Darkness, fire, and chains!
(Thomas Watson, “The Righteous Man’s Weal and the Wicked Man’s Woe”)
“Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done!” Isaiah 3:10-11
When things seem to be well with the wicked though they have more than their heart can wish—yet it shall be woe with them at last! “Because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them.” Ecclesiastes 8:13
The ungodly man lives under the curse of God! Floods of God’s fury and wrath hang over the head of a wicked man! He is heir to all the plagues written in the Book of God! All of God’s curses are the sinner’s portion, and, if he dies in his sin he is sure to have his portion paid to him!
Woe unto the wicked! Every bit of food he has he has it with a curse! It is like poisoned food given to a dog! Every drop of wine he drinks he swallows a curse with it! Woe unto the wicked! There is a curse in his cup, and upon his table!
Death puts an end to all his COMFORTS no more indulging and pampering the flesh; no more cups of wine; no more music. “All the fancy things you loved so much are gone! The luxuries and splendor that you prized so much will never be yours again. They are gone forever!” Revelation 18:14. No more joy and gladness, no more mirth and music. All a sinner’s choice foods, his fancy garments, his sparkling jewels all depart from him at death!
Death is the beginning of all his MISERIES! Every sin at the hour of death, stands with its drawn sword in its hand. Those sins which delighted him in life now frighten and terrify him! All his joy and mirth is turn into sadness! All the sugared joys of a wicked man at the hour of death turn into the water of tears and sorrow.
After death, follows the sentence: “Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!” Go from the presence of Christ in whose presence is fullness of joy! Go from Christ with a curse! Remember this, you who go on in your sins once this sentence is passed it can never be reversed!
Hell is the very epitome of misery, “I am in agony in this fire!” Luke 16:24. The Scripture tells us that in hell, there are these three things: darkness, fire, and chains!
Hell is called a place of DARKNESS. “For whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever!” Jude 13. Hell is a black region, nothing but the blackness of darkness forever. It must be a dark place where they shall be separated from the light of God’s presence. Indeed, Augustine thinks there shall be some little sulphurous light there; but even if it is so, that light will only serve that the damned may see the tragedy of their own misery, and see themselves tormented!
In hell, there is FIRE. It is called a burning lake “Anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life, was thrown into the lake of fire!” Revelation 20:15. You know that fire is the most torturing element, and makes the most dreadful impression on the flesh. Hell is a place of fire.
It is disputed among the learned, what kind of fire it is I wish we may never know! It is material fire—but far hotter than any earthly fires which are but painted fires in comparison with hell-fire! Who knows the power of God’s anger! Who can dwell with these everlasting burnings! It is intolerable to endure them and impossible to escape them!
In hell, there are CHAINS. 2 Peter 2:4. Sinners who now will not be bound by any law of God shall then have chains of darkness to bind them! These chains suggest unto us, that the wicked in hell shall not have power to walk up and down, which perhaps might be a little easier for them, though very little. But they shall be firmly chained down so as not to be able to stir! Oh, this will be terrible indeed!
Suppose a man should lie always firmly chained on a down bed and might not stir out of his place it would be very painful unto him. But the damned will lie eternally chained upon the rack, always under the torturing scorching of God’s wrath!
How dreadful are the thoughts of the condition of the wicked! They are under darkness, fire, and chains!
To add to the torment of hell, there are two more things which show that it shall be woe to the wicked the worm and the serpent.
First, there is the WORM to torture the damned spirits the worm of a tormenting conscience! “Where the worm never dies!” Mark 9:44. Oh, how dreadful it will be, to have this tormenting worm!The tormenting conscience a hellish fury! Conscience will be just as if a worm full of poison were feeding on the heart of a man! Those sinners who would never hear the voice of conscience shall feel the worm of conscience!
Second, as there is the worm to torment, so there is the DEVIL, who is called “the old serpent.” In hell, as there is the biting of this worm so there is the stinging of this old serpent! The damned shall be forced to behold the devil. Anselm said, “I would rather endure all the torments of this life, than to see the devil with bodily eyes.” But the wicked shall see the devil whether they want to or not; and not only see—but feel the stinging of this old serpent, the devil. Satan is full of rage against mankind, and will show no mercy. As he puts forth all his subtlety in tempting man so he puts out all his cruelty in tormenting man.
This is not all! There are two more things in the torments of hell.
These agonies and hell-convulsions shall be forever. “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever and they have not relief day nor night!” Revelation 14:11. Thus it is in hell. They desire to die but they cannot. The wicked shall be always dying but never dead. The smoke of the furnace ascends forever and ever. Oh, who can endure thus to be forever upon this rack! This word “forever” breaks the heart! Wicked men now think a sermon and a prayer long—but oh, how long will it be, to lie in hell forever and ever! After millions of years, their torments are as far from ending as at the first hour they began!
Another aggravation of hell torment, is that the damned in hell have none to pity them. It is some comfort, some ease to now have our friends to pity us in our sickness and need—but those in hell have no friends. God’s mercy will not pity them. His mercy is turned into fury! The holy angels will not pity them—but will rejoice when they see God’s vengeance. They exult and glory when they see the justice of God executed upon His enemies! “And again they shouted Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever!” Revelation 19:3. Oh, how sad is this to lie in the scalding furnace of God’s wrath and none to pity them! When they cry out God will laugh at them!
What a frightening word is this to all wicked men who go on desperately in sin. There has never been such an inundation of wickedness, as now. Men sin as if they would spite God, and dare Him to damn them! Men sin so greedily as if they were afraid that hell’s gates would be shut up before they got there! Oh, how brazenly do many sin! They go to hell shamelessly in their wickedness!
“There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth!” One says, “That is sad fare where weeping is the first course and gnashing of teeth is the second course!” This gnashing of teeth arises from the extremity of the torment which the wicked suffer. They are not able to bear it and know not how to avoid it! Also, the wicked in hell gnash their teeth at the godly to see them in heaven, those whom they persecuted, scoffed, and jeered at and themselves in hell forever! How may this astonish a wicked man! If all the curses in the Bible will make a man miserable he shall be made so!
Take heed that none of you are found among the number of the wicked. Take heed of being of this black regiment, which wears the devil’s colors and fights under his banner! The sinner and the fiery furnace shall never be parted! Take heed of those sins which will bring you to hell-fire! When you are tempted to any wickedness, think to yourself, “How can I bear the fierceness of God’s wrath forever! How can I lie in the winepress of God’s wrath forever!” Take heed of those sins which will bring you into this place of torment!
I have read a story of a young woman who, being tempted by a young man to commit sin, said unto him, “Grant me but one request and I will do what you ask.”
“What is that?” he said.
“Only hold your finger for one hour, in the flame of this burning candle.”
“No, I will not do that!”
She replied, “Will you not for my sake, hold your finger for one hour in the flame and will you have my soul lie burning in hell forever!” Thus, she rebuked the temptation.
Does Satan tempt you to wickedness? Say this, “Oh, Satan, if I embrace your temptations, I must lie under your tormenting cruelty for all eternity!” This will be a shield, to quench the fiery darts of the devil.
Wicked men live cursed and die damned! They are the very mark which God will shoot at and He never misses His mark