The Sinner's Doom!
James Smith, 1855
"The wicked shall be turned into Hell — and all the nations that forget God!" Psalm 9:17
Everything depends upon character. It generally does so in reference to this world — and it always does in reference to the next. As the man is — so is his doom. "The righteous Lord loves righteousness, but he hates the workers of iniquity." Psalm 5:5. The righteous and the wicked are essentially different characters. The whole world comprises no more than these two classes.
Who are the WICKED? All who are in love with sin. Every human being who really loves sin, is wicked. He may not love every particular sin — but if he loves any one sin, and lives in the practice of it — he is wicked. A man may not swear — but if he lies, he is wicked. He may not get intoxicated — but if he lives in the neglect of religion — he is wicked. It is wicked to withhold the heart from God — to prefer sin to holiness. Every one who feels at home in the world — is wicked. Saints have always been as strangers and pilgrims here. They have found the world to be unsuitable to them, and have lived looking for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. If the world can satisfy us, if we prefer its employments and enjoyments, to the service and enjoyment of God — we are ranked among the wicked. If we are living afar off from God, strangers to his presence, and satisfied at a distance from him — we are wicked.
But the text denounces "all the nations that forget God." This is true of the heathen — but we cannot confine it to them. There are many in our own country, who live in forgetfulness of God.
This will include all the prayerless. They profess to believe that God is everywhere present, that his omniscient eye is upon them, that his ear is open to them, that his omnipotent power could in one moment crush them — and yet they lie down at night, rise in the morning, and pass through the day — without ever lifting up the heart to him. They are never affected with the thought: God is near me, he is listening to me, he expects me to worship him, he requires the homage of my heart — but they live and act as if there was no God! God is not in all their thoughts. All such will he turned into Hell.
It includes the faithless. All who have not saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Who do not give credit to, place confidence in, and conform their lives to the word of God. Such forget God, and all such shall he turned into Hell. Every unregenerate person, lives in forgetfulness of God. Such may be moral in their lives; they may be amiable in their tempers — but forgetting God, they will be turned into Hell. They may be in the bloom of youth, or they may be venerable through age; but forgetting God — they will be turned into Hell. They treat God with contempt, they despise his mercy. They are guilty — and have no title to Heaven. They are unholy — and have no fitness for Heaven. They have no right to go to Heaven, and they have no qualification for the enjoyments of Heaven. What will become of them? "The wicked shall be turned into Hell — and all the nations that forget God." Their residence for eternity is Hell.
What is Hell? No figure drawn from the things of earth can fully represent it. No human language can set it forth. It is that place where sinners torment each other, and are tormented for evermore. It is that place where sin is allowed to develop itself without any obstruction. The sinner carries all the elements of Hell in his own heart; and in that dreadful place, where he will be forever confined — they will burst forth and rage with indescribable fury!
But many things are employed to give us some idea of it.
Hell is a prison. A prison, where millions of prisoners are confined. A prison, from which every element of happiness is excluded, and in which all that can make a sinner wretched and miserable, is found.
Hell is darkness. Outer darkness. Worse than Egyptian darkness. Darkness that may be felt. Damp, depressing, murky darkness. Where no pleasing object can be seen. Into which no ray of hope can ever penetrate.
Hell is fire. Unquenchable fire. Devouring fire. A lake of fire and brimstone. A broad, deep, flaming lake, into which lost souls are cast, and in which they suffer "the vengeance of eternal fire;" from which they hopelessly exclaim, "I am tormented in this flame!"
The conscience like a lively, gnawing, never-dying worm, inflicts the acutest pain! It lashes, condemns, and fills the soul with bitter reflections, and ever charges home its condemnation upon itself.
In that fearful place, devils are the chief tormentors, the withering frown of God rests upon the guilty spirit, and bleak despair reigns over every power of the soul. "The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever!" Revelation 14:11.
Hell is a bottomless pit — in which the sinner is forever sinking; the prison house of despair — from which no prisoner can ever be liberated.
O Hell! who can describe your horrors!
O eternity! who can set forth your extent!
In Hell, the wicked are punished for the sins of earth — they are tormented for the crimes of time.
The torment is universal — affecting every power of the soul and every part of the body.
The torment is uninterrupted — not one moment's ease, not the smallest alleviation can be known.
The torment is eternal — as endless as the existence of God, as lasting as the immortal nature of man.
This is "the wrath to come."
This is "the damnation of Hell."
This is "the wages of sin."
This is the end of the sinners flowery path — the termination of that broad road along which such thousands crowd.
Flee then, beloved reader, "flee from the wrath to come!" Hasten your escape from this dreadful storm and tempest! "Escape for your life, look not behind you, tarry not in all the plain."
But, is there any NECESSITY that sinners should be turned into Hell? Yes, there is — if they live and die in sin.
God's holiness renders Hell necessary. They could not live in his presence. His holiness could not allow them to stand before him, and it would occasion the most terrible sufferings if it could.
God's justice renders Hell necessary. Justice must see that every creature has its due. It will render to every man according to his works. If impenitent sinners were not punished — God would cease to be just. His character would be injured. His government would be imperfect. Justice will see to it that every one has his right — and Hell is the sinners right.
The law of God renders Hell necessary. That amiable transcript of the divine nature, that lovely requirement of the divine will, demands obedience or punishment. It must be obeyed — or the delinquent must be punished. To the obedient it presents promises — but to the disobedient only threatening! "Sin is the transgression of the law." Hell is the penalty to be endured by transgressors. While God's law is holy, just, and good; and men are polluted, unrighteous, and wicked — punishment is rendered necessary.
God's veracity renders Hell necessary. He has threatened unrepentant sinners with Hell. His threatenings are plain, positive, often repeated, recorded in his book — and are known to angels, devils, and men. How can God be true, if the wicked are not turned into Hell — when he has solemnly and repeatedly said they shall be? "Has he said, and shall he not do it? Or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" Heaven and earth may pass away — but his word shall never pass away until all is fulfilled.
Man's sin renders Hell necessary. Every man sins voluntarily, knowingly, obstinately, perseveringly. He sins because he will. He sins because he is a rebel against God. He sins because his heart is enmity against God. He sins in the light, with the consequences placed before his eyes, and by so doing dares the Most High to do his worst. Awful thought! What a fearful thing is sin!
But is it necessary that sinners should be turned into Hell? No! NO. There is a way of escape. There is a path to Heaven. The way is plain. The entrance to it is near. It is open, every obstruction has been removed. Jesus is the way. His precious blood cleanses every penitent sinner from all sin. His righteousness justifies the believing transgressor from every charge. His word invites the vilest of our race to his throne, and promises acceptance there. His mercy is infinite. His compassion never fails!
He calls to the sinner who is hurrying to perdition, and says, "Come unto me." He expostulates with the impenitent — who appears bent upon destruction, and says, "Why will you die?" He waits for the delaying, and say, "How long you simple ones will you love sin?" He offers a full and free salvation to whoever will, and has pledged that he will cast out none who come to him.
Reader, are you righteous — or wicked? One or the other you must be. If living in any sin, or in forgetfulness of God — you will be turned into Hell at death. "Consider this all you who forget God, lest He tears you in pieces; and there are none to deliver!" Psalm 50:22. Repent of your wickedness and pray God that your sins may be forgiven. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved: the gates of Hell shall be bound against you, and the gates of Heaven thrown wide open to receive you!
No words can declare, no imagine can paint,
What rage and despair, what hopeless complaint,
Fills Satan's dark dwelling, the prison beneath,
With weeping and yelling, and gnashing of teeth!
Yet sinners will choose this dreadful abode!
Each madly pursues the dangerous road;
Though God give the warning, they onward will go,
They answer with with scorning, and rush upon woe.
How sad to behold the rich and the poor,
The young and the old, all blindly secure!
All posting to ruin, refusing to stop;
Ah! think what you're doing, while yet there is hope!
How weak is your hand, to fight with the Lord!
How can you withstand the edge of his sword!
What hope of escaping for those who oppose,
When Hell is wide gaping, to swallow his foes!
How oft have you dared the Lord to his face!
Yet still you are spared to read of his grace;
O pray for repentance and life-giving faith,
Before the just sentence consign you to death!
It is not too late, to Jesus to flee,
His mercy is great, his pardon is free!
His blood has such virtue for all who believe,
That nothing can hurt you, if him you receive!