by J. Gerald Harris

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The Torment of Tophet (9 of 9)
Series: Missions
J. Gerald Harris

"Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!"

Inscription over the gates of hell in Dante's Inferno

"It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God for one moment: but you must suffer it for all eternity."

Jonathan Edwards - Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

"Some will not be redeemed. There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this (the doctrine of hell) if it lay in my power."

C. S. Lewis - The Problem of Pain

"For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." Isaiah 30:33

During the decade of the 70s I had the privilege of serving as the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Camden, South Carolina. On numerous occasions while living in this beautiful and historic town, I heard some venerable citizen recount the story of the Cleveland School fire that occurred on May 17, 1923. This terrible, tragic fire burned up a schoolhouse and brought a sudden death to seventy-six young people whose lives had brimmed with enthusiasm.

Frantic parents and horror stricken neighbors looked at the blazing inferno in a delirium of mind shattering helplessness. Above the sound of the crackling flames and the falling timbers, the onlookers could hear the cries of those who begged for release from the prison house of torturous flames. The shrieking cry of burning children from this death trap of torment was so seared into the minds of those who witnessed that holocaust that its haunting effect continues to the present day.

In the round of ministerial duties, I have occasionally visited burn victims in hospital rooms and observed the agony, the disfigurement, even the characteristic stench that often permeates the rooms of such patients. Secondary infections: gangrene, nephriti ...

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