Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel?…
If indeed, says Dr. South, a man could be wicked and a villain to himself alone, the mischief would be so much the more tolerable. But the case, as he goes on to show, is much otherwise; the guilt of the crime lights upon one, but the example of it sways a multitude; especially if the criminal be of any note or eminence in the world. "For the fall of such an one by any temptation (be it never so plausible) is like that of a principal stone or stately pillar, tumbling from a lofty edifice into the deep mire of the street; it does not only plunge and sink into the black dirt itself, but also dashes or bespatters all that are about it or near it when it falls." Well may the note of exclamation follow: how strange, yet how inevitable, the tie which may link our uneventful life with the stormy passions of numbers far away! More wonderful than even the Atlantic cable is declared to be that unknown fibre, along which, from other men's sins, responsibility may thrill even to our departed souls: "a chain whose links are formed perhaps of idle words, of forgotten looks, of phrases of double meaning, of bad advice, of cynical sentiment hardly seriously meant; yet carried on through life after life, through soul after soul, till the little seed of evil sown by you has developed into some deed of guilt at which you shudder, but from participation in responsibility for which you cannot clear yourself." Every sin, we are in fine reminded, may waken its echo; every sin is reduplicated and reiterated in other souls and lives. A distinguished French preacher has a striking discourse on what he entitles the solidarity of evil; and lie, too, dilates upon the mysterious links which connect together persons and acts that appear to have nothing in common — suggesting melancholy examples of the contagion of guilt and its consequences, of the expansive power of corruption and its almost boundless results. Very forcibly Mr. Isaac Taylor warns us that in almost every event of life the remote consequences vastly outweigh the proximate in actual amount of importance; and he undertakes to show, on principles even of mathematical calculation, that each individual of the human family holds in his hand the centre lines of an interminable webwork, on which are sustained the fortunes of multitudes of his successors; the implicated consequences, if summed together, making up therefore a weight of human weal or woe that is reflected back with an incalculable momentum upon the lot of each. The practical conclusion is that every one is bound to remember that the personal sufferings or peculiar vicissitudes or toils through which he is called to pass are to be estimated and explained only in an immeasurably small proportion if his single welfare is regarded, while their "full price and value are not to be computed unless the drops of the morning dew could be numbered."
(F. Jacox, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.