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who is in heaven. But a more particular detail of rules for our future conduct to promote a revival of religion cannot now be given. "And indeed, the best rules are of no advantage, unless they are reduced to practice. Arise now, O Lord, and plead thine own cause.
, Let thine enemies be scattered, and let those who hate thee, flee before thy face. Save thy people, bless thine inheritance, feed them, and lift them up forever. And let And let every christian say+Amen.
God's treating every man agreeable to bis moral char racter, shown to be consistent, with his blessing the seed of the righteous, and cursing the
seed of the wicked.* A SERMON.
PASTOR OF A CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN LISLE,
STATE OF NEW-YORK.
EZEKIEL, xviii. 20. The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son sball not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son ; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
TO excuse ourselves, and throw the blame of our sin upon some other, has always been exceedingly natural to fallen man. Our apostate parents early set us this example. We have a natural affection
* I may perhaps strike the reader, that the title prefixed to this sermon, embraces more than the text from which it is drawn. The author would just mention the reason of his making this tesci embrace só wide a field. He had held up in his public discourses, that there was a connexionin the covenant of grace, between the holy faithfulness of parents and the salvation of their children. This appeared to some of his bearers, inconsistent with God's treating every man according to his own character. What he had advanced upon the covenant connexion of farents and children, was thought by some, to perfectly clash with the chapter from which our test is selected. The author was particularly requested io take the verse, which stands as tbe foundation of the following discourses and show how it could be reconciled with what he had advanced about the connexion between parents and children. This gave rise to the following discourse, and the partiolar method in which the subject is treated
for our parents; but we love ourselves supremely. We had rather throw blame on other men, than on our parents; but we had rather throw blame on them, than take it to ourselves. We had rather make our sufferings and miseries the fruit of their sin, than
The Jews, who were carried into the Babylonisk captivity, manifested this disposition, in an eminent degree. They were a most ungodly generation, as appears by the description given of them in the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The Lord, by the mouth of his prophet Jeremiah, recounts to this evil generation, the sins of their fathers, and then adds, And ye have done worse than your fathers.' And by his prophet Ezekiel, he says concerning this same generation, They are impudent children, and stiff hearted and most rebellious.' Their extreme wickedness was represented to this prophet in the vision of the chambers of imagery. It is clear, that there never was a generation in Israel, which more justly deserved the wrath of God to be poured out upon them without mixture: Yet, as is common for the greatest sinners, they were for getting rid of all the blame. They were free to acknowledge, that their fathers had done wickedly; and they evidently ascribed all those dreadful judgments, which they suffered to the impiety of their fathers, who were now in the grave. Thus they made the ways of God unequal-unequal in punishing the innocent children for the sins of their wicked fathers. This is manifestly what they meant by using that proverb, which is taken notice of in the beginning of this chapter. The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. It is the object of this whole chapter to refute this false notion, to set the divine character and conduct in a fair and consistent point of light, and to convince. that wicked people, that they were suffering for their own personal sins. Immediately after this proverb
is introduced, it is added with a solemn emphasis,
As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have. occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.' They never had any just occasion to use this proverb ; if they had, then the ways of God were once unequal : but this cannot be, for he changeth not.
In the fourth verse of this chapter, we have stated to us this important truth, which is a fundamental principle in every good government, especially in the perfect government of God, viz. The soul that sinneth, it sball die. The Lord had just said, Behold all
. souls are mine ; as the soul of the father, so the soul of the son is mine. The consequence, which the Lord himself draws from this, is not, that therefore none shall die, but it is, that no one shall die except the soul that sinneth. One man is naturally as near to God, and no nearer than another. There is nothing to lead him to be more pleased with one than another, unless it be that his character is bet. ter; and there is nothing to induce him to punish one man, in distinction from another, unless his character be worse. It is true, that God dispenses grace upon one sinner, while another is left to his own hard heart; but in this he does not act as being partial and a respecter of persons ; for he would, no doubt, leaye the one he takes, and take the one he leaves, if the good of the universe required it. In forming characters, God acts as a wise and benevolent sovereign, extending grace to whom he will, and hardening whom he will; agreeable to the declaration of the apostle in the ninth chapter of Romans. But when characters are formed, God is obliged, así a holy Governor, to treat every treatüre according to his character, i. e. according to his own personal conduct and temper of heart. The sinner, whose heart is wholly selfish, must be a hateful creature, let who will be his father; while the saint, whose heart is warmed with love to God, and whose life is after the example of Christ, must be viewed as
amiable, though he might have had for a father one, who was a monster in wickedness. This truth is clearly illustrated, to the honor of the Holy One of Israel, in this chapter.
The matter is thus illustrated-First. A pious man is described from the fifth to the tenth verse. It is said of this man, He is just, he shall surely live.' Secondly. This man is then supposed to have a very wicked son, whose wickednes is described from the tenth to the fourteenth verse. Of him it is said, He shall surely die, his blood shall be upon him.' Then the matter is further illustrated, by supposing this wicked son, when he becomes a father, may have a child possessed of unfeigned piety. Now, lo, if he beget a son that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doth not such like he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.'
After these examples are stated to illustrate God's impartial justice, in treating every man according to his own and not his father's or his son's character, then the truth, which had been stated and illustrated, is once more reduced to a general proposition in the text: The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the rigteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wiced shall be upon him.
The text in connexion with the whole chapter from which it is taken, clearly teaches this important DOCTRINE:
That it is a fixed principle in the government of God, to distribute rewards and punishments, according to the personal character of his creatures.
The case of Jesus Christ, our Mediator, is in some sense, an exception from this principle. He knew no sin, personally; and yet he was made sin, i. e. an offering for sin. He deserved no pain, but was wor