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that is, diligently examine and compare one Serm. Scripture with another: a particular Advice IX. very necessary to be followed, in order to practise that general one he gives us in the Text, to judge righteous judgment.
And that we may come at a right Understanding of Scripture Phrases, there is another Rule I would especially recommend, viz. not to take
may posibly be put upon them, but to seek for that sense or meaning that was originally intended by them; to which the context, with the general Scope and Design of the Author's Argument, will for the most part readily direct us.
And whatever Doctrine we fee to be plainly contained in Scripture, often inculcated there, and represented in various Lights as a matter of Importance, by that let us refolve to abide as a principle of divine Truth, though undiscoverable by the light of Nature, and denied and opposed by those who have accustomed themselves to go by other Rules, in matters of Religion, than that of the holy Scriptures. 7
After all this care and caution to trace out Truth, it becomes us at last to be very Vol. II,
Serm. modest (especially in matters that are intri-
cate and difficult) and to give our Judgment
Lastly, If we would judge righteous Judg-
nefs; and in bis Light we shall fee Light. Serm. For after all the Precaution and Care we can IX. take, we are still such frail and fallible Creatures, fo
prone to Pride, Passion and Prejudice, that without his Illumination and Grace, we shall soon be lost in Darkness and Error, receive false Impressions of him, and his ways, embrace
Notions for true, and perhaps pride ourselves in them, to the great disturbance of our Peace, and the prejudice of our Souls. However, if there be a sincere and unfeigned Desire to know and do the whole Will of God, he will not impute to us our involuntary Errors and Frailties, for he confidereth our Frame.
These things I apprehend, are implicitly contained in our Saviour's Precept: and thus must we act if we would, according to his Command, judge righteous Judga ment.
Let us make hereupon the following short Reflexions.
1. This fame Rule which hath now been explained to us with reference to Religion, may be of great service to us in common Life: Judge not according to the Appearance, but judge righteous Judgment, Appearances
SERM. often deceive, and miflead us in the secular IX.
as well as the religious Life. We do not always find things turn out as they promise, nor persons always to be what they appear. Some we see are much better, others much worse than we apprehended. There is a general Disguise thrown on the Face of the World; we live among false Appearances ; almost all Men have their Vails and Vizards, which they take off, or put on, in different Companies, and on different Occasions; Characters are personated, Sentiments concealed, Words are studied, Actions forced, and Pasfions guarded : So that
few Persons really are just what they appear to be in the Eye of the World: The most free and open not excepted; who often conceal themselves by acquired Ease and affected Frankness; as effectually, though more agreeably, than others do by Silence, Reserve and Stiffness. Which shews the Uncertainty of judging by Appearances only.
The same may be said with respect to the Reasons and Motives of our own Conduct in any particular Instance, which often
appear to us much stronger, or much weaker, than they really are, according as we are bibiassed by some secret Principle or Passion to Serm. or against the Action itself.
IX. 2. We hence see one great Excellency of the Christian Religion. It appeals to the Reason and Understanding of Men, as the divine Author of it himself did. It is not alhamed to be searched and examined; it does not decline the feverest Scrutiny. All it demands is a fair Trial : It calls
Men to use all the Reason God hath given them to judge of it, and it's Doctrines. It only desires them not to abuse that Reason; nor suffer it to be imposed upon, and deluded by external Shew and false Appearances, or cramped by Prejudice, Partiality and Passion. It speaks to it's greatest Enemies in the Words of the Text, in which Christ spake to his, Judge righteous Judgment, and
I am not afraid to stand by your Determi« nations.
It is doing great Disservice to the Cause of Religion, to represent it at variance with Reason. Religion is the highest Improvement of Reason; and Christianity the most reasonable Institution in the World. And there is no Man that impartially uses his