Value of Righteous Thinkers

There is something dramatic in Abraham's endeavor to discover how far the saving influence of the righteous would be effective. Informed as to the impending destruction of the licentious cities of the plain, in one of which his nephew Lot then lived, he interceded with the divine messenger, having large hopes as to the number of righteous men that might be in these cities. His intercession is related with all the leisureliness of the oriental tale. "Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?" The answer to his question was that should there be in Sodom fifty righteous all the place would be spared for their sakes. Beginning to doubt his first vision of the possibilities, Abraham said, "Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous," and was again reassured. Next he made his proposal that there might only be forty, lessened it to thirty, then to twenty, and at last to ten, and the final reassurance was, "I will not destroy it for ten's sake."

Abraham evidently gave Lot credit for larger influence than he achieved. In the record given by Peter the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha are said to be in their overthrow "an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly," from which overthrow there was delivered "just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds." Nevertheless he was so involved by domestic ties that he never thought of removing until under the urgency of the divine messengers it became not a question of removing but of escaping with his life.

February 16, 1918

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