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9 * Is not the whole land be- | take the left hand, then I will fore thee? Separate thyself, I go to the right; or if thou depart pray thee, from me: 'if thou wilt to the right hand, then I will go
to the left.
k ch. 20. 15. & 34. 10. 1 Rom. 12. 18. Heb. 12. 14. Jam. 3. 17.
the same faith and the same mode of and generous spirit which reigns in the worship ; and as disciples of a religion bosom where the love of God has tabreathing love and peace, good will and ken up its abode. It was on this try. good offices, it could not but be attend-ing occasion that the practical nature ed with the worst consequences were of Abraham's religion most strikingly they now to fall out with each other, developed itself; and that we may and present the sad spectacle of a divi- place this in its strongest light, let us ded brotherhood. Indeed, if one of the for a moment consider the manner in laws of our adoption into the family of which a man of the world would have God is, that we become in all things acted upon such an emergency, and brethren to each other, and bound to then mark the instructive contrast. study each other's interest, how little Would not he have argued thus ?does that sacred relation effect, if it does There can be no question that if the not avail to extinguish our mutual an- land will not maintain our whole comimosities? When we look around us pany, it will at least maintain me and in the world, who would believe that all that belong to me. Let not my the same relationship, and therefore the nephew therefore seek to appropriate to same powerful motive for peace, still ex- himself what has been in so peculiar ists among its inhabitants? When we a manner promised to me. I have both see the quarrels and the coldnesses, the the right to claim the country, and the lawsuits and the strifes, between those power to enforce that right, and though who are not only bound by the com- I would not do any thing that is not mon tie of Christian fraternity, but by equitable and kind, it cannot be exthe closest bonds of affinity and blood, pected that the elder should yield to the are we not tempted to inquire, can younger, or that I should undervale these men be indeed 'brethren ? Can the promises or the gifts of God, by they all be trusting to the same hope being so unnecessarily ready to transof salvation, and expecting, or even de fer them to another. If strife or hostilsiring to dwell together in the same ity be awakened, the peril be to him heaven? Indeed, is it possible to con- who awakens it; I have wherewithal ceive that with such divisions of heart, to defend myself and to punish my opwith such bitterness of feeling, the same ponents. Such would have been uneternal mansions could contain them ? questionably the opinion of nine tenths Would not the tranquillity of heaven be of mankind, and so prevalent is this disturbed if they were admitted there? selfish mode of reasoning and acting, Would heaven be heaven, if it were a that we scarcely feel that there would place where so many differing brethren, have been any thing objectionable, had under the influence of alienated affec- this been the language and conduct of tions, were to be congregated for ever the patriarch himself. But how differtogether?
ent was the fact! Abraham's conduct 9. Is not the whole land before thee? throughout was worthy of his exalted Separate thyself, &c. It would be dif- character. It was (1) eminently corficult to point out a finer exemplifica- descending. As the elder of the two, tion of the truly noble, disinterested, I as standing in the superior relation of
10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, destroyed Sodom and Gomorand beheld all n the plain of Jur- rah, even as the garden of the dan, that it was well watered Lord, like the land of Egypt, as every where, before the LORD thou comest unto p Zoar.
mcb. 19. 17. Deut. 34. 3. Ps. 107. 34. nch och. 2. 10. Isai. 51. 3. p. ch. 14. 2, 8. & 19. 22. 19. 24, 25.
an uncle, as being the person peculiar- spirit displayed itself in this proffer ! ly called of God, while Lot was only Would to God that such an indifference a nephew and an attendant, he might to carnal interests were more prevalent have claimed the deference and submis- in the world, and especially among pro. sion due to him, and insisted on the fessors of religion! This would show right of a first choice. But instead of a becoming deadness to the world. It arrogating to himself any authority or would give evidence that our hearts standing upon his prerogative, he was were set on things above and not on ready to waive his rights and act the things below. It would illustrate more part of an inferior, so that peace might strongly than ten thousand words, the be preserved belween them. In so do- efficacy of faith, and the excellence of ing he evinced the spirit of genuine pie- true religion. Yet alas! how little of ty, which teaches that condescension this spirit is there upon earth! To give is the truest honour, and that to be the up a single point, to yield upon a sinservant of all is
imitate most nearly gle question, ough you know yourthe character of our blessed Lord. self to be in the wrong, is, in the opin. From him accordingly the proposal ion of the world, rather a mark of pucame, that since circumstances imperi- sillanimity and weakness, than of comously required a separation, they should mon honesty and candour; while even separate in a manner that became their among sincere Christians such a conholy profession. How many angry cession is considered as no slight tri. disputes, and bitter quarrels, and bloody umph of principle. But to yield when wars, might have been prevented, if the you are confessedly in the right, to give contending parties, instead of proudly up your claim when justice, reason, requiring the first advances from each equity, and the power to maintain it other, would strive who should be fore- are all on your side, this is so rare as most in making proposal-, of peace! to be rather matter of tradition that (2.) It was generous. Common jus- such things have been, than among the tice required that the partition of land every-day occurrences of the Chrisshould be such as to secure to Abra- tian's life, that such things are. Yet ham equal advantages with Lot. But how completely was this the princi. disregarding this he cheerfully conceded | ple upon which Abraham acted, and to his nephew whatever portion he saw which the God of Abraham commands. fit to take. Though he too had numer- 10. And Lot lifted up his eyes, &c. ous flocks and herds to be subsisted as However admirable was the conduct well as Lot, and though he could not of Abraham, we observe a striking conbut know that there was great differ-trast to it in that of Lot. His conduct ence in the quality of the lands on either was censurable (1.) as it argued an side of him, the one being far more fer- inordinate degree of selfishness and tile and better watered than the other, of concern about his temporal interyet he desired Lot to occupy whichever ests. Having now an opportunity afhe preferred, and to leave the other to forded him of gratifying his covetous him. What a noble and magnanimousl desires, he seems greedily to have em,
braced it. Had not selfishness deaden- / selves and their families in places where ed the finer feelings of his nature, he sabbaths and sanctuaries are unknown, would have returned the compliment and where they are constantly exposed and given to Abraham the first choice. to the most pernicious influences. Alas, Or, if he had accepted his offer, he at how dear a price are such worldly would at least have endeavoured to advantages purchased ! Well will it be make an equitable division of the lands, for them, if their goodly plains and so that each might have a fair portion of fields do not finally yield such a harthe more fertile country. But instead vest of sorrow as was gathered by of this, he casts a wishful eye over the hapless Lot.—1 Beheld all the plain well-watered plains of the Jordan, and of Jordan, that it was well watered epin the spirit of a grasping worldling ery where. Heb. now2733 ) that leaves nothing unappropriated. If he it was all a watering ; i. e. abundantly escapes the charge of adding field to watered, or a region that shewed the field, it is by seizing the whole at once. fertilizing effects which the irrigation of Nothing less than all will satisfy his the Jordan would naturally produce. inordinate lust of land. How palpa- This river, being the principal stream ble the sordid selfishness of such a con- of Palestine, has acquired a distinction duct ! How clear the evidence that much greater than its geographical imworldly considerations had obtained the portance could have given. It is someascendancy, and were the governing times called 'the river' by way of emprinciples of his heart. His conduct, inence, being in fact almost the only (2.) was culpable because it argued stream of the country which continues too little regard to the interests of his to flow in summer. The river rises soul. He can hardly be supposed to about an hour and a quarter's journey have been ignorant of the character of (say three or three miles and a quarter) the people of Sodom, for they declared northeast from Banias, the ancient their sin in the most open and unblush- Cæsarea Philippi, in a plain near a hill ing manner, as if in defiance of heaven called Tel-el-kadi. Here there are two and earth; nor could he but have been springs near each other, one smaller aware of the tendency of evil commu- than the other, whose waters very soon nications to corrupt good manners. unite, forming a rapid river, from twelve But as he seems to have left Abraham to fifteen yards across, which rushes without regret, so it would appear that over a stony bed into the lower plain, he approached Sodom without fear. where it is joined by a river which rises What benefits he was likely to lose, to the northeast of Banias. A few what dangers to incur, by the step, miles below their junction the now seem not to have entered his mind. considerable river enters the small lake His earthly prosperity was all that en- of Houle, or Semechonitis, (called the gaged his thoughts; and whether the waters of Merom' in the Old Testawelfare of bis soul was promoted or ment). This lake receives several other impeded, he did not care. This con- mountain-streams, some of which seem duct no one hesitates to condemn, yet to have as good claim to be regarded as how many are there that practically forming the Jordan as that to which pursue the same heedless and perilous it is given in the previous statement; course in their great movements in life? and it would perhaps be safest to conWith the single view of bettering their sider the lake formed by their union worldly condition, they often turn their as the real source of the Jordan. After backs upon the means of grace, and leaving the lake, the river proceeds reckless of consequences plant them- | about twelve miles to the larger lake, called by various names, but best ley, in a bed the banks of which are known as the Sea of Galilee; after fourteen or fifteen feet high when the leaving which, it flows about seventy river is at the lowest. The banks are miles farther, until it is finally lost in thickly beset by tamarisks, willow, the Dead or Salt sea. It discharges oleander, and other shrubs, which coninto that sea a turbid, deep, and rapid ceal the stream from view until it is apstream, the breadth of which is from proached very nearly. These thickets, two to three hundred feet. The whole with those of the lower plain, once afcourse of the river is about one hun- forded cover to lions and other beasts dred miles in a straight line, from north of prey, which, when driven from their to south; but, with its windings, it shelter by the periodical overflow of the probably does not describe a course of river, gave much alarm to the inhabiless than one hundred and fifty miles. tants of the valley, Jeremiah 49. 19. Burckhardt says that it now bears dif- Besides this passage, there are others, ferent names in the various divisions of Josh. 3. 15; 1 Chron. 12. 15, in which its course: Dhan near its source; Or- an overflow of the Jordan is mentiondan lower down, near the Sea of Gal-ed, occasioned doubtless by the periodlilee; and Sherya between that lake ical rains or the melting of the snows and the Dead sea. As now understood, on Lebanon. The river seems then to the valley or 'plain of Jordan,' through have overflowed its inner banks to a which the river flows, is applied to that considerable extent about the compart between the lake of Houle and mencement of spring Modern travthe Dead sea; hnt as understood in the ellers who have visited it at that seatext, it must have comprehended that son, have not noticed such an inundapart of the valley which the Dead seation: whence we may infer that the now occupies. From the accounts of stream of the Jordan has diminished, different travellers, it seems to vary in or that it has worn itself a deeper chanbreadth from four to ten or twelve nel. It has much perplexed inquirers miles in different parts. It is now in to determine what became of the wamost parts a parched desert, but with ters of the Jordan previously to the many spots covered with a luxuriant formation of the Dead Sea. This difgrowth of wild herbage and grass. Its ficulty seems to have been resolved by level is lower, and the temperature con- Burckhardt, who, in his "Travels in sequently higher, than in most other Syria and the Holy Land,' considers parts of Syria. The heat is concen- that the valley or plain of the Jordan trated by the rocky mountains on each is continued, under the names of El side, which also prevent the air from Ghor and El Araba, to the Gulf of being cooled by the westerly winds in Akaba; demonstrating that the river summer. This valley is divided into discharged its waters into the eastern two distinct levels: the upper, or gen- gulf of the Red sea, until its course was eral level of the plain; and the lower, interrupted by the great event which which is about forty feet below it. The the nineteenth chapter of Genesis repreceding statement refers to the for. cords.' Pict. Bible.- - Like the land mer; the latter varies in breadth from of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. a mile to a furlong, and is partially As Zoar was not in Egypt, but at the covered with trees and luxuriant ver- southern extremity of the plain of Jordure, which give it an appearance stri- dan, the latter clause is to be connectking in contrast with the sandy slopes ed with the first part of the verse, and of the higher level. The river flows the clause, 'before the Lord had dethrough the middle of this lower val- stroyed Sodom and Gomorrah,' to be
11 Then Lot chose him all the the cities of the plain, and 'pitchplain of Jordan; and Lot jour- ed his tent toward Sodom. neyed east: and they separated 13 But the men of Sodom themselves one from the other. • were wicked and sinners be
12 Abram dwelled in the land fore the Lord, exceedingly. of Canaan, and Lot 9 dwelled in
r ch. 14. 12. & 19. 1. 2 Pet. 2. 7, 8. sch, 18 20. Ezek. 16. 49. 2 Pet. 2. 7. 8. t ch. 6. 11.
q ch. 19. 29.
a man איש מעל אחיו
read in a parenthesis. Or we may abode in it. From this he would doubtadopt the equivalent construction of less be deterred by the well known Houbigant who translates the verse ;- abandoned and profligate character of * Before the Lord had destroyed Sodom its inhabitants. We may suppose that and Gomorrah, it was all, as thou goest he fully intended to keep at a safe disto Zoar, well watered, even as the gar- tance from that scene of abominations, den of the Lord, and as the land of but having once come within the perilEgypt.' This gives the correct idea. ous vicinity of the tents of sin, he is im. Zoar is here so called by anticipation, perceptibly drawn onward. So treachas its name at this time was Bela, erous is fallen nature in its weakness, ch. 14. 2, 8, and 19. 22.
that having once been persuaded to 11. Separated themselves the one from tread the borders of forbidden ground, .
we are easily induced to proceed a little from his brother; a common Hebrew farther, to take one more step, till at idiom for expressing the idea conveyed length every restraint is broken through in our translation. As nature, affec- and we are borne forward into the vortion, religion, affliction all conspired to
tex of sin. So with Lot. The next unite them, no doubt the prospect of that we hear of him he has actually separation was a severe trial to the planted himself in Sodom. Righteous feelings of Abraham. But it was a Lot, a servant of God, seated in the friendly parting; and whatever blank very sink of corruption! 'Let him that was made by it in his happiness, it was standeth take heed lest he fall.' speedily and abundantly compensated
13. Wicked and sinners before the by renewed manifestations of favour Lord exceedingly. Heb. 2017 bnym from that Almighty Friend who suck- 783 77793 wicked and sinners to Jeeth closer than a brother.'
hovah exceedingly. Chal. 'Unrighte12. Abram dwelled in the land of ous with their mammon, and most vile Canaan. In its widest sense the land in their bodies before the Lord exceedof Canaan included also the plain of ingly. A very emphatic mode of exJordan, where Lot chose his residence; pression, implying not only the deprabut it seems to have been occasionally ved character common to all mankind used, in a more limited sense, to desig- in their unrenewed state, but the most nate the mountainous country lying vile, unblushing, abominable, and awbetween the Mediterranean and the ful exhibitions of that character. They Jordan, exclusive of the valley through were not only wicked, but desperately which that river runs." Pitched his wicked; they were not only sinners, tent toward Sodom. That is, continued but high-handed and heaven-daring to remove his tent from place to place, sinners. Their city was polluted to its gradually approaching towards Sodom, centre, and the iniquities which aboundthough not perhaps with the design of ed in it were even now calling aloud for actually entering and taking up his | the vengeance of heaven. It had filled uj