John Milton wrote in his famous poem, Paradise Lost, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven”. I think Milton understood, better than most, about misery- Milton’s life was a series of tragedies. He lost his close personal friend. He lost his political allies. He ultimately lost his sight and his wealth fighting for what he believed in.
Hell as a place
Because of John Milton’s understanding of the Bible I don’t think there’s any question that he believed Hell was a very real place. Although I wouldn’t agree with all of John Milton’s beliefs, I do admire how he put those beliefs into action. I applaud the courage that it took him to live out his beliefs.
I wonder how many people actually live their life like Hell is a real place? Like one day everyone will dwell in either Heaven or Hell for eternity? Maybe most people don’t live that way in our society anymore because Christians stopped talking about Hell along time ago. We stopped mentioning that there was a Hell and only talked about Heaven.
If there is no Hell then we can live any way we want. If there is no Hell, there is no consequences for doing anything you want to anyone you want. If Hell is a real place though… there are massive consequences to the way a man lives. Knowing that I will have to answer to a Holy God one day, means that I must live in such a way that honors him.
Hell as a state
Part of what John Milton communicates in this phrase is that Hell is also a state of being. I don’t mean by this statement that your “life is Hell” here on Earth. Quite the opposite… I mean that Hell is infinitely worse than our worst days here on Earth. I doubt that any human being can fully appreciate Hell. So, to say that “______ is Hell” indicates that we really don’t understand Hell. No matter what you put in that _______ it certainly is not as bad as Hell.
By ‘Hell as a state’ I also mean that there will be consciousness in Hell. This means, that we will know ourselves and our sin in Hell. I mean that many will experience conscious eternal torment in Hell. The more that I understand Hell, the greater sense of urgency I have to tell my friends and family about Jesus. If there is consciousness in Hell then John Militon is right- “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven”.