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true, rational and important; but their belief loses all its effect, because they never call it into action by sober reflection and serious consideration.
2. Curiosity might have some influence to turn back the eyes of this woman on the devoted city.
Jonah, after he had denounced destruction against Nineveli, went and sat over against it, till he should see what would become of it. So Lot's wife, having heard that Sodom was presently to be overthrown, might be curious to observe, whether the prediction would be verified, or in what manner and by what means so rich and populous a city should be reduced to ruins.
It is amazing, what trifles engage men's attention, when the salvation of their souls is depending. If Lot's wife ran the hazard of her life, to see and observe the appearance of Sodom in flames, she did not act more absurdly than thousands do, still. To multitudes the little affairs of the world are matters of greater solicitude, than the vast concerns of eternity. How many neglect their souls for the sake of their bodies, and forego their future salvation for some present convenience! How many are more diligent to enquire into the affairs of other people, in which they have no real concern, than to learn the nature of repentance, faith and obedience, which are the terms of eternal life! How many are more busy to acquaint themselves with the things which pass in the families of their neighbors, than they are to examine their own hearts, and prove their own character! How
many spend more time in deciding useless controversies than in gaining the knowledge of themselves and their duty!
It is too common a folly among men to employ their thoughts much on matters which little concern them, and to overlook the things, in which they are most essentially interested. This dangerous folly our Saviour often rebuked. When the disciples saw one who was born blind, instead of reflecting on the sovereignty of God, and his distinguishing goodness to them, they enquired, Who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind ? Our Lord answered, “Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
tical use ;
As Jesus was teaching in a particular place, one of his hearers, instead of enquiring, what he must do to be saved, asked the Divine teacher, whether the number of the saved should be great or small. This impertinent question Christ improved to a prac6. Strive to enter in at the strait
shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able." When his disciples asked him, what should be the signs of his coming and of the end of the world, his answer was, “ Watch ye and be ye ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Some were solicitous to know, who should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven; but Jesus told them, that unless they humbled themselves *and became as little children, they would never enter into the kingdom of heaven: and that it was of more importance to secure their own entrance, than to learn who would be the greatest. Even Peter, when he was about to take his final leave of his Lord, had the curiosity to ask, what John should do. But Jesus answered, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me."
By such unprofitable enquiries men's thoughts are too often diverted from the great concerns of futurity.
futurity. Curiosity in unnecessary matters is inconsistent with a due attention to the one thing needful.
3. The strict command of the angel, “Look not behind thee," might excite the woman's curiosity to see what was there. For such is the perverseness of sin, that restraint increases its rage. Thus the apostle observes, “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence; for without the law sin was dead.”
There are some who seem to rush on through forbidden wickedness, the rather because it is forbidden. One would imagine, this was the case with profane swearers. It is impossible to see what temptation men can have to dishonor God's name, unless it be the prohibition, which he has laid them under. One cannot . imagine, what end they have in view, unless it be to shew how much they despise the commands and threatenings of the Almighty. Let such perverse transgressors remember Lot's wife,
who, in contempt of Divine orders, stood to gaze on the burning city; and while she gazed she perished.
4. We may suppose, that she lingered in her flight from a presumption, that the destruction of the city would not be sudden. Her setting out indicated an apprehension of danger, but her dilatoriness shewed a hope, that the danger was not so near as her husband imagined.
This is too common a delusion of sinners. They hear and pretend to believe the threatenings of God, but imagine, that he speaks of times afar off. They would by no means abandon the thoughts of religion, but they hope a future opportunity may be as favorable as the present. Thus they quiet their consciences in a guilty course, and suppress the fears awakened by the word and providence of God, not considering the uncertainty of life, and the danger that their hearts may be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
They know not, indeed, how long God may suspend the exe.. cution of his sentence against their evil works; neither do they know, but he will execute it speedily. They ought to act on the latter supposition. It is not for them to try God's patience, but immediately to obey his command. If they think of delaying, let them remember Lot's wife. While she lingered, the fatal storm overtook her.
5. It is possible she might now think herself out of danger. The angels had brought her without the city; she stood at some distance from it; she imagined, that the flames of the city would not reach to her. Hence she ventured to stop and look back, not considering, that she could find no place of security short of Zoar.
Some sinners, after temporary convictions and partial reformations, begin to flatter themselves that all is well. The terrors of the Lord take little effect upon them, because they imagine, that they are not the persons concerned.
It is no uncommon case, that when men hear general exhortations to repentance, they recur to some former religious sentiments and feelings, and pacify their consciences by the recollection of past awakenings and resolutions. They have fled so far from im
pending wrath, that they seem to be out of its reach; and they stop where they are, or perhaps look back and return. But remember Lot's wife. She was commanded to run until she had reached the appointed place of security. But she stopped in the plain and perished. There was no place of safety between Sodom and Zoar. You must run with patience the race set before you—must endure to the end. It is only by faith and patience, that you can obtain the promise. If depending on what you have done, you sit down and do no more, you betray an insincerity of heart, which cuts off your claim to the protection of Divine mercy.
6. An attachment to the friends left in Sodom might have much influence in drawing back Lot's wife.
“Beware,” says the apostle, “lest, being led away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness.” It is no easy matter to be blameless and harmless in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, to forsake former companions in sin, and renounce all fellowship with their unfruitful works. Young and tender minds are easily decoyed and seduced by the slight and craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive. “How can ye believe," says our Lord to the Jews, “who seek honor one of another ?” He requires it, as an indispensable qualification for his kingdom, that you love the praise of God more than the praise of men—that you be not ashamed of his gospel-that, in comparison with the salvation of your souls, you even hate your dearest earthly connections.
Are any of you detained in, or near to Sodom-detained in your corrupt and guilty state, by the example of the wicked, or by your fondness for the society of companions in sin ? Remember Lot's wife, who, while she lingered in the conflict of parting with her friends in Sodom, was overtaken and destroyed by the pursuing tempest.
7. Grief for the loss of her substance might retard her flight, op a desire to save her goods might turn her about. This our Lord intimates. 6 Let not him who is in the field, turn back to take any thing out of the house. Remember Lot's wife.”
Many sacrifice their souls to mammon. The cares of the world divert their thoughts from religion ; earthly affections blast their good intentions; eagerness in their temporal pursuits excludes the interests of eternity; the inordinate desire of wealth urges them to forbidden means of acquiring it, and restrains them from the pious and charitable use of what they have acquired. “ They who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and many foolish lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” There are some, who despise the invitations of the gospel, and reject them, that they may go to their merchandize and their farms. There are some who hear the word in vain, because the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and render it unfruitful. There are some, who, having professed a regard to religion, afterward forsake it, having loved this present world. There are some, who, with a desire of eterna! life, enquire what they must do to obtain it; but, when they learn that they must consecrate to the service of God all that they possess in this world, retire disappointed and offended. Let such remember Lot's wife, who, too anxious to save her substance, disregarded the Divine warning, and lost her life.
8. It is said, “ She looked back from behind him :" from behind her husband. She kept not pace with her company. Secing them before her, and considering the length of her way, she, perhaps, in her grief and vexation, turned about, stood, and wished to return.
Some, after they have set out in the religious life, finding unexpected difficulties in their way, feeling many infirmities within them, or seeing others who appear to make better progress than they, grow weary, and faint in their minds. They seem to run well for a time; but are hindered by unforeseen discouragements. Let such remember, that they are commanded to pray always and not to faint-to continue in well-doing-to wait on God and be of good courage : And let them apply the Divine promises, that they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; shall mount up with wings as eagles; shall run and not be weary; shall walk and not faint; and, being faithful to the death, shall receive a crown of life.