Think Well On't/Day 16

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Think Well On't or, Reflections on the great truths of the Christian religion for every day of the month  (1801)  by Richard Challoner
Day 16: On a miserable eternity.


On a miserable eternity.

CONSIDER, that what above all things makes hell intolerable is the eternity of its torments. It is this eternity, which is an infinite aggravation of all and every one of them: it is this bitter ingredient which makes every drop of that bitter cup of the divine vengeance, of which the sinners of the earth must drink, so insupportable. Were there any hopes that the miseries of the damned would one day have an end, though it were after millions of ages, hell would be no longer hell, because it would admit of some comfort. But for all those inexpressible torments to continue for ever, as long as God shall be God, without the least hope of ever seeing an end of them: oh! this it is, that is the greatest rack of the damned. Oh! Eternity! Eternity! How little do worldlings apprehend thee now! How terrible wilt thou be to them one day, when they shall find themselves ingulfed in thy bottomless abyss, there to be for ever the butt and mark of all the arrows of God's avenging justice!

2. Consider, if one short night seems so long and tedious to a poor sick man in a burning fever; if he tosses and turns, and no where finds rest; if he counts every hour, and with so much impatience longs for the morning, which yet will bring him but little relief or comfort: what must this dreadful night of eternity be, accompanied with all the interior and exterior torments of hell! No man in his senses would purchase a kingdom, at the rate of lying for ten years on a soft bed without coming off. Ah! what misery then must it be to be chained down to a bed of fire and brimstone, not for ten years only, nor yet for ten thousand times ten, but for as many hundred thousand millions of ages, as there are drops of water in the ocean, or atoms in the air: in a word, for an immense eternity.

3. Consider, and in order to conceive still better what this eternity is, imagine with thyself, that if any one of the damned were to shed but one single tear at the end of every thousand years, till he had shed tears enough to fill the sea; what an immense space of time would this require! The world has not yet lasted six thousand years; so that the first of all the damned would not have shed six tears. And yet, O dreadful eternity! the time will certainly come, when any one of those wretches that are now in hell, may be able with truth to say, that at the rate of one tear for a thousand years, he might have shed tears enough to drown the whole world, and fill up the immense space between heaven and earth: and well would it be, if his torments were then to have an end. But alas! after these millions of millions of ages, he shall be as far from the end of his misery, as he was the first day he fell into hell. Compute after this, if thou pleasest, as many hundred thousand millions of years as thy thoughts can reach to; nay, suppose the whole surface of the earth to be covered with numeral figures; cast up, if thou canst, this immense sum of years, and then multiply it by itself, and multiply again a second time the product by itself; and then, at the foot of this immense account, write down: here begins eternity. O terrible eternity! Is it possible, that they who believe thee should not fear thee? Is it possible, that they who fear thee, should dare to sin?

4. Consider, that in this eternity it would be some small comfort to the damned, if their pains, like those of this life, had any intermission or abatement. But, alas! their torments are always the same; their eternal fever never abates. For as their sins are always the same, and the gate of mercy and pardon is eternally shut upon them; so the punishment of their sins shall always continue in one and the same degree of rigour, without the least remission or diminution. The rich glutton in hell, Luke xvi. has not yet been able to obtain so much as that single drop of water, for which he so earnestly begged; nor will he ever obtain it for all eternity. Nor shall length of time inure these wretches to those evils which they suffer, so as to make them the more supportable; nor shall use and custom harden them against them; but after millions of ages their torments shall be as fresh and their feeling of them the same as on the first day. O great God! who can bear thy indignation, or support the weight of thy avenging hand? O! dreadful evil of mortal sin, which can enkindle this eternal flame.