Page images



GENESIS xiii. 12. “Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent

towards Sodom."

[ocr errors]

Lot was the son of Haran, the elder brother of Abram. In early life he was deprived of his parent, and left an orphan. Who would not have condoled with his destitute situation? Who would not have pitied a youth left to the kindness of a cruel and unfeeling world ? Who would not have sympathized with him as his tears flowed over the tomb of his father? But how imperfectly can we judge of the designs of Providence; and how often do those circumstances which fill our eyes with tears, and our hearts with anguish, prove our choicest mercies! Though Haran dies, Lot finds in Abram more than his father could have been unto him. Had Haran lived, his son would have perhaps continued with him in Chaldea; would have become infected with the prevalent idolatry; would have grown up unacquainted with the

; true God; would have passed his life in impiety, and then descended to the regions of despair. But in mercy to his son, Haran, by the providence of the Almighty, sinks into the grave; and Lot is admitted into the family, and enjoys the affection and the care

of Abram: the benefit of his holy example, his pious instructions, and his constant intercession. “ His father and his mother,” pierced by the arrow of death, 6 forsake him; but the Lord takes him up." Shall not this event console you who are mourning under the gloomy aspects of Divine Providencewho are crying out, like Jacob, at the occurrence of events unexpected by you, “ All these things are against me?" Remember in how many instances light has sprung from the thickest darkness. Remember that

“ God moves in a mysterious way
“ His wonders to perform;"

And that

“ Behind a frowning providence
“ He” often “hides a smiling face."

Remember the anguish of Lot's heart at his early bereavement, and the subsequent blessings to him from this bereavement; and then bow to the dispensations of the Almighty, and submit to his disposals. Especially let these instructions be received by those who, like Lot, have followed to the house of silence near and dear relatives or friends. Painful as have been these separations, yet if they are sanctified, you shall see, perhaps in this life, certainly in that which is to come, that they were the choicest mercies, and sent in covenant love. Oh! has not this been the experience of some who hear me, who by the death of parents, of children, of friends, have been made to raise their hearts from the creature, and elevate them to the Creator,--have been led into the paths of goodness and religion!

When Abram was called out of Chaldea, Lot, probably affected by the same efficacious grace





induced the patriarch to comply with the heavenly monition, undertook to accompany him in his long and dangerous pilgrimage, and committed himself with confidence to the protection of the Lord. With Abram he passed from place to place, witnessing his piety, and uniting with him in often rearing an altar to Jehovah, and pouring out before him the tribute of gratitude and praise. No doubt his religious feelings were strengthened, and his piety augmented by this intercourse with Abraham. Oh! what a privilege it is, like him, to have pious friends and relatives! and with what solicitude should we profit by the advantages to be derived from an association with them.

Lot continued with Abram, a stranger and a sojourner in Canaan, and accompanying him in all his removals, attended him to Egypt, when the land of promise was oppressed with famine. On their return, his property, as well as that of the patriarch, had greatly increased. But, alas! how often are large possessions the parent of trouble and contention! The harmony which had hitherto subsisted between Abram and Lot would probably have been interrupted, had not the patriarch addressed him with a meekness, a gentleness, and disinterestedness, conformable to his character, reminded him that they were brethren, and urged him to choose any spot that he should prefer for his residence. Here we see the first indication of what appears to have been the besetting sin of Lot-he was covetous; the augmentation of his property made him de

; sirous to accumulate still more. He cast his eyes towards the plain of Sodom, and beholding its beauty and fertility, he there “ pitched his tent,” notwithstanding its inhabitants were infamous for their vices and impiety. He who had so generously forsaken

his native country and his kindred, because they were devoted to idolatry, now, from a sordid love of gain, unites himself to the vilest idolaters. From the hope of accumulating a little more wealth, he leaves the holy society of Abram, to mingle with the wicked. Thus he plunged into temptation; and in prosecuting his history, we shall see what regrets, what disappointment, and anguish he prepared for himself.

My brethren, you blame, and you deservedly blame, these sentiments, and this conduct of Lot. But, ah! how many of you are there who in blaming him, condemn yourselves! This inordinate love of wealth, has seduced from the path of duty many thousands besides Lot; has caused numerous professors to dishonour religion, and to pierce their hearts through with many sorrows; and has sunk myriads in eternal perdition. Shall we not then pause for a moment, and solemnly inquire whether we are not in danger from this crime. This is the more necessary, because, although there is no sin against which the Scriptures utter more awful or more frequent threatenings, yet there is, at the same time, none under which the consciences of men are more easy, or in which they more frequentlv delude themselves. In most of the other gross violations of the law of God, men are constrained to acknowledge that they are guilty; but here how many evasions and subterfuges do they use to conceal the truth from themselves. This man supposes that he is not covetous, and that

, the threatenings against this crime do not concern him, because he is satisfied with what he has already attained and desires no more. As if an inordinate attachment to riches, a preference of them to God, did not as much show the worldly spirit as a desire for more; as if he whom Christ describes as a miserable. foolish, worldling; had not said to himself, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”—This man supposes

— that he is not covetous, because he sometimes thinks of heaven, and is unwilling to sink into perdition when he can no longer keep the world, and because he sometimes prays, and gives alms, and observes the exteriors of religion; as if more than this had not been done by those very Pharisees, whom our Saviour himself reproved as covetous. In order to decide whether we have this vice, we must ask, not merely whether we sometimes think of heaven, and do something for it—but where are we laying up our treasure? where are our hearts, our happiness, and our hopes ? This man supposes that he is not covetous, because he is poor; as if he who wanted riches, might not, by impatience, by discontent, by inordinate desires, show as great a love of them, as he who is surrounded by wealth. But it would be endless to trace all the illusions of the human heart, which is so ingenious to deceive itself. Let me then briefly show you the nature of this crime, and warn you against it. Those are esteemed by God to be covetous, and inordinately attached to riches, whose practice and lives declare that they prefer worldly wealth before God and everlasting happiness; who, in the language of the Scriptures, “ make not God their strength, but trust in the abundance of their riches;" who think of these riches more frequently, and with more delight than they do of Christ, and grace, and heaven; who are more grieved at the thoughts of temporal want and poverty, than of sin, and God's displeasure; who, from the anxious pursuit of wealth, neglect all serious duties, or attend to

« PreviousContinue »