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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,
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 fervent. heat; 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."
"Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours,” Gen. xxxvii, 3.
AT this period, Rachel, the mother of Joseph, was dead, and Benjamin, his youngest brother, was but a child. Israel, his father, was dwelling in the land of Canaan, and sinking into the decline of life. He had surmounted the keen trials which the imprudence of his daughter, Dinah-the cruelty of two of his sons, Simeon and Levi-and the iniquity of his first-born, Reuben, had occasioned to him. He felt particularly attached to Joseph, as "the son of his old age," the offspring of Rachel, now departed. And probably Joseph was already giving the early promise of those virtues which, in after life, enabled him to govern a nation and save a people and paternal affection would magnify every virtue, and heighten every accomplishment. Who, but a parent, can tell a father's joy as he fondly tells of the doings and the sayings of his son? Did you mark his sparkling eye? Did you note the eagerness of his manner? O! frown not; turn not away; but reflect, with wonder, on that mysterious tie which binds the parent to his child, for purposes unspeakably valuable. The repulsive character of his other children would increase his regard; and Joseph shone the brighter by the
Joseph was very susceptible of vanity. In the circle in which he moved he was the most attractive figure. His situation was truly a dangerous one. To be caressed is what few can bear, even after they have
passed through a series of trials, and after they have obtained the stability of the rooted principle of piety; how much less before? This propensity was increased by the present which his father made him of "a coat of many colours." And here we have a specimen of the simplicity of the times. It is said, "Israel made” it, probably with his own hands. This partiality, which prudence should have restrained, produced its inevitable consequences. In the same proportion that Israel loved Joseph, his brothers envied and hated him; so that, at last, all friendship was extinguished between them, and they could not speak peaceably to him. "From Simeon, Levi, and Reuben, their father's affections were already alienated; and Joseph had brought an evil report against Dan and Asher, Gad and Naphtali, the hand-maid's children. This also had its effect upon them; and the old man seemed to think they were as goads in his side, to imbitter the short residue of his days. Inexperienced and unsuspicious as Joseph was, he soon added more fuel to the flame. He had two remarkable dreams, which, for reasons with which we are not fully acquainted, he thought proper to divulge. Youth is apt to suppose that it does no harm when it means none; and that, when there is no insincerity in the intention, there can be no impropriety in the conduct. His first dream was, that as they were all reaping in the field, his sheaf arose, and stood erect, while the sheaf of each of his brethren bowed in homage before it. The interpretation was obvious; and when he had told his brethren the dream, they asked him if he thought to be their ruler? This supposed insult neither conciliated their regard, nor diminished their hatred. Whether it were from petulance, or a divine impression,