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plan, comprehending all things, and all events that have come to pass, formed by infinite wisdom and goodness, and executed by the all pervading energy of omnipotence, they will behold it with pleasing admiration and wonder, as it has been opened in divine providence; and be more and more pleased with the depth of the wis. dom and knowledge of God. They will learn his manifold wisdom, in planning and conducting all things to the most happy issue, and understand, with pleasing wonder and adoration, more of his judgments and ways, which in this state are unsearchable, and past finding out. They will see more and more of their own entire, absolute, and universal dependence on God for all things, and of all creatures and things; that they are the clay, and he is the sovereign Potter, and former of all things ; and this will appear to them to be just as they would have it; and the greater sense they have of this, the more pleasure and happiness will they have ; while they rejoice, that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, and will reign forever. * For God will then be all in all; “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things : To whom be glory forever. Amen.”+
Secondly. The wicked will go from the judgment unto everlasting punishment. The scripture sets this pun. ishment in an awful and terrifying light ; not only as it will be endless, but amazingly great and dreadful in de. gree. It is represented by their being cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, where they have no rest, but shall be tormented night and day : That is, without any cessation, forever and ever; Where they shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever. I If these are to be taken as in some measure metaphorical expressions, yet we must not think that they are de. signed to represent to our view and imagination the sufferings of the wicked, as greater and more dreadful, than they really will be ; for this is not consistent with the dignity and truth of God, to attempt to fright men, by threatening them with a greater evil than he ever will in* Rev. xix. 6. + Rom. xi. 36. 1 Cor. xv. 28.
* Rev. xiv. 10, 11. xx. 10, 15,
fict on any;
or by representing them as suffering more than the wicked will suffer. Besides, the wicked will be “ vessels fitted to destruction ;” which implies that their whole capacity shall be devoted to suffering; but they are capable of suffering as great evil as they can conceive or imagine. All the use which God will have for them is to suffer ; this is all the end they can answer; therefore, all their faculties, and their whole capacity will be employed, or used for this end ; otherwise they would be useless, and answer no end.
As the wicked are to suffer in the body, they will be capable of suffering by means of the body, or of suffering bodily pain, as well as that which is purely mental. The body can, by Omnipotence, be made capable of suffering the greatest imaginable pain, without producing a dissolution, or abating the least degree of life and sensibility. The bodies of the wicked will be raised, and united to their souls, that they may be punished, and suffer misery in body and mind, in union. And God can render a future separation impossible, and so form the body as that it shall continue in full life, and with quick sense, in union with the soul, in the hottest 'fire that can be imagined, or exist through endless
ages. And since the scripture speaks of them as tormented in a like of fire and brimstone, perhaps we have no reason to conclude there will be nothing of this kind ; or that the suffering of this kind will not be so great, as to equal this representation. The scripture says, " What if God, willing, (or determining) to show his wrath, and make his power known, endureth with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ?»* And that they " shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”f One way in which God will show his power in the punishment of the wicked, will be in strengthening and upholding their bodies and souls, in suffering torments, which otherwise would be intolerable ; while at the same time, his power is gloriously manifested in the manner in which the punishment is to be inflicted.
The apostle Peter, speaking of the day of judgment, and the destruction of the wicked, says, * The heavens * Rom. ix. 22.
† 2 Thess. i. 9.
and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men.” By the heavens are generally meant in scripture, the sun, moon, and stars. These, with the earth, are reserved against the day of judgment, and for the destruction of ungodly men, by being all set on fire with this earth : “ When the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; and the earth ale so and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up."* If the heavens, the sun, moon, and fixed stars, with all the planets that accompany them, together with this earth, should be thrown together with a tremendous crash and noise, so as to make one common mass of liquid fire, and the wicked be cast into it at the day of judgment, to remain there forever in this unquenchable fire; it would be agreeable to this description of it by Peter, and other passages of scripture. And perhaps this is the most natural construction of the words now cited. This would be a great and amazing display of omnipotence, and represents the punishment of the wicked, by their bodies, as very dreadful : but not greater than they will deserve, or than God can inflict, and make them strong to bear.
But be this as it may, and in whatever way or degree the wicked will suffer pain by the body, it is not to be doubted, that their mental pain and sufferings will be the chief part of their punishment. Indeed, such a situation and torture of their budies, as has been now mentioned, is suited to fill their minds with an amazing sense of the awful power, and dreadful anger of God which must occasion inexpressible mental terror, anguish and torture. A great part of the punishment of the wicked, will consist in a sense of the greatness, power and terrible majesty of Jehovah, and his wrath, and displeasure with them, manifested in their proper effects. This will fill their minds with excruciating pain, and horror inexpressible, while the tokens of all these are exhibited in the most dreadful manner to them, in their punishment.
2 Peter üi. 7, 10.
But there are other circumstances and things, which will be dreadful ingredients in the cup of their punishment. Their own disposition and exercises of heart, their selfishness and pride, and enmity to God, which will rage to a dreadful degree, will be a source of constant misery. These will render the shame and contempt which they shall suffer, most keenly painful, and, in a sense, intolerable. They will never be in any de gree reconciled to the divine decrees and government, and their dependence on God, and being absolutely in his hands ; but all this will be most painful to them ; they will be disposed to justify themselves, and find fault with the law of God, and his treatment of them. Their opposition to all this will be so strong and constant, and their enmity will rage, so that a constant conviction in their judgment and conscience, that God deals justly with them, may not take place; and they will sometimes, if not continually, in the utmost rage, blaspheme the God of heaven.
It will be beyond our present conception, painful and tormenting to them, to know that they have not a friend in the universe, and never shall have one who will show them the least kindness, or have any pity on them : That God is against them and will cast evil upon them, and not spare : and all the inhabitants of heaven highly approve of his treatment of them, and praise him for his righteous judgments in punishing them as they see he does. The conviction they will have of the happiness of the redeemed, some of whom they despised and hated, when in this world, will excite their envy and malice to a high degree; which are tormenting passions, in proportion to the strength of their exercise.
Their company will add to their misery. They will not find a friend among them; but all will be full of hatred, rage and malice. The sight and presence of the devil and his angels, who have had a great hand in their ruin, and who will continue their ill will, and torment them in all the ways their cunning and malice can invent, will be very dreadful. And whatever intercourse they may have with those of mankind, who are suffering with them, it will give them no relief, but add to their misery. And those who have had the greatest connection with each other in this life, will be most unhappy together; who have injured each other, or been the means of their eternal ruin. And those companions and supposed friends, who have tempted and seduced each other into the practice of vice, and way to ruin, will, by their mutual accusations and curses, be a vexation and torment to each other.
And all their attempts to get relief, which may be many and constant, will be in vain, and only add to their misery. Every thought and idea which passes in their mind will be a painful one. Reflections on what they have passed through in this world, and they must think and reflect) on the favours and comforts they had, and the advantages they were under to obtain salvation, and the happy opportunities which they abused ; and the counsels, warnings, and admonitions which they had, &c. will but increase their misery. And when they look forward, the assurance they will have, that nothing better is to come ; but if there be any change, it will be against them ; and they must be miserable without end, and without hope! will fill their minds with the insupportable gloom, anguish and horror, of absolute despair ; and sink eternally without any possible comfort or support.
This is a short sketch, and some of the outlines of the punishment and sufferings of the wicked. But Oh! How little can be told ! How short are all our conceptions and imaginations, of the truth and real greatness of this infinite evil ! It will take an eternity to tell! And none but the infinite mind does comprehend it.
It must be observed, however, that though the pun. ishment of every one of these will be endless, and great in degree beyond all present conception, and perhaps will increase without end; yet some will suffer a much greater degree of misery than others; and there will be a great difference between them in this respect, accord. ing to their different advantages and capacities while in this world ; to the light and conviction they had, according to the number of their sins, and the different degrees of criminality of them, &c. The omniscient, almighty, and just Judge, will be able and disposed to weigh and adjust the crimes and guilt of every one in