Imágenes de páginas

sinneth it shall die,” saith he in the prophet:1 and, “Every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." But that he will upon that account withdraw his free favours from them. That measure of

grace and indulgence, which otherwise the son of such a person might, according to the general course of God's goodness, have received, God may well, in consistence with his justice and goodness, to manifest his detestation of heinous wickedness, withhold from him. Such a son, if he do fall into personal offences, God will visit; that is, will use a close inspection and animadversion upon him, will severely punish and avenge his sin; not only up his own, but on his father's account; examples of which do in the divine histories frequently occur; in Solomon, in Jeroboam, in Baasha, in Ahab, in Jehu, and in others,

Of them that hate me. We may observe that, in the Scripture style, the transgressors of God's laws are termed haters and enemies of God; because their actions signify a disposition of mind in them repugnant to the mind of God; and because by them they resist and oppose God's will; no wonder then if God deal thus severely with them.

But God not only deters from disobedience by threatening a train of punishments, but he encourageth to


| Ezek. xviii. 20.

2 Deut. xxiv. 16; Jer. xxxi. 30. 1 Kings xi. 35;


34 ; xiv. 10,13; xvi. 3 ; 2 Kings ix. 8; X. 30 ; xv. 12 ; Job xxvii. 14.


xxi. 29;

obedience by a declaration of his intention, or promise, graciously to reward, not only upon the obedient persons themselves, but upon their posterity for ever unto thousands, that is, unto a thousand descents.



Showing mercy : God doth not absolutely promise that he will forbear to punish the posterity of good men in case they offend, but that he will show mercy, and deal the more favourably with them in that respect. His meaning and method in these cases are plainly represented in those words concerning David, “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments, if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes; nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him.” God declares he will punish the offending children of very good men, yet so that their misdeeds shall not interrupt his kindness toward the rest of their posterity, or abolish his remembrance of their goodness. So we may see God dealt with Abraham, and the patriarchs, passing by, in memory of their love and reverence to him, the manifold provocations of their posterity; so that he did not for a long time, and after many generations past, suffer them to incur ruin. Upon this

Psal. lxxxix. 30--32; 2 Chron. xxi. 7.


consideration he brought them out of Egypt, he settled them in Canaan, he frequently delivered them from their enemies, he restored them from oppressions and captivities ; as is often expressed and insinuated in Scripture.' So also it is frequently mentioned, that for David's sake, his posterity, although highly provoking God by their miscarriages, was protected and preserved.

I shall only further note that which is very obvious and most remarkable here—the difference between God's proceeding in way of severity and in way of favour. By a vast proportion the expressions of God's mercy do exceed those of his justice, although both insisting upon like or correspondent grounds; "he visiteth the iniquities” of disobedient fathers “ unto the third or fourth generation,” but “he showeth mercy to a thousand generations of those” that love and obey him. He soon forgetteth the wrongs done, but he long retaineth in memory the services performed to him; which consideration should work upon our ingenuity, and engage lis willingly to obey so gracious a Lord.

It is also observable, that as disobedience is styled hatred of God, so loving God and keeping his commandments are conjoined as terms equivalent; they are indeed inseparably connected, love being a certain cause of obedience, obedience an infallible sign of love: “He

1 Exod. ii. 24; Levit. xxvi. 42 ; Deut. iv. 37; Psal. cv. 42 ; Isa. xlv. 4.

1 Kings xi. 12, 34; xv. 4; Psal. xviii. 50; Isa. xxxvii. 35.


that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is,” saith our Saviour, “that loveth me;" and, “ If any man love me, he will keep my words.” 1




It consisteth, we see, of a precept, and of a reason deterring from disobedience thereto, by declaring or threatening the mischief ensuing thereon.

The precept is : “ Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain :" it might be rendered, Thou shalt not bring the name of the Lord thy God to a vanity, or to a lie, that is, “ Thou shalt not swear in my name to a falsehood.” In the twenty-fourth Psalm,“to lift up one's soul to vanity,” is explained by “swearing to deceit or falsehood." And our Lord himself in his sermon on the mount seemeth to respect this law, when he says, “Ye have heard that it was said to the ancients, Ye shall not forswear, but shall render to the Lord your oaths.”3 For he doth immediately before cite other passages out of the Decalogue (“Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery”), with intention to explain or extend them; and therefore probably he


8 Matt, v. 33.

John xiv, 15, 21-24. 2 Psal. xxiv. 4.

proceeds respecting this law, the most conspicuous of all those which relate to this matter. Considering which things, it is probable that the prime intent of this law is to prohibit that great sin of perjury, that is, of invoking God's attestation to a lie; thereupon appealing to him as witness and judge, that what we assert is true, and as a surety, that what we promise we do steadfastly resolve and shall faithfully perform; implying also that we do expect a curse and vengeance from him upon us, if we be found knowingly to falsify in our affirmation or wilfully to violate our promise.

This seems to be the first and direct meaning of this law; but it may by a parity of reason well be extended farther, so as we may hereby understand all light and vain swearing, all wanton and irreverent use of God's holy name. And hitherto our Lord hath plainly extended it, forbidding us to swear at all, and charging us in our conversation to use only the simple and plain manner of assertion or promise, saying only “ yea, yea," or “nay, nay;" without presuming upon any slight occasion to introduce the holy name of God; which indeed we should not without extreme awe of spirit ever think upon, nor without high veneration dare to mention. It is an instance of the most sottish folly, it is an argument of the most horrible impiety that can be, thus, without any cause or temptation thereto, without any profit or pleasure thence, to trifle with the Divine Majesty; to abuse his glorious name and provoke his

I Matt. v. 37

« AnteriorContinuar »