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GENESIS xviii. 25. last clause.
I HE distinguishing kindness of God to Abraham, in calling him out from among his own kindred, and making him a subject of promise, is remarkably exhibited in the Mosaic history respecting him. That the family of Terah should be selected from all the families of the earth to inherit those peculiar and eminent blessings, which are secured in the covenant of divine grace ; and that Abraham should be chosen out of this family to be the heir of the world, as the promise imports, is resolvable into the sovereign and gracious will of him that calleth. When Abraham went out from his own country,in obedience to the divine command, to sojourn in the land of promise, he began to experience the comforts and advantages, not less than the trials, incidental to his situation. He was admitted to the enjoyment of a hapPy intercourse with God, such as none others were favored with ; to have the fundamental and soul-reviving truths of the gospel revealed to him in a clear and engaging manner, beyond what they ever had been to others ; and to be enlightened into the ways of Providence, more fully and particularly, than had been common to men. The work of mercy was brought into his view to a much larger extent, and in a much more af. fecting light, than it had been made known, at any former period, or to any other individual. The high rank, in his kingdom, with which God had been pleased to honor him, is alledged as a reason why he should be made acquainted with some of the judicial designs of Providence, before they were carried into execution. “And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do ; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him : For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment: that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” As God had placed him at the head of a numerous people, and a great nation, still to be born, and, in some sense, at the head of all nations, he would teach him how to conceive of the government of God towards nations ; that when they have become universally and grossly immoral, they must be devoted to extermination ; but that a few faithful ones may preserve a whole people. He would also teach him the difference between an elect, a covenanted people, such as were to proceed from his loins, and those portions of mankind, which have not been brought into being, and trained up under such favorable auspices. The meditated overthrow of Sodom was an occasion, which brought three persons into the presence of Abraham, of dignity greater than that of mere men. After receiving the patriarch's hospitality, they turned their faces towards the devoted city ; but he, who was chief in this important embassy, the original institutor and supreme director of it, while he sent forward his angels to perform the work of destruction alloted them, continued with Abraham and entered into free communion with him, upon the subject of the awful catastrophe now on the brink of taking place. He unfolds to him the counsels of Providence against the sinners of Sodom, and receives his intercessions in return. The saint, while, with trembling and tears, he reflects on the miserable doom of so many of his fellowmen, cheerfully submits their cause to God, under a tranquilizing belief, that the event would be the wisest and best possible, such as all righteous Ltings must acquiesce in. He admits that siu should be punished, and
that the sinner may consistently be made a public example ; but, being permitted, he avails himself of the supposed circumstance of their being connected in society with the righteous, and hence urges a request for their preservation. He proceeds upon it as a given principle, that God will not cast off a righteous man: that it is incompatible with the rectitude of his nature to requite persons of opposite characters, in the same manner. “That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked; and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee.” St. Peter says, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment ; and spared not the old world, but saved Noe, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample to those that after should live ungodly ; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked : The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” Such was Abraham’s faith in God, in his purity and perfection, that he believed he would be as careful to protect the righteous as to punish the wicked. The same essential love of
holiness and hatred of sin, which should occasion his proceeding rigorously against the wicked, must move him to succour the righteous and save them from harm. As He is the Judge of all the earth, he must do right.
The apostle has a similar conclusion in Rom. iii. 5. 6. “But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say ? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance ; (I speak as a man,) God forbid : for then how shall God judge the world P’” If God himself were to be found guilty of wrong, though in the smallest degree possible, how could he judge the world : how could he pass sentence of condemnation upon creatures for having violated the laws of eternal rectitude : We must have confidence in a judge, that he will do justice, or how can we submit to his decisions Abraham had this confidence in God, that it was not, and could not be, his will, when carrying into effect the wholesome regulations of his own government, with regard to moral subjects,to involve righteous and unrighteous persons in one common and promiscuous ruin. It was a most solemn and affecting occasion that called forth from the lips of the sympathizing patriarch the pious expression of the text. He had feelings for his fellowmen, which rendered it trying to behold the time of their destruction at hand. The messengers of Heaven were even now on their way towards Sodom, for the purpose of bringing it to *g desclation. But the