One of them was a Roman sentinel. He was standing erect in his place at the gate of the city.
His spear was in his burned hand, his sword at his side. His helmet was still on his head. There the ashes had embalmed him, and kept him through all the long, long years. This disaster that rained down on the city of Pompeii did not put this Roman soldier at the place of duty, and keep him there faithful and true. It only photographed him for us. It only found him in the attitude of faithfulness, and preserved him to be found bearing this testimony.
“Moreover, it is [essentially] required of stewards that a man should be found faithful [proving himself worthy of trust]” (1 Corinthians 4:1, The Amplified Bible).
There was another body found. It was that of a woman. Her feet were turned toward the city gate.
Evidently she was fleeing with all her might to escape the terrible destruction that was engulfing the city. But though her feet were toward the gate, her body was turned backward. Her hands were outstretched toward the ground. Just beyond her finger tips was a bag of pearls. Possibly she had dropped them. Possibly they had been dropped by someone else, and she had spotted them as she fled. She could not shake off their appeal, causing her to turn to pick them up, and the lava came down and embalmed her. But this disaster did not place her in that attitude of grasping covetousness. It only photographed her, so that the future generations might see.
“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)1
1. Rev. Clovis G. Chappell, D.D., Sermons on Old Testament Characters, Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, NY, Copyright 1925, pp. 48 – 49
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