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pecially if it be the example either of great men, or of learned men, or of men reputed eminently godly, or of a multitude, any of these the people are apt to imitate : this therefore is the common way of scandal. When people do that which is evil as if it were good, and thereby draw the ignorant to think it good, and so imitate them. Or else when they do that which is lawful itself, in such a manner as tendeth to deceive another, and draw him to that which is indeed unlawful; or to hinder him in any thing that is good. 8. Lastly, Even silence and omissions also may be scandalous, and draw another into error and sin. If by silence you seem to consent to false doctrine, or to wicked works, when you have opportunity to control them, hereby you draw others to consent also to the sin: or if you omit those public or private duties, which others may be witnesses of, you tempt them to the like omission, and to think they are no duties, but indifferent things: for in evil they will easily rest in your judgment, and say that you are wiser than they ; but they are not so ductile and flexible to good. 5. Scandals also are distinguishable by the effects; which are such as these : 1. Some scandals do tempt men to actual infidelity, and to deny or doubt of the truth of the Gospel. 2. Some scandals would draw men but into some particular error, and from some particular truth, while he holds the rest. 3. Some scandals draw men to dislike and distaste the way of godliness; and some to dislike the servants of God. 4. Some scandals tend to confound men, and bring them to utter uncertainties in religion. 5. Some tend to terrify men from the way of godliness. 6. Some only stop them for a time, and discourage or hinder them in their way. 7. Some tend to draw them to some particular sin. 8. And some to draw them from some particular duty. 9. And some tend to break and weaken their spirits, by grief or perplexity of mind. 10. And as the word is taken in the Old Testament, the snares that malicious men lay to entrap others in their
lives, or liberties, or estates, or names, are called scandals. And all these ways a man may sinfully scandalize another. And that you may see that the scandal forbidden in the New Testament, is always of this nature, let us take notice of the particular texts where the word is used. And first, to scandalize is used actively in these following texts: in Matt. v. before cited, and in the other evangelists citing the same words, the sense is clear; that the offending of a hand or eye, is not displeasing, nor seeking of ill report; but hindering our salvation by drawing us to sin. So in Matt. xviii. 8. and Mark ix.42, 43. where the sense is the same. In Matt. xvii. 27. “Lest we should offend them, &c.” is not only, lest we displease them, but lest we give them occasion to dislike religion, or think hardly of the Gospel, and so lay a stumbling-block to the danger of their souls. So Matt. xviii. 6. and Mark ix. “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, &c.” that is, not who shall displease them, but whoso by threats, persecutions, cruelties, or any other means, shall go about to turn them from the faith of Christ, or stop them in their way to heaven, or hinder them in a holy life: though these two texts seem nearest to the denied sense, yet that is not indeed their meaning. So in Job vi. 6. “Doth this offend you?” that is, doth this seem incredible to you, or hard to be believed, or digested 2 Doth it stop your faith, and make you distaste my doctrine? So 1 Cor. viii. 13. “If meat scandalize my brother;” our translators have turned it, “If meat make my brother to offend.” So it was not displeasing him only, but tempting him to sin which is the scandalizing here reproved. View also the places where the word “Scandal' is used. Matt. xiii. 41. ‘IIávra rackávèaXa,” “All scandals,' translated “All things that offend, doth not signify, All that is displeasing ; but all temptations to sin, and hindrances or stumbling-blocks that would have stopped men in the ways to heaven. So in Matt. xvi. 23. (a text as like as any to be near the denied sense; yet indeed) “Thou art a scandal to me,” (translated an offence) doth not only signify, “Thou displeasest me,’ but ‘Thou goest about to hinder me in my undertaken office, from suffering for the redemption of the V O L. V. i. P
world: it was an aptitudinal scandal, though not effectual. So Matt. xviii. 7. “It must be that scandals come ;” (translated offences,) that is, that there be many stumbling-blocks set before men in their way to heaven. So Luke xvii. 1. to the same sense. And Rom. ix. 33. “I lay in Zion a stumbling-stone, and a rock of scandal,” (translated offence); that is, such as will not only be displeasing, but an occasion of utter ruin to the unbelieving, persecuting Jews; according to that of Simeon, Luke ii. 34. “This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.” Rom. xi. 9. “Let their table be made a snare, a trap, and a stumblingblock.” The Greek word ' etc oxdvèaXov’ doth not signify a displeasure only, but an occasion of ruin. So Rom. xiv. 13. expoundeth itself, “That no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall into his brother's way.” The Greek word is, “ or a scandal.’ This is the just exposition of the word in its ordinary use in the New Testaments. So Rom. xvi. 17. “Mark them which cause divisions and scandals,” (translated offences); that is, which lay stumbling-blocks in the way of Christians, and would trouble them in it, or turn them from it. So 1 Cor. i. 23. “To the Jews a stumbling-block,” that is, a scandal, (as the Greek word is,) as before expounded. So Gal. v. 11. “The scandal of the cross,” translated the offence, doth signify not the bare reproach, but the reproach as it is the trial and stumblingblock of the world, that maketh believing difficult. So 1 John ii. 10. “There is no scandal in him,” translated “No occasion of stumbling.” These are all the places that I remember where the word is used. The passive verb ‘ckavča)\toonai,” “to be scandalized,” is often used. As Matt. xi. 6. “Blessed is he that is not scandalized,” (translated, offended in me); that is, who is not distasted with my person and doctrine through carnal prejudices; and so kept in unbelief: there were many things in the person, life, and doctrine of Christ, which were unsuitable to carnal reason and expectation. These men thought them to be hard and strange, and could not digest them, and so were hindered by them from believing: and this was being offended in Christ. So in Matt. xiii. 57. and Mark vi. 3. “They were offended in, or at him;” that is, took a dislike or distaste to him for his words. And Matt. xiii. 21. “When persecution ariseth, by and by they are offended";” that is, they stumble and fall away : and Matt. xv. 12. “The Pharisees were offended,” (or scandalized"); that is, so of— fended as to be more in dislike of Christ. And Matt. xxiv. 10. “Then shall many be offended,” (or scandalized); that is, shall draw back and fall away from Christ. And Matt. xxvi. 31.33. Mark xiv. 27. 29. “All ye shall be offended because of me, &c.” “Though all men shall be offended (or scandalized) yet will I never be scandalized;” that is, brought to doubt of Christ, or to forsake him, or deny him, or be hindered from owning their relation to him. So John xvi. 1. “These things I have spoken that ye should not be offended;” that is, that when the time cometh, the unexpected trouble may not so surprise you, as to turn you from the faith, or stagger you in your obedience or hope. Rom. xiv. 21. doth exactly expound it: “It is good neither to eat flesh, or drink wine, or any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is scandalized, (or offended,) or made weak;” it is a making weak. So 2 Cor. xi. 29. “Who is offended;” that is, stumbled, or hindered, or ready to apostatize. So much for the nature and sorts of scandal. IV. You are next to observe the aggravations of this sin. Which briefly are such as these : 1. Scandal is a murdering of souls; it is a hindering of men's salvation, and an enticing or driving them towards hell. And therefore in some respect worse than murder, as the soul is better than the body. 2. Scandal is a fighting against Jesus Christ, in his work of man's salvation. “He came to seek and to save that which was lost;” and the scandalizer seeketh to lose and destroy that which Christ would seek and save. 3. Scandal robbeth God of the hearts and service of his creatures; for it is a raising in them a distaste of his people, and word, and ways, and of himself; and a turning from him the hearts of those that should adhere unto him. 4. Scandal is a serving of the devil, in his proper work of enmity to Christ, and perdition of souls; scandalizers do * Mark vi 3. k Mark iv. 17.
* So Rev. ii. 14. Balaam did “Saxiw roaxcy,” “lay a scandal,' or stumblingblock before the Israelites; that is, a temptation to sin. * Luke vii. 23.
his work in the world, and propagate his cause and kingdom. V. The means of avoiding the guilt of scandal, are as followeth. Direct. 1. ‘Mistake not (with the vulgar) the nature of scandal, as if it lay in that offending men, which is nothing but grieving or displeasing them; or in making yourselves to be of evil report; but remember that scandal is that of fending men, which tempteth them into sin from God and godliness, and maketh them stumble and fall, or occasioneth them to think evil of a holy life.’ It is a pitiful thing to hear religious persons plead for the sin of man-pleasing, under the name of avoiding scandal; yea, to hear them set up an usurped dominion over the lives of other men, and all by the advantage of the word ‘scandal’ misunderstood. So that all men must avoid whatever a censorious person will call scandalous, when he meaneth nothing else himself by scandal, than a thing that is of evil report, with such as he. Yea, pride itself is often pleaded for by this misunderstanding of scandal; and men are taught to overvalue their reputations, and to strain their consciences to keep up their esteem, and all under pretence of avoiding scandal; and in the mean time they are really scandalous, even in that action, by which they think they are avoiding it. I need no other instance, than the case of unwarrantable separation. Some will hold communion with none but the rebaptized; some think an imposed liturgy is enough to prove communion with such a church unlawful (at least in the use of it); and almost every sect do make their differences areason for their separating from other churches. And if any one would hold communion with those that they separate from, they presently say, ‘That it is scandalous to do so, and to join in any worship which they think unlawful:” and by scandal they mean no more, but that it is among them of evil report, and is offensive or displeasing to them. Whereas indeed the argument from scandal should move men to use such communion, which erroneous, uncharitable, dividing men do hold unlawful. For else by avoiding that communion I shall lay a stumbling-block in the way of the weak; I shall tempt him to think that a duty is a sin, and weaken his charity, and draw him into a sinful separation, or the neglect of