Settle it, lastly, in your mind, that the comforting ideas which the Scripture gives us of heaven are at an end, if we once deny the reality or eternity of hell. Is there no future separate abode for those who die wicked and ungodly? Are all men, after death, to be mingled together in one confused multitude? Why then, heaven will be no heaven at all! It is utterly impossible for two to dwell happily together except they be agreed. – Is there to be a time when the term of hell and punishment will be over? Are the wicked after ages of misery to be admitted into heaven? Why then, the need of the sanctification of the Spirit is cast aside and despised! I read that men can be sanctified and made meet for heaven on earth: I read nothing of any sanctification in hell. Away with such baseless and unscriptural theories! The eternity of hell is as clearly affirmed in the Bible as the eternity of heaven. Once allow that hell is not eternal, and you may as well say that God and heaven are not eternal. The same Greek word which is used in the expression, “everlasting punishment,” is the word that Is used by the Lord Jesus in the expression, “life eternal,” and by St. Paul in the expression, “everlasting God.” (Matt. xxv. 46; Rom. xvi. 26.) I know that all this sounds dreadful in many ears. I do not wonder. But the only question we have to settle is this – Is it Scriptural? Is it true? I maintain firmly that it is so: and I maintain that professing Christians ought to be often reminded that they may be lost and go to hell.
J.C. Ryle (1816 – 1900) From Holiness, published 1877