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Jerusalem on the first appearance of its approaching overthrow -so soon as they should see it beset by the armies of Rome; to make haste and flee for their lives, into the neighbouring cities, and not to tarry within its walls, trusting to the strength of its fortifications, and from reluctance to be separated from their goods : He warns them against a moment's delay, and to enforce His warning, He calls to their minds the melancholy end of Lot's wife ; He bids them remember how she perished through her folly; and He leaves them to draw their own conclusion from her example--the only conclusion that can be drawn—that if their sin be like hers, their punishment will be the same. They shall not escape for their rebellious wickedness, God in His displeasure shall cut them down.
But there is a further application to be made of the words before us, one that bears more immediately on our own condition, and this I will now endeavour to point out. Besides the coming of the Son of man to take vengeance upon the ungrateful Jews—those who rejected His merciful offers, and judged themselves unworthy of that eternal life, which was preached in His name a coming that has long since been fulfilled, for Jerusalem, barely forty years after the time of this prophecy, was miserably and entirely destroyed, trodden down by the Gentiles, her inhabitants slain, and her
temple upraised from the foundations, so that literally not one stone was left upon another; and that -because she did not know the day of her visitation,) besides this, His first coming, there is yet another, plainly made known to us in the Gospel : there is the coming of the same Son of man to judge the living, and the dead. Yes,—beside the days of vengeance that have past and gone over Judea, and which have left their marks still traceable in the ruin of that blighted land, there is another day, (and we know not how near its approach may be,) " when the Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of" His Son.
And observe, my brethren, in how many points these two comings are alike: or rather how the former is the type and forerunner of the latter. The destruction of Jerusalem was, as our Lord declared it would be, swift, and sudden. It came upon the people unprepared, living in ease and license, and hardened against adopting those means by which they could have been saved.
And are not these the very tokens by which Holy Scripture describes the coming of the Redeemer ? Is it not said that “ the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night,”-that “ when they shall say peace, and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape."
Yes, surely, the same ideas attach to both events, to the destruction of Jerusalem, and to the end of the world. The great majority of mankind will be found, it is to be feared, in that day, even as the Jews were in theirs,-eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, wholly occupied, and absorbed in the cares and concerns, the business, and pleasures of this life; and being so absorbed, that day will come upon them unawares; and as a snare.
And why? Not because the Almighty willeth the death of sinners-not that He prepares His instruments of punishment, and at the same time hides His purpose from us.
No ;—but because he hath spoken and no one hears His voice-because although He hath declared that He will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, and has given us assurance of it by raising Him from the dead, yet for all this, men refuse to regard His word, and after their hardness, and impenitent hearts, treasure up wrath unto themselves against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
What wonder then if the vengeance which they thus wilfully, and knowingly provoke, be at last poured out upon them ; what shadow of complaint can there be against God's holy justice, if that come upon the Gentiles, which in a temporal form has already overtaken the Jews ? “ Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.”
If such then, my brethren, be the resemblance between the past and the future-between what has been, and what is yet to be-assuredly the command which in the one case was given as a defence against the hour of peril, will be suitable no less in the other—assuredly, the advice which the Lord offered to the Jews in the day of their visitation, He offers equally to us in reference to a greater and more terrible day than that-even the day of judgment—that advice, that counsel, was to "remember Lot's wife.”
Yes, my brethren, and is not this advice much required by, and very suitable to our condition ? Is there not in the story of Lot's wife, in her sin, and in her punishment, much that is applicable to our times and situation in the world? What is the danger to which we are most exposed ? that by which our eternal salvation is most in peril? Is it not the same as that which proved her ruin-lest we in our pilgrimage toward life and immortality should“ look back from behind,” stop in our onward course, and let our thoughts and feelings carry us back to the world and its seductive enjoyments and occupations; its sinful and forbidden pleasures; those pomps and vanities, those perishable delights, which by profession solemn and renewed, we have
all of us renounced and promised to abandon. This is the rock against which so many have in all ages made shipwreck of their souls; worldly-mindedness -that undue love of this world's goods—that undue love of this world's concerns which is inconsistent with our relation to Almighty God, as His adopted children in Christ Jesus-inconsistent with our belief in the truth and reality of the Gospel promises.
For what says the Scripture upon this subject ? Does it not say in St. John's first Epistle, “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “ Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” says St. Paul in his epistle to the Romans; and again St. James, " Whosoever will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God."
So far, then, the caution in my text is applicable to, and spoken of us all. We all,
We all, without exception, rich and poor, one with another, require continually to be put on our guard against the spirit of this world, lest we be swallowed up either on the one hand by over much relish for its pleasures, or on the other by over much care ; we have all need to be put in mind that the service of God and the service of Mammon are distinct things; that we cannot give our affections to both; that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.