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in love with Sodom. Outward appear-| Behold even the Sodomites speak moances are deceitful guides to our judgment destly, though their acts and intents be or affections. They are worthy to be de- villanous. What a shame is it for those ceived that value things as they seem. It which profess purity of heart, to speak is not long after that Lot pays dear for his filthily! The good man craves and pleads rashness. He fled for quietness with his the laws of hospitality; and, when he sees uncle, and finds war with strangers. Now headstrong purposes of mischief, chooses he is carried prisoner with all his substance, rather to be an ill father than an ill host. by great enemies : Abraham must rescue His intention was good, but his offer was him, of whom he was forsaken. That faulty. If, through his allowance, the wealth, which was the cause of his former Sodomites had defiled his daughters, it had quarrels, is made a prey to merciless hea- been his sin: if through violence they had thens : that place, which his eye covetously defiled his guests, it had been only theirs. chose, betrays his life and goods. How There can be no warrant for us to sin, lest many Christians, while they have looked at others should sin. It is for God to pregain, have lost themselves !
vent sins with judgments; it is not for men Yet this ill success hath neither driven to prevent a greater sin with a less. The out Lot nor amended Sodom; he still loves best minds, when they are troubled, yield his commodity, and the Sodomites their inconsiderate motions, as water that is viosins. Wicked men grow worse with afflic- lently stirred, sends up bubbles: God meant tions, as water grows more cold after a heat: better to Lot, than to suffer his weak offer and as they leave not sinning, so God leaves | to be accepted. Those which are bent upon not plaguing them, but still follows them villany are more exasperated by dissuasion, with succession of judgments. In how as some strong streams, when they are resistfew years hath Sodom forgot she was ed by flood-gates, swell over the banks. spoiled and led captive! If that wicked Many a one is hardened by the good city had been warned by the sword, it had word of God, and instead of receiving the escaped the fire; but now this visitation counsel, rages at the messenger. When hath not made ten good men in those five men are grown to that pass, that they are cities. How fit was this heap for the fire, | no whit better by afflictions, and worse with wbich was all chaff? Only Lot vexed his admonitions, God finds it time to strike. righteous soul with the sight of their un-Now Lot's guests begin to show themselves cleanness: he vexed his own soul, for who angels, and first deliver Lot in Sodom, then bade him stay there? Yet because he was from Sodom; first strike them with blindTexed, he is delivered. He escapeth their ness, whom they will after consume with judgment, from whose sins he escaped. fire. How little did the Sodomites think Though he would be a guest of Sodom, that vengeance was so near them! While yet, because he would not entertain their they went groping in the streets, and curssins, he becomes an host to the angels. ing those whom they could not find, Lot Even the good angels are the executioners with the angels is in secure light, and sees of God's judgment. There cannot be a them miserable, and foresees them burning. better or more noble act, than to do justice It is the use of God, to blind and besot upon obstinate malefactors.
those whom he means to destroy. The Who can be ashamed of that which did | light which they shall see shall be fiery, Dot misbeseem the very angels of God! which shall be the beginning of an ever. Where should the angels lodge but with lasting darkness, and a fire unquenchable. Lat! The houses of holy men are full of Now they have done sinning, and God the heavenly spirits, when they know begins to judge. Wickedness hath but a ort: they pitch their tents in ours, and time; the punishment of wickedness is visit us when we see not; and, when we beyond all time. The residue of the night feel not, protect us. It is the honour of was both short and dangerous; yet good God's saints to be attended by angels. The Lot, though sought for by the Sodomites, Althy Sodomites now flock together, stirred and newly pulled into his house by the up with the fury of envy and lust, and dare angels, goes forth of his house to seek his require to do that in troops, which, to act sons-in-law. No good man would be saved single, had been too abominable to imagine alone. Faith makes us charitable with natural. Continuance and society in evil neglect of all peril. He warns them like makes wicked men outrageous and impudent. a prophet, and advises them like a father, It is not enough for Lot to be the witness, but both in vain : he seems to them as if bat he must be the bawd also : “ Bring he mocked, and they do more than seem forth these men that we may know them.” to mock him again. Why should to-mor.
row differ from other days? Who ever saw | out of Sodom. Lot, now come into Zoar, it rain fire? Or whence should that brim- marvels at the stay of her, whom he might stone come? Or if such showers must fall, not before look back to call; and soon how shall nothing burn but this valley? So after returning to seek her, beholds this to carnal men, preaching is foolishness, change with wonder and grief. He finds devotion idleness, the prophets madmen, salt instead of flesh, a pillar instead of a Paul a babbler. These men's incredulity is wife. He finds Sodom consumed, and her as worthy of the fire, as the others' un standing; and is more amazed with this, cleanness. “ He that believes not is con- by how much it was both more near him, demned already."
and less expected. The messengers of God do not only When God delivers us from destruction, hasten Lot, but pull him by a gracious he doth not secure us from all afflictions. violence out of that impure city. They Lot hath lost his wife, his allies, his subthirsted at once after vengeance upon So- stance, and now betakes himself to an undom, and Lot's safety; they knew God comfortable solitariness. could not strike Sodom till Lot was gone Yet though he fled from company, he out, and that Lot could not be safe within could not fly from sin. He who could not those walls. We are all naturally in So- | be tainted with uncleanness in Sodom, is dom: if God did not haul us out, while we overtaken with drunkenness and incest in linger, we should be condemned with the a cave. Rather than Satan shall not want world. If God meet with a very good field, baits, his own daughters will prove Sodone pulls up the weeds, and lets the corn mites. Those which should have comforted grow; if indifferent, he lets the corn and betrayed him. How little are some hearts weeds grow together ; if very ill, he gathers moved with judgments! The ashes of Sothe few ears of corn, and burns the weeds. dom, and the pillar of salt, were not yet
Oh! the large bounty of God, which out of their eye, when they dare think of reacheth not to us only, but to ours! God lying with their own father. They knew, saves Lot for Abraham's sake, and Zoar for that whilst Lot was sober, he could not be Lot's sake. If Sodom had not been too unchaste. Drunkenness is the way to all wicked, it had escaped. Were it not for bestial affections and acts. Wine knows God's dear children that are intermixed no difference either of persons or sins. No with the world, it could not stand. The doubt, Lot was afterwards ashamed of his wicked owe their lives unto those few good, incestuous seed, and now wished he had whom they hate and persecute. Now at come alone out of Sodom: yet even this once the sun rises upon Zoar, and fire falls unnatural bed was blessed with increase ; down upon Sodom. Abraham stands upon and one of our Saviour's worthy ancestors the hill, and sees the cities burning. It is sprung after from this line. God's election fair weather with God's children, when it is not tied to our means, neither are blessis foulest with the wicked. Those which ings or curses ever traduced. The chaste burned with the fire of lust, are now con- bed of holy parents hath ofttimes bred a sumed with the fire of vengeance. They monstrous generation; and contrarily, God sinned against nature ; and now against the hath raised sometimes an holy seed from course of nature, fire descends from heaven the drunken bed of incest, or fornication. and consumes them. Lot may not so It hath been seen, that weighty ears of much as look at the flame, whether for the corn have grown out of the compass of the stay of his passage, or the horror of the tilled field: thus will God magnify the sight or trial of his faith, or fear of com- freedom of his own choice, and let us know miseration. Small precepts from God are that we are not born, but made, good. of importance. Obedience is as well tried, and disobedience as well punished, in little as in much. His wife doth but turn back her head ; whether in curiosity, or unbe
BOOK III. lief, or love and compassion of the place, she is turned into a monument of disobedi CONTEMPLATION I. - OF JACOB AND ESAU. ence. What doth it avail her not to be turned into ashes in Sodom, when she is Of all the patriarchs, none made so little turned into a pillar of salt in the plain ? noise in the world as Isaac; none lived He that saved a whole city cannot save his either so privately, or so innocently: nei. own wife. God cannot abide small sins in ther know I whether he approved himself those whom he hath obliged. If we dis- a better son or an husband; for the one he please him, God can as well meet with us gave himself over to the knife of his father,
and mourned three years for his mother; for having sold his birthright, he may obtain the other he sought not to any handmaid's the blessing? Or what hath Jacob gained, bed, but, in a chaste forbearance, reserved if his brother's venison may countervail his himself for twenty years' space, and prayed. pottage? Yet thus hath old Isaac decreed, Rebecca was so long barren. His prayers who was now not more blind in his eyes, proved more effectual than his seed. At than his affections. God had forewarned last she conceived, as if she had been more him that the elder should serve the younger, than the daughter-in-law to Sarah, whose yet Isaac goes about to bless Esau. son was given her, not out of the power of It was as hard for Abraham to reconcile lature, but out of her husband's faith. God's promise and Isaac's sacrifice, as for
God is oft better to us than we would. | Isaac to reconcile the superiority of Jacob Isaac prays for a son: God gives him two with Esau's benediction; for God's hand at once. "Now she is no less troubled with was in that; in this, none but his own. The the strife of the children in her womb, than dearest of God's saints have been somebefore with the want of children. We times transported with natural affections. know not when we are pleased: that which He saw himself preferred to Ishmael, though We desire ofttimes discontents us more in the elder. He saw his father wilfully forthe fruition: we are ready to complain getting nature at God's command, in bind. both full and fasting. Before Rebecca ing him for sacrifice. He saw Esau lewdly conceived, she was at ease. Before spiri- | matched with heathens, and yet he will retual regeneration there is all peace in the member nothing but Esau is my first-born. soul : no sooner is the new man formed in But how gracious is God, that when we us, but the flesh conflicts with the spirit. / would, will not let us sin ! and so orders There is no grace where is no unquietness. our actions, that we do not what we will, Esau alone would not have striven. Na but what we ought! ture will ever agree with itself. Never any | That God which had ordained the lordRebecca conceived only an Esau, or was ship to the younger, will also contrive for so happy as to conceive none but a Jacob: | him the blessing : what he will have efshe must be the mother of both, that she fected, shall not want means. The mother may have both joy and exercise. This shall rather defeat the son, and beguile the strife began early: every true Israelite be- father, than the father shall beguile the gins his war with his being. How many chosen son of his blessing. What was actions which we know not of, are not Jacob to Rebecca, more than Esau ? or without presage and signification !
what mother doth not more affect the These two were the champions of two elder ? But now God inclines the love of nations : the field was their mother's the mother to the younger, against the womb; their quarrel precedency and supe-custom of nature, because the father loves riority. Esau got the right of nature, Jacob the elder, against the promise. The affecof grace; yet that there might be some tions of the parents are divided : that the pretence of equality, lest Esau should out-promise might be fulfilled, Rebecca's craft run his brother into the world, Jacob holds shall answer Isaac's partiality; Isaac would him fast by the heel; so his hand was | unjustly turn Esau into Jacob; Rebecca born before the other's foot. But, because doth as cunningly turn Jacob into Esau : Esau is some minutes the elder, that the her desire was good; her means were unyounger might have better claim to that lawful. God doth ofttimes effect his just which God had promised, he buys that will by our weaknesses; yet neither thereby which he could not win. If either by justifying our infirmities, nor blemishing his strife, or purchase, or suit, we can attain own actions. spiritual blessings, we are happy. If Jacob Here was nothing but counterfeiting; a had come forth first, he had not known feigned person, a feigned name, feigned bow much he was bound to God for the venison, a feigned answer, and yet beho.d favour of his advancement.
a true blessing ; but to the man, not to the There was never any meat, except the means. Those were so unsound, that forbidden fruit, so dear bought as this broth Jacob himself doth more fear their curse, of Jacob; in both, the receiver and eater than hope for their success. Isaac was is accursed. Every true son of Israel will now both simple and old; yet, if he had be content to purchase spiritual favours perceived the fraud, Jacob had been more with earthly; and that man hath in him too sure of a curse, than he could be sure that much of the blood of Esau, who will not he should not be perceived. rather die than forego his birthright. I Those which are plain-hearted in them
But what hath careless Esau lost, if, selves, are the bitterest enemies to deceit in others. Rebecca, presuming upon the now he cannot repent him to have sold oracle of God and her husband's simplicity, that in his hunger for pottage, which in dare be his surety for the danger, his coun. his pleasure he shall buy again with venison. sellor for the carriage of the business, his The hopes of the wicked fail them when cook for the diet, yea, dresses both the they are at highest ; whereas God's chilmeat and the man; and now puts words dren find those comforts in extremity which into his mouth, the dish into his hand, the they durst not expect. garments upon his back, the goat's hair Now he comes in, blowing and sweating upon the open parts of his body, and sends for his reward, and finds nothing but a rehim in, thus furnished for the blessing, pulse. Lewd men, when they think they standing, no doubt, at the door, to see how | have earned of God, and come proudly to well her device succeeded. And if old challenge favour, receive no answer but — Isaac should, by any of his senses, have 66 Who art thou?" Both the father and discerned the guile, she had soon stept in the son wonder at each other; the one and undertaken the blame, and urged him with fear, the other with grief. Isaac tremwith that known will of God concerning bled, and Esau wept; the one upon conJacob's dominion, and Esau's servitude, science, the other upon envy. Isaac's heart which either age or affection had made him now told him, that he should not have forget.
purposed the blessing where he did ; and And now she wishes she could borrow that it was due to him unto whom it was Esau's tongue as well as his garments, that I given, and not purposed. Hence he durst she might securely deceive all the senses not reverse that which he had done with of him which had suffered himself to be God's will, besides his own : for now he more dangerously deceived with his affec- saw that he had done unwilling justice. tion. But this is past her remedy: her God will find both time and means to reson must name himself Esau with the voice claim his own, to prevent their sins, to of Jacob. It is hard if our tongue do not manifest and reform their errors. Who bewray what we are, in spite of our habit. would have looked for tears from Esau ?
This was enough to work Isaac to a sus Or who dare trust tears when he sees them picion, to an inquiry, not to an incredulity. | fall from so graceless eves ? He that is good of himself, will hardly be. It was a good word, “ Bless me also, my lieve evil of another, and will rather distrust | father." Every miscreant can wish himself his own senses than the fidelity of those well : no man would be miserable if it were he trusted. All the senses are set to ex- | enough to desire happiness. Why did he amine; none sticketh at the judgment, but not rather weep to his brother for the potthe ear: to deceive that, Jacob must second tage, than to Isaac for a blessing? If he his dissimulation with three lies at one had not then sold, he had not needed now breath: I am Esau ;-as thou badest me; to beg. It is just with God to deny us - my venison. One sin entertained, fetch- those favours which we were careless in eth in another; and if it be forced to lodge keeping, and which we undervalued in enalone, either departeth or dieth. I lovejoying. Esau's tears find no place for Isaac's Jacob's blessing, but I hate his lie. I would repentance ; except it were, that he hath not do that wilfully which Jacob did weakly, done that by wile which he should have upon condition of a blessing. He that par- done upon duty. doned his infirmity would curse my obsti- No motive can cause a good heart to nateness.
repent that he hath done well. How happy Good Isaac sets his hands to try whether a thing it is to know the seasons of grace, his ears informed him aright; he feels the and not to neglect them! How desperate hands of him whose voice he suspected: to have known and neglected them! These that honest heart could not think that the tears were both late and false; the tears of skin might more easily be counterfeited rage, of envy, of carnal desire. Worldly than the lungs. A small satisfaction con- sorrow causeth death. Yet while Esau tents those whom guiltiness hath not made howls out thus for a blessing, I hear him scrupulous. Isaac believes, and blesses the cry out, of his father's store, “ Hast thou younger son in the garments of the elder. but one blessing, my father?" Of his broIf our heavenly father smell upon our backs ther's subtilty, « Was he not rightly called the savour of our elder brother's robes, we Jacob?" I do not hear him blame his own cannot depart from him unblessed. | deserts. He did not see, while his father was
No sooner is Jacob gone away, full of deceived, and his brother crafty, that God the joy of his blessing, than Esau comes was just, and himself incapable. He knew in, full of the hope of the blessing; and himself profane, and yet claims a blessing
Those that care not to please God, yet! He came far to find out an hard friend, care for the outward favours of God, and and of a nephew becomes a servant. No are ready to murmur if they want them; as doubt, when Laban heard of his sister's son, if God were bound to them and they free. he looked for the camels and attendance And yet so merciful is God, that he hath that came to fetch his sister Rebecca ; not second blessings for those that love him thinking that Abraham's servant could not, and gives them all they care for. That come better furnished than Isaac's son: one blessing of special love is for none but but now, when he saw nothing but a staff, Israel; but those of common kindness are he looks upon him, not as an uncle, but for them that can sell their birthright. This a master; and while he pretends to offer blessing was more than Esau could be wor him a wife as the reward of his service, he thy of: yet, like a second Cain, he resolves craftily requires his service as the dowry of to kill his brother, because he was more his wife. accepted. I know, not whether he were | After the service of a hard apprenticea worse son or brother; he hopes for his ship hath earned her whom he loved, his father's death, and purposes his brother's, wife is changed, and he is in a sort forced and vows to shed blood instead of tears. to an unwilling adultery. His mother had But wicked men cannot be so ill as they before, in a cunning disguise, substituted would : that strong wrestler, against whom him, who was the younger son, for the Jacob prevailed, prevailed with Esau, and elder; and now, not long after, his fatherturned his wounds into kisses. An host in-law, by a like fraud, substitutes to him of men came with Esau ; an army of angels the elder daughter for the younger. God met Jacob. Esau threatened, Jacob prayed; comes oftentimes home to us in our own his prayers and presents have melted the kind ; and even by the sin of others pays heart of Esau into love. And now, instead us our own, when we look not for it. It of the grim and stern countenance of an is doubtful whether it were a greater cross executioner, Jacob sees the face of Esau as to marry whom he would not, or to be dis. the face of God. Both men and devils are appointed of her whom he desired. And stinted; the stoutest heart cannot stand now he must begin a new hope, where he out against God. He that can wrestle made account of fruition. To raise up an earnestly with God, is secure from the expectation once frustrate, is more difficult harms of men. Those minds which are than to continue a long hope drawn on exasperated with violence, and cannot be with likelihoods of performance: yet, thus broken with fear, yet are bowed with love: dear is Jacob content to pay for Rachel when the ways of a man please God, he fourteen years' servitude. Commonly God's will make his enemies at peace with him. children come not easily by their pleasures.
What miseries will not love digest and
overcome? And if Jacob were willingly CONTEMPLATION II.- OF JACOB AND LABAN. consumed with heat in the day, and frost
in the night, to become the son-in-law to Isaac's life was not more retired and Laban, what should we refuse to be the quiet, than Jacob's was busy and trouble- sons of God? some. In the one I see the image of con Rachel, whom he loved, is barren: Leal, templation; of action in the other. None which was despised, is fruitful. How wiseof the patriarchs saw so evil days as he ; ly God weighs out to us our favours and from whom justly hath the church of God crosses in an equal balance; so tempering therefore taken her name. Neither were our sorrows that they may not oppress, and the faithful ever since called Abrahamites, our joys that they may not transport us ! but Israelites. That no time might be lost, | Each one hath some matter of envy ta he began his strife in the womb; after that, others, and of grief to himself. he flies for his life from a cruel brother to Leah envies Rachel's beauty and love : a cruel uncle. With a staff goes he over Rachel envies Leah's fruitfulness : yet Jordan alone, doubtful and comfortless, Leah would not be barren, nor Rachel not like the son of Isaac. In the way, the blear-eyed. I see in Rachel the image of her earth is his bed, and the stone his pillow ; grandmother Sarah, both in her beauty of yet even there he sees a vision of angels. | person, in her actions, in her success. She Jacob's heart was never so full of joy as also will needs suborn her handmaid to when his head lay hardest. God is most make her a mother, and at last, beyond present with us in our greatest dejection, hope, herself conceiveth. It is a weak and loves to give comfort to those that are greediness in us to affect God's blessings forsaken of their hopes.
| by unlawful means. What a proof and