Sidor som bilder

He dreads not the Effects of the Divine Power and Justice: He is more sollicitous about an imaginary Danger of Want, than for the Commission of a certain and known Sin: In a Word; he is more afraid of Poverty here, than of Damnation hereafter. And as these Sins seize upon, and extinguish the pious Principles and Dispositions of our Minds ; so are they the most destructive of the practical Duties of Religion; particularly of our Faith and Love to God.

First, Our Faith in God. This, as it is the great Principle in Religion, fo is it that which chiefly governs and influences Righteous Men in all their Actions. They dare not do an unjust A&, nor defraud, of oppress their innocent Neighbour (when they have an Advantage or Power) because they believe in God, who is the Juft Avenger of Wrong and Oppreffion. They go on in an honest and consciopable Discharge of their Duty ; leaving the Iflue to the Blesling of God, because they know that be bebolds and approves the Tbing that is Fuft ; they are perswaded that he is faithful and true ; and that lie will make good all his Promises made unto them in Scripture, because he is the Rewarder of honest Industry. But the Practice of Injustice and Oppresion is this Faith ; it is more than a tacit Distrust of this ry opposite unto, and inconsistent with his Providence, Wifdom, and Faithfulness. Can he be supposed to believe that God is the


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Righteous Judge of the World ; that he looks down from Heayen with an angry Countenance upon all the Injustices and Wrongs that are done under the Sun; that he will probably recompence, Temporal Punishment; most certainly repay eternal Vengeance upon all Unrighteousness, Opprefion, and Cruelty; and yet allow himself in the Practice and Commission of such Things? Can he be supposed to be lieve that God is the wise Governour of the World; the great Encourager of honest Industry, the certain Rewarder of conscientious Dealing ; and yet think to prosper by Disbonesty, or to lie undiscovered in his Treachery, or at last escape the Justice of God ? So contradiStory unto, fo inconsistent are these Sins with a true and cordial Faith in God. But

Secondly, They are equally destructive of the Love of God; which is nothing else but our Willingness to do, or to suffer, or to part with any thing for his Sake; valuing his Favour above all the good Things; the Riches and the Possessions; the Profits and the Interefts; the Honours and the pleasures of this World esteeming our selves Rich and Happy enough in the Enjoyment of himself, and what his Providence is pleased to allow us. But how can this ever consist with a Worldly and Covetous, with a Greedy and Rapacious, with a Cruel and Oppreffing Mind? which neither values the Favour of God, nor fears his Displeafure ; which hath no Sense of the Divine Ho

T 2


[ocr errors]

nour ; no Compassion for the Wants and Infirmities of Human Nature, no Relenting for the Injuries, and Oppressions, and Miseries of bis Christian Brother. And therefore says the Apostle St. John ; Whosoever bath this Worlds". Goods, and seeth bis Brother bath Need, and fhutterb up his Bowels of Compassion from bim, bow" dwelleth the Love of God in him ? How can he possibly bear in his Heart any

Af. fection to God, who refuses for his Sake to part with ; who prizes fo inconfiderable Matters as this World's Goods before his Favour and Friendship? His Practice sufficiently difcovers, that his Love is confined only to him

self, since it is not to be moved by fuch preJoh. 4. sent and sensible Objects: He that loveth not

bis Brother whom he bath seen, box can be love God whom he hath not seen ? And so much for the First Thing, the necessary Opposition which these Sins have to the Nature of God, and the Spirit of Piety. Proceed we now in the Second Place to consider,

2. The fingular and remarkable Punishment which God hath threatened, and frequently inflicts upon thein in this World : Nevertbeless, in his Son's Time will I bring the Evil upon his Houfe. And this is the point I'chiefly aimed at under this Head.

There is no question, but as there is a Conveyance of Sin; so also of Punishment from Father to Son, especially of great and enor: mous Sins, such as we are speaking of. So Job


19. 20.

tells us expresly. How often is the Candle of

Ch. 21.1 the Wicked put out, and bow often cometh Deftru&tion upon him? God distributeth Sorrows in his Anger ; he layeth up his Iniquity for his Children. His Eyes shall see bis Destru&tion, and be shall drink of the Wrath of the Almighty. And as God often punishes the Wicked; so likewise he' rewards the Righteous in their Pofterity. This is so plainly taught in the Second Commandment, and in other places of Scripture, that it will admit of no Dispute : Tho Tome Men dispute the Juftice, at least of one Part of it, viz. That God should visit the Sins of the Fathers upon the Children: Which the Jews objected against God in that prophane Proverb, The Fathers have eaten four Grapes, and the Children's Teeth are set on Edge. But as I live, faith the Lord, ye shall not have Occasion any more to use this Proverb in Ifrael. Bebold, all Souls are mine, as the Soul of the Father, so also the Soul of the Son is mine'; the Soul that finneth it fall die.

From which Answer of God, I think, we may learn in what Sense he threatens to punish the Pofterity of bad Men, (and by consequence to reward the Posterity of the Good) for their Father's Sake; which does not extend to the Punishment of the Soul in the other World, where every Man shall bear his own Burden ; be judged or rewarded according to his own Works. The Soul that sinneth it shall die. So that these kind of Punishments

Ezek. 18.

2. 3

[ocr errors]

are : only Temporal, and fuch as relate to this Life ; whence I Thall observe Two Things.

First, The Certainty.
Secondly, The Severity of them.

First, The Certainty of them. It is true, that very often we do not see this visibly and actually inflicted : We may observe wicked Men very prosperous and flourishing like e Green Bay Tree; as the Pfalmift expresses it; and, it may be, neither them nor their Chil dren punished in our time, but this happens because of the Shortness of human Life, which cannot be prolonged beyond the Compafs.of one Generation, and therefore is incapable of making a certain Observation and Judgment in this Matter, But though Punishments of this Kind may be soinetimes flow, yet they are always certain, Sera venit, fed certa venit vindi&ta Deorum. The Justice of Divine Providence does not require a sudden and hafty Execution. Bad Men may be prosperous many Years, and yet severely punished at last; or they may be prosperous all their Lives, and go down to their Graves in Peace; and only answer for their Oppressions and Extor tions in the next World.

But then God threatens, that a more speedy Vengeance shall overtake their Pofterity; especially if they be wicked too. God will then remember, that they are the wicked Children of wicked Parents ; and therefore Deftru&tion


« FöregåendeFortsätt »