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life. I pass over the cases of David and Solomon, and of the kings and prophets of Israel and Judah, not because they furnish less striking illustrations of the natural and necessary connexion between sin and its appropriate punishment, but because, for the greater part, they are more suited to private reflection than for public discussion. Nor shall I notice at any length how fully the principle of retributive justice is exemplified in the history and sufferings of the apostles of our Lord; how he, who in the days of his ignorance and unbelief had caused the disciples to be beat in the synagogues, was himself afterward subjected to the same species of trial; and how he who betrayed his Master betrayed at the same time his own soul; for he went and hanged himself.
The doctrine which it is my object to establish derives ample attestations from our own personal observation and experience. Profligacy is followed by remorse, and disease, and embarrassment; intemperance has in its train peevishness, an impaired constitution, and a premature death. Idleness and negligence bring after them disorder in our affairs, and consequent poverty and disgrace. Deceit and imposture cannot succeed always, and in the end they heap dishonour on those who practise them. Oppression, though surrounded with power, generally produces its own overthrow ; and ambition, though it sweeps all resistance before it, and towers to the attainment of its guilty ends over the liberties and the happiness of millions, cannot subdue the elements that will work its destruction. Prosperity, when it is suffered to harden the heart, and to deaden all its susceptibilities towards God and man, becomes the means of punishment to those who enjoy it; and worldly blessings, therefore, are sometimes given as judicial inflictions, that they may lead to severer and more overwhelming judgments. The whole system of providence is to a certain extent retributive, securing to different virtues appropriate rewards, and to different sins appropriate punishments. So obvious is this, that parents take it for granted while they attempt, in educating their children, to impress their minds with those principles and maxims which will lead them in future life to the exercise of integrity, and prudence, and industry. The system of retribution under which we live approaches so nearly to uniformity, that it operates without respect of persons,—that it punishes the same vices and rewards the same virtues, whatever otherwise may be the general character of the persons by whom they are practised – that it visits the negligence and indolence of the upright and pious with poverty, while it secures to the industry and activity of the wicked abundance,—and that it follows sin by appropriate chastisement, even when the persons by whom it is committed give ample evidence otherwise of the general excellency of their character*.
* This doctrine is ably and amply illustrated by Barrow and Butler. “ The general thing here insisted upon is," says Butler, “not that we see a great deal of misery in the world, but a great deal which men bring upon themselves by their own behaviour, which they might have foreseen and avoided. Now, the circumstances of these natural punishments, particularly deserving our attention, are such as these: that oftentimes they follow, or are inflicted, in consequence of actions, which procure many present advantages, and are accompanied with much present pleasure ; for instance, sickness and untimely death are the consequences of intemperance, though accompanied with the highest mirth and jollity: that though
In the third place, the natural and necessary connexion between sin and suffering may be traced in the nature and effects of that union which subsists
we may imagine a constitution of nature, in which these natural punishments, which are in fact to follow, would follow, immediately upon such actions being done, or very soon after; we find, on the contrary, in our world, that they are often delayed a great while, sometimes even till long after the actions occasioning them are forgot; so that the constitution of nature is such, that delay of punishment is no sort nor degree of presumption of final impunity: that after such delay, these natural punishments, or miseries, often come, not by degrees, but suddenly, with violence, and at once : that as certainty of such distant misery following such actions is never afforded persons, so, perhaps during the actions, they have seldom a distinct full expectation of its following :--but things, notwithstanding, take their destined course, and the misery inevitably follows at its appointed time.
“ Thus, though youth may be alleged as an excuse for rashness and folly, as being naturally thoughtless, and not clearly foreseeing all the consequences of being untractable and profligate ; this does not hinder but that these consequences follow, and are grievously felt throughout the whole course of mature life. Habits contracted, even in that age, are often utter ruin: and men's success in the world, not only in the comnion sense of worldly success, but their real happiness and misery, depends in a great degree, and in various ways, upon the manner in which they pass their youth. It requires also to be mentioned, that, in numberless cases, the natural course of things affords us opportunities for procuring advantages tu ourselves at certain times, which we cannot procure when we will; nor ever recal the opportunities, if we have neglected them. Indeed, the general course of nature is an example of this. If the husbandman lets his seed-time pass without sowing, the whole year is lost to him beyond recovery. In like manner, though after men have been guilty of folly and extravagance, up to a certain degree, it is often in their power, for instance, to retrieve their affairs, to recover their health and character, at least in good measure ; yet real reformation is, in many cases, of no avail at all towards preventing the miseries, poverty, sickness, infamy, naturally annexed to folly and extravagance, exceeding that degree. There is a certain bound to imprudence and misbehaviour, which being transgressed, there remains no place for repentance in the natural course of things. So that many natural punishments are final to him who incurs them, if con. sidered only in his temporal capacity; and seem inflicted by natural appointment, either to remove the offender out of the way of being further mischievous ; or, as an example, though frequently a disregarded one, to those who are left behind. These things are not what we call accidental, but proceed from general laws, by which God governs the world, in the natural course of his providence."-Butler's Analogy, p. i. ch. ii.
between the whole of mankind viewed as one family, or as it exists in the numerous branches into which this family is divided. That all mankind are regarded and treated as united together in one covenant, and as constituting, therefore, in the eye of the law one moral person, is borne out not less fully by the economy and government of providence than by the tenour and statements of revelation. Everything around us announces that God deals with us as united to Adam our covenant head; and that we, and all mankind, in consequence of our fall with him, have lost communion with God, “are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.” “ By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death has passed upon all men, because all have sinned.” The principle of sin and rebellion against God, to which he gave existence, has descended to each of his offspring ; this forms a part of that inheritance to which they are born ; it grows with their growth and strengthens with their strength; and from it proceeds that moral degeneracy which characterizes man either in civilized or in barbarous life. Even at this great distance we are involved in the sin and in the condemnation of our first progenitor; and cavil as we may at the procedure of God towards our world, the fact is undeniable, that we are naturally the children of disobedience and of wrath; that the righteousness which adorned our nature in its primeval state is not ours; and that the blessings of original innocency and uninterrupted communion with God are now lost.
Observe how the same principle of transference, either of good or of evil, holds in all the relations of life; and how the comparatively innocent, by being associated with the more guilty, are involved in their punishment. The child of a prodigal and profligate parent, however free from its parent's crimes, may suffer all his days in consequence of them. The man, who voluntarily forms connexions with the wicked, however unwilling he may be to be considered as one of them, may ultimately share in their calamities.
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” How do wicked men bring down judgments on the families and the lands with which they are connected as well as on themselves. The judicial infliction of plagues on the Egyptians visited many helpless children as well as their parents. When the Canaanites were destroyed, many who could not discern between good and evil perished with them. When God, in his providence, afflicts any land with famine and pestilence, the children suffer as well as those of mature years. When the sins of a people provoke God to remove the Gospel from them, the souls of the children are deprived of blessings on account of sins of which they were not personally guilty. When the heads of a family are void of industry, economy, and sobriety, all the members of the family feel the effects. But the instances are endless which shew that the punishment of sin is diffusive, and that it generally reaches the interests of those who are closely connected with the persons who are actually guilty. The instruction which this constitution of things conveys, is, that all