Imágenes de páginas

sonally. Here the political body to which individuals belong, is judged. The judgment is administered according to righteousness. To all flesh originally God made known his law. The nations, however, soon corrupted their ways. He, therefore, selected a peculiar people as the depositaries of his will. That people, when they sinned, were severely chastised: other nations, when they sin, are punished also; for no nation is to be found among whom there is not some knowledge of right and wrong. The rule by which God measures nations is the same with that by which he measures individuals. As violations of his law provoke his indignation against the latter, so the same cause produces the same effect against the former. He has but one rule by which he judges in all cases the conduct of his intelligent creatures in all the various relations in which they are placed. Of this rule some have more full, and others more partial information; but all have sufficient information to make them guilty. God, from his nature, must punish them in that capacity in which they sin. Individual sins meet with individual punishments; family sins with family

punishments: national sins therefore must meet with national punishments. These punishments affect the community at large.

They are so inflicted that the body, as a whole, in their social capacity, suffers. In consistency with this, you find God visited the transgression of Judah and Israel, and poured out the vials of his wrath upon Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.

3. The punishments are adapted to the sins of a people, and in proportion to the mercies received.

Of this you have a remarkable instance in the plagues inflicted upon Egypt; they were all suited to the idolatry which they practised". Thus also when the Jews forsook God, he withdrew from them; when they resorted to foreign alliances he made them the sources of increased misery to them. As they were more highly favoured than the rest of the nations, so they were more signally and fearfully punished. The judgments of God are the most awful where his mercies have been best known and most openly despised. The history of modern times furnishes us

d Bryant, on the plagues of Egypt.

with abundant proofs of the truth of this remark. You find them in the dispensations of divine providence towards Europe during the last half of the past century. The nations from Naples to Russia, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas, had become sensual. The love of pleasure prevailed among all classes of the community, in a greater or less degree. The higher orders being less restrained than others, displayed this passion in a most unblushing manner. The history of the courts of the continent of Europe is merely the history of sensuality, in some more refined, and

in others more grosso. The effects of such • a passion upon the human constitution and

the habits which it produces, were destructive of domestic happiness, social order, and all moral obligation. Men were prepared by their reigning principles, for a great and an awful convulsion. The links of the chain which bind men together were broken; the finer feelings of their souls were blunted. Their external manners were more refined. In their external intercourse with each other there was more polish and guarded decorum than heretofore: but the heart became callous. Every consideration was swallowed up in the gratification of sensual desires. Conscience had lost its power, and morals and religion were considered merely as matters of expediency and convenience. No wonder then that the civilized world has been so fearfully scourged. At no period has God poured out the vials of his wrath in greater abundance, and inflicted heavier judgments upon the nations than in our day. They were fitted for the slaughter by their sensuality; for let it be remembered that sensuality is intimately and inseparably connected with cruelty, insensibility, hardness of heart, revenge, savage barbarity, and indiscriminate destruction. And among the nations who have suffered the most, you will find Protestant Germany and Holland. Their guilt was the more aggravated because their spiritual mercies were greater than those of the others. , ' i

e Memoirs of Marmontel. Segur's Frederic William II. Tooke's Catharine 11.; and other works of the same kind afford full and satisfactory evidence of the above assertion.

Thus it is that God punishes national guilt with national judgments.

II. The second truth suggested by the text

is, that God, in inflicting national judgments, calls for national reformation.

To understand this proposition aright, it will be necessary for us to make some explanatory remarks on the nature of God's punishment of sins. The old division of punishment, as it respects its design, appears to me, on every view which I have taken or can take of the subject, to be correct. This division is vindicative, corrective, and monitory. The first is the most important and the other subordinate in importance to the first. The most important design of divine punishments I have said is vindicative. In proof of this I merely ask, why does God punish any of us ? On account of sin. What is sin ? A transgression of his , law. What is the tendency of this transgression ? To destroy the existence of God, and overturn his government. Is not then sin high treason against God? As such, must it not be punished by God, in vindication of his own righteousness, and in support of his own government. The sinner is a traitor against him; and if not pardoned, must die-must be punished to vindicate the perfections and authority of Jehovah.

« AnteriorContinuar »