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Subject, (as there are but few Men can bear with plain Dealing on such Occasions,) it is a Piece of Charity in such a Case, and belongs to this same Duty of fraternal Admonition, by more severe Rebukes, and with some Eagerness and Violence, such as a Parent would use to snatch a Child out of the Fire, to recover him speedily out of the Danger. This may perhaps, at present, occasion fome Uneasiness; but afterwards, when he comes to himself, if he has any
Sense of Goodness, he will look upon such as his best Friends; infinitely beyond those of another Kind, who were ready to strike in and flatter him in all his evil Courses, tho' never so destructive and pernicious.
(4.) A fourth Piece of Duty belonging to fraternal Admonition, especially when we find the Brother not otherwise capable of Admitting it, is to watch the Seasons and Opportunities, the proper
Times when he is easiest of Access, or when the outward Dispensations of Providence by Sickness, or other Afflictions, have contributed to mellow his hard Heart, and to make use of these to instill our spiritual Counsel or Reproof. For Men are not always in the same good Humour, nor in the same malleable Temper; and it requires great Knowledge of one's Circumstances, and a great Exercise of Prudence and Patience, to make Way for such unpleasant Truths, as the Duty of fraternal Admonition and Correption requires us to deliver.
(5.) There is one Degree of this fraternal Correption and Admonition still remaining, namely, that when we have tried all other the above-mentioned Methods in vain, both by our
felves and others, whom we may employ as more capable of that difficult Duty, we at last break off all Friendship and Familiarity, not with a Design to abandon our Brother in these wretched Circumstances; for then he has most need of our Prayers and Endeavours; but only by such a desperate Cure to bring him to a wholsóme Shame, and more vigorous Endeavours to recover himself out of the Snare of the Devil. The Apostle in this advises first an Abatement of Familiarity, upon his not amending, but not to the Degree of breaking off the Duty of Admonition and Converse entirely, 2 Thess. iii. 14. If any Man obey not our Word by this Epistle, note that Man, and bave no Company with him, that he may be aMamed. Yet count bim not as an Enemy, but admonish bim as a Brother. Yet sometimes I find good Men, upon an obstinate Continuance in Sin, have carried this much further, even to a total and final Abandoning of the Society of such Perfons. Thus we find, after diverse gross Acts of Disobedience to God's Commands, and no Amendment upon Admonition and Reproof, the Prophet Samuel gave over all further Attempts upon Saul, except praying to God for him, and mourning in Secret for his Obstinacy; for so it is recorded, 1 Sam. xv. ult. that Samuel came no more to see Saul to the Day of bis Death; nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul. So that let the worst come to the worst, we are never to leave off our Prayers for them; but to continue our Strugglings with God, even when they prove defperate with Man. So much for the Description of this Duty of fraternal Admonition, wherein it confifts.
But there are some other Things requisite to be known about it, namely, when, or in what Circumstances, and by whom it is to be put
in Execution; and with what Spirit it is to be gone about: Of which I shall fay something with all convenient Brevity.
As to the first Question, when, and in what Circumstances this Duty is to be put in Execu: țion ; I answer briefly, the sooner the better ; provided all other Things concur, that are requisite for the right Discharging of it. Preventing Means by good Education and Instruction can never be applied too early; The same may be said of the Infusing good Notions, and the Cautioning against bad Examples; and shewing one another the several Rocks and Shelves in the Voyage of Life that others have split upon. And it is not only these preventing Admonitions, which may thus early be applied with Safety; but likewise when our Brother has actually left the plain Road of Duty, and gone into some ill Course, the sooner he is admonished of his Errour, and called back to his Duty, it is so much the better ; a young bathful Sinner being much fooner reclaimed than an old hardened one. But as the Erring Brother is more and more entangled in finful Courfes, and grows more habitual, and headstrong and impudent in them, it will require a greater Degree of Care and Caution to manage this Duty of fraternal Admonition towards him: for more care must be then taken that it þe adminiftred by fit and skilful Persons, against whom he has no Prejudice; and in the gentlest, discreetest Manner; and at his easiest Times of Access ; as has been already described,
The other Question is more easie to be resolve ed, namely, with what Spirit this Duty is to be gone about ; for no doubt it muft be with a Spirit of Love and Friendship. Enemies upbraid one another with their Faults, from a Spirit of Hatred and Enmity. They do it to expose an Adversary, not to gain or save a friend. They do it to insult; the good Christian does it to reclaim. They do it to his Enemies, or to the promiscuous World abroad; the good Christian does it to himself, with a pure Eye to his fpiritual Good and Advantage. One would think that the Action of the Friend and the Enemy here, have a great Affinity; but if we look either into the Principle from which it proceeds, in the one Charity, in the other Enmity; or the End it aims at, in the one, the Good; in the other, the Hurt of our Neighbour; or the Manner in which it is managed, in the one, by a Spirit of Meekness and Love; in the other, by a Spirit of Anger and Hatred ; there will be no great Difficulty in distinguishing the one from the other. And therefore I shall insist no longer in the Defcription of the Duty ; but proceed,
2. To the Consideration of the Benefits of this Duty in a Christian Life.
(1.) That it is a Duty, I hope none will doubt; for both the Light of Nature, and the Precepts of the Law and Gospel, concur in enjoining it. By the Light of Nature we are taught, that we are to make our Lives as useful as we can in the World, and especially, that we are to do all the Good to our Friends that lies in our Power. It will be readily granted, that the Design of all our Actions towards our Friends,
ought not to be what will please, but what will do them good. This is the Difference between a Friend and a Flatterer. The Flatterer studies only to please his Friend. But the true Friend studies his Friend's Good. And if this requires sometimes the Crossing and Contradicting him in his unreasonable Passions, and wicked Inclinations, this the Friend will venture upon, but the Flatterer will not touch or come near. If a Man wants an Instrument in any Wickedness, the false Friend or Flatterer strikes in with all his corrupt Inclinations, and furthers and promotes them; whereas the true Friend contrives his Difappointment in ill Things, and his Conversion from them. As when a Man is mad, his true Friend will be then for keeping all hurtful Wea. pons from him, and for confining him to a dark Rogm, and a strict physical Diet, such as may help to recover his Health ; and not for allowing him his Swing and Liberty, with which he might quickly destroy himself. And as the Law of Nature teaches thus much, the Law of Mofes is very express in it. Lev. xix. 17. Thou Malt not hate thy Brother in thine Heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy Neighbour, and not suffer Sin upon him: Where it is plainly implied, that the not Rebuking our Neighbour, is the Hating him in our Hearts. But our Saviour has much improv ed this Precept, John xiii. 34. and has been much more particular upon it; commanding a Friendship among all Christians, and prescribing all the particular Steps we are to take with our offending Brother, as ye may see at large, Mat. xviii, in order to the right Discharge of this Duty of Fraternal Admonition. So that this