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ac:er had been found in Sodom, it would have been spared. Good men are the safeguards of a nation. Though often traduced, and represented as the troublers of Israel, yet were they viewed aright, they would be considered rather as the "shields of the earth,' who ward off from it the judgments of the Almighty, and their removal would be mourned as a public calamity. When Lot is taken out of Sodom, Sodom is taken out of the world.'"
3. The kindness of God to them.
He allows, and even encourages them to address him on any subject, which concerns either his honor, or their happi
He does not confine them to themselves; they may open their hearts to him in behalf of the vilest, and he has patience to listen to them while they plead. Abraham draws “ near ;" he appears exceedingly reverential; he feels that he is in the presence of a holy and avenging God; yet he pleads with the assurance of a son with a father.
4. The humility, which should ever characterize prayer.
“Nothing more distinguishes the prayer of Abraham on this occasion, than the profound abasement of spirit, which breathes through it. He speaks as one who can hardly realize, that he has taken it upon him to speak at all. Under the same oppressive consciousness of our being but sinful dust and ashes, should we draw near to God. It is only when the awe of the divine majesty and purity falls upon us, and we are filled with an overwhelming sense of our own unworthiness and vileness, and of the vast distance that separates us from God, that we can suitably approach him.”
5. The efficacy of intercessory prayer.
Six times does the patriarch plead for Sodom, and six times docs God grant his intercessory petition; and, as has been truly and beautifully remarked, " Abraham left off interceding, before God left off complying with his requests."
It has been asked, why Abraham paused where he did, in his supplication! No one can affirm, that one step farther
in the reduction might not have secured the salvation of Sodom. “Certain it is, that on a subsequent occasion, when God was about to send the Jews into captivity, Jer. 5. 1, he told them that if they could find one righteous man in Jerusalem, he would spare them all; and after he had inflicted his judgments upon them, he assigned as his reason for it, Ezek. 22. 30, 31, that not one had been found to stand in the gap and intercede for them. But, on the other hand, it must be admitted, that God holds the prerogative of pardoning in a sovereign manner, and will not allow himself to be bound by his own precedent. The clemency, which would have spared Sodom for the sake of ten, could not be moved, on any account, to avert the threatened wrath from the city, which had rejected the Saviour, Matt. 11. 24. And the iniquities of a people may arrive at such a pitch, that if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, those holy men should not prevail, except to deliver their own souls by their righteousness. Ezek. 14. 14. It is not to be forgotten, therefore, that, notwithstanding the amazing condescension of God, manisested on this and other occasions, to the prayers of his saints, there is a limit, beyond which, their intercessions will not avail."
The opinion of the pious Mr. Henry may here be added, why Abraham left off asking when he had prevailed so far: “ Either because he owned they deserved to perish, if there were not so many as ten; as the dresser of the vineyard, who consented the barren fig-tree should be cut down, if one year's trial more did not make it fruitful, Luke 13: 9, or because God restrained his spirit from asking further. When God has finally determined the ruin of a place, he forbids it to be prayed for. Thus, in respect to Judah, he said to his prophet Jeremiah, "Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me; for I will not hear thee.” Jer. 7: 16. 14: 11.
Most fearful is the condition of those against whom the door of mercy is closed. There have been such in the
worl], for whom even the children of God might not pray. Their doom was sealed ; their ruin certain.
But if this be true of some, the number, it is to be hoped, is small; yet we are not required to cease praying for any, without an express revelation from God. But there are millions in danger! There is probably many a city as guilty as were those in the vale of Siddim; and in those cities there are children of God, whose spiritual welfare is in danger. How should those, then, who have power with God, who by fervent supplication may prevail at a throne of grace, cry day and night in behalf of Christians, who are in jeopardy; and, still more importunately, for those whose “damnation slumbereth not.”
A thousand prayers should go up to the throne of God, where one is now offered; and to the fervent supplication, which is clothed in words, should be added “groanings which cannot be uttered."
ELIEZER'S PRAYER AT HARAN.
And he said, O Lord, God of my master Abraham, I pray thee send me good speed
this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold I stand here by the well of water: and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water : And let it come to pass that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink: and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also : let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.-Gen. xxiv. 12--14.
ABRAHAM had now reached the 140th year of his age. Admonished by infirmities, which were yearly increasing, as well as by the departure of his beloved wife, that his own death could not be far distant, like a wise and prudent father, and according to the custom of the times, he turns his attention to the establishment of Isaac in a family state. It would doubtless have been easy for him to have entered into
some advantageous worldly alliance, and taken the daughter of some distinguished prince, or chief of the land, in which he sojourned. But, while he had no objection to exchange with them the common civilities of life, he was aware of the hazard of asking of any one of them a daughter in marriage for his son. He could not be ignorant of the grand design of God, in calling him into the land of Canaan—the ultimate overthrow of idolatry, of which that land, and indeed the whole world, was full, and the establishment of his true worship on earth.
He would feel it to be a Juty, therefore, “to erect the strongest possible safeguard around the pure faith of his seed;” and to this he was still more strongly urged, by knowing that the inhabitants of Canaan were, on account of their great wickedness, devoted to destruction. He saw them filling up the measure of their iniquities, and he feared lest his beloved Isaac, and his descendants, becoming partakers of their evil deeds, should share in their punishment. The measure proposed of sending for a wife for Isaac into Mesopotamia, where Nahor, Abraham's brother, and his family were living, was, therefore, every way worthy of one upon whom the security of such important interests devolved. Vestiges of idolatry, indeed, lingered among them, but it was far less prevalent than among the families of Canaan.
Having thus settled one important point, the kindred from among whom a wife for his son should be selected, the patriarch proceeds to the consideration of another, scarcely less important—the person,
whom he should send on this delicate but interesting embassy. Fortunately, in his own family he had one who feared the Lord, and whom, therefore, he could trust. This was his eldest servant, or steward, probably Eliezer, who is mentioned Gen. 15. 2. To him he confides this important undertaking, takes from him a solemn oath to insure his fidelity, expresses his firm and unshaken confidence in the prosperous issue of the expedition, as in the measures
he was adopting, and in the end he proposed, he had in view the honor of God, and the fulfillment of his promises.
Having received his commission, Eliezer departs on his journey with suitable presents, and probably with a suitable retinue. At length, he reaches the city where Nahor resided. The evening was just setting in. It providentially happened that he was near a well of water. It was about the time, when, according to the custom of those eastern countries, and with which he was doubtless acquainted, the women would come out to draw water. Taking advantage of this prospect, and well aware of the importance of God's good guidance, he devoutly prays for success upon the mission confided to him.
“ This prayer," says Mr. Bush, “is remarkable :1. “For the faith in which it is offered.
“He speaks all along under a full persuasion, that the providence of God extended to the minutest events, and that there was no presumption in appealing to him on the present occasion. His words are full of confidence that God would direct him in a matter of so much importance to his church in all future ages.
2. “For the correct views of the character of Jehovah which he expresses.
* He addresses him as the covenant God of Abraham, who had given him exceeding great and precious promises. In approaching him in this character, he would occupy the best possible vantage ground for urging his request, as any promise made to Abraham would furnish a plea, which could scarcely fail to be effectual.
3. “For the sign, which he presumed to ask.
“A better he could not well have desired; for such an offer, freely made to a stranger, would indicate a most amiable disposition. It would demonstrate at once the humility, the industry, the courtesy, the extreme kindness of the female, and would be a pledge that she possessed all the quali