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-Far beyond the reach of human conjecture may be the augmentation to happiness derived from the experimental knowledge of corporeal pain by beings who are utterly incapable of forming ideas of misery produced by malign passions; and as far also the extent of wise and gracious purposes accomplished by the terrific fate of these miserable sufferers being rendered visible to ocular demonstration. Many a glorious minister of grace may have been wrapt, and once have borne about a nature as susceptible of pain as that in which our heavenly spirits are in this world enveloped ; and from their blest abodes beholding afar off the dread receptacle, (Luke xvi. 23,) have constant fuel added to their holy zeal, when testi
gratified in our world, and thereby for a time allayed those miseries which the lack of love for God and goodness are certain ultimately to produce—the prey of evil passions, the slave of sensual delights now no longer to be obtained, destitute of consolation, and conveyed into that invisible world which the word . hades' is generally employed to signify; placed in an hopeless state, though in far distant view of those celestial mansions he had for ever lost; fated to associate with those malignant beings who had achieved his ruin, and joyed to augment his misery. In his first agonizing paroxysm of horror and despair, he is described as crying out and saying, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. The allusion to the sufferings which man most easily can comprehend is still carried on, though those occasioned by his neglect of virtue were doubtless the miseries which this parable is designed principally to represent; (Luke xvi. 22—24;) and which, if the observations stated are esteemed just, do unquestionably far exceed any that can be inflicted from torture of the body.
fying to their intellectual charge, lest they should ever come unto that place of torment. Many orders of probationaries may likewise exist, who, like us, are enabled to form ideas of agony produced by bodily sufferance, who could not make the smallest guess of the far greater anguish caused by malignant passions, but whose faculties being far more extensive than ours, and whose virtue, requiring the stimulus of fear, may have their moral conduct awed and checked by this tremendous spectacle. Of this, however, we are fully assured, that the all-perfect, grand, and great Probationary was deeply exercised in affliction's school-a man of sorrows, and well versed in grief; that He resigned his breath amidst the most excruciating tortures, yet like a lamb before its shearers, dumb ; distress and torture appearing to “increase, rather than to diminish the heavenly mildness of his gracious mind.”* He, therefore, of all beings in the universe of God, (though knowing all things else,) replete with that celestial wisdom which reigns supreme above, pure, peaceable, gentle, merciful, sincere, and good, must be most uninformed of those worst of woes which sin alone excites; but severely taught on Calvary's high mount the extremest smart of keen corporeal suffering. Those happy angels, also, who kept their first estate, who have been ever with him, and remain children in malice, like to new-born babes, as their adored head; all that He has is
theirs-He can educe from sad experience enhancement of their bliss, and heighten their complacent gratulations on their glorious triumph and their blest escape. And if recitals of his hard-earned knowledge can add a zest unto the joys of heaven, how inconceivably ecstatic must be his felicity, who bore himself death's bitterest pangs in his own body on the accursed tree, and wrought thereby deliverance for all repentant sinners ! how awfully deplorable the fate of those most wretched sufferers, whose outward pangs do perhaps relieve their inbred torments, and whose misery, considered in this light, augments the happiness of the celestial regions! Therefore they are tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.* (Rev.
* If the sufferance of corporeal pain has conveyed some experimental knowledge of misery to those who would otherwise have been totally ignorant of what sufferance of any description was,-and this species of misery alleviates the infinitely greater degree of it produced by wilful sin,—the position laid down is founded in truth ; and the view of these most wretched sufferers must, for the reasons stated, augment the joy of heaven's blest inhabitants. We are sensible that the tremendous review we have been taking assigns unto these miserable beings a nature capable of enduring corporeal sufferings. But this is a point on which man is very incompetent to descant, being in our present state entirely unacquainted with the nature of spiritual existence. All we know is, that a spirit hath not flesh and bones like unto what we have; (Luke xxiv. 39;) and that angelic nature is a spiritual one, for God has made his angels spirits; (Heb. i. 7;) consequently, the fallen angels whom Scripture denounceth to receive their portion in the lake that
xiv. 10, 11.) This awful subject demands now a solemn pause; it requires us to reflect with most extreme solicitude on our suspended state betwixt everlasting joy or everlasting woe; and clearly to ascertain towards which burns with fire and brimstone, are not enveloped in a corporeal nature similar to ours. Dr. Porteus observes, “that the admitted rule, established by the best and most judicious interpreters, is, that in explaining the sacred writings, we ought never, without the most apparent and most indispensable necessity, allow ourselves the liberty of departing from the plain, obvious, and literal meaning of the words.” (Porteus' Lectures, vol. i. p. 83.) And these clearly and incontrovertibly, throughout the whole of Scripture, convey the idea, that evil spirits are capable of sustaining sufferance through the medium of the element of fire, independent of their doubtless far more exquisite perception of misery produced by mental suffering. Milton, throughout his great epic poem, supposes them capable of enduring pain, distinct from mental sufferings. And Holy Writ, we conceive, favours this supposition; for as our present bodies are sown natural bodies, and will, we are expressly told, (1 Cor. xv. 44,) be raised spiritual bodies; so likewise the bodies of the wicked, though doomed to be called forth from out their graves to the judgment of condemnation, will, it appears most probable, be raised spiritual bodies, not carnal ones, and be re-united with those spirits with which, in their primeval state, they had been ordained to act in contact. In like manner, as we know, will the spirits of the just be clothed upon with a transformed spiritual nature, (2 Cor. v. 2,) and the assimilation of such a nature with its old inhabitant, its separated spirit, is easier to conceive, than is the junction of which, in our present state, we are ourselves composed. But whether a spiritual nature has been, or not been, originally formed susceptible of pain distinct from mental sufferings, one thing is certain; namely, that God can as easily render it susceptible of pain, distinct from mental sufferings, as He has done the bodies of the human race. And laying the foregoing considerations together, there is, we think, much reason to believe that the threat thrown out in Scripture, and which VOL. 1.
abode our passions, principles, and pursuits are tending; for there is a dread society awaits all those who give not place to wrath, where black affections will have ample scope eternally to rage; the fire of angry passions will never be quenched in hell. These are too minutely particularized to admit mistake ; they are, as St. Paul well observes, fully manifest; hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, and such like, which unassisted reason indeed may teach us, and Revelation assures us, will inevitably exclude us from the kingdom of God. (Gal. v. 19--21.) We cannot carry our antipathies into that country. Let us not deceive ourselves by supposing that a death-bed repentance can extirpate these. The Ethiopian cannot change his skin, or the leopard his spots : if they in the smallest degree shade and cloud our present characters, and any portion of them have entwined themselves as habitual inmates in our minds, they will, like a canker, eat out every virtue, and take out even that which we have. (Matt. xxv. 29.) Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation, now is the time wherein we are appointed to overcome evil by good, now is the axe laid at the very root of these evils; the command is broad and positive, directly opposing itself to the natural dictates of our depraved hearts, and admitting no parley. “I say unto you,
invariably does adjudge the wicked to be cast into an electric lake, is not merely metaphorical. Dr. Watts observes, this is the message he is commissioned to deliver, and it becomes not us to change it.