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alent for the sacrifice which they demand-a surrender of your religious hopes.
In closing, I must beg your indulgence, while I pay passing tribute of attention to a popular acknowledgment of modern skeptics, which admits that the earth has been partially inundated at different periods. To this acknowledgment they are driven by the undeniable evidence of marine substances, deposited throughout every continent. of the globe.
But we deny the fact of such partial inundations; they are altogether inadmissible; because it is impossible that any considerable body of water should remain upon a single continent, since from its specific gravity, it must be immediately discharged into the ocean. The advocates of such a theory, must therefore resort to a greater miracle than revelation records, respecting the general deluge for they must raise the oceans which enclose such a continent, several miles above their common level, to prevent the water from retiring on a sudden from the land! Nor is this the only difficulty attending a partial deluge; for the oceans, when thus raised, must equally overflow the whole globe! The very fact which they deny and ridicule. Thus, my hearers, you see, that the theory of partial inundations, becomes at once impossible, ridiculous, and absurd.
Unbelievers have offered other objections to the deluge, but they are too unimportant to justify me in detaining you with their recital or their refutation. The main arguments upon this subject are before you; weigh them in the even balance of reason, and judge for yourselves.
II. PETER ii. 6.
"And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly."
In this chapter, the apostle very justly concludes, that as there were "false prophets among the people," in ancient times, so there would, of course, arise among them, false teachers; bringing in heresies of the most dangerous tendency; even" denying the Lord that bought them;" and assures us that they would bring swift destruction upon themselves: Nay, more, that by their seductions, many would be led to abandon the paths of true wisdom, and that through their influence" the way of truth would be evil spoken of," or be treated with that contempt which is the just desert of imposture. And my Brethren, if we carefully survey the records of all ages since the first promulgation of the gospel of Christ, we shall see that the prediction of the apostle has been verified, even to the letter. Nor need we appeal to the history of former ages for the fulfilment of his prophecy; for examples daily prehemselves, of a character too plain and forcible to leave any doubts of its truth upon the mind.
From the language of our text, the evidence is undeniable, that at a period as late as the apostolic age, the story of the fearful and astonishing overthrow of Sodom and the cities of the plain, was currently believed and appealed to with confidence by the writers of the new Testament, as a fact of undisputed authority. Nor are we informed that the fact referred to by our text, was called in question by any of the profane writers, so late as the period in which the New Testament was written.
By the Mosiac history, we are informed that it became necessary for Abraham and his nephew, Lot, to separate,
as their flocks and herdsmen became numerous, and troublesome to each other: And the latter, it appears, chose to take up his residence in the vale of Siddim, and therefore located himself among the Sodomites. From the history of these people, it is obvious that they exceeded, in the practices of obscenity and wickedness, the inhabitants of all the neighbouring countries. But whether the practices to which we allude, were introduced before his residence among them, or were afterwards adopted, we are furnished with no intelligence, either sacred or profane.
The writers of the Old and New Testaments, however, unite in representing the overthrow of Sodom, and the cities of the plain, as one of the most signal displays of divine judgment, for the wickedness of man, that has ever been recorded of any portion of the globe. And they hold up this fearful catastrophe as a warning to all such as venture to abuse the forbearance of Heaven, to riot amidst the scenes of dissipation, or to violate and abuse the obvious dictates of nature, reason, and the law of God
This view of their destruction, is the probable reason why unbelievers have sought to cavil at the historian, in some instances, and in others, to reject the whole narrative, as the invention of imposture and craft: For it is apparent that they are unwilling to admit that the Deity takes cognizance of human affairs in such a way as to become the direct dispenser of reward and punishment to mankind, since such an acknowledgment would lead to the unavoidable conclusion, that all the judgments of God, recorded in the scriptures, are worthy of confidence and serious regard.
That such cities as Sodom and Gomorrah, once existed on the borders of the country of Palestine, no historian, either ancient or modern, has ever presumed to deny : Nor is this fact denied by any man of reading and intelligence at the present day. Historians, both sacred and profane, admit that these were once populous and flourishing cities, and that they suffered a complete or entire destruction by fire.
According to scripture chronology, these famous cities were destroyed about nineteen hundred years before the birth of Christ, and have ever since remained a monu
ment of that desolation which sin has occasioned in the world. It appears that these cities were, situated in a beautiful and fertile plain, one hundred eighty miles in circumference, bounded on the east by lofty mountains, and on the north by the plain of Jericho.
After its destruction by fire, it formed the bed of what is now called the "dead sea,' or lake Asphaltites, and receives the waters of the River Jordan, besides several smaller streams; though no outlet has ever been discovered, by which it communicates with the Mediterranean
With the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Zeboim and Admah, shared the same fate and were ingulphed in the same general ruin: probably because they were corrupted with the same abominations and given up to the same obscene and brutal practices.
The prediction of one of the prophets of God, (Jeremiah,) who was born more than six hundred years before Christ, stands forth as an indisputable monument of divine inspiration, since his prediction may still be seen fulfilling, through all the intervening ages, from a period of more than 2000 years to the present day. For when speaking of the desolation of Edom, he compares it to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah; saying, "As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities thereof, saith the LORD, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it." Jer. xlviii. 18.
No changes, however great, which may be supposed to have taken place in other parts of the globe, was to reach the seat of this desolation, until the period of the final renovation of the earth, by an event equally sublime and terrible with that of the flood. And it is obvious, from the most authentic historians, that no human being has ever dwelt in the place of these devoted cities, for the space of 3700 years!
Moses, in denouncing the punishments that should descend upon the land of Israel for their rebellion, compares it to the land of "Sodom, Gomorrah, Zeboim and Admah;" a land of "brimstone and salt, and burning, that is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and in his wrath.” Deut. xxix. 23.
This language clearly shows that in the days of Moses, more than 300 years after the destruction of these cities, they were well known to the nation of the Jews, and were appealed to with confidence, as evidences of the divine displeasure against sin And I may here be allowed to ask; if their sudden and astonishing overthrow had not then been a fact of universal notoriety, of what possible use could it have been for Moses to remind the Israelites of such an event? It certainly could add nothing, but must, unless the fact had been well attested, have detracted from the authority of his precepts, and brought the divine inspiration which he claimed, not only into disrepute, but into ridicule and co contempt. No reasonable man can suppose that any person of common discernment would have recourse, or appeal to a ridiculous fable for the purpose of strengthening his authority, unless he was a base impostor, and believed that the people whom he wished to govern were a nation of stupid, insensible beings! Much less a wise and virtuous lawgiver, whose divine inspiration and authority had been severely tested, and proved by astonishing miracles.
That the account which Moses gave more than 3000 years ago, of this land of brimstone and salt and burning, was substantially true, is clearly proved by Volney, a French philosopher of the last century; and whose testimony will doubtless be well received by modern skeptics, since he had the credit of being a file leader of their party. He asserts that this famous lake “contains neither animal nor vegetable life. We see no verdure on its banks, nor a fish to be found in its waters." But he adds, that it is not true that its exhalations are pestiferous, so as to destroy birds flying over it. "It is very common (says he) to see swallows skimming its surface, and dipping for the water necessary to build their nests. The real cause which deprives it of vegetables and animals, is the extreme saltness of the water, which is infinitely stronger than that of the sea. The soil around it, equally impregnated with this salt, produces no plants; and the air itself, which becomes loaded with it from evaporation, and which receives also the sulphureous and bituminous yapours, cannot be favorable to vegetation: Hence the