« PreviousContinue »
and the superior privileges of the gospel. “Where“fore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be “moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve “God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. “For our God is a consuming fire i.” He manifested himself, in this character, under the law. The dispensation under which we live, is very different with respect to immediate temporal tokens of divine indignation. But we still serve the same God. His holiness is invariably the same, even although it is not manifested by such displays of his justice. But even these have not been wanting under the New Teftament. What affecting monuments of divine displeasure were Judas Ilcariot, and Ananias and Sapphirak! God set them up, in the very dawn of the gospel-church, as beacons to deter us from tampering with his juftice. For even our God is a consuming fire. Such teinporal judgments are far less frequent under this dispensation. But for this we may see a sufficient reason. The eternal state is more clearly revealed: and in this the fire of divine justice, will burn with far greater heat, than ever it did in temporal punishment. Therefore faith the apoftle, in the passage formerly referred to; " See “ that ye refuse not him that speaketh : for if they “ escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, “ much more shall not we escape, if we turn away “ from him that speaketh from heaven !.”
k Ads i. 18.; v. I.-II
i Heb. xii. 28, 29. | Heb. xii. 25.
On Divine Justice, in visiting the Iniquities of Fa
thers upon their Children.—Children punished for the fins of Parents.-Parents punished in their Children.--Iniquity visited on those efpecially who continue in the wicked courses of their Progenitors. Some fins more remarkably visited on succeeding generations, than others.This visitation extends farther than to temporal punishment.--Something in human conduct analo. gous to this procedure of Divine Justiec.-0bjections answcred.
The Justice of God, like every other perfec. tion of his nature, is incomprehensible. We often find reason to exclaim ; " His judgments are a “ great deep!-How unsearchable are his judg“ ments, and his ways past finding out !” But we need not wonder that our weak and depraved reason should be loft in the contemplation of that · adorable perfection, which is employed in the pu-nishment of fin; as there is an extent in its evil, which we cannot comprehend.
The divine conduct, in visiting the iniquities of fathers upon their children, is one of those awful displays of justice, which it feeins to be a spe
cial design of revelation to set before us in the most conspicuous light. With a fincere desire to discover “ the mind of the Spirit,” let us huinbly inquire into the doctrine which the Holy Scriptures contain on this important subject.
1. It is consistent with divine justice, to punish children for the sins of their parents, although they have had no hand in these. This principle is established by a great variety of facts. For the crime of Ham, the curse was entailed on his posterity by Canaan m. Some think that the curse extended to all the posterity of Ham, and that Canaan is particularly mentioned, because this history being immediately written for confirming the faith of the Israelites, the prophecy of Noah was to them a prelude of victory over the Canaanites, and of the possession of their land. Others suppose that Canaan was singled out by the Patríarch, under the influence of the Spirit of inspiration, as having been immediately concerned with Ham in the crime which he committed. But of this we have no evidence whatsoever. Admitting it to be consistent with justice to punish children for the iniquities of their fathers, God, in his adorable sovereignty, might entail the curse in a special manner upon one branch of the posterity of Ham. It has been said, that the curse was not " pronounced upon Canaan for his father “ Ham's transgression ;" that “ such arbitrary “ proceedings are contrary to all our ideas of the
“ divine Gen. ix. 25.
“divine perfections ;" that “ the curse upon Ca“ naan was properly a curse upon the Canaanites; * that God foreseeing the wickedness of this peo“ple, (which began in their father Ham, and “ greatly increased in this branch of his family), “ commissioned Noah to pronounce a curse upon “ them, and to devote them to the servitude and “ misery, which their more than common vices " and iniquities would deserve ;' and that “ this “ account was plainly written by Moses, for the " encouragement of the Israelites n,” &c.
It cannot well be doubted, that the curse especially respected the posterity of Canaan, and that it was recorded for encouraging the Israelites to obey the command of God, by entering into their land. But we certainly do violence to the language of Scripture, and ascribe the greatest impropriety of conduct to the Spirit of inspiration, if we deny that the curse upon Canaan was meant as a punishment of the crime of Ham. Such is the connexion of the history, as necessarily to imply this. “ And Ham the father of Canaan saw “ the nakedness of his father, and told his two “ brethren without.-And Noah awoke from his “ wine, and knew,'' as would seem, by immediate revelation, “ what his younger son had done “ unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a “ servant of servants shall he be unto his bre“thren." We are not merely to consider the design with which this account was “ written by “ Moses,” but the design with which the curse
was * Bishop Newton on the Prophecies, differt. 1. o Gen. ix. 22. 24,25.
was primarily pronounced by Noah under the impulse of the Spirit. And surely nothing can be more plain, than that the curse was denounced against the posterity of Ham, as the punishment of his iniquity. It seems totally incongruous to the character of “ the Spirit of revelation," who is also the “ Spirit of wisdom,” to connect, in the language of prophecy, the punishment of the posterity of Ham with the crime of their ancestor, if there was no connexion of a judicial nature. We do not perceive the propriety of Noah's“ pro“nouncing a curse” on this occasion, if it had no present effect. There is, indeed, just as much reason for supposing, that Shem and Japhet were personally excluded from the blesling, as that the curse had no immediate relation to Ham, but wholly respected his posterity.
Among the first-born in the land of Egypt, who were cut off by the destroying angel, there were doubtless many who had never finned in their own persons. They were immediately punished for the unbelief and obduracy of their parents The children of Achan perished with him ". No one, who believes revelation, can doubt the account given us of the "punishment of the perfidy of Saul to the Gibeonites, first on the nation, and afterwards on his posterity. Nor can it be doubted, that God approved of the severe sentence paffed, at the instance of the Gibeonites, on the seven fons of Saul. For it is said, that, in consequence of their execution," God was entreated
66 for p Jorn, vii. 24.