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Edward. The men (angels, I presume,) commanded Lot to assemble his sons-in-law, sons and daughters, and whatever he had, and to depart: for, said they, “We will destroy this place; for the Lord has sent us to destroy it.”
Olympas. Did the sons-in-law of Lot obey their father?
Edward. No: he seemed to them as one that mocked.
Olympas. What family had Lot at this time?
Thomus. He seems to have had only a wife and two daughters ; for his daughters seem to have been betrothed rather thau married.
Olympas. So it might seem. But does Lot promptly obey the command of the two angels ?
Edward. No: he lingered till " the men took hold of him and of the hands of his wife and daughters, the Lord being merciful to bim, and they brought him forth and set him without the city.”
Olympas. What a lesson! How stupid and lingering - the best of men! How merciful and longsuffering is God! Who would have thought that so good a man as Lot could have been so attached to so wicked a society, as that angels must lay hands on him and drag him out of the city of destruction ! And even when he is out of the walls and gates the angels add, “Escape for thy life, look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain ; escape to the mountain lest thou be consumed !" Yet listen to Lot: “Oh! not so, my Lord—Oh! let me escape to Zoar. Is it not a little city! I cannot escape to the mountain !" It was well for Lot that Abraham ad interceded for the righteous in Sodom. The
Lord in mercy for the affrighted and un-nerved Lot, said, “See I have accepted thee in this thing: I will not overthrow this city for which thou hast spoken! Haste, haste thee; escape thither; for “I cannot do any thing till thou become hither.” The Lord it seems by this time appeared to Lot, and it was to him that Lot prayed. What time of the morning was this Eliza ?
Eliza. The sun was just risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar.
Olympas Why, William, was it called Zoar ?
William. Zoar, you said, means little ; and, I suppose, as this was a very small city, it was called Zoar.
Olympas. What was its former name?
William. Thomas says it was first called Bela; but I do not know how he knows that.
Olympas. Explain, Thomas.
Thomas. Gen. xiv. 5. The king of Bela is mentioned as the last of the five kings of the five Cities of the Plain; and here we are told by anticipation that Bela is the same as Zoar !
Olympas. Read again the next verse, William?
William. “ Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.”
Olympas. This verse is peculiarly important. Here are two Lord's spoken of. Who are they, Reuben ?
Reuben. The former is the Lord on earth-“ the Judge of all the earth”—the visible Lord, who communed with Abraham, Lot, and all the patriarchs. The other is the Lord in heaventhe invisible God, “whom no man has seen or can
see.” I présume the former is God the Father, and the second is the Lord afterwards incarnate.
Olympas. They are both called Yehovah. The Yehovah rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yehovah. It is certain that it is so written; but your inferences from these words may not be so certain. It is indeed plain that the Lord to whom Abraham and Lot spake, rained vengeance down from the Lord in heaven; and it is probable, very probable, the Lord, the Judge of all the earth, who spoke to Abraham, was indeed the Word that was in the beginning with God, and that was God, who became incarnate and dwelt with men in a human body, whose similitude he so often seems to have assumed when he communed with the ancients. This is the more probable also from the declaration that the Divinity is invisible that God the Father is the invisible God, of whom the Lord, who punished Sodom, is the express image; and who, therefore, of right both as respects nature and image, wears his name Jehovah. Still I would have you clearly draw the line between what is inferential merely, and what is expressly affirmed in so many precise words. What next ensued, William, in the narrative ?
William. The Lord rained fire and brimstone on those cities, and overthrew them, and all the plains with them, with all the inhabitants, and every thing standing or growing upon the ground. I read the other day that the plain about seventy miles long, and eighteen broad, abounding in ashpaltes, or bitumen, of which there were many pits, highly inflammable, was ignited by the lightning, and that the ground was burned out like a
large saucer, into which the Jordan poured its sluggish waters, and that it became a sea, now called the Salt Sea, or the Dead Sea, anciently Asphaltites. Also, that the water is so thick that a stone will swim in it ; that it emits an effluvia fatal to the fowls of heaven; and that its waters are mortal even to the fish that swim in them ; that the winds cannot ruffle its dark and pitchy waters; and that the very fruit that grows upon the surrounding trees, though so beautiful to the eye, are filled with asbes.
Olympas. So the love of the marvellous embraces every opportunity of developing itself. It adds fictitious items--exaggerates the true, and new colours all. It is, indeed, true that the Jordan has made a sea, called the Dead Sea, of nearly such dimensions, on the ground once deluged with fire ; and it is probable that much of that bituminous earth was consumed. Even in the ordinary processes of nature sometimes not only nitrous particles exhaled from the earth, but sulphurous also ; and these in large volumes coming into contact with the electric spark, are instantly ignited; and by an accumulation of such materials the most terrific scenes sometimes transpire. It is therefore certain that fire and brimstone were rained down on these cities, and that, with all their inhabitants, they were consumed. “ They are set forth an example of the doom of ungodly men, suffering the vengeance of an eternal fire.”. What came of Lot's wife, Susan?
Susan. She was converted into a pillar of salt.
Reuben. Struck dead with lightning and petrified into salt rock, as some traveller, Mr. Shaw or Mr. Pococke, says.
Thomas. Josephus says she was still standing in his day, a monument of Heaven's indignation against those that look back with wishful and rebellious eyes at the city of destruction professedly forsaken.
William. Our Teacher of the Sunday School said that Lot's wife was killed by lightning, and a sheet of sulphur and nitre falling upon her, she was indurated and encased in it; so that being protected from the action of the atmosphere and the rains, she remained for
ages. Olympas. There are many ways of speculating upon these curious matters; but it is always foolish to explain a miracle by showing how it might, in harmony with the regular operations of nature have been performed. I wish you could all learn to put the proper emphasis on the right word in that admirable question which one Paul, a very great orator, once propounded to a very splendid king—“Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?” How would you read that verse, William ?
William. I would say, raise the dead.
Thomas. I would read it, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead ? "
Olympas. You are undoubtedly correct. had seen as well as heard Paul pronounce the word God on that occasion, you never would have forgotten. I opine, that Agrippa remembers it to this hour.