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that these words are addressed to us, and written for our admonition. ** OF WHOM are they spoken? Of a remarkable woman certainly; yet not in herself remarkable, but rather in her end. There are many like her in life, none precisely like her in death. Her end, not her conduct, constitutes her peculiarity. She was probably a citizen of Sodom, and by her worldliness and connexion with that dissipated town forwarded the inconsistency and sinful weakness of her husband. “ She was not an helpmeet for him ;” on the contrary, she it was who laid a snare in her husband's path. Happy is that union where the marriage tie proves not only an earthly comfort, but is also a spiritual help. Of daughters she had several, and of these some were married and settled in Sodom. When Lot chose that iniquitous city as his abode, he should have remembered that his daughters would probably form alliances with its sons. They did so, and in the overthrow of Sodom found their own destruction. The guilt of the parents and the guilt of the children is visited on both; the children lose their lives, the parents their children. Parents, take heed as to the abode and associates which you select for yourselves and your families. Beware how you put them in the way of forming intermarriages with the people of Sodom. Alas, from such unions what direful results constantly follow !
And now, as the sun sinks below the horizon, two strangers come to Sodom, and are received into her husband's dwelling. Eventful was that night.
No couch receives the guests, nor their accustomed chambers the inmates of that house ; no evening meal is spread, or if spread, soon to be interrupted by clamorous noises without. For, intent on iniquity, “ the men of Sodom compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people.” They fill up the measure of their crimes, and smitten with blindness, they receive in themselves an earnest of that eternal darkness which presently was to fall upon them. The night wanes ; the city is now hushed in slumber; the tumult has subsided ; and Lot goes forth to bear to his children the news of the immediately coming overthrow of the city. But without success, for “ he seemed as one that mocked to his sonsin-law.” And, now, with merciful violence, either angel placing himself between the four who alone escaped that terrible overthrow, hurry their unwilling footsteps from the devoted city, and set them without the gates.
Then comes the injunction and the command, “ Escape for thy life, look
not behind thee.” They all heard, but one was found disobedient ; “his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” She looked back from behind him. Did she first linger behind, and then look back? Let us avoid the first approaches to sin, for how often does backsliding end in apostasy ! But she looked back.” What could be more natural? Curiosity would have prompted this, and natural affection would have urged the same. There were her children; there her friends ; there her home; there that society suited to her carnal mind; there her possessions among which she was wont to move: in a word, there was her treasure; and “where the treasure is, there will the heart be also.” Was it then to be wondered at that she should look back, that she should snatch one more glance of that luxurious city, now, and for the last time, illumined by the morning light; one more view of that lovely valley blooming as Eden, beautiful as the garden of the Lord ? No! to her sensual mind it was her paradise. She knew, she desired nothing better. Sodom was her beloved, her world, her all in all, and therefore she looked back-she disobeyed-she perished. In her disobedience, and in its direful punishment, 6 Remember Lot's wife."
Let us now draw from this eventful history some of that instruction it is so well calculated to impart.
The first and immediate lesson which our Lord teaches us from the example of this wretched woman is, disentanglement from earthly things in connexion with his coming. And in this he seems to intimate that it was the love of mammon rather than any other tie which bound her to Sodom. Whilst the context probably points to some peculiar state of things at the coming of our Lord, the exact accomplishment of which will be the only interpretation of the text, we are powerfully taught from it to “take heed and beware of covetousness." We are instructed not to love the world," but to hold ourselves ready at any moment to “ meet the Lord in the air.” Preparedness for the day of God is both the
duty and the privilege of every Christian.
The difference between merely commencing, and pursuing to the close, a religious course, is also shadowed forth. 6 Ye did run well, who did hinder you?” said the apostle Paul to the Galatians; and our Lord tells us of some 5 who receive the word with joy, but in time of tribulation fall away." Blessed Jesus, strengthen our weak faith, and enable us to maintain our profession to the end without wavering.
See, again, how we may escape one trial, and yet fall by another. There are many who, like Lot's wife, flee clear out of Sodom, and yet become again entangled by its snares. In such is fulfilled that Scripture, “ It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment.”
Again, we are he instructed that not to go all lengths in obeying the Divine commandment is wholly to fail. Like Herod, we may “ do many things ;” like this woman, we may go out of Sodom at the Divine command; like Saul, we may slay the Amalekites; but if we retain Herodias, or look back (not even return back) on Sodom, or spare Amalek, in vain is all our partial obedience. 66 He that forsaketh not all he hath cannot be my disciple.”
See also how infamy dwells next door to honour. Distinguished by the Divine favour in escaping the overthrow of Sodom, this poor miserable woman brought down on herself a still more remarkable doom. With a peculiar brand she descends infamous to all posterity, a proverb and a by-word from generation to generation. If Sodom be involved in one common judgment, they of it who profess to know the one true God, and obey him not, shall experience a singular judgment. Let worldly professors tremble; a yet more infamous doom than that of the world awaits them.
Mark likewise the peril of disobedience. She did but look! Her mother Eve before her did but taste ! Christian ! guard thy heart, and guard thy senses. Let the fear of punishment serve for the mortification of sin.
Again, “ If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" If professors of religion perish, shall the ungodly escape? What if the monumental salt mark the destruction of the one, does not the overthrow of Sodom note the catastrophe of the other? Of her inhabitants it is recorded, they suffer the vengeance of eternal fire." my soul, come not thou into their counsel ; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.”
Lastly, look forward. Look forward, and live; she “ looked back” and perished. Here is one main difference between the children of the world and the children of the kingdom.
“ For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being ere resigned;
Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind ?”—Gray.
earth. Contrast the language of the Christian: “Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” Christian, direct thine eye forward to Zoar, and look not back on Sodom.
ARDENT LOVE TO CHRIST. The following communication is from a daughter, in reply to the expressed desire of a parent, that she would be on her guard against using too familiar language when speaking of the Redeemer. The writer has some time since “fallen asleep,” but her letter will not be read with less interest on that account, allowance being made in regard to some expressions for the freedom of a familiar letter not meant for publication, and for the ardent feelings and susceptible mind of this young convert.
“ MY DEAREST FATHER,— While the subject engages my mind, I want to speak about one part of your letter, where you bid me be careful of using too familiar language in speaking of the Redeemer. I do not indeed wish to justify myself in this.
But I have often been very greatly comforted by observing in God's word, that God does not, according to my judgment, appear particularly to regard the words spoken by his people, so intent is he upon the feelings of the heart, and so merciful in regarding the circumstances under which they are spoken.
“Says Elijah, "Take now my life from me, for I am weary of it.'* Was that the way to speak to God ?-the God who had led him so mercifully, and worked miracles for him? Listening to his words, one would have thought God would have granted his prayer and smitten him to the earth ; but no, it was the hasty language of one who loved him, and God looked
upon the heart. Says Jonah, “I do well to be angry, even unto death.'* What an answer to give to the Almighty ! Yet, oh, how gently, how mildly did God reply! Jonah loved him in his heart; here is the secret.
“We have very wrong thoughts of God by nature, and our general conversation is calculated to strengthen them. I long laboured under them, regarding him as a hard task-master, requiring what it was not in the power of man to do; but now I know that God requires nothing at all from us, but that
* While God graciously overlooked this language, yet its sinfulness is recorded as an admonition to us.-Ed.
we should love him. “My son, give me thine heart. And seeing that we can no more give him our own hearts (without his aid) than we can make a world, he does not require this at our hands; but only that we should come to him, and he will so reveal himself that we shall be able and willing to keep them. I speak from the most astonishing experience. This was a most glorious discovery to me, for I thought he required me to bring him love and faith, and as I felt that I could not,.I looked upon him as a hard and cruel master, requiring what he knew I could not do. How reasonable, how just does it now appear to me, that with all God has given us, we should just do that one small act he requires, namely, go and tell him the truth! I used to go and say,
Lord, I am a sinner, do have mercy upon me,' but as I did not feel all this, I began to see that I was taking a lie in my hand, trying to persuade the Almighty that I felt things which I did not feel. However, these prayers and confessions brought me no sweetness, no comfort, no answer, so at last I changed my tone and began to tell the truth : Lord, I do not feel myself a sinner, I do not feel that I need mercy.' Ah, that was it! Now all was right; the sweetest reception, the most loving encouragements, the most refreshing answers, this confession of the truth brought down from heaven. I believe from that time I always told the truth, even though it frightened me while I declared it. I did not get anything by declaring myself a sinner, for I felt it not, but I obtained everything by confessing that I did not see myself one. Oh that people would but tell God the truth! They would soon see what sweet answers they would obtain.
“ I would not for worlds, if I knew it, speak of my Redeemer as though he were such an one as myself,' but sometimes I feel my heart so drawn out in love towards him, love that I never dreamed it was possible a human creature might be allowed to entertain, that I do sometimes express myself freely towards him, and that he is not displeased at it I feel assured by the sweet intercourse and glorious encouragements I get from him in prayer. Hear how Job talked with him, as a man talks with his friend.' Did not Job reverence him? Who suffered more from the dread of him? I do firmly believe that those who reverence him the most, and tremble most at his word, are the poor in spirit,' the “contrite in .heart,' to whom he discovers himself in the fullest manner. And so it happens that when these very people come away from communing with him, with their faces