Tell them that their poor brother is in flames — tormenting flames, inextinguishable flames!
(James Smith, "The Lost Soul's Request!" 1860)
"I beg you, father Abraham — send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment!" Luke 16:27, 28.
Observe the object of the rich man's solicitude — his "five brothers." They were perhaps younger than himself, though it is probable that he was comparatively young.
They were still in the bright land of hope — and he was in the dismal region of despair!
They were still under the kind reign of mercy — and he was under the iron rod of justice!
He feared for them — for he knew in what state he had left them!
He feared for them — lest they should persevere in sin, and at length come to the same place of torment! He most ardently desired their salvation, and that they might escape the sure wrath that is coming. He despaired of their salvation by ordinary means, and therefore he petitioned that Lazarus may be sent — that he might testify to them.
Look at this lost soul in Hell — he remembers his brethren, and begs:
"Send Lazarus to my brothers! Lazarus is no longer a poor, ulcerated beggar — he will make a fit and suitable preacher! They know that he is dead. They will be greatly affected by his appearance among them, and by the change that has taken place in him. O, send Lazarus, and let him bear testimony to the reality of this place of torment — to the certainty of all impenitent sinners coming here, however rich or distinguished they were on earth. Let Lazarus testify as to the nature of this place of torment, and tell them that their poor brother is in flames — tormenting flames, inextinguishable flames! Tell them that I am denied one solitary drop of water, or anything which will in any way alleviate my dreadful sufferings! Let him assure them . . .
that Hell is real,
that the punishment is most intense,
that the sufferers are immortal,
that annihilation is a fiction, and
that deliverance from this fearful agony is impossible!
Let, O let him tell them, that once here, they are here forever! Forever! Forever!
And, O let him warn them of the folly, the madness — of neglecting the soul and its salvation. Let him testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment! It is possible. It is probable. It is certain — if they live and die in sin as I did!"
That poor wretch dreaded their coming there, for if anything could add to his torments — it would be to see his own brothers under the same condemnation, in the same horrid place of punishment! He also dreaded it, as most probably by his own example, and by his influence — he had hardened them in sin, and encouraged them in their ungodly course. It would therefore be an aggravation of his woe, and cause the flame that tormented him to blaze more fiercely — to see their eternal sufferings as his own fault.
It must be dreadful — to be the cause or the occasion of another's soul being lost forever, and to have the sufferings of that soul constantly before our eyes!
O what a terrible thing, the exercise of a strong memory in Hell must be!
Reader! How is it with you? Inquire, inquire diligently, I beseech you! Is there any, even the most remote probability of your being sent into that place of torment? Think . . .
of being tormented in flames of fire,
of being tormented without the least alleviation,
and of being so tormented forever and ever!
Think of going directly from the bright land of hope — to the dismal regions of despair!
Think of going from a land of light, of Bibles, of the means of grace — to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire!
Is not the thought dreadful!
If Hell was to be the doom of your greatest enemy — would you not try to prevent it? What if it should be the doom of your brothers, your sisters, your husband, your wife, your father, your mother! Can you admit the possibility, without being determined to leave no means unused, which would be likely to prevent so fearful a calamity?
But what if Hell should be the destiny of your own soul? What if it should! It will be your certain doom — if you die unconverted. Perhaps there are some now in Hell, once related to you — who are now concerned for you. Are you as much concerned for yourself?
Christian! Have you not some dear ones on the road to Hell — for whom you should be especially concerned?