« AnteriorContinuar »
grace, or with the word of God. The surely live.” He then proceeds to truth is, justice requires that the trans- declare, that if this righteous man, gressor should be punished, and that shall have a son of a contrary characihe innocent should not be condemn- ter, that this son “shall surely die, ed. And it is in accordance with all and his blood shall be upon him." our ideas of things, that merit and God next declares that if this wicked demerit are always personal. No man shall have a son “ that seeth all one can be blameable for an action his father's sins which he hath done, committed by another, of which he and considereth and doeth not such was ignorant, and to which he was in like, he shall not die for the iniquity no sense accessary, nor can any one of his father, he shall surely live.” The be worthy of praise for the conduct Israelites are then represented as introof another, of which he was always ducing the text which stands at the ignorant, and in which he had no head of this discourse to prove that agency. The parent and the child the prophet did not understand the are distinct persons: and to punish word of God as well as they did, and the one for the conduct of the other, that after all, they were suffering, not in which he had no concern or agen- for their own, but for their
father's sins. cy, is to make the sins of one the sins " Yet ye say, Why? Doth not the of another, (even while the other is son bear the iniquity of the father ?” perfectly innocent,) and is as palpa- God then, (in the 20 v. of this chapbly unjust, as to punish the reader of ter) makes the following reply to this this discourse for the sins of the wri- quotation and application of his own ter; and to reward the one for the word. “ The soul that sinneth, it virtue of the other, amounts to the shall die. The son shall not bear same palpable self-contradiction and the iniquity of the father, neither shall injustice. From the nature of things the father bear the iniquity of the then, it is plain, that God does not son; the righteousness of the rightpunish or reward children, strictly eous shall be upon him, and the wickspeaking, for the sin or holiness of edness of the wicked shall be upon the parent.
him." The scriptures present this subject Still however there must be a sense in the same point of light. During the in which God deals with children accaptivity of the children of Israel in cording to the character and conduct Babylon, they adopted it as a proverb, of parents, or the text must be desthat they were suffering, not for their titute of meaning. It may therefore own, but for their father's sins; and be observed. that God in thus afflicting them was 1. That although there may be me unjust. At this time, God sent unto ny exceptions, according to the sov them his prophet Ezekiel to vindicate reignty of God, yet it is a general rule his character against the aspersions in the providence of God, that children which they were thus bringing upon it. shall by way of natural consequen“What mean ye, that ye use this ces, ordinarily form their habits acproverb concerning the land of Israel, cording to the model presented to them saying, The father's have eaten sour in the character and conduct of their grapes, and the children's teeth are parents, so that their character and set on edge? As I live saith the Lord conduct will, in most, not in all cases, God, ye shall not have occasion any resemble those of their parents. more to use this proverb in Israel. It is manifestly a fact, known by Behold all souls are inine; as the observation and experience, and that soul of the father, so also the soul of it is the ordioary mode of the divine the son is mine : the soul that sinneth procedure for God to give up the IT shall die.” The character of a children of wicked parents, to imbibe righteous man is then described, and the principles, and follow the examit is declared of him, that "he shall ple of their parents; and to use the
influence of the example and feelings, quity and inafmy may be communicaand exertions of pious - parents, as ted in a way of natural consequence, by the means of briuging their children the iniquity of the parent. How many to the knowledge and acknowledg- generations, of swearers, liars, druokment of the truth as it is in Jesus. ards, have you seen issuing from
Thus God visited the iniquity of one stock, and yet all following Jeroboam as a father, upon all his their own choice, and consequenıly children, with the exception of Abi- making their crimes, their oron sin ? jah. They were lest of God to fol. Now if an impious household is a low their own choice, and to walk in judgement on wicked parents, it is the steps of their father. Like him, plain, that in this way, God may, and they rebelled against God; like him frequently does visit the iniquity of they became idolaters :-like bim fathers upon children, to succeeding they sinned, and like him they died. generations. And thus it is generally the fact, that On the other hand the children of impious and vicious parents, by their pious parents, following their examprecept and example, form the char- ple, are usually sober in their habits, acter of their children on the model and orthodox in their sentiments. The of their own feelings and conduct. pious parent instructs, and prays for The children of profane parents catch his children. By these means they the language of blasphemy from the are ordinarily confirmed in the belief lips of a profane father. From his of the great truths of the gospel. The fearlessness of God, the son soon pious parent leads his children to the learns to trifle with, and abuse, and house of God, and thus brings them contemn the authority of Jehovah. within the influence accompanying a The father curses; and the son res. preached gospel. And in this manner, ponds in blasphemy. The father God may, and frequently does make jeads the way ; and the son follows the pious parent the means, by way on to hell. Is the parent indolent? of natural consequence, of bringing The children usually sustain the same down mercy on his children. These character. The parent loves his ease, children being the servants of God, and the child soon learns to love it. will probably perpetuate the influThe parent, declares it his maxim, ence of godly example upon their that ease is better than industry; and children; and thus succeeding genethe child readily responds, “ Yet a rations may receive mercy, at the little sleep, a little slumber, a little hands of God. folding of the hands to sleep.” Is the Now God is certainly no less soveparent a drunkard ? The child soon reign in bestowing his mercy in this becomes familiar with that object of manner, on the children of pious abhorrence to all good men,-a drunko parents, than he is, in bestowing en man. He readily acquires a fondo it on those of profligate transgresness for the cup,- looses the sense of sors. shame once associated with the name 2. Another way in which God deals of intemperance,-throws up the reins with children according to the charto appetite,reels through the same acter and conduct of parents, is, that course through which his father reel- the children share in the judgements ed, and plunges like bim into woe. inflicted, and the mercies bestowed, Thus it is, in every species of vice. on their respective parents. The Now these children, forming their judgements which God sends upon character from the principles and wicked parents in this world are many; examples of their parents, will prob- and numerous are the mercies, which ably, in the same manner, entail the he bestows on those parents who besame character upon their children, long to his household. In these judgeand they on theirs, and thus down to ments the children of the wicked, and the third, and fourth generations, ini- in these mercies the children of the
godly, even wbile unregenerate, al- four generations may be driven tomost necessarily participate. The gether into outer darkness, in consevicious parent invites, and generally quence of the iniquity of the first lathin a greater or less degree, groans un er in the series. This punishment, der the rod of the anger of Jehovah. these children having voluntarily sinThe idler, the gamester, the drunk ned, as their fathers sinned, will ard, are usually deprived of their themselves, personally deserve; and wealth, their reputation and their in- therefore, though they suffer in conAuence. Their children share in the in- sequence of their fathers' iniquity, famy and misery of the parents result- they will acknowledge the justice of ing irom tbese dealings of God. The the sentence which dooms them to idler brings want upon himself, and the tortures of the second death. By the connexion in which his children
following voluntarily the sinful exstand to him, involves them necessa- ample of their fathers, they constitute rily in the suffering which he endures. themselves sioners; so that whatever From the hand of the drunkard, God they may suffer in this, or in the future usually wrests his property and his world, in consequence of the parent's credit
. His sin destroys his fortune, iniquity, they suffer in truth, not for his reputation, his faculties, the peace their fathers', but for their own sins. of his family; brings disease and On the other hand, the children of death upon him, and ruins his soul the righteous frequently share in the forever. Now in all this train of blessings which God bestows on their evils, which in the providence of God parents. He preserves their parents comes down upon the drunkard, his from the vices by which the ungodly children are usually deeply involved. are enslaved ; and in this preservation
The children of wicked parents of the fathers, the children are preseralso, through the influence of their ved from intamy, frequently from precepts and example, often harden penury, always from the miseries of iheir hearts against God, and sink domestic contentions and broils; and with their parents at last, to everlast- at length from weeping in hopeless ing ruin. The aggravated rebellion regret over the ashes of a departed. of a parent against God, may pro father or mother. They share too in voke Him to give up that parent to the means of religious instruction; in perpetual hardness of heart, and blind- the prayers of those who have an inteuess of mind. In this case he will rest at the throne of grace, and often live in stupid contempt of God, and in the awakening and sanctifying indie without hope. All his influence fluences of the Holy Spirit by which will be on the side of error and they are trained for usefulness in the of sin. This stupidity, and this world, peace in death and final tris contempt of God, in the parent, umph over sin and hell. may be, and often is the means of Now although all this good comes leading the child through the same upon these children in consequence of course of conduct to the same point the parent's piety, yet it is not beof abandonment. He has seen his cause the piety of the parent is the parent live a sinner, and die uncon- price by which these mercies are obcerned. He follows in the way his tained: the Lord Jesus Christ purfather led ;-like him he adds sin chased them with his blood, and God to sin;-like him he hardens his is sovereign in their bestowal. He heart;- like him he destroys his con is sovereign in dispensing them to science ;-like him he is at length the parent, and sovereign in making given up to judicial hardness; and the children participate in them ; so like him too, he makes haste to hell. that in all his conduct towards chilThis child may poison his children dren as connected with their parents, by the same dreadful process; they, God does not resigo his sovereignty heirs, and at the day of judgment in blessing the seed of the righteous,
Vol. 3-No. V. 30
nor does he treat the children of the with the rising of to-morrow's sun, wicked contrary to their personal that body is clad in the vestments of desert.
the grave, and that spirit of thine fled These observations suggest two re- to God who gave it, should you then flections:
possess a character which Christ, 1. How interesting is the situation which a jealous God, which you, of every man while in this world. It yourself, would approve ? Would has been shown that “ the God whose this holy, jealous God, receive yon we are, and whom we are bound to as a child? Would the Lord Jesus serve,” is a God highly concerned for say to you, “Well done, good and his own honor; it has been shown faithful servant, enter thou into the that whatever may have been the joy of thy Lord?” These are intercharacter of our ancestors, to our own rogatories of solemn interest to you. master, we, as individuals stand or They reach into eternity, and lay hold fall, and that every man shall die for his on the awards of the last day. Be own sid. A little while, and our des- careful then, reader. You live in a tiny is fixed forever; and the com- dying world. Your condition will plexion of that destiny will be deter- soon be fixed forever; and fixed acmined by the shade we give to our cording to the character you sustair. own character. If we are enemies to Will it be in heaven? God, our eternal home is in the de 2. How great is the responsibility vouring fire; our final habitation, ever- of parents. lasting burnings. If we are friends of It has been shown that the characGod, reconciled to him by Jesus ter and conduct of parents generally Christ, heaven is prepared for our produce similar habits and characters reception, and the throne of the Eter- in their children, and that they are nal will as soon tremble, as our crown usually blessed or cursed of the Lord of giory lose its lustre, or our joys cease in this world and in that which is to or cloy. And indeed, our characters come, as a consequence of the charare now, in some sense formed. If God acter and conduct of parents. And should now call us to give up our ac now parent, let me ask, what is your count, we should feel and kvow that character and conduct? they are formed. And there is not a penitent, or impenitent? Are you rearer of this discourse, so insulated reconciled to God through Christ, or by circumstances, but that he now do you still retain the carnal mind sustains a decided character. Not which is ermity against God? Are one who is now neither an enemy por you virtuous or vicious ? These quesa friend of God; neither a saiut nor tions involve your eterpal interests. a sinner. Above us sits the God, If you are not penitent and reconciled under whose inspection every action to God, and die in your present state, of our lives, and every feeling of our
you are undone. hearts, have passed; the God who But beside your eternal interests, koows our characters, and who is those of generations may be involved jealous of his honor. Beneath us in the character which you sustain. soar the billows of divine wrath, which Are you then a friend of God by faith will speedily overwhelm all the ene in Christ Jesus? Oh see to it, that mies of holiness and heaven. And, you deceive not yourself, in answer. reader, in view of what your charac ing this question to your conscience. ter now is; of what God is; and of If you are indeed the friend of God; what you speedily must be, answer it you are blessed. Not only are the to your conscience, have you honor- consolations, the great and precious ed the Lord your God, by a cordial promises of the gospel yours,--not onobedience to his commandments? Hy is heaven and all its holy joys yours; Have you repented of sin, and given but it may be your happiness yet to apyour hearts to the Saviour ? If this
pear before the bar of Christ clad in is the last day of your probation; if his righteousness, and with the hands
of your children clasped in yours, omable. Another step, and you may to say, “ Here am I Lord, and the be beyond the reach of the Saviour's children which thou hast given me." Yours it may be to rejoice io heav If you now sustain the character en forever, with your children, and of the impenitent,--the character of your children's children, who through enemies to God, you are preparing your instrumentality, may the children of your bosom, for endcrowns, bright as your own; re less woe. Your character and conduct joice in consolations, rich as those may be the means of forming their which will animate your own bosom; character, and of fixing their condiand chaunt forever, the song of redee. tion in that world, athwart whose ming love,in sounds as sweet as yours. gloom, mercy never yet darted a sinBut ohi! take heed. Let your exam- gle ray; in which no sound was ever ple shine as a light to the feet of heard but wailings ; in which no lan. those, of whose existence you have guage is spoken but blasphemy. Oh been instrumental, and on whose ev- impenitent parent, beware. Rememerlasting destiny you may have so ber, if you lie down in sorrow, you mighty an influence. Take heed, may not dwell alone there. Rememlest an erroneous belief, lest a cold ber,-if you fall finally into perdition, and worldly deportment, should cast the dreadful weight of the curses of a block in their way, over which they your children, may light upon your may stumble into irretrievable de devoted head, to accelerate your struction. Take heed lest they fam- downward progress, and to kindle ish for want of religious instruction, with tenfold fury the fame which that the blood of the souls of your will devour you. Be intreated to children, be not required at your take heed what you are, and what hands. And pious parent, go on, in your labour of love in training up But does this discourse meet the your children for God. Go on, and eye of a parent who indulges himfor your comfort in your arduous self in vice? Does it meet the eye of work, take this great and sure prom. a parent who to impenitence adds ise of God along with you. “I the open immorality ? If it does, let me Lord thy God am a jealous God admonish that parent to pause, ere shewing mercy to thousands of them destruction cometh like a whirlwind. that love me and keep my command- Vicious,-drunken, profane, or imments.” Go on, and when the toils moral parent, stop ;-or you will of your pilgrimage shall be over, and perish, and probably your children when the trump of the archangel with you. You are entailing infamy shall wake to life, the sleeping world, and woe upon them here; and the may you number among the throng curse of God forever. Are you a who shall inherit everlasting glory, father? and can you pluck from your your children unto the third and fourth, knee the child that smiles in your and to many succeeding generations. face, as if it feasted on a father's love;
But parent, are you conscious that can you pluck that child thence, and you do not love God ? Has this give it to the destroyer? Are you a discourse fallen under the eye of a mother? Dwells there in your heart, father or a mother who is yet con- the tenderness, the compassion of a scious that sin has not been repent mother? And can you tear from your ed of, aor the Saviour embraced with bosom the child which clings there a faith working by love and pu- to kiss the tear that sparkles in your rifying the heart ?' What then are eye; say, can you tear it thence, and. you doing? You are wandering cast it into the devouring fire ? Take this moment on the verge of a tre- heed, then, that you do it not. If you. mendous precipice, beneath which are impenitent and vicious, and conroll billows of divine wrath, unfath- tinne so, you probably will do is.