Summary: This Sermon is #29 of 29 from Rev. Andrew Lee’s SERMONS published in 1803 by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. at Lisbon, Connecticut.
The entire book of Andrew’s Lee’s Sermons is available free at Project Gutenberg as e-Text #15031.
The Sins of Communities Noted and Punished.
"Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation."
THIS is predicated of the judgments of God on those who had shed the blood of his saints. The Savior declares that all the righteous blood which had been shed on the earth from that of Abel down to the gospel day, should come on that generation!
BUT is not this unreasonable and contrary to the Scriptures? "Far be wickedness from God and iniquity from the Almighty. For the work of man shall be render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways--The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." Such is the language of revelation.
AND is not that of reason the same? Will reason justify punishing some men for other men’s sins? Those who lived in the days of our Savior had no share in the murder of Abel, or of many others who had died by wicked hands. Those dire events had been accomplished before they had existence. How then could they be answerable for them? To solve this mystery we must consider man in a twofold view--as an individual and as the member of a community.
AS individuals mankind are solely accountable for the parts which they act personally. In the judgment of the great day, they will only be judged for the use which they shall have made of the talents committed to them here--"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether good or bad,"
BUT every individual is a member of the human race, and of some community. The race, as such, and the larger branches of it, the nations and empires into which it is divided, are amenable to the Supreme Governor, and liable to punishment, if in their public characters, they rebel against him. And righteous individuals, may be involved in the judgments sent to punish the sins of the community towhich they belong. They often are so. Personal rectitude is not designated by an exemption from national calamities. Discriminations will eventually be made in its favor, but not here. Here "all things come alike unto all, and there is one event to the righteous and the wicked."
TO _shew such to be the general rule of the divine administration in the government of the world, is the design of the following discourse_: Which will explain the text.
THE world, and the communities into which it is divided, have their probation no less than persons; and there are reasons in which God enters into judgment with them and adjusts retributions to their moral states.
IN discussing the subject, we shall treat, _first of families, then of larger communities, and of the world_.
THE first family of our race affords an example to our purpose. Before that family was increased by a single branch issuing from it, it rebelled against God, and God entered into judgment with it, and punished its sin upon it. And the punishments was not restricted to the offending pair, but extended to their race in common with themselves: All were doomed to sufferings and death _in consequence of their sin_. And the sentence hath been executing upon them from that period to the present time. Mankind have gone through life sorrowing; and "death hath reigned even over those, who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression." Neither have discriminations been made in favor of the saints, but they have been involved in the general calamity, and groaned with the rest of the creation.
IN some respects this was an exempt case, but in the general diffusion of punishment on the various branches of the family, it accords with the divine administration respecting other families, as appears from sacred history, and from the general history of the human race. Countless examples might be adduced.
THE murder of Abel was not punished solely on Cain, but also on his family. The ground cursed for _his_ sin, did not yield _to them_ its strength; and they were deprived of those religious instructions which they would no doubt have received, had their father dwelt "in the presence of the Lord," or remained in the family of Adam which contained the church of God. Many of the evils which fell on that sinner, fell also on his children and rested on them till the extinction of his race by the deluge.
SIMILAR were the consequences which followed the sins of Ham and Esau: But these more properly rank under the head of communities: But instances of families which have suffered, yea perished, by judgments sent to punish the sins of their heads, often occur.