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FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT.
LOT'S ESCAPE, AND ITS LESSON.
GEN. xix. 17.
Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
THERE is a book, brethren, which we all have read and delighted to read; and that is, the "Pilgrim's Progress." We have all followed, in the pages of that book, Christian in his escape from the City of Destruction, and in his perilous journey towards the Celestial City. And whence do you think John Bunyan got his first idea of the “Pilgrim's Progress ?" He got it, I believe, from the lesson we have heard to-day, the 19th chapter of Genesis. He was a man deeply versed in the Holy Scriptures. He had read and re-read the
Bible till his mind was full of it. And what he had read he had pondered well, so that he was able to apply it to the ruling of his own life, and to the instruction of thousands of his countrymen. And, as I have said, it was this 19th chapter of Genesis that seems to have suggested to him his famous work. For in that chapter we have, as it were, a pilgrim's progress; we have the history of a man whom God's grace rescued out of a most imminent danger; whom He brought forth from a city appointed to destruction; whom He guarded through all his perilous way till he reached the promised haven of safety, till he entered into Zoar.
Now I trust it will be for our profit to meditate upon this history. It will teach us, amongst other lessons, this chief one-that God knows how to deliver His people out of temptation; and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment, to be punished.
In the opening of this chapter we find Lot dwelling in Sodom,-Lot, who is described in the Bible as "a righteous man." But how came he in such a place? It was his own doing. There had been a dispute between his servants and the servants of Abraham, his uncle, for the best pasturage; and Abraham, who hated strife, proposed that they should separate, and that Lot should
choose whither he would go. Lot chose the wellwatered and fertile plain of Sodom. He thought more of increasing his store than of the danger he ran by dwelling amongst that ungodly people.
And yet, Lot was not himself a wicked man. What he saw and heard in that guilty city gave him much sorrow; it vexed (we read) his righteous soul from day to day. Only, for one cause or other, he made no strong effort to leave the place. He stayed there a long while-so long, that his daughters grew up and contracted marriages with some of the inhabitants of Sodom.
In staying then at Sodom, as in going there at first, Lot was wrong. But in that he kept free of its evil ways, in that he was vexed with their unlawful deeds, he found in the day of his necessity a marvellous and merciful deliverance.
We come next to consider this deliverance. As he sat in the gate of Sodom there came two angels at even, whom God had sent to announce to Lot the destruction of Sodom, and to bring him and his family out of it.
Lot entertained those heavenly visitants, while yet he knew not who they were; and to this hospitable act of his reference is made in Heb. xiii. in the charge,-Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels
Nor shall we err in thinking with a pious bishop of our Church (Bishop Hall), that God still sends His ministering spirits to wait upon those whom He intends to save. "The houses" (he says) "of holy men are full of these heavenly spirits, when they know not; they pitch their tents in ours, and visit us when we see not; and when we feel not they protect us."
To Lot, I said, these angels announced the impending ruin of Sodom, and they urged him to hasten out of it, with all that were near and dear to him, at once. Hast thou here any besides? son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.
Observe, brethren, Hast thou here any besides? God would have saved all Lot's kindred, had they been willing. God, for that one righteous servant's sake, would have covered with His mercy all who were near and dear to him. But, no, they would not be saved. When Lot spoke to them, and besought them to rise up and flee with him from the coming wrath, he made no impression on them: he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law !
What a depth of mournful truth is there in