The moment after death!
(James Smith, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")
"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 16:23-24
I see the sinner who has neglected the Savior, despised the gospel, and refused to repent, closing his life in death:
his conscience accuses him,
divine justice frowns upon him,
hope forsakes him,
despair seizes upon him,
a cold chill of horror passes over his soul,
consternation and dread prey upon his vitals!
His soul then leaves the body:
it is apprehended by the angelic ministers of justice;
it is hurried to the horrid pit;
it sees in the distance, the rolling waves of blue flame;
it hears the dreadful screams of tortured millions;
it shudders as it sinks into the gloom;
an indescribable trembling shakes every power, as it feels the torment!
See . . .
the curling flames surround it,
the boiling waves receive it,
the ghastly demons fall to work tormenting it,
while the dreadful words "FOREVER!" rattle through all the chambers of the heart!
It looks back upon time, how different does the past appear! It looks forward, and O unutterable misery — there is spread out a vast eternity of varied, endless sufferings!
How appalling does GOD appear now!
His wrath — how fearful;
His holiness — how dreadful;
His unchangeableness — what a source of agonizing woe!
The thought of His mercy only aggravates present misery; and a view of His slighted grace, adds a thousand pangs to the punishment inflicted by a roused and honest conscience. All is now . . .
and black despair!
The terrified spirit looks . . .
every way for sympathy — but finds none;
for a way of escape — but there is none;
for something to mitigate its dreadful sufferings — but in vain!
Shivering, shuddering, terrified, and despairing — it now exclaims in words it once disregarded:
"Oh! if this awesome God would let me die,
And not torment me to eternity!
Oh! would He free me from this dreadful woe,
But no! I'm lost, I'm damned — forever so!
Cursed be the day I treated with neglect
The gospel call, and free grace reject;
Oh! could I now one invitation hear,
To cool my burning heart and calm this fear!
But no, my doom is fixed, tis all in vain,
My portion now is everlasting pain!
Hopeless I sink into the dark abyss,
Banished forever from eternal bliss!
In boiling waves of vengeance must I lie?
Oh! could I but curse this dreadful God and die!
Infinite years in torment must I spend,
And never, never, never at an end!
And must I live in torturing despair,
As many years, as atoms in the air?
When these are spent as many thousands more,
As grains of sand that crowd the ebbing shore?
When all these doleful years are spent in pain,
And multiplied by myriads again,
Till numbers drown the thought! could I suppose,
That then my wretched years were at a close!
This would afford some ease — but oh! I shiver,
To think upon the dreadful sound, FOREVER!
In the burning gulf where I blaspheming lie,
TIME is no more — but vast ETERNITY!"
Reader, what if this should be your doom? If you die unconverted — it certainly will be. It may be before twenty-four hours have passed away! How dreadful is the bare supposition — but infinitely more dreadful would the reality be!
What must have been the feeling of that rich man referred to by our Lord, when "in Hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment!" What would your feelings be? "Unless you repent you must likewise perish!"