(a) Degrees of Suffering in Hell?

A misunderstanding of Luke 12,47, "And that servant which knew his Lord's will and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes", and other similar passages, has led people to speak as if there were degrees of punishment in Hell, so that one man would find it more tolerable than his neighbour. "But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee" (Matt. 11,24) is quoted in support. But our Lord's words in the Matthew passage refer not to Hell but to the day of judgement: and the more tolerable nature of the case will lie in the fact that the Judge Himself will bring forward the prisoner's plea that had he had a full opportunity he would have repented. In Luke 12,47 Our Lord is referring not to His enemies but to His own servants, for whom great chastisement is waiting after death if they have madly thrown away their opportunities and earned the title of "wicked servant".1 Even the scourging of sons will vary in severity according to the gravity of the disobedience. Here may the inheritance be lost, and the unfaithful son find that a faithful servant of the Jewish dispensation has been chosen to wear his crown and rule over him. King's son though he may be, "A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren" (Prov. 17,2). But in Hell the punishment in every case is the same because in every case the crime is the same; for all have sinned alike, and loathed their Creator with unmixed hatred and eternal rebellion and trampled on His Salvation with a common determination. If any man will sit down and quietly consider the possibility of facing an eternal future of despair and inactivity, unlit by a single ray of hope, and sharpened by everlasting remorse