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I. What we are to remember concerning her. We may comprehend the whole under two heads: 1. Her sin
[She, as the history informs us, looked back towards Sodom after she had been delivered from it by the angels".
Is it asked, What harm there was in this? we answer, it was in many points of view exceeding sinful. It was (to speak of it in the most favourable light) a curious look. Curiosity may indeed be innocent in respect to some things; but in reference to others, it may be highly criminal. Who can doubt the criminality of those Bethshemites who looked into the ark; when above fifty thousand of them were struck dead upon the spot for their transgression? Or who that knows any thing of his own heart can doubt, whether he has not often contracted guilt by indulging an unhallowed curiosity to see, or hear, or read, things which he had no proper call to inquire into, and the knowledge of which tended only to inflame his imagination, and defile his soul? And surely the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha was not a fit subject for curiosity, at a time too that she was rescued from it by the ministry of angels: her mind ought to have been very differently occupied on so awful an occasion.
But it was also an unbelieving look. She had been told that fire and brimstone should come down from heaven to destroy those wicked cities; and she was desirous to know whether the threatening were indeed true, or whether she was fleeing from only imaginary dangers. And was this no sin? Was not Sarah reproved for doubting an almost incredible promise"? Was not Zacharias struck deaf and dumb for a similar fault d? Yea, were not all the nation of Israel doomed to perish in the wilderness on account of their unbelief? Who then will say,
What harm was there in her conduct?
Moreover, it was a wishful look. She had left a part of her family behind, together with (what she seemed more anxious. about) the whole of her possessions; and, instead of being thankful for the preservation of her life, she was filled with regret about what she had lost. That this was a very essential part of her fault, is certain: because she is proposed as a warning to us in this particular view. Her treasure was more in Sodom than in heaven; and she shewed by her look, that "where her treasure was, there was her heart also." Was there then no crime in "setting her affections on things below, instead of on things above?"
Lastly, it was a disobedient look. However innocent it
might be in every other view, it was palpably wrong in this. The command was plain and positive; plain and positive; "Look not behind thee in all the plain." It was not for her to determine whether the command were more or less important; her duty was to obey it: and, in violating it, she rebelled against the Majesty of heaven. Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit might be thought a slight offence; but it ruined the whole world. And Saul's sparing of Agag and the spoil, might be called a merciful and commendable deviation from the commission given him; but it was declared to be rebellion against God, and as criminal in his estimation as witchcraft or idolatry.
In remembering therefore her sin, we should remember, that God looks not merely on our outward conduct, but at the inward principles and dispositions of the heart.]
2. Her punishment
[This was truly awful. She was instantly involved in the very same ruin that overwhelmed all the cities of the plain. Not a moment was allowed her for repentance; but she was cut off in the very act of sin, and summoned into the presence of her Judge to receive her doom at his hands
It was moreover exemplary. She was made a monument of God's holy indignation, and a warning to all future ages, that men must not trifle with sin, or be inattentive to the Divine commands. Wherever the Bible shall come, even to the very end of time, she will be held up as an example of that vengeance, which shall sooner or later overtake all whose hearts are at variance with their professions.]
It will be proper to state,
II. Why we are to bear her in remembrance—
Much there is that we may LEARN from her; but particularly,
1. Our duty
[That we are not to be altogether" of the world," is a truth that scarcely need be mentioned to those who make any profession of religion. But very few are aware to what an extent our renunciation of it should be carried. It is not suf ficient, that we do not run to the same excess of riot with the ungodly; or that we differ from them in appearance and profession we must indeed have some intercourse with them (or else we could not fill up our several stations in life); but we must come out from among them and be separate, and have no more communion with them than light with darkness, or Christ with Belial"." Nor must we have our heart set upon
8 1 Sam. xv. 22, 23.
h 2 Cor. vi. 14-17.
our property, when God in his providence is calling us to forsake it. We need not put away riches from us, if God is pleased to cast them into our lap; nor ought we to be indifferent to the preservation of them, if we can keep them together with our integrity; but they are not to be our idol; nor ought we to regret the loss of them, if we be called to sacrifice them for the honour of our God. We should have our affections withdrawn from things below, and set exclusively on things above. We should "love nothing that is in the world," so as to judge it at all necessary to our happiness: instead of wishing to accumulate possessions in it, or to enjoy its vanities, it should be our principal care to shun its pollutions, and escape its plagues. If we look back upon it at all, it must only be for the purpose of kindling in our hearts a more lively gratitude to God, who in infinite mercy has delivered us from it, and plucked us out of it as brands out of the burning.] 2. Our danger
[Let not any one imagine himself safe, because he is come out of Sodom, and is associated with those who are fleeing from the wrath to come. We know that the Scripture does give many blessed assurances of the Divine protection to those who trust in God: but it is a very sinful perversion of the Scriptures to interpret them in such a manner, as to invalidate all the solemn cautions which are given against apostatizing from our profession, and falling short of the promised rest. We are in danger and our security principally consists in feeling our danger, and in acting conformably to those sensations. For what end are we so frequently reminded of the destruction of the Israelites after they had been brought out of Egypt, and after they had been favoured with God's visible presence in the wilderness'? or why did our Lord so strongly recommend us to "remember Lot's wife;" and tell us, that "no man, who having put his hand to the plough should look back, was fit for the kingdom of God?" or where is the man, however confident he may be about the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, who will venture to say, that he himself is in no danger of "looking back," and that he is already so "escaped from the pollutions of the world, that he never can be entangled again with them and overcome?" I say again, we are in danger, all of us; and it becomes us "not to be high-minded, but to fear." "Let him therefore that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."]
IN CONCLUSION, we would suggest a few hints respecting the manner in which you should obey the admonition in the text. Remember her,
i Rev. xviii. 4.
k 2 Pet. ii. 18, 20. and iii. 17. 1 Jude, ver. 5. 1 Cor. x. 1-6, 11, 12.
1. With thanksgivings to God, that you have not long since experienced a similar judgment
2. With prayer to God, that he would "keep you by his own power through faith unto everlasting salvation"
THE DUTY OF PERSEVERING IN PRAYER.
Luke xviii. 1. Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
THE efficacy of prayer is continually exhibited in the sacred writings, and every incitement to it is afforded us nevertheless we are prone to faint in the performance of it. To encourage our perseverance in it our Lord delivered a parable. Waving all notice of the parable itself, we shall consider,
I. Our duty
To be always in the act of prayer would interfere with other duties: that which is here inculcated, implies that we pray,
[Regular seasons for prayer should be fixed. Except in cases of absolute necessity they should be adhered to. We should constantly acknowledge God in the public assembly. We should maintain his worship also in our families; nor should we on any account omit it in our closetsa.]
[There are many particular occasions which require us to
Abraham and Joshua were noted for their attention to family religion, Gen xviii. 19. Josh. xxiv. 15: and our Lord's example is worthy of imitation; he not only expounded his parables to his disciples in private, but prayed with them. See Luke ix. 18. which means, "he was at a distance from the multitude, and praying with his disciples."
d How frequent the stated seasons shall be, must be left to our own discretion; David's example is good, Ps. lv. 17. But as the morning and evening sacrifices were called the continual burnt-offering, so they may be said to pray always, who pray at those returning
pray: in prosperity, that God may counteract its evil tendency: in adversity, that we may be supported under it': in times. of public distress or danger, to avert the calamity ".]
[We should maintain a spiritual frame of mind. We may have a disposition for prayer in the midst of business; nor will secret ejaculations prevail less than solemn devotions h.]
pray thus is our duty; "We ought," &c.
It is a duty we owe to God
[He, our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, has commanded it; nor can any thing absolve us from our obligation to obey.]
We owe it also to our neighbour
[The edification of Christ's mystical body depends, not only on the union of every part with the head, but on the whole being fitly framed together, and on every joint supplying its proper nourishment. But if we be remiss in prayer, we shall be incapable of administering that benefit, which other members have a right to expect from usk.]
We owe it to ourselves
[A" spirit of supplication" is as necessary to the soul, as food to the body; nor can we feel any regard for our souls, if we do not cultivate it.]
It is, however, by no means easy to fulfil this duty— II. The difficulties that attend it
When we set ourselves to the performance of it, we shall find difficulties
Before we begin to pray—
[Worldly business may occupy, or worldly amusements dissipate, our thoughts. Family cares may distract our minds, and family disagreements indispose us for this holy employment'. Lassitude of body may unfit us for the necessary exertions. We may be disabled by an invincible hardness of heart. A want of utterance may also operate as a heavy discouragement.
e Our liturgy teaches us to pray, in all time of our wealth. See Prov. xxx. 9.
h Compare 2 Sam. xv. 31. with 2 Sam. xvii. 14, 23. See also Neh. ii. 4, 6.
i Eph. iv. 16. Col. ii. 19.
* Samuel had a deep conviction of this truth; 1 Sam. xii. 23.
1 1 Pet. iii. 7.