To Ponder:

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” Hebrews 10:31. How can it be consistent with the justice and righteousness of God to punish temporal sinning, with everlasting suffering; to inflict eternal vengeance, for momentary offences; to cast a sinner into unending misery, for committing a few sins here which quickly have an end?  This has made some conclude against the eternal duration of Hell’s torments–as if God were so merciful that He would not let the unrepentant lie under His wrath forever. But I answer this with the Apostle, “Is God unjust in bringing His wrath on us? Certainly not!” (Romans 3:5-6). God is holy, just, and righteous–even when He punishes momentary offences with everlasting torments. And this will appear, by considering the following: It is necessary for the governing of the world, that the penalty should be so stated. It is necessary for the preserving the authority of God’s law in its full force and vigor, and to render it more solemn and dreadful. The design of God is to have the punishment so great as to check all the temptations to sin which a man can have. There is in man since the fall, such a propensity to sensual things, that, without this fear of Hell, nothing is able to keep it down. Fleshly lusts are so pleasing to corrupt nature, that they need to be checked with the severest threatenings. Therefore, God has told us beforehand, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient!” Ephesians 5:6. God wisely balances the sinner’s delights with the fear of punishment, that by setting eternal pains against momentary pleasures, we may the better escape temptation. The pleasures of sin, which are but for a season–entail on us torments which are eternal! God has wisely left to our own choice whether we will have the passing pleasures of sin here on earth–or those eternal pleasures which come hereafter. Things at hand will far more prevail than things to come, if those eternal things are not considerably greater. Here on earth the pain is short, and so is the pleasure–but in the eternal world both the pain and the pleasure are eternal. In the wisdom of God, those who work out their salvation with fear and trembling here, should have pleasures at the right hand of God for evermore–and those who will have their sinful pleasures here, should have everlasting misery in the eternal world. (Matthew Mead, “The Eternal Duration of Hell’s Torments” 1629-1699)

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