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monly owing not to the present generation, but to the industry, wisdom, or good conduct of a former ancestor. The poverty and depression of a family are not imputable to the present representatives of the family, but to the fault, the extravagance, or mismanagement of those who went before them; of which, nevertheless, they feel the effects. All this we see every day, and we see it without surprise or complaint. What, therefore, accords with the state of things under the ordinary dispensations of Providence as to temporal prosperity and adversity, was, by a special providence, and by a particular sentence, ordained to be the mode, and probably a most efficacious mode, of restraining and correcting an offence, from which it was of the utmost importance to deter the Jewish nation.
My third proposition is, that this commandment related particularly to the Jewish economy. In the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy, you find Moses with prodigious solemnity, pronouncing the blessings and cursings which awaited the children of Ist rael under the dispensation to which they
were called; and you will observe, that these blessings consisted altogether of worldly benefits, and these curses of worldly punishments. Moses in effect declared, that, with respect to this peculiar people, when they came into their own land, there should be amongst them such a signal and extraordinary and visible interposition of Providence, as to shower down blessings, and happiness and prosperity upon those who adhered faithfully to the God of their fathers, and to punish with exemplary. misfortunes, those who disobeyed and deserted him. Such Moses told them, would be the order of God's government over them. This dispensation dealt in temporal rewards and punishments. And the second commandment, which made the temporal prosperity and adversity of families depend, in many instances, upon the religious behaviour of the ancestor of such families, was a branch and consistent part of that dispensation.
But, lastly and principally, my fourth proposition is, that at no rate does it affect, or was ever meant to affect, the acceptance, or salvation of individuals in a future life. My proof of this proposition I draw from the 18th chapter of Ezekiel. It should seem from this chapter that some of the Jews, at that time, had put too large an interpretation upon the second commandment ; for the prophet puts this question into the mouth of his countrymen ; he supposés them to be thus, as it were, expostulating with God :.“ ye say, Why? Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father ?” that is the question he makes them ask. Now take notice of the answer the answer which the prophet delivers in the name of God, is this, “ When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes and hath done them, he shall surely live. 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 righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him :” verses, 19, 20. :
In the preceding part of the chapter, the prophet has dilated a good deal, and very expressly indeed, upon the same subject ; all to confirm the great truth which he lays down, “ Behold all souls are mine,
, as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Now apply this to the second commandment; and the only way of reconciling them together, is by supposing that the second commandment related solely to temporal or rather family adversity and prosperity, and Ezekiel's chapter to the rewards and punishments of a future state. When to this is added what hath been observed that the threat in the second commandment belongs to the crime forbidden in that commandment, namely the going over to false gods, and deserting the one true God; and that it also formed a part or branch of the Mosaic system, which dealt throughout in temporal rewards and punishments at that time dispensed by a particular providence ; when these considerations are laid together, much of the difficulty, and much of the objection, which our own minds may have raised against this commandment, will, I hope, be removed.
SERMON XIV. :
HOW VIRTUE PRODUCES BELIEF, AND VICE
JOHN, vii. 17.
If any man will do His will, he shall know of
the doctrine, whether it be of God. IT
T does not, I think, at first sight appear
why our behaviour should influence our belief, or how any particular course of
, action, good or bad, should affect our assent to any particular propositions which are offered to us ; for truth or probability can never depend upon our conduct; the credibility or incredibility of religion is the same, whether we act well for ill, whether we obey its laws or disobey them. Nor is it very manifest, how even our perception of evidence or credibility should be affected by our virtues or vices : because conduct is immediately voluntary, belief is not : one is an act of the will under the