This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
It 1s an obvious principle of juridical procedure among men, and it composes a branch of every well ordered society and paBtical estaUisbment among nations, that the crime of treason against the state is punishable with death, and the forfeU twne of all the rights and privileges of citizensjiip ; and that aU other breaches of constituted law, subject transgressors to aach degrees <^ vengeance, as the national authority has fixed npoB, for the preveodon and punishment of crime. The law of nature itsd^ confers, and even forces upon mankindt tlie maxim of laying down order and regularity of conduct in all congregated communities, great or small, both individually and collectively, without which no commonwealth or government, not even a fiunily economy, could be rend^ed c&ctive, for the purposes of promoting and sqiporting in^ duitiy, civilization, subordination, loyalty, indep e nd enc e, re* qitctability, and happiness, or its subjecU be blessed with the ^nflaences of religion, morality, and virtue. When the ba«i#
KM* DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM.^ of the supreme government of the universe appears, finida^ mentally, to be the rule of man's own civil and criminal jurisprudence, demonstration by argument, becomes unnecessary for pointing out either its propriety or necessity, as these stand acknowledged by his own adopted principles of legisla^ tion and polity. The dreadful example which God bad made of the antediluvian world, had soon lost its effect upon the minds ot those who afterward peopled the earth, from the fiimily of oah. Abram, whose name was afterwtfrd changed into Abraham,* was called forth, by the qiecial order of the Deity, from Chaldea, bis native country, to reside or sojourn in
Canaan, the land promised to his seed. This was only 487 years after the flood; and yet, at that early period, the whole world, so far as the earth was peopled and known, except that extraordinary and mysterious personage Melchisedec^ had become most viciously abandoned, profligate, and idolatrous, ])ot even the patriarch's own family being altogether exempted from the general contagion. Abram took with him Lot his nephew; but quarrels and contention between their respective herdsmen and servants compelled a separation of their families, — the patriarch giving his nephew the choice of the land before him, who, tempted by the appearance of the rich and extensive plain, in which Sodom was situated, proceeded to fix his residence there, on account of the fertility and adaptation of that country for the pasturing of his flocks, the rearing of which was his occupation, while Abram turned thence southward, but at no very great distance. This plain or champagne countiy seems to have been pretty well peopled, having in it several towns and cities, particularly Sodom and Gomorrah, which, only M yeara • Gen. si. IS.
DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM^. 105 after this settlement of Lot, were, with their neighbourhood, destroyed, except the town of Zoar, on his special supplication for its safety, designing, there, to take up his future residence, because of their excessive enormities, as may be seen in the historical record here cited. * General, indeed, must have been the flagitiousness of life of the inhabitants of these parts, wh^n not even ten persons were found among them uncontaminated with the vices fo¥ which they were destroyed ; and as Lot had a wife and two daughters, besides servants, in his own house, and had also several daughters married to the natives, we have, indeed, a melancholy picture of their universal depravity and extremely licentious and profligate conduct. The attempt stated in this
chapter, f of the inhabitants of Lot's city, to misuse the angels who, under the appearance of men, came to execute upon- these devoted towns the divine vengeance, shows to what an excess of debauchery, prostitution, and depravity they had reached, and the inhospitable spirit which reigned among them toward strangers, unknown even to barbarians. When we look to Lot's own family, we there discover, too, a profligacy from which the mind revolts with horror. Though it is pretty obvious that Lot must have married a daughter of that people, as he does not appear to have been in the conjugal state when he settled there, we cannot suppose that he neglected the education of his children in the knowledge of the Deity and the principles of the true religion ; and yet we find that his daughters, who were married to citizens, were so immersed in the general vortex of corruption and habits of vice, as, along with their husbands, utterly to disregard the parental entreaties of the old man to quit the country for their lives, which were offered to them on his • Gen. xiii. xviii, lix. f Gen. xriii. Vol. I. o
106 DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. account, provided they accompanied him and his family, in their flight from that abandoned people. Afflicting as it is to find such an extensive profligacy, yet it had actually entered under his very roof, — ^into his own immediate family; his daughters, the two who were unmarried, almost immediately after the total overthrow of these towns, committing one of the most abominable acts of criminality of which man is capable, with such a deliberate concert and mutual concurrence as demonstrates the absence of all sense of delicacy and virtue. Lot sufiered himself for the sake of temporal enjoyments, to expose his family to ruin, by taking up his abode with
such a people, whose example could not fail of undoing all his own parental labour of instilling into their minds, by precept and practice, the religious instruction he had given them. He could not be blind to the extreme iniquity of the inhabitants, and was not, as appears in his answer to their demand of having the angels, in the likeness of men, delivered up to them for the satisfaction of their brutality. What ought to have been his chief, was made only his secondary, consideration ; and he sacrificed, for the sake of what should have been his secondary object, all the advantages of his own knowledge, internal rectitude, personal example, and the religious education of his family. The folly which the best of men are guilty of^ is unaccountable ; for, most clear was it, that a daily intercourse, and the forming of connexions, by marriage, with such wretches, could not but debauch the members of his own family ; and we cannot sufier ourselves to suppose that he was either inconscious of this, or his eyes shut against it. Indeed it is more than probable that he contracted his own marriage with a daughter of one of the most evidently wicked nations upon earth.
DESTKUCTIO OF SODOM. IO7 Is the application of this folly too distant from, or inappropriate to, our own general conduct, in its features, as to our indifference in regard to the principles which our chil* dren and our families may imbibe, both from the evil example and the profligacy which we suffer them to be exposed to, by allowing them to be present at and within hearing of the vicious and loose language of others, without the least, or very little, anxiety, even to guard them against the consequences? We have, on the contrary, too many Lots in that respect among ourselves, who, after the other's example^ study, mainly, as to choice of settlement, connexion, and
marriage, what is most likely to procure temporal benefits ; and, provided these are secured, scarce a thought is passed about the improvement of, or even the retaining, of the religious instruction of their period of youth. With the finishing of their early-age education, the parents conceive, or act as if they considered their duty to be at an end, and appear, after a certain period of attention, to be quite indifferent about their offsprings' after-conduct and eventual fitte, as if their duty, in respect to religious influences, terminated with their scholastic course, while their anxiety for an increase of their worldly interests and comfort continues undiminished. We are not for withholding our lawful endeavours to obtain the duly-regulated necessary gratifications of life, and the means of procuring them, and which arise from that industry and economy which ought to form the ordinary duty of life ; but to make all these considerations subordinate to our duty to God, as being the chief end of the existence of man, in consistence with the principles of the divine institutions and authority. Having our choice, let us, as no small advantage put into our option by Providence, secure the property, in perpetuity, of the heavenly and imperishable estate, in place of a mere o2
108 DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. life-interest in that, wliich, with natural life, we must soon quit for ever — ^the endless possession of what can never fade or decay, in place of a mere, and, for certain, short and most precarious lease. Why should we content ourselves with the flavour only of mere sensual gratifications, when, to satisfy our hunger, we may obtain the substance of celestial nourishment ? Does the man that swims for his life, catch at or regard a bauble in his way, when it requires his utmost efforts to save himself from perishing ? Or does the competitor in a race, suffer himself to be diverted from his course,
while his antagonist pushes on for the prize ? We find here the melancholy account of Lot's wife perishing, in the act of making her escape, through her folly in looking back, contrary to express orders, either to satisfy her curiosity, perhaps arising from an incredulity of the threatening being executed, or her anxiety as to the event, and impelled by her feelings for her children, her other relatives, her <;onnexions, the place of her nativity, and the property lefi; behind her. On Lot's account, she was forced away with him from the city ; and it is more than probable that, but under this compulsion, she would not have quitted it more than those of her children, who remained with their husbands and families, deriding the old man's flight as the effect of an unwarranted and jidiculous terror, to which he had yielded fit)m an unmanly weakness, in giving ear to the threatenings of mere strangers, as to a calamity, too, so unprecedented, as well as unlikely, fr-om appearances, to be even a possible event We all know that for her offensive luid criminal disobedience, she was turned into a pillar .of salt, to memorialize her unbelief^ her ingratitude, and her transgression. The safety of Lot's fainify was conditionally assured, solely for his own sake, as was that of Zoar, a town at some distance, but in the neighbourhood of his residence, in condescension to his request,
BESTRDCTIO OF SODOM. 109 a^ a place of refuge ; and as this favour must obviously have been granted in the hearing of, or commnnicated to her, she ought to have respected the divine indulgence and rendered implicit obedience to the annexed condition of escaping with the utmost haste, without a stop, or casting a look behind her. From this portion of history we naturally remark : Fir^y The divine goodness and mercy of God, toward the very worst of mankind, for the sake of those among tiiem, who are faithful and upright servants as Lot was ,* but though Zoar was spared, yet his wife was not. The reason is clearly held forth in the story. Zoar was given as a place of shelter
and refuge, but the grant was made conditional, upon the observance of which condition depended their own safety, whereof they were sufficiently forewarned, so that it became her to lise the divine protection, according to the precise tenor of the grant of indulgence, ""the more especially as by the divine permission alone they were thus brought out of the reach of the impending destruction. Her punishment conveys, also, the further instruction to all, that though the favour of heaven may be peculiarly or miraculously shown, or otherwise extended, to any individual of a family or community, the rest must not presume, under the cover of such special favour and grace, to look for protection under, <ir to consider him as a safeguard for themselves, should they be disposed to disregard the express commands of the Deity, particularly when annexed as a special condition of their preservation, and we ought never to lose sight of this principle, as being the fundamental essentiality of the very salvation which is proffered to us through Christ, under whose wing we ought to betake ourselves, by an implicit practical obedience and firm but humble confidence in the promise, and fly to him for refuge and protection, with the utmost speed, without casting a look of worldly or carnal desire behind, that we may secure
110 DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. our safety from the wrath which hangs over us, much more tremendous than that which befel the cities under our observation, or the vengeance which overtook the wife of Lot We understand that the same profane schismatics, who object to many portions of Scripture, and, among the rest, this peculiar mode of punishing Lot's wife, as being in their opinion quite inconsistent with the ordinary principles of the government of God, take thence occasion to depreciate and cry down the verity of the sacred word, generally, or at least to lessen its general authority, on the pretext of its not being entitled to credit in such numerous passages as it records as matters of fact, which, in their judgment, carry, upon the
very face of the record, a condemnation of their veracity. Such a licence of presumption as they thus intrude upon the world, of opposing their own opinions to the veracity and the very power of the omnipotent God, and setting a limit to the operation of his providence, so as to square all his measures with his ordinary rule of government, and the maxims which they allege the Sovereign of the universe guides and ought to regulate himself by, as if they had a right to prescribe the principles of his actions. However vain and pretsumptuously conceited such regulators of the divine supremacy may be^ they ought, at least, to hesitate and well consider before they start objections to others against the written dictates of the spirit of Jehovah. Humility becomes man at all times before God; but when he contemplates Omnipotence in his acts, he ought to be prostrate in the dust, and beware of presuming to contradict the proceedings of the Majesty of heaven. Are any of the instances which they attempt to discredit, of greater or higher magnitude than the creation and consolidation of his mighty works, or even the common acts of his general administration thereof? If they are as nothing, in comparison, wonderful though they be, upon what foun-
DESTRUCTIO OP SODOM. Ill dation do they rest their objections ? Why, the singularity of the deeds, and their features having no obvious connexion with the general tenor of his administratire government. But this is no more a rational answer, than the impudence they assume is consistent with a similar objection which might be made to the very extraordinaiy deviations, which experience so frequently discovers to us from the common course of his universal direction. To bring this matter more immediately home, however, to man's own principles both of civil and criminal polity, we all know that the effects of man's violent outrages and insubordinate acts of licentiousness, have multiplied our statute laws almost beyond number, in order to meet crimes which
had not before been contemplated; and though the present civilized state of our country has done away much of the severity of punishment, which the times of a ruder complection dictated, yet it has also been forced, in some cases, to extend its criminal enactments against a rising and an increasing spirit of wantonness in the mass, as well as individuals, which often is attended with the most dangerous consequences to the public ; compelling the government also, at a vast expense, to keep up a standing army, as a more immediate and effective means for subduing and putting down the lawless enormities of their guihy proceedings. Such sort of excesses, and many unthought-of crimes, which ingenuity commits, for the due punishment whereof, perhaps, no existing statute sufficiently provides, do yet, in some considerable degree, come under the check of the supreme constituted authority of the state, by its exercise of those repressive acts of necessity which such cases, upon emergencies, immediately require, for the public safety, in order to meet and crush sudden and unforeseen dangers, — an authority vested in die chief magistrate, as the common protector of the realm. We
112 DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. do not advance man's proceedings as entitled to be ranged in comparison with the Deity's, but merely to shew, that the earthly sovereign is vested with extreme powers, in extreme cases, for the necessary support of the government of which he is the head ; and if^ by universal assent, he is armed to meet unforeseen and extraordinary events, without any special law conferring such powers, how much more is the Supreme Ruler of the world invested with such a prerogative, to enforce his own laws upon his own creatures and subjects, which reach, with precision, every possible act of man? Unless we ascribe supernatural and uncommon events to some agency or chance, independent of him, and over which he has no control, or with which he meddles not, we must either admit of, or refuse, our acquiescence in his supreme and paramount rule and direction, in all cases, and in every
concernment of the creatures he has made. If we admit, why do we object to what follows, as a necessary consequence in the administration of his government ? But should we have the audacity to refuse, what proof do we adduce in support of an alleged, but most inconsistent and absurd, idea of an independent agency of matter, or spirit, or action of accident, whereof he takes no charge ; of which he has no direction ; over which he either has no power, or uses it not ; wherewith he has no concern, or takes none ; or which stands separated from his care, or does not come, or is not admitted to fall, under his notice, but is excluded from his jurisdiction and the exercise of his administrative authority ? If we deny not his power, but only such an use of it, what evidence do we bring in, support of our denial of his sacred and revealed word? The very admission of his power becomes, virtually, an ad^lission of his ex^cise of it, by allowing that he may, if he pleases, so exercise it; which we conceive to be, in effect, the
DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. IIS $ame. To acknowledge iiiin as the universal Creator, and yet refuse his unlimited powers of administration, is an admission and an incredulity most inconsistent indeed. Those so disposed might as well affirm that he has given the sun a motion which he cannot stop or curb, and affect to support this position by the direct evidence of his not exercising the power. If we allow him to be the creator, organizer, and enlivener of existence, it is certainly a most unaccountable incongruity to deny him an infinitely less power, in a change of the subiitance to which he gave being; and if we withhold our assent to such portions of Scripture as our Saviour himself has explicitly recognized, then how can we believe in an infinitely greater miracle, — ^iif the second person of the holy Trinity becoming man, or uniting God and man together ? Certainly the sceptic most wofuUy befools himself in bis belief or admission of the greater, while he discredits what bears
iio comparison to it in point of Almighty ability. Can such a man be a Christian ! This is impossible ; for the man that believes in an incarnate and crucified Saviour, must also believe in that woman's being turned into salt ; because such belief must be founded upon one and the same authority, — the scriptural records ; and these same records bear testimony to oar Lord's own reference to the very &ct of the example so made of her : an act of power which, to our rational conceptions, does not even reach that of impregnating the vast oceans of the mighty deep with salt, whose waters he again divests of all their saline particles, and showers them forth through all the earth, both for the use of man and beast, and giving necessary drink unto the parched-up fields and thirsty lands, and every substance therein planted, for the benefit of all his creatures of mortality. Has he not also even enriched this globe with inexhaustible rocks of mineral salt, witliin its very bowels ? Are these acts, and every other which he disVOL. I. p
114 DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. plays of his Omnipotence, less than the case under our vieir, or than the creation of the universe itself? ay, the very organisation of man, separately considered, far exceeds the miraculous change of the substance of that woman's body. If the .schismatic is an Atheist or Deist, we shall not further dispute with him than putting the question, what he thinks of the evidence which he carries about with him of his own foUy in the structure of his body and mind, as well as what he sees of the other portions of the world, and the principle of the government and obvious ccmtrolling power over all things? Secondly^ We may contemplate, from the subject under our view, in the conduct of Lot, the weakness of man in himseU. Lot, so highly favoured by Providence, as thus to be removed from the centre of impending destruction, ought,
when bid to escape, to have trusted in the same divine power, which had thus interfered for his preservation, and his protection and safety in his flight. But then he knew of no town or city near, to which he could betake himself for refuge, should the whole extent of vengeance be executed which was threatened, so that from an apprehension of perishing upon the desert and uninhabited mountains and distant country, he conceived himself to be in as great danger by a flight as by remaining. God did not reprimand him for this distrust in his providence, but extended his mercy by yielding to his request. Lot's faith, however, was much short of his uncle Abraham's, when ordered first to quit his own for a strange country, and afterward to sacrifice Isaac his son ; commands which he instantly gave obedience to: whereas Lot was forced, for his very preservation, to quit Sodom, and even then did not proceed with that confidence in his protector which the nature of thji^case did rationally demand ; otherwise, inste^ of relying for safety on the town of Zoar,
DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM» 115 he might have, like the £ither of the faithfuly been handed down to posterity, wjth much higher marks of approbation, than the mere grant of a place for his personal residence. Thirdly^ In the conduct of Lot, in this instance^ the real Christian is taught a strong lesson of humility, and how utterly unable he is, by his own strength, to guide and direct himself; and consequently that he should^ by an umntermit' ted practical exercise of his rational faculties, contemplate his own weakness, and considerately look forward to, and ruminate upon tlie probable consequences of the measures he adopts, so as to square them, to the best of his conscientious abilities, with the principles of his duty to God and man^ leaving the result to that Providence which watches over, and though the supreme ruler tries, and to a great extent too, his faithful servants, yet he will so provide for them, as at least to insure their future happiness, in return for their fidelity in this
life; but still distrusting his own strength to abide such trials, man ought earnestly to seek, and humbly to put bis confidence in that heavenly aid, which alone can enlighlen and support him. Lot, though he had learned by wofiil experience, as to his own &mily, what indeed it required little experience to make obvious, the danger of associating with the wicked and profligate, and knew that the inhabitants of Zoar wero not a whit better, in this respect, than those of hia own city, and that its destruction was intended with Sodom's, yet he was so bent upon remaining in that country, that he entreated for the exemption of wicked Zoar firom the threatened destruction, not for the sake of its inhabitants or with the view of reforming them, but his own security and the enjoy* ment of the temporal advantages which the country around it afforded to his sensual gratification or worldly-mindedness, notwithstanding of the dr^^ful catastrophe which was about V> be inflicted upon the rest of his family, and the evident p2
116 DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. hazard of the like to his remaining two daughters, who were already sufficiently contaminated by the vices of Sodom. Indeed, so similar were Zoar's inhabitants to the others, that he appears, almost immediately after his entering it, to have left it on account of their obduracy and perseverance in profligacy, and retired to the mountains where he took a temporary shelter in a cave. Lot's behaviour here sufficiently demonstrates how difficult it is for those accustomed to such enjoyments, to give up and part with earthly pleasures and carnal affections ; and however lightly we may think of the matter, yet, from this case and our experience in Ufe, moat clearly is the danger established of suffering our children and families to be exposed to pernicious examples in society; and hence the necessity, which cannot be too anxiously inculcated, of preventing, by all possible attention^ such exposure, both as it regards our issue and others under our charge^
and the hazard arising therefrom to ourselves of its becoming, through habit, indifferent to us, however sufficiently we may conceive our own principles to be proof against its eftcts. Fourthly^ God's providential care of his servants, upon special occasions, when he executes vengeance upon the wicked. The Almighty, we see, would not suffer his wradi to be poured forth, until Lot, whose fiiult was an unguarded but very unjustifiable imprudence, not from any vicious inelination, in thus remaining among a people guilty of such abandoned atrocities, was got beyond its bounds, by which time the sun was made witness to the overwhelming calamity. With his entry into Zoar, commenced the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and all the plain and neighbourhood of them, this town alone excepted, whose inhabitants must have been instantly awakened by him to hear of the threat^ to see its execution, and to be informed of their own safety, with that of their properties, by his having earnestly entreated
DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. 117 God for them. The awful fiery torrent, which was so extensively and tremendously poured foTtbj was now exhibited, and the cause thereof explained by the strongest language and force of expression which Lot, from the feelings of na^ture, personal terror and grief, could display : Yet it would appear that this people was so irrecoverably immersed in the heinous vices which had occasioned this dreadful example, that Lot, finding his endeavours ta reclaim them utterly unavailable^ did, for fear of the Almighty's vengeance being still extended to them, almost immediately after remove from the scene of such iniquity, and, proceeding to the mountains, out of the reach of further intercourse with them, betook himself, in the mean time, for shelter, to a cave. Fifthly^ The danger of *evil habits. The obstinate and pertinacious adherence of the Zoarites to the abominable practices which had thus brought, upon the principal cities
of their neighbourhood, a vengeance so terribly executed in their very sight, naturally calls our most serious attention to the extreme hazard of allowing such practices to grow into habit, or the vices of sensuality, lust, and licentiousness to gain upon our affections, and to subjugate them to their control. Almost as easUy may we force the raging ocean to compose itself and be quiet; the desolating hurricane to withhold its ravages ; or the destructive whirlwind to alter its course, as a firmly rooted vice to leave the heart of which it has got hold. To prevent its setting down, we should guard against its approach, and still more against approaching it. In this last respect. Lot was exceedingly culpable, in settling among a people so lost to all sense of delicacy and virtue, remaining, till thus driven out, and again betaking himself to a town 'of the same debauched manners, after God had so testified his signal displeasure with those in whose destruc* tion were involved all his own children and their issue, ex-
118 DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. cept his two unmarried daughters, as well as the wife of his bosom. We are compelled to condemn his want of prudence, if not his indifference, and we wish it did not strike, as a most just reproof, against too many among ourselves and the other professors of Christianity, in all ages and nations, in matters similar. Sixthly^ We have in Abraham's intercession for Sodom, and the answers made to him, an evidence of the great sufferance of the Deity to sinners, for his love to, and on account of, those who remain among them faithful in their allegiance. LfCt us not suppose, presumptuously, however, that the mere professing of ourselves to be his disciples, is all that is requisite to obtain, and that it does obtain, his &vourable regard either for our success in this life, or our happiness in the next. The Deity does not regulate his government accord* ing to the spirit of man. He is not subject to flattery, ignorance, partiality, or to an intemperately violent, outrageous,
passionate, or revengeful anger, as man is, nor does he execute his wrath unseasonably. Long is his suffering patience with the workers of iniquity, but his permission of their evil courses, beyond the period of the recite which man would grant to man, must not encourage us to imagine that he overlooks them, and, far less, that he will forget to inflict their merited degree of chastisement The fitte of Sodom and Gomorrah; the destruction of the old world and the Canaanittsh nations ; and the many other instances of heavy correction and calamity, prove to us, that he will execute his vengeance upon the incorrigible among us, as he did upon those. It becomes us, therefore, to consider the judgments which he has so set before us, and, by repentance and amendment of our o¥m ways, to beware of the conduct and £Eite of those whose judgments are so recorded for our government, and tremble for the consequences of our own infidelity, insensibility, ingrati-
DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. 119 tude, and direct acts of disobedience and heavy transgressions, committed in the face of the most extensive mercy and favour in the power of heaven to bestow, — his threatenings being equally directed against ourselves as those on whom they were executed ; and let us remember that by recording and setting before us the account of these examples, so much the more will, at last, the severity of his judgments be executed, with the- most evident and equitable propriety, upon us, so far as we disregard the warnings he has given, and the extent of mercy which he has held so long out to us. We see,-aiso, that the patience of God had borne with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, until their profligacy and obdurate disposition to iniquity had reached its utmost extent. As was the excessive degree of their depravity, so appears that of their exemplary punishment; and though the Almighty does not always, in the present life, square his vengeance to the wickedness of man, yet we have here a very remarkable evidence that what he overlooks, in our present state, he will inflict in the future, when his perfect justice will
shine forth as the meridian sun in its greatest splendour. Seoenthfyy We have further, in Abraham's intercession, a shadow of the development and representation of our Saviour's for sinners. Christ, in his person of man, was in the practice of addressing himself to God in prayer, fervently, for the pardon, and on the behoof of those, for whom, and in whose nature, he became the representative, and he was no less earnest in enforcing the duty of supplication on all mankind, for themselves and their neighbours. Witness his various precepts for the conduct of man ; his instructions to his disciples as to that duty ; his asking a blessing to, and giving thanks to God for, and before tasting of food ; his exercise of private devotion ; petitioning for the apostle Peter's preservation ; and, under the torment of his sufferings, praying, upon
120 DESTEUCTIO OF 80D0M. the cross, for the pardon of his murderers. In the character and constitution of nuin, he practically performed, while on earth, punctually and seriously, all the duties which be prescribed to his followers, both religious and moral ; and, in the same person, having satisfied, by his obedience and sub* mission to the will of his Father, the justice of God for sinners, he still regards and acts for us as the only accepted mediator between his Father and us, by intercession. To intercede, evidently infers humble submission to the will of the Supreme Head of the government of heaven, and to his determination as to the expediency and propriety of granting the request, Of this we have a clear proof in the intercession of Moses, who was the direct emblematical figure of our Redeemer, for the Israelites, when they so heavily transgressed and revolted in the wilderness. '^ I wiU have mercy," said God, in answer, " I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." Among mankind the same principle is adopted, and were it not so, not an entreaty would be made as of favour, but a demand as of right, which would be quite
inconsistent with the nature of an intercession for, and the grant of a pardon. In this sense, the prayer of our Saviour, on the cross, for those who persecuted and crucified him, falls to be taken; for we cannot yield our assent to a pardon having been necessarily granted to all or to any, in consequence of so petitioning for them. The determination of this was left to God the Father, whose peculiar province it was to judge of it. But our lledeemer, in making it, exhibits to us, a perfect model of what man ought to be, in the spirit of forgiveness and mercy toward his fellow, and in that of an earnest entreaty with God for our own and the pardon of our neighbours, comprehending all mankind. That the Redeemer has a claim upon his Father for the forgiveness of those, whom, by his omniscient attribute as
DESTRyCTIO OF SODOM. 121 God, he, from the beginning knew, were, of divine grace, granted to him, as the special reward of his redeeming 1oy6, is true, because his Father gave him a grant of that special number, absolutely, as of right, with the additional privilege of admitting to the same graco, through his intercession, all others who might cordially embrace the termg of that satisfaction, which he gave and accomplished for every -repentant sinner that should avail himself of the proffered mercy. The distinction between 'these -two classes, is obvious ; and therefore, so far as our Lord's persecutors and crucifiers were not comprehended in the original grant, they come under the latter denomination ; so that though our Savipur petitioned for them, he, notwithstanding, submitted his request to his Father, as the judge for determining the point of its propriety, while he, at the same time, thereby oonveyed to mankind, the evidence of his own spirit of meekness and chearful readiness to pass from the injuries done to hiniself, setting likewise before his creatures the practical example of his own conduct, in respect of that forgiving disposition which he inculcated the precept of through life, and declared to be the
will of God to be followed by every man toward his brother and neighbour; — a will which Grod himself, through the whole of his scriptural directions, has forcibly recommended, though he has left to the ordinary judges among men to settle their differences, where the spirit of contention and obstinacy of parties prevails over reason and propriety. Owing to the corrupted state of man, he has been graciously pleased to bear with many of his weaknesses ; and this in particular, of appointing special judges among the Israelites, for settling those differences which so frequently arise amoog brethren. We admit, howeyer, that Christ did also supplicate for Peter and all whom we may reasonably conclude to be known to him, as comprehended in the absolute £rant; but in this inVOL. I. Q
122 DESTRUCTIO OF SODOM. Stance he displayed his own filial reverence to, and respect for, his Father, to whom he universally ascribed the whole praise £>r man's salvation ; and it behoves us also to consider that he was all along performing, in his capacity of our rq>resentati ve, those duties which not only were necessary to evince a perfectibility of character, but to exemplify to Christians the exactitude of his conduct, in rendering a grateful sufirage of acknowledgment to Ood in all things, as the supreme head and director of the universe ; the fountain of mercy ; and the chief mover of the great work of man's redemption : ot only so, but to instruct every man in humUity and in the knowledge of his salvation being, indeed, in either case, of the sole mercy and grace of God, as well as to avoid the presumption of supposing himself of the number of those so absolutely bestowed upon our Redeemer ; whereby they might fall into a state of slothfulness and inactivity of duty, and come short of that salvation which requires the most zealous and ardent practical spirit of working it out with a grateful sensibility of affection to God, as well as faith in his promise ; rendering to him the whole glory and honour, and divesting
himself of every claim as to personal merit, accounting himaelf wholly unworthy of such heavenly favour. But if Crod has extended his special grace to some, he has not prevented any from accepting of his general offer of mercy. This from Adam's trial forward, has been held out to, and pressed upon man, and so far as not accepted of, man owes his perdition to his own wilful obstinacy and depravity. From none does he withhold his grace, if it is sought after, according to those principles which he has revealed to us, and did, from the first, and throughout, reveal and make known to all, until they betook themselves to their own guidance, and became the directors of their own ways.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.