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[SERM. habituate our felves to this Vice. To inftance in a few: This argues a great Pride and Self-conceit; for this Humour of prying fo wiftfully into, and cenfuring fo feverely our Neighbours Faults, is not more owing to any other Caufe, than that we are willing and defirous to preferve in our own Minds the highest Idea of our felves that may be. And because we have not good Deeds enough of our own to raise it to this height, we take all the Affiftance we can from the bad Qualities and Actions of our Neighbours, to increase and feed a comparative Pride in our felves, and a vilifying Contempt of them.
This Temper likewife argues a great Difingenuity and want of Candour and Sincerity in our own Spirits; for these Persons are under a strong Bias to interpret their Neighbours Actions in the worst Senfe, being blinded with Pride, Malice, and Envy.
This Temper likewife argues Abundance of ill Nature, and delighting in Mischief; for it is a great Satisfaction to that Sort of People to make and find out Faults. They are of a vulturous Difpofition, exceeding fharp fcented to smell out Carrion, and then they delight to feed upon it, till they are quite glutted; and then rest a little, and at it again.
This ill Nature, and Hatred of their Neighbour, is likewise very apt to break out in all Acts of Cruelty and Severity that are in their Power; and goes often to the highest Acts of Murder and Perfecution. And therefore it is no wonder that our Saviour extends the Sixth Commandment, Mat. v. 22. Thou shall do no Murder, to a Prohibition of inward Anger and Hatred. It
is the fame Root and Principle, that caufes fevere Cenfures in private Men, which produces fanguinary Laws, Dragoonings, and Burnings in Men of Power; and therefore it is no Vice of an ordinary Dye.
Lastly, It is always joined either with fupine Incogitancy, or a great deal of Malice. If they fee not the evil Confequences of ruining their Neighbours Reputation, it argues a vaft deal of Stupidity and Inconfideration; but if they do fee these Confequences, and yet will go on with their rafh Cenfures and Calumnies, then it argues, what is a great deal worfe, a vaft deal of Malice, enough to unqualify them for the Society of the bleffed, which requires the quite contrary Temper, the being in Charity with all Men. Thus we fee what Reason the Perfons who are addicted to this Vice of rafh judging and cenfuring have, without Repentance and Amendment, to expect a fevere Reckoning and Retribution in the World to For if Pride, and Malice, and Cruelty, and Injustice, and Uncharitablenefs, and Infincerity, and Impiety, (all which I have fhewed to be involved in this Temper,) do not deferve Hell, without Repentance, I know not what does.
I fhall not detain you, to fhew how Candour and Charity to our Neighbour, may expect to be rewarded with God's merciful Retribution in the World to come. It is enough to acquaint you that this follows by the Rule of Contraries; and that this is likewife included in the Text; With what Judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what Meafure ye mete, it shall be meafured to you again. For it is both a Promife and a Threatning; and therefore will, I trust, both
work upon our Hopes and Fears, by the one, to draw and invite us to our Duty; and by the other, to scare us from the contrary Practice.
I fhall only add a very little by Way of Application, and fo have done.
1. Let none of us pretend to remove this Guilt from our felves, and fix it on our Neighbours. This Crime of rafh judging, is a Crime alas, of which we are all more or lefs guilty; we are all too apt to cenfure our Superiours; to infult our Inferiours; and to envy our Equals. And thefe bad Inclinations in our Hearts, are very apt to break out in rafh Judgments and Calumnies; and therefore the best use we can make of what we have heard, is to let our Neighbours alone, and to judge and condemn our felves, and to fet about Repentance and Amendment.
2. Since Life and Death, as Solomon fays, are in the Power of the Tongue, and the good Government of the Tongue is made easy by the abounding of Charity in the Heart, let Love and Charity be one of our principal Studies. Ye know it is the chief Character or Mark, whereby our Saviour would have his Difciples diftinguished. By this, fays he, fhall all Men know that ye are my Difciples, if ye have Love one for another. If this noble Principle governs in our Hearts, it will be fruitful in an infinite Number of good Words and Actions, and put us on our Guard against ill Offices to our Neighbour in both
3. But if we know no good to fay of our Neighbour, let us be filent, rather than feed our Malice with discovering his Nakedness, and delighting our felves with his Sin and Folly.
But if we speak of it at all, let it be with a tender and charitable Defign. Let us grieve and mourn when we fee his Tranfgreflions; let us pray to God for his Repentance and Amendment; let us contrive by our felves, or others that are more capable, to adminifter the Duty of fraternal Admonition and good Counsel, if there is any Probability that he is capable of it: at least from his Example let us take warning to our felves, and likewife caution others under our Care, to be guarded against the like Temptations. Thefe are the Chriftian Ufes we are to make of our Neighbour's Failings, inftead of proclaiming or infulting over his Sin or Mifery.
Now God of his infinite Mercy endow ùs with this charitable Temper, for his dear Son Jefus Chrift's Sake. To whom, &c.
MAT. VII. 3.
And why beholdeft thou the Mote that is in thy Brothers Eye, but confidereft not the Beam that is in thine own Eye?
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?
V. 5. Thou Hypocrite, first caft out the Beam out of thine own Eye; and then fhalt thou fee clearly to caft out the Mote out of thy Brothers Eye.
The Third Sermon on this Text.
OT to trouble you with Repetition; our
N Saviour is here arguing against the Sin of
rafh judging; a Sin, which the Scribes and Pharifees of that Time were very guilty of; and a Sin, alas! which is confined to no one Party or Sect; but runs through all Parties, all Ranks, and almost all Perfons, in all Ages of the World; but never reigned more than at this Day.
The First Reafon whereby our Saviour dehorts from this Sin is, that rafh Judgments of our Neighbour expofe us both to the Cenfures of