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lies. Is there any fashionable and sinful amusement, error, or vice, which children and youth and rising families are not running into ? And should there not be a reformation ? But to whom can we look to bring it about? Is it reasonable to look to the
who are joyfully swimming down the current of corruption ? Can it be expected, that they will reform themselves ? It cannot. Must we not then look to the aged and the heads of families to reform the young, the unsuspicious and unguarded ? The cause of virtue and religion is now lodged in the hands of the pious and virtuous few, to defend, promote, and perpetuate the infinitely important interests of vital piety, and christian morality. If you now ask, what must we do? The answer is easy. Be faithful to yourselves, and to your children and households. I might venture to say, do as your fathers did to you. You do not want for numbers, for information, nor for influence. The wicked always did and always must bow before the good. You have most of you vowed to the Lord, with respect to your children and households and you may not go back.--What if it be painful and self-denying to do your duty, have you not solemnly engaged to do it? Did you expect, when you engaged to live a christian life, that you could live such a life, without self-denial ? And what have you to lose, in comparison with what you have to gain for yourselves and households ? You may lose the love and applause of some, but not the good opinion of any. All men have consciences, which approve of right conduct in themselves and others.--Let every one then this day make and keep the same good resolution, that Joshua made, “ as for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
THE REASON ANNEXED TO THE SECOND
Exodus. xx. 5, 6.--- For I the Lord thy God ano a jcalous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
This is the reason annexed to the second commandment, which runs in this form : “ Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them : for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me ; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” The phrase, visiting iniquity, is often used in scripture, and always means punishing iniquity. God here threatens to punish disobedient children for the sake of their disobedient parents; and on the other hand, he promises to bless obedient children for the sake of their obedient parents. This reason annexed to the second commandment is probably much oftener read and repeated, than understood. It was designed to make a deep impression upon the minds of both parents and children. But it is
not to be expeeted, that it will make a deep impression upon the minds of any, who do not understand the meaning, the force, and propriety of it. I shall endeavor, therefore, in the present discourse, to explain it as clearly and intelligibly as I can. And in order to this, it seems necessary to show,
I. That God does bless obedient children for the sake of their obedient parents ;
II. That God does punish disobedient children for the sake of their disobedient parents ; And,
III. That there is a consistency in this mode of conduct.
I. I am to show, that God does bless obedient children for the sake of their obedient parents.
God promised Abraham, that he would show mercy to his obedient children, for the sake of his obedience. “ And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect---and I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” Abraham was faithful, in the first instance, to keep covenant with God in respect to his family. God says “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” After he had offered up his son Isaac on the altar, the Lord said again to him, “ In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed ; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” For the sake of Abram's obedience, God did actually
bless thousands and thousands of his obedient children from generation to generation. God blessed the obedient children of David for his sake. After he had proposed to build the temple, and God had forbidden him to do it, he then promised to bless him, by blessing his children. He said to him, “When thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt rest with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish thy kingdom.
He shall build me an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” But though Solomon was not uniformly obedient like his father David, and for a time fell into idolatry, yet God told him he would not punish him so severely as he deserved for his father David's sake. " Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant, and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Nevertheless, in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake : but I will rend it out of the hand of thy
Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom ; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake.” Though Abijam's heart“ was not perfect with the Lord bis God, as the heart of his father David ; nevertheless, for David's sake, did the Lord his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him.” Again, it is said, though Jehoram the son of Jehosaphat greatly deviated from the path of duty, “Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant's sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children.” God blessed the obedient children of Jonadab for the sake of the
obedience of their father Jonadab. It is said of the merciful man, “his seed is blessed ;” and of the just man, “his children are blessed after him.” Thus it appears from scripture, that God does bless obedient children for the sake of their obedient parents, not only unto the third and fourth generation, but unto every generation of obedient parents and children.
II. I proceed to show, that God does punish disobedient children for the sake of disobedient parents.
This is expressly asserted in the text. God solemnly declares, that he does visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him. This declaration means that God does punish children, who hate him, for the sake of their fathers before them, who hated him; which is precisely the same thing, as his punishing disobedient children, for the sake of their disobedient parents. As it is only obedient children, that God blesses, for the sake of obedient parents ; so it is only disobedient children, that God punishes for the sake of disobedient parents. This will appear from a number of plain, undeniable facts recorded in scripture, as well as from some plain, scripture declarations. God visited the iniquity of Ham not upon himself, but upon his son Canaan and his posterity, for the long period of more than four thousand years. God punished the posterity of Baasha for the sake of their father's iniquity. " Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu, the son of Hanani, against Baasha, saying, Forasmuch ås I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel, and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins ; behold, I will