Page images
PDF
EPUB

“Suddenly before my eye
A wall of fiery adamant sprung up-
Wall mountainous, tremendous, flaming high

Above all flight of hope.”
The interior he describes thus:

“ Wide was the place
And deep as wide, and ruinous as deep.
Beneath I saw a lake of burning fire
With tempest tost perpetually, and still
The waves of fiery darkness 'gainst the rocks
Of dark damnation broke, and music made

Of melancholy sort." These fires of hell are represented as unspeakably more fierce, penetrating and terrible than any fires on earth. Bp. Jeremy Taylor calls it “that penetrating and real fire, of which this temporal fire is but a painted fire in respect of that in hell." “ We are amazed,” says he, “to think of the inhumanity of Phalaris, who roasted men in his brazen bull: this was joy in respect of that fire of hell which penetrates the very entrails of the body without consuming them. Amongst all the torments which human justice hath invented for the punishment of crimes, there is none held more rigorous than that of fire, by reason of the great activity of that element. What shall the heat of that fire be which shall be the executioner of the justice of the God of vengeance! whose zeal shall be inflamed against the wicked, and shall kindle the fire which shall eter. nally burn in the extremities of hell ? Such are the torments and miseries of hell, that if all the

trees in the world were put in one heap, and set on fire, I would rather burn there till the day of judgment, than suffer for the

space

of one hour that fire of hell!” This reminds me of a declaration made by one of our modern revivalists, that if one of the damned were to be taken from hell, and placed in the midst of the hottest anthracite coal fire it is possible to make, he would freeze to death in an instant! I need not say that such a fire will leave no part of the unhappy wretches exposed to its flames unaffected. This the advocates of endless punishment have not failed to perceive and insist upon. The learned and eloquent Bishop quoted just above says, “The burning of a finger only does cause so great a torment that it is insufferable; but far greater were it to burn the whole arm; and far greater were it besides the arms to burn the legs; and far more violent would it be to burn the whole body. This torment [of hell] cannot be expressed, since it comprises as many torments as the body of man hath joints, sinews, arteries, etc.” Dr. Barrow speaks of the sulphureous flame of hell as “not only scorching the skin, but piercing the inmost sinews.” Drexelius, speaking of the Rich Man in

“ he now lies frying in the flames.” But this intolerable fire of hell possesses some very strange and wonderful qualities. In the first place, it gives no light. This is laid down

hell says,

by all writers on the subject, whether poetic or prose. Milton says.

li Yet from those flames No light, but rather darkness visible, Served only to discover sights of wo,

Regions of sorrow. Prosper speaks of seeing "no light in that fire, but to feel that it burneth." So also does Gregory discourse. “In hell," says the pious Matthew Henry, " there is fire but no light; it is utter darkness; darkness in extremity; the highest degree of darkness, without any remainder, or mixture, or hope of light; nor the least gleam or glimpse of it."

But what is far more wonderful than this is a restoring quality which hell-fire possesses, so that while it is eternally consuming what it acts upon, it is at the same time miraculously preserving and recreating it. Tertullian tells us that " as the philosophers know the difference between the secret fire and common fire ; so that fire is of one kind which we make use of, and that of another which serveth the judgment of God, whether it pierce or strike through the clouds of heaven in thụnder, or break out of the earth through the tops of mountains. For this doth not consume what it burneth, but repaireth whatit preyeth upon; so that the mountains remain which always burn, and he that is struck with fire from heaven is not to be reduced to ashes by other fire. And this may be

a testimony of the eternal fire; this, one example, of that fire which continually nourisheth and preserveth those that are punished in it. The mountains burn and endure, and why not the guilty and enemies of God ?"

Pollock has borrowed and perhaps beautified the same pleasing thought in his Course of Time.

He says,

Through all that dungeon of unfading fire
I saw most miserable beings walk,
Burning continually, yet unconsumed;
Forever wasting, yet enduring still;

Dying perpetually, yet never dead."
3. Pains suffered by the sense of sight.

Having spoken of the fire of hell and the torments to be endured through its action uponi

the sense of feeling, I must now consider what tortures are inflicted through the sense of sight. And here I must apprise my unlearned readers that utter darkness, so far from being a bar to the vision in hell, only adds to its power and multiplies the frightful objects on which it must forever rest. Bp. Jeremy Taylor says, “ The eyes shall not only be grieved with a scorching heat, but shall be tormented with monsters and horrible figures; many are affrighted very much, passing through a church-yard, only for fear of seeing a fantasm; in what a fright will be a miserable, damned soul, which shall see so many, and of so horrid shapes! Their sight also shall be torment

but

ed with beholding the punishment of their friends and kindred. Hegesippus writes that Alexander, the son of Hyrcanus, resolving to punish certain persons with exemplary rigor, caused eight hundred to be crucified; and whilst they were yet alive, caused their wives and children to be murdered before their eyes; that so they might not die once,

many deaths! This rigor shall not be wanting in hell, where fathers shall see their sons, and brothers their brothers, tormented... To the sight of those dreadful apparitions shall be added the horror and fearful darkness of the place. The darkness of Egypt was said to be horrible, because the Egyptians beheld fearful figures and fantasms which terrified them. In the like manner, in that infernal darkness, the eye shall be tormented with the monstrous figures of the wicked spirits, which shall appear much more dreadful by reason of the obscurity and sadness of that eternal night.” So Milton represents the darkness of hell as darkness visible" which seems only

"To discover sights of wo, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades where peace

And rest can never dwell." But Dr. Trapp transcends all others in describing this point of theology.

“For all that mass of fire projects no light,
But darkness visible, and glaring night;
Which to the eye serves only to reveal
Sad scenes of wo, and add affright to hell:

« PreviousContinue »