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brance of which he is overwhelmed with shame, remorse and anguish. Imagine yourself in his stead, a lonely, blasted, and haggard outcast, unpitied and unprotected, with no subject of reflection but the crimes and follies which have thus reduced you! What could create more exquisite suffering than the recollection of those deeds of madness which drew you from probationary ground into utter ruin? How painful to retrace the steps by which you approached the gulf of despair! how painful to remember duties unperformed, opportunities unregarded, proffered pardon often despised and salutary fears always quelled!
3. Despair of a better state will deprive the sufferings of hell of mitigation, and form one of its most appalling circumstances. To feel that their condition is unalterable, their portion unalienable, that the night of darkness on which they entered at death has no morning, that the fire into which they are banished is unquenchable, that the worms which prey on their spirits never die, is the dreadful doom of lost men. Could ages bring them relief, though wrapt in mantles of woe and lying on beds of sorrow, they might wait patiently.
But no such expectation sustains them in the midst of their miseries. They are no longer deceived by error, no longer consoled by hope, They are persuaded of the awful truth;-as the tree falls, so it lies. It is impossible for us to realize this state of mind. To be involved in wretchedness which we know will never cease, to see the frown of God, to look back and forward without fixing on one object to relieve, and in full expectancy of worse evils, is hell. In this life we know nothing of it. Here in the saddest conjunctures, when every friend forsakes us and every prospect lowers, we look to all changing time, and hope for succor. But in hell the storm never clears away, the sunshine of prosperity never opens upon the soul, the expectation of a brighter day is over. It is not wonderful that in this state of feeling, the agitated and despairing spirit should exclaim;
"Which way shall I fly?
Infinite wrath and infinite despair!
Still threatening to devour me, opens wide,
To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven."
The evil that it now experiences it could
brace itself to bear, but the abysses into which it must yet descend, the long tracks of misery it must yet travel, the horrid conviction it must yet so often feel that the work of destruction is only now begun, makes it feel that it is indeed in Hell.
4. But there are other modes of wretchedness which we may justly ascribe to the inhabitants of that world. The stings of conscience, the gnawings of remorse, the agitations of passion, the bitterness of recollection and sickening despair, are not the only messengers of wrath to execute the penalties of God's violated law. Satan and his angels and lost men themselves are the executors of his will. You might as well look for harmony in the abodes of maddened insanity, as among spirits infuriated by crime and anguish. If love is the harmony of heaven, enmity must make discord in hell. The wicked are selfish; no law of benevolence binds them in communities for mutual benefit, no principles of justice protect them from mutual aggression. What will not passion, unbridled and exasperated do among the miserable victims of despair? When will the hatred of such beings cease, when will their conflicts end, when will order be
restored where confusion reigns, when will the tumult and collision of mutual hostility terminate? Who could wish a habitation, who could endure even a visit in that world of darkness, of despair, and of malevolence? 5. But the most dreadful circumstance in the sentence of damnation has not yet been named. I mean the wrath of the Lamb. Conscious of having incurred the displeasure of a just and and merciful being, the wicked must look at themselves with shame, at each other with scorn, and to heaven with consternation. To behold the Lamb of God whom they have treated with indignity, quitting the mercy seat and assuming the throne of justice, to behold a frown where once pity sat, to hear sounds of vengeance from lips which once uttered love, and to know that by their own obduracy they have rendered this change necessary and just, closes in a most dreadful climax all that we can positively assert of their miseries. From the nature of their minds and from the characters which they sustain, it is probable that fretful, angry and vindictive passions, painful recollections, fiend-like animosities, and heart-chilling anticipations, conscious guilt, remorse and fell despair, will form part of the
degradation and anguish of destruction. By what other means the soul will be made to feel the evil of sin, and to deplore its own perversity, cannot here be ascertained. Nor could any important object be secured by a more precise and definite acquaintance with the modes of future punishment. The design of revelation is to protect the law of God from violation. We are therefore informed that its sanctions are severe. To impress this on the mind, the most terrific descriptions of the world of punishment that language affords are employed. But still they may prove to be only approximations to the truth. By means as yet unknown the anguish of the soul may be increased beyond present conception, and to a degree never expressed in words. Its distress will certainly equal whatever is implied in lying down in devouring fire and in everlasting burnings.