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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Friday Evening, September 4, 2009

“Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Psalm 11:6).

This sermon is adapted from one given by the Puritan Thomas Vincent. Born in 1634, he graduated with a master’s degree from Oxford in 1654. He was ordained in the Church of England, but was put out of that church by an act of Parliament in 1662, for holding evangelistic doctrines. He began preaching in a Puritan church. He left that congregation to work with victims of the plague which struck London that year. During the plague he preached constantly, with great crowds of people flooding in to hear him. Although over 65,000 people died of the plague in 1665 alone, God miraculously protected Thomas Vincent. The plague ended with London burned to the ground in an enormous fire. He wrote about his experiences with people dying in the plague and the great London fire that followed in his book, “God’s Terrible Voice in the City by Plague and Fire” (1667). The sermon I am adapting from him tonight, “Fire and Brimstone in Hell,” was published in three parts in 1670. The horrible experiences he went through working with the dying in the plague and the great fire that followed no doubt impressed on his mind the terrors of those dying without Christ. No doubt the horrible plague and fire motivated him to write this sermon on “Fire and Brimstone in Hell.”

Thomas Vincent said, The torments of Hell through fire and brimstone, are beyond the understanding of our natural minds. Yet we are able to understand the Fire and Brimstone in Hell by thinking about the fiery judgment that fell on Sodom and Gomorrah, and on modern fires that destroyed great and wicked cities like London. By thinking of these earthly fires we are able to have some understanding of the fire and brimstone that the lost will experience in Hell.

“Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Psalm 11:6).

This verse tells us that a horrible storm of fire and brimstone will rain down on sinners in Hell, a judgment that they well deserve.

Let us think about what Hell fire will be like for those unconverted people who fall into this

“fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest [which] shall be the portion of their cup”
       (Psalm 11:6).

There are seven characteristics or marks of Hell-fire.

1.  First, it will be a great fire.

2.  Second, it will be a dark fire.

3.  Third, it will be a fierce fire.

4.  Fourth, it will be an irresistible fire.

5.  Fifth, it will be a continual fire.

6.  Sixth, it will be an unquenchable fire.

7.  Seventh, it will be an everlasting fire.

First, the fire of Hell will be a great fire. You have seen the great fire that burned the mountains in Southern California these past weeks (fall, 2009). Many of those who first heard this sermon saw the fire that burned most of London in 1666. But the fire of Hell will be far greater than these fires. It will be so great that it will burn everyone who is unconverted. All sinners will be in the fire of Hell at the same time. In Revelation 20:1, Hell is called “the bottomless pit.” It is so great a fire that it is described as “bottomless,” the “bottomless pit” of fire. Since Hell is a “bottomless pit” it is able to contain all of the lost who have ever lived. It is a bottomless pit of fire. And the fire is sent from God, as it was on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Second, the fire of Hell is a dark fire. There will be no light in Hell. The absolute darkness of Hell will add to the horror of it. Christ said,

“Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness”
       (Matthew 25:30).

“…to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever”
       (Jude 13).

There will be no light to comfort you – nothing but weeping and screaming and gnashing of teeth. There will be no light from the sun or moon. The fire itself, being a supernatural fire from God, will give no light. All will be dark and black: black demons, black souls, black surroundings. Be sure, there will be no cheerful light. There the damned will be in a place of darkness forever,

“…to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever”
      (Jude 13).

Third, the fire of Hell is a fierce fire. The great fire that burned London to the ground in Thomas Vincent’s day was fierce, savage and violent. So was the fire that consumed the city of Sodom. In Hell the fire of God’s anger and wrath against sin will burn fiercely. Human language cannot fully express how violently the wrath of God will burn upon sinners. Moses said,

“Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath” (Psalm 90:11).

Man’s anger is limited. But who knoweth the power of God’s anger? It is unlimited. We often fear that men can do more than they are able to do. But God can and will punish lost souls fearfully, beyond human expression. God will make His wrath known to

“the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” (Romans 9:22).

The fire which torments the wicked will be very fierce and very violent. It will be so violent a fire, that it will torment every part, from the top of the head to the feet of the damned.

Fourth, the fire of Hell is an irresistible fire. All the power of Satan and his demons will not be able to stop the fire of God’s anger. The prophet Nahum said,

“Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him” (Nahum 1:6).

The fire of God’s anger will be irresistible. No one can stop His wrath against sin. The fire of Hell will burn with such violence that it will overcome all obstacles. Nothing can stop the fire of God’s wrath in Hell. None of the lost will be preserved from the fire. Indeed, the wicked will burn in Hell-fire and no one will be able to stop the flames!

Fifth, the fire of Hell is a continual fire. Other fires, no matter how great, are finally put out. But the fire of Hell will continue – always burning without end.

“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” (Revelation 14:11).

There will be no end to the flames of God’s anger, no decrease of the fire of Hell. This fire will always be hot, always burning in the highest degree. Christ said,

“Then shall he say…Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41).

Sixth, the fire of Hell will be an unquenchable fire, a fire that cannot be put out. Christ called it,

“unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12).

Christ warned about going to

“Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched” (Mark 9:43).

Now, while you are alive, the fire of God’s anger may be quenched, put out, by the Blood of Jesus Christ; and the fire may be prevented. But after you die it will be too late. In Hell it will be too late. Christ’s Blood will not put it out, or appease the wrath of God then. If all the waters of the oceans of the world could be poured upon the flames of Hell, they would not put them out then. To paraphrase Shakespeare,

Will all great Neptune’s ocean
   Wash this [sin]
Clean from my hand? No; this
   My hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine;
   Making the green one red
(Macbeth, Act II).

The fire of Hell is an unquenchable fire.

Seventh, the fire of Hell will be an everlasting fire. Christ said,

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

The fire of Hell will always burn, and the damned will be forever tormented in it. This will be eternal torment for the lost. Suppose ten thousand years past, and after that an hundred thousand millions of millions of years past, and yet you will not come to the end of eternity; no, not even to the middle of eternity; you will still be only at the beginning of it. Add to this all the minutes and hours of time, all the numbers of arithmetic that can possibly be conceived, and all this is only the beginning of eternity. How long will eternity last? Forever! When will eternity end? Never! As long as Heaven shall continue to be Heaven, and God shall continue to be God, and all the saved shall be happy in the enjoyment of God; for all eternity shall the lost be tormented in the fire of Hell. We may hear about the everlastingness of the fire of Hell, but we cannot humanly comprehend it. We can only say, with that old chorus,

Where will you spend eternity?
   This question comes to you and me.
[What will the final] answer be?
   Where will you spend eternity?
Eternity, eternity;
   Where will you spend eternity?
(“Where Will You Spend Eternity?” by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).

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