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know the Lord; but "no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." She was struck dead instantly upon the place. Yet her body did not fall down, but was left to be a monument of God's righteous indignation against such as turn not unto Him with their whole heart, but feignedly.
II. Our blessed Lord and his Apostle Peter have authorized us to apply the whole of this history to ourselves, and have assisted us in doing so.
1. And first from the doom of the wretched inhabitants of Sodom let all careless and impenitent sinners take warning. But God forbid, it will be said, that in these days of light, any should be even conceived to resemble that abandoned people! To this I would answer with the prophet, Amen. But we must remember, that our Lord Jesus Christ declares concerning those who had the light of the Gospel, and repented not, that "it should be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment" than for them. Therefore, no doubt, they of whom He spake, were more wicked than the men of Sodom, though not in the same way. And with us also, the Lord Jesus is evidently set forth crucified amongst us, and, therefore, if we walk not as children of the light, the same will be true of us. Let every impenitent careless sinner know assuredly that the way he is walking in, is the way of death and ruin. If this be If this be your character, my brethren, in the history of those upon whom the Lord rained fire out of heaven, you may read your danger and your doom. For "God," St. Peter tells us, made them "an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly'." "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." You have had line upon line, and precept upon precept; you have heard the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. What more might the Lord have done, which He hath not done for you, to certify
5 Luke ix. 62.
2 Pet. ii. 6.
6 Matt. x. 15.
you of the evil of sin, of the necessity of repentance, of his readiness to accept returning sinners, and of the way in which you may so approach Him as to receive forgiveness of sins, and obtain your inheritance in his everlasting kingdom? Perhaps it may be so, that you are outwardly not more profane and profligate than you used to be. Possibly, you may even have left off some bad habits, and be walking more orderly and soberly. But if no change is made within, if you are still hearing the Gospel message with indifference, no doubt you are growing in sin; for you are not really advancing in godliness: there is no such thing as standing still. You are becoming in your temper more selfish, more proud, more worldly; you are drawing on fast to a state of hard-heartedness, and utter insensibility to reproof-to that state from which no judgment will be available to awaken you, and no displays of God's forbearance to draw you. If you still, in spite of calls and warnings, are living without prayer, without continual application to Jesus Christ, without earnest endeavours to work out your salvation through Christ strengthening you, I warn you to take heed and to turn to God in time. Let me not seem unto you as Lot did to his sons-in-law, "as one that mocketh." "They did eat," says our blessed Lord, "they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed "." "For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name, shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings '." The fulness of the time is come, my brethren, and He hath arisen; "Awake," therefore, "thou that sleepest, and arise
9 Luke xvii. 28. 30.
1 Mal. iv. 1,
from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Search and try your ways, and see whether they be not such as God's righteous law condemns; and if they be so, do not follow a multitude to do evil any more; be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds. Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their revilings. But fear for your own souls, and quit the ungodly and their ways at once, or ye shall lose your souls. "For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial ?" "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty"."
2. How great the blessing of this promise is, you may learn from God's dealings with his servant Lot.
The threatened evil could not light on the place, till the righteous were removed out of it. "Hurt not the earth," saith the angel of the Lord, "neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished;1" and the safety of the one is as certain as the perdition of the other. When all flesh had corrupted his way, and the earth was filled with violence to such excess that only one family was left that called faithfully upon God, that one family was saved in the ark, whilst the waters prevailed against all the rest. When there was one righteous man in Sodom, the whole city was destroyed by fire; but he was as safe, as if God's judgments had not been abroad upon the earth. The destroying angel that passed through Egypt did not fail to distinguish every Israelitish house the door of which was sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb. And
2 Cor. vi. 14, 15. 17, 18.
3 Rev. vii. 3.
2 Pet. ii. 9.
Let God therefore
even so it is now, and shall be unto the end. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin: "The Lord knoweth them that are his 5;" and the least that walks by faith in that blood shall never be confounded with the unbelieving multitude, or condemned with the world. Yet (as you may see exemplified in Lot), "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship "." hath wrought all our works in us. receive the praise. And if, in order to detach your hearts from the world, He chooses to deal with you as He did with Lot, and to take away some worldly comforts, which more established Christians might have kept not only without damage, but with advantage to their souls, and if He sees fit to appoint you a place to flee unto for your present refuge, far different from what you could have wished, yet at his pleasure be it. Say ye, "the Lord's will be done." Leave Him to save you in his own way. Be assured the Lord does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. He chastens you for your profit: "hear ye the rod therefore, and who hath appointed it "." Thank Him for his fatherly rebukes; say with Job, "though he slay me, yet will I trust in him "." Set your whole heart and affections on things above, and consider how much better it is to enter (if it must be so) even halt or maimed into life, than, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire.
3. Further, let every one who calls himself a Christian remember Lot's wife; and "fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into God's rest, any of you should seem to come short of it"." When ye first entered upon the Christian profession, ye did engage to "renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh '." If these are to be renounced at all, they must be re
5 2 Tim. ii. 19. Job xiii. 15.
Eph. ii. 8-10.
7 Micah vi. 9.
nounced for ever. And if any man draw back unto them, assuredly he draws back unto perdition. Behold in the example of Lot and his wife, and in the distinction made between them, the goodness and severity of God; on her who looked back, severity; but towards him who went forward, goodness. So likewise "towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in goodness; otherwise, thou also shalt be cut off." Things have not changed their natures, nor hath God changed his mind, nor will He. For "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent "." "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him 4." "Ye cannot serve God and mammon "." Therefore, ask ye the way to Zion, with your faces thitherward, and join yourselves to the Lord by a perpetual covenant which shall not be forgotten. Do not repent of your repentance. Do not begin to question anew whether ye might not have a better master than the Lord. Strive in dependence on Divine grace to be always pressing forward, and to abound more and more. Fix your eye steadily on the prize of your high calling in Jesus Christ, and on God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and not imputing their trespasses unto them. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, above all things, taking the shield of faith; "and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly "."
2 Rom. xi. 22.
4 1 John ii. 15.
6 Rom. xvi. 20.
3 Numb. xxiii. 19.