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Another illustration of the present proposition is God's conduct to the people of Sodom. These people, it is well known, were a branch of the descendants of Ham; so it may well be supposed that they inherited something of the corrupt disposition of the original stock. When Lot came first among them, it is expressly said, that “the “ men of Sodom were then wicked and sinners “ before the Lord exceedingly*;" that they were men who had rebelled against the true God t, had set up the worship of false deities, and in consequence of that worship had plunged themselves into all kinds of vice and immorality, even the detestable practice of unnatural lusts. Their guilt was heinous, habitual, and general: they were not only abominable in their doings, but unanimously abominable; they all combined together in the same detestable purpose; “ the men of Sodom “ compassed the house around, both old and " young, all the people from every quarter;" a combination proving them to have been universally depraved, beyond imagination and beyond recovery. Their corruption was advanced to its last stage; and, there being no good principle, among them that could be worked on, they were
.• Gen. xiii. 13. .Colebant cultum alienum, et rebellabant in nomen Domini falde. Targum in loc. .
ripe for destruction*. In this strong and particular case the longsuffering and goodness of God is remarkably observable: notwithstanding their excessive wickedness, God does not destroy them abruptly or suddenly, but first communicates his intention to Abraham, and allows him to plead their cause, and urge what he could in their favour: but as Abraham had a right sense of justice as well as of mercy, when he found they were so totally depraved, that there was not left even the small number of ten "righteous men amongst « them," he resigned them to the punishment they deserved. The crying sin of these people being fully proved and exposed in this conference with Abraham, and there being nothing left which the merciful Patriarch could allege further in bar of judgment, “ the Lord rained down upon Sodom « and Gomorrah fire and brimstone out of heaven, " and thereby overthrew those cities, and all the " plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and
every thing that grew upon the ground. And “i lo, the smoke of the country went up as the - smoke of a furnace.” “But Lot being righteous,'· God spares him and his two daughters, as he would have done the rest of his family, had they not perished from their own folly and obstinacy.
* Vide Owen's Sermons on the Scripture Miracles, vol. i. .224.
Another case in point with this proposition is taken notice of by the Bishop of Lincoln, in his Elements of Christian Theology*, and proves equally the force and truth of God's declaration, that in his deportment towards the human race he is both longsuffering and merciful, and likewise that he will not clear the guilty; all which is obviously exemplified in his conduct towards the Amorites. “When God first promised the land “ of Canaan to the seed of Abraham, he expressly, “ declared they were not to take possession of it “ till the fourth generation after they should re
move into Egypt, because the iniquity of the Amo“ rites was not yet full ; that is, would not till “ then be full. It will scarcely be disputed that “ God might have given the children of Abraham more immediate possession of the land of Canaan, hạd he seen fit: it therefore
that “ the comparative righteousness of one nation
postponed the fate of several others above four « hundred years; and that it was not till their “ measure of wickedness was completed, that “ they were destroyed by the outstretched arm of " the Almighty, who led on his chosen people, " and commanded them to execute his judgments,
on these devoted nations.” Nothing indeed can be a more remarkable proof of the fulfilment of
Vol. i. p. 72.
the promises which God is pleased to make to mankind, than that of the settling the posterity of Abraham at a precise time in the land of Canaan; when it is considered that this promise was made to a single family, the members of which were literally strangers and pilgrims on earth; and this large and fertile country, at the period the promise was made, was occupied by a number of powerful princes, whose thrones were firmly established in it. This ought to make the more impression on us, because we have in the Bible such a detailed and circumstantial history of the events attending this promise, from the time it was made, till the period of its entire completion, as indisputably establishes its truth in such a manner, as to exclude all possibility of its having been forged by the wit of any man or set of men whatever.
The next instance to be observed, as elucidating this proposition, is God's conduct to the Jewish nation. In consequence of the remarkable proof which Abraham gave of his obedience, God is pleased thus to express himself; “ By myself have “ I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast “ done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, “thinë only son: that in blessing I will bless “ thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy “ seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand “ which is on the sea-shore; and in thy seed shall “ all the nations of the earth be blessed; because ... “ thou hast obeyed my voice.”
The Jews were the immediate descendants from Abraham; and the great partiality God did shew them, and was ever inclined to shew them, had they given him leave, is probably to be ascribed to the beforementioned obedience of Abraham. The history of this partiality is minutely recorded in the Old Testament, wherein we read with what a high hand they were emancipated by God from their Egyptian bondage; of the extraordinary manner in which they were fed and protected in the wilderness; in short, we are there informed of the series of miracles, and constant interposition of God, exerted in their favour, till they were finally settled in the land of Canaan. Likewise we read of the great promises made to these people by Moses; of God's peculiar favour if they would serve and obey him; which indeed is expressed in a very particular manner by God himself, in these emphatic and affectionate words; “ O that there were such an heart in them, that “ they would fear me, and keep all my command“ ments always, that it might be well with them, 5. and with their children for ever *!” A confirmation of the same gracious declaration is made at the dedication of the temple by Solomon, and fre
* Deut. v. 29.