« PoprzedniaDalej »
instead of Amending upon them, they only grow exasperated against those who presume to offer them. But this is not all. For,
(3.) The Sin and Condemnation of such Perfons is much encreafed thereby. As when a Phy: fician prescribes a Dose of Physick too strong for the Patient's weak Conftitution, instead of doing him good, it disorders him fo much the more, and incapacitates him as to the Admission of other more proper Remedies. The Monitor then must be like a wise Physician; he must prudently confider not only whar Remedies are proper for the Distemper in general; but what are fittest for the Patient's Conftitution and Circumstances, when he is become so weak and peevish, that he will not endure the usual Remedies. This is God's own Way with his Patients ; when Remedies will not do, but make Men worse, he leaves them to themselves. Ephraim is joyned to Idols : let him alone, fays the Prophet Hofea, Hof. iv. 17. And why should' ye be stricken any more?
will revolt more and more, faith Isaiah, Ifa. i. 5. to the incorrigible Ifraelites. İn mere Pity then to the Souls of Persons, thus incapable of Receiving Benefit by Admonition, that we may not encrease their Sin and Guilt, we ought to forbear throwing away our Admomitions and Reproofs upon them.
The Words being thus explained, it appears that they are a part of our Saviour's Doctrine, belonging to the right Management of Judgment and Censure: that as the Qualifications on the Part of the Cenfurer, were described immediately before in the fame Discourse; fo here the Qualifications of the Person fit to be censured
are defcribed ; at least we are told what Persons, and in what Circumstances, are excepted out of the Obligation which lyes upon us to brotherly Admonition and Correption. In pursuing the Scope and Design of my Text, there are thefe four Things, I take to be comprehended under it; in considering of which, I intend to bestow the Time that remains for this present Exercise, and so to make an End of this part of our Saviour's Sermon, concerning rafh Judgments, viz.
1. How cautious and tender we ought to be in Judging Men unqualified for admitting Admonition and Reproof; fince none are exempted from it, but those who are here described under the Denomination of Dogs and Swine.
2. That we are prudently to watch the most proper Times, and Mens most advantagious Circumstances, for doing them good with our Admonitions.
3. Particularly, that we are as much as may be to avoid the Provoking Mens Passions and Resentments, if we intend they shall receive Benefit by our Admonitions.
4. What pious and likewise prudential Aims we ought to have in Administring these Admonitions.
1. The First Thing I propose to consider is, How tender and cautious we ought to be in Judging any Person unqualified for admitting Admonition and Reproof, since none are excepted from it, but those here described under the Denomination of Dogs and Swine. By them, as I told you, there are but three Sorts of Persons, whom I take to be exempted from this Branch
of our religious Care; and these we ought not to conclude to be such upon bare Surmise or Suspicion, but upon good Grounds of Knowledge and Experience.
(1.) First, The Persons who will not endure found Advice and Admonition, but set themfelves to contradict, ridicule, or misrepresent it ; thus, when the Jews, instead of being convinced by St. Paul's Doctrine, were only filled with Envy, and spake against those things which were Spoken by Paul, contradi&ting and blafpheming, Acts xiii. 45. the Apostles St. Paul and St. Barnabas thought it was their best Way to leave them to their own stubborn, incorrigible Temper, and to betake themselves to the Gentiles. But they did not do this without trial; they had not only first endured the Abuses and Perfecutions of the Jewish Rulers at Jerufalem, but had preached freely to these very Jews at Antioch, Aas xiii. 27. and had shewed them their Error, and the Danger of their following the Example of their Countrymen at Jerusalem; and till they obstinately imitated them, contradicting and blfapheming, the Apostles did not put in execution this Advice in my Text against them, of not give ing that which was boly unto Dogs. Indeed they found them such troublesome Enemies to Chriftianity, that St. Paul seems to apply exprefly this Compellation of Dogs, for their Barking and Biting, to them ; Phil. iii. 2. Beware of Dogs, says be, beware of Evil-workers, beware of the Concision. Of this sort of Persons are all Hereticks, professed Enemies of the Truth, and obstinately wedded to their own Errors. Yet even such, this Apostle would not have deprived of our Ad
monitions at first, till they have given Proof of their Obstinacy: A Man that is an Heretick, says he, after the first and second Admonition, reject; knowing that be that is such, is fubverted, and finneth, being condemned of himself, Tit. iii. 10. There are several Sinners of this Nature totally incorrigible, so addicted to some dangerous Opinions and Practices, that we can do nothing with them, but abandon them, for fear of worse Consequences of their Obstinacy.
(2.) If they who contradict, ridicule, and milrepresent our good Advices and Admonitions, are to be deprived of them, much more are they who set themselves to persecute the Monitors ; who turn again in an angry Way, and rend those who perform that friendly Office to them, Many Reasons might be given for our Saviour's exempting such Persons from this spiritual Care we are all to take of one another in the Way of Admonition ; such as the Preservation of good Men, whom our Lord would not have to be needlesly harrassed or ruined; the preventing the Sin of bad Men, which would be mightily in. creased and aggravated by their being active in such Persecutions; and the Discouragements to other Christians, and the hindrance of the Propagation of the Gospel, by the Persecution of its most zealous Professors. But I have not Time to dwell upon them.
(3.) The notoriously Profligate and Profane, who are Scandals to their Christian Profession, who have not only great Failings and Infirmities, like other Men, but are all over infected with gross Immoralities, like a Sow wallowing over Head and Ears in the Mire ; and if one takes
never so much Pains to reform and reclaim them, he is never the nearer ; for as St. Peter says, in Allusion, I think, to this Text, it happens to them according to the true Proverb: The Dog is turned to his own Vomit again; and the Sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the Mire, 2 Pet.
But now, alas, besides these three forts, how many others are there, as to whom we exempt our felves from this Duty of Fraternal Admonition? It must be confessed, that it is generally a very ungrateful Duty, and that for that Reason few care to meddle with it, even in the Cafes not here excepted. And most Men are fo apt to flatter their Neighbour to his Face, and to censure him when his Back is turned, that in the whole Circle of Duties, there is scarce any one more neglected than this of Fraternal Admonition, There is so much Reason to doubt of our own being duly qualified either to give, or receive it our Neighbour's Temper is so touchy, or we are willing to believe it such ; a convenient Season for this Duty is so hard to be found; and Mens Passions and Resentments are so easily provoked, and so hard to be laid again ; in short, there are so many Pretences for fearing a Lion in the Way, that there is no great Hope this Duty will be easily retrieved. However, having lo fair an Opportunity from my Text, I shall make some short Attempt to facilitate it, and to make it more Practicable ; and that by offering a few short Advices both to the Persons that want Admonition, and to the Monitors themselves.