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infernal prison to associate with the de vil and his angels, and with all the unholy and impure of every nation and kindred, people and tongue, to suffer everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power ? How agonised must their minds be! how bitter their feelings! how painful their reflections !
Such, then, will be the punishment of loss ; but there yet remains another species of suffering to be considered, viz. 2dly, that of sense, or the positive punishment which sinners must endure, and which God, in his just wrath, will inflict in a future world. The wicked shall not only “ go away from the pre
sence of God, and from all the heavenly “ society, but” they shall “ go into ever* lasting punishment,” which doubtless imports, that they shall be doomed to suffer some positive pain and torment,
Of these torments, it is true, the Bible gives no particular and exact description ; nor is it probable, that at present we could conceive or comprehend them. Metaphors borrowed from the most painful
and dreadful things in nature are employed to express and represent them. They are shadowed forth under the ideas of the “ wine of the wrath of God,
pour66 ed out without mixture into the “ his indignation ;”—“ of torments in a “ lake that burneth with fire and brim
stone, the smoke of which ascendeth up
for ever and ever;"--of a “gnawing worm,” and “ burning fire ;"—ideas, than which we can conceive none more awful, and which must strike terror into the inmost soul; for they imply at once the inward agonies of remorse and despair, and the outward agonies of pain and torture.
Who can tell the anguish that must seize a soul thoroughly awakened to a sense of sin, without the least, the most distant prospect of pardon and deliverance ;-a soul, which sees all its offences, with all their aggravations painted in the most lively colours, beholding at the same time the most awful displays of the Divine Majesty, power and purity ;-a soul deeply pierced with the arrows of the Almighty, alive to all the misery and horrors of its situation, charging itself as
66 It is a
the author of all this misery, and lengthening out the tedious moments in ceaseless and unavailing regret. “ fearful thing to fall into the hands of “ the living God." His threatenings 2gainst impenitent transgressors are not empty words, fitted and designed only to terrify weak and superstitious minds'; but they are great and awful realities, as many, alas ! who once could laugh at and make a jest of sacred things, now know to their sad experience.
If everlasting banishment from the blissful presence of God,-if the loss of all that is excellent and desirable, if the reproaches and accusations of an awakened conscience,-if the mutual upbraidings of partners in iniquity--if the sneering reproof of devils and wicked spirits,-if the bitterest reflection on the past, and the most gloomy despair as to the future ;-if all these things, I say, constitute the very essence of wretchedness, then how dreadful is the punishment of sinners in a future state,-punishment aggravated by these two very affecting considerations, that it might have been avoided, and that it shall never have an end! I
say that it might have been avoided; for none shall be able at last to charge their Maker with their sins, nor to say that means and opportunities were not afforded them of fleeing from the wrath to come. Neither shall this punishment ever have an end; for this is the decree of heaven, that their worm is the “ worm " that never dieth,” and their fire is "the « fire that shall never be quenched.”
I come now, as was proposed in the second place, to make some practical im, provements of the subject, for struction and direction, who are still in the land of the living, and in the place of hope. And,
1. Hence we should learn to be truly thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ, who was commissioned, and came into the world, and who suffered and died, to 66 deliver us from the wrath to come.”
Blessed be God that it is not yet unavoidable with respect to any of us; nay, we are told and warned of it, on purpose that we may give diligence to make our escape. God has sent his own Son, his only and well-beloved Son, to deliver us
from going down into the pit ; and Christ the Son of God actually trode the wine-press of his Father's wrath in the room and stead of all who believe in his name. What praise and gratitude, then, my friends, are due from us to the Father's love, and the Son's condescension and grace ? Can we go round the cross of Christ, and survey the wounds of a dying Saviour ;—can we hear him, as he is represented in the gospel, cry out, and say, “ My soul is exceeding sorrow“ ful even unto death!"—can we behold the heavens all darkened over him, and the earth trembling under his cross, in that dismal hour of his suffering, without learning the infinite guilt and demerit of sin, and feeling sentiments of the warmest love and gratitude to this Friend and Saviour of men, “ who, though he “ was rich, yet for our sakes became
poor, that we through him might be « made rich !" Oh! marvellous and stupendous love, worthy of everlasting admiration and unceasing praise ! When I think of the blessings which this Sa| viour brings to me,—of that hell and destruction from which, to relieve me, he