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that was there, and her heart flew back to it. She remembered the plenty and the pleasures she there had enjoyed. She repined to abandon the comforts of her old habitation for an humbler, though a safer, dwelling. She hesitated-she doubted-she paused --and she perished.
Oh! how striking a picture of those of you, Christians, whose hearts have become estranged from God! Time was, when your souls overflowed with love and gratitude to him who had plucked you from eternal despair; when you felt that the acquisition of life, of eternal life, was the only object worthy your cares; when your eyes were thankfully and constantly fixed on the angel of the covenant, who showed you your danger, and pointed you to the city of refuge. Why is it that your heart has undergone so great a change? Why is it no longer an altar, on which the flames of devotion and love burn by night and by day? Your thoughts, like those of the unhappy woman whose history we are meditating, were attracted by some earthly vanity which was loved beyond its real value, and your meditation on God became less frequent, less pleasant, less serious, less intent, than it was before. In consequence of this, the means to kindle and cherish the fire of divine love were used by you with greater carelessness and indifference, with more dulness and deadness than formerly. Conscience then raised its voice, and accused you of your omissions; but its remon
; strances, not being sufficiently powerful to bring you back to God, though it convinced you of your sin, only made you fearful seriously to think upon him, , and backward to draw near unto him. Thus, some earthly or sinful pleasure has made you backslide in heart--has robbed you of the holy joys that you
once possessed-has interrupted the fellowship between your soul and God. Remember from whence you are fallen. Cry to God that it may be with you as in years that are past.
2. Where the heart is seduced, it will soon seduce the understanding. As soon as we become enamoured with the world and with sin, we shall begin to doubt whether the commands of God are so strict as we supposed-whether his threatenings are so terrible, and their execution so certain. This appears to have been the case with the wife of Lot. She probably began to think that her husband had been alarmed without cause; that those enjoyments which she coveted would still be preserved unto her. As yet she saw no appearance of that terrible destruction which was announced. Notwithstanding the declarations of the God of truth, she dared to doubt; she looked back in unbelief, and received the reward due to her sin.
Do none of you, my brethren, here also see a portrait of yourselves ? Are there none of you,
whose hearts have thus shaken your faith, and duped your understandings ? God has threatened eternal perdition in that lake, far more intolerable than the lake of Sodom, to all who lead not holy, humble, heavenly lives. Since you have made it your interest that these threatenings should not be executed, have you not doubted them? Have you not attempted to lower the qualifications for the future felicity, to widen the path which leads to heaven? Have you not, instead of adopting the simple doctrines of the gospel, framed to yourself a more convenient system, whereby you may live a worldly life, without trembling at the wrath of God? Remember Lot's wife:
she also hoped that the divine threatenings would not be executed. Fear, lest her fate be yours.
3. When the heart and the faith are corrupted, the life will not long remain pure. The wife of Lot, coveting the joys of Sodom, and doubting the execution of the threatenings of God, consummated her crime by looking back, notwithstanding an express and positive command.
Look at yourselves once more, my brethren, and say whether here you, none of you, resemble her. Alas! how common is it to see those whose heart has got away from God; who have lost the life and comfort of religion, led on step by step to the greatest backslidings in their outward conduct! At first the judgment reasons less strongly against sin than it did before, and the heart opposes it more faintly. The unhappy man then gazes on the bait that is sented to him, approaches as near to the sin as he dare, plays around the brink of the pit, till at last his passion thrusts him in. Though at first he feels remorse, he returns again and again to the commission of crime, till it has become habitual-till it has secured his love-till he has silenced conscience, and thus lost himself without resource.
II. And now, my brethren, having seen the several modes in which you may backslide from God, do not seek to delude yourselves; do not be averse from perceiving your true character, if you are in this lamentable state. Go, then, once more; deeply sound your heart, and inquire, Is it with you, as in former times, when the light of God shone on you, and
you rejoiced in his ways; when you hated sin, and loved holiness, and were delighted with the society of the pious; when the word of God was pleasant to you, and when you poured out your souls before him in
and thanksgiving; when you rejoiced in the day of the Lord, and were quickened and animated by the services of his house; when you looked with a holy contempt upon the joys of earth; when you hungered and thirsted after Christ and righteousness; when it was your daily business to prepare for death, and to live in the prospects of immortality? Christian, was this once your
character? Is it so now? Is your heart still as warm-your life still as holy? If not, ponder, seriously ponder, the solemn considerations which I hasten to present to you; and may God so carry them home to your souls, that you may feel the misery and guilt of your situation. And do you, who have not yet departed from God, also listen, that you may be induced to resist every temptation that would draw you aside from duty, and cultivate, with still greater care, the holy affections of your heart, the pious walk
of your life.
1. Consider, unhappy men, that you are returning towards that state in which you were before you professed the religion of Jesus, of delusion and folly, of sin and misery. If your condition then was happy, why did you so lament it? Why did you so earnestly cry fordeliverance from it? Why did you so fervently bless God, when you hoped that he had actually delivered you? Butif your condition was then indeed miserable, (and this you dare not deny,) why do you again return towards it? Behold Lot's wife! like you, she shuddered at the woes which were rushing upon her, if she flew not from Sodom; like you, she blessed that
; God who had reached forth from heaven the arm of his power, and plucked her from approaching destruction; like you, she began to walk in the path which conducted to safety, to peace, to felicity; like you, she looked to the wretched, unholy, heavenabandoned spot she had left. God grant that the *parallel may never be carried further. God grant that it may never be added, Like her, you sunk under the vengeance of the Almighty.
2. Consider, once more, that you are advancing towards a far more dreadful state than you were in whilst you were totally thoughtless and unconcerned, since the guilt of an apostate is much greater than that of him who has never professed the gospel. His recovery is more difficult, and less probable. Listen with a holy awe to St. Peter, whilst he cries, “ If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning: for it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” Listen, and let your soul quake within you while you listen, to that terrible declaration of St. Paul : “ If we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice forsin; but acertain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversary." I know that the apostle is here speaking of total apostacy; yet can you with safety approach the borders of a state so horrible ? Was Lot's wife safe, because she did not enter within the very walls of Sodom, but stood at a little distance from it?
3. Consider against how much experience you sin, when you backslide from God. You have known the evil of sin, and the pains of repentance. You have tasted of the goodness of God, and the pleasures of religion. How many promises do you vio- .