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grace in the
coincidence is his conduct to the antediluvians. It is expressly mentioned in Scripture, that “God saw the wickedness of man was
great in the earth, and that every imagina“ tion of the thoughts of his heart was only “ evil continually. But Noah was a just
man, and perfect in his generation, and “ Noah walked with God: and Noah found
of the Lord.” Here the conduct of God is exactly agreeable to the proclamation he was pleased to make of it: he is not extreme to mark what is amiss, and his mercy winks at errors arising from frailty; but when the heart is so exceedingly corrupt, that the thoughts of it are only evil continually, God's declaration, that he will not clear the guilty, necessarily applies to such abandoned sinners; they deserve the punishment they suffer, and it is no imputation on the goodness of God to inflict it. But Noah, who is a just man, is saved with his family, and thus God's mercy and goodness are equally shewn with his justice.
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 in
herited 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 sin“ ners 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 ing 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 ripe for destruction... In this strong and particular case the longsuffering and good
* Gen, xiii. 13.
+ Colebant cultum alienum, et rebellabant in nomen Domini valde. Targum in loc.
Vide Owen's Sermons on the Scripture Miracles, vol. i. p. 224.
ness 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 up" on Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brim“ stone out of heaven, and thereby over“ threw those cities, and all the plain, and “ all the inhabitants of the cities, and every
thing that grew upon the ground. And,
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.
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 de" clared they were not to take possession of “ it till the fourth generation after they “ should remove into Egypt, because the
iniquity of the Amorites 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 im“ mediate possession of the land of Canaan, " had he seen fit: it therefore
that “ the comparative righteousness of one na" tion postponed the fate of several others “ above four hundred years; and that it was 66 not till their measure of wickedness was
completed, that they were destroyed by "the outstretched arm of the Almighty, who
* Vol. i. p. 72.
" 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 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