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Verse 9

9.Then Abimelech called Abraham. There are those who suppose that the king of Gerar did not make a complaint against Abraham; but rather declared his own repentance. If, however we fairly weigh his words we find confession mixed with expostulation. Although he complains that Abraham had acted unjustly, he yet does not so transfer the blame to him, as to free himself from all fault. And he may, with justice, impute part of the blame to Abraham, as he does; provided he also acknowledges his own sin. Let we therefore know, that this king did not act as hypocrites are in the habit of doing. For, as soon as ever a pretext is furnished for inculpating others, they confidently absolve themselves: they even esteem it a lawful purgation for themselves, if they can draw others into a participation of their crime. But Abimelech, while he complains that he had been deceived, and had fallen through impudence, yet does not, meanwhile, scruple to condemn himself as guilty of a great sin, ‘It is not,’ he says, ‘through thee, that I and my whole kingdom have been prevented from falling into the greatest wickedness.’ No one therefore may exonerate himself from blame, under the pretense that he had been induced by others to sin. It is, however to be noted, that adultery is here called a great sin; because it binds not one man only, but a whole people, as in a common crime. The king of Gerar could not indeed have spoken thus, had he not acknowledged the sacred right of marriage. But, at the present time, Christians — at least they who boast of the name — are not ashamed jocularly to extenuate so great a crime, from which even a heathen shrinks with the greatest horror. Let us however know, that Abimelech was a true herald of that divine judgment, which miserable men in vain endeavor to elude by their cavils. And let that expression of Paul ever recur to our memory, ‘Be not deceived; because of those things cometh the wrath of God upon the disobedient.’ (1 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:6.) It is not without reason, that he makes this sin common to the whole nation; for when crimes are committed with impunity, a whole region is, in a certain sense, polluted. And it is especially notorious, that the anger of God is provoked against the whole body of the people, in the person of the king. Hence, with so much the greater earnestness and care, must we beseech God to govern, by his Spirit, those whom he has placed in authority over us; and then, to preserve the country, in which he has granted us a dwelling-place, exempt and pure from all iniquity.

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