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where, with his two daughters, he resided in a cave. Here he fell into the most horrid and unnatural sins. He who had stood firm against the seductions of Sodom, whose integrity had not been shaken by the examples of the sinners around him, now grossly falls, while in solitude, and in a cave of the mountains. So incapable are external circumstances of preserving us from guilt-so necessary is it at all times to watch over our deceitful hearts. He who had been so specially protected by God, forgets his obligations and vows, and outrages his Benefactor. Lord, what is man! How necessary is it “ for him who standeth to take heed lest he fall!” How necessary for us, even if we have long and successfully resisted the seductions to guilt, still to distrust ourselves, and never to let down our watch.
After this period, we hear nothing more of Lot. The last event related of him is an awful blot upon his character; and if he were recovered to repentance, no doubt his soul was wrung with grief; and, sorrowfully spending the rest of his days, he at last sunk into the tomb.
Happy will it be for us, if, learning wisdom from his conduct, and instructed by his falls, we be led by his history to live nearer to the Lord, to rely upon his strength, to take him as our portion, and to seek from him a heart detached from the world, and not inordinately fixed upon earthly riches.
LUKE xvii. 32.
• Remember Lot's wife.” The history to which we are regularly brought by the course of these lectures, has indeed a fearful interest. The impressions that it makes, though melancholy, are salutary. The lessons that it teaches, and the self-examination that it induces, are specially suited for a Sabbath that precedes our approach to the holy communion. Listen, then, with solemnity and self-application, to the exhortation of our Redeemer.
All the historical events that are recorded in the Holy Scriptures, happened, as the apostle teaches us, “ as ensamples for us, and for our admonition, upon
, whom the ends of the earth are come.' those judgments of God, that are recorded in the Old Testament, there is scarcely any more frequently recalled to our remembrance in the New, more frequently held up as a beacon to guard us against sin and misery, than the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This both Peter and Jude represent as a striking emblem of the punishment which awaits the ungodly. To this our Saviour refers, when he
declares how deep and aggravated will be the condemnation of those who perish under the gospel; and to one of the most noted of those who then fell beneath the anger of God he points us in the text: • Remember Lot's wife.”
In order to feel the force of these words, and to derive instruction from them, it will be necessary to take a very brief review of that history to which they relate. Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities of the land of Canaan, noted for the beauty of their situation, the fertility of the adjacent countries, and the riches of their inhabitants, but infamous for the vices and impiety which prevailed in them. The patience and forbearance of God, which had long been exercised towards them, were at length exhausted—the cry of their sins had ascended to heaven, and called for vengeance—the day of mercy was passed, and the storm of indignation was just ready to burst on these devoted places. Amidst the general depravity, one man preserved his integrity. Lot was, says St. Peter, “just and righteous, and in seeing and hearing vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds." To save him and his
. family from the impending destruction, the Lord miraculously interposed. The same angels, who were the ministers of divine indignation upon the guilty, warned him of the coming judgment, and urged him with his family instantly to flee from it. His sons-inlaw, hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, laughed at his counsel, and despised his apprehensions; but his wife and unmarried daughters, obedient to the heavenly monition, went with him without the gates. There they received another order, in the name and from the messenger of God: “ Escape for your life!
6 look not behind you, neither tarry in all the plain.” The rest obeyed the divine orders, and safely arrived at Zoar, the haven of rest; but his wife, regretting the treasures she had left behind her, doubting whether God would fulfil his threatenings, lingered behind-looked back upon the city, in contradiction to the express command that had just been given-saw its wretched inhabitants enveloped in a destruction which they did not expect, and for which they were not prepared—was herself overtaken by the storm, and became a lasting monument of divine wrath.
In this history, thus briefly exhibited to you, there are two remarkable instances of the judgments of God—the punishment of the Sodomites, and that of Lot's wife. The first is calculated to alarm the obdurate and the careless, who have totally neglected the counsels of God, who continue presumptuously sinning against him, and who mock at those who bid them flee from that gulf of wo, on the borders of which they stand : let such consider the lake of Sodom, and tremble. The second is no less calculated to strike with apprehension all those who have listened in a degree to the commands of God, have turned their backs upon the world and sin, and apparently walked some time in the paths of piety—but who, beginning to doubt of the divine declarations, beginning to be dazzled by the deceptive charms of the world, or the alluring pleasures of sin, look back with eager and longing desires upon the course they have abandoned. Let such attend to the monitory voice of Jesus, (and oh! that it might reach their hearts !) “ Remember Lot's wife.” Considering that she perished, as well as those who remained in Sodom, let them not relax in their exertions, nor falter in their path, but “ give all diligence to make their calling and election sure."
To aid you thus to act, I shall, in the remarks which I have yet to make,
I. Present to you Lot's wife as a model of backsliders; and,
II. Urge upon your consciences several motives to induce those of you,
discover a conformity between her character and your own, to repent and return to the Lord from whom you have strayed.
I. Backsliders may be divided into three classes; those of the heart, of the mind, and of the life; and all these may see the image of themselves in the wife of Lot.
1. It is the heart which is the source of all backsliding and departure from God.
“Out of it,” says the wise man,“ are the issues of life;" and out of it, we may add, are also the issues of death. Whilst it remains fixed upon God; whilst it is thoroughly penetrated with a sense of his glories and mercies; whilst his love is shed abroad in it by the Holy Ghost; nothing will be found sufficiently powerful to draw the Christian aside from his duty and his Lord. But when the heart becomes cold and insensible when earthly desires and sinful pleasures intrude into it, how soon it yields to every temptation! how ready is it to violate every command! Behold this in the wife of Lot! When the angel first announced to her the destruction of the city, and her deliverance, she was probably penetrated with gratitude to that God who had thus interposed in her behalf, and snatched her as a brand from the burning, and was ready to sacrifice every thing since her life was preserved. But no sooner had she advanced a small distance from the place, than the enjoyments of Sodom recurred to her mind, and cooled her gratitude. She remembered her treasure