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The Resurrection of Damnation
Samuel Davies (1724 - 1761)
"Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out; those who have done goodÂ—unto the resurrection of life; and those who have done evilÂ—unto the resurrection of damnation!" John 5:28-29
"Then the King will say to those on his right: Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world!" (Matthew 25:34) See a glorious multitude, which none can number, openly acquitted, pronounced 'blessed', and welcomed into the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world! Now they enter upon a state that deserves the name of LIFE. They are all vital, all active, all glorious, all happy. They shine brighter than the stars in the skies, like the sun forever and ever! All their faculties overflow with happiness. They mingle with the glorious company of angels. They behold that unseen Savior Whom they loved. They dwell in eternal intimacy with the infinite Father. They are employed with ever new and growing delight, in the exalted services of the heavenly sanctuary. They shall never more fear, nor feel the least touch of sorrow, pain, or any kind of miseryÂ—but shall be as happy as their glorified natures can admit, through an immortal duration. What a glorious new creation is here! What indescribable creatures, who were originally formed from the dust!
Shall any of US join in this happy company? Oh, shall any of us feeble, dying, sinful creatures share in their glory and happiness? This is a most important inquiry!
The prospect would be delightful, if charity could hope that this will be the happy end of all people.
But, alas! Multitudes shall come forth from their graves, not to the resurrection of lifeÂ—but to the resurrection of damnation! What terror is in these words! If audacious sinners in our world make light of itÂ—their comrades already in the infernal fires, who feel its tremendous import are not so hardyÂ—but tremble, groan, and can trifle with it no more!
Let us realize the miserable doom of this class of mankind!
"Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out!" See them bursting into life from their subterranean dungeons! Horror throbs through every veinÂ—and glares wildly and furiously in their eyes. Every joint trembles and every countenance looks downcast and gloomy! Now they see that tremendous Day of which they were warned in vainÂ—and shudder at those terrors of which they once made light. They now experientially know the grand business of the Day and the dreadful purpose for which they are roused from their slumbers in the grave: to be tried, to be convicted, to be condemned, and to be dragged away to execution!
Conscience has been anticipating the trialÂ—and no sooner is the soul united to the body, than immediately conscience ascends its throne in the soul. It begins to accuse, to convict, to pass sentence, to upbraid, and to torment! The sinner is condemned, condemned at his own tribunalÂ—before he arrives at the bar of his omnipotent Judge!!
The first act of consciousness in his new state of existence, is a conviction that he is condemnedÂ—an irrevocably condemned creature. He enters God's court, knowing beforehand how it will go with him. When he finds himself ordered to the left hand of his Judge, when he hears the dreadful sentence thundered out against him, "Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" (Matthew 25:41), it was just what he expected.
While on earth, he could flatter himself with vain hopes and shut his eyes against the light of convictionÂ—but then he will not be able to hope better. Then he must know the worst of his case.
The formality of the judicial trial is necessary for his conviction before the worldÂ—but not for his own conscience, which has already determined his condition. However, to convince others of the justice of his doomÂ—he is dragged and guarded from his grave to the Judgment Seat by fierce, unrelenting devils, before his tempters, but now his tormentors. With what horror does he view the burning throneÂ—and the frowning face of his JudgeÂ—that Jesus Whom he once disregarded! How he wishes for rocks and mountains to cover and conceal him from His angry eye! But all in vain. Appear he must! He is ordered to Christ's left hand, among the other trembling criminals.
Now the TRIAL comes!
All his evil deeds and all his omissions of dutyÂ—are now produced against him. All the mercies he abused, all the chastisements he despised, all the means of grace he neglected or mis-improved, every sinful and even every idle word; moreÂ—his most secret thoughts and dispositions are all exposed and brought into judgment against him! When the Judge interrogates him, "Is it not so, sinner? Are not these charges true?" His conscience obliges him to confess and cry out, "Guilty! Guilty!" Now the trembling criminal, being plainly convicted and left without any plea nor any excuseÂ—the supreme Judge, in stern majesty and inexorable justice, thunders out the dreadful sentence, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!"
Oh tremendous doom! Every word is big with terror and shoots a thunderbolt through the heart!
"Depart!" Away from My presence! I cannot bear so loathsome a sight as you! I once called you to come to Me that you might have lifeÂ—but you would not regard the call. Now you shall never more hear that inviting voice!
Depart "from Me"Â—from Me, the only Fountain of happiness, the only proper Good for an immortal soul!
"But, Lord," we may suppose the criminal to say, "if I must depart, bless me before I go."
"No!" says the angry Judge, "Depart you who are cursed! Depart with My eternal and heavy curse upon you; a curse dreadfully powerfulÂ—which blasts whatever it falls upon like flashes of consuming, irresistible lightning!"
"But if I must go away under Your curse," the criminal may be supposed to say, "then let that be all my punishment. Let me depart to some agreeable or at least tolerable remote place, where I may meet with something to mitigate the curse!"
"No! You must depart into FIRE! There you must forever burn in excruciating tortures!"
"But, Lord, if I must make my bed in fireÂ—oh, let it be a transient blaze that will soon burn itself out and put an end to my torment!"
"No! Depart into everlasting fire! There burn without being consumed, and be tormented without end!"
"But, Lord, grant me," cries the poor wretch, "at least the mitigation of friendly and sympathizing company. Or, if this cannot be granted, grant me this small, this almost no requestÂ—to be doomed to some solitary corner in hell, where I shall be punished only by my own conscience and Your immediate hand. But, oh, deliver me from these evil, tormenting devils! Banish me into some hidden corner in the infernal pitÂ—far from malicious fiends!"
"No! into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! You must be one of their wretched crew forever. You joined with them in sinningÂ—and now must share in their punishment! You gladly submitted to them as your temptersÂ—and now you must submit to them as your tormentors!"
The sentence being pronounced and readÂ—it is immediately executed! "And they will go away into eternal punishment!" (Matthew 25:46) Devils drag them away to the pit, and throw them down headlong! They must go away into the bottomless pit! There they are confined in chains of darkness, and cast into the burning lake of fire and brimstone forever and ever!
In that dreadful word "forever" lies the epitome of torment! This is the 'hell' of Hell. If they might be but released from suffering, though it were by annihilation after they have wept away ten thousand millions of ages in extremity of painÂ—it would be some mitigation, some encouragement. But, alas! When as many millions of ages are passed as the stars of heaven, or the sands on the seashore, or the atoms of dust in this huge earthly globeÂ—their punishment is as far from an endÂ—as when the sentence was first pronounced upon them!
FOREVER! There is no exhausting of that word. When it is affixed to the highest degree of miseryÂ—the terror of the sound is utterly insupportable!
See, sirs, what depends upon 'time'Â—that span of time we may enjoy in this fleeting life. Eternity! Solemn, all-important eternity, depends upon it!
All this while, conscience tears the sinner's heart with the most tormenting reflections. "Oh what a fair opportunity I once had for salvation, had I improved it! I was warned of the consequences of a life of sin and carelessness. I was told of the necessity of faith, repentance, and universal holiness of heart and life. I enjoyed a sufficient space for repentance and all the necessary means of salvation. But fool that I wasÂ—I neglected all, I abused all. I refused to part with my sins. I refused to engage seriously in religion and to seek God in earnest. And now I am lost forever without hope! Oh! For one of those months, one of those weeks, or even so much as one of those days or hours I once trifled away! With what earnestness, with what solicitude would I improve it! But all my opportunities are past, beyond recovery, and not a moment shall be given me for this purpose any more. O what a fool I wasÂ—to sell my soul for such trifles! To think so lightly of heavenÂ—and fall into hell through mere neglect and carelessness!"
You impenitent, unthinking sinners, though you may now be able to silence or drown the clamors of your consciences, yet the timeÂ—or rather the dread eternityÂ—is coming when they will speak in spite of you, when they will strike home to your soulÂ—and be felt by the most hardened and remorseless heart. Therefore, regard their warnings nowÂ—while they may be the means of your recovery. You are vitally concerned in the solemn transaction of that Day I have been describing. You shall either be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; or while moldering in the grave, you shall hear the voice of the Son of God and come forthÂ—either to the resurrection of lifeÂ—or to the resurrection of damnation!
And which shall be your eternal destiny? Have you any evidence to hope that you shall not be of that wretched, numerous multitude who shall rise to damnation? If there is any inquiry within the compass of human knowledge that demands your solicitous thoughts, certainly it is this! Methinks you cannot enjoy one moment's ease or security while this is undetermined.
This fleeting life is all the time you have for preparation, and can you trifle it away? Your all, your eternal all is set upon your short life. You have but one opportunity, and if that fails, through your sloth or mismanagement, you are irrecoverably undone forever!
Therefore, by the solemn authority of the great God; by the terrors of death, and the great rising-day; by the joys of heaven, and the torments of hell; and by the value of your immortal soulsÂ—I entreat, I charge, I adjure you to awake out of your security, and improve the precious moments of life! The world is dying all around you. And can you rest easy in such a world, while unprepared for eternity? Awake to righteousness now, at the gentle call of the gospel, before the last trumpet gives you an alarm of another kind!
"There is a dreadful hell,
And everlasting pains;
There sinners must with devils dwell,
In darkness, fire and chains!"
"He has appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness." Acts 17:31