ON THE FIRE OF HELL
Consider first, that in hell every vice shall meet with its peculiar torment. There the proud shall be debased and confounded, and trodden under foot by insulting devils. There the covetous, and the lovers of the mammon of this world shall groan under the extremity of want and misery. There the lascivious shall exchange their dark and filthy pleasures for fetid sulphur and black flames. There gluttons and drunkards shall be oppressed with an insupportable hunger and thirst, and so of the rest. But the general punishment of all the damned, and that which is most frequently inculcated in holy writ, is that they shall burn in everlasting fire. O who can endure the thought of this eternal burning in that dreadful pool of fire and brimstone? Christians, what are you doing? Do you believe this eternal fire; and do you dare to sin? If you believe it not, you are not Christians; and if you believe it, and still persist in going on in such sins as you know are the high road to this everlasting burning, you must be worse than madmen.
Consider 2ndly, that of all bodily torments which we can suffer in this world there is none more terrible than to burn alive. But alas! there is no comparison between burning here and burning in hell. All our fires upon earth are but painted flames if compared to the fire of hell. The fire of this world was made to serve us and to be our comfort; that of hell to be an instrument of God’s vengeance upon sinners. The fire of this world cannot subsist without being nourished by some combustible matter, which it quickly dispatches and consumes; the fire of hell, kindled by the breath of an angry God, requires no other fuel than sin, and on this it feeds without ever decaying or consuming. The fire of this world can only reach the body, but the fire of hell not only pierces the body through and through in all its members, and penetrates into all the inward parts with most exquisite tortures, but also reaches the soul herself in her very inmost recesses with its searching flames. Ah! who could endure such a fire as this even for one moment? How much less for an endless eternity?
Consider 3rdly, that there is no man upon earth that has not quite lost his senses who would be willing, even for the empire of the world, to be broiled like Laurence on a gridiron, or roasted for half an hour by a slow fire, though he was sure to come off with his life. Nay, where is the man that would even venture to hold his finger in the flame of a candle for a quarter of an hour for any reward this world can give? Where is then the judgment of the greater part of Christians who pretend to believe hell-fire and yet live on with so little apprehension and concern, and that oftentimes for years together, in guilt of mortal sin, in danger every moment of falling into this dreadful and everlasting fire: having no more all this while than a hair’s-breath – that is, the thin thread of an uncertain life between their souls and a miserable eternity? Good God, deliver us from this wretched blindness, from this desperate folly and madness.
Conclude never to expose thyself to the danger of this everlasting fire by mortal sin, nor to endure any such guilt, though it were even for one moment, lest in that very moment God should break the thread of thy life and let thee drop into that fire that will never be quenched. O what mercy it is of thy God that it has not been thy case long ago!