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intention previous to the sin. Therefore no advantage can be taken of this doctrine to the encouragement of sin, without wil. fully misconstruing it.

eous.

But then you say, we place the sinner in a more hopeful condition than the right

But who, let us inquire, are the righteous we speak of? Not they, who are endeavouring, however, imperfectly, to perform the will of God; not they, who are actuated by a principle of obedience to him; but men, who are orderly and regular in their visible, behaviour without an internal religion. To the eye of man they appear righteous. : But if they do good, it is not from the love or fear of God, or out of regard to religion that they do it, but from other considerations. If they abstain from sin, they abstain from it out of different motives from what religion offers ; and so long as they have the acquiescence and approbation of the world, they are kept in a state of sleep ; in a state,, as to religion, of total negligence and unconcern. Of these righteous men there are many; and, when we compare

their condition with that of the open sinner, it is to rouse them, if possible, to a sense of religion. A wounded conscience is better than a conscience which is torpid. When conscience begins to do its office, they will feel things changed within them mightily. It will no longer be their concern to keep fair with the world, to preserve appearances, to maintain a character, to uphold decency, order and regularity in their behaviour ; but it will be their concern to obey God, to think of him, to love him, to fear him ; nay, to love him with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, with all their strength ; that is, to direct their cares and endeavours to one single point, his will : yet their visible conduct

may not be much altered; but their internal motives and principle will be altered altogether.

This alteration must take place in the heart, even of the seemingly righteous. It may take place also in the heart of the sinner: and, we say, (and this is, in truth, the whole which we say,) that a conscience pricked by sin, is sometimes, nay, oftentimes, more susceptible of the impressions of religion, of true and deep impressions, than a mind which has been accustomed to look only to the laws and customs of the world, to conform itself to those laws, and to find rest and satisfaction in that peace, which not God, but the world gives.

SERMON XIII.

SINS OF THE FATHERS UPON THE

CHILDREN.

1

EXODUS, XX. 5.

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor

serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the

fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate

me.

TH

HESE words form part of the second

commandment. It need not be denied, that there is an apparent harshness in this declaration, with which the minds even of good and pious men have been sometimes sensibly. affected. : To visit the sins of the

P

fathers upon

the children, even to the third and fourth generation, is not, at first sight at least, so reconcileable to our apprehensions of justice and equity, as that we should expect to find it in a solemn publication of the will of God.

I think, however, that a fair and candid interpretation of the words before us will remove a great deal of the difficulty, and of the objection which lies against them. My exposition of the passage is contained in these four articles :— First, that the denunciation and sentence relate to the sin of idolatry in particular, if not to that alone. Secondly, that it relates to temporal, or, more properly speaking, to family prosperity and adversity. Thirdly, that it relates to the Jewish economy, in that particular administration of a visible providence, under which they lived. Fourthly, that at no rate does it affect, or was ever meant to affect the acceptance or salvation of individuals in a future life.

First, I say, that the denunciation and sentence relate to the sin of idolatry in

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