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Miraculous, and awful a manner, are set forth as a signal example, of God's dreadful vengeance for sin, to the world in all generations; agreeable to that of the apostle, Jude, verse, 8. God did not reprove, but manifestly countenanced Abraham, when he said, with respect to the destruction of Sodom, (Gen. xviii. 23, 25.) “ Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked ?.... That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" Abraham's words imply that God would not destroy the innocent with the guilty. We may well understand innocent as included in the word righteous, according to the language usual in scripture, in speaking of such cases of judgment and punishment ; ás is plain in Gen. XX. 4. Exod. xxiii. 7. Deut. xxv. 1. 2 Sam. iv. 11. 2 Chron. vi. 23, and Prov. xviii. 5. Eliphaz says, Job iv. 7. * Who ever perished, being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off?" We see what great care God took that Lot should not be involved in that destruction. He was mi. raculously rescued by angels, sent on purpose, who laid hold on him, and brought him, and set him without the gates of the city ; and told him that they could do nothing till he was out of the way. Gen. xix. 22. And not only was he thus miraculously delivered, but his two wicked danghters for his sake. The whole affair, both the destruction, and the rescue of them that escaped, was miraculous; and God could as ea. sily have delivered the infants which were in those cities. And if they had been without sin, their perfect innocency, one should think, would have pleaded much more strongly for them, than those lewd women's relation to Lot pleaded for them. When in such a case, we must suppose these infants much further from deserving to be involved in that destruction, than even Lot himself. To say here, that God could make it up to those infants in another world, must be an insufficient reply. For so: he could as easily have made it up to Lot, or to ten or fifty righteous, if they had been destroyed in the same fire: Nevertheless it is plainly signified, that this
would not have been agreeable to the wise and holy proveea ings of the judge of all the earth.
Since God declared, that if there had been found but ten righteous in Sodom, he would have spared the whole city for their sake, may we not well suppose, if infants are perfectly innocent, that he would have spared the old world, in which there were, without doubt, many hundred thousand infants; and in general one in every family, whose perfect innocence pleaded for its preservation ? Especially when such rast care was taken to save Noah and his family, (some of whom, one at least, seem to have been none of the best that they might not be involved in that destruction. If the perfect sinlessness of infants had been a notion entertained among the people of God of old, in the ages next following the food, handed down from Noah and his children, who well Ķnew that vast multi, tudes of infants perished in the flood, is it likely that Elipliaz, who lived within a few generations of Shem and Noah, would have said to Job, as he does in that forementioned, Job iy. Ta & Who ever perished, being innocent? And when were thë righteous cut off?" Especially since in the same discourse (Chap. v. 1.) he appeals to the tradition of the ancients for a confirmation of this very point; as he also does in Chap. xv. 7.... 10, and xxii. 15, 16. In which last place he mentions that very thing, the destruction of the wicked by the flood, as an instance of that perishing of the wicked, which he supposes to be peculiar to them, for Job's conviction'; in which the wicked were cut down out of time, their foundation being overflown with a flood. "Where it is also observable, that he speaks of such an untimeliness of death as they suffered by the food, as one evidence of guilt ; as he also does, Chap. xv, 32, 33. “It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green." But those that were destroyed by the food in infancy, above all the rest were cut down ouf of time ; when instead of living above nine hundred years, ac cording to the common period of man's life, many were cut down before they were one year old.
And when God executed vengeance on the ancient inhab, itants of Canaan, not only did he not spare their cities and families for the sake of the infants that were therein, nor take any care that they should not be involved in the destruction ; Ďut often with particular care repeated his express commands, that their infants should not be spared, but should be utterly destroyed, without any pity; while Rahab the harlot (who had been far from innocence, though she expressed her faith in entertaining, and safely dismissing the spies) was preserve ed, and all her friends for her sake. And when God executed his wrath on the Egyptians, by slaying their first born, though the children of Israel, who were most of them wicked men, as was before shewn, were wonderfully spared by the destroying angel, yet such first born of the Egyptians as were infants, were not spared. They not only were not rescued by the angel, and no miracle wrought to save them (as was observed in the case of the infants of Sodom) but the angel destroyed them by his own immediate hand, and a miracle was wrought to kill them.
Here, not to stay to be partieular concerning the command by Moses, respecting the destruction of the infants of the Midianites, Num, xxxi. 17. And that given to Saul to des. troy all the infants of the Amalekites, 1 Sam. xv. 3, and what is said concerning Edom, Psalm cxxxvii. 9. “Happy shall he be that taketh, and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. I proceed to take notice of something remarkable concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, represented in Ezek. ix. #hen command was given to them, that had charge over the eity, to destroy the inhabitants, verse 1....8 And this reason is given for it, that their iniquity required it, and it was a just recompense of their sin, verse 9, 10. And God at the same time was most particular and exact in his care that such should by no means be involved in the slaughter, as had prove ed by their behavior, that they were not partakers in the abominations of the city. Command was given to the angel to go through the city, and set a mark upon their foreheads, and the destroying angel had a strict charge not to come near any man, on whom was the mark; yet the infants were not marked, nor a word said of sparing them: On the contrary, infants were expressly mentioned as those that should be utter.
Jy destroyed, without pity, verse 5, 6. “Go through the city and smite : Let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity. Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children ; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark.
And if any should suspect that such instances as these were peculiar to a more severe dispensation, under the Old Testament, let us consider a remarkable instance in the days of the glorious gospel of the grace of God; even the last des. truction of Jerusalem ; which was far more terrible, and with greater testimonies of God's wrath and indignation, than the destruction of Sodom, or of Jerusalem in Nebuchadnezzar's time, or any thing that ever had happened to any city or people, from the beginning of the world to that time: Agreeable to Matth. xxiv. 21, and Luke xxi. 22, 23. But at that time particular care was taken to distinguish and deliver God's people, as was foretold Dan. xii. l. And we have in the New Testament a particular account of the care Christ took for the preservation of his followers : He gave them a sigri, by which they might know when the desolation of the city was nigh, that they that were in Jerusalem might flee to the mountains, and escape. And as history gives account, the Christians followed the directions given, and escaped to a place in the mountains called Pella, and were preserved. Yet no care was taken to preserve the infants of the city, in general; but, according to the predictions of that event, they were involved · with others in that great destruction : So heavily did the calamity fall upon them, that those words were verified, Luke xxiii. 29. « Behold the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the womb that neyer bare, and the paps which never gave suck. And that prophecy in Deut. xxxii. 21....25, which has undoubtedly special respect to this very time, and is so applied by the best commentators. " I will provoke them to jealousy, with those that are not a people ; for a fire is kindled in mine anger; and it shall burn to the lowest hell. I will heap mischiefs upon them : I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and bitter destruction. The sword without, and terror withiņ, shall destroy
both the young man, and the virgin, the suckling also, with the man of grey hairs.” And it appears by the history of that destruction, that at that time was a remarkable fulfilment of that in Deut. xxviii. 53....57, concerning parents' eating their children in the siege ; and the tender and delicate woman eating hier newborn child. And here it must be remembered, that these very destructions of that city and land are spoken of in those places forementioned, as clear evidences of God's wrath, to all nations which shall behold them. And if so, they were evidences of God's wrath towards infants; who, equally with the rest, were the subjects of the destruction. If a particular kind or rank of persons, which made a very considerable part of the inhabitants, were from time to time partakers of the overthrow, without any distinction made in divine provi. dence, and yet this was no evidence at all of God's displeasure with
any of them; then a being the subjects of such a calamity could not be an evidence of God's wrath against any of the inhabitants, to the reason of all nations, or any nation, or só much as one person.