Page images
[blocks in formation]

And be faid, 0 let not the Lord be angry,

and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure ten shall be found there. And be said, I will not destroy it for ten's fake.


OU must all of you recollect that these

words are represented as addressed to the Deity by the Patriarch Abraham, when he was interceding with him for the city of Sodom. There can scarcely be a more affecting reprefentation, and it is not possible that on the present occasion, I should speak to you on a properer subject. The calamity by which Sodom and the whole country round it was destroyed, is one of the most antient as well as the most tremendous events, of which we have any account in history. We have a particular relation of it in the sixth chapter of this book of Genesis; and, throughout all the subsequent parts of scripture, it is referred to, and held forth as an example and a warning to other countries.—Thus' in Jude we read, that Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about


them, them, had been set forth for an example, suffering tbe vengeance of eternal fire; that is, a fire which totally consumed them, and which appeared to be even still burning, and would probably burn till the end of the world. So likewise in the prophecy of Jeremiah, the Lth chapter and 40th verse, it is said that Babylon should 110 móre be inhabited for ever; and that as God had overthrowon Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighbouring cities, sa Should Babylon be overthrown. And in Deuteronomy the xxixth and 23d, the prophetical denunciation againit the children of Israel is, that if they forfook the Lord, and served other gods, their land should be turned into brimstone and salt and burning, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. And in Luke xvii. and 28th and following verses, our Lord, in admonishing his disciples to vigilance, directs them to think of the security and carelessness of the inhabitants of Sodom, before God rained fire and brimstone from Heaven, and destroyed them all. It is in allusion also to this event, that in the Revelation (ch. xix. 20, and xxi. 8.) the future extirpation of anti-christian delusion, and of the workers of iniquity, is expressed by their being cast into a lake burning with fire and brimstone.

That part of the land of Judea, where these devoted cities stood, was rich and fertile above all the other parts of Judea. In Genesis, chap. xiii. we are told that when Lot separated froin Abraham, he looked over all the plain of Jordan, and saw that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Ægypt. This induced great numbers of people to settle in this part of Judea ; and, particularly, it engaged Lot and his family to settle here. It was an extenfive plain, bounded to the east and west by very high mountains, about seventy-two miles in length and eighteen in breadth. Here several cities were built, the principal of which were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admch, Zeboim and Zoar. The causes that produced the richness of the soil, and crouded this country with inhabitants, were such as at the same time produced a corruption of manners, and rendered its ruin unavoidable. The fertility of the soil proceeded from a warmth communicated to it by subterranean fires. And this, probably, joined to the ease and indulgen. cies arising from a rich foil, contributed to enflame the passions of the inhabitants, and to render them so infamous as we are told they were for wickedness. But while they were rioting in voluptuousness, there was a dreadful enemy working below them, which had been destined by Divine justice to destroy them. The fun being risen


upon the earth (as the history tells us) one morning; and Lot and his family (the only righteous persons left) having escaped by Divine di



[ocr errors]

rection, the flames burst forth, the whole country sunk at once, and water took its place. The Scriptures call this event God's raining down from Heaven fire and brimstone. The truth is, that it was an event of the same kind with many that have happened since; or an eruption of liquid fire from the bowels of the earth, like the erup. tions from volcanos, attended with thunder and lightening and earthquakes. So shocking, in this instance, was the catastrophe, that a country, before one of the richest and best peopled in the world, was in one hour converted into a smoaking lake, which has been ever since called the Asphaltic * lake, or the Dead Sea. The river Jordan had run through this country; but ever fince it has discharged itself into this lake, and lost itself in it. Its water is salt and nauseous in

* That is, the lake of brimstone. The name of the Dead SEA has been given it from the immoveable stillness of its waters, produced by the bituminous and unctuous matter mixed with it, and floating upon it. Diodorus Siculus, (Lib. xth, chap. 6.) in describing this lake, says, that though feveral rivers of sweet water empty themselves into it, the water of it is so bitter and finking, that no fish can live in it; that great pieces of brimstone frequently rise from the bottom of it, and reft upon its surface like islands; and that the air on its coafts is so hot and so infected by fulphureous fteams, that the inhabitants are very unhealthy and shortlived. Tacitus calls it, lacus immenso ambitu, specie maris, sapore corruptior, gravitate odoris accolis peftifer. Neque venta impellitur, neque pisces patitur,



« PreviousContinue »