: but through Him, you shall inherit inconceivable blessedness and glory that will be of equal duration with the torments of hell. For as at the Last Day the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, so shall the righteous, or those who trust in Christ, go into life eternal.

“As the glory of heaven cannot be fully understood until enjoyed, so the torments of hell cannot be comprehended until felt.”
—William Bates

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