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suade them to turn from their sins ? No! for they are hardened in impiety, and
mercy unavailing as light chastisement; for the one was inflicted in the ravages of Chedorlaomer and his allies, and the other graciously sent in the deliverance effected by Abraham, yet still they turned not to Jehovah.
This visit is one of judgment, yet to the last not unmingled with mercy. And to Abraham the highly favoured, the faithful,the “Friend of God,” is this purpose revealed, for he said, “Shall I hide from Abraham the 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.” But hear, what is the principal reason why God will thus honour him. “For I know 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.”
And the Lord said to him, “ Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now
and see whether their iniquity be altogether so great, that I may punish accordingly."
How long suffering and gracious is our God! How slow to anger, and of what surpassing goodness! Even now be will first examine;and if there be room for mercy, it shall be exercised.
And how is Abraham affected by this announcement? Is he indifferent, and does he apathetically exclaim “ Let them perish.”-No! he falls down before the Lord and entreats Him to spare them. “If there be any righteous in Sodom, wilt thou also destroy them with the wicked ? O! God ! that be far from Thee! If there be fifty righteous men found in the city, wilt Thou spare the place for their sakes ? Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Will the Lord listen to this prayer ? Will he for so few righteous ones spare the thousands so steeped in guilt? “Yes,” He replies, “If there be fifty righteous found in Sodom, I will spare the city.”
Still Abraham fears, for he knows the desperate wickedness of the people, and with deep earnestness implores further mercy.
« Behold now I, a vile creature,---a sinner who am but
dust and ashes, have presumed to mediate between my fellow sinners and thee, and Thou hast condescended to hear; bear with me patiently whilst I entreat once more; if there be five lacking of the fifty, wilt Thou destroy all for lack of those five ?”
Again he receives a gracious reply, and again and again, until the Lord promised to spare it for the sake of twenty. Yet Abraham trembles, and in an agony of pity and compassion exclaims, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will again venture upon thy long suffering and mercy, to entreat but once more; if there be found ten, wilt Thou spare it for their sake?” The infinite and incomprehensible mercy
of Jehovah again grants the prayer of his faithful servant. No more dared Abraham to entreat, but returned to his tent.
See in this example how much encouragement is given to those who will use the weapon
which God has placed in their hands. In sorrow, in sickness, or heaviness of heart, pour out your griefs at the foot of his throne, who has proclaimed himself a God who heareth and answereth prayer. He will give comfort even if
He see fit to continue the distress. An in how many cases does he in answer to the humble cry
of His servants hear and deliver them. “I called the Lord, and he heard me ; yea, and delivered me out of all my
distress." Truly, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
THE DESTRUCTION OF SODOM.
The sun had travelled from the burning height of the meridian heavens, and was shedding his rich and warm parting beams upon the plain; yet slowly and gradually disappearing as reluctant to leave those beauteous lands, and lingering to shed one more ray of love before departing to the cold regions of rock and barren mountain where he must shortly appear, and through which he would run his course sadly amid mist and cloud, as if weeping and pining after the gorgeous East and the bright and beautiful South. The rich tinted flowers which through the day had rejoiced in his presence, and spread their beauties before him, now closed their petals in sleep until his advent on the morrow; the green leaves that trembled as the fresh breeze sighed through the branches of the trees