but showing loving devotion to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
I. A FACT AMPLY ATTESTED. Borne out -
2. By observation and experience. The case of children suffering in mind, body, character, and fortune, as the result of the sins of parents, is one of the commonest and saddest things in life.
3. Science. The law of heredity. (For illustrations, see Rev. Joseph Cook's 'Lectures.')
4. Literature. Especially do the Greek tragedies give expression to, and strikingly work out, this thought.
II. A FACT MYSTERIOUS, YET TO BE VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF VARIOUS RELIEVING CONSIDERATIONS. The difficulty is one of natural, quite as much as of revealed, religion. The following considerations relieve it only in part:
1. Every original disadvantage will be taken into account by the Searcher of hearts in estimating personal responsibility (Luke 13:48).
2. The final judgment on a man's character will turn, not on inherited tendencies, but on what he has made himself by his own moral determinations (Ezekiel 18.).
3. The less favorable conditions in which the sins of parents have placed the individual cannot turn to his ultimate disadvantage if he struggle well and persevere to the end (see 'Speaker's Commentary' on Exodus 20:5).
4. It is open to the evil-doer to cut off the entail of punishment by choosing for himself the way of righteousness (Ezekiel 18:15-18). God is reluctant to contemplate the heritage of evil descending further than the third or fourth generation, while thousands of generations are spoken of in connection with the blessing.
5. Experience of the effects of a parent's evil-doing is designed to act as a deterrent from like sins. The child is less likely to imitate the parents' vices, suffering these results, than if entirely exempt.
6. The Law is the consequence of a constitution of society originally intended for the conveyance, not of evils, but of blessings. This is a consideration of importance as throwing light on the equity, as well as on the goodness, of Divine providence. The design of the organic constitution of society is obviously to hand down to succeeding generations the moral gains of those which precede. It is sin which has wrought the mischief, reversing the operation of a constitution in itself beneficent, and making that which is good work death to so many.
Lesson - The tremendous responsibility of parents, and of all who have it in their power to influence the destinies of posterity. - J.O.
The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
Who are all of us here alive this dayI. THIS TEXT APPLIES TO MANY THIS DAY TO WHOM IT WAS NOT APPLICABLE LAST YEAR. Thousands have been born in the course of this year.
II. THE TEXT APPLIED TO MANY LAST YEAR TO WHOM IT IS NOT NOW APPLICABLE. They were then alive, but now they are inhabitants of the tomb, and their souls have entered the eternal state. Of these, many classes might be specified.
1. Some who were expecting it. Aged, infirm, afflicted, who were daily awaiting their dismissal.
2. Some who were reckoning on many years to come. Young, healthy, hearts full of life; but they perished as the flower. "Their sun went down while it was yet day."
3. Some, we fear, died unprepared. Aliens to God; strangers to repentance, faith, and holiness.
4. Many, we trust, died in the Lord. Race ended; warfare accomplished; crown received; forever with the Lord.
III. THE TEXT IS APPLICABLE TO ALL THOSE NOW ASSEMBLED. "We are all alive here this day."
1. And it is wonderful that we are so. Amidst so many dangers, diseases, and death.
2. Is entirely owing to the goodness and patience of God.
3. We are alive under increasing responsibilities. Many blessings have been given to us this year, for all of which we must give an account: talents, time, opportunities, Sabbaths, sermons, etc.
4. Being alive should fill us with hearty gratitude to God. Our lips, hearts, and lives should show forth His praise.
5. As we are alive, let us now resolve to live more than ever to God, and for eternity.
IV. IT IS HIGHLY PROBABLE THAT THE TEXT IS NOW APPLICABLE TO SOME HERE FOR THE LAST TIME.
(J. Burns, D. D.)
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