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account, which lived after this, saith, 'Iotópnka aúrny, čtı yap Kài vûv diauévet: I myself have seen and beholden it, for it (Joseph. stands to be seen to this day.' A reed she was; a pillar she lib. 1.c.11.] is, which she seemed to be but was not. She was melting water; she is congealed to salt. Thus have we both her fault and punishment. Let us remember both; to shun the fault, that the penalty light not on us. Now this pillar was erected, and this verdure given it, for
Our lesson our sakes. For, among the many ways that the wisdom of from this. God useth to dispose of the sin of man, and out of evil to draw good, this is one and a chief one, that He suffereth not their evil examples to vanish as a shadow, but maketh them to stand as pillars for ages to come, with the heathen man's inscription, ’Es èué tis opéwv evoeßis čotw, 'Look on (Herodot.
Euterp. me, and learn by me to serve God better.'
j141.] And an high benefit it is for us, that He not only embalmeth the memory of the just for our imitation, but also powdereth and maketh brine of the evil for our admonition; that as a scent from Mary Magdalene's ointment, so a relish from Lot's wife's pillar, should remain to all posterity.
Profane persons, in their perishing, God could dash to pieces, and root out their remembrance from off the earth. He doth not, but suffereth their quarters, as it were, to be set up in stories, ut pæna impii sit eruditio justi, ‘that their punishment may be our advertisement.' Poureth not out their blood, nor casts it away, but saves it for a bath, ut lavet justus pedes Ps. 58. 10. in sanguine peccatoris, "that the righteous may wash their footsteps in the blood of the ungodly;" that “all,” even Rom. 8. 28. the ruin of the wicked, “may cooperate to the good of them that fear God.” This woman, in her inconstancy, could He have sunk into the earth, or blown up as saltpetre, that no remembrance should have remained of her. He doth not, but for us and for our sakes He erecteth a pillar : and not a pillar only to point and gaze at, but a “pillar or rock of salt,” whence we may and must fetch wherewith to season whatsoever is unsavoury in our lives. And this, this, is the life and soul of memory; this is wisdom—the art of extracting salt out of the wicked, triacle' out of vipers, our own happiness out of l' i:an
antidote.) aliena pericula; and to make those that were unprofitable to themselves, profitable to us. For sure, though Lot's wife
ad fin. et 109. circ.
SERM. were evil, ber salt is good. Let us see then how to make her
evil our good; see if we can draw any savoury thing from this example.
1. That which we should draw out, is perseverance, Muria virtutum, as Gregory calleth it, the preserver of virtues,' without which, as summer fruits, they will perish and putrify; the salt of the covenant, without which the flesh of our sacrifice will take wind and corrupt. But St. Augustine better, Regina virtutum, the Queen of virtues;' for that, however
the rest run and strive and do masteries, yet perseverantia sola [' S. Bern. coronatur', 'perseverance is the only crowned virtue.' Epist. 32.
2. Now perseverance we shall attain, if we can possess our med. ]
souls with the due care, and rid them of security. Of Lot's wife's security, as of water, was this salt here made. And, if security, as water, do but touch it, it melts away presently.
But care will make us fix our eye, and gather up our Phil. 3. 13. feet, and “forgetting that which is behind,” tendere in
anteriora, “to follow hard toward the prize of our high calling.”
3. And, to avoid security, and to breed in us due care, [Vid. S. St. Bernard saith, · Fear will do it.' Vis in timore securus don. S. s. securitatem time; “the only way to be secure in fear, is to fear Serm.init.]
security.' St. Paul had given the same counsel before, that to preserve si permanseris, no better advice than noli altum sapere, sed time.
Now, from her story these considerations are yielded, each ations out
one as an handful of salt to keep us, and to make us keep.
First, that we see, as of Christ's twelve which He had sorted and selected from the rest, one miscarried : et illum gregem non timuit lupus intrare, and that the wolf feared not to seize, no, not upon that flock:' and as of Noah's eight that were saved from the flood, one fell away too; so, that of Lot's four here, and but four in all, all came not to Zoar-one
came short. So that of twelve, of eight, of four; yea, a little Lu. 17. 35. after, of two, one is refused; that we may remember, few
there be that scape from Sodom in the Angel's company; and of those, few though they be, all are not safe neither. Who would not fear, if one may perish in the company of Angels!
Secondly, that as one miscarrieth, so not every one, but one that had continued so long, and suffered so many
Rom. 11. 22_-22.
of her fault.
things, and after all this continuance, and all these sufferings, falls from her estate, and turns all out and in; and by the inconstancy of one hour maketh void the perseverance of so many years, and as Ezekiel saith, “ In the day they turn Ezek. 18. away to iniquity, all the former righteousness they have done, shall not be remembered."
Thirdly, that as she perisheth, so at the same time that 3. Sodom ; she by it, and it by her. That one end cometh to the sinner without repentance, and to the just without perseverance. One end to the abomination of Sodom, and to the recidivation of Lot's wife. Et non egredientes, et egredientes respicientes; they that go not out of her perish, and they that go out of her perish too if they look back.' Lacus Asphaltites is a monument of the one ; Lot's wife's salt-stone a memorial of the other.
Lastly, that as one perisheth, and that such an one, so that 4. she perisheth at the gates, even hard at the entry of Zoar; which of all other is most fearful—so near her safety, so hard at the gates of her deliverance; remember, that near to Zoar gates there stands a salt-stone.
These very thoughts, what her case was these four ways, and what ours may be who are no better than she was, will search us like salt, and teach us, that if we remember what we have been, we may, saith St. Bernard, erubescere; so, if we remember what we may be, we may contremiscere; that we see our beginnings, but see not our ending; we see our stadium, not our dolichum. And that, as we have great need to pray with the prophet, “ Thou hast taught me from Ps. 71. 18. my youth up til now—forsake me not in mine old age, now when I am grey-headed ;" so we had need stir up our care of continuing, seeing we see it is nothing to begin except we continue; nor to continue, except we do it to the end.
Remember, we make not light account of the Angel's serva animam tuam ; blessing ourselves in our hearts, and saying, non fiet tibi hoc; we shall come safe, go we never Mat. 16.22. so soft, Zoar will not run away.
Remember, we be not weary to go whither God would have us—not to Zoar, though a little one, if our soul may there live; and never buy the ease of our body, with the
SERM. hazard of our soul, or a few days of vanity with the loss IV.
Remember, we slack not our pace, nor stand still on the plain. For if we stand still, by still standing we are meet to be made a pillar, even to stand still, and never to remove.
Remember, we look not back, either with her on the vain Joh. 21.20. delights of Sodom left; or with Peter on St. John behind us,
to say, Domine, Quid iste? both will make us forget our Lu. 9. 62. following. “ None that casteth his eye the other way,” is
evdetos, “meet” as he should be, “meet for the Kingdom of God."
But specially remember we leave not our heart behind us, but that we take that with us, when we go out of Sodom ; for if that stay, it will stay the feet, and writhe the eye, and neither the one nor the other will do their duty. Remember, that our heart wander not, that our heart long not. This
care, if it be fervent, will bring us perseverance. Out of her Now, that we may the better learn somewhat out of punish
her punishment too; let us remember also, that as to her, so to us, God may send some unusual visitation, and take us suddenly away, and in the act of sin too.
Remember the danger and damage ; it is no less matter we are about, than perdet animam. Which if we do, we frustrate and forfeit all the fruit of our former well-continued course; all we have done is vain. Yea, all that Christ hath done for us is in vain; Whose pains and sufferings we ought specially to tender, knowing that supra omnem laborem labor irritus, 'no labour to lost labour;' and Christ then hath lost His labour for us.
Remember the folly; that “ beginning in the Spirit” we "end in the flesh;” turning our backs to Zoar, we turn our face to Sodom; joining to a head of fine gold feet of clay, and to a precious foundation a covering of thatch.
Remember the disgrace; that we shall lose our credit and
account while we live, and shall hear that of Christ, Hic Mat. 11. 7. homo ; and that other, Quid existis in desertum videre ? “ A reed
shaken with the wind.”
Remember the scandal; that, falling ourselves, we shall be
a block for to make others fall; a sin no lighter, nor less, nor Mat. 18. 6. lighter than a mill-stone.
Gal. 3. 3.
Remember the infamy; that we shall leave our memory remaining in stories, among Lot's wife, and Job's wife, Demas and Ecebolius, and the number of relapsed, there to stand to be pointed at, no less than this heap of salt.
Remember the judgment that is upon them after their relapse, though they live, that they do even with her here obrigescere, 'wax hard and numb,' and serve others for a caveat, wholly unprofitable for themselves.
Remember the difficulty of reclaiming to good ;—“seven evil spirits” entering instead of one, that their “ last state is Mat. 12.45. worse than the first."
And lastly, Remember that we shall justify Sodom by so doing, and her frozen sin shall condemn our melting virtue. For they in the wilfulness of their wickedness persisted till fire from Heaven consumed them; and they being thus obdurate in sin, ought not she, and we much more, to be constant in virtue ? And if the drunkard hold out till he have lost his eyes, the unclean person till he have wasted his loins, the contentious till he have consumed his wealth, Quis pudor quod infelix populus Dei non habet tantam in bono perseverantiam, quantam mali in malo! What shame is it, that God's unhappy people should not be as constant in virtue, as these miscreants have been, and be in vice!
Each of these by itself, all these put together will make a full memento, which if she had remembered, she had been a pillar of light in Heaven, not of salt in earth. It is too late for her—we in due time yet may remember it.
And when we have remembered these, remember Christ too that gave the memento; that He calleth Himself Alpha Rev. 1. 8. and Omega—not only Alpha for His happy beginning, but Omega for His thrice happy ending. For that He left us not, nor gave over the work of our redemption, till He brought it to consummatum est. And that on our part, summa religionis est imitari Quem colis, “the highest act of religion, is for the Christian to conform himself, not to Lot's wife, but to Christ, Whose name he weareth.' And though verus amor non sumit vires de spe, 'true love indeed receiveth no manner strength from hope,' but, though it hope for nothing, loveth nevertheless; yet to quicken our love, which oft is but faint, and for a full memento, remember the reward. Remember how