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Cottager's Monthly Visitor.
On the Eighteenth Chapter of Genesis.
(Continued from page 295, Vol. IV.) V. 23-33. In these verses, we have the remarkable history of Abraham's intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah. To intercede, is to plead with one on behalf of another, that he may obtain some blessing, or be preserved from some evil. Thus Christ 66 ever liveth to make intercession for those who come unto God by him.” But here we have a man like ourselves, one of the fallen race of Adam, drawing near to that God, and interceding with acceptance for those devoted cities. While the angels, the 5 ministers of the Lord, that do his pleasure,” were gone to Sodom, Abraham stood before the Lord, who had made known to him his purposes, respecting Sodom and Gomorrah, and pleaded in their behalf. Now what gave him this boldness ? for his words and his whole manner, plainly shew that be felt that a sinful mortal had no claim to approach a God of all holiness : yet, he says, “ I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes.” Now, as we know, from our blessed Saviour's words, that, with
NO. 44.-VOL. IV.
the eye of faith, Abraham foresaw “ His day, we may say that the way of approach which the Apostle (Heb. x. 19.) shews to Christians, was the
very same by which Abraham ventured to come unto the Lord. 65 We have boldness to enter into the holiest,” into his immediate presence, “by the blood of Jesus." Let Christians think of the great advantage of prayer, of the blessing of being allowed to approach the throne of grace. Prayer is indeed a great duty; but let not Christians consider it as only a matter of duty; it is a great privilege which God gives to them. Let them pray with an awful feeling of the greatness and majesty of God, but let them know that Christ the great Mediator and Intercessor will plead further, and that, through him, prayers must be offered up. Through him the Apostle tells us we may “approach boldly,” that is, with a confidence, that, through him, our prayers will be heard.
-"no man cometh unto the Father but by him.” We conclude then that, by this
living way,” Abraham found access, and obtained the grace he sought, for as long as Abraham continued to intercede, so long God received him graciously. He at first prayed, that the place might be spared if fifty righteous were found in it; then, forty and five; then, thirty ; then, twenty; and at length went down to ten ; and the Lord promised that he would not destroy it for “ ten's sake.”« The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.' How should this example of the condescension of God, and the prevalence of prayer, encourage the hearts of his people in their intercession for others, in that which he declares to be according to his will, that“ men should be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth." How does the earnestness of Abraham, for preservation from a temporal judgment, 'reprove our lukewarm
is the way,
ness, respecting preservation from an eternal one ! Especially considering the wonderful promises belonging to prayer, and the many invitations to it with which Scripture abounds.
Prayer is a powerful means of good, from which no possible circumstances.can restrain us; and by which we may be the means of spreading the kingdom of our Lord, as much, though with less observation, than they who have time, and money, and talents, at command.
“ We will give our. selves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word;” says St. Peter, placing both on a level.
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.”
V. 24. “Wilt thou also destroy, and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein ?” Abraham does not plead, that the wicked may be spared for their own sakes, or because it would be too severe to destroy them; this would have been siding with sinners against God: but he pleads, that the pious remnant may be preserved, that the rest may be spared for their sakes. Thus Christ makes intercession for sinners, not by lowering the divine law, not by pleading an excuse for human guilt, but 'by pleading his own obedience unto death on their behalf.
V. 25. “Shall not the judge of the earth do right?” No truth is more necessary to be impressed on our minds than this of the unalterable justice of God. To our bounded view, which only sees a little part, it may not always appear evident; but we are to walk by faith, not by sight, and to think of God according to what he says of himself in his word, though his dealings in his providence, may sometimes to our apprehensions appear to contradict it. Clouds and darkness may be
round about him: but “ righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne." " His work is perfect : for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity ; just and right is Hé.”
V. 32. “ Ye are the salt of the earth,” said our Lord to his disciples; and his declaration that he would spare Sodom, for the sake of ten righteous, if so many should be found in it, throws light upon his words. Salt purifies and preserves from decay ; so the righteous in any place, not only by their example and warnings, are a check to its wickedness; but, for their sakes, it is preserved from judgments and destruction, which would otherwise come upon it.
T. B. P.
“ Last words," says Bishop Horne,“ are always listened to with attention, as likely to be words of truth, and words of importance. Dying men do not usually utter falsehoods, or speak of trifles.”
We read, in the Old Testament, that Joshua was the leader of the armies of Israel, that he was the general whom God had appointed to execute upon sinful nations the punishment due to their crimes. When Joshua was old and stricken in age, and the hour of his death drew near, “ he called for all Israel, for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers ;” he then reminded them of all the mercies which God had shewed to them, and thence exhorted them to be obedient to their heavenly King. He then left behind him these words--" If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve, but, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
We must remember that the nations, in whose neighbourhood the Israelites were about to settle, were idolaters, that is, they worshipped idols, images made of wood, or stone, or brass; and, how. ever strange it may appear, these idols were found sufficient to draw their minds from the worship of the true God. This was the danger of idolatry, and it was against this danger that Joshua was desirous of warning the children of Israel. But, , in our Christian country, there is no fear now of our worshipping these dumb idols; yet we are still in danger of having our thoughts drawn from the -worship of the true God, by the things of this world, and then these things, become, in fact, our - idols." “ Every man,” says Bishop Horne," is guilty of idolatry, who offers to the world, or any thing in the world, the service which is due to God only. Let us still then listen to the dying words of Joshua, and still imagine that the choice is offered to us, “ Choose you this day whom you will serve.” May we, every one of us, say like him, as for me and
my house, we will serve the Lord.' In our own country, in the profligate reign of Charles II. there was a celebrated nobleman called the Earl of Rochester * , he lived what is called a life of pleasure, in perfect neglect of the God who made him, or of the Saviour who redeemed him. He wrote bad books too; thus endangering the salvation of others, as well as his own. But let us hear what he said in his dying hours. He said, " the hand of God touched him, and there was not only a general dark melancholy over his mind, but a most deep and cutting sorrow. So that though in his body he suffered extreme pain, yet the agonies of his mind sometimes swallowed up the sense of what he felt in his body. He declared that all the pleasures he had ever known in sin were not
* See “ Cottager's Monthly Visitor,” p. 187. Vol. I.- See 'also a little work called the Life and Death of the Earl of Rochester, by Bishop Burnet.