"Remember LOTS wife."Luke xvii. 32.
Ir would seem to be a very gloomy example that we have to
speak of at this time; and yet it is Gods word, and not unprofitable. But
I may compare the want of fear to the rolling over of a great stone; for if
Satan can once get watchfulness lulled asleep, he will not miss to steal your
crowns from you.
Here you have in these words a very necessary memorandum to all generations, whether standing in the house, or in the highway home. If ye remember the history, there came two angels to Sodom to carry Lot, his wife and daughters, out of the city. Approaching hazard forbade them to look behind them: and yet this poor woman but looked back with a longing eye towards Sodom, and she became a pillar of salt. Hence these few things following may be grounds for our instruction : That amongst the keepers of our look, memory is one that is much broken, which doubtless had been in better case if we had rightly served Christ. Memory is a notable servant unto Jesus Christ. It is like an apothecary apprentice, turning quickly unto every shuttle, and bringing forth His medium; but alas, the want of memory hath sent many souls into hell, not remembering that they were washen. They say it is natural for them to be forgetful. But I say unto such, Woe unto you; for ye can keep a tryst with the devil, and ye can remember that, and ye can remember foolish tales or things of that nature. Our hearts (to use the comparison) are just like a watch which one carries unto a man who hath skill, and says to him, Mend this little thing in it. But when the skilled person looks into it, he finds that there is not a right wheel in it. All is wrong. The mind, will, and affection are all gone wrong. The wisdom, understanding, and spirit are all gone wrong by our first parents eating the forbidden fruit, whereby Satan and our own folly have made strange work, though they were warned by Gods express prohibition.
Ye say ye have no memory. Say ye, Though I cannot remember all things, it is enough if I remember the things of my own concernment, and of my own experience But here you should remember that whatever ye remember ye should not lose mind of the Bible, viz., whrt a good man Josias was, and what a bad man Manasses was, and others, but it may be that while ye read through the Scriptures, ye will notice some one or other encouragement or promise, saying, What needs more? I am not to dwell upon the place. And other young raw Christians will say that they can explain the Scriptures, yet I bid you speak soberly and be watchful; for indeed there are crafty adversaries going about in these days. Therefore remember Lots wife whose salvation or damnation we shall not and cannot determine; we will not determine this, having so small light going before us as to this, but, sure, she is here set forth as a warning unto us. But ye will perhaps say, What should we here remember concerning her?
1. Remember that she was Lots wife, a good mans wife, and a professor too, and brought up and educated in good company; and yet he is vexed in his own house, as well as amongst these filthy Sodomites. It may be that she was of good education also. But alas! that did not her turn. She is set up between heaven and earth for a memorandum, and we have no more certainty of her descent, but that she was Lots wife. Therefore, though your good parentage and education be a mercy, yet boast not of it; and though you may have dwelt long in a good house, what of that? May not Satan tempt you there, if ye have not the root of the matter within you? And you must sometimes begin to inquire of Christ, if ye have attained as much in that condition as to bear you through, to bear your charges to heaven. Carefully record these things that you may forget none of them; for there are many careless professors, especially women, similar to Lots wife. Many others amongst you are but bad instruments in a country-side, and ringleaders to wicked courses; therefore pray that ye be not a grief and as plagues unto your husbands, nor a vexation unto your parents or relations.
2. Remember that she was half-way to Zoar, and Sodom burning behind her; and, it may be, she then thought she was past all danger and most secure. While the angel took hold of her hand, she says, as it were, God be thanked, I am now past the worst of it, and nearer unto heaven than I was. The lesson for our instruction is this: that some may seem to go to heaven, nay, seem to be half-way there, and yet not be upon that way at all. So king Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian? But woe unto them that are but almost persuaded to be Christians! Hence arises this question, How far a reprobate may go on in Christianity? and yet it is not fitting for a Christian to know this, nor yet how far a Christian may be misled in an evil way, and even go half-way to hell and more. But remember Lots wife, that was half-way on to Zoar; and yet I say that half-way is no way, for all the blossoms of a tree do not come to fruit; And ye have not resisted unto blood, &c. I say not this to make you quit your confidence; because ye are not yet so far on in suffering; but to make you more wary, and not to cast off your armour until ye get the victory over your lusts and predominant evils. Begin to ask, Am I right? or How far may I be come or What may I meet with are all be done? I will not say here that ye should do as Peter did in denying his Master, or as David in the matter of Uriah; and yet ye know not what Satan will do unto you era ye go hence; for it is likely that many that have gone a great length have fallen back, and will fall back in their Christian way, and never come to the camp again. Wherefore, it is good to abide with God and His people, and not to go in singular ways of your own, and to be afraid of saying, I am now half-way towards heaven. I need not fear. I am well when at a communion table; and so I need not fear. But be afraid. We would say unto you, as to men in a ship when a great blast of, wind comes, stand to your sails; and 1 may say, God grant that we may not be found asleep in that day! And
3. Remember Lots wife. But you may say, What did she? She but looked back, and could not go straight on in the way with her husband. Hence ye may take this lesson, that God doth not account of things as we do. He accounts that a great sin which we account but a little one. Who could have thought that there should have been so much business for so small a fault? But see what became of Hezekiah for leading these men in to see the treasures of his house - how angry is the Lord for that, because He knew what it would turn unto; for He judgeth not as we judge according to the bulk or outside, but what is within the heart. But you will say, It was but a small thing for Ishmael to smile at the weaning of Isaac; and yet ye may see be was persecuted for it. And think ye, that that was a small matter in Gods sight for Aaron and Miriam to speak against Moses, although it must be granted that they were two gracious persons? But many smalls make a great (as we use to say); and if the Lord shall mark iniquities, who shall stand? But
4. Remember Lots wife. But you will say, What moved her to do so, to look back contrary to the Lords express command?
(1.) It was a piece of her own curiosity. She thought she might in this matter take some of her own will, when she was nigh halfway to Zoar - as it is with many of us. We virtually say, We are lords, we will come no more to thee. Again, some would gladly say, 1 cannot think to lay my will flat under Gods will, nor endure to have it conformed fully thereto. But remember Lots wife. And you know that Jacobs daughter, in going out to see the daughters of the land was defiled; therefore return in again; for this was an evil sight to her and to all that belonged unto her, and to all the Schechemites also. And oh, what folly lurks in our corrupt hearts, opposite unto the law of God
(2.) Old Sodom comes into her mind again, as in the case of the Israelites in the wilderness, when lusting after the onions and garlic which they had while in Egypt. Truly, that was strange; for you know, garlic hath no agreeable taste. But what shall we say? Anything of Egypt or Sodom is good, when we are out of them, yea, many may think What meant I while I was in the acts of my wickedness, that I took not my pennyworths of it, as we sometimes say. It was even so with her, looking back to her old but bad companions. But I bid you beware of this, especially of touching the garment spotted with the flesh. Except in the case of necessity, Solomon forbids so much as to go in the way with an angry man. The Christian should be like an old pilgrim with his gown and staff, and if he get not a bed, he should lie on the ground as old Jacob did with a stone under his head. But your accommodations for back and belly, bed and board, even such as Sodom could afford, are the means to destroy you, and pamper you up to commit grievous abominations. Sometimes you are forbearing yourselves, and exclaiming against others, saying, How beastly was such and such a man or woman! But I may say, What if the Lord love others that are poor and ragged, as well as you with your fine clothes, yea, and better; and what know ye, to judge of the state of others?"
"Remember Lots wife, of whom it is said, But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. Indeed she should have consulted her husband in it; and it is but the part of all women in things lawful to do so. Though I grant not always, provided they be not wasters. But this woman would neither be subject unto God nor her husband, like Eve, who should have said unto the serpent, Hold thy peace, and be quiet, for I will not hearken unto thee, until I first hear what Adam will say ; and yet doubtless she is in heaven this day. But she was the first transgressor in the world in breaking Gods express commands. See also what became of that poor man, who for gathering a few sticks upon the Sabbath-day, was stricken dead. Therefore, take heed how ye have communicated this day, for little do ye know what sickness and death follow on despised communions. And therefore
Lastly, Remember Lots wife. But after all ye may perhaps say, What should we remember of her? No good I warrant you; and therefore the more sad is the subject to speak of. God made her a spectacle in these days, as He is in our days doing with some, not comparable to the apostle Paul, who was as a gazing stock. The Lord, in the depths of His infinite wisdom, dealt so with him in His mercy, and others He hath suffered, in His wrath, to do evil deeds for their former sins to the instruction and edification of many. Therefore, ye should not look upon such spectacles of His wrath in a light manner. See these eighteen men upon whom the tower of Sioam fell. They were not the greatest sinners in Jerusalem, and yet were made spectacles unto others. Therefore, Remember Lots wife, a backslider indeed, which is Scotlands sin this day, and that of many of our professors also, whose destruction lingers not, and whose damnation slumbereth not. How suddenly is the Lord likely to come upon us as a thief in the night for our whoring, incest, adultery, drunkenness, and many other dreadful sins, which although often reproved and confessed, yet are never amended nor forsaken!
But here is an extraordinary work, or dispensation of Gods providence; to see this woman so turned into a pillar of salt, whereby He makes one stone of another. Her heart was hard as a stone; and so must the other parts of her body become as a stone also.
Use - Therefore pray that this may never be your case. Moreover, I may say unto you who are profane professors, again, Remember Lots wife. The chief thing that draws many of you away is the pride of your religion, wit, gifts, profession, &c. It is not altogether natural pride, but the pride of your religion, saying, It cannot be I except I be singular. For which sin, 0 ye empty professors, make ready for a storm, and ballast your ships well, that so ye may be more steady. Get more humility and sobriety. Esteem others better than yourselves. Search and try your own hearts, for there are many waiting to get an advantage of you. And remember that ye are changeable while on this side of time. As for Quakers and these sectaries, beware of them, with whom Satan does as he did with old Eve while be talked with her; she was deceived, therefore meddle not at all with them; for if ye do, I may say of you as it is said of Saul, Ye are seeking unto the devil. And it may be that, in that case, God will suffer him to overcome you. Therefore, Remember Lots wife, and let it be your memento always.
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