ETERNAL PUNISHMENT by A. W. Pink


ETERNAL PUNISHMENT
by A. W. Pink

INTRODUCTION
This time we take up our pen to write on one of the most solemn truths
taught in the Word. And ere we began we turned to the Lord and earnestly
sought that wisdom and grace which we are conscious we sorely need;
making request that we might be preserved from all error in what we shall
say, and that nothing may find a place in these pages which shall be
displeasing to that Holy One, “whose we are, and whom we serve.” O that
we may write in the spirit of One who said,
“Who knoweth the power of Thine anger, even according to Thy
fear, so is Thy wrath” (

Psalm 90:11).
The subject before us is one that needs stressing in these days. The great
majority of our pulpits are silent upon it, and the fact that it has so little
place in modern preaching is one of the signs of the times, one of the many
evidences that the Apostasy must be near at hand. It is true that there are
not a few who are praying for a world-wide Revival, but it appears to the
writer that it would be more timely, and more scriptural, for prayer to be
made to the Lord of the harvest, that He would raise up and thrust forth
laborers who would fearlessly and faithfully preach those truths which are
calculated to bring about a revival.
While it is true that all genuine revivals come from God, yet He is not
capricious in the sending of them. We are sure that God never relinquishes
His sovereign rights to own and to bless where and as He pleases. But we
also believe that here, as everywhere, there is a direct connection between
cause and effect. And a revival is the effect of a previous cause. A revival,
like a genuine conversion, is wrought of God by means of the Word—the
Word applied by the Holy Spirit, of course. Therefore, there is something
more needed (on our part) than prayer: the Word of God must have a
place, a prominent place, the prominent place. Without that there will be
no Revival, whatever excitement and activities of the emotions there may
be..3
It is the deepening conviction of the writer that what is most needed to-day
is a wide proclamation of those truths which are the least acceptable to the
flesh. What is needed to-day is a scriptural setting forth of the character of
God—His absolute sovereignty, His ineffable holiness, His inflexible
justice, His unchanging veracity. What is needed to-day is a scriptural
setting forth of the condition of the natural man—his total depravity, his
spiritual insensibility, his inveterate hostility to God, the fact that he is
“condemned already” and that the wrath of a sin-hating God is even now
abiding upon him. What is needed today is a scriptural setting forth of the
alarming danger in which sinners are—the indescribably awful doom
which awaits them, the fact that if they follow only a little further their
present course they shall most certainly suffer the due reward of their
iniquities. What is needed to-day is a scriptural setting forth of the nature
of that punishment which awaits the lost—the awfulness of it, the
hopelessness of it, the unendurableness of it, the endlessness of it. It is
because of these convictions that by pen as well as by voice we are seeking
to raise the alarm.
It may be thought that what we have said in the above paragraph stands in
need of qualification. We can imagine some of our readers saying, Such
truths as these may be needed by the lost, but surely you do not wish to be
understood as saying that these subjects ought to be pressed upon the
Lord’s people! But that is exactly what we do mean and do say. Re-read
the Epistles, dear friends, and note what place each of these subjects has in
them! It is just because these truths have been withheld so much from
public ministrations to the saints that we now find so many backboneless,
sentimental, lop-sided Christians in our assemblies. A clearer vision of the
awe-inspiring attributes of God would banish much of our levity and
irreverence. A better understanding of our depravity by nature would
humble us, and make us see our deep need of using the appointed means of
grace. A facing of the alarming danger of the sinner would cause us to
“consider our ways” and make us more diligent to make our “calling and
election sure.” A realization of the unspeakable misery which awaits the
lost (and which each of us fully merited) would immeasurably deepen our
gratitude, and bring us to thank God more fervently that we have been
snatched as brands from the burning and delivered from the wrath to come;
and too, it will make us far more earnest in our prayers as we supplicate
God on behalf of the unsaved. Moreover, scriptural and searching
addresses along these lines would, in some cases at least, lay hold of those.4
who have a form of godliness but who deny the power thereof. They
would have some effect on that vast company of professors who are “at
ease in Zion.” They would, if God were depended upon, arouse the
indifferent, and cause some who are now careless and unconcerned to cry,
“What must 1 do to be saved?” Remember that the ground must be plowed
before it is ready to be sowed: and the truths mentioned above are needed
to prepare the way for the Gospel.
Concerning the eternal punishment of the wicked there are few, it seems,
who realize the vital importance of a ringing testimony to this truth, and
fewer still who apprehend the deep seriousness of what is involved in a
denial of it. The importance of a clear witness to this doctrine may be seen
by noting what a prominent place it holds in the Word; and contrariwise,
the seriousness of denying it is evidenced by the fact that such denial is a
rejection of God’s truth. The need of giving this solemn subject a
prominent place in our witness is apparent, for it is our bounden duty to
warn sinners of their fearful peril and bid them flee from the wrath to come.
To remain silent is criminal; to substitute anything for it is to set before the
wicked a false hope. The great importance of expounding this doctrine,
freely and frequently, also appears in that, excepting the Cross of Christ,
nothing else so manifests the heinousness of sin, whereas every
modification of eternal punishment, only serves to minimize the evil of it.
We propose to deal with our present theme under the following divisions.
First, we shall examine briefly some of the leading objections brought
against the truth of eternal punishment. Second, we shall classify various
passages which treat of the destiny of the lost, showing that death seals the
sinner’s doom, that his condition is then beyond hope, that the punishment
awaiting him is interminable. Third, we shall examine those scriptures
which throw light upon the nature of the punishment which awaits the lost.
Finally, we shall seek to make a practical application of the whole subject..5
1. OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED
In taking up the objections made against the truth of eternal punishment it
would be a hopeless task were we to attempt to notice every argument
which the fertile mind of unbelief (under the control of Satan, as it is) has
devised. We shall, however, consider those of greatest weight, and those
which have received the widest acceptance among unbelievers. These we
shall classify as follows: First, deductions drawn from the Divine
perfections. Second, passages appealed to by Universalists. Third, passages
appealed to by Annihilationists. Fourth, assertions that punishment is not
penal and retributive but disciplinary and remedial.
1. DEDUCTIONS DRAWN FROM THE DIVINE PERFECTIONS.
(1) God is love, From this scriptural premise the conclusion is drawn that
He will never cast any of His creatures into endless woe. But we must
remember that the Bible also tells us that “God is light,” and between light
and darkness there can be no fellowship, Divine love is not a sentimental
passion which overrides moral distinctions. God’s love is a holy love, and
because it is such He hates all evil; yea, it is written,
“Thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (

Psalm 5:5).
Startling as it may sound, it is nevertheless a fact, that the Scriptures speak
much more frequently of God’s anger and wrath, than they do of His love
and compassion. Let any one consult Young’s or Strong’s Concordance
and they may verify this for themselves. To argue, then, that because God
is love, He will not inflict eternal torment on the wicked, is to ignore the
fact that God is light, and is to asperse His holiness.
(2) God is merciful. Man may be a sinner, and holiness may require that he
should be punished, but it is argued that Divine mercy will intervene, and if
the punishment be not entirely revoked it is imagined that the sentence will
be modified and the term of punishment be shortened. We are told that the
eternal torment of the lost cannot be harmonized with a God of mercy. But
if by the mercy of God be meant that He is too tenderhearted to apportion
such miseries to His creatures, then we might as logically reason that
seeing God’s mercy, like all His attributes, is infinite, therefore, none of
His creatures will be permitted to suffer at all. Yet this is manifestly.6
erroneous. Facts deny it. His creatures do suffer, ofttimes excruciatingly,
even in this life. Look out on the world to-day and mark the untold misery
which abounds on every hand, and then remember that, however
mysterious all this may be to us, nevertheless, it is all permitted by a
merciful God. So, too, read in the Old Testament the accounts of the
deluge, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire and brimstone
from heaven, the plagues upon Egypt, the judgments which were visited
upon Israel, and then bear in mind that these were not prevented by the
mercy of God! To reason, then, that because God is merciful He will not
cast into the Lake of Fire every one whose name is not found written in the
book of life, is to fly in the face of all God’s judgments in the past!
(3) God is just. It is often said it would be unjust for God to sentence any
of His erring creatures to eternal perdition. But who are we to pass
judgment upon the justice of the decisions of the All-Wise? Who are we to
say what is consistent or inconsistent with God’s righteousness? Who are
we to determine what shall best vindicate the Divine benevolence or
equity? Sin has so enfeebled our power of righteous judgment, so darkened
our understanding, so dulled our conscience, so perverted our wills, so
corrupted our hearts, that we are quite incompetent to decide. We are
ourselves so infected and affected by sin that we are altogether incapable of
estimating its due merits. Imagine a company of criminals passing judgment
on the equity and goodness of the law which had condemned them! The
truth of the matter is—and how often is it lost sight of!—that God is not to
be measured by human standards.
But have we realized that to deny the justice of eternal punishment is also
to repudiate the grace of God? If endless misery be unjust, then exemption
from it must be the sinner’s right, and if so, his salvation could never be
attributed to grace, which is unmerited favor! Moreover, to deny the
justice of eternal punishment is to fly in the face of Christian consciousness,
which universally witnesses to the fact that punishment, and only
punishment, is all that each of us deserves. Moreover, if the sinner has
despised and rejected eternal happiness, is there any reason why he should
complain against the justice of eternal misery? Finally, if there is an infinite
evil in sin—as there is—then infinite punishment is its due reward.
(4) God is holy. Because God is infinitely holy, He regards sin with infinite
abhorrence. From this scriptural premise it has been erroneously concluded
that, therefore, God will ultimately triumph over evil by banishing every.7
last trace of it from the universe; otherwise, it is said, His moral character
is gone. But against this sophistry we reply; God’s holiness did not prevent
sin entering His universe, and He has permitted it to remain all these
thousands of years, therefore a holy God can and does coexist with a
world of sin! To this it may be answered: There are good and sufficient
reasons why sin should be allowed now. Quite so, is our rejoinder; and who
knows what these reasons are? Conjecture we may; but who knows? God
has not told us in His Word. Who, then, is in the position to say that there
may not be eternal reasons—necessities— for the continued existence of
sin? That God will triumph over evil is most certainly true. His triumph will
be manifested by incarcerating every one of His foes in a place where they
can do no more damage, and where in their torments His holy hatred of sin
will shine for ever and ever. The Lake of Fire so far from witnessing to
Satan’s victory, will be the crowning proof of his utter defeat.
2. THE PASSAGES APPEALED TO BY UNIVERSALISTS.
Universalists may be divided, broadly, into two classes: those who teach
the ultimate salvation of every member of Adam’s race, and those who
affirm the ultimate salvation of all creatures, including the Devil, the fallen
angels, and the demons. The class of passages to which both appeal are
verses where the words “all,” “all men,” “all things,” “the world” are to be
found. The simplest way to refute their contentions on these passages is to
show that such terms are restricted usually modified by what is said in the
immediate context.
The issue raised by Universalists narrows itself down to the question of
whether “all men” and “all things” are employed, in passages which speak
of salvation, in a limited or unlimited sense. Let us, then, point to a number
of passages where these general terms occur, but where it is impossible to
give them an absolute force or meaning:
“And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of
Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan,
confessing their sins” (

Mark 1:5).
“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their
hearts of John, whether he were the Christ or not” (

Luke 3:15)..8
“And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, He that was
with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold the
same baptizeth, and all come to Him” (

John 3:26).
“And early in the morning He came again into the temple,” and “all
the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught them”
(

John 8:2).
“For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen
and heard (

Acts 22:15).
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all
men” (

2 Corinthians 3:2).
In none of the above passages has “all,” “all men,” “all the people” an
unlimited scope. In each of those passages these general terms have only a
relative meaning. In Scripture “all” is used in two ways: meaning “all
without exception” (occurring infrequently), and “all without distinction”
(its general significance), that is, all classes and kinds—old and young, men
and women, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, and in many in-stances
Jews and Gentiles, men of all nations. Very frequently the “all” has
reference to all believers, all in Christ.
What we have just said concerning the relative use and restricted meaning
of the terms “all” and “all men” applies with equal force to “all things.” In
Scripture this is another expression which often has a very limited meaning.
We give a few examples of this:
“For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is
weak, eateth herbs” (

Romans 14:2).
“For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure”
(

Romans 14:20).
“I am made all things to all, that I might by all means save some”
(

1 Corinthians 9:22).
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient”
(

1 Corinthians 10:23).
“Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall
make known to you all things” (

Ephesians 6:2 1)..9
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”
(

Philippians 4:13).
In each of these passages “all things” has a restricted force.
Another class of passages appealed to by Universalists are verses where
“the world” is mentioned. But a careful examination of every passage
where this term occurs in the New Testament will show that we are not
obliged to understand it as referring to the entire human race, because in a
number of instances it means far less. Take the following examples.
“For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven and
giveth life unto the world” (

John 6:33).
Mark that here it is not a matter of proffering “life” to the world, but of
giving “life.” Does Christ “give life”—spiritual and eternal life, for that is
what is in view—to every member of the human family?
“If thou do these things, show Thyself to the world” (

John 7:4).
Here it is plain that “the world” is an indefinite expression—show Thyself
in public, to men in general, is its obvious meaning here.
“The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how
we prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after Him”
(

John 12:19).
Did the Pharisees mean that the entire human race had “gone after” Christ?
Surely not.
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your
faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (

Romans 1:8).
Must this mean that the faith of the Roman saints was known and spoken
of by all the race of mankind? Did all men everywhere “speak” of it? Did
one man out of every ten thousand in the Roman Empire know anything
about it?
“The word of the truth of the Gospel, which is come unto you, as it
is in all the world” (

Colossians 1:5, 6).
Does “all the world” here mean, absolutely and unqualifiedly, all mankind?
Had all men everywhere heard the Gospel? Surely the meaning of this
verse is, that the Gospel, instead of being confined to the land of Judea and.10
the lost sheep of the house of Israel, had gone forth abroad without
restraint, into many places.
“And all the world wondered after the beast” (

Revelation 13:3).
That the reference here cannot be to all men without exception we know
from other scriptures.
It will be seen, then, from the passages cited above that there is nothing in
the words themselves which compel us to give an unlimited meaning to “all
men,” “all things,” “the world.” Therefore when we insist that “the world”
which is saved, and the “all men” who are redeemed, are the world of
believers and the all men who receive Christ as their personal Saviour,
instead of interpreting the Scriptures to suit ourselves we are explaining
them in strict harmony with other passages. On the other hand, to give to
these terms unlimited scope and to make them mean all without exception
is to interpret them in a way which manifestly clashes with the many
passages which plainly teach there are those who will be finally lost.
One other remark may be made upon Universalism before turning to our
next sub-division, and that is, the very fact that Universalism is so popular
with the wicked, is proof irresistible, that it is not the system taught in the
Bible.

1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us
“the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for
they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because
they are spiritually discerned.”
That the natural man does receive the teaching that every one will
ultimately be saved, is a sure sign it does not belong to “the things of the
Spirit of God.” The wicked hate the light, but love the darkness; hence,
while they deem as “foolishness” the truth of God and reject it, they esteem
as reasonable the Devil’s lies, and greedily devour them.
3. PASSAGES APPEALED TO BY THE ANNIHILATIONISTS.
Truth is one: consistent: eternally unchanged. Error is hydra-headed,
inconsistent and contradictory, ever wavering in its forms. So determined
are men to persuade themselves that the eternal punishment of the wicked
is a myth, the enmity of the carnal mind has devised a variety of ways of
ridding themselves of this truth which is so hateful to them..11
“God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many
inventions” (

Ecclesiastes 7:29).
One of these inventions is the theory that at death the wicked pass into
oblivion, and that after their resurrection and judgment at the Great White
Throne, they are annihilated in the Lake of Fire. Incredible as this view
appears, nevertheless it has had and still has many advocates and adherents;
and what is even more unthinkable, the Word of God is appealed to in
support of it. It is because of this that we make a brief notice of it here.
The first class of passages to which they appeal are verses where “death” is
mentioned. Death is regarded in the most absolute sense. Death they take
to mean the passing from existence into non-existence; an utter extinction
of being. Death is applied to the soul as well as the body. How, then, is this
error to be met? We answer, By an appeal to God’s Word. The meaning of
a word is to be defined not from its derivation, not from its employment by
heathen writers, not from the definition supplied by a standard English
dictionary, nor from the lexicons, but from its usage in the Holy
Scriptures. What, then, does death mean as used by the Holy Spirit?
Let us turn first to

1 Corinthians 15:36:
“Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.”
Here is the Holy Spirit’s illustration and type of the death and resurrection
of a believer. Now, does the living germ in the seed sown become extinct
before it brings forth fruit? Surely not. There is a decaying, of course, of its
outer shell—and therein lies the analogy with the death of man—but the
living germ within dies not, otherwise there could be no harvest. Death,
then, according to this illustration of the Holy Spirit is not annihilation. The
same illustration was used by our Lord. Said He,
“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth
alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (

John 12:24).
The stalk and ear of corn in harvest time are but the life-germ fully
developed. So it is with man. The body dies; the soul lives on. Note how
this comes out, unmistakably, in the Saviour’s words as recorded in

Matthew 10:28:.12
“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.”
The “soul” man is unable to kill! But God is able—and mark carefully the
distinction—”to destroy (not kill) both soul and body in hell.” As the word
“destroy” is another word misused and erroneously defined by the
Annihilationists, a few words must be said upon it.
As used in Scripture the words “destroy,” “destruction,” “perish” etc.
never signify cessation of existence. In

Matthew 10:7 one of the
principal Greek words for “destroyed” is rendered “the lost sheep of the
house of Israel.” Those Israelites had not ceased to be, but were away from
God! In

Mark 2:22 the same word is translated “marred” in connection
with “bottles” of skins which the new wine burst. So, too, the word
“perish” never signifies annihilation in Scripture. In

2 Peter 3:6 we read,
“The world” that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” The
“world” that perished, whether the reference be to the pre-Adamic earth or
the world destroyed by the Flood, was not reduced to nothing. When, then,
Scripture speaks of the wicked as perishing and as being destroyed, it is in
order to expose the error of those who assert that they have a gospel for
those who die unsaved, That the wicked have “perished” excludes all hope
of their subsequent salvation.

1 Timothy 5:6 tells us there is a living-death
even now—“She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth”—so
will there be in eternity.
The absurdity and unscripturalness of Annihilationism are easily exposed. If
at death the sinner passes out of existence, why resurrect him in order to
annihilate him again? Scripture speaks of the “punishment” and “torment”
of the wicked; but any one can see that annihilation is not these! If
annihilation were all that awaits the wicked, they would never know that
they had received their just deserts and the “due reward” of their iniquities!
Scripture speaks of degrees of punishment for the lost; but annihilation
would make this impossible; annihilation would level all distinctions and
ignore all degrees of guilt. In

Isaiah 33:14 we are told,
“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us
shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
So far from sinners being annihilated they shall dwell with the devouring
fire! Scripture speaks again and again of the “wailing and gnashing of.13
teeth” of those who are cast into hell, and this, at once, gives the lie to
those who affirm extinction of being.
4. THE THEORY THAT THE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED IS
DISCIPLINARY AND REMEDIAL.
There are those who allow that the wicked will be cast into hell, and yet
they insist that the punishment is corrective rather than retributive. A sort
of Protestant Purgatory is invented, the fires of which are to be purifying
rather than penal. Such a conception is grossly dishonoring to God. Some
who hold this view make a great pretense of honoring Christ, yet in reality
they greatly dishonor Him. If men who died rejecting the Saviour are yet to
be saved, if the fires of hell are to do for men what the blood of the Cross
failed to effect, then why was the Divine Sacrifice needed at all—all might
have been saved by the disciplinary sufferings of hell, and so God could
have spared His Son. Again; if God compassionates His enemies and
cherishes nothing but gracious designs of infinite pity toward those who
have despised and rejected His Son, we may well ask, Then why does He
take such dreadful measures with them? If loving discipline be all that they
need, cannot Divine wisdom devise some gentler measure than consigning
them to the “torment” of the Lake of Fire for “the ages of the ages?” This
is an insuperable difficulty in the way of the theory we are now refuting.
But once we see that the Lake of Fire is the place of punishment, not
discipline, and that it is Divine wrath and not love that casts the reprobate
into it, then the difficulty entirely disappears.
Utterly inconsistent though it be, there are those who argue that the fires of
hell owe their disciplinary efficacy to the blood of Christ. These enemies of
the truth have been well answered by Sir Robert Anderson: “Such
punishment, therefore, must be the penalty due to their sins; else it were
unrighteous to impose it. If, then, the lost are ultimately to be saved, it
must be either because they shall have satisfied the penalty; or else through
redemption—that is, because Christ has borne that penalty for them. But if
sinners can be saved by satisfying Divine justice in enduring the penalty due
to sin, Christ need not have died. If, on the other hand, the redeemed may
yet be doomed, though ordained to eternal life in Christ, themselves to
endure the penalty for sin, the foundations of our faith are destroyed. It is
not, I repeat, the providential or disciplinary, but the penal consequences
of sin, which follow the judgment. We can therefore understand how the
sinner may escape his doom through his debt being paid vicariously, or we.14
can (in theory, at all events) admit that he may be discharged on payment
personally of “the uttermost farthing;” but that the sinner should be made
to pay a portion of his debt, and then released because someone else had
paid the whole before he was remitted to punishment at all—this is
absolutely inconsistent with both righteousness and grace” (“Human
Destiny”).
Again; if it be true that the damned in the Lake of Fire are still the objects
of Divine benevolence; that as the creatures of His hand, the Lord still
looks upon them with the most benign regard, and the unquenchable fire is
nothing more than a rod in the hand of a wise and loving Father, we ask,
How can this be harmonized with the manner in which Scripture uniformly
speaks of unbelievers? God has not left us in ignorance of how He regards
those who have openly and persistently defied Him. Again and again the
Bible makes known to us the solemn fact that God looks upon the wicked
as cumberers of the earth, as repugnant to Him. They are represented as
“dross” not gold (

Psalm 119:119); as worthless “chaff (

Matthew
3:12); as “vipers” (

Matthew 12:34); as “vessels unto dishonor” and
“vessels of wrath” (

Romans 9:21, 22); as those who are to be made the
Lord’s footstool (

1 Corinthians 15:2 7) as “trees whose fruit withereth,
without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots” (Jude 12) and therefore
fit for nothing but the fire; as those who will be “spued out of the Lord’s
mouth” (

Revelation 3:16), that is, as objects of revulsion. Some of
these passages describe Jewish reprobates, others sinners of the Gentiles;
some refer to those who lived in a by-gone dispensation, others belong to
the present; some speak of men this side of the grave, some of those on the
other side. One purpose in calling attention to them is to show how God
regards his enemies. The estimate expressed in the above passages (and
they might easily be multiplied) cannot be harmonized with the view that
God still looks upon them in love and entertains only the most tender
regards for them.
Another class of passages may be referred to in this connection.
“For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live forever. If I whet
My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will
render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate
Me. I will make Mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall
devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the.15
captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy”
(

Deuteronomy 32:40-42).
Can this be made to square with the theory that God has naught but
compassion toward those who have despised and defied Him?
“Because I have called, and ye have refused; I have stretched out
My hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all My
counsel, and would none of My reproof; I also will laugh at your
calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear
cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind;
when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call
upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they
shall not find Me” (

Proverbs 1:24-28).
Is this the language of One who still has designs of mercy toward His
enemies?
“I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was
none with Me; for I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample
them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My
garments, and I will stain all My raiment” (

Isaiah 63:3).
Weigh this carefully, and then ask if such treatment is meted out toward
those unto whom the Lord cherishes nought but compassion.
Should it be said, Each of these passages is from the Old Testament, it
would be sufficient to say, True, but it is the same God as the New
Testament reveals that is there speaking. But consider one verse from the
New Testament also. The Christ of God is yet going to say to men,
“Depart from Me, ye cursed into everlasting fire”
(

Matthew 25:41).
Is it thinkable that the Son of God would pronounce this awful malediction
upon those who are merely appointed to a season of disciplinary
chastisement, after which they will be forever with him in perfect bliss!
Thus we have sought to show that the various objections brought against
eternal punishment will not stand the test of Holy Writ; that, though often
presented in a plausible form, and with the avowed intention of vindicating
the Divine character. yet, in reality, they are nothing more than the
reasonings of that carnal mind which is enmity against God..16
Having disposed of the principal objections brought against the truth of
Eternal Punishment, we now turn to consider:.17
2. THE DESTINY OF THE WICKED
There is deep need for us to approach this solemn subject impartially and
dispassionately. Let writer and reader cry earnestly to God that all
prejudices and preconceptions may be removed from our minds. It ill
becomes us to sit at the feet of Infinite Wisdom determined to hold fast to
our foregone conclusions. Nothing can be more insulting to God than to
presume to examine His Word, professing a desire to learn His mind, when
we have already settled to our own satisfaction what it will say. Some one
has said that we ought to bring our minds to the Scriptures as blank paper
is brought to the printing press, that it may receive only the impress of the
type. May such grace be vouchsafed to us all that we may ever present our
minds to the Holy Spirit’s teaching that only the impress may be left which
God has designed. May our only desire be to hear “What saith the Lord?”
1. THE CERTAINTY OF THEIR JUDGMENT.
It is written
“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”
(

Hebrews 9:2 7).
This is one of the many verses which refute the errors of the
Annihilationists, who make the judgment of the sinner to be, itself, death.
But here death and judgment are clearly distinguished. The one follows the
other.
The fact of a future judgment for sinners is established by numerous
passages. In

Ecclesiastes 11:9 we read,
“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in
the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in
the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God
will bring thee into judgment.”
Again, in

Ecclesiastes 12:14, we are told, For God shall bring every
work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or
whether it be evil.” The New Testament witnesses to the same truth:.18
“He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in
righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained” (

Acts
17:31).
The judgment itself is described in

Revelation 20:11-15.
Of the certainty of this coming judgment we are left in no doubt—
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,
and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished”
(

2 Peter 2:9).
It will be impossible for the sinner to evade it. Escape there will be none
“How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (

Matthew 23:33).
Resistance, individually or collectively, will be futile—
“Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished”
(

Proverbs 11:2 1).
No confederacy of His foes shall hinder God from taking vengeance upon
them.
2. DEATH SEALS THE SINNER’S FATE.
Scripture teaches plainly that man’s opportunity for salvation is limited to
the period of his earthly life. If he dies unsaved his fate is sealed inexorably.
There are two passages in the New Testament most generally relied upon
by those who affirm that there is for the lost a hope beyond death. These
are both found in the 1st Epistle of Peter. A brief notice then shall be taken
of them.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust,
that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but
quickened by the Spirit: By which also He went and preached unto
the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once
the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark
was a preparing” (

Genesis 3:18-20).
But these verses make no reference whatever to any preaching heard by
those who had already passed out of this life. They simply tell us that the
Spirit of God preached through Noah, while the ark was being built, to
those who were disobedient; and because they refused to respond to that.19
preaching they are now “spirits in prison.” It was not Christ Himself who
“preached,” but the Holy Spirit, as is plain from the opening words of v.
19—“By which also:” the “by which” points back to “the Spirit” at the end
of v. 18. That the Holy Spirit did address Himself to the antediluvians we
know from

Genesis 6:3—“My Spirit shall not always strive with man.”
The Spirit strove through Noah’s preaching. That Noah was a “preacher”
we learn from

2 Peter 2:5.
The second passage is found in

1 Peter 4:6, “For this cause was the
Gospel preached also to them that are dead.” But this need not detain us.
The Gospel was preached, not is now being preached, or, will again be
preached to them! That such passages as these are appealed to only serves
to show how untenable and impossible is the contention they are supposed
to support.
That death seals the doom of the lost, we may prove negatively by the
fact—and this is conclusive of itself—that we have not a single instance
described in either the Old Testament or the New of a sinner being saved
after death. Nor is there a single passage which holds out any promise of
this in the future. But there are passages which contain positive teaching to
the contrary. Several of these are now submitted.
We turn first to

Proverbs 29:1:
“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly
be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
This is so explicit and unequivocal it needs no words of ours either to
expound or enforce it. Once the rebellious sinner is “cut off” he is “without
remedy.” Nothing could be clearer: at death his doom is sealed.
Again, in

Matthew 9:6 we read,
“But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to
forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy) Arise, take up
thy bed, and go unto thine house.”
Why did not the Lord simply say, “The Son of Man hath power to forgive
sins,” and then stop? That would have been sufficient reply to His critics.
The only reason that we can suggest why the Saviour should have added
the qualifying words—”The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive
sins—was because He would give us to understand that after a sinner.20
leaves the “earth” the Son of Man (Christ in His mediatonal character) has
not the “power” (or “authority” as exousia really means) to forgive sins!
A similar instance to the above is found in

John 12:25: “He that loveth
his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it
unto life eternal.” Notice that the antithesis would be complete without the
restricting words “in this world”
—“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life shall keep
it unto life eternal.” Again, we say, that the only reason we can see why
Christ added the qualifying clause, “He that hateth his life in this world
shall keep it unto life eternal” was in order to show that destiny is fixed
once we leave this world.
In

2 Corinthians 5:10, which speaks of believers, we have another
example of this careful employment of qualifying language: “We must all
appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the
things done in his body.” The saints are to be dealt with not merely
according to what they have done, but that they may receive “the things
done in the body.” What they have done after they left the body and prior
to the resurrection is not taken into account.
In

John 8:21 it is recorded how that Christ said to His enemies,
“I go My way, and ye shall seek Me, and shall die in your sins;
whither I go, ye cannot come.”
Observe carefully the order of the last two clauses. Once they died in their
sins, it was impossible for them to go to heaven. The solemn force of this
verse comes out even more clearly if we contrast with it

John 13:36:
“Simon Peter said unto Him, Lord, whither goest Thou? Jesus
answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but
thou shalt follow Me afterwards.”
Mark the absence of the qualifying “now” in

John 8:21. To Peter it was
said, as to a representative saint, “Thou shalt follow Me (to heaven)
afterwards;” but to the wicked, Christ declared, “Whither I go, ye cannot
come!”.21
3. WHAT AWAITS THE SINNER AT DEATH
We naturally turn for light on this to the teaching of the Lord, for more
was said through Him than through any other concerning the future of the
wicked. Nor shall we turn in vain to the record of His words. In Luke 16
we find Him drawing aside the veil which hides from us what lies beyond
death. He tells us of a rich man who died “and was buried” (v. 22). But he
had not ceased to exist. So far from it, the Lord went on to say, “And in
hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments.” That Christ was here describing
the actual experience of this rich man after death there is no good reason to
doubt; to say otherwise, is to be guilty of blasphemously charging the Son
of God with using language which He knew would mislead countless
numbers of those who later would read the record of His words. No one
who comes to this passage with an unprejudiced mind would ever suppose
that it gave anything else than a plain and simple picture of what befalls the
wicked after death. It is only those who have previously arrived at the
foregone conclusion that there is no torment for the unbeliever after death,
who approach this passage determined to explain away its obvious
meaning, who rule out of it what is there and read into it what is not there.
“In Hades he lift up his eyes, being in torments.” The Greek word here
translated hell is “Hades,” which is a generic term for the unseen world,
into which the souls of all pass at death. No doubt it is due to the fact that
the souls of saints as well as sinners are represented as entering Sheol at
death that caused the translators to render it “grave” in many instances.
But the fact that in both the Hebrew and the Greek there is an entirely
different word used for “grave” ought to have prevented such a mistake.
The Holy Spirit has carefully preserved the distinction between the two
terms throughout. A careful examination of every passage in the Old and
New Testaments where these words occur will show that many things are
said of the grave” (Hebrews “queber”; Gk. “mnemeion”) which could
never be said of “Sheol” or “Hades;” and many things are said of the latter
which are never predicated of the former. For example: both the Hebrew
and Greek words for “grave” occur in the plural again and again; Sheol
and Hades never do so. The Hebrew and Greek words for “grave” are
frequently referred to as the possession of individuals—“My grave”
(

Genesis 50:5); “grave of Abner” (

2 Samuel 3:32); “His own
(Joseph’s) new tomb” (

Matthew 27:60); “The sepulchers of the
righteous” (

Matthew 23:29); etc. In

Genesis 50:5 we read, “In my
grave which I have digged for me;” of “mnemeion” we read,.22
“And he laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the
rock” (

Matthew 27:60).
Sheol and Hades are never so referred to. The body enters “queber” and
mnemion,” but it is never said to enter Sheol or Hades. Sufficient has been
said to demonstrate that Sheol or Hades is not the grave. We may,
therefore, confidently affirm that neither Sheol or Hades should ever be
rendered “grave” or “the grave.”
Hades refers to the same place as Sheol. Their identification is
unequivocally established by a comparison of

Psalm 16:10 with

Acts
2:27; “Thou wilt not leave My soul in Sheol” (

Psalm 16:10), is “Thou
shalt not leave My soul in Hades” in

Acts 2:27. But it is important to
bear in mind that Sheol or Hades had two compartments, reserved
respectively for the saved and the lost. And “between” these two, our Lord
tells us there is “a great gulf fixed” (

Luke 16:26). The compartment we
are now considering is that which receives the souls of the wicked. In this,
Christ declares, is a “flame” which torments. This is in perfect harmony
with the teaching of the Old Testament concerning Sheol. In

Deuteronomy 33:22 we read, “For a fire is kindled in Mine anger, and
shall burn unto the lowest Sheol.” Again; in the parable of the tares our
Lord said,
“I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and
bind them in bundles to burn them” (

Matthew 13:30).
The explanation of this is found in vv. 40-42 of the same chapter: “As
therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the
end of this age. The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall
gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do
iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing
and gnashing of teeth.” As this takes place at the end of this age and before
the judgment begins, the “furnace of fire” must refer to Hades rather than
the Lake of Fire.
Returning then to the teaching of Luke 16 concerning the experience of the
wicked immediately after death, we read, “And in hell he lift up his eyes,
being in torments.” Here we have a sentient being, a conscious person, in a
definite place; suffering there excruciatingly. He was in “torments.” So
great was his anguish he begged that one might “dip the tip of his finger in
water and cool my tongue” (v. 24). But such alleviation was denied him..23
He was bidden to “remember” how he had lived—a worshipper of
Mammon. Such, we are assured, will be the doom of every one that dies in
his sins.
4. THE UTTER HOPELESSNESS OF THE LOST.
Thus far we have seen, first, that the judgment of the wicked is certain;
second, that death seals their doom; third, that at death the souls of
unbelievers go to Hades, into that compartment of the unseen world
reserved for the lost, there to be tormented in the flame. There they remain
until the judgment, when they shall be resurrected and brought before the
Great White Throne to receive their final sentence. We, therefore, devote a
separate section to show that after the wicked are brought out of Hades
there is even then, no hope whatever of their salvation.
The first scripture we appeal to in proof of this is

John 5:29:
“All that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come
forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and
they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
This is the solemn announcement of the Son of God. Let His words be well
weighed. Here He tells us briefly, what awaits the sum total of the dead.
They are divided into two classes: they that have done good, and they that
have done evil. For the one there is the “resurrection of life;” for the other
the resurrection of damnation.” For evil-doers there is no resurrection of
probation, and no resurrection of salvation; but simply and solely the
resurrection of damnation. How this removes the very foundation on
which any might desire to build a future hope for the wicked!
In

1 Thessalonians 4:13 we read,
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning
them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which
have no hope.”
Here the apostle draws a contrast between the Christian grieving over the
death of believing loved ones, and the heathen who mourned the loss of
their dear ones. The Christian may sorrow over the departure of a saved
relative or friend, but he can also comfort himself with the blessed hope
presented to him in the Scriptures, the hope of being re-united at the
coming of the Lord. This hope the heathen, and the unsaved in.24
Christendom who mourn the loss of unsaved friends, have not. Yea, they
have “no hope.” This is not weakened at all by the fact that in

Ephesians 2:12, 13 we read of those once “without hope” who had
nevertheless, been “made nigh by the blood of Christ.” The Ephesian
scripture speaks of those alive in the world, and while here there is always
a hope they may be saved; though while they remain unsaved they are
“without hope,” that is, without any scripturally-warranted hope. But the
Thessalonian passage speaks of those who have passed out of this world
unsaved, and for them there is “no hope.” Whatever vain hopes the wicked
may now cherish in the day to come, the very “expectation of the wicked
shall perish” (

Proverbs 10:28)!
Another scripture which proves the hopeless state of those who have
rejected God’s truth is to be found in

Hebrews 10:26-29:
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of
the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain
fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall
devour the adversaries, He that despised Moses’ law died without
mercy under two or three witnesses: 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 our present purpose we need not stop to consider of whom this
passage is specifically speaking. Sufficient to know that it treats of those
who have wilfully resisted the light. For these we are told “there remaineth
no more sacrifice for sins.” If there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
then they must themselves suffer the Divine penalty for them. What that
penalty is this same passage tells us; it is “fiery indignation” which shall
devour them. It is a judgment “without mercy.” It is a “punishment” sorer
than that which befell him that despised Moses’ law.
“For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no
mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (

James 2:13).
It is true that the apostle is here writing to saints, but in the verse we have
just quoted there is a noticeable change in his language, and here he is
obviously speaking of the unsaved, In the previous verse he had said “Ye,”
but now he changes to “he.” He that hath showed no mercy (to his fellow-.25
men) shall have “judgment without mercy” from God; and this, in spite of
the fact that “mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” The last clause is plainly
for the purpose of adding solemnity to what precedes. Judgment “without
mercy” is language which looks back to

Isaiah 27:11, where we read,
“It is a people of no understanding: therefore He that made them will not
have mercy on them, and He that formed them will show them no favor.”
If, then, this judgment is “without mercy” how it closes the door against all
possibility of a final reprieve, or even a modification of the dread sentence!
And how it exposes the baselessness of that hope which is cherished by
many, viz., that in the last great Day they think to cast themselves upon the
mercy of that One whom they now despise and defy! Vain will it be to cry
for mercy then. Of old God said to Israel, “Therefore will I also deal in
fury: Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry
in Mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.” So it will be at
the last Judgment. One other scripture may be considered in this
connection:
“Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering
stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever”
(

Jude 13).
Unspeakably solemn is this. This verse is referring to the future portion of
those who now turn “the grace of our God into lasciviousness” and deny
“the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Unto them is
reserved “the blackness of darkness forever.” The endless night of their
doom shall never be relieved by a single star of hope. Thus have we sought
to show that the Word of God by a variety of expressions, each of which is
unambiguous and conclusive, reveals the utter hopelessness of those taking
part in “the resurrection of damnation.” We shall next consider:
5. THE LAST ABODE OF THE LOST.
This is given at least two different names in the New Testament:
“Gehenna” and “Lake of Fire.” Let us now examine the teaching of
Scripture concerning them.
First, “Gehenna” is the Grecianized form of the Hebrew for “valley of
Hinnom,” which was a deep gorge on the east of Jerusalem. This valley of
Hinnom was first used in connection with idolatrous rites (

2 Chronicles
28:3). Later it became a burial ground (

Jeremiah 7:31), or more
probably a crematorium. Still later it became the place where the garbage.26
of Jerusalem was thrown and burned (Josephus). Its fires were kept
constantly alight so as to consume the filth and rubbish deposited therein.
Second, this valley of Hinnom foreshadowed the great garbage-receptacle
of the universe—Hell, just as other places and persons in the Old
Testament Scriptures adumbrated other objects more vile—for example,
the “king of Tyre” in Ezekiel 28. Just as what is there said of this king has
in view one more sinister than he, so what is said of the valley of Hinnom
symbolized that which was far more awful. We can no more limit Gehenna
to the valley outside of Jerusalem than we can restrict “the king of Tyre” to
a mere man of the past.
Third, the valley of Hinnom our Lord used as an emblem of Hell, and
stamped with the hall-mark of His authority the wider and more solemn
scope of the word. It should be carefully noted that when speaking of
Gehenna He never referred to the mere literal valley outside of Jerusalem,
but employed it to designate the place of eternal torments.
Fourth, Gehenna, in its New Testament usage, refers to a place.
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee:
for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish.
and not that thy whole body should be cast into Gehenna”
(

Matthew 5:29. See also

Matthew 18:9).
Fifth. the fire of Gehenna is eternal. “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it
off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to
go into Gehenna, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their
worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (

Mark 9:43, 44).
Sixth, Gehenna is the place in which both soul and body are destroyed.
“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 Gehenna” (

Matthew 19:28).
This passage is most important, for more than any other it enables us to
gather the real scope of this term. The fact that the “soul” as well as the
body is destroyed there, is proof positive that our Lord was not referring to
the valley of Hinnom. So, too, the fact that the “body” is destroyed there,
makes it certain that “Gehenna”is not another name for “Hades.” In
pondering this solemn verse we should remember that “destroy” does not.27
mean to annihilate. Some have raised a quibble over the fact that Christ did
not here expressly say that God would “destroy both soul and body in
hell,” but merely said “Fear Him which is able to. “ This admits of a simple
and conclusive reply. Surely it is apparent on the surface that Christ is not
here predicating of God a power which none can deny, but which,
notwithstanding, He will never exert! He was not simply affirming the
omnipotence of God, but uttering a solemn threat which will yet be
executed. That such was His meaning is established beyond the shadow of
doubt when we compare

Matthew 10:28 with the parallel passage in

Luke 12:5:
“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.”
This threat we know will be fulfilled.
Seventh, Gehenna is identical with the Lake of Fire. There are four things
which indicate this, and taken together they constitute a cumulative but
clear proof.
First, the fact that in Gehenna God “destroys” both soul and body
(

Matthew 10:28). This shows the wicked who are there destroyed
have already received their resurrection bodies.
Second, the fact that the fire of Gehenna is eternal: it will “never be
quenched” (

Mark 9:43).
This is nowhere said of the fires of sheol or hades. Third, in

Isaiah
30:33 we learn that “Tophet” is ordained for “the king”—it is “the king” of

Daniel 11:36, that is the Antichrist, “the Assyrian” of

Isaiah 30:30.
Now “Tophet” is another name for the valley of Hinnom, as may be seen
by a reference to

Jeremiah 7:31, 32. In

Revelation 19:20 we are told
that the Beast (the Antichrist) together with the False Prophet will be “cast
alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Thus by comparing

Isaiah 30:33 with

Revelation 19:20 we learn that Gehenna and the
Lake of Fire are one and the same. Finally, notice the absence of
“Gehenna” in

Revelation 20:14, “And death and hades were cast into
the lake of fire.” The meaning of this is the people whom death and hades
had seized —“death” capturing the body; “hades” claiming the soul. That
the casting of “death and hades” into the Lake of Fire refer to their
captives is clear from the concluding words of the verse —“This is the.28
second death,” i.e. for their victims. Note then that we are not told that
“Gehenna” was cast into the Lake of Fire because Gehenna and the Lake
of Fire and one and the same place.
We shall now offer a few remarks upon the Lake of fire and brimstone.
The following analysis indicates the teaching of Scripture concerning it.
First, it is the place which finally receives the Beast and the False Prophet:

Revelation 19:20.
Second, it is the place which finally receives the Devil:

Revelation
20:10.
Third, it is the place which finally receives all whose names are not found
written in the book of life:

Revelation 20:15 and cf. 21:8.
Fourth, it is a place of “torment;”

Revelation 20:10.
Fifth, it is a place whose torment is ceaseless and interminable, “day and
night for ever and ever:”

Revelation 20:10 and cf. 14:11.
Sixth, it is also termed “The Second Death:”

Revelation 20:14; 21:8,
etc.
Seventh, it has “no power” on the people of God:

Revelation 20:6 and
cf. 2:11.
In the sixth item above we have pointed out that the Lake of Fire is also
denominated “The Second Death.” At least three reasons may be suggested
for this.
First, this designation intimates that the endless torments of the Lake
of Fire are the penalty and wages of sin. “The wages of sin is death.”
Second, the use of this appellation calls attention to the fact that all
who are cast into the Lake of Fire will be eternally separated from
God. As the first death is the separation of the soul from the body, so
the second death will be the eternal separation of the soul from God—
“Punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the
Lord” (

2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Third, such a title emphasizes the dreadfulness of the Lake of Fire. To
the normal man death is the object he fears above all others. It is that.29
from which he naturally shrinks, It is that which he most dreads. When,
then, the Holy Spirit designates the Lake of Fire the “Second Death”
He is emphasizing the fact that it is an object of horror from which the
sinner should flee.
6. THE ETERNALITY OF THE SUFFERINGS OF THE LOST.
Upon this point the language of Scripture is most explicit. In

Matthew
25:41 we read of “everlasting fire.” In

Matthew 25:46 of “everlasting
punishment.” In

Mark 6:29 of “eternal damnation.” And in

2
Thessalonians 1:9 of “everlasting destruction.” We are aware that the
enemies of God’s truth have sought to tamper with this word rendered
everlasting and eternal. But their efforts have been entirely futile. The
impossibility of rendering the Greek word by any other English equivalent
appears from the following evidence:
The Greek word is “aionios” and its meaning and scope has been definitely
defined for us by the Holy Spirit in at least two passages.
“While we look not at the things which are seen: but at the things
which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but
the things which are not seen are eternal” (

2 Corinthians 4:18).
Here a contrast is drawn between things “seen” and things “not seen,”
between things “temporal” and things “eternal.” Now it is obvious that if
the things “temporal” should last forever, there would be no antithesis
between them and the things “eternal.” It is equally obvious that if the
things “eternal” are merely “age-long,” then they cannot be properly
contrasted with things that are temporal. The difference between things
temporal and things eternal in this verse is as great as the difference
between the things “seen” and the things “not seen.”
The second example, which is of the same character as the one furnished in

2 Corinthians 4:18, is equally conclusive. In Philemon 15 we read,
“For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou
shouldest receive him forever.”
Here the Greek for “forever” is aionios. The apostle is beseeching
Philemon to receive Onesimus, who had left his master, and whom Paul
had sent back to him. When the apostle says “receive him forever,” his
evident meaning is, never banish him, never sell him, never again send him.30
away. “Aionios” is here contrasted with “for a season,” showing that it
means just the opposite of what that expression signifies.
Eternal or everlasting is the one and unvaried meaning of aionios in the
New Testament. The same word translated “everlasting destruction,”
“everlasting punishment,” “everlasting fire,” is rendered “everlasting life”
in

John 3:16; “the everlasting God” in

Romans 16:26; “eternal
salvation” in

Hebrews 5:9; “His eternal glory” in

1 Peter 5:10. No
argument needs to be made to prove that in these passages it is impossible
to fairly substitute any other alternative for everlasting and eternal, And it
is thus with the other class of passages. The “everlasting fire” will
synchronize with the existence of “the everlasting God.” The “everlasting
punishment” of the lost will continue as long as the “everlasting life” of
believers. The “eternal damnation” of the wicked will no more have an end
than will the “eternal salvation” of the redeemed. The “everlasting
destruction” of unbelievers will prove as interminable as the “everlasting
glory” of God. To deny the former is to deny the latter. To affirm the
everlastingness of God is to prove the endlessness of the misery of His
enemies.
7. THE FINALITY OF THEIR STATE.
The doom of those who shall be cast into the Lake of Fire is irrevocable
and final. Many independent considerations prove this. Forgiveness of sins
is limited to life on this earth. Once the sinner passes out of this world
there remaineth “no more sacrifice for sins.” The fact that at death the soul
of the wicked goes at once into the “furnace of fire” (

Matthew 12:42)
witnesses to the fixity of his future state. The fact that, later, his
resurrection is one “of damnation” (

John 5:29) excludes all possibility
of a last-hour reprieve. The fact that he is cast soul and body into a lake of
fire argues that then he receives his final portion. The fact that the Lake of
Fire is denominated the “Second Death” denotes the hopelessness of his
situation. Just as the first death cuts him off forever from this world, so the
second death cuts him off forever from God.
In Philippians 3 the apostle Paul speaks of the enemies of the Cross of
Christ, and moved by the Holy Spirit he tells us that their “end is
destruction” (v. 19). Stronger and more unequivocal language could not be
used. There is nothing beyond the “end.” And the end of the enemies of the.31
Cross of Christ is “destruction” not salvation. The Greek word here
translated “end” is “telos.” It is found in the following passages:
“Of His Kingdom there shall be no end” (

Luke 1:33);
“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that
believeth” (

Romans 10:4);
“Having neither beginning of days nor end of life”
(

Hebrews 7:3);
“I am… the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last”
(

Revelation 22:13).
As we have already seen, the twentieth chapter of Revelation describes the
final judgment of the wicked before the Great White Throne, after which
they are cast into the Lake of Fire. The chapters which follow—the last
two in the Bible—may be read carefully and searched diligently, but they
will not be found to contain so much as a single hint that those cast into the
Lake of Fire shall ever be delivered from it. Instead, we find in the very last
chapter of God’s Word the solemn statement,
“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let
him be filthy still” (

Revelation 22:11).
Thus the finality of their condition is expressly affirmed on the closing page
of Holy Writ.
In the last two articles we have considered some of the principal sophistries
which unbelief has brought against the truth of eternal punishment, and
have also examined the teaching of Scripture concerning the Destiny of the
wicked. We approach now the most solemn aspect of our subject, namely:.32
3. THE NATURE OF PUNISHMENT
AWAITING THE LOST
1. THE PORTION OF THE WICKED IMMEDIATELY
AFTER DEATH.
We turn first to the teaching of our Lord found in Luke 16. Here, we learn
the following facts; First, that in Hades the lost are in full possession of all
their faculties and sensibilities. They see, for the rich man saw Abraham
afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (v. 23). They feel, for he was in
“torments” (v. 24). They cry for mercy, for he asked—but in vain—for a
drop of water to cool his tongue (v. 24). They are in possession of
memory, for the rich man was bidden to “remember” what he had received
during his lifetime on earth (v. 25). It is impossible for them to join the
redeemed: there is “a great gulf fixed” between them (v. 26).
Unspeakably solemn is all this. Not only will the lost be tormented in
flames, but their anguish will be immeasurably increased by a sight of the
redeemed being “comforted.” Then shall they see the happy portion of the
blest which they despised, preferring as they did the pleasures of sin for a
season. And how the retention of “memory” will further augment their
sufferings! With what unfathomable sorrows will they recall the
opportunities wasted, the expostulations of parents and friends slighted, the
warnings of God’s servants disregarded, the proclamations of God’s
Gospel spurned. And then to know there is no way of escape, no means of
relief, no hope of a reprieve! Their lot will be unbearable; their awful
portion, beyond endurance. The Son of God has faithfully forewarned that
“there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (

Matthew 13:42). It is
very significant that Christ referred to this just seven times—denoting the
completeness of their misery and anguish; see

Matthew 8:12; 13:42-50;
22:13; 24:51; 25:30;

Luke 13:28.
2. THE FINAL PORTION OF THE WICKED.
(1) This is spoken of as being “punished with everlasting destruction from
the presence of the Lord” (

2 Thessalonians 1:9). None but one who
really knows God can begin to estimate what it will mean to be eternally
banished from the Lord. Forever separated from the Fount of all goodness!.33
Never to enjoy the light of God’s countenance! Never to bask in the
sunshine of His presence. This, this is the most awful of all.

2
Thessalonians 1:9 furnishes clear intimation that the judgment of Matthew
25, with its eternal sentence, looks beyond the Assize. “Destruction from
the presence of the Lord” is paralleled with “depart from Me ye cursed.”
(2) The final portion of the wicked is spoken of as “everlasting
punishment” (

Matthew 25:46). In

1 John 4:18 the same Greek word
is rendered “torment.” This term announces the satisfying of God’s justice.
In the punishing of the wicked God vindicates His outraged majesty.
Herein punishment differs from correction or discipline. Punishment is not
designed for the good of the one who suffers it. It is intended for the
enforcing of law and order; it is necessary for the preservation of
government.
(3) The final portion of the wicked is spoken of as a “tormenting. “ This is
proven by the fact that the everlasting fire into which the wicked depart is
“prepared for the Devil and his angels” (

Matthew 25:41) which
emphasizes the awfulness of this punishment, rather than specifies who are
going to endure. This verse sets forth the severity of the punishment of the
lost. If the everlasting fire be “prepared for the Devil and his angels,” then
how intolerable it will be! If the place of eternal torment into which all
unbelievers shall be cast is the same as that in which God’s arch-enemy
will suffer, how dreadful that place must be.
That this everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels, produces
the most awful suffering is clear from

Revelation 20:10, where we are
told that Satan shall be “tormented day and night for ever and ever.” No
doubt this torment will be both internal and external, mental and physical.
The word occurs for the first time in the New Testament in

Matthew
8:6. “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously
tormented.” The same word occurs again in

Revelation 9:5 where we
read of infernal locusts, issuing from the Pit, and which are given power to
torment men, the nature of which is explained as “the torment of a
scorpion, when he striketh a man.” So intense will be the suffering caused
therefrom
“men shall seek death and shall not find it, and they shall desire to
die, and death shall flee from them” (

Revelation 9:6)..34
This torment then cannot mean less than the most excruciating pain which
we are now capable of conceiving. How much the pains of Hell will exceed
the pains of earth we know not.
(4) The final portion of the wicked is spoken of as “suffering the
vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). But many say this is merely a
figurative expression. We ask, How do they know that? Where has God
told them so in His Word? Personally, we believe that when God says
“fire” He means “fire.” We refuse to blunt the sharp edge of His Word.
Was the Deluge figurative? Was it figurative “fire and brimstone” which
descended from heaven and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? Were the
plagues upon Egypt figurative ones? Is it figurative fire which shall yet
burn this earth, and cause the very elements to “melt with fervent heat?”
No’ in each of these cases we are obliged to take the words of Scripture in
their literal signification. Let those who dare affirm that Hell-fire is non-literal
answer to God. We are not their judges; but we refuse to accept
their toning down of these solemn words. Literal fire in Hell presents no
difficulty at all to the writer. The lost will have literal bodies when they are
cast into Hell. The “angels” also have bodies; and for all we know to the
contrary, the Devil has too.
But the question is often asked, How can the bodies of the lost be
tormented eternally by literal fire? Would not the fire utterly consume
them? Even though we were unable to furnish an answer to this question,
we should still believe that Scripture meant what it said. But we are
satisfied that God’s Word answers this question. In Exodus 3 we read of
the bush in the wilderness burning with fire, and yet was not consumed! In
Daniel 3 we read of the three Hebrews being cast into the fiery furnace of
Babylon, yet they were not consumed. Why was this? Because, in some
way unknown to us, God preserved the bush, and the bodies of the three
Hebrews. Is God, then, unable to preserve the bodies of the damned from
being consumed? Surely not. But we are not left even to this unescapable
inference. In

Mark 9:47-49 we are told,
“It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye,
than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: where their worm
dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted
with fire.”
The expression salted with fire” confirms what we have said above. Salt is
a preservative; hence, when we are told that “every one” who is cast into.35
Gehenna shall be “salted with fire” we learn that the very fire itself so far
from consuming shall preserve. If it be asked, How can this be? We
answer, Because that fire is “prepared” by God (

Matthew 25:41).
(5) The final portion of the wicked is described as an association with the
vilest of the vile.
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and
murderers, and whore-mongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and
all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and
brimstone” (

Revelation 21:8).
O dear reader, weigh well this solemn language. You may be a person of
culture and refinement: judged by moral standards your life may be
exemplary and spotless: you may pride yourself on your honesty and
truthfulness: you may be very particular in your choice of friends and very
careful to avoid the company of the profane and vicious: you may even be
religious, and look down in scorn and pity upon the idolaters of
heathendom; but God says that if you die in unbelief your portion shall be
with “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars.” Think of what it
will mean to spend eternity in the Prison-house of the universe with Cain,
and Pharaoh, and Judas! Think of what it will mean to be shut up with the
vile Sodomites! Think of being incarcerated forever with every blasphemer
who has ever lived!
(6) The final portion of the wicked is described as “the blackness of
darkness forever” (Jude 13). Unrelieved will be their fearful sufferings;
interminable their torments. No means of escape. No possibility of a
reprieve. No hope of deliverance. Not one will be found who is able to
befriend them and intercede with God for them. They had the offer of a
Mediator often made them in this world; but no such offer will be made
them in the Lake of Fire. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the
wicked.” There will be no resting-place in Hell; no secret corner where
they can find a little respite; no cooling fountain at which they may refresh
themselves. There will be no change or variation of their lot. Day and
night, forever and ever, shall they be punished. With no prospect of any
improvement they will sink down into blank despair.
(7) The final portion of the wicked will be beyond the creature’s power of
resistance..36
“And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on
whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (

Matthew
21:44).
There are many who now say, If at the end I find myself in Hell, I will bear
it as well as I can, as if by strength of will and firmness of mind they shall,
in measure at least, be able to support themselves. But alas! Their
resolutions will count for nothing.
It is common with men in this world to shun calamities, but if they find this
is impossible, they set themselves to bear it: they fortify their spirits and
resolve to support themselves under it as well as they can. They muster up
all their courage and resolution in the determination to keep their hearts
from sinking. But it will be utterly vain for sinners to do this in the Lake of
Fire. What would it help a worm which was about to be crushed by some
great rock, to collect its strength and endeavor to set itself to bear up
against its weight, and so seek to prevent itself from being crushed? Much
less will a poor damned soul be able to support itself under the weight of
the wrath of Almighty God. No matter how much the sinner may now
harden himself, in order to endure the pains of Hell, the first moment he
shall feel the flames, his heart will melt like wax before the furnace —
“Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days
that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it”
(

Ezekiel 22:14).
If such then be the case with impenitent sinners, that they can neither
escape their punishment, nor deliver themselves from it, nor bear up under
it, what will become of them? I answer in the words of another:
“They will wholly sink down into eternal death. There will be that
sinking of heart, of which we now cannot conceive. We see how it
is with the body when in extreme pain. The nature of the body will
support itself for a considerable time under very great pain, so as to
keep from wholly sinking. There will be great struggles, lamentable
groans and panting, and it may be convulsions. These are the
strugglings of nature to support itself under the extremity of the
pain. There is, as it were, a great lothness in nature to yield to it; it
cannot bear wholly to sink. But yet sometimes pain of body is so
very extreme and exquisite, that the nature of the body cannot
support itself under it; however loth it may be to sink, yet it cannot.37
bear the pain; there are a few struggles, and throes, and pantings,
and it may be a shriek or two, and the nature yields to the violence
of the torments, sinks down, and the body dies. This is the death of
the body. So it will be with the soul in Hell; it will have no strength
or power to deliver itself; and its torment and horror will be so
great, so mighty, so vastly disproportioned to its strength, that
having no strength in the least to support itself, although it be
infinitely contrary to the nature and inclination of the soul utterly to
sink; yet it will sink, it will utterly and totally sink, without the least
degree of remaining comfort, or strength, or courage, or hope. And
though it will never be annihilated, its being and perception will
never be abolished: yet such will be the infinite depth of gloominess
that it will sink into, that it will be in a state of death, eternal death.
“The nature of man desires happiness; it is the nature of the soul to
crave and thirst after well-being; and if it be under misery, it equally
pants after relief; and the greater the misery is, the more easily doth
it struggle for help. But if all relief be withholden, all strength
overborne, all support utterly gone; then it sinks into the darkness
of death. We can conceive but little of the matter; we cannot
conceive what that sinking of the soul in such a case is. But to help
your conception, imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven, all of
a glowing heat, or into the midst of a blowing brick-kiln, or of a
great furnace, where your pain would be as much greater than that
occasioned by accidentally touching a coal of fire, as the heat is
greater. Imagine also that your body were to lie there for a quarter
of an hour, full of fire, as full within and without as a bright coal of
fire, all the while full of quick sense; what horror would you feel at
the entrance of such a furnace! And how long would that quarter of
an hour seem to you! If it were to be measured by a glass, how
long would the glass seem to be running! And after you had
endured it for one minute, how overbearing would it be to you to
think that you had yet to endure the other fourteen.
“But what would be the effect on your soul, if you knew you must
lie there enduring that torment to the full for twenty-four hours!
And how much greater would be the effect, if you knew you must
endure it for a whole year, and how vastly greater still, if you knew
you must endure it for a thousand years! O then, how would your
heart sink, if you thought, if you knew, that you must bear it.38
forever and ever! That there would be no end! That after millions
of millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end,
than ever it was; and that you never, never should be delivered! But
your torment in Hell will be immeasurably greater than this
illustration represents. How then will the heart of a poor creature
sink under it! How utterly inexpressible and inconceivable must the
sinking of the soul be in such a case.” (Jonathan Edwards).
Such, in brief, is the portion awaiting the lost—eternal separation from the
Fount of all goodness; everlasting punishment; torment of soul and body;
endless existence in the Lake of Fire, in association with the vilest of the
vile; every ray of hope excluded; utterly crushed and overwhelmed by the
wrath of a sin-avenging God. And let us remember in Whose Word these
solemn statements are found! They are found in the Word of Him who is
faithful and therefore has He written in plain and positive language so that
none need be deceived, They are found in the Word of Him who cannot
lie, and therefore He has not employed the language of exaggeration. They
are found in the Word of Him who says what He means and means what
He says, and therefore the writer, for one, dares do nothing else than
receive them at their face value. We turn now to:.39
4. THE APPLICATION OF THE SUBJECT
1. In what has been before us we learn HOW the character and Throne of
God will be vindicated. What can be too severe a judgment upon those
who have despised so great a Being as the Almighty? If he that is guilty of
treason against an earthly government deserves to lose his life, what
punishment can be great enough for one who has preferred his own
pleasure before the will and glory of a God who is infinitely good? To
despise infinite excellence merits infinite misery. God has commanded the
sinner to repent, He has courted him with overtures of grace, He has
bountifully supplied his every need, and He has presented before him the
Son of His love—His choicest treasure —and yet men persist in their
wicked course. No possible ground, then, will the sinner have to appeal
against the sentence of the Judge of all the earth, seeing that He not only
tendered mercy toward him, but also bore with him in so much patience
when He might justly have smitten him down upon the first crime he ever
committed and removed him to Hell upon the first refusal of his proffered
grace.
That God shall punish every rebel against Himself is required by the very
perfections of His high sovereignty, It is but meet that He should display
His governmental supremacy. The creature has dared to assert its
independency: the subject has risen up in arms against his King; therefore,
the right of God’s throne must be vindicated—
“I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing
wherein they dealt proudly He is above them” (

Exodus 18:11).
When Pharaoh dared to pit himself against Jehovah, God manifested His
authority by destroying him at the Red Sea. Another king He turned into a
beast, to make him know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.
So, when the history of this world is wound up, God will make a full and
final manifestation of His sovereign majesty. Though He now endures (not
“loves”) with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction;
it is that, in the coming Day, He may “show His wrath and make His power
known” (

Romans 9:22).
2. What has been before us serves to expose the folly and madness of the
greater part of mankind in that for the sake of present momentary.40
gratification, they run the serious risk of enduring all these eternal
torments. They prefer a small pleasure, or a little wealth, or a little earthly
honor and fame (which lasts but “for a season”) to an escape from the
Lake of Fire. If it be true that the torments of Hell are everlasting, what
will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? How
mad men are who hear and read of these things and pretend to believe
them, who are alive but a little while, a few short years at most, and yet
who are careless about what becomes of themselves in the next world,
where there is neither change nor end.! How mad are they who hear that if
they go on in sin, they shall be eternally miserable, and yet are not moved,
but hear it with as much indifference as if they were not concerned in the
matter at all! And yet for all they know to the contrary, they may be in fiery
torments before another week is at an end!
How sad to note that this unconcern is shared by the great majority of our
fellows. Age makes little difference. The young are occupied with
pleasures, the middle-aged with worldly advancement, the aged with their
attainments or lack of them; with the first it is the lust of the flesh, with the
second it is the lust of the eyes, with the third it is the pride of life, which
banishes from their minds all serious thoughts of the life to come.
“The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their
heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead”
(

Ecclesiastes 9:3).
O the blinding power of sin! O the deceitfulness of riches! O the perversity
of the human heart! Nothing so reveals these things as the incredible sight
of men and women enjoying themselves and being at rest, while they are
suspended over the eternal burning by the frail thread of mortality, which
may be snapped at any moment.
3. What has been before us ought to make every unsaved reader to tremble
as he scans these pages. These things are no mere abstractions, but dread
realities, as countless thousands have already discovered to their bitter
cost. They may not seem real to you now, but in a short time at most—
should you continue to reject the Christ of God—they will be your portion.
You, too, shall lift up your eyes in Hell, and behold the saints in heaven.
You, too, shall crave a drop of water to alleviate your fearful agony; but it
will be in vain. You, too, shall cry for mercy; but then it will be too late. O
unsaved reader, we pray you not to throw this aside and seek to dismiss
the subject from your thoughts. That is how thousands before you have.41
acted, and the very memory of their folly only accentuates their misery. Far
better had you been made wretched now for a time, than that you should
weep and wail and gnash your teeth forever. Far better that you have your
present false peace broken, than that you should be a stranger to real peace
for all eternity.
“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Whoever you are, whether
young or old, whether rich or poor, whether religious or irreligious, if you
are in a Christless state, then this is what awaits you at the end of your
present course. This, this is the Hell over which you now hang, and into
which you are ready to drop this very moment. It is vain for you to flatter
yourself with hopes that you shall avoid it, or to say in your heart, Perhaps
it may not be; perhaps things have been represented worse than they really
are. These things are according to the Word of Truth, and if you will not
be convinced by that Word when presented to you by men in the name of
God, then God Himself will yet undertake to prove to you that these things
are so.
Think it not strange that God should deal so severely with you, or that the
wrath you shall suffer shall be so great. For great as it is, it is no greater
than the mercy which you now despise. The love of God, His marvellous
grace in sending His own Son to die for sinners, is every whit as great and
wonderful as this inexpressible wrath. You have refused to accept Christ as
the Saviour from the wrath to come, you have despised God’s dying love,
why then should you not suffer wrath as great as that grace and love which
you have rejected? Does it still seem incredible that God should so harden
His heart against a poor sinner as to bear down upon him with infinite
power and merciless wrath? Then pause and ask, Is it any greater than it is
for me to harden my heart against Him, against infinite mercy, against the
Son of His love? O dear friends, face this question of Christ Himself, “How
can ye escape the damnation of Hell?” (

Matthew 23:33). There is only
one way of escape, and that is to flee to the Saviour. If you would not fall
into the hands of the living God, then cast yourself into the arms of the
Christ who died—
“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when
His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their
trust in Him” (

Psalm 2:12).
4. What has been before us ought to make every professing Christian
diligently examine himself Weigh carefully the tremendously solemn issues.42
which turn on whether or not you have really passed from death unto life.
You cannot afford to be uncertain. There is far too much at stake.
Remember that you are prejudiced in your own favor. Remember that you
have a treacherous heart. Remember that the Devil is the great Deceiver of
souls. Remember that
“there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof
are the ways of death” (

Proverbs 14:12).
Remember it is written that “Many shall say unto Me in that day, Lord,
Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out
devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?” And then He will
answer them,
“I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity”
(

Matthew 7:22-23).
There are many who now wear the guise of saints, who appear like saints,
and their state, both in their own eyes and that of their neighbors is
satisfactory. And yet they have on only sheep’s clothing; at heart, they are
wolves. But no disguise can deceive the Judge of all. His eyes are as a
flame of fire: they search the hearts and try the reins of the children of men.
Wherefore, let each take earnest heed that he be not deceived. Compare
yourself with the Word of God, for that is the rule by which you will be
tried. Test your works, for it is by those you will be made manifest. Inquire
whether you are really living a Christian life; whether or not the fear of
God is upon you; whether or not you are mortifying your members which
are upon the earth; whether or nor you are “denying ungodliness and
worldly lusts,” and whether you are living “soberly, righteously, and godly
in this present world,” for it is thus that “grace” teaches the saints to live.
Cry unto God earnestly and frequently that He will reveal you to yourself,
and discover to you whether you are building upon the Rock, or upon the
sand. Make the Psalmist’s prayer yours—
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my
thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in
the way everlasting” (

Psalm 139:23-24).
God will search you hereafter, and make fully manifest what you are, both
to yourself and to others. Let each of us, then, humbly request Him to
search us now. We have urgent need of Divine help in this matter, for our
heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”.43
5. What has been before us should cause those who really enjoy the full
assurance of faith to praise God with a loud voice. To each of you we say,
God has given you wonderful cause for gratitude and thanksgiving. You,
too, justly deserved to suffer the full weight of the wrath of a sin-hating
and sin-avenging God. It is not long since you loved darkness rather than
light, It is only a short time since you turned a deaf ear to both God’s
commands and entreaties. It is only a few years at most since you despised
and rejected His beloved Son. What marvelous grace was it then that
snatched you as a brand from the burning! What wondrous love was it that
delivered you from the wrath to come! What matchless mercy it was that
changed you from a child of Hell (

Matthew 23:15) to a child of God! O
how you should praise the Father for having ever set His love upon you.
How you should praise the Son for having died to save you from the Lake
of Fire. How you should praise the blessed Spirit for having quickened you
into newness of life. And how your appreciation ought to be expressed
now in a life that is glorifying to the triune God. How diligently ought you
to seek to learn what is well-pleasing in His sight. How earnestly should
you seek His will. How quick should you be to run in the way of His
commandments. Let your life correspond with the praises of your lips.
6. What has been before us ought to stir up all of God’s people to a
deepened sense of their duty. Fellow-Christian, have you no obligations
toward your godless neighbors? If God has made clear these solemn truths
to you, does it not deepen your responsibility toward the unsaved? If you
have no love for souls, it is greatly to be feared that your own soul is in
imminent danger. If you can witness, unmoved, men and women hurrying
down the broad road which leadeth to destruction, then it is seriously to be
doubted if you have within you the Spirit of that One who wept over
Jerusalem. It is true you have no power of your own to save a soul from
death, but are you faithfully giving out that Word which is the instrument
which God uses to bring souls from death unto life? Are you supplicating
God as you ought and depending on Him to bless your efforts to point the
lost to the Lamb of God? Are you as fervent as you should be in your cries
to God on behalf of the lost? Alas, must you not join the writer as he hangs
his head in shame? Is there not reason for each of us to ask God to give us
a clearer vision of that indescribably awful portion which awaits every
Christ rejecter, and to enable us to act in the power of such a vision!
7. What has been before us will yet be the occasion of profoundest praise
to God. Whatever difficulties the eternal punishment of the wicked may.44
present to us now—and it is freely granted that it is difficult for our reason
to grasp it, and that of necessity, for we are incapable of discerning the
infinite malignity of sin, and therefore unable to see what punishment it
really deserves—yet, in the Day to come it will be far otherwise. When we
behold God’s righteous dealings with His enemies, when we hear the
sentences being given according to their works, when we see how justly
and thoroughly they deserve merciless wrath, and stand by as they are cast
into the Lake of Fire, so far from shrinking back in horror our hearts will
give vent to gladsome praise. Just as of old the overthrow of God’s
enemies at the Red Sea caused His people to burst forth in worshipful
song, so in the coming Day we shall be moved to rejoicing when we
witness the final display of God’s holiness and justice in the overthrow and
punishment of all who have defied Him. Remember that in the destruction
of the wicked God will be glorified and this it is which will be the occasion
of the rejoicing of His people. Not only will God be “clear” when He
judges (

Psalm 51:4), but His perfections will be magnified in the
sentences pronounced.

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