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brace itself to bear, but the abysses into which it must yet descend, the long tracks of misery it must yet travel, the horrid conviction it must yet so often feel that the work of destruction is only now begun, makes it feel that it is indeed in Hell.
4. But there are other modes of wretchedness which we may justly ascribe to the inhabitants of that world. The stings of conscience, the gnawings of remorse, the agitations of passion, the bitterness of recollection and sickening despair, are not the only messengers of wrath to execute the penalties of God's violated law. Satan and his angels and lost men themselves are the executors of his will. You might as well look for harmony in the abodes of maddened insanity, as among spirits infuriated by crime and anguish. If love is the harmony of heaven, enmity must make discord in hell. The wicked are selfish; no law of benevolence binds them in communities for mutual benefit, no principles of justice protect them from mutual aggression. What will not passion, unbridled and exasperated do among the miserable victims of despair? When will the hatred of such beings cease, when will their conflicts end, when will order be
restored where confusion reigns, when will the tumult and collision of mutual hostility terminate ? Who could wish a habitation, who could endure even a visit in that world of darkness, of despair, and of malevolence ?
5. But the most dreadful circumstance in the sentence of damnation has not yet been named. I mean the wrath of the Lamb. Conscious of having incurred the displeasure of a just and and merciful being, the wicked must look at themselves with shame, at each other with scorn, and to heaven with consternation. To behold the Lamb of God whom they have treated with indignity, quitting the mercy seat and assuming the throne of justice, to behold a frown where once pity sat, to hear sounds of vengeance from lips which once uttered love, and to know that by their own obduracy they have rendered this change necessary and just, closes in a most dreadful climax all that we can positively assert of their miseries. From the nature of their minds and from the characters which they sustain, it is probable that fretful, angry and vindictive passions, painful recollections, fiend-like animosities, and heart-chilling anticipations, conscious guilt, remorse and fell despair, will form part of the
degradation and anguish of destruction. By what other means the soul will be made to feel the evil of sin, and to deplore its own perversity, cannot here be ascertained. Nor could any important object be secured by a more precise and definite acquaintance with the modes of future punishment. The design of revelation is to protect the law of God from violation. We are therefore informed that its sanctions are severe. To impress this on the mind, the most terrific descriptions of the world of punishment that language affords are employed. But still they may prove to be only approximations to the truth. By means as yet unknown the anguish of the soul may be increased beyond present conception, and to a degree never expressed in words. Its distress will certainly equal whatever is implied in lying down in devouring fire and in everlasting burnings.
THE JUSTICE OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT.
ROMANS iii. 5.
Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance ?
The conclusions to which we have arrived in the preceding lectures, are asserted to be inconsistent with the justice of God. The grounds on which this opinion rests, shall be examined after some direct evidence is offered in opposition to the objection itself.
1. Eternal punishment cannot be pronounced unjust, because it is impossible to show that the wicked can be made to submit to the government of God. None will deny, that so long as they persevere in opposition to their Maker, their condemnation is perfectly equitable. It is only on the supposition that they will imbibe a better spirit, that their sentence can be considered too severe. It therefore devolves
upon the objector to prove that the sufferings of hell are disciplinary, and better adapted than any means here enjoyed to subdue the heart to the love and fear of God, and that this will actually be the effect. This he cannot do. So far as we understand the tendency of punishment, it affords no reason to expect repentance after death. The soul is never terrified into obedience. It is indeed often induced to seek security by the apprehension of danger. But though there may be a commencement of serious solicitude and inquiry in consequence of the threatenings of God against transgressors, there never was and there never can be a mind softened and subdued by fear. If a person finds himself subjected to excruciating sufferings, and involved in the fear of greater in consequence of his sins, his heart rises against God, he feels indignant that he should be so severely, and as he thinks, so injuriously treated. However powerful may be his convictions of guilt, and however real the danger may appear, it is not till he has seen the Lamb of God, that the stubbornness of his mind begins to yield. He must have a view of the love and compassion of Christ,