By Lewis Bayly
Meditations of the Misery of a Man after Death, which is the fulness of Cursedness.
The fulness of cursedness, when it falls upon a creature, not able to bear the brunt of it, presseth him down to that bottomless deep of the endless wrath of Almighty God, which is called the damnation of hell (Luke viii. 28, & xvi. 23; 1 Thess. i. 10; Matt. xxiii. 33.) This fulness of cursedness is either particular or general.
Particular is that which, in a less measure of fulness, lighteth upon the soul immediately, as soon as she is separated from the body (Luke xvi. 22, 23; 1 Pet. iii. 19; Jude, ver. 6, 7;) for in the very instant of dissolution she is in the sight and presence of God: for when she ceaseth to see with the organ of fleshly eyes, she seeth after a spiritual manner; like Stephen, who saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at his right hand (Acts vii. 5;) or as a man who, being born blind, and miraculously restored to his sight, should see the sun, which he never saw before. And there, by the testimony of her own conscience, Christ, the righteous Judge, who knoweth all things, maketh her, by his omnipresent power, to understand the doom and judgment that is due unto her sins, and what must be her eternal state. And in this manner standing in the sight of heaven, not fit, for her uncleanness, to come into heaven, she is said to stand before the throne of God. And so forthwith she is carried by the evil angels, who came to fetch her with violence into hell, where she is kept, as in a prison, in everlasting pains and chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day; but not in that extremity of torments which she shall finally receive at the last day.
The general fulness of cursedness is in a greater measure of fulness which shall be inflicted upon both soul and body, when, by the mighty power of Christ, the supreme Judge of heaven and earth, the one shall be brought out of hell, and the other out of the grave, as prisoners, to receive their dreadful doom, according to their evil deeds (2 Pet. ii. 9; Jude, ver. 7; Rev. xi. 18; John v. 28, 29; Rev. xx. 13.) How shall the reprobate, by the roaring of the sea, the quaking of the earth, the trembling of the powers of heaven (Matt. xxiv. 29; Luke xxi. 24, 25), and terrors of heavenly signs, be driven, at the world's end, to their wits' end! Oh, what a woful salutation will there be betwixt the damned soul and body, at their reuniting at that terrible day!
O sink of sin, O lump of filthiness (will the soul say to her body), how am I compelled to re-enter thee, not as to an habitation to rest, but as a prison, to be tormented! How dost thou appear in my sight, like Jephtha's daughter, to my great torment! Would God thou hadst perpetually rotted in the grave, that I might never have seen thee again! How shall we be confounded together to hear, before God, angels, and men, laid open all those secret sins which we committed together! Have I lost heaven for the love of such a foul carrion? Art thou the flesh for whose pleasures I have yielded to commit so many fornications? O filthy belly! how became I such a fool as to make thee my god! How mad was I, for momentary joys, to incur these torments of eternal pains! Ye rocks and mountains, why skip ye so like rams (Ps. cxliv. 4), and will not fall upon me, to hide me from the face of him that comes to sit on yonder throne; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? (Rev. vi. 16, 17.) Why tremblest thou thus, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, and will not open thy mouth, and swallow me up, as thou didst Corah, that I be seen no more?
O evil fiends! I would ye might without delay tear me in pieces, on condition that you would tear me into nothing!
But whilst thou art thus in vain bewailing thy misery, the angels (Matt. xiii. 41) hale thee violently away from the brink of thy grave to some place near the tribunal-seat of Christ; where being, as a cursed goat, separated to stand beneath on earth, as on the left hand of the Judge, Christ will pass sentence upon thee (Matt. xxv. 33.)
Within thee, thine own conscience (more than a thousand witnesses) shall accuse thee; the devils, who tempted thee to all thy lewdness, shall on the one side testify with thy conscience against thee; and on the other side shall stand the holy saints and angels approving Christ's justice; behind thee, an hideous noise of innumerable fellow-reprobates tarrying for thy company; before thee, all the world burning in flaming fire; above thee, an ireful Judge of deserved vengeance, ready to pronounce his sentenoe upon thee; beneath thee, the fiery and sulphureous mouth of the bottomless pit. gaping to receive thee. In this woful estate, to hide thyself will be impossible, for on that condition, thou wouldest wish that the greatest rock might fall upon thee (Rev. vi. 16, 17;) to appear will be intolerable, and yet thou must stand forth, to receive with other reprobates, this sentence-"Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Depart from me.] There is a separation from all joy and happiness.
Ye cursed.] There is a black and direful excommunication.
Into fire.] There is the cruelty of pain.
Everlasting.] There is the perpetuity of punishment.
Prepared for the devil and his angels.] Here are thy infernal tormenting and tormented companions.
O terrible sentence! from which the condemned cannot escape; which being pronounced, cannot possibly be withstood; against which a man cannot except, and from which a man can nowhere appeal: so that to the damned, nothing remains but hellish torments, which know neither ease of pain, nor end of time! From this judgment-seat thou must be thrust by angels, together with all the devils and reprobates, into the bottomless Jake of utter darkness, that perpetually burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. xxi. 8:) Whereunto, as thou shalt be thrust, there shall be such weeping, woes, and wailing, that the cry of the company of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, when the earth swallowed them up, was nothing comparable to this howling: nay, it will seem unto thee a hell, before thou goest into hell, but to hear it. Into which lake, after that thou art once plunged, thou shalt ever be falling down, and never meet a bottom; and in it thou shalt ever lament, and none shall pity thee; thou shalt always weep for pain of the fire, and yet gnash thy teeth for the extremity of cold; thou shalt weep to think, that thy miseries are past remedy; thou shalt weep to think, that to repent is to no purpose; thou shalt weep to think, how, for the shadows of short pleasures, thou hast incurred these sorrows of eternal pains; thou shalt weep, to see how weeping itself can nothing prevail; yea, in weeping, thou shalt weep more tears than there is water in the sea; for the water of the sea is finite, but the weeping of a reprobate shall be infinite!
There thy lascivious eyes will be afflicted with sights of ghastly spirits; thy curious ear affrighted with hideous noise of devils, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth of reprobates; thy dainty nose will be cloyed with noisome stench of sulphur; thy delicate taste pained with intolerable hunger; thy drunken throat will be parched with unquenchable thirst; thy mind will be tormented to think how, for the love of abortive pleasures, which perished ere they budded, thou so foolishly didst lose heaven's joys, and incur hellish pains, which last beyond eternity; thy conscience shall ever sting thee like an adder, when thou thinkest how often Christ by bis preachers offered the remission of sins, and the kingdom of heaven freely to thee, if thou wouldest but believe and repent; and bow easily thou mightest have obtained mercy in those days; how near thou wert many times to have repented, and yet didst suffer the devil and the world to keep thee still in impenitency; and how the day of mercy is now past, and will never dawn again. How shall thy understanding be racked, to consider, that, for momentary riches, thou hast lost the eternal treasure, and changed heaven's felicity for hell's misery, where every part of thy body, without intermission of pain, shall be continually tormented!
In these hellish torments thou shalt be for ever deprived of the beatifical sight of God, wherein consists the sovereign good and life of the soul; thou shalt never see light, nor the least light of joy, but lie in a perpetual prison of utter darkness, where shall be no order, but horror; no voice, but of blasphemers and howlers; no noise, but of tortures and tortured; no society, but of the devil and his angels, who being tormented themselves, shall have no other ease but to wreak their fury in tormenting thee; where shall be punishment without pity; misery without mercy; sorrow without succour; crying without comfort; mischief without measure; torment without ease: where the worm dieth not and the fire is never quenched; where the wrath of God shall seize upon the soul and body, as the flame of fire doth on the lump of pitch, or brimstone. In which flame thou shalt ever be burning, and never consumed; ever dying, and never dead; ever roaring in the pangs of death, and never rid of those pangs, nor knowing end of thy pains. So that after thou hast endured them so many thousand years as there are grass on the earth, or sand on the sea shore, thou art no nearer to have an end of thy torments, than thou wast the first day that thou wast cast into them; yea, so far are they from ending, that they are ever but beginning. But if, after a thousand times so many thousand years, thy lost soul could but conceive a hope that her torments should have an end, this would be some comfort-to think that at length an end will come. But as oft as the mind thinketh of this word Never, it is as another hell in the midst of hell.
This thought shall force the damned to cry, as much as if they should say. O Lord, not ever, not ever torment us thus! But their conscience shall answer them as an echo. Ever, ever! Hence shall arise their doleful woe, and alas for evermore!
This is that second death, the general perfect fulness of all cursedness and misery, which every damned reprobate must suffer, so long as God and his saints shall enjoy bliss and felicity in heaven for evermore.
Thus far of the misery of man in his state of corruption, unless he be renewed by grace in Christ.
Now follows the knowledge of man's self, in respect of his state of regeneration by Christ.