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CONVERSATION XX.

OLYMPAS having commanded the household to read the eighteenth and nineteenth chapters of Genesis, resumed the close of the eighteenth as follows:-“We have found one of the three guests of Abraham, under a very high title, communing with him on the immediate fate of Sodom. How is this revelation introduced ?"

Reuben. “And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” This certainly would indicate that the Lord did not know all things, if we understand it literally as it reads. But I presume it is an accommodation of things supernatural to our usual modes of ascertaining facts.

Olympas. No more than when it is said, Grieve not the Spirit”—“God repented that he had made man'-the Lord sees-the Lord remembers—the Lord hears, walks, rises, stands, &c. &c. These all are accommodations, and this is an Eastern periphrasis—a beautiful circumlocution, intimating that the Lord will impartially examine and adjudicate all the actions of men according to truth before he pronounces sentence.

" The men then turned their faces from thence towards Sodom, and went on before the Lord."

Thomas. This would intimate to me that the

Lord's saying “I will go down and see,” means not a descent from heaven, but from the place that he then occupied in communing with Abraham. Am I right?

Olympas. I almost fear to say you are right, and yet I dare not say that you are wrong; for all the Rabbies, Hebrew, and Greek, and English, down to Tillotson the Archbishop, A. Clarke, and all the moderns, speak of the Lord as descending from heaven. But this is one instance, that to follow the connexion and common sense is generally more natural and safe than to look afar off to hypothesis, analogy, or theory for light on difficult passages. The case is simply this: The Lord on earth was talking to Abraham on an eminence above the plain in which these four cities stood. To Abraham he says, “I will go down and examine the fame of Sodom, and ascertain its truth.” The accompanying two angels left him and Abraham in converse, and departed as the Lord's messengers to examine the character of the inhabitants, as we shall see in the sequel. Meanwhile, Abraham stands in solemn attention to what Jehovah says ; and waxing bold in his confidence, and full of compassion "he drew near” to the Lord and began his intercessions—the Lord and he standing upon the same piece of earth. He begius his intercession on the plea of fifty righteous being found in the city. And what numbers next, James ?

James. Forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, ten.
Olympas. Why did he not descend to five.

Susan. He was ashamed, I think, to go below ten.

Henry. Abraham asked six times, and I think

he ought to have been ashamed sooner, rather than to have asked any more.

Olympas. What seems to be the point, the main point in the intercessions of Abraham, Eliza ?

Eliza. The confounding of the righteous with the wicked. His plea was, “Wilt thou slay the righteous with the wicked ?” This, Abraham thought, would be wrong; for he said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ?”

Olympas. So we still think; and the Lord thinks so too, and therefore he will “ make a difference between him that'serveth him and him that serveth him not.” Observe that the Lord to whom Abraham spoke is here regarded by Abraham as “the Judge of all the earth.After this long and wonderful intercession on the part of Abraham, in which it appears that Abraham became ashamed to ask, before the Lord refused to listen, we are told the Lord went his way, and Abraham returned to his place.” This intercession then, not only took place on earth, both the Lord and Abraham standing upon the soil; but the Lord walked on the earth in visible form as a man, and as the sequel shows, directed his course toward Sodom, whither the two other men-like, celestials had gone before him. Do we again hear, Edward, of the former two angels ?

Edward. I presume it is of these we read in the next chapter: “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom, and seeing them rose up to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face to the ground.”

Olympas. Doubtless you are right, Edward. These are the two; and a faithful day's journey it was, as it seems to me, to reach Sodom by sundown from the vicinity of Abraham's dwelling. How did Lot view these two angels, Henry?

Henry. He seems to have viewed them as men, just as Abraham had viewed them. He invited them to his house, and prepared for them a repast, as he would have done for his uncle Abraham had he visited him. But what could have induced Lot to go and sit at the gate of Sodom?

Olympas. How do you answer, Thomas ?

Thomas. There were no taverns in Sodom in those days, as all ancient tradition intimates. And towards evening sometimes the more hospitable and benevolent used to go to the gate of the city to invite the more respectable strangers home with them. Generally strangers pitched their tents in the streets, and lived in the city as they were wont to do while on their journey. In those mild climates there were no taverns. Travellers carried their tents and their provisions and lived as at home.

So some ancient history, which I read at school, represents the custom. Olympas. Very

good. This does honour to Lot as much as the actual fact of his inviting them home with them. They were respectable looking strangers without any travelling apparatus; and who can tell but the Omnipresent Spirit so moved the mind of Lot as to direct his steps to the gate of the city just at the moment that he might have the honour of entertaining angels unawares, and that the Lord's angels might be carried home to the Lord's people.

Edward. It seems that the wicked men of Sodom assaulted the house, and desired to have the angels whom they regarded as men. For what purpose

did they want them? Olympas. These were the vilest of the vile,

who envied Lot of these distinguished, and, no doubt, beautiful looking angel-men; and who were addicted to a crime which yet bears the name of the accursed city, and which, as you advance in the study of Leviticus, eighteenth and twentieth chapters, you may some day more fully understand. You will observe that the two angelic men proposed staying in the street all night; but Lot, probably anticipating such an affray, more perseveringly invited them to share the protection of his house.

Reuben. Lot ought not to have lived in such a wicked place.

Eliza. So one of the Apostles intimates when he says, “that righteous man, while dwelling among the Sodomites, had his soul vexed from day to day by their unrighteous deeds."

Olympas. Cupidity or inordinate selfishness had led him astray: for when Abraham gave him the choice of pasturage, instead of saying, Uncle Abraham, you have been my protector and my superior, and I would rather you would choose first. Take the hill or the plains, as seems good in your sight." But no; he accepted the preference, “and choose all the plain of Jordan,” for its pastures were rich and well watered: and 50 Abraham returned to the high grounds and pitched his tent from oak to oak, and from hill to hill, as the exigencies of his flocks and herds required. But, observe, Lot suffers for his inordinate self-love, as the event fully and awfully demonstrates. So that good men are not ever or very long perfect! After this rude assault of these vile wretches, what next occupies the historian's attention ?

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