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innocence as well as of fertility were here! No such thing. The people were "sinners before the Lord exceedingly." They surpassed and outdid all others in iniquity. Hear it, ye ends of the earth! This highly favoured people, whose land was full of all good temporal things, were empty of all spiritual good. Abundance begat ease, and relaxed the industry of labour: idleness gendered effeminacy; and a torpor of every intellectual perception, and an apathy of moral feeling were alone conspicuous. The most unnatural lusts were indulged without a blush. The awful purity and delicacy of Scripture language forbid the mention of their crimes, otherwise than in general terms. But we learn that they were such as to bring down a signal display of the divine vengeance; not only for the punishment of the guilty individuals, but also that as many as were afar off, and as many as were near, might know of a surety that the Lord, he is God; and cannot behold iniquity with any approbation or allowance.

Lot abode long among this people; and submitted to their company and acquaintance, that he might enjoy their temporal blessings. "Religion in the heart," saith one, "is like a spark kept alive in the ocean." When our situation is providential, we may confidently hope the divine aid. When we choose our own situation, and walk into danger with our eyes open, we must take the consequence. Wide is the difference between the confidence of faith and the presumption of folly. Two angels set their faces toward Sodom, and arrived there in the evening. Lot was sitting in the gate of the city, and arose, on perceiving the strangers, to invite them into his house. His courteous invitation was at first declined; but at length they yielded to his importunity, and consented to turn aside with him.

Immediately an abundant repast was prepared for the strangers. The duty of hospitality is very highly rated in the east: and is the more necessary, since there are few caravansaries, or houses of public entertainment. The entertainment of strangers was considered a paramount duty, in every simple clan, insomuch that the host was bound to defend his guests with life. When the feast was concluded, and the family were about to retire for the night, a clamour was heard without of a mob demanding that the strangers should be brought out to them. Lot sought in vain to pacify them, with proposals carried to the most unjustifiable lengths. The rage of the people increasing, the angels came, and drew Lot within the house; and then smote the multitude with blindness; and, thereby, freed the family from any farther annoyance. The angels now informed Lot of the divine intention to destroy the cities of the plain. They urged him to leave the place; and to take with him all who were dear to him. He went to his sons-in-law; but he seemed to them "as one that mocked." They were much too wise to be disturbed. "And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city." Still Lot lingered. And it was not until after repeated admonitions, and a permission to tarry at Zoar, that he set out in good earnest.

On his arrival at Zoar, the awful judgment immediately took place. "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire, from the Lord, out of heaven." The plain was full of sulphur. Now the lightnings poured in sheets from above, the sulphur was inflamed. Probably some dreadful eruptions took place from the bowels of the earth; and

the wide-extended plain, in a few hours, presented a scene of frightful desolation. The cheerful face of the country, the spicy grove, the silver stream, the appearances of population, were all gone and scarce a wreck remained behind. Water soon covered the plain; and it is now called "the dead sea."

In the hurry of this flight, probably Lot never perceived the loss of his wife, who, for disobedience, had been changed into a pillar of salt, till he had reached Zoar, where he did not long remain; but fled to the mountains, and there abode with his two daughters. The weak, irresolute man was twice beguiled into drunkenness, and twice betrayed into incest. Much has been said on this subject, in extenuation of the conduct of Lot and his daughters. But he is never again mentioned in the history of the Old Testament. They who forget God shall be forgotten of him. It is evident, from this part of the recital, that his family had suffered from the society of the Sodomites. On the whole,

1. Mark, I beseech you, the folly of inconsistency. There is not a meaner trait which can belong to any man than inconsistency. Let him occasionally display the most amiable qualities; let him appear in the most endearing relationships; let him, now and then, exhibit the most self-denying virtue; and yet we withhold from him our love and esteem; and his example, except in so far as it is monitory, must be useless. He is "every thing by turns, and nothing long." No one can be benefited by his friendship: for, at one time, he is all ardour; at another, cold and suspicious. No one can be bettered by his piety: for when our attention has been awakened by the warmth of his zeal, on a sudden we find him cold, trifling, and even sinful. The religion of Jesus, the crucified, like the life of its founder,

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is uniform and consistent. There may be inequalities; but there are no differences. Our religious profession is dubitable, if our religious disposition be confined to fixed places and times. I will not say that there is not a becoming gravity, suitable to the house of prayer; and which it is not necessary to carry into the hurry and bustle of life. Nor do I assert that there is any thing criminal in the glow of pleasure that diffuses itself over the domestic or social circle. But I must observe that the solemnity of behaviour displayed in God's house is vain and frivolous, if it proceed from no higher motive than regard to decency. And if it spring from a single aim and wish to please God, the same motive which expresses itself by such conduct then will have its influence, though often unobserved by the many, whenever and wherever the Christian is seen. The public devotion is but the livelier expression of that energetic principle which always lives and operates within his breast. The spirit of religion should infuse itself into all we do, and all we say. There should be an indescribable something, bearing the stamp and influence of piety, in our most inconsiderable actions. When I have seen and conversed with some aged Christians, I have thought, as one said, that "they carried an atmosphere of piety around them." They seemed like men who had some pleasing theme of reflection on which they delighted secretly to dwell, an inward fountain of peace from which they were constantly satisfied.

2. Observe, in the second place, the importance of good company. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." Lot, in Abraham's company, seemed to be of the same spirit. But O! how affecting, how debased, is the latter part of the story! How low did he fall! The last

state of this man was worse than the beginning. Let us hope that he obtained forgiveness. We are expressly told, that because the Lord "remembered Abraham, therefore "sent he Lot out of the midst of the overthrow." How important was such a connection! Had he continued with Abraham, Lot might have retained his property, his family, his character, and the favour of God.

3. See the divine abhorrence of sin and sinners. Man flatters himself with the idea that God regardeth not; and lulls to forgetfulness his torpid conscience. But God ariseth to judgment. The sun shone with unclouded ray; and the morning breathed its wonted sweetness. But silence and solitude, death and desolation, soon spread over the fruitful and populous country. God, who is ever observant, hath a thousand instruments of destruction—the lightning, the flood, the winds of the east, the burning eruption, all wait but his summons to bring desolation on any part of the world. But a more awful, because a more general catastrophe, is at hand; when "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise; and the elements shall melt with ferventheat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness."

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