But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on them that fear him, and his righteousness to children's children;
im: — The word "righteousness" here, as in many other places, is equivalent to mercy or beneficence; and the ever-enduring lovingkindness of our God, described in the first clause as from everlasting to everlasting, is in the second more precisely defined, as continued to the children's children of those who fear Him. The Almighty hath done nothing in vain. Every power, every affection of the human soul, is implanted in it by Him for some valuable end, and is operated on by the means which His wisdom hath appointed for carrying forward our improvement here, and accomplishing our preparation for happiness hereafter. Of those principles, there is no one more universal, more powerful, or more obviously beneficial, than parental affection. In the inferior animals, with whom it is merely instinctive, it exercises a power to which every other habit and propensity seems to be subordinate. Under its dominion the most ferocious become mild and gentle, the most fearful, fierce and daring in the defence of their offspring, the feeblest and most indolent, indefatigable in providing for their subsistence. By its operation, the living tribes of earth are, in almost each individual instance, trained up to maturity, and prevented from perishing from off the surface of the globe. In man, especially when he is enlightened and civilized, it assumes a loftier bearing, and holds a more important place. When it is guarded by religious principle and sound judgment from the abuses to which all the feelings of mortality are liable, when it is purified and refined by the sacred and endearing habits of domestic life, and hallowed by the hope of immortality, it triumphs over every selfish inclination, and connects the successive generations of men by ties equally blessed to the present and the future inhabitants of earth. It is obvious, that under the diversified government of God, this, like every other principle, is made to produce the most valuable fruits. His providence employs it to control selfishness, to restrain turbulent passion, to draw forth useful exertion from the individual, to supply a most powerful motive for acting uprightly and honourably. Yet it is not only by its direct operation that parental love influences the human mind for good. The Almighty appeals to it in His Word as a motive to cherish godly fear and holy obedience. To mankind He holds out a blessing on their posterity, as a most powerful incentive to compliance with the requisitions of His law (Exodus 20:5, 6; Genesis 22:17, 18; Psalm 112:1, 2). Though the Christian revelation, in directing our views to another and a better world, renders the vicissitudes of this life less marked and less momentous, still an attentive observer may discern the fulfilment of this gracious declaration in the ordinary and general course of human affairs. You see the unsullied fame of the parent descend on the son and recommend him to notice, confidence, and employment. Were it given you to enter more deeply into the counsels of the Almighty, and to trace more accurately than you now do the ways of His providence, you might behold proofs still more decisive of His righteousness to the children of His servants, in soothing their afflictions, in supplying their wants. Such views of the Divine procedure must fill our minds with admiration of the wisdom of Him by whom our souls and bodies were formed, and who governs and conducts us by laws and motives adapted to every branch of that nature in which He hath created us. In filling the hearts of parents with an indelible attachment to their children, He not only prompts them to those exertions which contribute so largely to the happiness and improvement of mankind, but renders them capable of appreciating, and disposed to comply with those inducements to obedience which are suggested by His promise of a blessing on their posterity. What parent who reflects can resist their influence? who, with a heart to feel, would not endeavour to keep His covenant and remember His commandments to do them, when assured that His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting on them that fear Him, and His righteous. hess to children's children? If there be one branch of Christian conduct in which, more than in another, it becomes you to be followers of God as dear children, it is in doing good to the children of those who have loved and served Him. In so doing you imitate those dispensations of His providence in which His unerring wisdom is most conspicuously displayed. You copy the most amiable and affecting manifestation of His fatherly benevolence.
(D. Macfarlan, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;