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in this discourse, and which it may be profitable to collect together in the conclusion.
The cause of his misfortunes was his wealth. - This excited self-importance and the love of gain. Christians ought to remember, in their attention to worldly concerns, that wealth corrupts the heart, naturally deceitful, and desperately wicked, if it be not strictly guarded. Whenever it makes us think more highly of ourselves than we ought to 'think, or excites in us a thirst after more, it becomes dangerous. If it destroy Gospel simplicity, and humbleness of mind, and trust in Providence without immoderate carefulness, or produce an affectation of worldly pomp, and an assimilation to worldly manners, it has already injured the life of God in the soul.
Lot's love of gain prompted him willingly to separate from the family of Abraham, and to settle in Sodom. Here commenced his sorrows and his trials. Christians ought never, for the sake of amassing property simply, to leave those places where the Gospel is regularly preached, and the ordinances administered, to go to places where
neither are or can be enjoyed for any length of time; or to places where both are universally despised, and wickedness generally prevails. The calls of nature, and the
pressing wants of an increasing family, may make a removal necessary on the part of a Christian, from a place where his soul may be built
in faith and holiness; but he ought to make religion the first object of attention in a new settlement. If this be neglected; if fertile plains be chosen for their own sake, regardless of the means of grace, his spiritual interests will inevitably decline.
The same remark will apply to the profession or calling which a Christian chooses, by which he is to support himself and family. If he contemplates gain merely, without a regard to religion, he must suffer in his spiritual estate. His love of gain will be his injury, if not his ruin. Religion, the worship of God, the means of grace, ought ever to be uppermost in our hearts; and we ought to choose our abode and our business with an eye to these, that they may not be neglected, and our attention to them not impeded or embarrassed by our place of abode, or our daily occupation.
Lot chose to remain in Sodom, though his righteous soul was vexed with what he there saw and heard. · He formed connexions there for his daughters, or permitted them to form them for themselves. He struck his roots deep in the soil of that accursed city. Christians when they perceive that they have made a mistake in their first step in life, ought to correct it. If their place of abode, or their calling expose them or their family to temptation, they ought to abandon the one and the other. Especially in the connexions which their children make, they ought to regard morality and religion more than wealth, or family, or personal accomplishments. Parental affection ought to urge them, if possible, to save their children from temptation and ruin.
Lot's family became tainted with the corruptions of Sodom: at least, the daily examples they saw wore away the deformity of vice, and familiarized them to its grossest excesses. The families of Christian parents who act as Lot did, choosing their habitation from such motives, must necessarily resemble Lot's family. In vain do they attempt to instil sound principles into the minds, and produce sound habits in the lives of their offspring, if the current of example be against them.
The multitude amongst whom they have pitched their tent, will bear their families along with them. Ah! how necessary to keep from the infection of a corrupted public, those whose hearts are pliable and easily deceived. Even Lot's wife was ruined by the infection of Sodom, and is held up as a beacon to all who, like her, disobey God's commands, loving what he hates. She was nearly allied to one who, with all his defects, was a good man, but herself a stranger to his religious principles. The wives of Christians ought to remember Lot's wife, to avoid cherishing those worldly affections which she did, lest they incur the wrath of God.
Lot himself had abode so long in Sodom, and become so connected with some of its inhabitants, that it was with difficulty he could leave it. He lingered as long as he could. Christians ought never to be so attached to any place, much less a wicked one, as to delay leaving it when it is their duty. They ought especially to live in this world, as those who must soon leave it
for another and better world. When the command comes to remove, they ought not to linger, but gladly to depart.
Lot, after escaping the gross pollutions of Sodom, fell by means of his children into an awful crime. Let Christians who think they stand, take heed lest they fall. Let Christian parents beware of introducing their children into abodes of temptation, lest their children in return prove a snare unto them.
Oh, how pernicious, how ruinous is a worldly spirit in Christians! This was the cause of Lot's misfortunes and crimes. And this is the cause of countless mischiefs in the Church of Jesus Christ. Christians, beware of the love of gain! It is a growing passion, and hostile to the life of God in your souls. You are exposed to its influences from the spirit of the times, and from the fashions of the day. Deceive not yourselves under the semblance of a commendable prudence, or regard to your families. The heart is deceitful. Trust it not. It will mislead you. Trust in God, and he will grant you all you need.