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MAT. VII. 5.
And then halt thou fee clearly to caft out the Mote out of thy Brothers 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 Seventh Sermon on this Text.
AVING formerly divided this Difcourfe of our Saviour's against rafh Judgments into three Parts; viz.
I. A Prohibition of Cenforioufnefs or rafh Judg
2. An Enforcement of the Prohibition by feveral Reasons and Arguments.
3. The Antithefis or oppofite Duty to this Cenforiousness, or rafh Judgment.
We are now come to the laft Branch of this Divifion, the oppofite Duty to Cenforiousness; and this, I told you, was comprehended in these Four Particulars.
1. That we should employ our Cenforioufnefs chiefly upon our felves; that we should firft caft out the Beam out of our own Eye. 2. That
2. That we should have charitable Thoughts of our Neighbour, and put the best Conftruction on his Actions they are capable of.
3. That we should perform the office of Monitors to our Neighbour himself, instead of Expofing him to others.
4. That we should ufe Prudence in fuch Admonitions, not to throw them away, where they will do hurt; but adminifter them to fuch Perfons, and at fuch Times, and in fuch a Manner as is most likely to do good.
Now having at the laft Occafion spoke to the first and fecond of thefe, our feverity in Cenfuring our felves, and our Charity in Censuring others; I proceed now to the third and fourth, namely, The Duty of Fraternal Admonition, and the Prudence we are to ufe in Adminiftring that Duty.
III. I begin with the Duty of fraternal Admonition, for which the preceding Cenforiousness to our felves, and Charitableness to our Neighbours, are here fuppofed to be good Difpofitions or Qualifications. Now for the Foundation of this Duty from my Text, it is comprehended in this Expreffion of feeing clearly to caft out the Mote out of our Brother's Eye. For to what Purpose should we fee clearly to do this charitable Office to our Neighbour, if we are never to perform it to him? It is likewise implied in the next Expreffion, forbidding our throwing away of this precious Pearl of Admonition and Reproof upon Dogs and Swine, that is, on Perfons who in all Probability will make a bad Use of it; for this implies, that if the Persons are
not fo indifpofed, it is our Duty to adminifter it to them.
In fpeaking to this Duty of Fraternal Admonition, I shall Firft endeavour to give you a general Description of it, and of the chief Duties comprehended under it: then fhew you the Use fulness of it in a Chriftian Life; and this will bring me to the last Thing in the Words, the Prudence to be used in managing it.
1. As to the First, the Defcription of the Duty of fraternal Admonition; I take it in ge neral to be a friendly Guarding our Neighbour against Sin and Errour: or a Putting him in Mind that he is in it, or at least in Danger of being led into it, and the Directing and Guiding him into the right Way. There are many Branches of this Duty; I fhall endeavour briefly to mention the chief of them, for that will go a great Way in the right Understanding the Description of the Duty.
(1.) First then, One of the beft and fafeft Ways of Discharging this Duty, is by Fortifying our Brother before-hand against the bypaths of Sin and Errour, which we apprehend he will be in Danger of taking in his Chriftian Course. This is like furnishing the Traveller, at his firft fetting out, with a true Description or Map of the Roads, both the right and wrong ones, that he may follow the one, and avoid the other. This I call one of the beft and safest Ways of difcharging this Duty; for Men receive it with much lefs Prejudice, and more Goodness of Temper and Difpofition, if we give them timely Warning of their Danger, before they actually go aftray, than they do when VOL. IV.
[SERM. we tell them that they are already far gone in a wrong Way, and muft either return a great Way directly back; or crofs the Country through much greater Difficulties, before they can get into the right Way again. So in our spiritual Course there is no more innocent or useful Way of Spending our Time; there is no more Edifying Subject of Conversation, than when from an overflowing Fulnefs of divine Knowledge and Experience in our felves, we give copious Directions to others, well fuited to their Capacity and Circumstances, how they may make the Journey of Life moft inoffenfively. This is what the Apoftle St. Paul advises, Col. iii. 16. Let the Word of Chrift dwell in you richly in all Wisdom; Teaching and Admonishing one another in Pfalms, and Hymns, and fpiritual Songs. It is much to be lamented that this edifying Way of Converfation is now fo much laid aside among Chriftians, and that instead of it we run out into a thousand Trifles and Impertinencies, if not worse, Slanders and Calumnies; which inftead of helping our Neighbour forward in his Journey heavenwards, lead him into many By-ways, out of which it will require a great deal of Time and Pains to extricate him.
(2.) This firft Way is more general; but the Duty of fraternal Admonition doth not reft in Generals. Herein it differs from common Inftruction, that it takes more particularly under Confideration the State of the Brother with Relation to those Inftructions and Admonitions; as for Example, when we confider the present Temptations to which he is expofed, and fuit our Cautions and Admonitions accordingly, for
Preferving him against the Snares of Sin and Temptation; and when we confider the prefent Advantage and Opportunities he has for doing good, and put him in mind of them, and ftir him up to embrace them. This is that Obferving and Confidering one another which the Apostle recommends to the Hebrews, Heb. x. 24. And let us confider one another, fays he, to provoke unto Love and to good Works; not forfaking the Affembling of our felves together, as the Manner of fome is, but Exhorting one another and fo much the more as ye fee the Day approaching. For whatever that particular Time was, whether the Day of God's Vengeance on the Jews, or any other Time of Trial, it was it feems a Time of great Danger, and therefore the Apoftle thought it neceffary that the Chriftians fhould, by their mutual Exhortations at their Meeting together, fortify and prepare one another for it. And in Order to this, the Obferving one anothers Humours, and Tempers, and Infirmities, and Dangers, and Imparting their Cautions, Admonitions, and Advices accordingly, was a great Part of this friendly Duty.
(3.) A Third Piece of this Duty is, in Cafe our Brother has actually betaken himself to any of the By-paths of Sin; and efpecially if he does not quickly take notice of it himself, and leave it, but goes on fecurely in it, it is then more than ordinarily neceffary that this friendly Monitor fhould put him in Mind of his Errour, and if he is not fenfible of it, fhould by repeated Importunities jog and awaken him out of this dangerous Lethargy of Sin and Inconfideration. And if he finds him difficult of Access upon this Subject,