People generally have a mistaken notion of torment. I
shudder to hear of protracted agonies on the dying malefactor—to hear of the
rack, (invented by boundless rage, and improved by infernal cruelty,)
decreed by the powerful offended party, to torture to death my
fellow-creature. Yes, the groans of dying mortals pierce my ears, and make
me sharer of their pains. But what are all human inventions—when we look
beyond them, to eternal punishment? what is the glittering sword, or
sharpened axe? What the musket, with its deadly explosion? What the gibbet,
with ten thousand spectators? What the bastinado clubs, the stamping
elephant, the quartering horses? What the piked barrels, the breaking wheel,
the boots and thumbkins, the suffocating dungeon, or the calcinating flame?
How do they all disappear before these words—DIVINE VENGEANCE—ETERNAL WRATH!
But how do the tormentors fall short of their designs,
when the guilty wretch is condemned to be put to the torture so long every
day by the rack, death is parceled out in the most cruel manner which can be
invented, until justice is satisfied, cruelty glutted, or until the
sufferer, sinking under his pains, expires, and is no more! Now, suppose
this miserable wretch, (whom we conclude happy, because the scene no more
affects our eyes,) to die impenitent; and suppose him also to have his
choice, whether to stay in the anguish of the invisible world, or to return
to the torments he lately left. How soon would we see him fondly so to
speak, embrace the flames, present his gaping wounds to the boiling oil and
scalding lead, and his naked body to the scourging steel—and weary his
tormentors! Such is the difference between the rage of man and the wrath of
the Almighty. That reaches to the body—but God's wrath, in all its terrors,
transfixes the soul. The one, finite in its nature, terminates in death; the
other, infinite in its degrees, preys on every faculty, and swallows up the
whole soul, and its duration is eternity.
How amazing the love of the Father that gave his Son for
sinners! How amazing the love of the Son that gave his life a ransom for
many! that sustained the burning load of his Almighty Father's wrath, that
our torments might sit light, and that our last pangs might translate us
into the joy of our Lord!