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thing also, and that city was spared at his intreaty; but he was again urged to flee to it with speed, “ Haste thee, escape thither, for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither.” Judgment was suspended until he was safe, that in this case the Lord might not destroy the righteous with the wicked.
V. Thus Lot escaped out of Sodom, and then, we observe in the fifth place, came that signal destruction recorded in the text, “ Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord, out of heaven.” Other parts of scripture inform us that Admah also and Zeboim suffered the same punishment: “thus he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” What a terrible judgment was this! what alarms and cries must it have excited among them, what pains and torment, what impossibility of escape when the skies poured down the liquid flames upon them, not in flashes, like the lightning, at intervals, but in one continued shower, like incessant rain! Ah! who can stand before the Lord when he is angry ? and who can bear the lighting down of his wrath ? Loudly does this history, as well as that of the flood, sound in our ears that most necessary admonition, “Stand in awe, and sin not.” Are the sins of Sodom the only ones that incur the wrath of heaven? All sins are hateful in the sight of a holy God. Are the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah the only persons that shall suffer punishment for their transgressions ? “I tell you, nay, but except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.”
VI. One more circumstance in this history I have yet to notice, in the sixth place, namely, the sin and the punishment of Lot's wife : “ His wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Her sin seems a little one; but the punishment proves that it was great. There was in it direct disobedience, much unbelief, sinful regret of the things left behind, and base ingratitude for the recent preservation of her life. There was evidently a desire, if not a purpose, or even an attempt, to return, probably to fetch some perishable thing, on which her foolish and carnal heart was set. So our Lord himself introduces her example. Comparing the days of the destruction of Jerusalem with the days of Noah and Lot, he says, “In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away;
and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife.” Too prone alas are we all to banker after the things of earth, to regret our lost pleasures, and murmur at our deprivations, too backward in fleeing from the wrath to come through love of this present evil world, too much inclined to look at the things which are seen and are temporal rather than at those which are unseen and are eternal, too ready to backslide, even when once we have set out on the way to God.
And now what improvement shall we make of this awful subject? We are taught by the scriptures that “all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and are written for our admonition," and St. Jude, noticing this particular case, especially informs
us that these cities are set forth for an example."
1. First. They afford us an example of the evil of sin. The subject has a voice to us, even as the sins of Sodom had a voice that cried to heaven, and it tells us, soul that sinneth it shall die.” The flames of Sodom may help us to read, in characters of fire, that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” The Lord, it is most true, is a merciful Lord, full of compassion and tender loving-kindness, slow to anger, and ready to pardon ; but he is also most pure and holy; sin is ever that abominable thing which his soul hateth; he is ever a jealous God, jealous for the honour of his name and the authority, of his law, and that will by no means clear the guilty. It is most true indeed that he pardons iniquity and transgression and sin; but it is to such as fear him, and renounce their sins, and seek the mercy which is proposed to them in the atonement of Christ; while every sin that is unrepented of and not forsaken, has ever
brought, and will ever bring, the vengeance of eternal fire upon those who indulge it.
2. Secondly.—The subject affords us an awful example of the terrors of the Lord. It shews us, in connection with the flood, how many arrows are contained in his quiver, what different kinds of rain he holds in his hand, and how all the elements are ready to fulfil his will. He can as easily call for the sword, the pestilence, and the famine, if he determine to destroy the wicked. But far sorer judgments than any of these temporal ones are reserved for the world to come. The fire that consumed the cities of the plain may well make us think of, and fear, the everlasting fire of hell. There indeed is a Tophet ordained and prepared for the future and final punishment of the ungodly : “ he hath made it deep and large : the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.” Such descriptions of eternal punishments are continually given ; “ the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters,