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Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not
Arguments to prove the perpetuity of hell.
to make known his wisdom, his power, and his goodness amongst creatures, be built this world as a theatre, in which those perfections of his nature might be displayed amidst the various works of his hands : he spread it round with the blessings of life and pleasure, he overhung it with a canopy of skies and stars, and placed the glorious bodies of the sun and moon there to appear in their alternate seasons ; and even amidst the ruins which sin has brought into this world, yet still every eye may behold the traces of an almighty, an all-wise, and a bountiful God.
When the same divine and sovereign Being designed to exalt and diffuse the wonders of his grace among the best of his creatures, he built a
heaven for them, and furnished it with unknown varieties of beauty and blessing; and we would hope in our appointed season to be raised to this upper world, and there to behold the riches of divine magnificence and mercy, and to be sharers thereof among the rest of the happy inhabitants.
But since sin and wickedness has entered into his creation of men and angels, he saw it necessary also to display the terrors of his justice, and to make his wrath and indignation known amongst rebellious creatures, that he might maintain a just awe and reference for his own authority, and a constant hatred of sin through all his dominions. For this purpose he has boilt a hell, a dreadful building indeed, in some dismal region of his vast empire, where he has amassed together all that is grievous and formidable to sensible beings, and wicked spirits carry their owii inward hell thither with them, a hell of sin and misery ; and thoug! he has sent his own Son to acquaint us with the distresses and agonies of that doleful world, and to warn us of the danger of falling into it, yet if any of us should be so unhappy as to continue in an obstinate state of impenitence ani disobedience to God, we shall be made to confess, by dreadful experience, that not one half haih been told us.
Therefore hath God set before us these terrors in his word, that we might fly from this wrath to come, and avoid these sufferings ; and therefore do his ministers, by his commission, proceed to publish this vengeance and indignation of the Lord, that sinners might be awakened to lay hold on the hope that is set before them, and might be affrighted from plunging themselves into this pit of anguish, whence there is no redemption.
We have taken a short surves of these miseries in the kind and nature of them, in some former discourses; and we are now come to the last thing
contained in our Saviour's description of bell, and that is the perpetuity of it; the misery is everlasting in both the parts of it, for the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. The arguments which shall be employed to prove it are such as these.
ARGUMENT I. The express words of Christ and his apostles pronounce these punishments eternal; and surely these words are given to us to be the foundation of our faith and practise, and the rules of our hope and fear. My text seems to carry plain and unanswerable evidence in it. « The worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” And it is many times repeated in this chapter, and that with a special accent on the eternal duration of it, to make that circumstance of it more observed and to aggravate the terror. Such an awful repetition from the lips of the Son of God should make the sound of the vengeance dwell longer on the ear, and the threatening sink deeper into the soul.
Let us next observe the final sentence which Christ as Judge, pronounces against impenitent sinners among the sons of men, as well as against fallen spirits, in Matt. xxv. It is this, "Depart, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels :” and as soon as the sentence is pronounced it is immediately executed, as our Saviour foretels in the last verse. “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal.” What he pronounces as a judge, he foretels also as a prophet that it shall be put in execution.
The express word of God, in describing the punishment of sinvers by the pen of his two apostles Paul and John, declares the same thing, 2 Thess. i. 9. “They shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.” And the book of the Revelation gives us assurance, that these miseries shall have no end. Rev. xiv. 10, 11. • The Antichristian idolaters, who worship the beast, shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out, without mixture, into the cup of bis indignation, and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” Jude the apostle bears his testimony in the same manner, ver. 6. the damned spirits, who kept not their first station, are said to be cast down into hell, and bound in 'chains of everlasting darkness. Now suppose a man plunged into a pit of thick darkness, by the command of God, and bound there with everlasting chains; what hope can he ever have of deliverance ?
And if Christ and his apostles, who were taught by him and by his blessed Spirit, assert this punishment shall be eternal, who shall dare to contradict them? Who is there so rash and confident as to say, “ This torment shall not be everlasting, this worm one day shall die, and this fire shall be quenched ?" Does it not approach to the crime of contradicting the Almighty, and the true God?
ARGUMENT II. There is a sort of infinite 'evil in sin, arising from the consideration of the person against whom it is committed, i. e. the great and blessed God ; for every crime, according to the law of nations, and the common sense of mankind, takes its aggravation from the dignity of the person offended, as well as from the heinousness of the act , so reproaches or assaults against a king, or a father, are much more criminal and heinous.than the same assaults or reproaches cast on an equal or an inferior ; but all sin being an offence against God, an infinite object, and a violation of his law, is a dishonour of infinite majesty, an affront to the divine authority, and therefore its aggravations arise in that proportion