William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

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2 Queries about Hell


by Christopher Love

Taken as an Excerpt from The Works of Christopher Love,
published by Soli Deo Gloria

QUERY 1. Is there a hell or not? To answer this, I shall make it
appear, first, from the confession of heathens who had only the
glimmerings of nature and never saw the Bible, and, second, from the
testimony of Scripture.

First, from the confession of heathens. Though they could not tell
distinctly (never being acquainted with the Word) yet, by the
glimmering light of nature, they had some fancies and apprehensions
of this place of the damned. They had one called Pluto who was the
chief person in hell. He chiefly tormented those who were most
wicked. They had their Charon's boats, a fancy that there was a man
with a boat who ferried over wicked persons into hell. They had
their Aetna, their burning mountains which they fancied to be hell.
And they fancied hell to be a continual rolling of stones upon dead
bodies, along with many other fancies. And so Pluto had many
footsteps of hell. He said, "If a man has no punishment after he is
dead, he shall have some guilt in him to torture and torment him."
All these were merely apprehensions of hell, but these I pass.
Second, as you have a testimony from heathens, so you have this
truth clearly from Scripture will but name two or three texts.
So Psalm 9:1, be turned into hell, and all the people that forget
God." So Psalm 11:6: "Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and
brimstone, and a horrible tempest." So Matthew 23:33: "Ye serpents,
and generations of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of
hell?" 2 Peter 2:4: "He cast them down to hell. They are locked up
in chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment." So Jude 6:
"They are reserved in everlasting chains of darkness to the judgment
of the great day." All these plainly prove that there is a hell.

QUERY 2. Why there must be a hell? It appears by these
demonstrations.

First, because of the filthy nature of sin. Sin is against an
infinite God, and the offense being infinite, the punishment must be
infinite also. But the punishment cannot be infinite upon earth
because you stay here but a while and your bodies rot in the grave.
Therefore, of necessity, there must be a hell that must keep the
bodies and souls of the wicked so that they may receive
proportionable punishment to the sins they committed here upon the
earth.
Second, because else the justice of God could never be satisfied for
the sins of wicked men done here upon earth. And the reason is,
first, because Christ would not satisfy and suffer God's wrath for
wicked men; therefore, they must bear it themselves. Second, upon
earth they cannot satisfy God's wrath. Why? Because sin, being an
infinite offense, their punishment can be but finite, lasting for a
time. Therefore, all their sufferings here cannot satisfy God's
wrath due to them for their sins. Therefore, of necessity, there
must be a hell to keep men to all eternity so that, by everlasting
torments, Gods justice may be satisfied, which otherwise it could
not be, 2 Thess. 1:6.
Third, it appears there must be a hell by those horrors and terrors
of conscience that are in wicked men when they are dying. Many a
man in his health will tush at hell; he will scorn the fire and
scoff at the flames. Many a man, while he is in health, never
thinks of hell; but he can drink one day, swear an other day, play
the adulterer the third day, and sin every day, and the thoughts of
hell never trouble him. But now bring this man to his sickbed and
what horrors and fears seize upon his soul! Should a healthy
drunkard appeal to himself when dying (as one said he would appeal
from King Philip drunk to King Philip sober, who thereupon repealed
his act and did the man justice), he would say this, "You who by
your sinning have spent your strength and estate in drink, and do
not think of hell when you are drunk, I would appeal to you, a dying
man." Tell me, what would you say then? What would you then give
for Christ? What would you then give for a pardon that you might
not be damned? The very horrors and wounds of conscience at your
dying day demonstrate that there is a time of torments to be endured
by you. Else how should conscience be so terrible a vexation to the
souls of men at that day were there not such a thing as hell
provided for them? What made the Roman emperors to be afraid of
death, and, when it thundered, to run under their beds for fear of
death? Only this, that the very workings of conscience showed them
something was to come after this life. The very terrors of
conscience declare there is a hell, a place of torment provided for
wicked men. And thus having finished these queries, the use I shall
make shall be for condemnation and astonishment.
It shall be for condemnation, a condemnation to all those who hold
there is no such thing as hell. The Phontinians hold there is no
hell, but that which they call hell is the annihilation of the body,
that man is brought to nothing. There are fifteen sorts of heretics
an author writes of who deny hell. And among the rest, one called
Empectae was held by Barba, the wife of Sigismundus the emperor, who
gave her followers money to hold this opinion that she might have
their consciences seared up in sensuality and lustful pleasure.
This truth condemns all those who have their consciences so seared
as to deny there is a hell.
This is for astonishment. To whom? Why, to all you who so add sin
to sin, and drunkenness to thirst, and one provocation to another,
as if there were neither a heaven for the godly nor a hell for you;
you who like Sardanapalus say, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for after
death there is no pleasure, and consequently no pain; and therefore
while men live, they may live as pleasurable and joyous as possible
might be." 0 beloved, tremble! If all these places alleged prove
such a place to be, how should this astonish your soul, that all the
actions of your life have been but running a race to these chambers
of death? All the actions of your life have been but a laying up of
treasure in this place of torment. How should this astonish you,
whose course only leads you to this doleful dungeon of hell!
But, though this is a terrible and dreadful doctrine, yet you may
suck forth consolation hence who are the elect people of God. It is
true indeed, there is a hell, and wicked men shall unavoidably come
to hell. As John says, "You serpents and generation of vipers, how
shall you escape the damnation of hell?" But all you who are elect
of God are not only forewarned, but are fore-armed also. You need
not fear this place of hell, for, first, you need not fear the
devil, that is, the torments in hell, because "God shall bruise
Satan under your feet shortly." Though he now goes about like a
roaring lion, "seeking his prey, whom he may devour;" yet then he
shall be in chains and go about no more. And, second, you need not
fear those torments in hell the damned undergo. Though there is a
worm that shall never die, a fire that shall never go out, though
there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, though they lie
under the wrath of an incensed God, yet lift up your heads with joy,
you elect of God, for Jesus Christ is your redemption and your life!
"He hath destroyed him which had the power of death, the devil,"
Hebrews 2:14. Hereupon, I Thessalonians 1:10, you are by Jesus
Christ "delivered from the wrath to come." Here, then, is matter of
joy for you. Though there is a hell, and the wicked tormented night
and day, yet by Jesus Christ you are delivered from this wrath to
come.

 

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