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Canaan from the birth of Isaac, and the time they dwelt in Egypt from the promotion of Joseph. Indeed, strictly speaking, these two periods contain forer hundred and five years. But every body knows that author, both sacred and profane, to avoid fractions, sometimes add, and sunuvimos diminish, in their calculations. In the twelfth chapter of Exodus, ver. 40. Moses waith, The chil
of Israel dwelt in Egypt four hundred and thirty years; but it is beyond a doubt, that he useth a concise way of speaking in this pas
age, and that the Seventy had reason for paraphrasing the words thus : The sojourning of the children of Israel in THE LAND OF CANAAN, AND in the land of Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. If the reasonableness of this paraphrase be allowed, there will still remain a difference of thirty years between the time fixed in Genesis by the Lord for the conquest of Canaan, and the time mentioned by Moses in Exodus, but it is easy to reconcile this seeming difference, for the calculation in Genesis begins at the birth of Isaac, but the other commences at Abraham's arrival in Canaan. The reckoning is exact, for Abraham dwelt twenty-five years in Canaan before Isaac was born, and there were four hundred and five years from the birth of Isaac to the departure out of Egypt. This is the meaning of the passage quoted from Exodus, and as it perfectly agrees with our context, we shall conclud that this first article is sufficiently explained. Our second regards the meaning of the word
generation which is mentioned in the context. This term is equivocal: sometimes it signifies the whole age of each person in a succession; and in this sense the evangelist says, from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, Matt. i. 17. Sometimes it is put for the whole duration of a living multi-. tude; and in this sense Jesus Christ useth it, when he saith, this generation, that is, all his contemporaries shall not pass away, till his prophecies concerning them were fulfilled. Sometimes it signifies a period of ten years. omd-t this sense it is used in the book of Baruch; the captivity of Baby
which continued we know, seventy years, is there said to remain seven generations, chap. vi. 2.
We understand the word now in the form and we mean that, from the arrival of the Israelites in Egypt, to the time of their migration, there were four successions : The first was the generation of Kohath, the son of Levi; the second of Amram the son of Kohath; the third was that of Moses and Aaron ; and the fourth was that of the children of Moses and Aaron, Exodus, vi. 16, 18, 20. &c.
Our third observation relates to the word Amorites in our text. The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. The word Amorites has two significations in scripture: a particular, and a general meaning. It hath a particular meaning when it denotes the descendants of Hamor, the fourth son of Canaan, Gen. x. 16, who first inhabited a mountainous country westward of the dead sea, Josh. xii. 23. and afterwards spread themselves eastward of that sea, between the rivers Jabbok and Arnon, having dispossessed the Amorites, and Moabites. Sihon and Og, two of their kings, were defeated by Moses.
But the word Amorites is sometimes used in a more general sense, and denotes all the inhabitants of Canaan. To cite many proofs would divert our attention too far from our principal design, let it suffice therefore to observe, that we take the word in our text in this general meaning.
But what crimes does the Spirit of God include in the word iniquity? The iniquity of the Amo
rites is not yet full. Here, my brethren, a detail would be horrid, for so great were the excesses of these people, that we should in some sense partake of their crimes, by attempting to give an exact list of them. So excessive was the idolatry of the Canaanites, that they rendered the honors of supreme adoration not only to the most mean, but even to the most impure and infamous creatures. Their inhumanity was so excessive that they sacrificed their own children to their gods. And so monstrous was their subversion, not only of the laws of nature, but even of the common irregularities of human nature, that a vice, which must not be named, was openly practised; and in short, so scandalous was the depravation of religion and good manners, that Muses, after he bad given the Israelites laws against the most gross idolatry, against incest, against beastiality, against that other crime, which our dismal circumstances oblige us to mention, in spite of so many reasons for avoiding it; Moses, I say, after having forbidden all these excessses to the Israelites, positively declares that the Canaanites were guilty of them all : that the earth was weary of such execrable monsters; and that for these crimes God had sent the Israelites to destroy them, chap. xviii. 24, 25. Defile not yourselves, says he in the book of Leviticus (after an enumeration of the most shameful vices that can be imagined) Defile not yourselves in any of these things, for in all these, the nations are de.filed which I cast out before you. Therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. And again in the 12th chapter of Deuteronomy, ver. 30. Take heed to thijself, that thou be not snared by following them after that they be destroyed from before thee, and that thou inquire not . . saying, How did these
nations .... even so will I do likewise. Such were the iniquities which God forbore to punish for many ages, and at last punished with a severity, in
appearance, contrary to his equity; but there is nothing astonishing in it to those who consult the fore-mentioned maxim, that is, that it is equitable in God to proportion the punishments of guilty nations to the time granted for their repentance.
We observe lastly, that though God in his infinite mercy had determined to bear four hundred years longer with nations, unworthy of his patience, there was one sin excepted from this general goodness—there was one of their iniquities that drew down the most formidable preternatural punishinents upon those who committed it, and forced divine justice to anticipate, by a swift vengeance, a punishment, which in other cases, was deferred for four whole ages. St. Paul paints this iniquity in the most odious colors in the first of Romans, and it was constantly punished with death by the Jews. Read with a holy fear, the nineteenth chapter of Genesis. The inhabitants of the cities of the plain were possessed with a more than brutal madness. Two angels in human forms are sent to deliver Lot from the judgments which are about to destroy them. The amiable borrowed forms of these intelligences strike the eyes of the inhabitants of Sodom, and excite their abominable propensities to sin. A crowd of people, young and old, instantly surround the house of Lot, in order to seize the celestial messengers, and to offer violence to them, and though they are striken blind, they persist in feeling for doors which they cannot see. Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, being inhabited by none but people of this abominable kind, are all given up to the vengeance due to their crimes. The Lord raineth fire and brimstone from the Lord, Gen. xix. 24. The brimstone enkindled, penetrates so far into the veins of bitumen, and other inflammable bodies, of which the ground is full, that it forms a lake, denominated in scripture the Dead Sea : and, to use the words of an apocryphal writer, the waste land that smoketh, and plants bearing fruit that never come to ripeness, are even to this day a testimony of the wickedness of the five cities, Wisdom x. 7. In vain had Lot vexed his righteous soul from day to day, 2 Pet. ii. 8. In vain had Abraham availed himself of all the interest that piety gave him in the compassion of a merciful God in vain had the abundance of his fervent benevolence said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes : Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city ; peradventure forty ; peradventure twenty ; peradventure ten, Gen.: xviii. 23, 27, &c. The decree of divine vengeance must be executed. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth, Psal. ii. 10. God grant you may never know any thing more of these terrible executions than what you learn from the history just now related !
I return to my subject, except to that part of it last mentioned, the sin of the cities of the plain. The iniquites of the Canaanites were suffered for more than four hùndred years; so long would God defer the destruction of the Amorites by Israel, because till then their iniquity would not have attained its height. And why would he defer the destruction of these miserable people till their iniquities should have attained their height? This, as we said in the beginning, is the subject upon which we are going to fix your attention. God exercised his patience long toward the inost wicked people,