Page images

waxen rich in flocks and herds, so that the land could not bear both, was now to separate from him. Lot as well as Abraham had been partaker in the heavenly calling; he had worshipped the same God, professing the same faith. His separation from Abraham would therefore seem to point out the separation of the Jewish and Gentile churches ; and Lot's preservation amidst the wickedness of the inhabitants of that land, till his final deliverance from Sodom, is one of the finest representations of the preservation of the church of God, which the scriptures set before us. • The Lord knoweth to

deliver the godly out of temptation,' &c. On the strife of herdsmen, we will have occasion to speak particularly in the subsequent part of this book. We have in Lot's choice, a very just view of the human heart, and its worldly attachments. The manner in which he was exposed to temptation, while vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked, is a true specimen of the entanglements and snares of this world. After the separation of Lot, Abraham is commanded to lift up his eyes and look in every direction, and then to arise and walk through the whole land, “ for,' said the Almighty, “to thee will I • give it,' It was also promised to him, that his seed should be as . the dust of the earth. The reader will carry along in his mind the two covenants which are founded on these promises. They were lite. rally fuifilled in Canaan ; they shall be completely fulfilled, when Abraham and his seed takes possession of the everlasting kingdom of our God and Saviour.

Chap. XIV.-We have in this chapter an account of the first war. fare among nations, recorded either in sacred or profane history. The account of Melchisedec which is here introduced, is the principal subject which attracts notice; but as it is examined at considerable length in the Dictionary, we shall not here enlarge. The deliverance of Lot by means of Abraham, with all that belonged to him, is a grand figure of God's elect among the nations ; the full extent of which will only be understood at the close of the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Then will Melchisedec appear to bless not Abraham only, but alí his household.

Chap. XV.-In the beginning of this chapter, we find the word Jehovah coming to Abraham in vision, with that encouraging revelation of his character, which is still set before man in the scriptures ; That he is the shield and exceeding great reward' of his people. Man is in such a state of dangerous warfare in this world, that nothing less than the protection of Jesus Christ himself can support him. The hope of the gospel may well be called an exceeding great reward. This reward bringing to Abraham's view the promise concerning his seed, we find the natural language of his heart forcibly expressed in these words : Lord God what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and my steward is this Eliezer of Damascus ?

This gives occan bion for the renewal of the promise, 1. As to his great seed, Christ; 2. Ar to the innumerable multitude who shall be saved through him. This promise in Abraham’s situation, was most opposite to all natural


appearances; but he believed · in hope against hope,' and his faith was imputed to him for righteousness. The promise was confirmed by sacrifice, attended by many circumstances, remarkably prefiguring the great sacrifice of the Son of God, in right of which, Abraham and all his seed shall enjoy the inheritance.

CHAP. XVI.- The history of the bondwoman and the free, Hagar and Sarai, occupies this chapter. This remarkable allegory having been considered at some length, we shall only detain our readers with a few remarks on the history of the descendants of Ishmael, in corro. boration of the word of God, as mentioned in this and some following chapters. 1. It was promised, • I will make of him a great nation ;' we accordingly find Ishmaelites trading into Egypt, who bought Jo. seph. His seed was afterwards multiplied exceedingly in the Hagarenes, in the Nabathians, Itureans, Arabs, Scenites and Saracens, who overran a great part of the world ; and the Arabs are a very nume. rous people at this day. 2. • Twelve princes shall he beget.' This cir. cumstance is very particular, but it was punctually fulfilled, and Moses has given us the names of the twelve princes, Gen. xxv. 16. 3. * And he will be a wild man,' or, as it is in the original,“ a wild ass * man,' which Bochart translates, ' as wild as a wild ass.' We cannot understand the force of this expression, from the appearance of the ass as we see it in this country; but it is remarkably delineated, Job xxxix. 5. &c. which see. Agreeably to this description, Ishmael and his descendants were to be wild, fierce, savage, ranging in the deserts, and not easily tamed to society; and this is a genuine character of that people to this day. 4. · He was to dwell in the wilderness, • and become an archer.' This was not only true of him, but of his descendents, who dwell in that very wilderness to this day. His posterity were also famous archers ; the bows and arrows of the Itureans are famous in all history. 5. • His hand will be against every man, and

every man's hand against him.' His descendents have lived in a state of constant warfare with all the world beside in every age.

Chap. XVII.-A still more extensive view of the promise is now given to Abraham, although above twenty-three years more had passed, and he was now far advanced in years. In this view, his as well as Sarah's name is changed ; and the blessing of Abraham is now promised to the nations. As a sign of God's covenant, circumcision is instituted ; as to whicla' it is only necessary to mention the following particulars, as constantly to be kept in view on this subject : 1. The cutting off the foreskin, was intended to prefigure the cutting off the blessed seed. 2. As it was an ordinance which nature never introdu. ced nor supported, tó which she could give no insight, nothing less than an express and immediate command of heaven could have led Abraham to have adopted it. 3. It was a sign or seal of the righteousness of faith. 4. Although no Israelite could inherit Canaan who was not circumcised, yet it had no respect to the earthly inheritance, otherwise that as pointing to the heavenly. 5. As it respected that blessing which should be extended to the nations, the stranger bought - with Abraham's money was to be circumcised as well as his own posterity. 6. It was a figure of the circumcision of the heart, by the operation of the gospel in the mind. 7. Excommunication, viz. putting to death, was the penalty of neglecting this ordinance of old : they would do well to consider the consequences, who forbid water to the children of Abraham's household now. The natural reasonings of Abraham's heart are remarkably depicted in the 17th and 18th verses of this chapter ; also Sarah's unbelief. We have already mentioned the twelve princes of Ishmael.

CHAP. XVIII.—This chapter contains many interesting particulars deserving more particular investigation than we can here attempt. Jesus Christ makes a new appearance to Abraham, and that in the oaks of Mamre, where Abraham's altar stood, and where he worshipped. We are expressly told, that the Lord appeared to Abraham in Mamre, verse 1. ; and immediately after, he lift up his eyes, and lo, three men stood by him. It has from this been supposed, that one of these three men was the Son of God himself; and others think that this does not appear from the text; on the contrary, that verse 22. contradicts any such idea. . And the men turned their faces from

thence, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. And Abraham drew near,' &c. To understand this

passage, and make it read consistently in this last view, we must keep in mind the nature and manner of divine revelation in the patriarchal age. The Lord appeared in the oak, which was the tabernacle of the time. That Schechinah which afterwards appeared in the cloud on the mercy seat, made a visible appearance to Abraham in Mamre. These three men appear thus to have been God's angels, as the executioners of his wrath sent towards Sodom. In this view, we can understand how the men went towards Sodom, while Abraham drew near to the Lord. We have mentioned both views; the reader must determine for himself. Besides this, we have several very interesting matters exhibited in this chapter ; but, in a particular manner, Abraham's character, as the intercessor for Sodom. As the destruction of Sodom and the cities of the plain, is a figure of the vengeance

of eternal fire, and as that vengeance could not be executed while ten righteous remained, so we may rest assured, that faith will be indeed rare on earth before God pours out liis wrath on the world of the ungedly. While this chapter lies before us, we cannot avoid noticing a memorable passage, which is generally quoted as the authority or warrant for supporting family worship. For I know him, that he will com• mand his children and his household after him, and they shall keep • the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment,' &c. verse 19. That to maintain the worship of God in the family, is an important religious duty, no fearer of God will deny ; but there is evi. dently a higher object in view. Abraham's household and children are the whole church of God, who were to be taught the nature of divine judgment, from the manifestation of it now to be made. And thus we find Abraham teachiug his household from this event to this day.

CHAP. XIX. We have here exhibited one of the most awful and instructive events which scripture records. Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth, an example of suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.' We ought not to read this history, merely as a tale of past times, but remember, that it stands on record for our learning, on whom the ends of the world are come. That beautiful plain which had allured the eyes

of Lot, in one eventful day, converted into a vast smoking furnace! Cities and other inhabitants swallowed up in a deluge of fire ! The incidents of the men coming to Sodom, Lot sitting in the gate, inviting them to his house, &c. are beautiful specimens of the simple manners of that age ; but there are other matters which will more materially interest the Christian, 1. As it was in the days of Lot, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be : the cup of iniquity has ever been full, before the cup of vengeance is poured out. Violence had covered the earth before the flood came. The iniquity of Sodom had not left ten persons living by divine righteousness, before God rained on them out of heaven. The nations of Canaan were completely sunk in their idolatry before Israel destroyed them. The Jews had fille ed up the measure of their iniquity by crucifying the Son of God, be. fore all the righteous blood shed from Abel to Zacharias was a. venged. Antichrist had slain the blood of prophets, before she got blood to drink; and infidelity shall complete her conquest, before the elements shall melt with fervent heat.

Although the particular uncleanness which prevailed in Sodom, and which has ever since been distinguished by the name of that city, was doubtless a material part of her iniquity, yet we are inclined to think it was connected with all spiritual wickedness. Jude, verse 7. says, they went after strange flesh ;' and the vine of Sodom is evidently connected with the grossest idolatries. It is manifest indeed from all scripture, that in proportion as the fear of God is lost, fleshly Insts will appear warring against the soul, Rom. i. 26, 27. and Isaiah iii. 9. Divine mercy preserved Lot, verse 10. and protected all his house by smiting the men with blindness. A


similar circumstance is recorded, 2 Kings vi. 18. and of Elymas the sorcerer, Acts xiii. 11. Spiritual blindness overlook old Israel, Rom. xi. 8. ; and what is infidelity, but the grossest of darkness ? The extension of mercy to Lot’s sons in law, and their rejection of it, although askured that the Lord was just about to destroy the city, is a most remarkable picture of the deceit of the human heart. And indeed, we may in the visible appearances of God's judgments already on the earth, and the fulfilment of his word in the appearance of his kingdom, most justly think of the last call to Lot's kinsmen in the regions of Antichrist, • Come out of her my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and so of her plagues.' Many, many are now, like Lot's sons in law, considering this call as mockery. • When the morning

arose, the angels hastened Lot.' His situation exactly corresponds with the virgins in the parable ; they all slumbered and slept.' Divine mercy calls ! every event that is crowding after another, calls more loudly than before, The bridegroom coineth.' • Depart, I

pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest


be consumed in all their sins,' Numb. xvi. 26. The

[ocr errors]

16th verse is one of the finest pictures of sovereign preventing mercy recorded in the scriptures : Lot’s lingering, a true view of the hu. man hearts, and its attachment to this world. It is exactly thus that the gospel calls to the guilty. It is not, amend and remain, but esa cape for your life ! The gospel points the trembling condemned sinner, with the storm of divine vengeance ready to burst on his head, to the




way of holiness, consecrated by the rent vail of the flesh of the Son of God, in which the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err. The gospel directs to God's little city with few men in it, his Zoar, where there is safety. And the same mercy, which put a difference between the dwellings of Goshen, and the Egyptians, in that memorable night, when the destroying angel passed through, “ accepted Lot concerning this thing also, and God did not overthrow Zoar. Is it possible to conceive a finer figure of the great salvation, then is here ser before us. All the ci ties of the plain, in one blaze of destruction, but one little city in the midst of them, in safety, and the sun of righteousness shining, when blackness, darkness and tempestraged around. Happy for those who hear the voice which now calls to them from heaven! Happy they who are found in Zoar, in the morning of vengeance !

The reader may compare verse 24. with Job xviii. 5. and xxxi. 3. and verse 25. with Numb. xxxiv. 12. Psalm lxxxiii. 15. Deut. xxix. 23. Lot's wife and her punishment was a text on which our Lord preached, Luke xvii. 32. Very trifling then would any comment of ours be! In ver. 27. we are told, that • Abraham got up

to the place where he stood before the Lord ;' another proof of the nature of that place. Abraham had a distant view of the

vengeance, as all his household shall hereafter cry ALLELUIA, when they behold the smoke of spiritual Sodom ascending up


ever. Abraham looking on in safety, will remind of Psal. xci. 8. only with thine

eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.' Again, it will be remarked, that by delivering Lot, God shewed that he remembered Abraham, for the Gentiles shall escape at last because God will remember his covenant with Abraham.

From ver. 30. the incest of Lot's two daughters, and their offspring is recorded. This is one of those passages at which the infidel : offs, and many serious readers wish it liad not been recorded. We may most assuredly assert, that the Holy Spirit has indited nothing unworthy of God to record ; and that all such reflections must proceed from our ignorance.

Moab and Ammon were the deterinined enemies of the Old Testament church ; and they were the incestuous offspring of the father of the Gentile church ; their religion and worship was an unclean corruption and prostitution of the worship of the church. In like manner, the beast and the false prophet, Antichrist, in his two great appearances, the New Testament, Ammon and Moab, spring by incest with the Gentile church. The mother of harlots and abominations, was no stranger; it was by intoxicating Lot with the cup of her fornications, that all her incestuous brood had their birth.

Upon the whole, this is a chapter, which ought not to be slightly


« PreviousContinue »