J. C. (John Charles) Ryle.

Living or dead? : a series of home truths online

. (page 16 of 16)
Online LibraryJ. C. (John Charles) RyleLiving or dead? : a series of home truths → online text (page 16 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


penses small, — the living cheap. There are
other things yet to be considered. You must
think of your immortal soul. Will the house
you think of help you towards heaven or hell ?
— Is the Gospel preached within easy dis-
tance? — Is Christ crucified within reach of
your door? — Is there a real man of God near,
who will watch over your soul ? I charge you,
if you love life, not to overlook this. Beware
of Lot's choice.

Remember this in choosing a calling, a place,
or profession in life. It is not enough that the
salary is high, the wages good, — the labor light,
the advantages numerous, — the prospects of
getting on most favorable. Think of your soul,
your immortal soul. Will it be fed or starved?
Will it be prospered or drawn back ? I be-
seech you, by the mercies of God, to take heed
what you do. Make no rash decision. Look
at the place in every light, the light of God as
well as the li^-ht of the world. Gold mav be
bought too dear. Beware of Lot's choice.

Remember this in choosing a husband or
wife, if you are unmarried. It is not enough


that your eye is pleased, — that your tastes are
met, — that your minds find congeniality, — that
there is amiability and affection, — that there is
a comfortable home for life. There needs
something more than this. There is a life yet
to come. Think of your soul, your immortal
soul. Will it be helped upwards, or dragged
downwards by the union you are planning?
— Will it be made more heavenly, or more
earthly, — drawn nearer to Christ, or to the
world ? — Will its religion grow in vigor, or
will it decay ? I pray you, by all your hopes
of glory, allow this to enter into your calcula-
tions. Think, as old Baxter said, and think,
and think, and think again, before you commit
yourself " Be not unequally yoked." (2 Cor
vi. 14.) Matrimony is nowhere named among
the means of conversion. Remember Lot's

Remember this, if you are ever offered a
situation on a railway. It is not enough to
have good pay and regular employment, the
confidence of the directors, and the best chance
of rising to a higher post. These things are


very well in their way, but they are not every-
thing. How will your soul fare, if you serve
a railway company that runs Sunday trains ?
^-What day in the week will you have for
God and eternity ? — What opportunities will
you have for hearing the Gospel preached ?
I solemnly warn you to consider this. It will
profit you nothing to fill your purse, if you
bring leanness and poverty on your soul. Be-
ware of selling your Sabbath for the sake of a
good place. Beware of Lot's choice.

Reader, you may perhaps think, " a believer
need not fear, — he is a sheep of Christ, — he
will never perish, — he cannot come to much
harm. It cannot be that such small matters
can be of great importance."

Well ! you may think so ; but I warn you,
if you neglect them, your soul will never pros-
per. A true believer will certainly not be cast
away, although he may linger ; but if he does
linger, it is vain to suppose his religion will

Grace is a tender plant. Unless you cherish
it, and nurse it well, it will soon become sickly


in this evil world. It may droop, though it
cannot die. The brightest gold will soon be-
come dim, when exposed to a damp atmos-
phere. The hottest iron will soon becomp
cold. It requires pains and toil to bring it to
a red heat. It requires nothing but letting alone,
or a little cold water, to become black and

You may be an earnest, zealous Christian
now. You may feel like David in his prosperity,
" I shall never be moved." (Psalm xxx. 6.)
But be not deceived. You have only got to
walk in Lot's steps, and make Lot's choice,
and you will soon come to Lot's state of soul-
Allow yourself to do as he did, — presume to
act as he acted, and be very sure you will soon
discover you have become a wretched lingerer,
like him.

You will find like Samson, the presence of
the Lord is no longer with you. You will
prove, to your own shame, an undecided,' hesi-
tating man, in the day of trial. There will
come a canker on your religion, and eat out
its vitality without your knowing it. There


will come a consumption on your spiritual
strength, and waste it away insensibly. And
at length you will wake up to find your hands
hardly able to do the Lord's work, and your
feet hardly able to carry you along the Lord's
way, and your faith no bigger than a grain of
mustard-seed ; — and this perhaps at some turn-
ing point in your life, at a time when the ene-
my is coming in like a flood, and your need is
the sorest.

Ah! Reader, if you would not become a lin-
gerer in religion, consider these things. Beware
of doing what Lot did.

IV. Let us inquire now what kind of fruit
Lofs lingering spirit bore at length.

I w^ould not pass over this point for many
reasons, and especially in the present day.

There are not a few who will feel disposed
to say, " After all Lot was saved, — he was
justified, — he got to heaven. I want no more.
If I do but get to heaven I shall be content."

Reader, if this be the thought of your heart
just stay a moment and listen to me a little-
longer. I will show you one or two things i ^


Lot's history, which deserve attention, and may
perhaps induce you to alter your mind.

I think it of first importance to dwell upon
this subject. I always will contend that emi-
nent holiness and eminent usefulness are most
closely connected, — that happiness and follow-
ing the Lord full}" go side by side, — and that if
believers will linger, they must not expect to
be useful in their day and generation, or to en-
joy great comfort and peace in believing.

Mark then, for one thing. Lot did no good
among the inhahitants of Sodom.

Lot lived in Sodom many years. No doubt
he had many precious opportunities for speak-
ing of the things of God, and trying to turn
away souls from sin. But Lot seems to have
effected just nothing at all. He appears to
have had no weight or influence with the
people who lived around him. He possessed
none of that respect and reverence which even
the men of the w^orld will frequently concede

to a bright servant of God.


Not one righteous person could be found in

'11 Sodom, outside the walls of Lot's home.


i Not one of his neighbors beheved his testi-
j mony. Not one of his acquaintances honored
the Lord when he worshipped. Not one of
his servants served his master's God. Not
] one of " all the people from every quarter"
i cared a jot for his opinion when he tried to
i restrain their wickedness. " This one fellow
came into sojourn," said they, "and he will
i needs be a judge." (Gen. xix. 9.) His life car-
I ried no weight. His words were not listened
I to. His religion drew none.
I And truly I do not wonder. As a general

I rule, lingering souls do no good to the world,
! and bring no credit to God's cause. Their salt
I has too little savor to season the corruption
I around them. They are not epistles of Christ,
I that can be known and read of all. (2 Cor. iii.
j 2. ) There is nothing magnetic, and attractive,
I and Christ-reflecting about their ways. Re-
; member this.

Mark another thing. Lot helped no rela-
I tion towards heaven.
j We are not told how large his family was.

! But this we know, — he had a wife and two


daughters at least, in the day he was called out
of Sodom, if he had not more children besides.

But whether Lot's family was large or
small, one thing, I think, is perfectly clear, —
there was not one among them all that feared

When he " went out and spake to his sons-
in-law which married his daughters," and
warned them to flee from the coming judg-
ments, we are told, " he seemed to them as one
that mocked." (Gen. xix. 14.) What fearful
words those are ! It was as good as saying,
" Who cares for anything you say ?" So long
as the world stands those words will be a pain-
ful proof of the contempt with which a lin-
gerer in religion is regarded.

And what was Lot's wife? She left the
city in his company, but she did not go far.
She had not faith to see the need of such a
speedy flight. She left her heart in Sodom
when she began to flee. She looked back
from behind her husband, in spite of the
plainest commands not to do so, (Gen. xix. 17,)
and was at once turned into a pillar of salt.


And what were Lot's two daughters? The5
escaped indeed, — but only to do the devil's
work. They became their father's tempters
to wickedness, and led him to commit the
foulest of sins.

In short, Lot stood alone in his family. He
was not made the means of keeping one soul
back from the gates of hell.

And I do not wonder. Lingering souls are
seen through by their own families, and when
seen through despised. Their nearest rela-
tions understand inconsistency if they under-
stand nothing else in religion. They draw
the sad, but not unnatural conclusion, " Surely
if he believed all he professes to believe, he
would not go on as he does." Lingering
parents seldom have godly children. The eye
of the child drinks in far more than the ear.
A child will always observe what you do much
more than what you say. Remember this.

Mark a third thing. Lot left no evidences
behind him when he died.

We know but little about Lot after his flight
from Sodom, and all that we do know is un-


satisfactory. His pleading for Zoar, because
it was "a little" city, — his departure from
Zoar afterwards, — and his conduct in the
cave, — all, all tell the same story. All show
the weakness of the grace that was in him,
and the low state of soul into which he had

We know not how long he lived after his
escape. We know not where he died, or
when he died, — whether he saw Abraham
again, — what was the manner of his death, —
what he said, or what he thought. All these
are hidden things. We are told of the last
moments of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, —
but not one word about Lot. Oh ! what a
gloomy death-bed the death-bed of Lot must
have been!

The Scripture appears to draw a veil around
him on purpose. There is a painful silence
about his latter end. He seems to go out like
an expiring lamp, and leave an evil savor be-
hind him. And had we not been specially
told in the New Testament that Lot was
"just" and "righteous," I verily believe we

I . __




j should have doubted whether Lot was a saved

soul at all.

But I do not wonder at his sad end. Lin-
j gering believers will generally reap according
I as they have sown. Their lingering often
meets them when their spirit is departing.
They have little peace at the last. They
reach heaven, to be sure, but they reach it in
darkness and storm. They are saved, but
saved so as by fire.

Reader, consider these three things I have
just mentioned. Do not misunderstand my
meaning. It is amazing to observe how
readily people catch at the least excuse for
misunderstanding the things that concern their
souls !

I do not tell you that believers who do not
linger will, as a matter of course, be great in-
struments of usefulness to the world. Noah
preached one hundred and twenty years, and
none believed him. The Lord Jesus was not
esteemed by His own people, the Jews.

Nor yet do I tell you that believers who do
not linger will, as a matter of course, be the



means of converting their families and rela-
tions. David's children were many of them
ungodly. The Lord Jesus was not believed
even by His own brethren. (John vii. 5.)

But I do say it is almost impossible not to
see a connection between Lot's evil choice,
and Lot's lingering, — and between Lot's lin-
gering, and his unprofitableness to his family
and the world. I believe the Spirit meant us
to see it. I believe the Spirit meant to make
it a beacon to all professing Christians. And
I am sure the lessons I have tried to draw
from the whole history, deserve serious re-

Let me speak a few parting words to all
who read this paper, and especially to all who
call themselves believers in Christ.

I have no wish to make your hearts sad. I
do not want to give you a gloomy view of the
Christian course. My only object is to give
you friendly warnings. I desire your peace
and comfort. I would fain see you happy, as
well as safe, — and joyful as well as justified.
I speak, as I have done, for your good.



i ~ ~ ~ '

I You live in days when a lingering, Lot-like

religion abounds. The stream of profession is
I far broader than it once was. but far less deep
I in many places. A certain kind of Christi-
I anity is almost fashionable now. To belong
to some party in the church, and show a zeal
for its interests, — to talk about the leading
controversies of the day, — to buy popular re-
ligious books as fast as they come out, and lay
them on your table, — to attend meetings, —
subscribe to societies, — and discuss the merits
of preachers, — all these are now compara-
tively easy and common attainments. They
no longer make a person singular. They re-
quire little or no sacrifice. They entail no cross.
But to walk closely with God, — to be really
I spiritually-minded, — to behave like strangers
j and pilgrims, — to be distinct from the world
I in employment of time, in conversation, in
amusements, in dress, — to bear a faithful wit-
ness for Christ in all places, — to leave a savor
of our Master in every society, — to be prayer-
ful, humble, unselfish, meek, — to be jealously
afraid of sin, and tremblingly alive to our


danger from the world, — these, these are still
rare things. They are not common among
those who are called true Christians, and
worst of all, the absence of them is not felt
and bewailed as it should be.

Reader, I give you good counsel this day.
Do not turn from it. Do not be angry with
me for plain speaking. I bid you give diligence
to make your calling and election sure. I bid
you not to be slothful, — not to be careless, —
not to be content with a small measure of
grace, — not to be satisfied with being a little
better than the world. I solemnly warn you
not to attempt doing what never can be done,
— I mean to serve Christ, and yet keep in with
the world. I call upon you, and beseech you,
I charge you, and exhort you, — by all your
hopes of heaven, and desires of glory, — do not
he a lingering soul.

Would you know what the times demand,
— the shaking of nations, — the uprooting of
ancient things, — the overturning of kingdoms,
— the stir and restlessness of men's minds ?
They all say, — Christian! do not linger!


Would you be found ready for Christ at His
second appearing, — your loins girded, — your
lamp burning, — yourself bold and prepared to
meet Him ? Then do not linger !

Would you enjoy much sensible comfort in
your religion, — feel the witness of the Spirit
within you, — know in whom you have believed,
— and not be a gloomy and melancholy Chris-
tian? Then do not linger !

Would you enjoy strong assurance of your
own salvation in the day of sickness, and on
the bed of death ? — Would you see with the
eye of faith heaven opening, and Jesus rising
to receive you ? Then do not linger!

Would you leave great broad evidences be-
hind you, when you are gone ? — Would you
like us to lay you in the grave with comfortable
hope, and talk of your state after death with-
out a doubt ? Then do not linger!

Would you be useful to the world in your
day and generation? — Would you -draw men
from sin to Christ, and make your Master's
cause beautiful in their eyes ? Then do not
linsrer !


Would you help youi' children and relations
towards heaven, and make them say, " We
will go with you ?" and not make them infidels
and despisers of all religion ? Then do not
linger !

Would you have a great crown in the day
of Christ's appearing, and not be the least and
smallest star in glory, and not find yourself the
last and lowest in the kingdom of God ? Then
do not linger!

Oh ! let none of us linger. Time does not, —
death does not, — ^judgment does not, — the devil
does not, — the world does not. Neither let the
children of God linger.

Reader, are you a lingerer ? Has your heart
felt heavy, and your conscience sore, while you
have been reading these pages ? Does some-
thing within you whisper, " I am the man ?"
Reader, listen to what I am saying, — how is it
with your soul ?

If you are a lingerer, you must just go to
Christ at once and be cured, — you must use
the old remedy. You must bathe in the old
fountain. You must turn again to Christ, and


be healed. The way to do a thing is to do it.
Do this at once.

Think not for a moment your case is past
recovery. Think not because you have been
long living in a dry and heavy state of soul,
that there is no hope of revival. Is not the
Lord Jesus Christ an appointed Physician for
the soul ? Did He not cure every form of
disease ? Did not He cast out every kind of
devil ? Did He not raise poor backsliding Peter,
and put a new song in his mouth ? Oh ! doubt
not, but earnestly believe that He will yet re-
vive His work within you. Only turn from
lingering, and confess your folly, and come, —
come at once to Christ. Blessed are the
words of the prophet, " Only acknowledge
thine iniquity," — " Return, ye backsliding chil-
dren, and I will heal your backsliding."
(Jerem. iii. 13, 22.)

Reader, remember the souls of others, as
well as your own. If at any time you see any
brother or sister lingering, try to awaken them,
— try to arouse them, — try to stir them up.
Let us all exhort one another as we have oppor-


tunity. Let us provoke unto love and good
works. Let us not be afraid to say to each
other, " Brother, or sister, have you forgotten
Lot? Awake! and remember Lot! — Awake
and linger no more."




ULU (^ ^

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16

Online LibraryJ. C. (John Charles) RyleLiving or dead? : a series of home truths → online text (page 16 of 16)