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or fall. Why so much hafte to prevent the Judgment of God by our rash,ignorant, uncharitable Judgments? Judgment will come time enough for us all, and
therefore judge nothing before the time. This is so common a Fault, and does so much Mischief in the World, and yet is so very unreasonable, considering a Future Judgment, that it will be of great use to Discourse it more particularly, and if it be possible, to correct this Miscarriage, which is one of the greatest Plagues of Human Society.
It is very obvious to ask here, What is the fault of this? Is there any living in theWorld without judging of men and things ? Muft we not say, that he is a very bad man, whom we fee do very bad things must we not distinguish between Virtue and Vice, and between good and bad men ? Must we not make good men our Friends, commend and imitate theirVirtues, and reject the conversation of the wicked, and beware of Knaves, and men of ill Principles and Designs? And is it not necessary then to distinguish between Good and Bad Men ? That is, to judge who are so. Must we wholly refer the Punishment of Wickedness, and the Rewards of Virtue to the Day of Judgment; and because God will judge the World, must not Princes and Magistrates execute Justice, and separate between the Pure and the Vile ?
This is so very unreasonable, so inconsistent with the wise Conduct and Government of our Lives, and a prudent care of our selves, so destructive to HumanSocieties,gives such encouragement to wickedness, and so confounds the distin
dion of Good and Evil, that I need not tell any Man, that this is not meant by referring all Judgment to God: We must judge of Men and Things as far as is necessary to the prudent Government of our Lives, and to the Preservation of Peace, and Justice, and good Order in the World: This does not intrench upon a Future Judgment, nor upon God's Prerogative of being the sole Judge of the World, but is necessary in this pre .. sent
State of Things ; fo necessary, that neither publick Societies nor private Persons can be safe without it. But then we assume such a Judgment to our selves, as belongs only to God, when we judge Mens Hearts, and secret Thoughts, and Intentions, and when we pass Judgment on their Final State.
First, When we judge Mens Hearts, and Thoughts, and secret Intentions: For the Heart of Man is known only to himself, and to God, who is the searcher of Hearts; and the Counsels of the Heart will never be made manifeft, till God comes to judge the World.
Indeed no Man will pretend to know another Man's Heart; and yet it is too plain in many Cases that Men undertake to judge of Hearts: And the great Fault in judging is, that whether Men will own it or no, yet they undertake to judge of Hearts.
Thus all those do, who charge Men with more Guilt than is visible in their Actions; for if we can discover any Guilt which is not visible in their Actions, we must look into their Hearts, and Thoughts, and Intentions, to find it.
Thus those do who charge men with Guilt upon account of innocent and indifferent Actions which have no necessary Good orEvil in them, but are as they are taken, and as they were intended; and those who can find any hurt in such Adions, as have no intrinsick Evil and Mischief in them, must find it in the heart.
Especially those who judge and condemn men for the most virtuous Actions, for the moft imitable Examples of Piety, and Devotion, and Charity, and a severe and mortify'd Life;and call this Affectation, and Popularity, and Pharisaism, and charge them with carrying on some worldly and secular Designs under the Masque and Disguise of Religion. Now I grant this may be done, and sometimes it may be visible enough, as it was in the Pharisees; but to charge any man with this, without some plain and manifest indication of it, is to judge their Hearts when we know nothing of them.
Nay, to charge men with the utmost poffible Guilt, even of their bad Actions, is to judge their Hearts; for it is to say, thatthey have done such a wicked Action with all the internal wickedness of Heart and Mind which such an Action can be committed with; which no man can say without judging the Heart.
The same wicked Adion may be the effect either of Ignorance or of Knowledge, of Rashness and Surprize, or of mature and deliberate Counsel, of habitual wickedness, or of some accidental Temptation, of our own free Choice, or the Persuasions of Friends, and the Inticements of our Companions and the Prevalency of Shame or Fear: now this makes a vast difference in theGuilt andsin,
and if the fame Action may have different degrees of Guilt, we must charge it with no more than what is visible, unless we will undertake to judge the Secrets of Hearts.
Thus to charge a man with acting against his Conscience, when he himself declares a full fatisfaction in what he does; or to say, that he only pretends Conscience, when it is nothing but Humour, or Pride, and Popularity, or Interest, and Politicks, is to judge Mens Hearts: for these things are not to be known, without knowing mens Hearts. There may be great Symptoms, and Strong Presumptions, that some men have no Conscience at all, or no regard to it; for those who in the general course of their Lives govern themselves by no Rule, are ridiculous when they pretend Conscience in any thing; but those who in their other Adions fhew, that they are men of Conscience, ought to be believed, when they pretend Conscience, unless there be manifest Evidence to the contrary.
All these things belong to the Judgment of God, who will judge the Secrets of mens Hearts by the Gospel of Christ, but we are not concern'd to judge of them; for it serves no good End, but does very great mischief to the World.
All the Ends of Human Government both in Church and State, may be attained without this; for Human Governments do not pretend to judge mens Thoughts and Hearts, any otherwise than
as they are declared in Words and Actions, and some very plain and significantCircumstances, which betray and speak their Intentions and Deligns : Isuman Governments take notice only of what appears, and this is sufficient to secure the external
Purity of the Church, and to preserve Justice and good Order in the State; but the mischief of judging Mens Thoughts and Hearts, is chiefly seen in private Conversation.
How often does this diffolve the moft intimate Friendships, and beget Mortal Quarrels, that Men read each others Thoughts and Hearts in their Actions, and very often read very false, and direaly contrary to the sense of the Original: When an indiscreet Word or Action is interpreted a designed Affront, and a careless or forgetful Neglea is thought a Contempt; when an intended Kindness miscarries, and proves an Injury, and is then thought to be intended so. It is easily observed, that meer Actions anger no Man, and make no Quarrel; for we can easily bear with that from one whom we believe our Friend, which we will not bear with from a Stranger, or a supposed Enemy or Rival; but when Men apprehend a thing ill intended, then they take it ill; that is, they judge Mens Hearts and Intentions, which they cannot see, and which they often miftake, and that makes the Quarrel.
Another Mischief of this judging, is, That many times the most exemplary Virtue is greatly discouraged, and the most useful Men eclipsed, and made unserviceable to the World: When the most conspicuous. Piety, and Devotion, and Charity is accused of Pride, Ambition, Popularity, or some other base and low Design, it makes such good Men afraid of appearing good, to avoid the suspicion of being Vain and Wicked; it makes their Examples useless to the World; for