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“ the Children's teeth are set on edge *? As I live, “ saith the Lord God, Ye shall not have occasion any
more to use this Proverb in Israel. Behold all souls
are mine; as the soul of the Father, so also the soul “ of the Son is mine: the soul that simneth, it shall
And yet (to shew more plainly that the abrogation of the Law was solely owing to this new Dispensation) the saine Prophets, when their subject is the present Jewish Economy, speak of this very Law as still in force. Thus JEREMIAH : “ Thou shewest loving“ kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the ini
quity of the Fathers into the bosom of their Children " after them I.” And Hosea: “Seeing thou hast “ forgotten the Law of thy God, I will also forget thy “ Children 5."
From all this I conclude, That, whoever was the real Author of what goes under the name of the Law of Moses, was at least well acquainted with the importance of the doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment; and provided well for the nunt of it.
But the blindness of Infidelity is here most deplorable. The Deists are not content with condemning this Law of injustice, but will accuse the Dispensation itself of inconsistence; pretending that the Prophets have directly contradicted Moses in their manner of denouncing purishment.
It is indeed the standing triumph of infidelity. But let us return (says Spinoza) to the Prophets, whose discordant opinions we have undertaken to lay openThe xviiith chap. of EZEKIEL does not seem to agree with the 7th ver. of the xxxivth chup. of Exodus, nor with the 18th ver. of the xxxijd chap. of JERESee note (EE) at the end of this Book. + Chap. xviii. ver. 2-4. Chap. xxxii. ver. 18.
Chap. iv. ver. 6.
MIAH, &c. *
“ There are several mistakes (says “ TINDAL) crept into the Old Testament, where " there's scarce a chapter which gives any historical
account of matters, but there are some things in it « which could not be there originally.—It must be “ owned, that the same spirit (I dare not call it a “ spirit of cruelty) does not alike prevail throughout 36 the Old Testament; the nearer we come to the “ times of the Gospel, the milder it appears : for
though God declares in the Decalogue, that he is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the parents
upon the children to the third and fourth Genera“ tion, and accordingly Achan, with all his family,
was destroyed for his single crime; yet the Lord “ afterwards says, The soul that sinneth it shall “ die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the
father t,” &c.
I. Let us see then what these men have to say on the first point, the injustice of the Law. They set out on a false supposition, that this method of punishment was part of an universal Religion given by God as the Creator and Governor of mankind : whereas it is only part of a civil Institute, given by him ta one People, as their tutelary God and civil Governor. Now we know it to be the practice of all States to punish the crime of Lese Majesty in this manner. And to render it just, no more is required than that it was in the compact (as it certainly was here) on men's free entrance into Society.
- Sed ad Prophetas revertamur, quorum discrepantes opiniones etiam notare suscepimus.-Cap. saltem xviii. Ezech. non videtur convenire cum versu 7. cap. xxxiv. Exod. nec cum ver. 18. Cap. xxxii. Jer. &c. Tract. Theologico-Pol. pp. 27, 28. + Christianity as old as the Creation, pp. 240, 241. See note [FF] at the end of this Book.
When a guilty Posterity suffered for the crimes of their Parents, they were deprived of their natural uncon litional rights; when an imocent, they only forfeited their conditional and civil: But as this method of punishment was administered with more lenity in the Jewish Republic, so it was with infinitely more rectitude, than in any other. For although God allowed capital punishment to be inflicted for the crime of lese majesty, on the Person of the offender, by the delegated administration of the Law; yet concerning his family or Posterity he reserved the inquisition of the criine to himself, and expressly forvid the Vlagistrate to ineddle with it, in the common course of justice. The Fathers shall not be put to deuih for the Children, neither shall the Children be put to duath for the Fathers: (wery man shall be put to death for his own sin*. And we find the Magistrate careful not to intrench on this part of God's jurisdiction. We are told, that as soon as Amaziah the son of Joaslı king of Judah became firmly established in the throne, Ile slew his servants which had slain the King his Father. But the CHILDREN of the murderers he slow wot: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Nloses [Deut. xxiv. 16.] wherein the Lord commandat saying, The Fathers shall not be put to deuih for the Children t, &c. Yet such hath been the perversity or stupidity of Freethinking, that this very text itself hath been charged with contradicting the xxth chapter of Exonus. Now God's
appro: priating to himself the execution of the Law in question bould abundantly justify the equity of it, even supposing it had been given by him as part of an unirersal religin. Tor why was the Magistrate forbidden to imitate God's method of punishing, but * Deut. xxiv. 16.
t . Kings xiv. 5, 6.
because no power less than omviscient could, in all cases, keep clear of injustice in such an inquisition ?
But God not only reserved this method of punishment to himself, but has graciously condescended to inform us, by his Prophets, after what manner he was pleased to administer it.
YOUR INIQUITIES (says hie) AND THE INIQUITIES OF YOUR FATHERS TOGETHER, which have burnt incense upon the mounteins, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom * And again :
But ye say, Why? doth not the Son bear the iniquity of the Father? When the Son hath “ done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept “ all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely
live.--But when the Righteous turneth away from “ his righteousness and committeth iniquity-shall he
So much for that case in which the Posterity were iniquitous, and suffered punishment, in the strict and proper sense of the word. But doubtless, an innocent Posterity were sometimes punished, according to the denunciation of this Law, for the crimes of their wicked Fathers I; as is done by modern States, in attaint of blood and confiscation : and this, with the highest equity in both cases,
In our Gothic Constitutions, the throne being the fountain of honour and source of property, Lands and Titlęs descend from it, and were held as Fiers of it, under perpetual obligation of military and civil services. Hence the LAWS OF FORFEITURE for high
* Isaiah lxv. 7.
1 This appears from the rise of that proverb in Israel, The Fathers have eaten soni' grapes, and the Children's teeth are set on edge.
treason, the most violent breach of the condition on which those fiefs were granted. Nor was there any injustice in the forfeiture of what was acquired by no natural right, but by civil compact, how much soever the confiscation might affect an innocent posterity.
The same principles operated under a Thcocracy. God supported the Israelites in Judea, by an extraordinary adıninistration of his providence. The consequence of which were great temporal blessings to which they had no natural claim; given them on condition of obedience. Nothing therefore could be more equitable than, on the violation of that condition, to withdraw those extraordinary blessings from the Children of a Father thus offending. How then can the Deist charge this Law with injustice ? since a Posterity when innocent was afficted only in their civil conditional rights; and, when deprived of those which were natural and unconditional, were always guilty.
From all this it appears, that the excellent GROTIUS hiinself had a very crude and imperfect notion of the whole matter, when he resolved the justice of it intirely into God's sovereign right over his creatures, “ Deus quidem in lege Hebræis data paternam im
pietatem in posteros se vindieaturum minatur: sed
ipse Jus Dominii plenissimum habet, ut in res nos" tras, ita in vitam nostram, ut munus suum, quod " sine ulla causa & quovis tempore auferre cuivis, “ quando vult, potest t.”
II. As to the second point, the charge of Contra diction in the Dispensation, we now see, that, on the contrary, these different declarations of God's manner
See note (HH) at the end of this Book. + De Jure Bel. & Pac, vol. ii, p. 593. Ed. Barbeyrac, Amst. 1720.