Then shall he also say unto them on his left hand…
The goats, the foolish virgins, and slothful and wicked servants,
depart from me:
a like expression is used by him to preachers of the
word, and professors of religion, that are mere nominal ones.
(Matthew 7:23) and such are intended here, who professed to be on Christ's
side, had been in his visible church, and hoped to have been with
him for ever; but having nothing but the lamp of a profession, and
some external works to trust to, they are bid to be gone from him;
they are banished his presence, which is what is commonly called the
punishment of loss; the loss of the presence of God, Father, Son,
and Spirit, angels, and saints; and is thought to be greater than
the punishment of sense, hereafter expressed. The character given of
them, which is the reverse of the former, is,
for having sinned against God, and his righteous law,
they are cursed by it, which curses everyone that is under its
works, as these were, and do not perfectly fulfil whatsoever it
requires; and so were justly rejected of God, and hated by him: and
therefore are condemned and sent,
into everlasting fire:
by which is meant, the wrath of God; and the
phrase expresses the intolerable fierceness of it, and its perpetual
continuance; the sense of which, without intermission, will ever be
felt in the conscience; and is the punishment of sense, the wicked
will for ever endure: it may also intend the pit and prison of hell,
where these torments will be for ever inflicted; and so hell is
called by the Jews F11, the hell (Mle twdyqy) , "eternal fire", or
"everlasting burning": and is here said to be
prepared for the devil and his angels;
for Satan, or Beelzebub, the
prince of devils, and all his principalities and powers under him:
it is not said to be prepared for these persons, though it was, and
who were foreordained to this condemnation, but for the devil and
his angels; showing, that the same punishment will be inflicted on
hypocrites and carnal professors, as on the devils themselves; and
it is indeed of such, that the devouring fire, and everlasting
burnings are spoken, in (Isaiah 33:14) , to which this passage seems to
have some respect; for no where else is mention made of this
everlasting fire: it is not said neither when it was prepared. It is
a notion of the Jews F12, that the angels were created on the second
day; and it should seem by them, that they fell the same day; hence
it is a prevailing opinion among them F13, that hell was made on the
second day of the creation; though at, other times, they reckon hell
among the seven things which were created before the world was F14,
and which may be reconciled together: for as heaven, the place of
the saints' happiness, was prepared from the foundation of the
world, or on the first day of its creation, though the happiness
itself was provided long before; so hell, the place of the torments
of the devils and wicked, though it was not made or prepared until
the second day of the creation, when, according to this opinion, the
angels were made and fell; yet the punishment they were to endure
there, was appointed before the world was; and so hell is said to
(Nymle Nm ardom) , "be ordained from eternity", because of their sins
F11 Targum in Isa. xxxiii. 14.
F12 Targum Jon. in Gen. i. 26. Pirke Eliezer, c. 4.
F13 Targum in Cant. viii. 6. T. Bab. Pesach. fol. 54. 1. Zohar in Gen.
fol. 13. 3. & 30. 2. & in Exod. fol. 61. 4. & in Deut. fol. 120. 1.
Bereshit Rabba, sect. 4. fol. 4. 1. & sect. 21. fol. 19. 1. Shemot
Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 101. 4. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 1. 2. & 121. &
1. 2. & 130. 3.
F14 T. Bab. Pesach. fol. 54. 1. & Nedar. fol. 39. 2. Zokar in Lev. fol.
14. 4. Targum Jon. in Gen iii. 24.
F15 Targum in Isa. xxx. 33.