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QUEEN ELIZABETH, AT HAMPTON COURT,
ON WEDNESDAY, BEING THE SIXTH OF MARCH, A.D. MDXCIV.
LUKE xvii. 32.
Remember Lot's wife.
[Memores estote uxoris Lot. Lat. Vulg.]
[Remember Lot's wife. Engl. Trans.] A part of the Chapter read this morning, by order of the Church, for
the Second Lesson.
The words are few, and the sentence short; no one in Scripture so short. But it fareth with sentences as with coins: in coins, they that in smallest compass contain greatest value are best esteemed; and in sentences, those that in fewest words comprise most matter, are most praised. Which, as of all sentences it is true ; so specially of those that are marked with memento. In them, the shorter the better; the better, and the better carried away, and the better kept; and the better called for when we need it. And such is this here; of rich contents, and withal exceeding compendious. So that, we must needs be without all excuse, it being but three words and but five syllables, if we do not remember it.
The sentence is our Saviour's, uttered by Ilim upon this occasion. Before, in verse 28, He had said, that “the days of the Son of Man should be as the days of Lot,” in two respects : 1. In respect of the suddenness of the destruction that should come ; 2. and in respect of the security of the people on whom it should come. For the Sodomites laughed at it; and Lot's wife, it should seem, but slightly regarded it. Being then in Lot's story, very fitly and by good consequence out of that story, He leaveth us a memento before He
SERM. There are in Lot's story two very notable monuments of IV.
God's judgment. 1. The lake of Sodom, 2. and Lot's wife's pillar. The one, the punishment of resolute sin; the other, of faint virtue. For the Sodomites are an example of impenitent wilful sinners; and Lot's wife of imperseverant and relapsing righteous persons.
Both these are in it; but Christ, of both these, taketh the latter only. For two sorts of men there are, for which these two items are to be fitted : 1. To those in state of sin that are wrong, the lake of Sodom. 2. To those in state of
grace that are well, if so they can keep them, Lot's wife's pillar.
To the first in state of sin, Moses propoundeth “the vine of Deu. 32.32. Sodom and grapes of Gomorrah," que contacta cinerescunt, " that if
but touch them turn to ashes. To the other in state of grace, Christ here, Lot's wife's pillar. To the one Jer. 8. 4. Jeremy crieth, Qui cecidit, adjiciat ut resurgat. To the other 1 Cor.10.12 St. Paul; Qui stat, videat ne cadat. Agar, that is departed
from Abraham's house with her face toward Egypt, the
Angel calleth to return, and not to persevere: Lot's wife, that Gen. 19.17. is gone out of Sodom, and in the right way to Zoar, the
Angel willeth to persevere and not to return. So that to them this memento is by Christ directed, that being departed from the errors of Ur are gone out from the sins of Sodom, are entered into the profession of the truth, or into the course of a virtuous life. So that, if we lay it to ourselves, we shall lay it aright; that Lot's wife be our example, and that we sprinkle ourselves with the salt of her pillar, ne putrescamus, that we turn not again to folly, or fall away from our own steadfastness. And, if it be meant to us, needful it is that we receive it. A point no doubt of important consideration and necessity, as well for religion to call on, as for our nature
to hear of. First, for religion: her glory it is no less to be (Acts 21. able to shew antiquos Discipulos, “ old professors," as Mnason 16.)
was, than daily to convert and make new proselytes. And
therefore, with Christ, we must not ever be dealing with Mat. 11.28. venite ad me; but sometimes too, with manete in me. That
hath his place—not ever with stimuli,' goads’ to incite men to, but otherwhile with clavi, 'nails' to fasten them in. For, as nature hath thought requisite as well the breasts to bring up, as the womb to bring forth; and philosophy holdeth tueri of
Joh. 15. 4.
no less regard than quærere; and with the lawyers, habendum is not the only thing, but tenendum needful too; and the physician as careful of the regiment, and fearful of the recidivation', as of the disease and cure; so Divinity is respective [' relapse.) to both—both to lay the groundwork surely, ne corruat, “that it shake not' with Esay's nisi credideritis; and to roof it Isa. 7. 9. carefully, ne perpluat, that it rain not through' and rot the principals, with Paul's si permanseris, alioquin excideris et tu.
Needful then for religion, to call on this virtue; and as for religion to call on, so for our nature to be called on. Wherein, as there is tenellum quid, “a tender part” not able to endure the cross, for which we need the virtue of patience; so is there also kysíkopov Ti, “a flitting humour,' not able to endure the tediousness of any thing long; for which we no less need the virtue of perseverance.
The Prophet, in the seventyeighth Psalm, saith, our nature is as a bow, which, when it is Ps. 78. 57. bent to his full, except it be followed hard till it be sure and fast, starts back again, and is as far off as ever it was. The Apostle compareth it to “flesh,” as it is, which will sine sale Rom. 7. 18. putrescere, and if it be not corned, of itself bringeth forth corruption. And to help this our evil inclination forward, there be in all ages dangerous examples to draw us on. The Israelites, after they had passed the Red Sea and all the perils of the desart, and were now come even to the borders of Canaan, even there say, Bene nobis erat in Ægypto, “We Ex. 16. 3. were better in Egypt;" “let us make a captain and return thither.” The Romans, in the New, at the first so glorious professors that St. Paul saith, “ All the world spake of their Rom. 1. 8. faith ;” after, when trouble arose, and St. Paul was called coram, of the same Romans he saith, Nemo mihi adfuit, sed 2Tim.4.16. omnes deseruerunt, “None stood by me, all shrunk away." And in these dangerous days of ours, the falling away quite of divers, and some such as have said of themselves with Peter, Etsi omnes, non ego; and others have said of them, Etsi Mat. 26.33. omnes, non ille.
The declining of others, which, as Daniel's Dan. 2. 32, image, decay by degrees; from a head of fine gold fall to a silver breast, and from thence to loins of brass, and thence to legs of iron, and last to feet of clay; the wavering and amaze of others that stand in the plain, with Lot's wife, looking about, and cannot tell whether to go forward to little Zoar
Nu. 11. 18.
I. The use of stories in
Isa. 62. 6.
SERM. or back again to the case of Sodom; shew plainly that Lot's
wife is forgotten, and this is a needful memento, “Remember Lot's wife.” If then it be ours, and so nearly concern us, let us see, quantum valent he quinque syllabæ.
I. First, Christ sending our memory to a story past ; of vision.
the use of remembering stories in general.
II. Secondly, Of this particular of Lot's wife, and the points to be remembered in it.
III. Thirdly, How to apply those points, that, as St. AuS..Angust
: gustine saith, condiant nos, ut sal statuæ sit nobis condimentum 75 (76). 12.] vite, that the salt of this pillar may be the season of our
The Prophet Esay doth call us that stand in this place, the
Lord's remembrancers; as to God for the people by the office general.
of prayers, so from God to the people by the office of preaching. In which office of preaching, we are employed as much about recognosce, as about cognosce ; as much in calling to their minds the things they know and have forgot, as in teaching them the things they know not, or never learnt. The things are many we have commission to put men in mind of Some touching themselves : for it is many times too true which the philosopher saith; Nihil tam longe abest a nobis quam
ipsi nos, “Nothing is so far from our minds, as we ourselves.' Heb. 2. 1. For naturally, as saith the Apostle, we do napappúelv, “ leak
and run out;" and when we have looked in the glass, we Jas. 1. 23, straight “ forget our fashion again." Therefore we have in
charge to put men in mind of many things, and to call upon Job 10. 9. them with divers mementos. Memento quia sicut lutum tu, Job 7. 7. “remember the baseness of our mould what it is.” Memento quia
vita ventus, "remember the frailness of our life how short it is." Ecc. 11. 8. Memento tenebrosi temporis, “remember the days of darkness are
coming," and they be many. All which we know well enough, and yet need to be put in mind of them.
But the storehouse, and the very life of memory, is the history of time; and a special charge have we, all along the Scriptures, to call upon men to look to that.
For all our wisdom consisting either in experience or memory—experi
ence of our own, or memory of others, our days are so short, Job 8. 9. that our experience can be but slender; tantum hesterni sumus,
saith Job, and our own time cannot afford us observations
enough for so many cases as we need direction in. Needs must we then, as he here adviseth, interrogare generationem Job 8. 8. pristinam, " ask the former age,” what they did in like case ; search the records of former times, wherein our cases we shall! be able to match, and to pattern them all. Solomon saith excellently, Quid est quod fuit ? Quod futurum est. “ What Ecc. 1. 9. is that that hath been? That that shall be." And back again, What is that that shall be? That that hath been. Et nihil novum est sub sole, “ and there is nothing under the sun” of which it may be said, It is new, but it hath been already in the former generations. So that it is but turning the wheel, and setting before us some case of antiquity which may sample ours, and either remembering to follow it if it fell out well, or eschew it if the success were thereafter. For example, By Abimilech's story King David reproveth his captains for pursuing the enemy too near the wall, seeing 2 Sam. 11. Abimelech miscarried by like adventure; and so maketh use of remembering Abimilech. And by David's example, that, in want of all other bread, refused not the shew-bread, Christ Mark 2. 25. our Saviour defendeth His Disciples in like distress, and sheweth that, upon such extremity, necessitas doth even legem Legi dicere, 'give a law even to the Law itself.'
Seven several times we are called upon to do it: 1. Memento Deu. 32. 7. dierum antiquorum, saith Moses. 2. Recordamini prioris Isa. 46. 9. Seculi—Esay. 3. State super vias antiquas—Jeremy. 4. In- Jer. 6. 16. restiga patrum memoriam-Job. 5. Exemplum sumite Pro-Job 8. 8. phetas–James. 6. Rememoramini dies priscos—Paul. 7. Re-Jas. 5.10. member Lot's wife-Christ here; that is, to lay our actions to those we find there, and of like doings to look for like ends. So read stories past, as we make not ourselves matter for story to come. Now of and among them all, our Saviour Christ after II.
Of this of a special manner commendeth unto us this of Lot's wife.
Of Lot's wife. which thus much we may say, that it is the only one story, which of all the stories of the Old Testament He maketh His choice of, to put in His memento; which He would have them which have forgotten to remember, and those that remember never to forget. Oft to repair to this story, and to fetch salt from this pillar: that they lose not that they have done, and so perish in the recidivation of Lot's wife.