« PreviousContinue »
glowing cage of spiritual lions and bears, to wit, of devilish-minded men; the burning furnace of burning tares! Hell is an eternal prison, and at the same time a place of eternal execution to the prisoners; a sty of goats and swine; a flayer's cart for dead spiritual dogs ; a carrion pit for all those who go thither, like a brute, without repentance; it is a place wherein scorpions, snakes and dragons, to wit, spirits creep around and look continually upon the damned fire-brands of hell! It is a wilderness full of fiery serpents, but in which there is no brazen serpent to be lifted up,
for the healing of those that are bitten.” Cyril describes hell as “ the land of death wherein is no life; the realm of darkness wherein is no light; the gulf of sorrow wherein is no joy, where the reprobates all sigh forever, and still find no ear that is moved by pity to hear; an abyss where they all cry out in lamentable misery, and still meet no one who can be touched with compassion; where they all pray, and yet no one hears or saves; there they are alllost and have no comforter at all.”
Watson, in his Body of Divinity, speaks of hell as the very accent and emphasis of misery.
There,” says he, “is judgment without mercy. O, what flames of wrath, what seas of vengeance, what rivers of brimstone are poured out there upon the heads of the damned !” Calvin, whose mind and heart, it is well known, were none of the
gentlest, says, “As no description can equal the severity of the divine vengeance on the reprobates, their anguish and torment are figuratively represented to us under corporeal images ; as darkness and gnashing of teeth, unextinguishable fire, a worm incessantly gnawing the heart. For there can be no doubt but that by such modes of expression, the Holy Ghost intended to confound all our facullies with horror. Wherefore miserable consciences find no repose, but are harrassed and agitated with a dreadful tempest, feel themselves torn asunder by an angry God, and transfixed and penetrated with mortal stings; are terrified at the thunderbolts of God, and broken by the weight of his hand ; so that to sink into any gulfs and abysses would be more tolerable than to stand a moment in these terrors. How great then to endure the never-ceasing effects of his wrath !"
The general views expressed in the preceding quotations, are incorporated into some if not all of our popular orthodox creeds and chatechisms. Thus we are taught in the Presbyterian Catechism that “the punishment of sin, in the world to come, is everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in both soul and body without intermission, in hell-fire forever.” But I must pass to some more particular descriptions of hell and its horrors. They will be rich, and to many of my
readers, I hope, of singular edification and comfort.
It may be well for me, before entering farther upon this subject, to remark that divines have distinguished the punishments of hell into two distinct kinds. 1. Poena Sensus, and 2. Poena Damni, i.e. punishments of sense, and punishments of loss. By the punishments of sense are meant all the pains and tortures of a physical kind which the damned shall suffer; while by the latter are signified all the miseries resulting from the consciousness of what they have lost by their exclusion from heaven, its glories and happiness, attended as it must ever be by shame and confusion of face, tribulation and anguish of mind. I shall first consider that part of endless punishment, known by the name of Pains of Sense.
2. Hell Fire.
It is a commonly received opinion that hell is filled with material fires. This has sometimes been denied or doubted by a few of the more speculative believers and advocates of hell tor. ments, but the notion of literal fire and brimstone in hell is too deeply fixed in the minds of the mul. titude to admit of being easily shaken. The Rev. Tobias Swinden, whom I have before mentioned, has a long chapter designed to prove " that the fire of hell is not metaphorical but real," and he quotes a great number of orthodox authorities in his favor. Nothing is more certain, I suppose,
than that the vast majority of believers in endless punishment have also believed most fully in the materiality of its fires. The ancient Fathers have spoken very plainly on this subject, as well as their modern disciples. St. Cyprian says that o those fires shall live, and the unconsuming flame shall lick the naked body.” And again, “The miserable bodies of the damned shall fry and burn in those flames.” Tertullian was of the same opinion, and so also was Jerome. Origen was reckoned erroneous for thinking the fires of hell inward, rather than outward, and to act upon
the conscience rather than the body. Zanchius, modern but learned divine, tells us, that “it is without question that not only the souls of the wicked, but also their bodies shall suffer torment from this fire : and therefore the fire must be such as may
their bodies, and inflict on them a far greater pain than our fire doth impress
What quality soever it shall be of, it seemeth it shall be altogether a corporeal creature which may operate upon bodies and torment them." So Dr. Barrow, of the Church of England teaches, that "in the state of everlasting death, our bodies shall be afflicted continually by a sulphureous flame." But I need not quote authorities on a point of this nature, though I cannot deny myself the use of a few lines of poetry from a learned English divine, Dr. Joseph Trapp. * Fire too must make the sensible of hell : With everlasting burpings who can dwell ?
Tormenting Tophet is ordained long since;
It may well be doubted, I think, whether any one ever exhibited fire in more various shapes, or put it to more diverse uses, in prose or verse, than Dr. Trapp has here succeeded in doing. It is a passage worthy of a far greater poet than he could justly claim to be. Milton, too, employs fire as one of the elements of hell.
“A dungeon horrible on all sides round
As one great furnace flamed." So also Pollock makes hell a place of fire. When seen from without,