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THE FATE OF LOT'S WIFE-À WARNING TO SINNERS.
LUKE xvII. 32.
Remember Lot's wife.
The Jews, from a misconception of the prophecies, entertained grand expectations of the temporal glory and extent of the Messiah's kingdom. And, as they imagined Jerusalem would be the seat of his empire, they were in haste to have it erected, that they might the sooner obtain deliverance from the oppressions of the Roman government. Jesus of Nazareth now appeared among them and declared himself to be the promised Messiah. But in his appearance they saw nothing of that temporal glory, which they thought the prophecies imported. They therefore, perhaps in derision of his pretensions, demanded of him, “When the kingdom of God,” or the kingdom of the Messiah, “ should appear.” To correct their mistaken notions, he told them, that the kingdom of God would consist, not in any peculiar form of government erected in this or that place, and propagated by the ter
formity of their lives to that dispensation of religion which was
dom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo, here, or lo, there ; for behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
Our Lord, now, in the presence of the Pharisees, turns himself to his disciples, and foretells the utter destruction of the Jewish constitution, which event would bring on such a scene of distress, that many, however they might despise the Messiah now, would wish, but wish in vain, for his power to support and comfort them. .
He next cautions them against giving heed to deceivers, who, in that time of general distress, would arise, with pretensions to the Messiahship, promising them deliverance.
That these pretenders might be better distinguished from the true Messiah, he foretells that they would make their way by clandestine practices, whereas his appearance for the protection of the faithful would be open and undisguised, and attended with plain tokens of Divine agency. “When they shall say, See here, or see there, go not after them; for as the lightning shineth from one part of heaven to the other, so shall the coming of the Son of man be in his day.”
But, previous to this, he says, “ The Son of man must be rejected and suffer death from that generation.” He here signifies, that the great display of his power will be after his resurrection, when he will shed forth his Spirit in miraculous gifts.
He then foretells the general stupidity of that wicked generation, comparing it to the stupidity of the old world in the time of Noah, and to that of Sodom in the days of Lot. “ As it was in the days of Noah, so shall-it be also in the days of the Son of man ; they ate, they drank, they married wives and were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, as it was in the days of Lot; they ate, 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 so shall it be in the day, when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he that shall be on the house top, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away; and he that shall be in the field, let him likewise not return back." The houses of the Jews were flat-roofed, and had two ascents, one without and the other within, by which they went up to the roof. Christ's meaning, therefore, was, that as soon as they observed the signs of impending ruin, they were to fly for their lives, without staying to save their substance. He who was on the house-top was not to go down into the house to secure his stuff, but to go off by the outer passage, as the speediest way of escape.
To enforce this warning, he refers them to the example of Lot's wife, intimating, that the danger was as threatening, and the necessity of haste as urgent, in their case, as in her's. • The story here referred to, is well known. You have often read it in the 19th chapter of Genesis.
The men of Sodom were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly. Unreclaimed by the ministry of Lot, they were doomed to an exemplary destruction. Lot was warned of their impending danger, and commanded to flee with his family from the devoted city. While he lingered, the angel of God laid hold on his hand, on the hand of his wife, and on the hands of his daughters, and set them without the city, and said, “Escape for thy life, look not behind thee, stay not in all the plain, but es. cape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.” In obedience to the heavenly warning, they began their flight; but his wife, either through affection for her friends in the city, or through a fondness to save her substance, or through disbelief of the threatving, stopped in her way, and perhaps turned back to save her substance, and thus was overtaken by the fiery storm.
This example our Lord applies to his disciples as a warning to make their speedy escape from the impending destruction of Jerusalem; and with equal propriety may it be applied to sinners in general, to urge their flight from the wrath to come.
In reference to such, I shall improve the example.
In the case of Lot's wife, there are several things worthy to be remembered : Such as the warnings which were given her-the instructions which were added-her conduct under them—the causes of this conduct--and the consequences which followed.
I. Remember the warnings which were given to Lot's wife. Here several particulars deserve our attention.
1. She was warned by angels from heaven.
The angels, whom Lot had entertained, said to him, “ Hast thou here any besides” those whom we see under thy roof? " Son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in this city, bring them out of this place; for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them hath waxen great before the Lord, and he hath sent us to destroy it.” “And Lot went out and spake unto his sons-in-law, and said, Up, get you out of this place, for the Lord will destroy this city.” .
As this warning of the angels was given in Lot's house, his wife probably heard it from them. Or, if she then was not present, she certainly heard it from him. When he went and informed his friends in the city of the message which he had received, surely he would not forget those of his own house. She had, therefore, sufficient notice of the danger which threatened her; and her disobedience was inexcusable.
What then shall we say of the stupidity of sinners under the gospel. To warn them of their danger, and to hasten their escape from it, God has sent his own Son from heaven. “And if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression received a just recompense of reward; how will they escape who neglect that great salvation, which began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed by them that heard him ?"
2. Lot's wife had sufficient evidence that the warning given her was from heaven. The wickedness of the city in which she dwelt, rendered it credible, that a just and holy God would soon shew some awful tokens of his displeasure against it. The angels, who announced its destruction, produced competent credentials of their Divine commission. They, by a miraculous power, rescued Lot from the violence of a lawless mob, and smote with blindness the ruffians who assaulted his house, and threatened his person.
But more convincing demonstration has God given, that there is destruction for the wicked, and a strange punishment for the workers of iniquity. · If we consider the holiness, justice, and wisdom of God, we must conclude, that he hates sin, and will manifest his displeasure against it-that, in regard to the honor of his own character and government, he will make a difference between the good and the bad, and that consequently he will sooner, or later, set forth irreclaimable sinners as examples of his wrath.
If we consider the nature of sin, the incapacity for happiness which it introduces into the soul, and the misery which naturally grows out of it, we shall be led to the same conclusion. God is the fountain of all real felicity—the object of all rational enjoyment. There can be no moral pleasure without a conformity of heart to his character, and a conscious interest in his favor. “ Whom have I in heaven, but thee ?" says the Psalmist, “and there is none on earth, that I desire besides thee.” “Thou art my portion, O God; I entreat thy favor with my whole heart.” All sin is opposite to the nature, and contradictory to the will of God, and consequently the habitual, impenitent sinner must be miserable.
This conclusion seems plain and undeniable : But lest sinners, intent on their guilty pursuits, should be regardless of the voice of reason, God has spoken to them in a more plain, solemn and commanding manner. He has sent his own Divine Son, and, after him, the holy apostles, to deliver to men, in express words, these certain dictates of sober reason. And that he might awaken their attention and regard to the messengers whom he has sent, he has confirmed their words by miracles, signs and wonders.
The wrath of God is now revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Assurance is given us that God has appointed a day in which he will judge, not merely this, or that person, city or country, but the whole world of mankind, and will render to every man according to his works; indignation and wrath to every soul of man that doth evil; but glory, honor and peace to him that worketh good. To prove the certainty of a future state of rewards and punishments, there is no need of a labored train of reasoning; for we find this solemn doctrine expressly and abundantly asserted in the gospel, which has been demonstrated by miracles to be a revelation from God. The man, therefore, who continues in sin, acts in open and bold