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I. First, I am to fhew that thefe Words do properly belong to this Subject, and that by giving that which is holy to Dogs, and cafting our Pearls before Swine, is meant the adminiftring our Admonitions and Reproofs to unfit Perfons, fuch as will abufe them, and hate and perfccute us for our Pains. I am not ignorant that feveral Interpreters of good Note make this Verfe to be altogether new Matter, and interpret it to be a Caution chiefly to the Apostles and Minifters of the Gofpel, not to throw away that precious Pearl of the Gospel upon Perfons who abuse it, and raise Perfecutions against the Preachers and Profeffors of it. But, with Submiffion, though there is fome Truth in this DoArine, I must think the other Senfe preferable, I mean that which makes thefe Words to be an Exception from the difficult Duty of fraternal Admonition and Reproof immediately preceding; and that for the following Reasons.

(1.) Because I am not fatisfied that there were any fuch Officers as Apoftles then conftituted, when our Saviour preached this Sermon on the Mount; far lefs that they had then received their Commiffion to preach the Gospel; and therefore as I have interpreted all the reft of the Sermon in fuch a Senfe as fuits all Chriftians, I think thefe Words are to be fo interpreted too.

(2.) In this Senfe they fuit much better with the Order and Pofition in which they are here placed; for as our Saviour was giving Directions concerning the right Way of adminiftring the difficult Duty of fraternal Admonition and Re


proof, no Body can deny that this is fit to be made one of those Directions, namely, to forbear it towards them, who both will be the worfe for it themselves, and will unmercifully fall a perfecuting the Monitors and Reprovers.

(3.) If the Words are applied to the publick preaching of the Gospel, that it is not to be preached to them who abuse it, or perfecute the Preachers, I am not fatisfied of the Truth of this Doctrine; for I obferve both our Saviour and his Apostles, and the primitive Bishops and Minifters after them, preached the Gospel promifcuously to all, good and bad, and ran the Hazard of Perfecution. And I think it not improbable that our Saviour expected of the Apostles, and their Succeffors, the Paftors of the Church, that they should run greater Hazards for the Gospel than private Chriftians; and therefore he told them, Mat. x. 16. that he fent them forth as Sheep among Wolves; and indeed it was scarce poffible to preach the Gofpel to promifcuous Multitudes, as they did, but that there would be fome fuch wicked and perfecuting Men among them. And therefore this Precept does not seem to me to relate fo much to promifcuous Multitudes, where there is a Mixture of good and bad, as to private wicked Men, or at least to fuch Multitudes, of whom the far greater Part are of a wicked and perfecuting Spirit.

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(4.) Laftly, It is not the bare preaching of the Gospel, but the Reproofs mixed in with it, which are the cutting Things that ftir up Peoples Paffions, and provoke their Refentments; and therefore the Words feem much more applicable to this of Admonitions and Rebukes, than to the

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the publick preaching of the Gofpel. Not but that by a Parity of Reafon it may be extended to all Rebukes, and all Acts of Discipline and Çenfure, adminiftred to wicked and perfecuting Men. But fome perhaps may think that the Word Pearl, is not fo applicable to private Admonitions and Corrections, as to the Gospel it felf. To this it may be anfwered, that the Words are a common Proverb among the Jews, only adapted to this Occafion; and that the throwing away of good Advice and Reproof on obftinate wicked Men, may very well be compared to the throwing of Jewels or Pearls before Swine, especially Solomon having used the Comparison in the fame Senfe, Prov. xxv. 12. As an Ear-ring of Gold, and an Ornament of fine Gold, fo is a wife Reprover upon an obedient Ear.

II. I am to explain who are here meant by Dogs and Swine. They are certainly Men of curfed Difpofitions, there being no Creatures under the Law more ftigmatized for Uncleanness, But to answer more particularly; it is not all wicked People who are to be meant by these Compellations, but only fuch incorrigible Perfons, who become worfe for Reproof themselves, and are ready, on that Account, to rail at, and perfecute others. But more efpecially there are thefe two Sorts of Perfons to whom this Duty of Admonition and Reproof ought not to be performed, by the Direction of my Text.

1. The Perfecutors of the Monitors and Reprovers, who, like fierce Dogs, (when we would beat them from Carrion) grin and threaten, and


at last, if we come too near them, are ready to flee upon us, and tear us to pieces.

2. They who blafpheme and rail against our pious Admonitions, expofe, ridicule, and contemn them, and wallow more and more in the Mire of their Sins and Follies.

As to the first of thofe Perfons, the fierce Dog, who is enraged at Admonition and Reproof, there is a great deal of Reason why he ought not to be troubled with it, it not being God's Defign to expofe good People needlessly, where there is no manner of Hope that their Pains or Sufferings will do any good. Precious in the Sight of the Lord, is the Death of his Saints; and therefore it is not to be fuppofed, that he is for throwing away their Lives needlefsly for no manner of Benefit. And befides, a Perfon of that fierce Temper towards thofe who would perform that charitable Office of fraternal Admonition, is in no manner of right Difpofition for receiving Benefit from it. For all who would benefit by the Word of God, either publickly preached, or privately applied, muft receive it in Meekness, Jam. i. 21. A Temper directly contrary to that of Rage and Fiercenefs, described by that of the Dog in the Text.

And as to the fecond Sort of Perfons here defcribed, the Swine, wallowing in Uncleanness, and if you take never fo much Pains to wash them, who love still to wallow more and more in Filthiness; it is to as little Purpose to spend Admonitions and Reproofs upon them; for they are obftinate and incorrigible in their evil Ways; and the more Pains is taken upon them, there is only fo much more Contempt thrown upon facred Things,


[SERM. and the Perfons admonished and reproved, only have their Sins fo much the more aggravated in the Sight of God, and give fo much a more scandalous Example to the World.

III. The third Thing I am to confider, is the Danger of not complying with this Prohibition, from thefe Words; left they trample them under their Feet, and turn again and rent you. If we will not then comply with this Advice, we are here told the Danger we incur by our Imprudence.

1. The Danger of having all our good Admonitions trampled upon.

2. Then the Danger of being perfecuted our felves by thofe Scoffers at holy Things.

The first is the greatest Danger, the Contempt of all facred Admonitions, expreffed here by the trampling them under the Feet of these lewd Men. The Expreffion is metaphorical; but how many of the evil Confequences may fall under it, is not eafy to account for, Contempt alone being generally reckoned as the Heighth of Difobedience. Though a Man, who is ftrongly under the Power of evil Habits, cannot prefently fhake them off, and get rid of them; yet if he has a Refpect for the Truth, and an Honour for the Perfons who adminifter it, and when he hears it, hears it meekly; there is great Hopes that thefe good Beginnings, if duly cultivated, will be bleffed with a fuitable Progrefs, and at laft crowned with an happy Conclufion. But where the Truths of God, inftead of Honour and Refpect, meet with Hatred and Contempt, fuch Perfons are then in the Condition of a Patient

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