Page images

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, 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.

But while such is the lesson that the text addresses to us all in common, it has a second and more particular admonition for a part of us: for that portion of Christians who are generally spoken of with esteem, as being more advanced in godliness than their brethren-that portion which recognizes, not in word only but in deed, the obligation under which they lie to Almighty God and to His Son: who look upon themselves as pledged to His service by the very terms of their baptismal covenant; and who to a certain point have endeavoured to redeem that pledge-have endeavoured (with success differing according to their efforts) to yield themselves, their souls and bodies, as members of righteousness unto holiness-have endeavoured to keep stedfastly in view the bright hope of their calling, and have striven to walk, as much as they were able, in the right direction towards it-have framed their lives and the lives of their families upon the only rule by which that hope can be secured-the rule of seeking the kingdom of God first and before all other things; and who by necessary consequence, thankfully have recourse to all those means of grace and pious observances which God has appointed in His church for the comfort and security of His people.

For persons of this description, (and some such, there may be amongst you, my brethren,) the use of the text is obviously great. In it they may find,

and of themselves they will be forward to find, a spur to animate their efforts, in the path which, through God's blessing, they have rightly chosen. They will not, if they are wise, refuse to be counselled against the danger of a relapse-of falling back into that worldly, careless, and unbelieving course of life, and conduct which they see followed by but too many around them; and in which they themselves, it is probable, at one time walked.

No, my brethren, grateful as you must feel for having escaped so sad a condition as this; grateful as you must be for having profited thus far in your religion, for having arrived at a decision, an unwavering decision, between Gcd and the world you will not, I am sure, be puffed up, nor exalted above measure at the progress you have made : rather you will be disposed to fear; as did one far more advanced than yourselves-far more advanced than any of the present generation, you will be disposed to fear with St. Paul, lest after all you should be a castaway; lest by any means, through the wiles and temptations of the wicked one; through the lurking corruption of your own hearts, you should, when least you expect it, find an enemy in your path, and be brought again under the heav yyoke of bondage—the bondage of sin, and death. And surely such fear, such wholesome fear of falling away from God, instead of being shaken

off, as a feeling unworthy of your spiritual advancement, had better be nourished, and cherished with all humility in fect love, it is true, will cast it

are any of us from perfect love!

your hearts. Per

out; but how far How far are any

of us from loving God up to the measure of our Lord's commands, "with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind: and our neighbour as ourself!" When this shall be the case with us; when that which is perfect shall have come; then, and not till then, may the fear of final separation from God, and heaven be entirely done away.

Therefore, my brethren, do ye also, (as many as are of this number,) no less than others, take home to yourselves the language of our Lord in the text,- "Remember Lot's wife." Remember that she in her day, was in a position not unlike that of yours. She had escaped, by God's good providence, from the wicked city devoted to destruction you have, through the same providence, escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, those unruly passions which tempt to great, and gross offences. She had her feet set forward in the path of safety; nay-she had made some progress in the way; and this too (in a spiritual sense) may be said of you. You may, I trust, be said with truth to have made straight paths for your feet; to have gone forth unto Christ "without

« PreviousContinue »