by James Smith
We know comparatively little of the unseen world. We do know that there is a Heaven of joy and peace for the saved sinner — and there is a place of sorrow and suffering for the lost sinner.
Our Lord in one of his parables, sets before us . . . the suffering life, happy death, and glorious state in Heaven — of a poor believer; and the mirthful life, death, and awful state of suffering in Hell — of a wealthy sinner.
"In Hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment!" He sought a little alleviation of his sufferings — but was denied the least. Being directed to remember how he had lived on earth — he thought of his former honor, and the state of those whom he had left behind him, he answered:
"Then I beg you, father Abraham — send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment!" Luke 16:27, 28.
Observe, The Object of the Rich Man’s Solicitude his "five brothers." They were perhaps younger than himself, though it is probable that he was comparatively young.
They were still in the land of hope — and he was in the dismal region of despair.
They were still under the reign of mercy — and he was under the iron rod of justice.
He feared for them — for he knew in what state he had left them! He feared for them — lest they should persevere in sin, and at length come to the same place of torment! He most ardently desired their salvation, and that they might escape the sure wrath that is coming. He despaired of their salvation by ordinary means, and therefore he petitioned that Lazarus may be sent, that he might testify to them.
Ah, if we realized what Hell is, and sympathized with sinners as we ought to do — we would be prepared to make use of any means, and of all means, in order, if possible — to prevent souls going there! It is very strange, that professing to believe the Bible representations of Hell, the certainty of every unconverted sinner going there, and that conversion is effected by the use of means which are in our power — that we use them so little, or so feebly.
Look at this lost soul in Hell — he remembers his brethren, and, appealing to Abraham, gives expression to:
The Rich Man’s Ardent Desire
"Send Lazarus to my brothers! Lazarus is no longer a poor, ulcerated beggar — he will make a fit and suitable preacher! They know he is dead. They will be greatly affected by his appearance among them, and by the change that has taken place in him. O, send Lazarus, and let him bear testimony to the reality of this place of torment — to the certainty of all impenitent sinners coming here, however rich or distinguished they were on earth. Let Lazarus testify as to the nature of this place of torment, and tell them that their poor brother is in flames, tormenting flames, inextinguishable flames! Tell them that I am denied one solitary drop of water, or anything which will in any way alleviate my dreadful sufferings! Let him assure them . . . that Hell is real, that the punishment is most intense, that the sufferers are immortal, that annihilation is a fiction, and that deliverance from this fearful agony is impossible!
Let, O let him tell them, that once here, they are here forever! Forever! Forever!
And, O let him warn them of the folly, the madness, of neglecting the soul and its salvation. Let him testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment! It is possible. It is probable. It is certain — if they live and die in sin as I did!"
That poor wretch dreaded their coming there, for if anything could add to his torments — it would be to see his own brothers under the same condemnation, in the same horrid place of punishment! He also dreaded it, as most probably by his own example, and by his influence — he had hardened them in sin, and encouraged them in their ungodly course. It would therefore be an aggravation of his woe, and cause the flame that tormented him to blaze more fiercely — to see their eternal sufferings as his own fault!
It must be dreadful — to be the cause or the occasion of another’s soul being lost forever, and to have the sufferings of that soul constantly before our eyes!
Is it not a striking thought — that lost sinners, while suffering the torments of Hell — sympathize with living relations, which they have left behind them on earth?
O what a terrible thing, the exercise of a strong memory in Hell must be!
Those who now suffer the torments of the damned, are represented as desiring the salvation of their relatives on earth, and that they may be saved at any expense — saved, cost what it may. Does not this concern of the damned — condemn the conduct of many careless, indifferent, idle, and worldly-minded professors? Does it not say, that in this particular, the conduct of professors is worse than that of the damned in Hell? What a terrible thought it is, that any of us should be more unfeeling about the spiritual state, and eternal destiny of our relatives, friends, or neighbors — than lost souls are. Is it, can it be, that we have harder hearts, or more thoughtless souls — than lost spirits have?
Brethren, brethren, how active, how eager, how untiring we should be, in testifying to sinners — in praying for sinners — in pleading with sinners — and in endeavoring in every possible way to prevent them from going to that place of torment!
Reader! How is it with you? Inquire, inquire diligently, I beseech you! Is there any, even the most remote probability of your being sent into that place of torment? Think . . . of being tormented in flames of fire, of being tormented without the least alleviation, and of being so tormented forever and ever!
Think of going directly from the bright land of hope — to the dismal regions of despair!
Think of going from a land of light, of Bibles, of the means of grace — to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire!
Is not the thought dreadful!
If Hell was to be the doom of your greatest enemy — would you not try to prevent it? What if it should be the doom of your brothers, your sisters, your husband, your wife, your father, your mother! Can you admit the possibility, without being determined to leave no means unused, which would be likely to prevent so fearful a calamity?
But what if Hell should be the destiny of your own soul? What if it should! It will be your certain doom — if you die unconverted. Perhaps there are some now in Hell, once related to you — who are now concerned for you. Are you as much concerned for yourself?
Christian! Have you not some dear ones on the road to Hell — for whom you should be especially concerned? If so, act the Christian on their behalf, and act so at once, persevering until they are saved!
by James Smith