The Second Love Life of John Knox

17In the Introduction of the “Ladies of the Covenant.” it was described by Mr. Robert Millar, minister of Paisley, to the historian of “The Sufferings of the Church of Scotland,” Mr. Wodrow, on November 15, 1722. It follows:

“John Knox, before the light of the Reformation broke out, traveled among several honest families in the West of Scotland, who were converts to the Protestant religion. Particularly he visited often Steward, Lord Ochiltree’s family, preaching the gospel privately to those who were willing to receive it. The Lady and some of the family were converts.  And, it is here is where we pick up the story of John Knox’s second love life…


“Her ladyship had a chamber, table, stool, and a candlestick for the prophet…

…and one night about supper, says to him, ‘Mr Knox, I think that you are at a loss by want of a wife,’ to which he said, ‘Madam, I think nobody will take such a wanderer as I;’ to which she replied, ‘Sire, if that be your objection, I’ll make inquiry to find an answer, ‘gainst our next meeting.’

“The Lady accordingly addressed herself to her eldest daughter, telling her she might be very happy if she could marry Mr. Knox, who would be a great Reformer, and a credit to the church; but she despised the proposal, hoping that her ladyship wished her better than to marry a poor wanderer.

“The Lady addressed herself to her second daughter, who answered as the eldest.

“Then the Lady spoke to her third daughter, Elizabeth, about nineteen years of age, who very frankly said, ‘Madam, I’ll be very willing to marry him, but I fear that he’ll not take me,’ to which the Lady replied, ‘If that be all your objection, I’ll soon get an answer.’

“Next night, at supper, the Lady said to Mr. Knox, ‘Sir, I have been considering upon a wife for you, and find one very willing.’ To which Knox said, ‘Who is it Madam?’

She answered, ‘My younger daughter sitting by you at the table.’

“Addressing himself to the young lady, he said ‘My bird, are you willing to marry me?’ She answered, “Yes, Sir, only I fear you’ll not be willing  to take me.’ He said, ‘My bird, if you be willing to take me, you must take your venture of God’s providence, as I do. I go through the country sometimes on my foot, with a wallet on my arm, a shirt, a clean band, and a Bible in it; you may put some things in it for yourself, and if I bid  you take the wallet, you must do it, and go where I go, and lodge where I lodge.’ ‘Sir,’ says she, ‘I’ll do all this.’  ‘Will you be as good as your word?’ ‘Yes, I will.’

Upon which, the marriage talk was concluded, and she lived happily with him, and had three daughters from him. She afterward lived with him when he was minister at Edinburgh.”

Now this marriage does not resonate with twenty-first century standards of American Christians, nor did their age difference resonate with seventeenth century Scottish Christians. But she lived as his wife, with a family of five, three daughters and two adopted sons, for the next eight years. All three daughters married and brought forth children of their own to continue the line of John Knox. After his death, the General Assembly granted  her his pension for a year. She married again and went to be with the Lord in 1612.

Words to Live By:  God often works by mysterious providence to accomplish His sovereign purposes, including that of the bond of marriage.


 Taken from “Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History – March 26: The Love Life of John Knox (1564)

What’s In Your Offering Plate?

Written by James Gilmour,

Almost every hill in Mongolia is adorned with a cairn of stones on the very top.

img_0863This cairn is a thing of the Mongolian religion.  When it is determined to erect one, all the men, women, and children turn out and gather stones repeating prayers over each stone:  Thus the raised heap represents much devotion on the part of the gatherers.

Oh that all contributions in Christian lands for Christian objects were raised in the same way! Gifts are good; but prayer-followed gifts are precious. And why should not every giver make his gift precious by his prayers? Why should not every coin and every copper dropped into the collection plate be not only a gift to God, but the tally of prayers offered to God? 

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: James Gilmour was born at Cathkin, Scotland, June 12, 1843, the third of six sons born to James and Elizabeth Pettigrew Gilmour on the Cathkin estate of a half dozen farms in the parish of Carmunnock, about five miles from Glasgow, Scotland. His ancestors were Calvinist Christians. The grandfather Gilmour and his wife walked regularly every Sunday to Glasgow to worship in the Congregational church. Their faith made a deep impression upon the community. James’ parents maintained the same strict integrity and devotion. His mother delighted in gathering her sons about her in the evening and reading to them missionary and religious stories and making comments upon them. It is supposed that here was planted the desire that led the missionary later to write his interesting accounts of his experiences. Family worship was so strictly adhered to that neighbors would have to wait until the hour was passed before they could be served.

411px-GilmourjamesHe selected missionary service because the workers abroad were fewer than at home, and “to me the soul of an Indian seemed as precious as the soul of an Englishman, and the Gospel as much for the Chinese as the European.” He also had read the command in Matthew to “Go into all the word and preach”, he thought that there was a command to preach, but it was coupled with a command to go into all the world. He didn’t believe that what God had joined he could separate. He believed that God hadn’t called him to stay home, so if he were to be obedient he must go. The moral effect of the brightest student deciding for missions was very great indeed. When he offered himself as a missionary to the London Missionary Society he was sent to Cheshunt Congregational Theological College (14 miles north of London) for further training. While he retained his love for fun, he studied his Bible with such great earnestness that it was said that “his soul became all aflame with love for the perishing heathen”. His zeal shone brightly at home, too. He would go out evenings alone and conduct open-air preaching services or talk to laborers by the roadside or in the field about the things of Christ.

gilmourmrs2In 1872 Samuel Meech, of Beijing, had married a Miss Prankard, of London. Gilmour frequented this home, and saw a picture of Miss Emily Prankard, Mrs. Meech’s younger sister, hanging on the wall and heard the family speak of her frequently. In his lonely hours in the desert he had taken the matter of a suitable companion to the Lord and asked Him to send one that would help in his work. Gilmour, though he had not seen the lady or written her a line before, wrote her a letter in January, proposing marriage. Later, in the spring, he went up country and returned about July, to find he was an accepted man. He had written his parents at the time he made the proposal but that letter was delayed. Imagine their surprise when they received a letter from an unknown lady in London, telling of her engagement. Some thought he was running a great risk, but he assured them that he was at ease, for he had asked the Lord to provide. When the bride-to-be visited his parents they were much pleased and said she would suit him well. Her first glimpse of her husband was from a boat near Tianjin as he stood on a lighter coming out to meet her. He was dressed in an old overcoat and had a large woolen comforter around his neck, — for it was cold, — not the usual method to make a favorable impression. She landed on Thursday and the following Tuesday, December 8, 1874, they were married. He afterwards wrote, “She is a jolly girl, as much, perhaps more, of a Christian and a Christian missionary than I am.

Affliction finally took hold of Emily Gilmour, the disease sure of its prey, no matter how long it would be in securing it. Six weeks before the end came they talked over spiritual things, lest later she might not be able to speak of them. In simple, childlike faith, on September 19, 1885, she died and the eleven years of happy married life were brought to an end.

In due time he returned to Mongolia again. He continued his work along the same lines. In April, 1891, he returned to Tianjin to attend the North China District Committee of the London Missionary Society. They honored him by making him chairman and he served them well. During the time he was the guest of Dr. Roberts. Suddenly he was stricken with typhus fever of a very malignant type. He died on May 21, 1891.

The Bride’s Hope of Mercy…

Written by John Hurrion (1731)

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
–Hebrews 7:25 (ESV)

photo_manipulation_pieces_of_a_dreamWhat encouragement is there for us to wait for salvation by Christ…

…to lie at his feet, and hope in his mercy?  The saved are a numberless number, sinners of all ages, sizes, and circumstances: the Savior set forth in the gospel, is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him.  Those who are left to their own wills perish; God works a work which they in no wise believe: they will not come to Christ that they may have life; but those committed to the care of Christ shall come; he makes them willing in the day of his power, by his word and Spirit, and the pastoral rod of his strength.  It is good then to wait at wisdom’s gates; for such as find Christ, find life.  There is encouragement to hope for mercy, if we wait for it, in the way which Christ has prescribed: he has said, “Seek, and ye shall find; search the Scriptures, they testify of me; come to me all ye that are weary, and I will give you rest.”

The Psalmist uses an argument which is grown much stronger since his time:

“our fathers trusted in you, and they were delivered,” Psalm 22:4.  We may say not only the patriarchs and prophets, but the apostles, the primitive church, and multitudes down to this present time, have trusted in Christ, and have been saved by him; therefore “it is good for us to wait and hope for the salvation of the Lord.” It is our business to prove our election and redemption by our effectual calling. If we believe, we shall be saved; if we never do, then there is no salvation for us.  It is a great encouragement that there is a Savior, infinite in grace and merit, who will give the water of life freely, to every one that thirsts; and we have as fair an opportunity as thousands before us, who ventured their souls on Christ, and were kindly received by him.

Let us not sink under the greatest discouragements…

…which we meet with in the course of providence. Valuable and useful instruments are taken away, or laid aside: faithful and able ministers die; but Christ lives still; and blessed be the Rock of our salvation. Christ is mighty to save; and with him is the residue of the Spirit: it is he that made those who are gone what they were; and he can give the same Spirit and gifts to others, or work the same effects, by less able and likely means. We should then cry to the Lord God of Elijah, to pour out more of his Spirit on his ministers and people, that salvation work may be carried on, not by human might and power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. Christ has promised to be with his ministers and people to the end of the world, if they teach and do what he has commanded, Matthew 28:20. Let us then, in his own way, depend upon his promise, and wait for his blessing, who “walks in the greatness of his strength, and is mighty to save; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify us to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
Taken and adapted from, “A Defence of Some Important Doctrines of the Gospel, In Twenty-Six Sermons”, Glasgow, Printed by Andrew Young, 96, Trongate: For William Thomson, 1826.Posted on March 25, 2014 Posted in Election.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: JOHN HURRION, (1675?–1731), independent divine, descended from a Suffolk family, was born in 1675, and was trained for the ministry among the independents. About 1696 he succeeded William Bedbank at Denton in Norfolk. There he engaged in a controversy respecting the divinity of Christ with William Manning, the Socinian minister of Peasenhall, Suffolk. He removed to the Hare Court Chapel in London in 1724, but ill-health compelled him to neglect his congregation. In 1726 he was chosen one of the Merchants’ lecturers at Pinners’ Hall. Hurrion was throughout his life a recluse of very sedentary habits. He died on 31 Dec. 1731. He married about 1696 Jane, daughter of Samuel Baker of Wattisfield Hall, Suffolk, and by her he had two sons who survived him; both entered the independent ministry.

Hurrion’s published works include, in addition to several single sermons: 1. ‘The Knowledge of Christ and him Crucified … applied in eight Sermons,’ London, 1727, 8vo. 2. ‘The Knowledge of Christ glorified, opened and applied in twelve Sermons,’ London, 1729, 8vo. 3. ‘The Scripture Doctrine of the proper Divinity, real Personality, and the External and Extraordinary Works of the Holy Spirit … defended in sixteen Sermons, …,’ London, 1734, 8vo. 4. ‘The Scripture Doctrine of Particular Redemption stated and vindicated in four Sermons,’ London, 1773, 12mo. 5. ‘Sermons preached at the Merchants’ Lectures, Pinners’ Hall, London,’ Bristol, 1819, 8vo. 6. ‘The whole Works of … John Hurrion,’ edited with memoir by the Rev. A. Taylor, London, 1823, 12mo, 3 vols.

Important Early Christian Thoughts on the Fall of Man, and the End Results… Including Homosexuality.

Written by Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296 – 373).
Taken from “On the Incarnation” (De Incarnatione Verbi Dei).
Translated out of the Latine, for the benefit of such who are not acquainted with strange Tongues.
Edited for thought and space.

This, then, was the plight of men…

LeavingTheGardenStudyGod had not only made them out of nothing, but had also graciously bestowed on them His own life by the grace of the Word. Then, turning from eternal things to things corruptible, by counsel of the devil, they had become the cause of their own corruption in death; for, as I said before, though they were by nature subject to corruption, the grace of their union with the Word made them capable of escaping from the natural law, provided that they retained the beauty of innocence with which they were created. That is to say, the presence of the Word with them shielded them even from natural corruption, as also Wisdom says: God created man for incorruption and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death entered into the world.”

When this happened, men began to die, and corruption ran riot among them and held sway over them to an even more than natural degree, because it was the penalty of which God had forewarned them for transgressing the commandment. Indeed, they had in their sinning surpassed all limits; for, having invented wickedness in the beginning and so involved themselves in death and corruption, they had gone on gradually from bad to worse, not stopping at any one kind of evil, but continually, as with insatiable appetite, devising new kinds of sins. Adulteries and thefts were everywhere, murder and rapine filled the earth, law was disregarded in corruption and injustice, all kinds of iniquities were perpetrated by all, both singly and in common. Cities were warring with cities, nations were rising against nations, and the whole earth was rent with factions and battles, while each strove to outdo the other in wickedness. Even crimes contrary to nature were not unknown, but as the martyr-apostle of Christ says: “Their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature; and the men also, leaving the natural use of the woman, flamed out in lust towards each other, perpetrating shameless acts with their own sex, and receiving in their own persons the due recompense of their pervertedness” –Romans 1:26.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Athanasius (c. 296 – 373), was the twentieth bishop of Alexandria (as Athanasius I). His episcopate lasted 45 years (c. 8 June 328 – 2 May 373), of which over 17 were spent in five exiles ordered by four different Roman emperors. He is considered to be a renowned Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.
He is remembered for his role in the conflict with Arius and Arianism. In 325, at the age of 27, Athanasius had a leading role against the Arians in the First Council of Nicaea. At the time, he was a deacon and personal secretary of the 19th Bishop of Alexandria, Alexander. Nicaea was convoked by Constantine I in May–August 325 to address the Arian position that the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, is of a distinct substance from the Father.
In June 328, at the age of 30, three years after Nicæa and upon the repose of Bishop Alexander, he became archbishop of Alexandria. He continued to lead the conflict against the Arians for the rest of his life and was engaged in theological and political struggles against the Emperors Constantine the Great and Constantius II and powerful and influential Arian churchmen, led by Eusebius of Nicomedia and others. He was known as “Athanasius Contra Mundum” (“Athanasius stood against the world”) in defense of the biblical doctrine of Christ.. Within a few years of his departure, St. Gregory of Nazianzus called him the “Pillar of the Church”. His writings were well regarded by all Church fathers who followed, in both the West and the East. His writings show a rich devotion to the Word-become-man, great pastoral concern, and profound interest in monasticism.
Athanasius is counted as one of the four great Eastern Doctors of the Church in the Roman Catholic Church and in Eastern Orthodoxy, he is labeled the “Father of Orthodoxy”. He is also celebrated by many Protestants, who label him “Father of The Canon”. Athanasius is venerated as a Christian saint, whose feast day is 2 May in Western Christianity, 15 May in the Coptic Orthodox Church, and 18 January in the other Eastern Orthodox Churches.


A Moment of Kindness…

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

228915_528006820559865_1570449824_nBut great moments often catch us unaware, and beautifully wrapped themselves in what others may consider small ones…

I arrived at the address and honked the horn.  After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her… ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly…

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice… ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ I said

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life…

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life…

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  
-Colossians 3:12

Shared with me by Merrie Lee Roberts Zielinski 

The “Killing Times”

Written by Michael Pursley.

kw392346The sixteen hundreds was a very difficult time for many of the Reformed groups, including those Separatist groups in England and Scotland.

As you may recall, the Mayflower, loaded with the Pilgrims, had already landed in America in 1620.  This group was also a part of the “Dissenters” or “Non-Conformists” as they were then called, who had left England because of the political and religious persecution already beginning to take place. But what came about later, was with those staunchly Calvinistic Christians who had decided to stay in England and Scotland to weather the upcoming political and religious storm. 

And storm it was.  But, it was that desperate period from 1680 until 1685 that was the fiercest in terms of persecution, especially that period of a few months, occurring between 1684 and 1685.  It was so horrendous in Scotland, that this period has become forever known as the “Killing Times.” 

WylieAttackRemember, Charles’ brother James II had come to the throne, and inasmuch as he was a believer in the Divine Right of Kings and a supporter of the Roman Catholic faith, it became his sworn intent to totally eradicate the Presbyterians.

As a result, there were the most horrific and atrocious crimes ever inflicted on the Calvinistic people of Scotland; or The Covenanters, as they called themselves.  These Protestant Christians were flushed out and hunted down as never before; common soldiers were empowered to take life at will of any suspect without trial of law. Usually it was done without any evidence.  Or as noted, these murders were often as the result of the suspicions of an over-zealous town official or Minister.

preview_1978-p6202Brutality in those days defied the imagination, and the persecution had no mercy on man, woman or child, irrespective of circumstances. Any class of Covenanters once caught by the King’s troops were shot or murdered on the spot.  As one author noted, “this was a time of legends, of soldiers having fun by throwing women into pits full of snakes, and of men hanged on their own door lintels.”



But God had not forsaken his people.

I recently came across a story of one of the meetings of the Covenanters, one that was being held on a hillside.  During the service, the alarm was given that the dragoons or troopers were near. The Covenanter men were stout and strong but unarmed, and worse, the greater number of the assembly consisted of women and children, besides the aged minister.

Defense and flight were alike impossible. What should they do? They cried unto God, that He would save and deliver them, that He would hide them under His wings. And their cry was heard.

While the dragoons were yet at a distance, there came rolling over the hills a thick, white, blinding mist, which shrouded everything, and enfolded the little company in its embrace and hid them. They themselves kept silent, and soon discovered, from the noise and shouting of the troopers, that they had lost their way. The commander now thought only of the safety of his men; and when they at length found the track, the word was given, and they rode off. No sooner were they out of sight than the mist rolled off and the sun shone forth. Those who had been kept by God, hidden under the shadow of His Hand, sang praises unto Him for their great deliverance.

You are my hiding place; You sing over me songs of deliverance.
–Psalms 32:7

Remember Lot’s Wife? No! Rather, Remember Lot…“HE LINGERED.”

Written by J. C. Ryle
Edited for thought and space

sodom_gomorrah_2WHO is this man that lingered? —Lot, the nephew of faithful Abraham.
And when did he linger? —The very morning Sodom was to be destroyed.
And where did he linger? —Within the walls of Sodom itself.
And before whom did he linger? —Under the eyes of the two angels, who were sent to bring him out of the city.

These words are solemn, and full of food for thought.  I trust they will make you think.  Who knows but they are the very words your soul requires?  The voice of the Lord Jesus commands you to “remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke xvii. 32.)  The voice of one of His ministers invites you this day to remember Lot.

Perhaps you would say, “Ah, Lot was a poor, dark creature,—an unconverted man,—a child of this world!—no wonder he lingered.” But mark now what I say.  Lot was nothing of the kind.  Lot was a true believer,—a real child of God,—a justified soul,—a righteous man.

Has any one of you grace in his heart?—So also had Lot.
Has any one of you a hope of salvation?—So also had Lot.
Is any one of you a “new creature”?—So also was Lot.
Is any one of you a traveller in the narrow way which leads unto life?—So also was Lot.

Do not think this is only my private opinion,—a mere arbitrary fancy of my own, the Holy Ghost has placed the matter beyond controversy, by calling him “just,” and “righteous” (2 Peter ii. 7, 8), and has given us evidence of the grace that was in him.

One evidence is, that he lived in a wicked place, “seeing and hearing” evil all around him (2 Peter ii. 8), and yet was not wicked himself.  Now to be a Daniel in Babylon,—an Obadiah in Ahab’s house,—an Abijah in Jeroboam’s family,—a saint in Nero’s court, and a righteous man in Sodom, a man must have the grace of God.

Another evidence is, that he “vexed his soul with the unlawful deeds” he beheld around him. (2 Peter ii. 8.)  He was wounded, grieved, pained, and hurt at the sight of sin.  This was feeling like holy David, who says, “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved, because they kept not Thy word.”  “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not Thy law.” (Psalm cxix. 136, 158.)  Nothing will account for this but the grace of God.

Such an one was Lot, —a just and righteous man, a man sealed and stamped as an heir of heaven by the Holy Ghost Himself.

Before you pass on, remember that a true Christian may have many a blemish, many a defect, many an infirmity, and yet be a true Christian nevertheless.  You do not despise gold because it is mixed with much dross.  You must not undervalue grace because it is accompanied by much corruption.  Read on, and you will find that Lot paid dearly for his “lingering.” But do not forget, as you read, that Lot was a child of God.

What does the text, tell us about Lot’s behaviour?

The words are wonderful and astounding: “He lingered;” and the more you consider the time and circumstances, the more wonderful you will think them.

Lot knew the awful condition of the city in which he stood; “the cry” of its abomination “had waxen great before the Lord” (Gen. xix. 13): and yet “he lingered.”

Lot knew the fearful judgment coming down on all within its walls; the angels had said plainly, “The Lord hath sent us to destroy it” (Gen. xix. 13): and yet Lot knew that God was a God who always kept His word, and if He said a thing would surely do it.  He could hardly be Abraham’s nephew, and live long with him, and not be aware of this.  Yet “he lingered.”

Lot believed there was danger,—for he went to his sons-in-law, and warned them to flee: “Up!” he said, “Get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city.” (Gen. xix. 14.)  And yet “he lingered.”

Lot saw the angels of God standing by, waiting for him and his family to go forth.  And yet “be lingered.”

Lot heard the voice of those ministers of wrath ringing in his ears to hasten him.  “Arise! lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.” (Gen. xix. 15.)  And yet “he lingered.”

He was slow when he should have been quick,—backward when he should have been forward,—trifling when he should have been hastening,—loitering when he should have been hurrying,—cold when he should have been hot.  It is passing strange!  It seems almost incredible!  It appears too wonderful to be true!  But the Spirit writes it down for our learning.  And so it was.

And yet, reader, there are many of the Lord Jesus Christ’s people very like Lot.

Mark well what I say.  I repeat it that there may be no mistake about my meaning.  I have shown you that Lot “lingered,”—I say that there are many Christian men and Christian women in this day very like Lot.

There are many real children of God who appear to know far more than they live up to, and see far more than they practise, and yet continue in this state for many years.  Wonderful that they go as far as they do, and yet go no further!

They hold the Head, even Christ, and love the truth.  They like sound preaching, and assent to every article of Gospel doctrine, when they hear it.  But still there is an indescribable something which is not satisfactory about them.  They are constantly doing things which disappoint the expectations of their ministers, and of more advanced Christian friends.  Marvellous that they should think as they do, and yet stand still!

They believe in heaven, and yet seem faintly to long for it;—and in hell, and yet seem little to fear it.  They love the Lord Jesus; but the work they do for Him is small.  They hate the devil; but they often appear to tempt him to come to them.  They know the time is short; but they live as if it were long, They know they have a battle to fight; yet a man might think they were at peace.  They know they have a race to run; yet they often look like people sitting still.  They know the Judge is at the door, and there is wrath to come; and yet they appear half asleep.  Astonishing they should be what they are, and yet be nothing more!

And what shall we say of these people?  They often puzzle godly friends and relations.  They often cause great anxiety.  They often give rise to great doubts and searchings of heart.  But they may be classed under one sweeping description: they are all brethren and sisters of Lot.  They linger.

These are they who get the notion into their minds, that it is impossible for all believers to be very holy and very spiritual.  They allow that eminent holiness is a beautiful thing.  They like to read about it in books, and even to see it occasionally in others.  But they do not think that all are meant to aim at so high a standard.

These are they who get into their heads false ideas of charity, as they call it.  They would fain please everybody, and suit everybody, and be agreeable to everybody.  But they forget they ought first to be sure that they please God.

These are they who dread sacrifices, and shrink from self-denial.  They never appear able to apply our Lord’s command, to “cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye.” (Matt. v. 29, 30.)  They spend their lives in trying to make the gate more wide, and the cross more light.  But they never succeed.

These are they who are always trying to keep in with the world.  They are ingenious in discovering reasons for not separating decidedly, and in framing plausible excuses for attending questionable amusements, and keeping up questionable friendships.  One day you are told of their attending a Bible reading: the next day perhaps you hear of their going to a ball.  They are constantly labouring to persuade themselves that to mix a little with worldly people on their own ground does good.  Yet in their case it is very clear they do no good, and only get harm.

These are they who cannot find it in their heart to quarrel with their besetting sin, whether it be sloth, indolence, ill-temper, pride, selfishness, impatience, or what it may.  They allow it to remain a tolerably quiet and undisturbed tenant of their hearts.  They say it is their health, or their constitutions, or their temperaments, or their trials, or their way.  Their father, or mother, or grandmother, was so before themselves, and they are sure they cannot help it.  And when you meet after the absence of a year or so, you hear the same thing.

But all, all, all may be summed up in one single sentence.  They are the brethren and sisters of Lot.  They linger.

If you are a lingering soul, you are not happy!  You know you are not.  It would be strange indeed if you were so.  Lingering is the sure destruction of a happy Christianity.  A lingerer’s conscience forbids him to enjoy inward peace.

Perhaps at one time you did run well.  But you have left your first love,—you have never felt the same comfort since, and you never will till you return to your first works.  Like Peter, when the Lord Jesus was taken prisoner, you are following the Lord afar off; and, like him, you will find the way not pleasant, but hard.

Come and look at Lot.  Come and mark Lot’s history.  Come and consider Lot’s lingering, and be wise.

Let us next consider the reasons that may account for Lot’s lingering.

This is a question of great importance, and I ask your serious attention to it.  To know the root of a disease is one step towards a remedy.  He that is forewarned is forearmed.

Who is there among the readers of this paper that feels secure, and has no fear of lingering?  Come and listen while I tell you a few passages of Lot’s history.  Do as he did, and it will be a miracle indeed if you do not get into the same state of soul at last.

One thing then I observe in Lot is this, he made a wrong choice in early life.

And what did Lot do? —We are told he saw the plains of Jordan, near Sodom, were rich, fertile and well watered.  It was a good land for cattle, and full of pastures.  He had large flocks and herds, and it just suited his requirements.  And this was the land he chose for a residence, simply because it was a rich, well watered land.

It was near the town of Sodom!  He cared not for that.
The men of Sodom, who would be his neighbours, were wicked!  It mattered not.
They were sinners before God exceedingly!  It made no difference to him.

The pasture was rich.  The land was good.  He wanted such a country for his flocks and herds.  And before that argument all scruples and doubts, if indeed he had any, at once went down.

He chose by sight, and not by faith.  He asked no counsel of God to preserve him from mistakes.  He looked to the things of time, and not of eternity.  He thought of his worldly profit, and not of his soul.  He considered only what would help him in this life,—he forgot the solemn business of the life to come.  This was a bad beginning.

But I observe also that Lot mixed with sinners when there was no occasion for his doing so.

We are first told that he “pitched his tent toward Sodom.” (Gen. xiii. 12.)  This, as I have already shown, was a great mistake.

But the next time he is mentioned, we find him actually living in Sodom itself.  The Spirit says expressly, “He dwelt in Sodom.” (Gen. xiv. 12.)

His tents were left.  The country was forsaken.  He occupied a house in the very streets of that wicked town.

We are not told the reasons of this change.  We are not aware that any occasion could have arisen for it.  We are sure there could have been no command of God.  Perhaps his wife liked the town better than the country, for the sake of society.   But one thing is very clear,—Lot dwelt in the midst of Sodom without good cause.

Reader, when a child of God does these two things, which I have named, you never need be surprised if you hear, by and by, unfavourable accounts about his soul You never need wonder if he becomes deaf to the warning voice of affliction, as Lot was (Genesis xiv. 12), and turns out a lingerer in the day of trial, and danger, as Lot did.

Make a wrong choice,—an unscriptural choice,—in life, and settle yourself down unnecessarily in the midst of worldly people, and I know no surer way to damage your own spirituality, and to go backward about your eternal concerns.

This is the way to make the pulse of your soul beat feebly and languidly.
This is the way to make the edge of your feeling about sin become blunt and dull.
This is the way to dim the eyes of your spiritual discernment, till you can scarcely distinguish good from evil, and stumble as you walk.

This is the way to sell the pass to your worst enemy,—to give the devil the vantage ground in the battle,—to tie your arms in fighting,—to fetter your legs in running,—to dry up the sources of your strength,—to cripple your own energies,—to cut off your own hair, like Samson, and give yourself into the hands of the Philistines, put out your own eyes, grind at the mill, and become a slave.

 If ever you would be safe from lingering, beware of needless mingling with worldly people. 

Beware of Lot’s choice.  If you would not settle down into a dry, dull, sleepy, barren, heavy, carnal, stupid, torpid state of soul, beware of Lot’s choice.

Remember this in choosing a dwelling-place, or residence.  It is not enough that the house is comfortable,—the situation good,—the air fine,—the neighbourhood pleasant,—the expenses 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 an easy distance?—Is Christ crucified with in 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 labour light,—the advantages numerous,—the prospects of getting on most favourable.  Think of your soul, your immortal soul.  Will it be fed or starved?  Will it be prospered or drawn back?  I beseech 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 light of the world.  Gold may 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 mind finds 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 vigour, or will it decay?  I pray you, by all your hopes of glory, allow this to enter into your calculations.  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 choice.

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 become dim, when exposed to a damp atmosphere.

The hottest iron will soon become 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 hard.

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, hesitating 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 turning point in your life, at a time when the enemy is coming in like a flood, and your need is the sorest.

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

But what kind of fruit Lot’s lingering spirit bore at last.

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.”

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

I always will contend that eminent holiness, and eminent usefulness, are most closely connected,—that happiness and following the Lord fully go side by side,—and that if believers will linger, they must not expect to be useful in their day and generation, or to enjoy great comfort and peace in believing.

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

Lot lived in Sodom many years.  No doubt he had many precious opportunities for speaking 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 world will frequently concede to a bright servant of God.

Not one righteous person could be found in all Sodom, outside the walls of Lot’s home.  Not one of his neighbours believed his testimony.  Not one of his acquaintances honoured the Lord when he worshipped.  Not one of his servants served his master’s God.  Not one of “all the people from every quarter” cared a jot for his opinion when he tried to restrain their wickedness. His life carried no weight.  His words were not listened to.  His religion drew none.

And truly I do not wonder.  As a general rule, lingering souls do no good to the world, and bring no credit to God’s cause.  Their salt has too little savour to season the corruption around them.  They are not epistles of Christ who can be known and read of all.  (2 Cor. iii. 2.)  There is nothing magnetic, and attractive, and Christ-reflecting about their ways.  Remember this.

Mark another thing.  Lot helped no relation towards heaven.

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 God.

When he “went out and spake to his sons-in-law, which married his daughters,” and warned them to flee from the coming judgments, 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 painful proof of the contempt with which a lingerer 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 command not to do so (Gen. xix. 17), and was at once turned into a pillar of salt.

And what were Lot’s two daughters?  They 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 relations understand inconsistency, if they understand 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 unsatisfactory.  His pleading for Zoar, because it was “a little one,”—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 fallen.

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 days of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David,—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 ill savour behind him.  And had we not been specially told in the New Testament that Lot was “just” and “righteous,” I verily believe we should have doubted whether Lot was a saved soul at all.

But I do not wonder at his sad end.  Lingering believers will generally reap according as they have sown.  Their lingering often meets them when their spirit is in 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.” (1 Cor. iii. 15.)

I do not tell you that believers who do not “linger” will, as a matter of course, be great instruments 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 relations.  David’s children were, many of them, ungodly.  The Lord Jesus was not believed on even by his own brethren.

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 lingering 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 reflection.

Let me speak a few parting words 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.

You live in days when a lingering, Lot-like religion abounds.  The stream of profession is far broader than it once was, but far less deep in many places.  A certain kind of Christianity is almost fashionable now.  To belong to some party in the Church of England, and show a zeal for its interests,—to talk about the leading controversies of the day,—to buy popular religious 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 comparatively easy and common attainments.  They no longer make a person singular.  They require little or no sacrifice.  They entail no cross.

But to walk closely with God, to be really spiritually-minded,—to behave like strangers and pilgrims,—to be distinct from the world in employment of time, in conversation, in amusements, in dress,—to bear a faithful witness for Christ in all places,—to leave a savour of our Master in every society, to be prayerful, 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 be 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 whom you have believed,—and not be a gloomy and melancholy Christian?  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 behind 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 without 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 linger!

Would you help your children and relatives 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 not one 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?  Does something 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 revive 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 children, and I will heat your backsliding.” (Jer. 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 opportunity.  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.”


0Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  John Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 – 10 June 1900) was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool. Ryle was born at Macclesfield, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Craven Scholar in 1836.  The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before choosing a path of ordained ministry. While hearing Ephesians 2 read in church in 1838, he felt a spiritual awakening and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish priest, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings.

jc-ryle-and-charles-spurgeonRyle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.