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refers to His merciful intention of saving Lot and his family, on which account alone He suspended the execution of the judgment He had resolved to bring upon the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is mentioned, that the sun was risen whom the earth. In all probability, this bright luminary shone with its usual lustre, and gilded the mountains and plains with its cheerful rays, while the luxurious and careless inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah either reposed on their soft beds, or pursued with ardour their worldly affairs, without paying their early adorations to the God who *made them. Hin a moment, the firmament melted with fervent heat, and a shower of fire and brimstone poured down on their devoted heads, burning up and destoying whatever grew on the surface of the ground, and rendering the earth from that time forth, unfit for culture or habitation* ! From this instance we learh, that the element of fire, as well as that of water, is entirely under the government of Divine Providence, and may be rendered either an inestimable blessing, or a most distressing evil. The sin of Lot's wife is supposed to have been lefthlity+. Probably she did not believe that what had been revealed to her would come to pass. The judgment inflicted upon her was a most exemplary one, and remained for many ages a monument of an unbelieving soul. Josephus, a learned Jewish histórian, says, that the Pillar of Salt was to be seen in his days. Interpreters tell us, that it did not consist of common salt, but of a metallic substance, such as was hewn out of rocks, like marble, with which it was usual to build houses f. When Abraham, with anxious solicitude, repaired early in the morning to the place where he had the pre* Deat oxix. 23. Isa. ii. 19. Jer. 40 + wisd.o. 7. # See Essay for 3 wew Translation of the Bible.

ceding day stood before the Lord, how greatly must he have been affected with the awful sight which he beheld ! Yet he arraigned not the justice of the Lord. He now understood, that nations are but as drops in the bucket, when God cometh to take vengeance on the wicked *. The circumstances of the calamity not reaching Abraham, and of Lot's deliverance, are particularly pointed out by the sacred historian, and strongly intimate, that the whole transaction was directed by an over-ruling Providence. Much practical instruction may be collected from the section before us. In the first place we learn from it, and the passages of Scripture referred to, to be thankful to God for making known to us the ministry of Angels; and we may look forward with an increase of pleasure to a state, where, instead of being received with jealousy and envy as innovating strangers, we shall find a set of benevolent friends, who have been accustomed to interest themselves in the welfare of mankind, and who will rejoice in our exaltation to as great a share of blessedness as they themselves enjoy. We are also here taught another lesson of good nature and hospitality. We have likewise an additional instance of the interposition of Divine Providence, which shews, that the Lo RD, though He employs Angels as His ministers, does not abandon the human race to the government of imperfect beings; but is himself the SUPREME Dispose R of all events. From the command given to Lot to escape, we are admonished, that it is better to leave our worldly posses. sions behind, than to stay and perish with the wicked. * Isaiah x', d5,

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We also learn, that we ought not to lead careless lives, from a dependance that nature will pursue a regular course of causes and effects. What is nature but the work of God? He therefore can instantly change the courses of the different elements, and send them as punishments on a guilty land, whenever he sees fit.

Since the Holy Scriptures point out so particularly the crimes for which Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned to destruction, we should make it our study to avoid them.

Our Lord has admonished us to Remember Lot's wife “; we should, therefore, of all things, avoid inftdelity : for if we are in no danger of being turned into pillars of salt, as warnings to mankind, a more dreadful fate awaits us, that of being salted with firet, or kept alive for endless ages in a state of torment. Let us thes imitate the faith and obedience of Lot, whose history, we are told, is written for our admonition f ; and, in so doing, let us repose our souls on the mercy and goodness of God, who will give His holy angels charge to keep us in all our ways.

SECTION XXIV.

the histor Y OF A B R A H A M CONT in UED-THE BIRTH OF ISAAC.

From Genesis, Chafi. xxi.

AND the Lord visited Sarah as he had said; for Sarah bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time God had spoken to him.

And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And

+ Luke xvii. 32. + Mark ix.49. # 2 Pet. ii. 6. Jude 7. Abraham

Abraham circumcised his son Isaac, being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, Gop. hath made me to rejoice, so that all that hear will rejoice with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have borne him a son in his old age. And the child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had borne unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out the bond, woman, and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, eveh with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight, because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievout. in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bond-woman ; h all that Sarah hath said unto, thee, hearken unto her voice : for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bond-woman will I make a nation because he is thy sced. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar (putting it on her shoulder) and the child, and sent her away : and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the blobs. And she went, and sat her down over against him, a good way off, as it were a bow shot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept, And

And God heard the voice of the lad? and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said, unto her, What aileth, thee, Hagar? fear not; for Goo. hath. heard the voice of the lad where, he is . Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad to drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him: a wife out of the land of Egypt. :

ANNOTATIONS and REFLECTIONS.

At length, after many years of expectation, Abraham and Sarah were blessed in the birth of that, son, whom, God-designed to be heir of the promises, respecting both the land, of Canaan, and the Everlasting Covenant; and we are informed, that this joyful event happened, at the exact time, which the Lo R D had foretold ; and that Abraham, in obedience to the Divine command, named; the child Isaac, The great age of the Patriarch, and his wife, rendered his birth marvellous.

It appears that, Sarah did not consign, her son to the care of an hireling, but was nurse to him herself.

Sarah's severity in respect to Ishmael appears very illiberal; but we have reason to think Ishmael behaved in a most provoking manner, and that his mother encouraged him, to do so; in all probability, envy, and jealousy, possessed their minds. Thus, circumstanced, had the parties, continued to live under the same roof, family harmony could not have subsisted ;, the Lord, therefore, in mercy to them all, permitted, the dismis

*ion of those who pretended to be rivals, to Sarah, and

her son.

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