T H E
By J O H N.B U N Y A N,
A Servant of the Lord's Christ.
Written from Bedford Prison.
THE SENTENCE AND PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED.
nd to that end doth pass the sentence of eternal death upon them, saying, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt 25:41). You are now by the book of the creatures, by the book of God's remembrance, by the book of the law, and by the book of life, adjudged guilty of high treason against God and me; and as murderers of your own souls, as these faithful and true witnesses here have testified, every one of them appearing in their most upright testimony against you. Also, you never had a saving work of conversion, and faith, passed upon you, you died in your sins; neither can I find anything in the last part of this book that will serve your turn, no worthy act is here recorded of you—When "I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat": when "I was thirsty, ye game me no drink: when I was a stranger, ye took me not in: I was naked, but ye clothed me not: I was sick and in prison, but ye visited me not": I have made a thorough search among the records of the living, and find nothing of you, or of your deeds, therein—"Depart from me, ye cursed," &c. (Matt 25:42,43).
Thus will these poor ungodly creatures be stripped of all hope and comfort, and therefore must need fall into great sadness and wailing, before the Judge; yea, crying out, as being loath to let go all for lost; and even as the man that is fallen into the river, will catch hold of anything when he is struggling for life, though it tend to hold him faster under the water to drown him: so, I say, while these poor creatures, as they lie struggling and twining under the ireful countenance of the Judge; they will bring out yet one more faint and weak groan, and there goes life and all; their last sigh is this—Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and gave thee no meat: or when saw we thee thirsty, and gave thee no drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee not in? or naked, and clothed thee not? or when wast thou sick, or in prison, and we did not minister unto thee? (Matt 25:44).
Thus you see, how loath the sinner is now to take a "nay" of life everlasting. He that once would not be persuaded to close with the Lord Jesus, though one should have persuaded him with tears of blood: behold how fast he now hangs about the Lord, what arguments he frames with mournful groans; how with shifts and words he seeks to gain the time, and to defer the execution: Lord, open unto us! Lord, Lord, open unto us! (Matt 25:11). Lord, thou hast taught in our streets, and we have both taught in thy name and in thy name have we cast out devils (Matt 7:22). We have eaten and drank in thy presence (Luke 13:26). And when did we see thee an hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? (Matt 25:10,11). O poor hearts! how loath, how unwillingly do they turn away from Christ! How loath are they to partake of the fruit of their ungodly doings! Christ must say, Depart once, and depart twice, before they will depart. When he hath shut the door upon them, yet they knock, and cry, "Lord, open unto us;" when he hath given them their answer, "that he knows them not," yet they plead and mourn. Wherefore he is fain to answer again, "I tell you, I know you not whence you are; depart" (Luke 13:25-27).
"DEPART." O this word, Depart! How dreadful is it! with what weight will it fall on the head of every condemned sinner! For you must note, that while the ungodly stand thus before the Judge; they cannot choose but have a most famous view both of the kingdom of heaven, and of the damned wights in hell. Now they see the God of glory, the King of glory, the saints of glory, and the angels of glory; and the kingdom in which they have their eternal abode. Now, they also begin to see the worth of Christ, and what it is to be smiled upon by him; from all which they must depart; and as I say, they shall have the view of this; so they will most famously behold the pit, the bottomless pit, the fire, the brimstone, and the flaming beds that justice hath prepared for them of old (Jude 4). Their associates also, will be very conspicuous, and clear before their watery eyes. They will see now, what and which are devils, and who are damned souls; now their great-grandfather Cain, and all his brood, with Judas and his companions, must be their fellow-sighers in the flames and pangs for ever. O heavy day! O heavy word!
This word "depart," therefore, it looketh two ways, and commands the damned to do so too. Depart from heaven, depart to hell; depart from life, depart to death: "depart from me"—now the ladder doth turn from under them indeed.
The Saviour turns them off, the Saviour throws them down. He hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man (John 5:27). Depart from me: I would come to have done you good; but then you would not. Now then, though you would have it never so willingly, yet you shall not.
"Depart from me, ye cursed." You lie open to the stroke of justice for your sins; ye forsaken, and left of God, ye vessels of wrath, ye despisers of God and goodness, you must now have vengeance feed on you; for you did, when you were in the world, feed on sin, and treasure up wrath against this day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Rom 2:3-6).
"Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." Fire is that which of all things is the most insufferable and insupportable. Wherefore, by fire, is shewed the grievous state of the ungodly, after judgment. Who can eat fire, drink fire, and lie down in the midst of flames of fire? Yet this must the wicked do. Again; not only fire, but everlasting fire. "Behold how great a fire a little matter kindleth." A little sin, a little pleasure, a little unjust dealing and doing; what preparation is made for the punishment thereof. And hence it is, that the fire into which the damned fall, is called the lake, or sea of fire—"And whosoever," saith John, "was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone" (Rev 20:15). Little did the sinner seriously think, that when he was sinning against God, he was making such provision for his poor soul; but now 'tis too late to repent, his worm must never die, and his fire never shall be quenched (Mark 9:48). Though the time in which men commit sin is short, yet the time of God's punishing of them for their sin, is long.
"Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." In that he saith, "prepared for the devil and his angels": he insinuates a further conviction upon the consciences of the damned. As if he had said, As for this fire and lake that you must go to, though you thought but little of it, because you were careless, yet I did betimes put you in mind of what would be the fruits of sin; even by preparing of this judgment for the devil and his angels. The devil in his creation is far more noble than you; yet when he sinned, I spared him not. He sinned also before man; and I, upon his sinning, did cast him down from heaven to hell, and did hang the chains of everlasting darkness upon him (Jude 6), which might, yea, ought to have been a fair item to you to take heed, but you would not (Gen 3:2-5). Wherefore, seeing you have sinned as he hath done, and that too, after he had both sinned, and was bound over to eternal punishment; the same justice that layeth hold on these more noble creatures, must surely seize on you (Rev 20:1). The world should be convinced of judgment then, "because the prince of this world is judged" (John 16:8). And that before they came to this condition of hearing the eternal sentence rattle in their ears; but seeing they did not regard it then, they must and shall feel the smart of it now. "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
God would have men learn both what mercy and justice is to them, by his shewing it to others; but if they be sottish and careless in the day of forbearance, they must learn by smarting in the day of rebukes and vengeance. Thus it was with the old world; God gave them one hundred and twenty years' warning, by the preparation of Noah, for the flood that should come; but forasmuch as they then were careless, and would not consider the works of the Lord, nor his threatening them by this preparation: therefore he brought in the flood upon the world of the ungodly, as he doth here the last judgment upon the workers of iniquity, and sweeps them all away in their willful ignorance (Matt 24:37-39).
Wherefore, I say, the Lord Chief Judge by these words, "Prepared for the devil and his angels," doth as good as say, This fire into which now I send you, it did of itself, even in the preparation of it, had you considered it, forewarn you of this that now is come upon you. Hell- fire is no new, or unheard-of thing; you cannot now plead, that you heard not of it in the world, neither could you with any reason judge, that seeing I prepared it for angels, for noble, powerful, and mighty angels; that you, poor dust and ashes, should escape the vengeance.
"Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels": The sentence being thus passed, it remains now, the work being done, that every one goeth to his eternal station. Wherefore, forthwith this mighty company, do now with heavy heart, return again from before the judgment-seat: and that full hastily, God knoweth, for their proper centre, is the hell of hell; into which they descend like a stone into a well, or like Pharaoh into the bottom of the Red Sea (Exo 15:10). For all hope being now taken from them, they must needs fall with violence, into the jaws of eternal desperation, which will deal far worse with the souls of men, and make a greater slaughter in their tortured consciences, than the lions in the den with Daniel, could possibly do with the men that were cast in among them (Dan 6:24).
This is that which Paul calleth eternal judgment (Heb 6:2), because it is that which is last and final. Many are the judgments that God doth execute among the sons of men, some after this manner, and some after that; divers of which, continue but for awhile, and none of them are eternal; no, the very devils and damned spirits in hell, though there, is the longest and most terrible of all the judgments of God, yet on foot: yet I say, they must pass under another judgment, even this last, great, and final judgment—"The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). And so also it is with damned souls; for both Sodom and Gomorrah, with all other, though already in hell in their souls; yet they must, as I have before shewed, all arise to this judgment, which will be their final judgment. Other of the judgments of God, as they have an end, so the end of many of them prove the profit of those on whom they are inflicted, being I say, God's instrument of conversion to sinners; and so may fitly be compared to those petty judgments among men, as putting in the stocks, whipping, or burning in the hand: which punishments, and judgments, do often prove profitable to those that are punished with them; but eternal judgment, it is like those more severe judgments among men, as beheading, shooting to death, hanging, drawing and quartering, which swoop all, even health, time, and the like, and cut off all opportunity of good, leaving no place for mercy or amendment—"These shall go away into everlasting punishment," &c. (Matt 25:46). This word, "depart," &c., is the last word the damned for ever are like to hear—I say, it is the last voice, and therefore will stick longest, and with most power, on their slaughtered souls; there is no calling of it back again; it is the very wind-up of eternal judgment.
Thus then, the judgment being over, the kingdom ceaseth to be any longer in the hand of the man Christ Jesus; for as the judges here among men, when they have gone their circuit, do deliver up their commission to the king; so Christ the judge, doth now deliver up his kingdom to his Father (Matt 21:8), and now, all is swallowed up of eternity. The damned are swallowed up of eternal justice and wrath; the saved, of eternal life and felicity; and the Son also delivereth up, I say, the kingdom to the Father, and subjects himself under him that did put all things under him, that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:24- 28).
For now is the end come, and not before, even the end of the reign of death itself; for death, and hell, and sinners, and devils, must now [fall] together into the lake, that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev 20:14,15). And now is the end of Christ's reign, as the Son of man; and the end of the reign of the saints with him, in this his kingdom, which he hath received of his Father for his work sake, which he did for him, and for his elect. "Then cometh the end," saith Paul, "when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;" But when shall that be? Why, he answers saying, "When he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign," saith he, "till he hath put all enemies under his feet," which will not be until the final sentences and judgment be over; for "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he (God) hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor 15:24-28).
All things being now at this pass—to wit, every one being in its proper place, God in his, Christ in his, the saint in his, and the sinner in his; I shall conclude with this brief touch upon both the state of the good and bad after this eternal judgment—
The righteous now shall never fear death, the devil, and hell more; and the wicked shall never hope of life.
The just shall ever have the victory over these things: but the wicked shall everlastingly be swallowed up of them.
The holy shall be in everlasting light: but the sinner in everlasting darkness. Without light, I say, yet in fire ever burning, yet not consumed; always afraid of death and hell, vehemently desiring to be annihilated to nothing. Continually fearing to stay long in hell, and yet certainly sure they shall never come out of it. Ever desiring the saints' happiness, and yet always envying their felicity. They would have it, because it is easy and comfortable; yet cannot abide to think of it, because they have lost it for ever. Ever laden with the delight of sin; and yet that is the greatest torture; always desiring to put it out of their mind, and yet assuredly know they must for ever abide the guilt and torment thereof.
The saints are always inflamed with the consideration of the grace that once they embraced; but the wicked, most flamingly tormented with the thoughts of rejecting and refusing it.
The just, when they think of their sins, they are comforted with the thoughts of their being delivered from them; but the ungodly, when they think of their righteousness, will gnaw themselves, to think that this would not deliver them from hell.
When the godly think of hell, it will increase their comfort; but when the wicked think of heaven, it will twinge them like a serpent. Oh, this eternal judgment! What would a damned soul give that there might be, though after thousands and hundreds of thousands of millions of years, an end put to this eternal judgment. But their misery is, they have sinned against a God that is eternal; they have offended that justice that will never be satisfied; and therefore they must abide the fire that never shall be quenched. Here is judgment, just and sad.
Again; as it will be thus with good and bad in general, so again, more particularly, when the wicked are thus adjudged and condemned, and also received of the fiery gulf, then they shall find, That as he that busieth himself to do good, shall have more glory than others; so they that have been more busy and active in sin than others, they shall have more wrath and torment than others. For as doing good abundantly, doth enlarge the heart to receive and hold more glory: so doing evil abundantly, doth enlarge the heart and soul to receive punishment so much the more. And hence it is that you have such sayings as these— It shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Sodom than for others (Luke 10:12)—that is, than for those that had sinned against much greater light and mercy. "For these," as he saith in another place, "shall receive greater damnation" (Luke 20:47). Yea, it standeth to reason, that he who had most light, most conviction, most means of conversion, and that was highest towards heaven, he must needs have the greatest fall, and so sink deepest into the jaws of eternal misery.
As one star—that is, as one saint—differeth from another in heaven; so one damned soul shall differ from another in hell. It is so among the devils themselves; they are some worse than others; Beelzebub is the prince, or chief of the devils (Matt 9:34; Mark 3:22). That is, one that was most glorious in heaven; chief among the reprobate angels before his fall (Isa 14:12), and therefore sinned against the greater light, mercy, and goodness; and so became the chief for wickedness, and will also have as the wages thereof, the chief of torments. For that will be true of the damned in hell, which is prayed for against Babylon.—"How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her" (Rev 18:7). Can it be imagined that Judas should have no more torment, who betrayed the Prince of life and Saviour of the world, than others who never came near his wickedness by ten thousand degrees? He that knew his master's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; with many more stripes, than others that through ignorance did commit sin worthy of many stripes. But what should I thus discourse of the degrees of the torments of the damned souls in hell? For he that suffers least, will the waters of a full cup be wrung out to him; the least measure of wrath, it will be the wrath of God, eternal and fiery wrath, insupportable wrath; it will lay the soul in the gulf of that second death, which will for ever have the mastery over the poor damned perishing sinner. "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:14,15).