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But O! what a different sentence remains to be pronounced! "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."-Awful sentence! Every word is emphatical and big with terror! To be banished from the source of happiness! to be forced away, pronounced accursed, and with the heavy curse of the Almighty resting upon them! to be doomed to fire, and everlasting fire! and this too, prepared, made ready by the Almighty God to punish his enemies! and prepared for his worst enemies, even the devil and his angels! Who can endure such a sentence as this! And is there not danger, that some of you, my hearers, will receive this sentence? Remember it will be pronounced on all workers of iniquity, and on all who are not united to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in him. Are there any such in this assembly? You are warned of your danger. Take warning and flee from the wrath that is to come. It is now a time of mercy. Christ now invites you to come unto him by faith and be saved; but if you now turn a deaf ear to his invitations, you must then hear from his lips the awful sound-depart.
Sentence being pronounced, the execution thereof will follow. These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." Mat. xxv. 46. The wicked, with devils, now their deceivers, but then their tormentors, must go away from all happiness, down to unspeakable misery, which shall never end. But the righteous shall enter with Christ into that perfect, unspeakable, and eternal blessedness, which he has purchased and prepared for them.
What will then become of our world, we know not, except that the Scriptures inform us, 2 Pet. iii. 10. 11. "The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up-all these things shall be dissolved."
I conclude this solemn subject with the exhortation of the Apostle Peter, (2 Pet. iii. 14,) "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless."
MATTHEW Xxv. 46. FIRST CLAUSE.
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment."
We have in former discourses attended to the solemn transactions of the judgment day; and have heard the different sentences which will then be pronounced upon the righteous and upon the wicked. To the righteous, the Judge will say, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Mat. xxv. 34. But to the wicked, he will say, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Mat. xxv. 41. Our text, with the rest of the verse, contain the execution of these sentences. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.
From the description given by our Saviour in the 25th chapter of Matthew, of the proceedings of the judgment day, it appears, that sentence will first be pronounced upon the righteous; but that the sentence pronounced upon the wicked, will be first executed. To treat of the punishment of the wicked, will therefore be the first in order. This is the subject of our text. "These"-that is the persons who in the judgment day will be placed on the left hand of the Judge, and after a full and impartial trial will be proved to be wicked; and on whom the sentence will be pronounced, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," "these shall go away into everlasting punishment."
This brethren is a dreadful subject, and one which the wicked generally dislike to hear. But it makes a part
that system of truth, which God has thought proper to reveal; and of that whole counsel of God, which it is my duty, not to shun to declare unto you. And it is important that the truth in our text, dreadful as it is, should be declared, that the wicked may be warned of their danger, and be persuaded by the terrors of the Lord, while there is yet hope, to flee from the wrath to come.
The future punishments of the wicked, may be divided into those of loss, and those of sense.
1. The wicked shall suffer the loss of all good. This is included in the sentence, "depart from me;" and in the account which our text gives of its execution-"these shall go away." They shall depart or go away from God, which signifies, not only a banishment from his presence; but also a total exclusion from his favour. In this life, the wicked, though God is angry with them every day, and though they taste something of his wrath, are nevertheless the subjects of many mercies; and all these mercies flow originally from God. But in hell, being banished from the presence and favour of God, they shall be deprived of all the comforts they enjoyed in this life; and besides, they shall lose all the joys of heaven. After the day of judgment, the wicked shall no more stand in the congregation of the righteous. The crown of righteousness and glory, reserved in heaven for the saints, they shall never wear. The kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world, they shall never inherit. On the golden pavements of the New Jerusalem, their feet shall never stand. That house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; and those mansions which the Saviour hath gone to prepare, they shall never occupy. In that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading, they shall have no part. Of those living pleasures which are at God's right hand evermore, they shall never partake. That rest which remaineth for the people of God, they shall never enter. And with the blessed society of heaven, they shall never, associate. All this happiness, they must lose; and from all these joys they must forever depart. And they will also be excluded from all hope. In this world, in the midst of the greatest distresses, hope of better days is a great support and comfort; but then hope, the last refuge of the miserable, will die.
2. The future misery of the wicked will consist, not
only in a punishment of loss, but also of sense. They shall not only be deprived of all good, but shall also endure a positive misery; and shall have a sense or feeling of the most exquisite torments.
The place where the wicked shall be punished is called in Scripture by several names, expressive of its dreadfulness. It is called a "prison," 1 Pet. iii. 19; "the bottomless pit," Rev. xx. 1; "a furnace of fire," Rev. xiii. 42; "a lake of fire burning with brimstone," Rev. xix. 20,"Hell," Luk. xvi. 23; and, "outer darkness," Mat. viii. 12.
The torments of the wicked in this place, are described in Scripture, in the strongest language, and by the most dreadful images. Let us attend to the description of these torments given in the word of God.
The wicked shall there continually endure the agonies of death: for their punishment is repeatedly called death, and the second death. They shall be forever dying, or forever enduring the agonies of death, and yet never die. Some of you have seen persons, writhing and struggling for an hour or a day in the agonies of death. Suppose these agonies continued without intermission, and without end, and you may have a faint idea of the second death, or the punishment, which in hell awaits the wicked. Fain would the wicked die, and thus end their torment; but this favour will be denied them.
The torments of the wicked are also represented by darkness—as we read, Mat. xxii. 13, “Then said the King to the servants, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness"-and Mat. xxv. 30; "Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness." This will probably be literally true. And further, the Scriptures probably intended hereby to express, the horror of mind, of which darkness is a fit emblem. No ray of hope will there ever beam upon the soul; but complete despair will forever reign. And as though simple darkness was not strong enough to express the gloom, and horror, and despair of the wicked in hell, the word outer or utter is added to show that the darkness will be extreme. And it is elsewhere said, "to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever." 2 Pet. ii. 17. And as though, this still was not strong enough to express the horror and despair of the wicked in hell, in another p
it is said of them, "to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." Jude 13.
The torments of the wicked are also represented, very frequently, by fire. The rich man in hell, cried-" send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame." Luk. xvi. 24. And we elsewhere read-"He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Mat. iii. 12. "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire. Mat. xiii. 41, 42. "Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire. Mat. xxv. 41. "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Rev. xx. 15. "He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone-and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever." Rev. xiv. 10, 11. In all these and several other texts, the future punishment of the wicked is represented by fire.
It has been made a question, whether these expressions are to be taken literally or figuratively; that is, whether there will be a material fire into which the wicked shall be cast; or whether, as the pain occasioned by fire is most acute, the word is not used in application to the future punishment of the wicked, to express its extreme greatness. The solution of this question, could it be solved, would be of small importance to us; for these expressions certainly teach, that whether there be a material fire or not, the punishment of the wicked will be exceedingly great, like to the pain occasioned by fire. And it is worthy of particular attention, that very strong expressions are used to set forth the extreme heat of this fire, or the extremity of the torment, which the wicked shall endure. It is a fire prepared, a furnace of fire, a lake burning with fire and brimstone, and an unquenchable fire, into which the wicked shall be cast, so that they shall be overwhelmed and tormented in every part. Were you compelled to hold only your finger for a few minutes in a common fire, the pain would be almost insupportable. What then would be the pain endured if the whole body were exposed to the fire? And still more if cast into a furnace of fire, and a lake of fire and brimstone, and there forbid to die? The pain would be great beyond all conception. Such will be the sufferings of the wicked.