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that not ten righteous men could be found. “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities; and all the plain, and all the cities; and the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.” When the Canaanites had filled
the measure of their iniquities, he punished them with the sword of Joshua, and expelled them from their fruitful land, which flowed with milk and honey.
And when the children of Israel, though God's peculiar people, forgot their duty to him, indulged in vice, or forsook his worship, he delivered them into the hands of the Philistines, or of the Assyrians; and at one time consigned them to captivity for seventy years in Babylon; and at length, when they crucified the Lord of Glory, rejected his gospel, and forbad it to be preached to the Gentiles, he brought upon them the fury of the Romans, burnt their temples, destroyed their city, and dispersed them, the most miserable of mankind, among all the nations of the earth. Every Jew you meet may remind you of the equity of God's providence.
In like manner, nation after nation, in their turn, having filled up the several measures of their iniquities, have declined and perished. Men ascribed their fall to the ambition of con
querors ; but the real cause was predominant sin, punished by the sword of divine justice.
So it is with families. We may frequently observe that either sooner or later, the retribution of providence comes upon a family for the misconduct of some of its members; and sometimes the innocent have to suffer with the guilty. If the parents escape, it comes in some form or other, upon the children.
“The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, even to the third and fourth generation." The retribution of providence sometimes
This is the case when we suffer in the same way, and in the same things in which we sin. The wicked are sometimes caught in their own net, and paid in their own coin. Into the pit which they have dug for others, they fall themselves. What they inflict upon others, is inflicted upon them; and in their very punishment they read their crimes, as they have done, so God hath requited them.
Our Saviour has said, with the same measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And Eliphaz tells us, that he had remarked this, even in his days. Even as I have seen, they that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the
From the nature of their sufferings, men may often learn the character of their sin. God sometimes sends our troubles with a label upon them--it seems impossible to mistake their design. We are commanded to hear the rod; it says many things—but it frequently tells us the very sin for which we smart: it thunders or whispers, “this is the duty you have neglected; this is the idol you have adored ; hast thou not procured this for thyself?”
Thus the oppressor of the poor, in his turn, is oppressed by others. Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor ; because he hath violently taken away a house which he built not; surely in the fulness af his sufficiency he shall be in straits ; every hand of the wicked shall come
him. Thus the deceiver having deceived others, becomes deceived himself; and the dishonest, who have defrauded their fellow-men, are reached by some more crafty than themselves. Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken ; therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee.
Thus the undutiful child may become a parent, and then his children may act undutifully towards him. “It is usual,” says Flavel, “with God to repay men's disobedience to parents in kind; commonly our own children shall reward us for it. I have read in an author, of a wicked
wretch who dragged his father along the house ; the father begged him not to drag him beyond such a place, for, said he, I dragged my father no further." God layeth up his iniquity for his children; he rewardeth him, and he shall know it.
Thus the avaricious man by meanness and hard-bargaining, is enabled to hoard up his money ; but circumstances sometimes occur by which he loses either a part, or the whole of it. He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again : God shall cast them out of his belly. He shall suck the poison of asps ; the viper's tongue shall slay him. Thus a man may
for a time
in life by unjust dealing, and in the end be brought to ruin by acts of injustice from his fellow-men. Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon the earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment ? How oft is the candle of the wicked put out? and how oft cometh their destruction
them? God distributeth sorrows in his anger. They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff which the storm carrieth away.
We have many examples in scripture which confirm the truth that retribution sometimes corresponds with the sin committed.
What was the design of Haman? His de
“But will God suffer things to be thus with his people ? Shall the creature draw away our affections from the Creator ? No; this is our sin, and God will correct us. And to this end he sends forth in his providence to smite those creatures on which our affections are excessively placed, or else to turn them into rods and smite us by them.”
“Is Hezekiah too much puffed up with his treasures? Why those very Babylonians, to whom he boasted of them, shall take them away. Isa. xxxix. 6. Is David boasting of the stability of his earthly splendour? Lo! how soon God beclouds all, Psal. xxx. 7. Is Absalom doated on, and has he crept too far into his good father's heart? This shall be the son of his sorrow, who shall seek after his father's life. Is Jonah so transported with his gourd ? God will prepare a worm to smite it. Jonah iv. 6, 7. How many husbands, wives, and children, has Providence smitten upon this very account ? God might have spared them longer, if they had been loved more moderately. This idolatry bas blasted many an estate, and destroyed many a hope, and it is a merciful dispensation for our good."
We may perceive from the previous remarks, that sin is its own punishment, even in the present world. And as the righteous here have