November 26, 2014

Jeremiah Burroughs (c.1600–1646) on Hell as an Infinite Ocean of Scalding Lead

It is a notable speech Augustine [Serm. 66. ad fratres in Eremo1] hath: Go, (says he) and mark and attend the Sepulchres of rich men, and when you see their rotten bones, consider who they once were, and know they do cry unto you; O you men, why do you seek so much to satisfy yourselves in these fading things, and heap upon yourselves vexation, to attain happiness for yourselves in these things? Consider our bones here, and be struck with astonishment, to abhor your luxury and covetousness; for, says he, they cry thus to you, You now are, and we were, and time will be, when you shall be what we are.

And then consider with yourselves, what a doleful condition that man is in, that hath set his heart upon things that are for a season: When those are at an end, he may say, How the thoughts of my heart, and all my hopes are at an end; now I must bid an eternal farewell to all my comforts, to husband, and wife, and neighbors, and friends, and companions; I shall never meet with you more, and never have mirth and jollity, and sporting, and gaming any more, but I must bid farewell to all, and Sun is set, and the season is at an end for all my comfort, and before me I see an infinite vast Ocean, and I must launch into it; Lord, what provision have I for it? What a dreadful shreek will that soul give, that sees an infinite Ocean it must launch into, and sees no provision that it hath made for it? Indeed those that die, and are bespotted, and know nothing of this infinite Ocean that they must launch into, they are never troubled; but those that die, and their consciences are enlightened, they have given a most dreadful shreek, to see themselves launching into an infinite Ocean of scalding Lead, and must swim naked in it forever.
Jeremiah Burroughs, Moses His Choice, With His Eye Fixed Upon Heaven: Discovering the Happy Condition of a Self-Denying Heart (London: Printed by Thomas Ratcliffe for R. Doleman, and are to be sold by Thomas Vere at the Angel without Newgate, 1660), 326–327.


1. Sermones ad fratres in Eremo was apparently a spurious collection of sermons attributed to Augustine.

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