The Practice of Piety—a Puritan
devotional manual, directing a Christian how to live, that he may please God
by Lewis Bayly (1611)
Meditations on the
miserable state of those not reconciled to God in Christ
O wretched man! Where shall I begin to describe your endless misery, who are
condemned as soon as conceived; and judged to eternal death, before you were
born to a temporal life! A beginning indeed, I find—but no end of your
miseries. For when Adam and Eve, being created after God's own image, and
placed in Paradise, that they and their posterity might live in a blessed
state of life immortal, having dominion over all earthly creatures, and only
restrained from the fruit of one tree, as a sign of their subjection to the
almighty Creator; though God forbade them this one small thing, under the
penalty of eternal death; yet they believed the devil's word before the word
of God, making God, as much as in them lay, a liar. And so being unthankful
for all the benefits which God bestowed on them, they became malcontent with
their present state, as if God had dealt enviously or niggardly with them;
and believed that the devil would make them partakers of far more glorious
things than ever God had bestowed upon them; and in their pride they fell
into high-treason against the Most High; and disdaining to be God's
subjects, they attempted blasphemously to be gods themselves, equals to God.
Hence, until they repented they became like the devil; and so all their
posterity, as a traitorous brood (while they remain impenitent, like you)
and are subject in this life to all cursed miseries, and, in the life to
come, to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Lay then aside for a while your doting vanities, and take
the view with me of your doleful miseries; which duly surveyed, I doubt not
but that you will conclude, that it is far better never to have been born,
than not to be by grace, a practitioner of religious piety.
Consider therefore your misery:
1. In your life.
2. In your death.
3. After death.
In your life, 1. The miseries accompanying your
body; 2. The miseries which deform your soul.
In your death, The miseries which shall oppress
your body and soul.
After death, The miseries which overwhelm both body
and soul together in hell.
I. Miseries in this PRESENT LIFE.
A. The miseries of the BODY from infancy to old age.
And, first, let us take a view of those miseries which
accompany the body in the four ages of life, namely infancy, youth,
adulthood, and old age.
1. What were you, being an
INFANT—but an helpless unconscious creature, having the human
form—but without speech or reason? You were born with the stain of original
sin, and cast naked upon the earth. What cause then have you to boast of
your birth, which was pain and anguish to your mother, and to yourself the
entrance into a troublesome life? The greatness of which miseries, because
you could not utter in words, you did express as well as you could in
2. What is YOUTH—but
an untamed beast? All whose actions are rash and crude, not capable of good
counsel, when it is given; and, ape-like, delighting in nothing but in toys
and baubles? Therefore you no sooner began to have a little strength and
discretion—but immediately you were kept under the rod, and fear of parents
and masters; as if you had been born to live under the discipline of others,
rather than at the disposition of your own will. No tired horse was ever
more willing to be rid of his burden, than you were to get out of the
servile state of this bondage—a state not worth the description.
3. What is ADULTHOOD
but a sea, wherein, as waves, one trouble arises on the crest of another—the
latter worse than the former? No sooner did you enter into the affairs of
this world—but you were enwrapped about with a cloud of miseries. Your
flesh provokes you to lust, the world allures you to pleasures,
and the devil tempts you to all kinds of sins; fears of enemies
affright you; lawsuits vex you; wrongs of bad neighbors oppress you; cares
for wife and children consume you; and disquietness from open foes and false
friends do in a manner confound you; sin stings you within; Satan lays
snares before you; conscience of past sins, dog behind you.
Now adversity on the left hand frets you; anon,
prosperity on your right hand flatters you! Over your head God's vengeance
due to your sin is ready to fall upon you; and under your feet, hell's mouth
is ready to swallow you up! And in this miserable estate, where will you
go for rest and comfort? The house is full of cares, the field is full
of toil, the country is full of crudeness, the city is full of factions, the
court is full of envy, the church is full of sects, the sea is full of
pirates, the land is full of robbers. Or in what state will you live, seeing
wealth is envied—and poverty despised; wit is distrusted—and simplicity is
derided; superstition is mocked—and religion is suspected; vice is
advanced—and virtue is disgraced?
Oh, with what a body of sin are you compassed about, in
this world of wickedness! What are your eyes—but windows to behold
vanities? What are your ears—but flood-gates to let in the streams of
iniquity? What are your senses—but matches to give fire to your
lusts? What is your heart—but the anvil whereon Satan has forged the
ugly shape of all lewd affections?
Are you nobly descended? You must put yourself in
peril of foreign wars to get the reputation of earthly honor; oft-times
hazard your life in a desperate combat to avoid the aspersion of a coward.
Are you born in poverty? What pains and drudgery must you endure at
home and abroad to get maintenance; and all perhaps scarcely sufficient to
serve your necessity. And when, after much service and labor, a man has got
something, how little certainty is there in that which is gotten? You see in
daily experience, that he who was rich yesterday, is today a beggar; he that
yesterday was in health, today is sick; he that yesterday was merry and
laughing, has cause today to mourn and weep; he that yesterday was in favor,
today is in disgrace; and he who yesterday was alive, today is dead! And you
know not how soon, nor in what manner you shall die yourself! And who can
enumerate the losses, crosses, griefs, disgraces, sicknesses, and
calamities, which are incident to sinful man? To speak nothing of the
death of friends and children, which oft-times seems to us far more bitter
than present death itself.
4. What is OLD AGE—but
the receptacle of all maladies? For if your lot be to draw your days to a
long date, in comes old bald-headed age, stooping under dotage, with his
wrinkled face, decaying teeth, and offensive breath; testy with
irritability, withered with dryness, dimmed with blindness, obscured with
deafness, overwhelmed with sickness, and bowed together with weakness;
having no use of any sense—but of the sense of pain, which so racks every
member of his body, that it never eases him of grief, until it has thrown
him down to his grave.
Thus far of the miseries which accompany the body. Now of
the miseries which accompany chiefly the soul in this life.
B. The miseries of the SOUL from infancy to old age.
The misery of your soul will more evidently appear, if
you will but consider—
The felicity she has lost.
The misery which she has brought upon herself by sin.
1. The felicity the soul has LOST was,
First, the fruition of the image of God, whereby the soul
was like God in knowledge, enabling her perfectly to understand the revealed
will of God (Col. 3:10; Rom. 12:2)
Secondly, true holiness, by which she was free from all
Thirdly, righteousness, whereby she was able to incline
all her natural powers. And to frame uprightly all her actions, proceeding
from those powers. With the loss of this divine image, she lost the love of
God, and the blessed communion which she had with Him, wherein consists her
life and happiness. If the loss of earthly riches vex you so much, how
should not the loss of this divine treasure perplex you much more?
2. The misery which the soul has brought upon herself by
sin, consists in two things:
1. SINFULNESS is an universal corruption both
of the soul's nature and actions. The soul's nature is infected with a
proneness to every sin continually (Eph. 2:3; Gen. 6:5). The mind is
stuffed with vanity (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:17). The understanding is
darkened with ignorance (1Cor. 2:14). The will affects nothing but
vile and vain things (Phil. 2:3). The soul's actions are evil (Rom.
3:12). Yes, this deformity is so violent, that often in the regenerate soul,
the appetite will not obey the government of reason, and the will wanders
after, and yields consent to sinful motions. How great, then, is the
violence of the appetite and will in the reprobate soul, which still remains
in her natural corruption! Hence it is that your wretched soul is so
deformed with sin, defiled with lust, polluted with filthiness, outraged
with passions, overgrown with vile affections, pining with envy, overcharged
with gluttony, surfeited with drunkenness, boiling with revenge, transported
with rage—and the glorious image of God transformed into the ugly shape of
the devil (Jn. 8:44)—so far as it once "repented the Lord, that ever he made
man!" Gen. 6:6.
2. From the former
flows the other part of the soul's miseries, called
CURSEDNESS (Dt. 27:26; Gal. 3:10; Ps. 119:21); whereof there are
in the fullness thereof
1. Cursedness in PART is that which is inflicted upon the
soul in life and death, and is common to her with the body.
2. The cursedness of the soul in life, is the wrath of
God, which lies upon such a creature so far, as that all things, not only
calamities—but also very blessings and graces turn to ruin (Rom. 2:4,5; Jer.
28:13; Isa. 28:13); terror of conscience drives him from God and his
service, that he dares not come to his presence and ordinances (Gen. 3:8,10;
4:14; Heb. 2:15)—but is given up to the slavery of Satan, and to his own
lusts and vile affections (Rom. 1:21,24,26; Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13). This is
the cursedness of the soul in life. Now follow the cursedness of the soul
and body in death.
II. The Misery of the body and soul in DEATH.
After that the aged man has battled with long sickness,
and having endured the brunt of pain, and now expect some ease—in comes
death, nature's slaughter-man, God's curse, and hell's supplier—and looks
the old man grim and black in the face; and neither pitying his age, nor
regarding his long-endured dolours, will not be hired to refrain either for
silver or gold; nay, he will not take to spare his life, skin for skin (Job
1), and all that the old man has! But death batters all the principal parts
of his body, and arrests him to appear before the dreadful Judge. And as
thinking that the old man will not despatch to go with him fast enough,
Lord!—how many darts of calamities does he shoot through him—pains, aches,
cramps, fevers, obstructions, weak heart, shortness of breath, colic, stone,
etc. Oh, what a ghastly sight it is, to see him then in his bed, when death
has given him his mortal wound! What a cold sweat over-runs all his
body—what a trembling possesses all his members! The head hangs limp, the
face waxes pale, the nose purples, the jaw-bone hangs down, the eye-strings
break, the tongue falters, the breath shortens and smells foul, and at every
gasp the heart-strings are ready to break asunder!
Now the miserable soul sensibly perceives her earthly
body to begin to die; for as towards the dissolution of the universal frame
of the great world, the sun shall be turned into darkness, the moon into
blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven, the air shall be full of storms
and flashing meteors, the earth shall tremble, and the sea shall roar, and
men's hearts shall fail for fear, expecting the end of such sorrowful
beginnings; in like manner, towards the dissolution of man, which is his
little world, his eyes, which are as the sun and moon, lose their light, and
see nothing but blood-guiltiness of sin; the rest of the senses, as lesser
stars, do one after another fail and fall—his mind, reason, and memory, as
heavenly powers of his soul, are shaken with fearful storms of despair, and
fierce flashings of hell fire—his earthly body begins to shake and tremble,
and the phlegm, like an overflowing sea, roar and rattle in his throat,
still expecting the woeful end of these dreadful beginnings.
While he is thus summoned to appear at the great assizes
of God's judgment, behold, a quarter-sessions and jail-delivery is held
within himself; where reason sits as judge, the devil puts in a bill of
indictment, wherein is alleged all your evil deeds that ever you have
committed, and all the good deeds that ever you have omitted, and all the
curses and judgments that are due to every sin. Your own conscience shall
accuse you, and your memory shall give bitter evidence, and death stands at
the bar ready, as a cruel executioner, to dispatch you. If you shall thus
condemn yourself, how shall you escape the just condemnation of God, who
knows all your misdeeds better than yourself? (1Jn. 3:20) Gladly would you
put out of your mind the remembrance of your wicked deeds that trouble you;
but they flow faster into your remembrance, and they will not be put away,
but cry unto you—We are your works, and we will follow you!
And while your soul is thus within, out of peace and
order, your children, wife, and friends trouble you as fast, to have you put
your goods in order; some crying, some craving, some pitying, some cheering;
all, like flesh-flies, helping to make your sorrows more sorrowful (Lk.
12:20). Now the devils, who are come from hell to fetch away your soul,
begin to appear to her; and wait, as soon as she comes forth, to take her,
and carry her away. Your soul would like to stay within—but that she feels
the body begin by degrees to die, and ready, like a ruinous house, to fall
upon her head. Fearful she is to come forth, because of those hell-hounds
which wait for her coming.
Oh, she that spent so many days and nights in vain and
idle pastimes, would now give the whole world, if she had it, for one hour's
delay, that she might have space to repent, and reconcile herself unto God!
But it cannot be, because her body, which joined with her in the actions of
sin, is altogether now unfit to join with her in the exercise of
repentance—and repentance must be of the whole man.
Now she sees that all her pleasures are gone, as if they
had never been; and that but only torments remain, which never shall have an
end of being. Who can sufficiently express her remorse for her sins past,
her anguish for her present misery, and her terror for her torments to come?
In this extremity she looks everywhere for help, and she
finds herself every way helpless. Thus in her greatest misery, desirous to
hear the least word of comfort, she directs this or the like speech to her
eyes—O eyes, who in times past were so quick-sighted, can you spy no
comfort, nor any way how I might escape this dreadful danger? But the
eye-strings are broken, they cannot see the candle that burns before them,
nor discern whether it is day or night.
The soul, finding no comfort in the eyes, speaks to the
ears—O ears, who were accustomed to recreate yourselves with hearing
new pleasant discourses, and music's sweetest harmony, can you hear any news
or tidings of the least comfort for me? The ears are either so deaf, that
they cannot hear at all, or the sense of hearing is grown so weak, that it
cannot endure to hear his dearest friends speak. And why should those ears
hear any tidings of joy in death, who could never abide to hear the glad
tidings of the gospel in this life? The ear can minister no comfort.
Then she intimates her grief to the tongue—O
tongue, who were accustomed to brag it out with the bravest, where are now
your big and daring words? Now, in my greatest need, Can you speak nothing
in my defense? Can you neither daunt these enemies with threatening words,
nor entreat them with fair speeches? Alas! the tongue two days ago lay
speechless—it cannot, in his greatest extremity, either call for a little
drink, or desire a friend to take away with his finger the phlegm that is
ready to choke him.
Finding here no hope of help, she speaks to the feet—Where
are you, O feet, which once were so nimble in running? Can you carry me
nowhere out of this dangerous place? The feet are stone-dead already—if they
be not stirred, they cannot stir.
Then she directs her speech to her hands—O hands,
who have been so often approved for manhood, in peace and war, and wherewith
I have so often defended myself, and conquered my foes, never had I more
need than now. Death looks me grim in the face, and kills me—hellish fiends
wait about my bed to devour me—help now, or I perish forever. Alas! the
hands are so weak, and do so tremble, that they cannot reach to the mouth a
spoonful of liquid, to relieve languishing nature.
The wretched soul, seeing herself thus desolate, and
altogether destitute of friends, help, and comfort, and knowing that within
an hour she must be in everlasting pains, retires herself to the heart
(which of all members is prime faculty), from whence she makes this
doleful lamentation with herself.
O miserable coward that I am! How do the sorrows of death
encompass me! How do the floods of Belial make me afraid! (2 Sam. 22:5) Now
have, indeed, the snares both of the first and second death overtaken me at
once. O how suddenly has death stolen upon me with insensible degrees! Like
the sun, which the eye perceives not to move, though it be most swift of
motion. How does death wreak on me his spite without pity! The God of mercy
has utterly forsaken me; and the devil, who knows no mercy, waits to take
me! How often have I been warned of this doleful day by the faithful
preachers of God's word, and I made but a jest of it! What profit have I now
of all my pride, fine house, and mirthful apparel? What is become of the
sweet relish of all my delicious foods? All the worldly goods which I so
carefully gathered, would I now give for a good conscience, which I so
carelessly neglected. And what joy remains now of all my former fleshly
pleasures, wherein I placed my chief delight? Those foolish pleasures were
but deceitful dreams, and now they are past like vanishing shadows! But to
think of those eternal pains which I must endure for those short pleasures,
distresses me as hell—before I enter into hell.
Yet justly, I confess, as I have deserved I am served;
that being made after God's image a reasonable soul, able to judge of my own
estate, and having mercy so often offered, and I entreated to receive it—I
neglected God's grace, and preferred the pleasures of sin before the pious
care of pleasing God; lewdly spending my short time, without considering
what accounts I must make at my last end. And now all the pleasures of my
life being put together, countervail not the least part of my present pains!
My joys were but momentary, and gone before I could scarcely enjoy them; my
miseries are eternal, and never shall know an end. O that I had spent the
hours that I consumed in card-playing, dice-throwing, and other vile
exercises—in reading the scriptures, in hearing sermons, in weeping for my
sins, in fasting, watching, praying, and in preparing my soul—that I might
have now departed in the assured hope of everlasting salvation! O that I
were now to begin my life again! How would I despise the world and its
vanities! How piously and purely would I lead my life! How would I frequent
the church, and use the means of grace!
If Satan should offer me all the treasures, pleasures,
and promotions of this world, he could never entice me to forget these
terrors of this last dreadful hour. But, O corrupt carcass and loathsome
carrion! How has the devil deluded us! And how have we served and deceived
each other—and pulled swift damnation upon us both! Now is my case more
miserable than the beast that perishes in a ditch—for I must go to answer
before the judgment-seat of the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, where I
shall have none to speak for me! And these wicked fiends, who are privy to
all my evil deeds, will accuse me, and I cannot excuse myself; my own heart
already condemns me; I must needs therefore be damned before his
judgment-seat, and from thence be carried by these infernal fiends into that
horrible prison of endless torments and utter darkness, where I shall never
more see light, that first most excellent thing that God made.
I, who gloried heretofore in being a free man, am now
enclosed in the very claws of Satan, as the trembling partridge is within
the gripping talons of the ravenous falcon. Where shall I lodge tonight—and
who shall be my companions? O horror to think! O grief to consider! O cursed
be the day wherein I was born—let not the day wherein my mother bore me be
blessed! Cursed be the man who showed my father, saying, "A child is born
unto you," and comforted him; cursed be that man because he slew me not! O
that my mother's womb might have been my grave!
How is it that I came forth of the womb to endure these hellish sorrows—and
that my days should thus end with eternal shame? Cursed be the day that I
was first united to so vile a body! O that I had but so much favor as that I
might never see you more! Our parting is bitter and doleful—but our meeting
again, to receive at that dreadful day the fullness of our deserved
vengeance, will be far more terrible and intolerable.
But what do I mean thus—by too late lamentation, to seek
to prolong time? My last hour has come, I hear the heart-strings break! This
filthy house of clay falls on my head! Here is neither hope, help, nor place
of any longer abiding. And must I needs be gone, you filthy carcass? O
filthy carcass! Farewell, I must leave you!
But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your soul
will be demanded from you. Now who will get the things you've accumulated?"
(Luke 12:20). And so all trembling, the lost soul comes forth from the body,
and instantly is seized upon by infernal fiends, who carry her with violence
to the bottomless lake that burns with fire and brimstone; where she is kept
as a prisoner in torments until the general judgment of the great day (Rev.
21:8; Jude, verse 6; 1Pet. 3:19.)
The loathsome carcass is afterwards laid in the grave. In
which action, for the most part, the dead bury the dead; that is, they who
are dead in sin, bury those who are dead for sin. And thus the
godless and unregenerated worldling, who made earth his paradise, his belly
his God, his lust his law; as in his life he sowed vanity, so he is now
dead, and reaps misery. In his prosperity he neglected to serve God—in his
adversity God refuses to save him! And the devil, whom he long served, now
at length pays him his wages. Detestable was his life, damnable is his
death. The devil has his soul, the grave has his carcass—in which pit of
corruption, den of death, and dungeon of sorrow—let us leave the miserable
sinner, rotting with his mouth full of earth, his belly full of worms, and
his carcass full of stench; expecting a fearful resurrection, when the body
shall be reunited with the soul; that as they sinned together, so they may
be eternally tormented together!
Thus far of the miseries of the soul and body is death,
which is but cursedness in part—Now follows the fullness of cursedness,
which is the misery of the soul and body after death.
III. The misery of a man AFTER death, which is
the fullness of cursedness.
The fullness of cursedness, when it falls upon a
creature, not able to bear the brunt of it, presses him down to that
bottomless deep of the endless wrath of Almighty God, which is called the
damnation of hell (Lk. 8:28, & 16:23; 1Th. 1:10; Mt. 23:33). This fullness
of cursedness is either particular or general.
PARTICULAR is that which, in a less measure of
fullness, lights upon the soul immediately, as soon as she is separated from
the body (Lk. 16:22,23; 1Pet. 3:19; Jude, verses 6,7); for in the very
instant of dissolution she is in the sight and presence of God—for when she
ceases to see with the organ of fleshly eyes, she sees after a spiritual
manner; like Stephen, who saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at his
right hand (Acts 7:5); or as a man who, being born blind, and miraculously
restored to his sight, should see the sun, which he never saw before. And
there, by the testimony of her own conscience, Christ, the righteous Judge,
who knows all things, takes her, by his omnipresent power, to understand the
doom and judgment that is due unto her sins, and what must be her eternal
state. And in this manner standing in the sight of heaven, not fit, for her
uncleanness, to come into heaven, she is said to stand before the throne of
God. And so immediately she is carried by the evil demons, who come to fetch
her with violence into hell, where she is kept, as in a prison, in
everlasting pains and chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great
day; but not in that extremity of torments which she shall finally receive
at the last day.
The GENERAL fullness
of cursedness is in a greater measure of fullness which shall be inflicted
upon both soul and body, when, by the mighty power of Christ, the supreme
Judge of heaven and earth, the soul shall be brought out of hell, and the
body out of the grave, as prisoners, to receive their dreadful doom,
according to their evil deeds (2Pet. 2:9; Jude, verse 7; Rev. 11:18; Jn.
5:28,29; Rev. 20:13). How shall the reprobate, by the roaring of the sea,
the quaking of the earth, the trembling of the powers of heaven (Mt. 24:29;
Lk. 21:24,25), and terrors of heavenly signs—be driven, at the world's end,
to their wits' end! Oh, what a woeful salutation will there be between the
damned soul and body, at their reuniting at that terrible day!
O sink of sin, O lump of filthiness (will the soul
say to her body), how am I compelled to re-enter you, not as to an
habitation to rest—but as a prison, to be tormented! How do you appear in my
sight, like Jephtha's daughter, to my great torment! Would God you had
perpetually rotted in the grave, that I might never have seen you again! How
shall we be confounded together to hear, before God, angels, and men—laid
open all those secret sins which we committed together! Have I lost heaven
for the love of such a foul carrion? Are you the flesh for whose pleasures I
have yielded to commit so many fornications? O filthy belly! How did I
become such a fool as to make you my god! How insane was I, for momentary
joys—to incur these torments of eternal pains! You rocks and mountains—why
do you skip away from me—and will not fall upon me, to hide me from the face
of him who comes to sit on yonder throne; for the great day of his wrath is
come, and who shall be able to stand? (Rev. 6:16,17) Why tremble you thus, O
earth, at the presence of the Lord—and will not open your mouth, and swallow
me up, as you did Korah—that I may be seen no more?
O evil fiends! I would you might without delay tear me in
pieces—on condition that you would tear me into nothingness!
But while you are thus in vain bewailing your misery, the
angels (Mt. 13:41) drag you violently out of your grave to some place near
the tribunal-seat of Christ; where being, as a cursed goat, separated to
stand on the left hand of the Judge—Christ will pass sentence upon you (Mt.
Within you, your own conscience (more than a thousand
witnesses) shall accuse you. The devils, who tempted you to all your
lewdness, shall on the one side testify with your conscience against
you! And on the other side shall stand the holy saints and angels
approving Christ's justice! Behind you, an hideous noise of
innumerable fellow-reprobates waiting to receive you into their company!
Before you, all the world burning in flaming fire! Above you, an
wrathful Judge of deserved vengeance, ready to pronounce his sentence upon
you! Beneath you, the fiery and sulphurous mouth of the bottomless
pit, gaping to receive you! In this woeful estate, to hide yourself will be
impossible, for you would wish that the greatest rock might fall upon you!
(Rev. 6:16,17). To appear before the holy Lamb will be intolerable, and yet
you must stand forth, to receive with other reprobates, this
sentence—"Depart from me, you cursed one, into everlasting fire, prepared
for the devil and his angels!"
Depart from Me—there is a separation from all joy and
You cursed one—there is a black and direful exclusion
from a holy God.
Into fire—there is the cruelty of pain.
Everlasting—there is the perpetuity of punishment.
Prepared for the devil and his demons—there are your
infernal tormenting and tormented companions.
O terrible sentence! From which the condemned cannot
escape; which being pronounced, cannot possibly be withstood; against which
a man cannot deny, and from which a man can nowhere appeal—so that to the
damned, nothing remains but hellish torments, which know neither ease of
pain, nor end of time! From this judgment-seat you must be thrust by angels,
together with all the devils and reprobates, into the bottomless lake of
utter darkness, that perpetually burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8).
Whereunto, as you shall be thrust, there shall be such weeping, woes, and
wailing, that the cry of the company of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, when the
earth swallowed them up, was nothing comparable to this howling! Nay, it
will seem unto you a hell, before you go into hell—but to hear of it.
Into which lake, after that you are once plunged, you
shall ever be falling down, and never meet a bottom; and in it you shall
ever lament, and none shall pity you; you shall always weep for pain of the
fire, and yet gnash your teeth for the extremity of cold; you shall weep to
think, that your miseries are past remedy; you shall weep to think, that to
repent is to no purpose; you shall weep to think, how, for the 'shadows of
short pleasures'—you have incurred these sorrows of eternal pains; you shall
weep, to see how weeping itself can nothing prevail; yes, in weeping, you
shall weep more tears than there is water in the sea; for the water of the
sea is finite—but the weeping of a reprobate shall be infinite!
There your lascivious eyes will be afflicted with
sights of ghastly spirits; your curious ears affrighted with hideous
noise of devils, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth of reprobates; your
dainty nose will be cloyed with noisome stench of sulphur; your
delicate taste pained with intolerable hunger; your drunken throat
will be parched with unquenchable thirst; your mind will be tormented to
think how, for the love of pleasures, which perished before they
budded—you so foolishly did lose heaven's joys, and incur hellish pains,
which last beyond eternity! Your conscience shall ever sting you like an
adder, when you think how often Christ by his preachers offered the
remission of sins, and the kingdom of heaven freely to you, if you would but
believe and repent; and how easily you might have obtained mercy in those
days; how near you were many times to have repented, and yet did allow the
devil and the world to keep you still in impenitency; and how the day of
mercy is now past, and will never dawn again. How shall your understanding
be racked, to consider, that, for momentary riches—you have lost the eternal
treasure, and exchanged heaven's felicity for hell's misery; where every
part of your body, without intermission of pain, shall be continually
In these hellish torments you shall be forever deprived
of the beatifical sight of God, wherein consists the sovereign good and life
of the soul; you shall never see light, nor the least light of joy—but lie
in a perpetual prison of utter darkness, where there shall be no order—but
horror; where there shall be no voice—but of blasphemers and howlers;
where there shall be no noise—but of tortures and tortured; where
there shall be no society—but of the devil and his angels, who being
tormented themselves, shall have no other ease but to wreak their fury in
tormenting you; where shall be punishment without pity; misery without
mercy; sorrow without support; crying without comfort; mischief without
measure; torment without ease—where the worm dies not and the fire is never
quenched; where the wrath of God shall seize upon the soul and body, as the
flame of fire does on the brimstone. In which flame you shall ever be
burning, and never consumed; ever dying, and never dead; ever
roaring in the pangs of death, and never rid of those pangs, nor knowing
end of your pains.
So that after you have endured them so many thousand
years as there are grass on the earth, or sand on the sea shore—you are
no nearer to have an end of your torments, than you were the first day that
you were cast into them! Yes, so far are they from ending, that they are
ever but beginning! But if, after a thousand times so many thousand years,
your lost soul could but conceive a hope that her torments should have an
end, this would be some comfort—to think that at length an end will come.
But as oft as the mind thinks of this word NEVER—it is as another hell in
the midst of hell!
This thought shall force the damned to cry, "Woe! Woe!"
as much as if they should say, not ever, not ever, O Lord, not ever, not
ever torment us thus! But their conscience shall answer them as an echo,
"Forever! Forever!" Hence shall arise their doleful woe, and alas
This is that second death, the general complete fullness
of all cursedness and misery, which every damned reprobate must suffer—so
long as God and his saints shall enjoy bliss and felicity in heaven
Thus far of the misery of man in his state of
corruption—unless he is renewed by grace in Christ.