Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?
~ Ezekiel 20:49
They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
~ 1 John 4:5
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
~ Romans 12:2
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
~ Matthew 6:24
And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
~ Luke 16:9
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
~ Colossians 2:20-23
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
~ Matthew 11:20-24
And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
~ Genesis 19:17
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
~ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“This Ministereth Occasion to Us to Thank God, to Fear Before Him, and Always to Remember Lot’s Wife”, by John Bunyan. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “The Pilgrim’s Progress”.
“I have used similitudes.”—Hosea 12:10c
And now to the second part of the question, which concerns the tradesman you mentioned. Suppose such an one to have but a poor employ in the world, but by becoming religious, he may mend his market, perhaps get a rich wife, or more, and far better customers to his shop; for my part, I see no reason but that this may be lawfully done. For why—
1. To become religious is a virtue, by what means soever a man becomes so.
2. Nor is it unlawful to get a rich wife, or more custom to my shop.
3. Besides, the man that gets these by becoming religious, gets that which is good, of them that are good, by becoming good himself; so then here is a good wife, and good customers, and good gain, and all these by becoming religious, which is good; therefore, to become religious to get all these, is a good and profitable design.
This answer, thus made by this Mr. Money-love to Mr. By-end’s question, was highly applauded by them all; wherefore they concluded, upon the whole, that it was most wholesome and advantageous. And because, as they thought, no man was able to contradict it, and because Christian and Hopeful were yet within call, they jointly agreed to assault them with the question as soon as they overtook them; and the rather because they had opposed Mr. By-ends before. So they called after them, and they stopped, and stood still till they came up to them; but they concluded, as they went, that not Mr. By-ends, but old Mr. Hold-the-world, should propound the question to them, because, as they supposed, their answer to him would be without the remainder of that heat that was kindled betwixt Mr. By-ends and them, at their parting a little before.
So they came up to each other, and after a short salutation, Mr. Hold-the-world propounded the question to Christian and his fellow, and bid them to answer it if they could.
CHRISTIAN. Then said Christian, Even a babe in religion may answer 10,000 such questions. For if it be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves (as it is in the sixth of John), how much more abominable is it to make of him and religion a stalking-horse, to get and enjoy the world! Nor do we find any other than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and witches, that are of this opinion.
1. Heathens; for when Hamor and Shechem had a mind to the daughter and cattle of Jacob, and saw that there was no ways for them to come at them, but by becoming circumcised; they say to their companions, if every male of us be circumcised, as they are circumcised, shall not their cattle, and their substance, and every beast of theirs, be ours? Their daughter and their cattle were that which they sought to obtain, and their religion the stalking-horse they made use of to come at them. Read the whole story.146
2. The hypocritical Pharisees were also of this religion; long prayers were their pretence; but to get widows’ houses
146 Gen. 34:20–23
was their intent; and greater damnation was from God their judgment (Luke 20:46, 47).
3. Judas the devil was also of this religion; he was religious for the bag, that he might be possessed of what was therein; but he was lost, cast away, and the very son of perdition.
4. Simon the witch was of this religion too; for he would have had the Holy Ghost, that he might have got money therewith; and his sentence from Peter’s mouth was according.147
5. Neither will it out of my mind, but that that man that takes up religion for the world, will throw away religion for the world; for so surely as Judas designed the world in becoming religious, so surely did he also sell religion and his Master for the same.To answer the question therefore affirmatively, as I perceive you have done; and to accept of, as authentic, such answer, is both heathenish, hypocritical, and devilish; and your reward will be according to your works. Then they stood staring one upon another, but had not wherewith to answer Christian. Hopeful also approved of the soundness of Christian’s answer; so there was a great silence among them. Mr. By-ends and his company also staggered and kept behind, that Christian and Hopeful might outgo them. Then said Christian to his fellow, If these men cannot stand before the sentence of men, what will they do with the sentence of God? And if they are mute when dealt with by vessels of clay, what will they do when they shall be rebuked by the flames of a devouring fire?
Then Christian and Hopeful outwent them again, and went till they came at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content; but that plain was but narrow, so they were quickly got over it. Now at the further side
147 Acts 8:19–20
of that plain, was a little Hill called Lucre, and in that hill a silver mine, which some of them that had formerly gone that way, because of the rarity of it, had turned aside to see; but going too near the brink of the pit, the ground being deceitful under them, broke, and they were slain; some also had been maimed there, and could not, to their dying day, be their own men again.
Then I saw in my dream, that a little off the road, over against the silver mine, stood Demas (gentleman-like) to call to passengers to come and see; who said to Christian and his fellow, Ho! turn aside hither, and I will show you a thing.
CHRISTIAN. What thing so deserving as to turn us out of the way to see it?
DEMAS. Here is a silver mine, and some digging in it for treasure. If you will come, with a little pains you may richly provide for yourselves.
HOPEFUL. Then said Hopeful, Let us go see.
CHRISTIAN. Not I, said Christian, I have heard of this place before now; and how many have there been slain; and besides that, treasure is a snare to those that seek it; for it hindereth them in their pilgrimage. Then Christian called to Demas, saying, Is not the place dangerous? Hath it not hindered many in their pilgrimage?148
DEMAS. Not very dangerous, except to those that are careless (but withal, he blushed as he spake).
CHRISTIAN. Then said Christian to Hopeful, Let us not stir a step, but still keep on our way.
HOPEFUL. I will warrant you, when By-ends comes up, if he hath the same invitation as we, he will turn in thither to see.
CHRISTIAN. No doubt thereof, for his principles lead him that way, and a hundred to one but he dies there.
148 Hosea 14:8
DEMAS. Then Demas called again, saying, But will you not come over and see?
CHRISTIAN. Then Christian roundly answered, saying, Demas, thou art an enemy to the right ways of the Lord of this way, and hast been already condemned for thine own turning aside, by one of his Majesty’s judges;149 and why seekest thou to bring us into the like condemnation? Besides, if we at all turn aside, our Lord the King will certainly hear thereof, and will there put us to shame, where we would stand with boldness before Him. Demas cried again, That he also was one of their fraternity; and that if they would tarry a little, he also himself would walk with them.
CHRISTIAN. Then said Christian, What is thy name? Is it not the same by the which I have called thee?
DEMAS. Yes, my name is Demas; I am the son of Abraham.
CHRISTIAN. I know you; Gehazi was your great-grandfather, and Judas your father; and you have trod in their steps.150 It is but a devilish prank that thou usest; thy father was hanged for a traitor, and thou deservest no better reward. Assure thyself, that when we come to the King, we will do Him word of this thy behaviour. Thus they went their way.
By this time By-ends and his companions were come again within sight, and they, at the first beck, went over to Demas. Now, whether they fell into the pit by looking over the brink thereof, or whether they went down to dig, or whether they were smothered in the bottom by the damps that commonly arise, of these things I am not certain; but this I observed, that they never were seen again in the way. Then sang Christian—
149 2 Tim. 4:10
150 2 Kings 5:20; Matt. 26:14, 15; 27:1–5
By-ends and silver Demas both agree; One calls, the other runs, that he may be A sharer in his lucre; so these do take up in this world, and no further go.
Now I saw that, just on the other side of this plain, the Pilgrims came to a place where stood an old monument, hard by the highway side; at the sight of which they were both concerned, because of the strangeness of the form thereof; for it seemed to them as if it had been a woman transformed into the shape of a pillar; here therefore they stood looking, and looking upon it, but could not for a time tell what they should make thereof. At last Hopeful espied written above the head thereof, a writing in an unusual hand; but he being no scholar, called to Christian (for he was learned) to see if he could pick out the meaning; so he came, and after a little laying of letters together, he found the same to be this, “Remember Lot’s wife.” So he read it to his fellow; after which they both concluded that that was the pillar of salt into which Lot’s wife was turned, for her looking back with a covetous heart, when she was going from Sodom for safety;151 which sudden and amazing sight gave them occasion of this discourse.
CHRISTIAN. Ah, my brother! this is a seasonable sight; it came opportunely to us after the invitation which Demas gave us to come over to view the Hill Lucre; and had we gone over, as he desired us, and as thou wast inclining to do, my brother, we had, for aught I know, been made ourselves like this woman, a spectacle for those that shall come after to behold.
HOPEFUL. I am sorry that I was so foolish, and am made to wonder that I am not now as Lot’s wife; for wherein was
151 Gen. 19:26
the difference betwixt her sin and mine? She only looked back; and I had a desire to go see. Let grace be adored, and let me be ashamed, that ever such a thing should be in mine heart.
CHRISTIAN. Let us take notice of what we see here, for our help for time to come. This woman escaped one judgment, for she fell not by the destruction of Sodom; yet she was destroyed by another, as we see she is turned into a pillar of salt.
HOPEFUL. True, and she may be to us both caution and example; caution, that we should shun her sin; or a sign of what judgment will overtake such as shall not be prevented by this caution; so Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with the 250 men that perished in their sin, did also become a sign or example to others to beware.152 But above all, I muse at one thing, to wit, how Demas and his fellows can stand so confidently yonder to look for that treasure, which this woman, but for looking behind her, after (for we read not that she stepped one foot out of the way) was turned into a pillar of salt; especially since the judgment which overtook her did make her an example, within sight of where they are; for they cannot choose but see her, did they but lift up their eyes.
CHRISTIAN. It is a thing to be wondered at, and it argueth that their hearts are grown desperate in the case; and I cannot tell who to compare them to so fitly, as to them that pick pockets in the presence of the judge, or that will out purses under the gallows. It is said of the men of Sodom, that they were sinners exceedingly, because they were sinners before the Lord, that is, in His eyesight, and notwithstanding the kindnesses that He had showed them,153 for the land
152 Num. 26:9, 10
153 Gen. 13:13
of Sodom was now like the garden of Eden heretofore.154 This, therefore, provoked Him the more to jealousy, and made their plague as hot as the fire of the Lord out of Heaven could make it. And it is most rationally to be concluded, that such, even such as these are, that shall sin in the sight, yea, and that too in despite of such examples that are set continually before them, to caution them to the contrary, must be partakers of severest judgments.
HOPEFUL. Doubtless thou hast said the truth; but what a mercy is it, that neither thou, but especially I, am not made myself this example! This ministereth occasion to us to thank God, to fear before Him, and always to remember Lot’s wife.