Page images
PDF
EPUB

Tormented, and tormentors, o'er them shaks Thongs, and forked iron, in the burning lake: Belching infernal flames, and wreathed with spires Of curling serpents rouse the brimstone fires; With whips of fiery scorpions scourge their slaves And in their faces dash the livid waves."

Pollock carries the matter a little further, and represents the damned themselves as engaged in tormenting each other.

Some wandered lonely in the desert flames,
And some in full encounter fiercely met
With curses loud, and blasphemies that made
The cheek of darkness pale: and as they fought
And cursed and gnashed their teeth, and wished to die
Their hollow eyes did utter streams of wo."

But this is not the worst of the case. The wicked are to be bound in bundles to burn them. Bp. Jeremy Taylor says "The bodies of the damned, after the judgment past, shall be so straitened and crowded together in that infernal dungeon that the holy Scripture compares them to grapes in a wine-press, which press one another till they burst. Most barbarous was that torment inflicted upon some unfortunate persons: they put certain rings of iron, stuck full of sharp points of needles, about their arms and feet, in such manner as they could not move without pricking and wounding themselves; then they compassed them about with fire, to the end that standing still they might be burnt alive; and if they stirred the sharp points pierced their flesh with more intolerable pains than the fire. What then

shall be the torment of the damned, when they shall lie eternally without dying and without possibility of removing from the place designed them ?" Mr. Ambrose tells us that the damned shall be packed like brick in a kiln, and be so bound that they cannot move a limb, nor even the eye-lid and while thus fixed the Almighty shall blow the fires of hell through and through them, forever! On this beautiful thought both Jeremy Taylor and Mr. Ambrose expatiate at considerable length. And it cannot be doubted that this fixedness of the body would of itself prove an intolerable punishment. To stand in the pillory for a single hour occasions horrible pain. What then must it be to lie thus immovably fixed in hell forever and ever? Besides, Matthew Henry tells us that "sinners of the same sort will be bundled together in the great day; a bundle of atheists, a bundle of epicures, and a great bundle of hypocrites. Those who have been associated in sin, will be so in shame and sorrow, and it will be an agravation of their misery."

Before leaving this part of the subject, I must call the attention of my readers to a very great improvement in hell's horrors, too little known and too seldom insisted upon among the multitude, but exhibited very clearly by some of the learned. I allude to the sudden and frequent transitions in hell, from extreme heat to extreme cold, which as may well be imagined, must

[ocr errors]

add immeasurably to the torments of the damn-
ed. This beautiful thought may seem to have
been drawn from the gnashing, or as Dr. Adam
Clark says chatteriag of the teeth, mentioned in
the Gospels; though Jeremy Taylor evidently
takes it from a passage of the Vulgate of Job,
which he translates: 66
They shall pass from ex-
tremity of cold to intolerable heats." The Hin-
doos, though not remarkable for their refinement,
believe, as appears from the Institutes of Menu,
that the wicked shall "suffer alternate afflictions
from extremeties of cold and heat." Milton has
not failed to exhibit this trait of hell's horrors.

"Beyond this flood, a frozen continent
Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice,
A gulf profound.

The parching air
Burns froze, and cold perfoms the effect of fire.
Thither by harpy-footed furies haled,
At certain revolutions all the damned

Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes-extremes by change more fierce-
From beds of raging fire, to starve in ice

Their soft etherial warmth and then to pine
Immoveable infixed, and frozen round
Periods of time, thence hurried back to fire."

But not to dwell longer on these varied torments, let it be reme membered that they are inconceiveably more severe than any it is possible to suffer, or even to imagine, in the present life. On

this point all good orthodox writers are fully agreed. Drexelius, and also Jeremy Taylor, both refer to numerous instances of barbarous and inhuman punishments inflicted by some of the worst tyrants that ever lived, and yet maintain that they are nothing in comparison with the punishments of hell. Take a single case introduced by Drexelius. "We read," says he, "in the history of Paulus Jovius, that Actiolinus, the tyrant of Padua, had several loathsome, horrible prisons, which were so infamous for the great variety of tortures which were exercised therein, that they who were cast into them, looked upon death as their greatest happiness; the sooner he came the more welcome he was to those miserable wretches. They were laden with irons; starved with hunger, poisoned with stench, eaten up with vermin; in this manner they died a lingering death, that they might perceive themselves to die. He was justly accounted the happiest among them, who died the soonest; and indeed their punishment was worse than death; vast heaps of dead bodies lay putrifying together, which was so dismal and noisome a spectacle that it might truly be affirmed without a figure that the dead were the destruction of the living. But the worst of those prisons," says the good Drexelius, "is a kind of Paradise in respect to hell.”

The same author lays down the following

statement. "If," says he, "all the severest and most barbarous tortures which were ever invented by the tyrants of the earth, who by anxious thoughts, and hellish contrivances, improved and refined the art of cruelty and brought it to perfection; if these, I say, were to be heaped upon the head of one man, and he was to endure them for a hundred years, yet they would not come near the pains of the damned even for one day!!"

It is not remarkable, considering the nature and intensity of these sufferings of hell, that even the advocates of these horrors should sometimes be forced to ask, how it is possible for human beings to endure them, I will not say for eternity, but even for a single year. We have before seen that some as Tertullian and Pollock give to hellfire a peculiar property by which it burns without destroying the object burned. To solve this difficult problem, in another way, Drexelius refers to the well known asbestos which, says he, being once set on fire, burneth continually," and also to a certain kind of flax, unknown I suspect to modern naturalists, "which, so far from being consumed by fire, is washed and cleansed by it." But these do not furnish by any means so apposite an illustration of the subject in hand as he finds in that creature of popular superstition, the salamander ! "This creature," says the

« PreviousContinue »