Page images

and vigour, he employs to pamper intemperance; and corrupts into a fource of disease, of weakness, of anguish, of decay. From the word of God, the bread of life, he contrives to extract poison. Expert in devifing mischief against himself, he draws from the fountain of pure doctrine and unfullied righteousness imaginary cordials for unchristian opinions, and imaginary palliatives for unchristian practices. Unlearned and unStable, he wrefts at prefent, as in the days of St. Peter, the Scriptures to his own destruction. In no inftance is the depraved perverseness of the human mind more glaring than in the abuse of the long-fuffering mercy of God. The divine forbearance, deferring from time to time the already protracted vengeance; prolonging the hitherto neglected interval of probation; raifing again and again with louder fummons the hitherto unregarded call to repentance; renewing and enlarging the hitherto defpifed means and wafted opportunities of is beheld as miniftering encouragegrace: ment to careleffnefs in fin. Man, obftinately infenfible to the accustomed difpenfations of mercy, hardens himself against extraordinary interpofitions of Providence: and will not repent and believe, though one should rife from the dead, nor though an angel fhould Z3


bear to him a special warning from the Moft High.

Among the different nations which, in the days of Abraham, inhabited the land of Canaan, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were distinguished by fuperiority in wickednefs. The cry of the cities arofe unto heaven; and called for vengeance on the grievousness of their fin. The long-suffering of God was exhaufted: the season of trial was fulfilled the hour of mercy was past: the ftorm of fire and brimftone was ready to defcend. Among thefe habitations of guilt, Lot, the nephew of Abraham, had been unhappily induced, by the fruitfulness of the furrounding country, to take up his abode. He was a juft and righteous man, faith St. Peter; and in feeing and hearing vexed his righteous foul from day to day with their unlawful deeds (a). In confideration of his general righteousness, and from tender regard to Abraham, God mercifully pardoned the criminal conduct of Lot in continuing to dwell in fo impious a region; and determined by a special interpofition of providential grace to fend him forth from the impending deftruction. The two angels, the minifters of divine wrath, faid unto Lot; Haft thou any (a) a Pet. ii. 7, 8.


bere befides? Son-in-law, and thy fons, and thy daughters, and whatfoever thou haft in the city, bring them out of this place. For we will deftroy this place: because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord bath fent us to deftroy it. Thefe words filled Lót with dismay. That his wife and his unmarried daughters, inhabitants of his own house, and accustomed to look up to him for direction, would obediently accompany his flight, might be no prefumptuous expectation. But for his fons-in-law, dwelling apart in houfes of their own, and free from his control as to the guidance of their per fonal conduct and that of their families, his heart trembled. He went out and spake unto them, and said, Up; get you out of this place: for the Lord will deftroy this city. How was the exhortation received? He feemed as one that mocked unto his fons-in-law! His words feemed unto them as idle tales: and they believed them not. They beheld terror painted in his countenance: they beheld the anxious earnestness of his demeanour: they heard him announce nothing less than utter deftruction: they heard him announce it folemnly in the name of God. What was the effect? Hardened by the deceitfulness of fin, they turned from him as an unwelcome difturber of their tranquillity, a trouZ4 blefome

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

blesome and unfeasonable interrupter of their pleasures. They regarded him as a dreamer; a felf-appointed prophet of evil tidings; a gloomy and over-righteous enthufiaft, fearing where no fear was, and needlessly tormenting himself and others by discoursing of the anger of God, when no fuch anger exifted, and of judgements and overwhelming vengeance never deftined to take place. He feemed unto them as one that mocked. They defpifed his counfel: they refufed to fly for deliverance from that feat of corruption: and within the space of very few hours, they perished in the universal destruction of the guilty land.

I proceed, in humble reliance on the divine bleffing, by which alone religious instruction, whether public or private, is rendered efficacious, to apply for your edification thofe circumftances in the hiftory of Lot and his sonsin-law, which are particularly mentioned in the text.

Perhaps, however, you may be disposed to say within yourselves; "Why represent "as applicable to us, the cafe of the moft de"testable tranfgreffors whom the world has "witneffed? Are we, like unto them, finners. "above all? Are we the by-word and fcandal "of the land? Are we, beyond all others, "notorious for disobeying and difregarding

"religion?" God forbid. But were not all things, which were written aforetime in the Scriptures, written for our learning? Is it foreign to the purpose, for which we are affembled, to fet before you any example of divine indignation poured out upon wickednefs? Do not two of the apoftles of Christ, St. Peter and St. Jude, apply this very example to you, and to all mankind? Do they not aver that Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighbouring cities, condemned with an overthrow, turned into afhes, and suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, are fet forth for an enfample unto all that afterwards fhall live ungodly; an enfample that all who fhall thenceforth live ungodly fhall be referved unto the, day of judgement to be punished (b)? Does not our Saviour himself apply to you and to all men this identical example? Does he not folemnly affirm to his difciples concerning all who fhould not hear and receive their words; and confequéntly concerning all who should not receive and obey the gofpel, whoever may be the preacher of it; that in the day of Judgement it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, than for them (c)?

(b) 2 Pet. ii. 6-9. Jude, 7.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

(c) Matth. x. 15.
I. Let

« PreviousContinue »