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rash judgment, which is not fuch. Our blesed Saviour, after having said, Fudge not, condemn not, shews us his meaning, by pointing out those judgments which he condemns.
1. A rafh judgment, is that which is pronounced by a man who is still in a state of spiritual blindness, and who, not being illuminated from above, is therefore incapable of judging foundly of spiritual things, yet notwithstanding sets himself up as a leader of others, a judge of their actions, and a censor of their conduct. It is of such blind guides that Jesus Chrift speaks, when he says, Can the blind, lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditck? ver. 39; as if he had said, “ Is it polible, that a person who is enveloped in the thickest darkness, should dare to judge of the spiritual estate of others ? If he do, must not his judgment be ralh, and foolish ? and does he not endanger his own Soul, and run the risque of falling into the ditch, while he is conducting another thither?
This teaches us to understand the true value of the judgments which are formed by the world, on the state and conduct of the children of God. Spiritual and divine things are not known by this dark world, and it cannot comprehend them, because it se ceives not the Spirit of God, by which alone they can be known and discerned. Therefore, all the judgments which the natural man forms of a child of God, can be no other than rash and false; and consequently these should not trouble a faithful soul. Finally, it is not the animal and impious man only, who is capable of form, ing precipitate and false judgments; young converts, who are ad. vanced but a little way in the knowledge of divine things, are sub, ject to this evil also : they frequently judge according to their contracted view of things, and condemn that which does not cor, respond to their own opinion. They do not consider, that a man in the beginning of his conversion, is like to the blind man in the gospel, who having partially recovered his fight, saw men, who appeared to be like walking trees, and did not see diftin&ly, till Christ had touched his eyes the second time. He therefore who is yet partially blind, should not presume to lead others : in guiding them badly, he is in danger of falling into the pit of pride and vain glory, and into the snare of the devil. In this state, the wisest, and safest part which a person, can take, is to pray, that he may be guided and enlightened by the Lord, left, that looking with halt closed eyes, he take men for trees, motes for beams, and gnats for camels.
2. A ralh judgment, is that which is made by a person who is himself engaged in the things which he condemns, who does not think of plucking the beam out of his own eye, before he looks at the mote which is in his brother's. " From such a person, (who is not fit to reprove in an efficacious and useful manner,) Jesus Christ takes away all authority of re. proving, when he says, Thou hypocrite!: first take away the beam that is in thy own eye. While this is not taken away, he can:
not reasonably stumble at the mote, which is in his brother's
But if our Saviour condemns here, blind, hypocritical, and unjust judgments, it is not to the true ministers of God, that he says, judge not. On the contrary, he wills, that after having been purified as the children of Leyi, after having judged them. selves and been disciplined by the Holy Spirit, they are to judge between the holy and unclean, between that which is leprous, and that which is not, Son of man, said the Lord 10 Ezekiel, wilt thou not judge them? Yes, without doubt, a minister of God ought to judge the state of his auditors, condemn their vices, so prove, censure, and denounce the judgmenis uf God againit them, if they do not turn from them. I will go further; every child of God, after having been rendered capable of discerning spiritual things, may judge and condemn the vicious works of the world : he thould bear witness of him by whose Name le
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is called, and instead of having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, he should reprove them, by letring his lighe shine before men. Whoever reproves the evil conduct of the ungodly, by his good conduct, and by the word of God, in the spirit of love and gentleness, with a pure intention of procur. ing the welfare and edification of his neighbour, such a person is not in the state which Jesus Christ condemns here. It is true, the world thinks otherwise: “ These pretended Religionists, say they, these Pietilts, * condemn every body, they have no charity, they pass nothing, they will suffer nothing." The reason of all this is, that the wicked world pretends, that it should not be disturbed in its impiety. It would have those denominated true Christians, who deny Jesus by their works ; and wishes that we should honour those with the title of the children of God, who are visibly the slaves of Satan. O blind world! thou wouldīt have thy disfolute.customs considered as motes, notwithstanding they are abysses of iniquity, and mountains of abomination! and to complete thy injustice, of the lightest motes, of the smallest weaknesses of the children of God, thou wouldeft make monsters of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Pay attention to this, ye who fear God: when Christ says, judge not, he does not forbid you to testify against the corruption and wickedness of the world, by a holy conversation, by words of reproof and instru&tion, which proceed from a sincere and loving heart : but he informs you at the same time, that when the censure does not directly tend to the glory of God, and the edification of your neighbour, you should abstain from judging
Finandemning our neighbour, tend to the plona
Finally, as to what regards your neighbour, who is yet weak in the faith, your Master wills, that you who are strong, should bear with the weak, excuse and cover his faults, and that in every respect, you should prove that you have hearts inclined to spare and excuse him, as much as the good of his soul, and the glory of God will permit. By this you will evince, that you are the children of your Father, who is in Heaven. To you therefore, who are his disciples, Jesus Christ particularly says, judge not : You should, above all others, shun rash, false, and precipitate judgments. Remember also, that if mercy prohibits a child of God from judging evil of his neighbour, it also forbids him to do him any kind of mischief; as every thing of this kind is incompatible with heavenly Love : A man, therefore, who has obtained mercy, and who has tafted the Power of the Grace of God in Christ Jesus, and to whom ten thousand talents have been forgiven, will readily remit to his brother, the hundred pence which he owes him.
But it is too small a matter for Mercy, only to do no evil to its neighbour, it will also do him good; and ihis is what Jesus Christ insinuates when he says, “ Give, and it shall be given unto you."
# Those who have the power of godliness, are termed Pietifts in Germany, as the same descriptian of men are denominated METHODIsts in England.
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1. The first a&t of kindness which a merciful man does to his neighbour, is, to forgive him his trespasses, to pardon his offences, and to forget the injuries which he has done to him. Men live in such a itate of social union, as renders mutual help necessary : and as self-interest, pride, and other corrupt passions, mingle ihemselves ordinarily in their commerce, they cannot fail of offending one another. In civil society, men must, in order to taste a little tranquility, resolve to bear something from their neighbours ; they must suffer, pardon, and give up many things ; without doing which, they must live in a state of continual agitation, which will render lise itself insupportable. The chil. dren of God, especially, live among a perverse generation, which not only, has no love for them, but hates and persecutes them.
The wisest part which they can take, is to bear, forbear, and pardon, unless they wish to be continually tormented with emotions of bitterness, hatred, and envy, which will do them more real injury, than all the outward evils put together; for do what we will, we must sail on a very stormy sea, where we cannot escape being agitated with all sorts of adverse winds. Do we desire that nothing may cross us ? This is to demand impor. sibilities. And if we meet with oppositions, shall we relift arm to arm, or vex ourselves when we cannot surmount them? Alas! in this case, we should act against the intention of God, and suffer double evil in consequence. Our best way therefore is, to be clothed with bowels of mercy ; to be calm, patient, and resigned ; to suffer, give up, and pardon: We owe this, not only to the people of the world, but to the children of God, who are not without their failings; there are weak ones among them, who must be supported ; ignorant persons, whom we mult instru&; and wandering spirits, whom we must endeavour to restore, in the spirit of genileness. Finally, we must learn how to give, and to pardon, if that charity, which is the bond of per. fečtion, is to have any place in us; without this, there will be nothing in civil society, and even in christian congregations, but divisions, evil surmisings, injurious discourses, outrages, anger, vengeance, and in a word, a total dismemberment of the mystical body of Christ. Thus our character as christians, and disciples of Chrift, and our duty, as brethren and members of the Church of Christ, engage us to give and to pardon, not only, as these things may respect our brethren and friends, but also, as they may respect our enemies. This is a genuine production of that true Love, which is shed abroad in the hearts of all the children of God, by the Holy Spirit. Hence it is, that the same Spirit says so often by the mouih of the Apostles, “Be ye gentle to. wards each other, full of compassion, forgiving one another, as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you.” “ Put on as the elect of God, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering : forbearing one another, and forgive ing one another; if any man have a quarrel against any ;
are in peace be those things. 15, 16.
even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye,” Eph. iv. 32. Col. iii. 12, 13. "This, our blessed Lord and Master, has taught us by his own example, when touched with compassion towards his cruel persecutors, he pardoned them sincerely, forgave the cruelties they exercised on him, and prayed to his heavenly Father to forgive them, for they knew not what they did.
2. A second good, which Mercy excites us to do to our neigh. • bour, is, to give: Give says our Lord in the text, and it shall be given anto you. Mutual succour is indispensably necessary to all men: There are some who have it in their power to relieve, and there are others who stand in need of their assistance: Mercy employs itself in distributing both the spiritual and temporal blellings which it has received, among those who are in want. There is a dispensation of temporal blessings, and there is a dispensation of fpiritual blessings: to share our temporal goods with the necessitous, is a necessary consequence of Mercy, and a merciful mind neg}e£ts not this duty, when the means are in its power: If any one have the goods of this world,” says St. John, “and see his brother in want, and shut up his bowels of compassion against him, how dwelleth the Love of God in him ? " " If a broiher or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed, and be ye filled; notwithflanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth'it profit ?" Jam. ii. 15, 16. It is true, that almsgiving is not always an ačt of mercy and christian charity; one may be charitable without giving, when the means are lacking. On the other hand, one may give, and not be charitable. There are many who give alms only thro' hypocrisy, ostentation, custom, or decency; and often with regret, when by certain considerations they are constrained to it. These alms are not the fruits of mercy, but of Pride, or of a certain reproach of con. science, which obliges men sometimes to provide for the necefli. ties of their neighbours. Further, we often see almfgiving accompanied with reproaches, bitter words, and other circumstances which sufficiently demonstrate the corrupt source whence they pro. ceed. A Christian should' rrot forget the duiies of beneficence, but it is necessary that he acquit himself in them, with a spirit of mercy and charity towards ihe distressed.' St. Paul, in the viri, and ix. chapters of his ad Epiftle to the Corinthians, shews us the dispositions with which we fhould do good to others ; GOD, (says he loves a cheerful giver. He who lows sparingly, shall reap sparingly, and he who gives liberally, shall reap liberally. Let every man do as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly, or of neceflity, but willingly."'* See also what our Lord lays on This head, in the 6th chapter of Matthew. ' St. James says, " Pure Religion, and undefiled before God, is this, to visit the orphans and widows in their affli&tion,"