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Truth and righteousness are guests that often bring those who entertain them, into trouble. Wherever the Gospel was preached, it produced a commotion among those who could not bear the lustre of its beams, and hated the light, because their deeds were evil.' Lot had lived too long in Sodom, and knew too much of its inhabitants, to desire the office of a judge among them, or any further connection with them, than was necessary. But his righteous example condemned their wickedness; and that circumstance provoked them more, than if he had really usurped the government. It was charged, likewise, upon our Saviour, though the meekest and lowliest of characters, that he made himself a king,' and endeavoured to supplant the authority of Cæsar. And for that crime, if we believe the superscription on the cross, he was executed. But the true cause both of the accusation and execution was no other than this, that, by doctrine and example, he detected a set of the vilest hypocrites the earth ever bore. Nor let the disciple of Christ vainly imagine, that the most inoffensive carriage, framed by the rules of Christian prudence, will prevent him from being sometimes accused of designs, to which his soul is an utter stranger. Would he escape the censures of the world ? He must cease to convict it of sin and error; he must conform to all its ways, and pace quietly in its trammels; a conduct, which, as they well know, who tempt him to adopt it, will soon deprive him of all authority and ability to do his heavenly Master service, and promote his religion among men. So far, therefore, let him imitate the example of Lot, as to part with any thing, rather than suffer violence to be done to his divine guests. Let him guard his faith and his conscience, and trust God for every thing else. He who preserved Lot, and smote his adversaries with blindness, can save them that love him in every age, and secure them under the wings of his Providence, until the tyranny of the wicked be overpast; while the ungodly that trouble them, blind to their eternal interest, find not the gate of heaven, and come not into the dwellings of the righteous; but falling from one wickedness to another, and filling up the measure of their enormities, perish, at the last, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he cometh to judge the world in righteousness."
Lot, being thus preserved from the malice of his enemies, is now informed concerning the decrees of heaven. *The men
said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? Son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place. For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.' How alarming this intelligence ! No further respite allowed ; instant destruction determined; the day of grace expiring, and a stormy night about to succeed it: he who would not perish, must leave all, and escape for his life!
But are the cities of the plain' only concerned here? Or is not this written for our sakes ? For our sakes, no doubt, it is written ; since the Scriptures of truth, give us the same information, relative to the world in which we dwell, namely, that “the Lord will destroy this place,' and will . purge away the iniquity thereof with the spirit of judgement, and with the spirit of burning. For · Behold the Lord cometh out of his place, to visit the wickedness of such as dwell upon the earth. But who may abide the day of his coming? Who shall be able to stand, when he appeareth ? His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather bis wheat into the barn, but he will burn the chaff with unguenchable fire.' Such, therefore, being the message delivered to mankind, may it not be said to every one of them— Hast thou here any besides? Son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast, bring them out of this place ;' endeavour to withdraw their affections from a world doomed to ruin, and take them to heaven with thee. In a word, give all thy relations, thy friends, and thine acquaintance, the warning which is given thee.
The injunction, received by Lot from the divine persons, was immediately obeyed. “He went out unto his sons-in-law, saying, Up, get ye out of this place, for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked, unto his sonsin-law. A denunciation of approaching destruction, in the midst of peace and security, appeared so very extraordinary to them, that they could not bring themselves to believe it possible their father-in-law should be in earnest. They looked around them, and saw no symptoms of impending ruin. The city wore its accustomed face of gaiety and pleasure. No alteration was to be observed in the heavens above, or in the carth beneath. And that the knowledge of an event so important should be hidden from the rich and the great, the wise and prudent, and revealed only to one person, a sojourner amongst them-How could these things be ? :
They who have gazed on earthly glories, till they are grown giddy; to whom want and misery are known only by their names; who make every day a day of fulness and indulgence, sitting down to eat, and to drink, and rising up to play ; such find no small difficulty in believing, that a world, so delightful as they think this to be, shall shortly be burnt up, and all its beauties wither in a moment. They see that all things continue as they were from the beginning;' and are therefore ready to say, "Where is the promise of his coming ? (2 Pet. iii. 4.) Thus it is that sinners deceive, or suffer themselves to be deceived, till the destruction predicted, falling upon them, demonstrates, when, alas! it is too late for them to profit by the demonstration, the fallacy of their reasonings, or rather, the vanity of their imaginations. But whether they hear or whether they forbear, Lot is to deliver the divine message to his sons-in-law; the watchman is to blow the trumpet in Sion; and every Christian is to exhort his brother ; after which, the matter must be committed to other hands.
The day now dawned, which was the last the men of Sodom were ever to behold. "When the morning arose, the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters which are here, lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.' .
Let us paraphrase this admonition of the angels, and suppose it addressed by the ministers of God to the sinner, at this penitential season-Arise, O man, repent, and be converted; break off thy sins, and escape from the pollutions of the world, while thy God calls thee, and allows thee time so to do. Per. haps the day hath dawned, which is to be thy last; and the destroying angel is even now come forth, with his sword drawn, to cut thee off from the land of the living, and consign thee to thy portion in the unknown region of separate spirits, waiting, either with joyful hope, or insupportable amazement, for the revelation of the day of God. Arise, therefore, and come away.
It is observable, that Lot himself, though he fully believed there should be a performance of those things that were told him, yet made not that haste to get out of Sodom, which the
case required. For · while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him: and they brought him forth and set him without the city.'
How apt is the sinner to linger and defer his repentance ! How often is God forced (as it were) to arrest him by sickness, or some grievous calamity; and so to drag him from perdition! And how merciful is the Lord to that man, whom, by any means, however painful and afflicting, he bringeth forth into safety, and setteth him without the city. Let such a one hear the voice of his gracious deliverer, saying to him, in the person of Lot, Escape for thy life ; look not be hind thee; neither stay thou in all the plain : escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed ;' escape, O Sinner, for thine eternal life; look not behind thee on the pleasures thou hast left; neither let thine affections stay upon the earth ; escape to the Holy Mountain, lest thou be consumed with the world.
Lot, despairing of being able to escape to the mountain, intercedes for the preservation of a little city in the neighbourhood of Sodom; and is accepted concerning it; God being graciously pleased to say, Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing, till thou be come thither.' Therefore, the name of that city was called Zoar; i. e. the little city. Thus, in times of public calamity, there is often some little Zoar provided for them that love God, where they are wonderfully preserved from the judgements, that fall on their country and kindred. And what is the Church upon earth, but a Zoar, a little city (is it not a little one?) spared at the intercession of its Lord ? Here the penitent, not yet strong enough to escape to the heavenly mountain, findeth rest and refresh. ment, and is invigorated to pursue his journey. Hither let him escape, and his soul shall live. But let him bear in mind, that, in making his escape, perseverance alone can secure him. • He that endureth to the end,' and he only, shall be saved.' Of the four who left Sodom, one perished by the way, in heart and affection, turning back to the forsaken city. Within sight of Zoar, stands a pillar of salt, the monument of an unbelieving soul. Remember Lot's wife.
The hour was now come, when Sodom, the gay, the haughty Sodom, should be no more! • The sun was risen upon the earth; when Lot entered into Zoar: then the Lord rained
upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven: and he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.'-'As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man'; when that last morning shall dawn, and the sun of righteousness shall arise in glorious majesty upon the earth. No sooner shall he make his appearance, than the heavens, being on fire' at his presence, shall be dissolved and pass away with a great noise; the earth also, with the works that are therein, shall be burned up.' Then shall be fulfilled that which was spoken by the Psalmist, in terms, evidently borrowed from the history before us: Upon the ungodly, he shall rain fire and brimstone, storm and tempest: this shall be their portion. What Sodom is, the world shall be: and at the last day, when we shall arise and look towards the place, where its enchanting pleasures and delights, its dazzling beauties and glories, once existed, as 'Abraham arose in the morning, and looked towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the cities of the plain,' we shall behold a sight like that which presented itself to the Patriarch,the smoke of the country going up like the smoke of a furnace.' But the same all-gracious and merciful God, who, when he
destroyed the cities of the plain, remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the overthrow,' when he shall destroy this place wherein we dwell, will remember the true Abraham, the Father of us all, our dear Redeemer and Intercessor; and for his sake, if we now repent and believe in him, will save us, in that day, from the ruins of a burning world, and from those fires which are never to be extinguished; that, so being delivered from the wrath to come, and admitted to a participation of the felicities of his kingdom, we may there, with angels and archangels, and the whole company of the redeemed, glorify him for his mercy, through the endless ages of a blessed eternity.