I learned about it in this excellent book:
You say what is meant by everlasting. It is both easy
and difficult to answer this question. It is easy to say
that the pains of Hell will last for ever, and never have an
end. It is difficult to answer the question, because our
understandings are too little to understand what is meant
by the word ever. We know very well what is meant by
a year, a million of years, a hundred million of years.
But for ever — Eternity— What is that ?
A MEASURE— A BIRD.
We can measure almost anything. We can measure a
field or a road. We can measure the earth. We can
measure how far it is from the earth to the sun. Only
one thing there is which never has been and never will be
measured, and that is Eternity — for ever !
Think of a great solid iron ball, larger than the Heavens
and the earth. A bird comes once in a hundred millions
of years and just touches the great iron ball with a feather
of its wing. Think that you have to burn in a fire till the
bird has worn the great iron ball away with its feather.
Is this Eternity ? No.
XXXII. TEARS. — SAND.— DOTS.
Think that a man in Hell cries only one single tear in
ten hundred millions of years. Tell me how many millions
of years must pass before he fills a little basin with his
tears? how many millions of years must pass before he cries
as many tears as there were drops of water at the deluge ?
how many years must pass before he has drowned the
heavens and earth with his tears ? Is this Eternity ? No.
Turn all the earth into little grains of sand, and fill all
the skies and the heavens with little grains of sand. After
each hundred millions of years, one grain of sand is taken
away ; oh what a long, long time it would be before the
last grain of sand was taken away. Is this Eternity ? No.
Cover all the earth and all the skies with little dots like
these . . . Let every dot stand for a hundred thousand
millions of years. Is this Eternity ! No.
WHAT ARE THEY DOING 1 25
After such a long, long time will God still punish sinners?
Yes. Isa. ix. — "After all this His anger is not turned away,
His hand is still stretched out." How long, then, will the
punishment of sinners go on ? For ever, and ever, and ever !
XXXIII. WHAT ARE THEY DOING?
Perhaps at this moment, seven o'clock in the evening, a
child is just going into Hell. To-morrow evening at seven
o'clock, go and knock at the gates of Hell, and ask what
the child is doing. The devils will go and look. Then
they will come back again and say, the child is burning !
Go in a week and ask what the child is doing ; you will
get the same answer — it is burning ! Go in a year and ask ;
the same answer comes — it is burning ! Go in a million of
years and ask the same question ; the answer is just the
same — it is burning ! So if you go for ever and ever, you
will always get the same answer — it is burning in the fire !
XXVIII. The Fifth Dungeon.
The Red Hot Oven
Ps. xx. Thou shalt make him as an oven of fire in the time of thy anger. You are going to see again the child about which you read in the Terrible Judgement, that it was condemned to Hell. See! It is a pitiful sight. The little child is in this red hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out. See how it turns and twists itself about in the fire. It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor of the oven. You can see on the face of this little child what you see on the faces of all in Hell— despair, desperate and horrible!... This child committed very bad mortal sins, knowing well the harm of what it was doing, and knowing that Hell would be the punishment. God was very good to this child. Very likely God saw that this child would get worse and worse, and would never repent, and so it would have to be punished much more in Hell. So God, in His mercy, called it out of the world in its early childhood.