"Ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"

the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:33

Is hell real? Is hell a place of fire and brimstone? Do some people actually go to hell? Many in this generation seem to have rejected the idea of hell, but if hell is real, denial of its existence will only soothe the conscience for a brief time here on earth. For centuries most religious and even non-religious people have believed in hell, but few priests today say much about it, possibly for fear of offending people. Regardless of what modern people believe about hell, Jesus Christ not only believed that hell was real, He taught that most people, even very religious people, go to hell. Christ spoke more about hell than anyone else in the Bible, describing hell as a place of everlasting fire, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Hear the words of Jesus Christ: "So it shall be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:49-50). Please consider with all seriousness the reality of hell and the necessity of seeking God.


First Published in 1601. Author Unknown.

Of the punishments which our Lord threateneth unto such as live a sinful life. One of the principal means that our Lord hath used often times to bridle the hearts of men, and to draw them unto the obedience of his commandments, hath been, to set before their eyes the horrible plagues and punishments that are prepared for such persons as be rebels and transgressors of his law. For although the hope of the rewards that are promised unto the good in the life to come, may move us very much hereunto: yet are we commonly more moved with things that be irksome unto us, than with such as be pleasant: even as we see by daily experience, that we are vexed more with an injury done unto us, than delighted with any honor, and we are more troubled with sickness, than comforted with health and so by the discommodity of sickness, we come to understand the commodity of health, as by a thing so much the better perceived, by how much more it is sensibly felt. Now for this cause did our Lord in times past use this means more than any other, as it appeareth most clearly by the writings of the Prophets, which are every where full of dreadful sayings and threatenings, wherewith our Lord pretendeth (desireth) to put a terror into the hearts of men, and so to bridle and subdue them under the obedience of his law. And for this end he commanded the prophet Jeremy, that he should take a white book, and write in the same all the threatenings and calamities which he had revealed unto him, even from the first day he began to talk with him, until that present hour, and that he should read the same in the presence of all the people, to see if peradventure they would be moved therewith unto repentance, and to change their former life, to the end, that he might also change the determination of his wrath, which he had purposed to execute upon them. And the Holy Scripture sayth, that when the prophet had done according as he was commanded by Almighty God, and had read all those threatenings in the presence of the people, and of the rulers; there arose such a fear and terror amongst them, that they were all astonished, and as it were frightened out of their wits, looking one in another's face, for the exceeding great fear which they had conceived of those words. This was one of the principal means which Almighty God used with men in the time of the law written, and so he did also in the time of the law of grace: in which, the holy Apostle sayth,

That as there is revealed a justice, whereby God maketh men just, so is there also revealed an indignation and wrath, whereby he punisheth the unjust: for which cause, John the Baptist (the glorious forerunner of our Saviour Christ) was sent, with this commission and embassage to preach unto the world, That the axe was now put to the root of the tree, and that every tree that brought not forth good fruit, should be cut down and cast into the fire. He said moreover, That there was another come into the world, more mighty than he, that carried in his hand a fan, to winnow and cleanse therewith his floor, and that he would put up the corn into his garner, but the chaff he will burn in a fire that should never be quenched. This was the preaching and embassage which the holy forerunner of our Savior Jesus Christ brought into the world. And so great was the thunder of these words, and the terror which entered into men's hearts, so dreadful, that there ran unto him of all estates and conditions of men, even of the very Pharisees and Publicans, yea, and soldiers also (which of all others are wont to be most dissolute, and to have least care of their consciences) and each of them demanded for himself particularly of that holy man, what he should do to attain unto salvation, and to escape those terrible threatenings which he had denounced unto them, so great was the fear they had conceived of them. And this is that (dear Christian brother) which I do at this present (in the behalf of Almighty God) deliver unto thee, although not with such fervency of spirit, and like holiness of life, yet that which importeth more in this case, with the same truth and certainty; for so much as the faith and Gospel which John the Baptist then preached, is even the same now taught.

Now, if thou be desirous to understand in few words, how great the punishment is, that Almighty God hath threatened in his Holy Scriptures to the wicked, that which may most quickly and most to the purpose be spoken in this matter, is this: that like as the reward of the good is an universal good thing, even so the punishment of the wicked is an universal evil, which comprehendeth in it all the evils that are. For the better understanding whereof, it is to be noted, That all the evils of this life are particular evils, and therefore do not torment all our senses generally, but only one, or some of them. As taking an example of the diseases of our body, we see, that one hath a disease in his eyes, another in his ears: one is sick in the heart, another in the stomach, some other in his head. And so diverse men are diseased in diverse parts of the body, howbeit, in such wise, that none of all these diseases be generally throughout all the members of the body, but particular to some one of them. And yet for all this, we see what grief only one of these diseases may put us unto, and how painful a night the sick man hath in any one of these infirmities, yea, although it be nothing else but a little ache in one tooth. Now let us put the case, that there were some one man sick of such an universal disease, that he had no part of his body, neither any one joint or sense free from his proper pain, but that at one time and instant he suffered most exceeding sharp torment in his head, in his eyes, and ears, in his teeth, and stomach, in his liver and heart: and to be short, in all the rest of his members and joints of his body, and that he lay after this sort stretching himself in his bed, being pained with these griefs and torments, every member of his body having his particular torment and grief: He (I say) that should lie thus pained and afflicted, how great torment and grief of mind and body (think ye) should he sustain? Oh, what thing could any man imagine more miserable, and more worthy of compassion? Surely, if thou shouldest see but a dog to be so tormented and grieved in the street, his very pains would move thy heart to take pity upon him. Now this is that (my dear Christian brother, if any comparison may be made between them) which is suffered in that most cursed and horrible place of hell, and not only during for the space of one night, but everlasting, for ever and ever. For like as the wicked men have offended Almighty God with all their members and senses, and have made armour of them all to serve sin, even so will he ordain, that they shall be there tormented every one of them with his proper torment. There shall the wanton unchast eyes be tormented with the terrible sight of devils: the ears with the confusion of such horrible cries and lamentations which shall there be heard: the nose with the intolerable stink of that ugly, filthy, and loathsome place: the taste, with a most ravenous hunger and thirst: the touching, and all the members of the body with extreme burning fire. The imagination shall be tormented by the conceiving of griefs present: the memory, by calling to mind the pleasures past: the understanding, by considering what benefits are lost, and what endless miseries are to come.

This multitude of punishments the Holy Scripture signifieth unto us, when it sayth, Math. 15. Psalm 10. That in hell there shall be hunger, thirst, weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, swords double edged, spirits created for revengement, serpents, worms, scorpions, hammers, wormwood, water of gall, the spirit of tempest, and other things of like sort. Whereby are signified unto us (as in a figure) the multitude and dreadful terror of the most horrible torments and pains that be in that cursed place. There shall be likewise darkness inward and outward, both of body and soul, far more obscure than the darkness of Egypt, which was to be felt even with hands, Exo. 10. There shall be fire also, not as this fire here, that tormenteth a little, and shortly endeth, but such a fire as that place requireth, which tormented exceedingly, and shall never make an end of that tormenting. This being true, what greater wonder can there be, than that they which believe and confess this for truth, shall live with such most strange negligence and carelessness as they do? What travel and pains would not a man willingly take to escape even one day only, yea, one hour, the very least of these torments? and wherefore do they not then, to escape the everlastingness of so great pains and horrible torments, endure so little a travel, as to follow the exercise of virtue? Surely, the consideration of this matter were able to make any sinful soul to fear and tremble, in case it were deeply regarded. And if amongst so great number of pains, there were any manner hope of end or release, it would be some kind of comfort: but alas it is not so for there the gates are fast shut up from all expectation of any manner of ease or hope. In all kind of pains and calamities that be in this world, there is always some gap lying open, whereby the patient may receive some kind of comfort: sometimes reason, sometimes the weather, sometimes his friends, sometimes the hearing that others are troubled with the very same disease, and sometimes (at the least) the hope of an end may cheer him somewhat: only in these most horrible pains and miseries that be in hell, all the ways are shut up in such sort, and all the heavens of comfort so embarred, that the miserable sinner cannot hope for remedy on any side, neither of heaven, not of earth, neither of the time past, or present, or of the time to come, or of any other means. The damned souls think, that all men are shooting darts at them, and that all creatures have conspired against them, and that even they themselves are cruel against themselves. This is that distress whereof the sinners do lament by the Prophet, saying: The sorrows of hell have compassed me round about, and the snares of death hath besieged me:

For on which side soever they look or turn their eyes, they do continually behold occasions of sorrow and grief, and none at all of any ease or comfort. The wise virgins (sayth the evangelist) that stood ready prepared at the gate of the bridegroom, entered in, and the gate was forthwith locked fast. O looking everlasting, o enclosure immortal, o gate of all goodness, which shall never any more be opened again. As if he had said more plainly, the gate of pardon, of mercy, of comfort, of grace, of intercession, of hope, and of all other goodness, is shut up for ever and ever. six days and no more was manna to be gathered, but the seventh day, which was the Sabbath day, was there none to be found: and therefore shall he fast forever, that hath not in due time made his provision on aforehand. The sluggard (sayth the wise man) will not till his ground for fear of cold, and therefore shall he beg his bread in summer, and no man shall give him to eat. And in another place he sayth: He that gathereth in summer, is a wise son, but he that giveth himself to sleeping at that season, is the son of confusion. For what confusion can there be greater than that which that miserable covetous rich man suffereth, who came to such an extreme necessity that he begged (yea, and shall forever beg in vain) only one drop of water, and shall never obtain it. Who is not moved with that request of that unfortunate damned person, who cried, O father Abraham have compassion on me, and send down Lazarus unto me, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and touch my tongue, for these horrible flames do torment me exceedingly. What smaller request could there be desired than this? He dust not request so much as one cup of water, neither, that Lazarus should put his whole hand into the water, nor yet (which is more to be wondered at) did he request so much as the whole finger, but only the tip of it, that it might but touch his tongue; and yet even this alone would not be granted unto him. Whereby thou mayest perceive, how fast the gate of all consolation is shut up, and how universal that interdict and excommunication is, that is there laid upon the damned, that this rich glutton could not obtain so much as this small request. So that wheresoever the damned persons do turn their eyes, and on which side soever they stretch their hands, they shall not find any manner of comfort, be it never so small.