Preaching of Hell.

There is a widespread revolt against the doctrine of hell. It is generally excluded from the modern pulpit and platform and the religious press: very few people believe in it now. Howbeit the Son of God, during His public ministry on earth, preached hell fire and the everlasting punishment of all who disbelieve the Gospel. His words are awful. He speaks of “hell fire” (Matt. 5:22), “whole body cast into hell” (ver. 29), “a furnace of fire” (chap. 13:42), “the fire that never shall be quenched” (Mark 9:45). He well knew what He was saying! He taught the people in parables; but when interpreting to the disciples about the tares recorded in Matt. 13, the plain words “fire” and “furnace” are used, words He knew they would understand clearly.

The denial of the eternal punishment of the unbeliever is a matter of great moment; for like the keystone in an arch, if it falls so will the rest of it fall. The atonement of Christ and the infinite nature of sin, lose their character when hell is thrust aside. Satan is directing a vigorous attack against this doctrine of hell; and how awfully sad to see hoary-headed professors of theological colleges being used by him to discredit the solemn truth. But where the Devil cannot get in his lie of “no hell,” then he gets in the thin end of the wedge of doubt, suggesting that hell fire must not be understood as literal fire, it is “symbolical” language! Yet a symbol never comes fully up to the thing it symbolises, it cannot; so, from this showing, eternal fire is a worse form of fire than the fire we are acquainted with. When fire assumes a mystical, not-understandable something or other, then it is a thing no longer alarming. The cry of fire! fire! thrills the sinful soul and makes the hypocrites to tremble.

It has been well said that “the Word of God should be read on the principle that if the plain and obvious sense make good sense we should seek no other sense.” This principle is as sound as it is simple. Luther and the Reformers who shook Europe, used plainness of speech. Knox, Fox, Whitfield, Wesley, ranked high among God’s mighty men, and they scorned to use language of double meaning. Spurgeon, whose words have been blessed to the ends of the earth, preached the fire of hell in its literal awfulness, so that no person could mistake his meaning. This man was very unsparing of fanciful interpreters of Scripture, convinced that the Bible is meant to be understood by plain people in a plain way.

By all means let our preaching be equally balanced—God’s love and everlasting salvation; man’s ruin and eternal doom. Nothing but this will do. Keep to Scriptural terms, however plain; do not search for smoother words than God uses in expressing His solemn truths, for drowsy souls need something far different than velvet-tongued preaching.

Whilst bearing in mind all we have written, we wish it to be understood that we should abhor a heartless, glib way of speaking of hell, it is so serious. While not to be faithful about it must be regarded as worthy of censure, yet the subject should never be referred to except under deep conviction of its solemn and momentous nature.