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tame ands, apprenticeonstituted
so unlike to Abraham in this world, do you think that you can be numbered amongst his children in the world to come ? O judge yourselves, that ye may not be judged of the Lord in that great and fearful day.] 2. In a way of reproof
[Surely this subject administers a severe reproof not only to those who never employ their influence at all for God, but those also who exert it only in a tame and timid ineffectual way.
Think, ye who have children, servants, apprentices, have ye no responsibility on their account? Has not God constituted you watchmen to give them warning of their subtle enemy, and to shew them how they are to escape from his assaults ? And, if they perish through your neglect, shall not their blood be required at your hands? Did God intrust them to you for your comfort and advancement only, and not at all for their benefit? And the many Sabbaths which he has given you to be improved for them, shall not a fearful account be given of them also? Is it pleasing to Him, think you, that you suffer the ordinances of divine worship to be neglected by them, and the Sabbaths to be wasted in idle vanities, instead of being employed by them and you for their welfare?
But perhaps you will say, 'I do occasionally give them good advice.' What is that? Abraham did not satisfy himself with giving good advice to his children and his household, but “ commanded them:" he maintained authority in his family, and exercised that authority for God. And thus should you do also. Eli could say to his sons, “ Nay, my sons, this is no good report that I hear of you: ye make the Lord's people to transgress.” He even went further, and reminded them of the day of judgment: “ If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?” But was this all that his situation called for? No: he should have “commanded them,” and have thrust them out from the priestly office, if they did not obey his injunctions: and because he neglected to do this, God sent him a message that “made the ears of all that heard it to tingle.” And some awful message shall you also have, if you neglect to employ for God the authority you have received from God: for “ them that honour him he will honour; and those who despise him shall be lightly esteemed m."] 3. In a way of encouragement
[True it is, that though you may command, you cannot ensure obedience to your commands: and notwithstanding your utmost care, there may be much amiss among those who are under your control. In Abraham's family there was a mocking
m 1 Sam. ii. 22—3.
and in Jacy instar all your
Ishmael, in Isaac's a profane Esau, and in Jacob's many a sinful character. But still, if you fail in many instances, and succeed in only one, will not one soul repay you for all your trouble? --- The testimony of your own conscience too, confirmed by the witness of God's Spirit-is this no recompence? Will not this amply repay every effort you can make, even though you should never succeed in one single instance? Reflect too on the testimony which God himself will give you in the last day: “I know him:" I know how he persevered under the most discouraging circumstances : I know the battles he fought for me: I know the contempt he endured for me: but he was determined to persevere: and "he was faithful unto death: and therefore I award to him a crown of life.” Say, Brethren, is there not enough in such a prospect as this to carry you forward, though your difficulties were ten thousand times greater than they are? Say not, 'I am not able to conduct family worship, and to instruct my family. If this be the case, as doubtless in many instances it is, are there not helps sufficient to be obtained from books of instruction and from forms of prayer? Do your best; and beg of God to bless your endeavours : and you shall not labour in vain nor run in vain : for “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings God will ordain strength, and perfect praise."]
XXX. ABRAHAM'S INTERCESSION FOR SODOM. Gen. xviii. 32. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and
I will speak yet but this once : Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.
THE selection of this chapter as one of the Lessons for this day* intimates, that the doctrine of a Trinity . of persons in the Godhead derives some confirmation from it. That one of these strangers who visited Abraham in the likeness of men, was God, cannot admit of any doubt: for He is called The LORD, that is Jehovah, above ten times in this and the following chapter; and Abraham's address to him clearly shews, that he knew him to be God. Moreover there is reason to think that it was the Second Person in the Trinity, who thus conversed with Abraham; because Abraham calls him “the Judge of all the earth.”
* Trinity Sunday.
Now “ the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment to the Sona:" and therefore we conclude, that this was not God the Father, but God the Son. But it is by no means clear that the other two strangers were the other persons in the Trinity. Many of the ancients indeed thought they were so; and there is some foundation for their opinion: for Lot addressed them in terms which seem more properly applicable to God than to angels; “ Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life b." And one of the angels (for so those two are called) answered him in language almost too exalted for a creature to use, “ See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing." But if we consider the peculiar nature and extent of their commission, we may account for the use of this language without supposing either of them to be God. And indeed there is clear evidence that they were only angels, attendant on the Son of God, and sent by him; for they themselves say, “ The Lord hath sent us to destroy Sodome.” Nevertheless, if we admit, as we must, that the person who is here so frequently called Jehovah, was God the Son (for no man hath seen the Father at any time"), the chapter clearly marks a plurality of persons in the Godhead; and therefore is properly read on this day, when the Trinity in Unity is the peculiar subject to which our attention is called.
To Him, even to our adorable Emmanuel, did Abraham address his intercession on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrha: an intercession the most instructive of all that are recorded in the sacred volume. When Abraham understood that this divine Person with his attendant angels was come to destroy those wicked cities, he entreated that, if fifty righteous persons could be found in them, the wicked might be spared for their sake. Having prevailed thus far, he in five successive petitions reduced the number to ten, and
a John v. 22. b Gen. xix. 18, 19. c Gen. xix. 1. d Gen. xix. 21. e Gen. xix. 13.
i John i. 18.
obtained a promise that if only ten could be found, the rest should be spared for their sake. What an astonishing idea does this give us of GOD'S REGARD FOR HIS PEOPLE! · Let us observe, I. How dear to Him are their persons!
We forbear to notice the honourable appellations which he gives them (as his jewels, his peculiar treasure, &c.) or the great and precious promises made to them, or the blessings of grace bestowed upon them: we shall confine our attention solely to the interpositions of his providence in their behalf: because it is in that view only that they are noticed in the text. But in marking God's kindness to them, we shall notice it as manifested, 1. To them personally
[We cannot conceive any thing so great, but God has actually done it for his people.
He has controlled the elements. The earth has opened at his command to maintain the authority of his chosen prophet, and to swallow up his insolent competitors. The air has raised itself into tempests, and shot forth its lightnings, and shaken the foundations of the earth, with its thunders, in order to punish the enemies of his people", or vindicate their injured honouri. Fire also has suspended its destructive energies, in order to defeat the persecuting rage of a tyrant, and rescue from his hands the children of oppressions. Nor has the water been backward to obey his will, when any signal benefit was to be conveyed to his favourite people. It has repeatedly stood as a wall, to open an avenue for them through the rivers', and through the seam.
God has compelled all classes of the brute creation also to consult their benefit. The birds, though of the most voracious kind, have served up the stated meals of bread and meat to his prophet in a time of dearth and necessity”. The beasts, though fierce and hunger-bitten, have shut their mouths before the saint, whom they were invited to destroy". The fishes have swallowed up a drowning prophet, to discharge him again in safety upon the dry landP; or taken into their mouth a bait
& Numb. xvi. 32.
h Exod. ix. 23-25. i 1 Sam. xii. 16—18. k Dan. iii. 27. i Josh. iii. 15, 16. 2 Kings ii. 8, 14. m Exod. xiv. 21, 22. a 1 Kings xvii. 6. o Dan. vi. 22. P Jonah ii. 17. and iü.10.
rving, and ultiplied thred the ha
unsuited to their appetite, that the Saviour in his humiliation might be enabled to pay his tax 4. The insects too have united their irresistible efforts to punish a proud and cruel nation, and to assert the liberties of God's oppressed people.
We may add also, that even the heavenly bodies have been overruled by God for the purpose of aiding, or comforting, or honouring those who were dear to him. The sun and moon stood still for the space of a whole day, to witness the triumphs of his chosen servants s. “The stars in their courses fought against Sisera t." And the shadow on the sun-dial of Ahaz returned ten degrees, that a pious and afflicted monarch might be assured of the deliverance which his soul desiredu.
How dear to God must they be to whom the whole creation is thus made subservient, and for whose benefit the government of the universe is administered !]
2. To others for their sake
[For their sakes blessings have been imparted to the undeserving, and judgments averted from the wicked. For Jacob's sake God multiplied the flocks of Laban; and from respect to Joseph he prospered the house of Potiphary. If ten righteous could have been found in Sodom, the impending destruction would have been turned from all the cities of the plain?: and notwithstanding the extreme wickedness of its inhabitants, the city of Zoar was exempted from the common fate, at the intercession of Lota; nor could the storm be poured out upon Sodom, till Lot was placed beyond its reach b. The mercy shewn to a whole ship's company on account of Paul, deserves peculiar notice. There were 276 souls on board : the storm was so violent that there was no hope left for their preservation; they were just ready to be swallowed up in the tempestuous waves. But there was one saint on board ; a saint, hated of men, but beloved of God : and for his sake the whole were preserved from death, and not a hair of their heads suffered to perish. When God was about to send the Jews into captivity, he told them, that if they could find one righteous man in Jerusalem, he would spare them alla: and after he had inflicted his judgments upon them, he assigned as his reason for it, that not one had been found to stand in the gap, and to intercede for them. After the murder of the Messiah, the Jewish nation was devoted to utter destruction : but when the days of vengeance came, “they were shortened for
9 Matt. xvii. 27. Exod. viii. 17, 24.
Josh. x. 13. X Gen. xxx. 27. a Gen. xix. 21. d Jer. v. 1.