James Smith, 1858
"The rich man also died and was buried. In Hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him: Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire!" Luke 16:22-24
HELL! What is it? It is God's great prison, where His criminals are confined. It is the place of punishment — where the wages of sin are paid. It is the house of despair, the residence of desperation, the dwelling-place of the worm that never dies. It is called the lake of fire, burning with brimstone. It is a place of terrible torture, dreadful agony, and soul-racking remorse. Hope never enters there. Repose is never enjoyed there. Light never shines there. But all is pain, gloom, restless agony, and indescribable torment! There is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth — forever!
HELL! Who are there? The rich man, at whose gate Lazarus lay, is there. Judas, who betrayed Jesus, is there. Cain, who slew his brother, is there. Demas, who preferred the world to Christ, is there. The covetous and thieves are there! The immoral and liars are there! The proud and vain are there! All who made light of the Gospel are there! All who neglected the great salvation are there! All who worshiped the Roman beast are there! And they are all "tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb! The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever — and they have no rest day nor night!"
Many perhaps whom you have known are there! Some of our relations even may be there! Old friends of ours may be there. Some who lived in the same street, met in the same place of worship, and whom we once hoped to meet in Heaven — are there!
Who are there? Why, we were nearly there ourselves! We lay at the entrance of Hell! We were within a few inches of Hell! A slight accident, a stroke, or a disease — would have sent us there. Yes — but for free and sovereign grace — WE would have been in Hell!
"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life!" Revelation 21:27
"Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying!" Revelation 22:15
HELL! What do they suffer there? No tongue can tell. No pen can write; no heart can conceive — what lost souls suffer in Hell! Who can tell what the unmixed wrath, the fiery indignation, the endless curse of Almighty God is? Who can set forth what sin deserves, and what is the obstinate sinner's due?
They weep, they wail, they gnash their teeth. They are tormented in eternal flames. In every member of the body, in every power of the soul — the lost in Hell will suffer. Memory, conscience, and the imagination — will especially increase their agonies! And hopeless despair will render their doom indescribably dreadful!
What do they suffer in Hell? Tell! O tell me — what God can justly inflict, what an immortal man can bear, what the threatenings of the violated law require, and how devils can add to the torments of lost souls — and I will tell you what they may suffer in Hell!
But, O! may you never know in your own experience what lost souls have to endure, and endure forever! Could we but lift the veil that conceals that awful place from our view, and see but for five minutes the agonies of those in Hell — we would never forget the sight! Our flesh would tremble, our hair would stand up on our heads, and our souls would be paralyzed with horror!
HELL! Who will yet go to Hell? Who? Perhaps the reader of these lines! Who? ah, perhaps many of whom we have now no suspicion! Will any of our children go there? Will any of our brothers or sisters go there? Will any of the members of the church go there? Will any of this congregation go there?
Who will go there? All liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with brimstone and fire. All swearers, all drunkards — will find a place set apart in Hell for them. All immoral people; all covetous and dishonest people — all will find a place in Hell prepared for them.
Who will go to Hell? All who live and die impenitent; "for unless you repent — you shall all likewise perish!" All unbelievers; for "he who believes not, shall be damned!" All who are in their natural state; for "unless a man is born again — he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Without faith in Christ, and repentance toward God; without love to God and man, the proof and evidence of the new birth; without union to Christ, and the possession of the Spirit of Christ — there is no escaping the wrath to come — the person must go to Hell! O solemn consideration! Let a man therefore examine himself, whether he is in the faith; let each man and woman prove their own selves, and see if Christ is in them.
HELL! How may we escape it? Only by fleeing to Jesus, by believing in Jesus, and receiving the Spirit of Jesus. No one can save us but Jesus, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we can be saved. Jesus has done all that is necessary to save souls from Hell, and he is ready to put on our account — what he has done to us; whenever we go to him, plead with him, trust in him, and commit our souls to him. We need not go to Hell, for Jesus is both able and willing to save us; and yet we must go to Hell, unless we apply to him, to be saved by him.
As therefore Hell is so dreadful; as the punishments of Hell are eternal; as once lost, we are lost irrecoverably — as no one can save us but Jesus — and as Jesus will only save those who make personal application to him — let us at once, with all our hearts and souls, apply to Christ! "Behold! now is the accepted time. Behold! now is the day of salvation." Let us then "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon!" Isaiah 55:6-7