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past Hope, whofe Stomach rejects all wholsome Medicines, and loves nothing but fuch Trash as is pernicious to it.
But the fecond Danger is likewise very great, namely, the Odium raised thereby against good Men; which has most pernicious Effects; for it stops the Door to all good Counsel; it prepares the Way for all that Sort of Perfons who flatter and footh People in their Sins; it discourages all Goodness, and makes Wickednefs triumphant; in short, it is the readiest Way to set up the Kingdom of Satan, and to pull down the Kingdom of Chrift. For an inward Hatred against good Men once raifed, is daily sprouting out in the most spiteful Words, and most perfecuting Actions against them, and all that favour them; and confequently in running down every Thing that has the Face of Goodness, as being the Character of the Perfons whom, of all others, they moft hate and abhor.
IV. The last Thing to be confidered is this Part of Christian Prudence enjoined in my Text; how we may obferve and find out, when our Neighbour is in such Circumstances that we are excufed from the Duty of cenfuring and admonishing him. The Text fuppofes a Knowledge of Mankind, at leaft fo far as to be able to dif cern who are capable of Admonition, and who not. For all the Prudence here required is, only to judge aright, whether our offending Brother will be the better or the worfe for it; which I confess is a very difficult Piece of Skill, and in the greatest Part of Men perhaps cannot be known but by making the Experiment. Some
indeed are fo great Scoffers at Religion and Virtue, especially fuch Virtues as they do not put in Practice, that one may eafily know they are not to be attempted in the Way of fraternal Admonition, without provoking their highest Rage and Displeasure; and therefore, as to them, the Advice of Solomon feems most proper to be followed, as we have it, Prov. ix. 7, 8. He that reproveth a Scorner, getteth to himself Shame: and be that rebuketh a wicked Man, getteth himself a Blot. Reprove not a Scorner, left he hate thee. When Men are thus far advanced in Wickedness, they take the Scorner's Chair, and make it their Bufinefs to mock every Thing that is facred and ferious; we may well then, without Breach of Charity, judge they are paft Advice, unless it fhall pleafe God, by fome great Sicknefs, or other Affliction, to humble them, and to bring them to a docile and tractable Temper. And together with the Scoffers, we may reckon fuch obdurate hardened Wretches, as are Proof against all Arguments and Conviction, who fhut their Eyes against the cleareft Light, and inftead of anfwering Arguments, or being perfuaded, only fet their Wits to work, to ruin those who give them good Counsel and Advice. Such were those Rulers of the Jews, who, when they could not deny our Saviour's Miracles, gave it out that he wrought them by Beelzebub the Prince of the Devils; and the more Convictions they met with, were hardned fo much the more to that Degree, that upon our Saviour's raising Lazarus to Life, they presently had a Confultation, and refolved to apprehend him, and put him to Death. Whenever we perceive that Men are come to
this Degree of Wickedness, it is a dangerous Thing to provoke them by Admonitions and Reproofs. The only Remedy which is then left is, Prayers to God for them, that he who has the Hearts of all Men in his Hands, would by his Grace, fit and prepare them for admitting and receiving Benefit by the Means of Grace. But ftill great Care is to be taken, that we do not defpair too foon of our offending Brother, and that our own Self-love and exceffive Fears do not fo magnify the Danger, as to discourage us from performing our Duty on fuch Occafions. It is better perhaps to venture a good deal of their Displeasure, in order to the recovering them to a found State of Health, than by abandoning them too foon, to despair of the Patient. Even Mad-Men have their lucid Intervals; and therefore a great deal of Prudence is to be used in addreffing them at seasonable Times, and by proper Perfons, fuch as they have no Prejudice againft, and in the mildest Manner, fuch as may gain their Affection without provoking their Paffion.
I find Time will not allow my meddling with the contrary Duties to this rafh judging and cenfuring at prefent; and therefore I fhall refer that to another Opportunity. Now God bless what we have heard, that it may contribute effectually to our Edification and Salvation, by the Grace and Mediation of our Lord Jefus Chrift;
To whom, &c.
MAT. VII. 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 Brother's Eye.
V. 6. Give not that which is holy unto the Dogs, neither caft ye your Pearls before Swine, left they trample them under their Feet, and turn again and rent you.
The Sixth Sermon on this Text.
'HEN we first entred on this Part of
our Saviour's divine Discourse, in which he guards his Difciples against rafh judging and cenfuring, contained in the first fix Verfes of this Chapter, I divided the Whole into these three Heads.
1. A Prohibition of Cenforiousness, or rafh Judgment.
2. An Enforcement of this Prohibition by feveral Reasons and Arguments.
3. The Antithefis, or oppofite Duty to this Cenforiousness, or rafh Judgment.
Having, in fome former Difcourfes, handled the two first, namely, the Prohibition of rash
Judgment, and the Arguments with which it is enforced; I come now to the third and last Head of our Saviour's Difcourfe on this Subject; namely, the Confideration of the contrary Duty. And this, as I apprehend it, confifts in thefe four Things, which I fhall endeavour to explain and recommend to your Confideration and Practice.
1. The first Branch of the contrary Duty to rash Judgment is, to employ our Cenforioufnefs firft and chiefly upon ourselves: That we fhould first caft out the Beam out of our own Eye.
2. The fecond Branch of it is, to look charitably on the Actions of our Neighbour, and not to be too fharp-fighted in fpying out his small Faults, not to behold too critically the Mote in our Brother's Eye; not to be too ready to cenfure him ourselves; or too apt to affent to the Cenfures of others.
3. A third Branch of the oppofite Duty is, That we perform the friendly Office of Monitors to our Neighbour himself, inftead of expofing him to others.
4. And the fourth Branch of it is, That in adminiftring these our Admonitions, we use Prudence, not to throw them away, where they will do Hurt; but to contrive to give them, when our Neighbour is in the best Temper and Difpofition to receive them kindly, and to make the best Use of them.
I. The First Branch of the contrary Duty to Cenforiousness and rash judging is, to employ