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! past Hope, whose Stomach rejects all wholsome
Medicines, and loves nothing but such Trash as is pernicious to it.
But the second 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 Persons who fatter and sooth People in their Sins; it discourages all Goodness, and makes Wickedness triumphant ; in short, it is the readiest Way to set up the Kingdom of Satan, and to pull down the Kingdom of Christ. For an inward Hatred against good Men once raised, is daily sprouting out in the most spiteful Words, and most persecuting Actions against them, and all that favour them ; and consequently in running down every Thing that has the Face of Goodness, as being the Character of the Persons whom, of all others, they most hate and abhor.
IV. The last Thing to be considered is this Part of Christian Prudence enjoined in my Text; how we may observe and find out, when our Neighbour is in such Circumstances that we are excused from the Duty of censuring and admonishing him. The Text supposes a Knowledge of Mankind, at least so far as to be able to discern who are capable of Admonition, and who
For all the Prudence here required is, only to judge aright, whether our offending Brother will be the better or the worse for it ; which I confefs 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 so great Scoffers at Religion and Virtue, especially such Virtues as they do not put in Practice, that one may easily 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 seems 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 Business to mock every Thing that is facred and ferious ; we may well then, without Breach of Charity, judge they are past Advice, unless it shall please God, by some great Sickness, or other Affiliation, 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 shut their Eyes against the clearest Light, and instead of answering Arguments, or being persuaded, only set 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 so much the more to that Degree, that upon our Saviour's raising Lazarus to Life, they presently had a Consultation, and resolved 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 still great Care is to be taken, that we do not despair too soon 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 such Occasions. It is better perhaps 'to venture a good deal of their Displeasure, in order to the recovering them to a sound State of Health, than by abandoning them too soon, to despair of the Patient. Even Mad-Men have their lucid Intervals; and therefore a great deal of Prudence is to be used in addressing them at seasonable Times, and by proper Persons, such as they have no Prejudice against, and in the mildest Manner, such as may gain their Affection without provoking their Passion.
I find Time will not allow my meddling with the contrary Duties to this rath judging and censuring at present; and therefore I Ihall 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 Jesus Christ ;
To whom, &c.
SE R M O N VI.
MAT. VII. 5. Thou Hypocrite, first cast out the Beam out of thine
own Eye; and then Malt thou see clearly to cast
out the Mote out of thy Brother's Eye. V. 6. Give not that which is holy unto the Dogs,
neither cast ye your Pearls before Swine, lejt 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 Disciples against rash judging and censuring, contained in the first fix Verses of this Chapter, I divided the Whole into these three Heads.
1. A Prohibition of Cenforiousness, or rath Judgment.
2. An Enforcement of this Prohibition by several Reasons and Arguments.
3. The Antithesis, or opposite Duty to this Cenforiousness, or rash Judgment,
Having, in some former Discourses, 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 Discourse on this Subject ; namely, the Confideration of the contrary Duty. And this, as I apprehend it, consists in these four Things, which I shall endeavour to explain and recommend to your consideration and Practice.
1. The first Branch of the contrary Duty to rash Judgment is, to employ our Censoriousness first and chiefly upon ourselves : That we should first cast cut the Beam out of our own Eye.
2. The second Branch of it is, to look charitably on the Actions of our Neighbour, and not to be too sharp-fighted in spying out his small Faults, not to behold too critically the Mote in our Brother's Eye; not to be too ready to censure him ourselves; or too apt to assent to the Cenfures of others.
3. A third Branch of the opposite Duty is, That we perform the friendly Office of Monitors to our Neighbour himself, instead of exposing 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 Dispofition to receive them kindly, and to make the best Use of them.
I. The First Branch of the contrary Duty to Cenforiousness and raih judging is, to employ