« PreviousContinue »
General Obfervations from the Sermon on the Mount, Matth. vii. 24.
MAT. VII. 1.
Judge not, that ye be not judged. Ver. 2. For with what Judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what Measure ye mete, it fhall be measured to you again. Ver. 3. And why beholdeft thou the Mote that is in thy Brothers Eye, but confidereft not the Beam that is in thine own Eye?
Ver. 4. Or how wilt thou fay to thy Brother, Let me pull out the Mote out of thine Eye; and bebold, a Beam is in thine own Eye?
Ver. 5. Thou Hypocrite, firft caft out the Beam out of thine own Eye; and then shalt thou fee clearly to caft out the Mote out of thy Brothers Eye. Ver. 6. Give not that which is holy unto the Dogs, neither caft your Pearls before Swine, left they trample them under their Feet, and turn again and rent you.
The First Sermon on this Text.
SHALL not need to trouble you with the Connexion of thefe Words with those that went before, any further, than to acquaint you, that this is another Inftance of the Deficiency of the Righteoufness of the Scribes and Pharifees, and of that
Part of Duty, wherein our bleffed Lord would have our Righteoufnefs to exceed theirs. As they were a fort of People, who thought themfelves capable, and had a Right to admonish and reprove others; in the exercifing of this Duty, they fell into fome very grofs Faults, which our Saviour thought it neceffary to prevent in his Difciples; fuch as a too good Conceit of themfelves, and too bad an Opinion of others; and confequent to thefe, the paffing of rash Judgments on others, and taking upon them to correct, cenfure, and condemn them, when, in the mean time, they overlooked their own Faults, and could not endure to have them in the leaft obferved or reproved. So much for the Connexion. I come next to confider the Words themselves. In them we have thefe Three Things.
1. A Prohibition of Cenforioufnefs, or rafh Judgment. Judge not.
2. An Enforcement of this Prohibition, by feveral Reasons, fuch as, (1.) That this Practice expofes us both to the Cenfure of Men, and the Judgment of God. (2.) That it is a Practice highly unbecoming us, who have fo many great Faults of our own, to be fo fharp-fighted as to our Neighbours, and fo cenforious of them. (3.) That we are very unqualified for adminiftring Cenfure and Correction to others, while we are fo guilty our felves, and fo blind as to that Guilt. (4.) That this Practice is a clear Proof of our Hypocrify. (5.) That there are two Qualifications carefully to be observed and complied with, before we attempt the duty of cenfuring others; one with relation to the Cenfurers, the other
with relation to the Offenders. With relation to the Cenfurers, That they firft find out and amend their own Faults. And with relation to the Offenders, That they be in fuch a State, as to be capable of receiving Benefit, and not likely to grow worse by our Admonitions and Reproofs.
3. The Antithefis, or oppofite Duty to this Cenforioufnefs, or rafh Judgment; which confifts in these Three. (1.) In a ftrict Examination and Amendment of our felves. (2.) In a Love and Charity to our offending Brother. (3.) In adminiftring the Duty of Fraternal Correption to our Neighbour himself, in all Humility and Sincerity; instead of expofing him to the Reproach of others.
I. I begin with the Prohibition of Cenforioufnefs, or rafh Judgment; which, I fuppofe, will be fufficient for our prefent Confideration. But before I fpeak of the Prohibition, as confidered in it felf, it will not be improper to confider it as it has relation to the Scribes and Pharifees; both because that is the general Scope our Saviour is pursuing, the raifing his Difciples to an higher Pitch of Duty, than that which was taught by the Scribes and Pharifees; and because the keeping them in our Eye, as our Saviour did, affords no fmall Help towards the Understanding of his Meaning in all thefe Duties: it being his plain Design in them all, to teach us thefe Duties in a perfecter Manner than they were taught by thofe Jewish Doctors. To confider then the Pharifaical Spirit in this respect, there are these following Particulars remarkable in it.
1. They had a great deal of Pride and Selfconceit; as if it had belonged to them to be Dictators to all others, and to be the common Obfervators and Cenfurers of others. This Pride was fed not only by a pofitive Contemplation of their own Virtues and good Qualities, and by a wilful Blindness as to all their own Faults and bad Qualities; but more efpecially by a comparative Contemplation of their Neighbour's Failings; as is very plain from the Pharifee's Devotion, which is all blended with his Pride, both positive and comparative, Luk. xviii. 11. God, I thank thee, fays he, that I am not as other Men are, Extortioners, Unjuft, Adulterers, or even as this Publican. There's his comparative Pride, and rash Judgment of others. Then follows his positive Pride, his Contemplation of his own good Qualities. I fast twice in the Week, I give Tythes of all that I poffefs.
2. They had in their Minds a great Contempt of, and a great Uncharitableness towards all other Perfons, that were not of their own Sect and Party. It is plain from the Scope of that Parable, Luk. xviii. 9. that our Saviour spoke it against fome who trufted in themfelves as being righteous, and defpifed others. And who thefe were, appears plainly by introducing the Pharisee into the Parable, and reprefenting him as acting fuch a Part: fo that the defpifing of others was a Part of their Character, as well as the having too good an Opinion of themselves.
3. Agreeably to this inward Difpofition of their Minds, they were very cenforious of others; that is, they were both very apt to pass a Judgment upon their Neighbour; and likewife to be