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Gomorrah. Of these cities it is related, that such was the vice and corruption in which they were plunged, that God in his wrath destroyed them and all their inhabitants by a rain of brimstone and fire. But he saved Lot and his family from the general destruction, by sending to them angels who warned them to flee from Sodom. (Id. xix.) On their way the angels made known to Abraham the resolution of God to destroy these cities. Abraham therefore prayed to God to spare them, and God would have granted his prayer, if only ten righteous men had been found in them. This proves to us that God is far from being unmindful of the pious intercessions of one person in favour of others; but it proves to us, on the other hand, 93. that such is God's strict justice, that he spares not those who persevere in wickedness as did those of Sodom. Such indeed was the signal vengeance of God against them, that he utterly exterminated them : the spot upon which stood their cities being impregnated with bitumen, caught fire and sunk, and it has since that period been filled up by the Dead Sea, or as it is also called, the lake Asphaltites.

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Lot's wife, no doubt regretting the comforts she had left behind, and wishing to return there, rather than obey the injunctions of the angels to flee to the mountains, turned back and was converted into a pillar of salt, (Gen. xix.) the meaning of which is probably, that she was covered over and encrusted with the bituminous substances which were falling upon Sodom. Thereby giving us another awful instance of one, who, disregarding the warning voice of God, was overtaken with his judgment.

Abraham and his wife Sarah were too old to expect to have any children; but God inform

ed him, by angels whom he sent to him, that 95. he should have a son born who should be called

Isaac. (Gen. xviii. 10.) In order to prove the faith and obedience of Abraham, in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, God afterwards ordered him to offer up his

son Isaac as a burnt offering. (Gen. xxii. 10.) 96. No doubt that, humanly speaking, Abraham

was filled with consternation at this command of the Almighty, for not only was this child of his old age greatly beloved by him, but in his existence were centered the promises of blessing to the whole earth, made by the Almighty. How then could this promise be fulfilled if Isaac were to die? might Abraham reasonably ask himself. But although perplexed by such conflicting thoughts, he knew well that God was all powerful, and that as he had given him this son by a miracle, so he could restore him to life by a second miracle. St. Paul gives us to understand as much (Heb. xi. 19) when he says, accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.”

Abraham's faith, therefore, produced obe- 97. dience, and he hesitated not a moment to set about executing the commands of God, well knowing that no bad consequences could follow the performance of his duty, and persuaded, as St. Paul says, (Rom. viii. 28,) that “ all things work for good to them that love God.” Such is the example of true faith set before us, which all who unfeignedly trust in God will be eager to imitate on all occasions.

There is an incident in the history of this holy man, recorded in Scripture, which must be well attended to, because reference is made to it in that of our Saviour. It is said, that before the destruction of Sodom, the kings of

98. that country made war against each other, and

took Lot prisoner; and that Abraham having armed his servants, rescued him, having overthrown the four kings who were the conquerors. (Gen. xiv. 14.) On his return from victory, Melchisedec, king of Salem, came out to meet him; he blessed Abraham and gave him bread and wire.

In return, AbraMelchisedec. ham gave him tithes of all his spoils. This

is the Melchisedec to whom Jesus Christ is likened in Psa. cx. 4, where he is called a

priest after the order of Melchisedec. The similitude consists:

1st. In the name, signifying king of righteousness, and in his being king of Salem, that is, king of peace.

2ndly. In the offices, our Saviour and Melchisedec both being kings and priests at the same time.

3rdly. In the omission of the names of his (Melchisedec's) parents and genealogy, the time of his birth, and length of his life, exhibiting an indefinite reign and priesthood according to St. Paul's expression. (Heb.

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vii. 3.)

We cannot close the history of Abraham, without noticing the weakness to which a man, as exalted as he was for faith and piety, is liable. It is recorded on two occasions, 100. (the latter of which was at the distance of twenty-three years from the former,) that Abraham wished from motives of fear to conceal the fact that Sarah was his wife, by calling her his sister ;* (Gen. xii. 13—id. xx. 2,) when, through faith in God, he ought to have placed his trust in Him alone, in the difficult circumstances in which he found himself. Such deception, therefore, cannot be justified, neither is the example set up for 101.

. our imitation, but rather as a warning that we should fear ourselves, watch and pray lest we fall into the like temptation. On the other hand, the veracity and the impartiality of the sacred historian are strengthened by his undisguised manner of telling the truth, and setting forth the faults as well as the virtues of such a man as Abraham was.

These facts in the history of Abraham 102. also tend to prove the forgiving mercy of God; for although they occurred before he was yet professedly entered into the covenant of God, being as yet uncircumcised, yet God,

* Isaac was guilty of the same fault.–See Gen. xxvi.

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