When impenitent sinners are gathered at the last their characters will be the same. They were filthy here, they will be filthy still. Here on earth their sin was in the bud; in hell it will be full-blown. If they were bad here, they will be worse there. Here they were restrained by providence, by company, by custom—there, there will be no restraints, and hell will be a world of sinners at large, a land of outlaws, a place where every man shall fol|ow out his own heart’s most horrible inclinations. Who would wish to be with them? Then again, the place where they will be gathered alarms us—the pit of hell, the abode of misery and wrath for ever—who would be gathered there? Then, their occupation. They spend their time in cursing God, in inventing and venting fresh blasphemies. They go from bad to worse; climbing down the awful ladder of detestable depravity. Who would wish to be with them? Remember too their sufferings; the pain of body and of soul they know, when God has cast both body and soul into hell. Who would wish to be with them? Recollect too that they are banished for ever from God, and God is our sun, therefore they are in darkness; God is our life, therefore they are worse than dead; God is our joy, therefore they are wretched in the extreme. Why, this would be hell, if there were no other hell to a Christian, to be banished from his God. Moreover, they are denied the joys of Christ’s society. No Saviour’s love for them, no blissful communion at his right hand, no living fountains of water to which the Lamb shall lead them. O my God, when I think of what the sinner is, and where he is, and how he must be there for ever, shut out from thee, my soul may well pray with anguish that prayer, ‘Gather not my soul with sinners.’
For meditation: At the final gathering (Matthew 3:12; 13:30) there will be a world of difference between the gathering of the saved (Matthew 13:43,47–48) and the gathering of the unsaved (Matthew 13:40–42,49–50) After this teaching Jesus asked ‘Have ye understood all these things?’ (Matthew 13:51). Have you? In which gathering will you be found?