Imágenes de páginas

of a child, but also because it is extended to the third and fourth generation—a parent often lives to witness the history of his posterity thus far. Joseph was but 110 years old when he died, and yet “ Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation : the children also of Machir, the son of Manassah, were brought up upon Joseph's knees." Gen. xxiii. But, oh! for a great-great grand-parent to see the ones he dandles upon his knees suffer the dire consequences of his own iniquities! This is something to think of—this is something to make one feel !

In view of this solemn truth, how appropriate is the warning and exhortation of an old divine: “Thou who, by fraud and cozenage, heapest together ill-gotten wealth, thinkest perhaps of leaving so many hundreds or thousands to thy children; but considerest not withal how many curses thou puttest into the bag-curses that, in time, will rot and eat out the very bottom of it. Thou who, by this, or by any other wickedness, either swearing, or drunkenness, or uncleanness, provokest the holy and the jealous God, doth it nothing grieve thee to think that thy sins shall be punished upon thy poor children's back ?''

II. There is a sense, also, in which children suffer spiritual or eternal evil as a consequence of the iniquities of the parent.

Though the children will not be punished in the future life for the sins of the parents, yet the sins of parents may have, and often do have an important bearing upon the child's condition in another life. There is a sense in which the parent entails his sins upon the child.

This is done when the parent's sins are adopted by the child and practiced by it, when the child makes them its own. The parent's iniquities are visited there, because they are found there. “ It is but fit that they should inherit the father's damnation, who inherit their father's transgressions. But in this case, it must be observed that God punishes them, not because they are their father's sins, but because they are their own.”

How natural, too, it is for the child to adopt the sins of its parents. As, according to the proverb, the apple does not fall far from the tree which bore it, so the children will be found, as a general thing, near their parents, morally. The example of their parent is their first instructor. Before they can choose and judge for themselves, and while they are yet in their tender and susceptible years, they are already unconsciously moulding into the moral image of their parents. As the lineaments and features of the parents may be found in the faces of their children, so may their moral image be found in their souls. Even the motions, manners, and tones of the parent may often be discovered in the child; and shall not the general character of the parent, by the same law, be transmitted to the child ?

Yes, as sure as there are outward and physical characteristics

There may

which descend by inheritance, from parent to child, so there are moral characteristics which descend in the same way. be exceptions in the latter case, as there are in the first; but that there is a momentous truth in the general fact no one can deny or doubt. As, therefore, the sins of the parents, in this way, descend to the children, they must be visited there.

If this is true of all them that “hate God,” it is peculiarly true in reference to the sin forbidden in the second commandment. If the parent departs from God to follow graven images, and thus changes his religion, he will bear his children with him.

He having adopted a new worship, his children grow up in it, are instructed in it, and, knowing nothing else, they will of course adopt it with him.

Experience proves that the strongest of all prepossessions or prejudices are religious ones. It is most difficult to get rid of religions views and impressions which have been early instilled, even though they be false and wrong. Nothing is so difficult as to break away from the altars of our fathers. As the songs of the nursery are never forgotten, but float in sweetness through the chambers of the heart to the latest hour of life, so does the religion of the nursery live with double life, not only in itself, but in its associations. Thus he that brings into the nursery another religion, or no religion at all, is sure to entail the fearful consequences upon his children. As he is, so will they be. He is loose from the covenant, and his children in him. The root has been transferred to another soil, and so, of course, are also the branches !

These children, inhabiting the follies of the parent, will entail them upon their posterity in like manner, as they received them, and these again to their’s.

Instead of these inherited follies becoming weaker in their hold upon the heart, they only become stronger as they descend, like a stream, from generation to generation. They become hoary, hallowed, and venerable as they become older; they thus bind the heart ever faster to them, until to reject them would be to fly in the face of history—to ignore the past, and to insult the memories of kindred dead! Who will dare to "pluck the wizzard beard of hoary error ?" The only way in which these consequences at length lose their power to destroy, is when they degenerate, as error and sin always do, and run themselves out into absurdities; but this is seldom before grandfather is dead-before the third or fourth generation has been blighted by the poison. Lev. xxvi, 39—48; Neh. ix. 2; Dan. ix. 16.

Thus the sins of the parents go on to destroy the souls of the children in the third and fourth generation! God will “visit” these descendants with the same eternal punishment which is due to their parents, not for the parent's sin, but for their own, because they adopted them and made them their own. The fact that it is

their parent's fault that they are such sinners, while it adds to their parent's guilt, does not avert from them the evil consequences of the sin. The children cannot say, as an excuse, We would not have been thus if it had not been for our sinful parents; for, although God will not punish these sins of the parents on the children, he will “ visit” them in the children as their own sins. The consumptive is not rid of his decease because he inherited it from his parent; so the sinful child is not holy and fit for heaven, just because its sins have been entailed upon it from the parent! In this way we see the fearful meaning of such a passage as that in Job, xxi. 19, “God layeth up his iniquity for his children !" “Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom." Is. Ixv. 7.

After these considerations, what a tremendously solemn meaning do we see embodied in the declaration, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”

Solemn consideration! What parent does not tremble in view of it. What sinful parent does not, with Esther, exclaim in deep anguish of spirit, “How can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred.' Esth. viii. 6.

Ungodly parent, think of those little ones who have been brought by you into a sinful world like this, and who now call you fondly, Father !-Mother! Are you worthy of that name? You have not only brought them into a sinful world, but you are content that they shall work out the momentous problem of their probation in a sinful family! You do not, it is true, give them a false religion, but you give them none at all. You suffer them to grow up outside of the church—the pale of mercy and hope. You bear them away from God by all the force of your own example and influence.. You entail upon them, O parent! your own views-your own position out of Christ and his church-your own moral characteryour own sins—perhaps even the physical consequences of your own sins—and at last your own doom !

Are you an unchristian mother?—" that softer name!" Is there a sight under heaven more awfully shocking than this!-an uncon. verted mother bearing a babe upon her bosom away from God ! Giving it such an impetus that it will continue to go on in the same direction, by the force of her own example, until death shall break the fearful relation-or till both shall meet

“In that lone land of deep despair !" Awful sight! Fearful thought! Weep, angels, weep! There are those in whose families this picture is realized! There are parents. who do all this—do it with the warnings of God falling constantly upon their ears !—do it when the very looks of dependence which beam towards them from their children, at once reprove and implore them! Do it when the church warns—when hell yawns beneath, and when heaven from above

** Almost lets fall a tear !"




You are old, Father William, the young man cried ;

The few locks which are left you are gray:
You are hale, Father William, a hearty old man ;

Now tell me the reason, I pray.
In the days of my youth, Father William replied,

I remember'd that youth would fly fast,
And abused not my health and my vigor at first,

That I never might need them at last.
You are old, Father William, the young man cried,

And pleasures with youth pass away ;
And yet you lament not the days that are gone;

Now tell me the reason, I pray.
In the days of my youth, Father William replied,

I remember'd that youth could not last;
I thought of the future, whatever I did,

That I never might grieve for the past. You are old, Father William, the young man cried,

And life must be hastening away ; You are cheerful, and love to converse upon death ;

Now tell me the reason, I pray.
I am cheerful, young man, Father William replied ;

Let the cause thy attention engage;
In the days of my youth I remember'd my God!

And He hath not forgotten my age.

LIKE snow that falls where waters glide,

Earth's pleasures fade away ;
They melt in-Time's destroying tide,

And cold are while they stay!
But joys that from Religion flow,

Like stars that gild the night,
Amidst the darkest gloom of wo,

Smile forth with sweetest light.
Religion's ray no clouds obscure,

But o'er the Christian's soul
It sends it radiance calm and pure,

Though tempests round it roll;
His heart may break with sorrows stroke,

But to its latest thrill,
Like diamonds shining when they're broke,
Religion lights it still!


Did you ever study the character of an individual of honor and usefulness, and then feel yourself moved by the force of his example? There is a peculiar power in the biographies of great men, to make others feel they ought to be great, even if it does not arouse a desire to be such. Not great, as human ambition would dictate; but great, in goodness.

Let us contemplate the character of one whose deeds are great, but whose virtues are still greater—the character of Washington.

“This eminent person is presented to our observation clothed in attributes as modest, as unpretending, as little calculated to strike or to astonish, as if he had passed unknown through some secluded region of private life. But he had a judgment sure and sound; a steadiness of mind which seldom suffered any passion, or even any feeling to ruffle its calm ; a strength of understanding which worked rather than forced its way through all obstacles-removing or avoiding rather than overleaping them.

“If profound sagacity, unshaken steadiness of purpose, the entire subjugation of all the passions which effect havoc in ordinary minds, and oftentimes lay waste the fairest prospects of greatness; nay, the discipline of those feelings which are wont to lull or to seduce genius, and to mar and to cloud over the aspect of virtue herself—joined with, or rather leading to, the most absolute selfdenial, the most hahitual and exclusive devotion to principle. If these things can constitute a great character, without any brilliant quality that might dazzle the vulgar, then surely Washington was the greatest man that ever lived in this world, uninspired by Divine wisdom and unsustained by supernatural virtue.

“In the production of Washington, it does really appear as if Nature was endeavoring to improve upon herself, and that all the virtues of the ancient world were but so many studies preparatory to the patriot of the new. Individual instances, no doubt there were, of splendid exemplifications of some singular qualification. Cæsar was merciful; Scipio was continent; Hannibal was patient; but it was reserved for Washington to blend them all in one, and like the lovely masterpiece of the Grecian artist, to exhibit, in one glow of associated beauty, the pride of every model, and the perfection of

every master. As a general, he marshalled the peasant into a veteran, and supplied by discipline the absence of experience: as a statesman, he enlarged the policy of the cabinet into the most comprehensive system of general advantage; and such was the wisdom of his views, and the philosophy of his counsels, that, to the soldier and the statesman, he almost added the character of the sage! A conqueror, he was urtainted with the crime of blood; a revolutionist,

« AnteriorContinuar »