I might have escaped all this misery!

(Archibald Alexander, "
The misery of the lost")

Let me imagine myself to have died impenitent. It would seem that the first moment after death must be one of unparalleled misery. My first reflections would be--

"I am lost forever! All hope of happiness or relief is gone from my miserable soul! The blackness of darkness is round about me! No ray of light dawns on my wretched soul! Despair, terrible despair has now seized upon me, and must blacken every prospect to all eternity!

"While in the body, and engaged in secular pursuits, I entertained a secret hope that there might be some mistake respecting the extreme misery of the damned, or that there might possibly be some way of escape not revealed; but now all these idle notions have fled like a dream when one awakes! I find hell to be no fable--but a dreadful reality! I find that the preachers, so far from exaggerating the misery of the lost, had no adequate conception of the wretchedness of a soul cast off from God forever, and doomed to dwell in everlasting burnings! Oh horrible! Horrible! I am undone--forever undone! I have passed beyond the reach of mercy!

"For the sake of momentary enjoyments, and worthless riches and honors--I have bartered away my soul. Accursed folly! What benefit can I now derive from those earthly pleasures and possessions? They only serve as fuel to the flames which consume me. O for one drop of water to cool my tongue! But for this I beg in vain. The time for prayer and for mercy has gone by--and my soul is lost, lost, lost! And through eternity I must expect no deliverance, no relief, nor even the slightest mitigation of my misery! Woe, woe, woe is me! It would have been infinitely better for me never to have been born!

"If I had not enjoyed the offers of the gospel, my anguish would not be so excruciating. But this it is which wrings my heart with unspeakable anguish--that I might have escaped all this misery! Had it not been for my own sin and folly, I might before now have been in heaven. Others who heard the same sermons, and belonged to the same family, are now in eternal glory--while I am tormented in this flame! Oh that I could cease to be; but to fly from existence is impossible.

"Here I am surrounded by wretches as miserable as myself, but their company rather aggravates than mitigates my soul's anguish. I am reproached and cursed by all who were ever led by my counsel or example into the ways of iniquity. They dreadfully scowl upon me.

"And the fiends of the pit, who were my seducers, now combine to taunt me with my folly. They never had the offers of mercy. The merits of a dying Savior were never offered to them. They seem to entertain a malignant pleasure--if pleasure it can be called--in witnessing my extreme misery. O wretch that I am--where can I flee? Is there no possible escape from this prison of despair? Can no one ever pass the gulf which separates this dismal abode from the regions of the blessed? None! None!

"May I hope that the passing of time will lessen the horrors and anguish of my wretched soul? Will my heart, so susceptible of the emotions of bitter anguish, by degrees become less sensible to these piercing pains, and be more able to bear up under this overwhelming weight of misery? This question can only be solved by experience: let me ask someone who has been suffering for thousands of years. Here comes Cain the first murderer, who is known still by having upon him the stain of a brother's blood. Suppose I speak to him--'Tell me, fellow-prisoner, who has long endured the pains of this infernal prison, whether by long continuance these miseries become more tolerable?' But why do I ask? the wretched fratricide is evidently writhing in keenest anguish. He is too miserable to speak, and too full of malignity to gratify anyone. His guilty stain--the blood-spot--has not been burnt out by the fiercest fires of hell. No! see, he defies the Almighty. He blasphemes the God of heaven. He asks for no mitigation of his punishment now. His malignant, fiery spirit feeds on despair, and challenges his Avenger to do his worst.

"Oh, then, I see there is a progression in wickedness even in hell. This is the most appalling prospect of all--an endless progression in sin, and consequently an increase, instead of a diminution of misery, through the endless ages of eternity!"

"Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God!" (Romans 5:9)

"For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Thessalonians 5:9)