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so needful a work, I shall add these following Directions.
Direct. 1. 'Be sure first that your reproof have a right end ; and then let the manner be suited to that end.' If it be to convince and convert a soul, it must be done in a manner likely to prevail ; if it be only to bear down the arguments of a deceiver, to preserve the standers-by, to vindicate the honour of God and godliness, and to dishonour sin, and to disgrace an obstinate factor of the devil, then another course is fit. Therefore resolve first, by the quality of the cause and
person, what must be your end. Direct. 11. ' Be sure that you reprove not that as a sin, which is no sin ; either by mistaking the law or the fact.' To make duties and sins of our own opinions and inventions, and then to lay out our zeal on these, and censure or reprove all that think as hardly of such things as we. This is to make ourselves the objects of the hearers' pity, and not to exercise just pity towards others ! Such reproofs deserve reproof! For they discover great ignorance, and pride, and self-conceitedness, and very much harden sinners in their way; and make them think that all reproof is but the vanity of fantastic hypocrites. In some cases with a child, or servant, or private friend, or for prevention, we may speak of faults upon hearsay or suspicion; but it must be as of things uncertain, and as a warning rather than a reproof. In ordinary reproof you must understand the case before you speak; it is a shame to say after, ' I thought it had been otherwise.' Such an erroneous reproof is worse than none.
Direct. III. Choose not the smallest sins to reprove, nor the smallest duties to exhort them to. For that will make them think that all your zeal is taken up with little matters, and that there is no great necessity of regarding you; and conscience will be but little moved by your speech : when greater things will greatly and more easily affect men.
Direct. iv. 'Stop not (with unregenerate men) in the mention of particular sins or duties; but make use of particulars to convince them of a state of sin and misery.' It is easy to convince a man that he is a sinner; and when that is done, he is never the more bumbled or converted
i for he will tell you that all are sinners; and therefore he hopeth to speed as well as you. But you must make him dis
cern his sinful state, and shew him the difference between a penitent sinner, and an impenitent; a converted sinner, and an unconverted; a justified, pardoned sinner, and an unjustified, unpardoned one ; or else you will do him but little good.
Direct. v. ·Suit the manner of your reproof to the quality of the person.' It is seldom that a parent, master or superior, must be reproved by a private inferior; and when it is done, it must be done with great submission and respect. An angry, peevish person must be dealt with tenderly, as you handle thorns; but a duller, sottish person must be more earnestly and warmly dealt with. So also a greater sin must be roughly handled, or with greater detestation, than a less.
Direct. vi. “Take a fit season. Not when a man is in drink, or passion, or among others, where the disgrace will vex or harden him; but in secret between him and you (if his conversion be your end).
Direct. VII. • Do all in love and tender pity. If you convince not the hearer, that you do it in unfeigned love, you must (usually) expect to lose your labour ; because you make not advantage of his self-love, to promote your exhortations; therefore the exhorting way should be more frequent than the reproving way; for reproof disgraceth and exasperateth, when the same thing contrived into an exhortation may prevail P.
Direct. viii. “Therefore be as much or more in shewing the good which you would draw them to, as the evil which you would turn them from. For they are never savingly converted, till they are won to the love of God and holiness; therefore the opening of the riches of the Gospel, and the love of God, and the joys of heaven, must be the greatest part of your treaty with a sinner.
Direct. ix. ' And labour so to help him to a true understanding of the nature of religion, that he may perceive that it is not only a necessary, but a pleasant thing. All love delights: it is the slander and misrepresentation of godliness by the devil, the world and the flesh, which maketh mistaken sinners shun it. The way to convert them,
P 2 Thess, iii. 15.
2 Cor. ii. 4. Gal. vi. 1. 2 Tim. ii. 25.
1 Thess. v. 13.
and win their hearts to it, is to make them know how good and pleasant it is, and to confute those calumpies.
Direct. x. 'Yet always insert the remembrance of death, and judgment, and hell. For the drowsy mind hath need to be awakened; and love worketh best, when fear subserveth it. It is hard to procure a serious audience and consideration of things from hardened hearts, if the sight of death and hell do not help to make them serious. Danger which must be escaped, must be known and thought on. These things put weight and power into your speech.
Direct. xi. Do all as with Divine authority; and therefore have ready some plain texts of Scripture for the duty, and against the sin you speak of q.' Shew them where God himself hath said it.
Direct. XII. 'Seasonable expostulations, putting themselves to judge themselves in their answer, hath a convincing and engaging force. As when
As when you shew them Scripture, ask them, “Is not this the Word of God ? Do
not believe that it is true? Do you think he that wrote this, knoweth no better than you or I,' &c.
Direct. XIII. Put them on speedy practice, and prudently engage them to it by their promise.' As if you speak to a drunkard, draw him to promise you to come no more (at least, of so long a time) into an alehouse. Or do not drink ale or wine, but by the consent of his wife, or some sober, household friend, who may
watch over him: engage
the luptuous, the unchaste, and gamester, to forsake the company which ensnareth them. Engage the ungodly to read the Scripture, to frequent good company, to pray morning and night (with a book or without, as they are best able). Their promise may bring them to such a present change of practice, as may prepare for more. Direct. XIV.
If you know any near you, who are much fitter than yourselves, and more likely to prevail, procure them to attempt that which you cannot do successfully".' At least when sinners perceive that it is not only one man's opinion, it may somewhat move them to reverence the reproof.
Direct. xv. 'Put some good book into their hands, which is fittest to the work which you would have done.' And
r Ezek. xxxiii. xxxiv. Gal. vi, 1. Tit.ii. 4.
9 Col.üi. 16.
get them to promise you seriously to read it over, and consider it; as if it be for the conversion of a careless sinner, Mr. Whateley's, or Mr. Swinnock’s “ Treatise of Regenera
or some other treatise of repentance and conversion. If it be for one that is prejudiced against a strict religious life, Mr. Allen's “Vindication of Godliness ;” if it be an idle, voluptuous person, who wasteth precious time in plays or needless recreations, in gaming or an idle life, Mr. Whateley's sermon, called “ The Redemption of Time.” If it be a prayerless person, Dr. Preston's “ Saint's Daily Exercise ;
” if it be a drunkard, Mr. Harris's “Drunkard's Cup : and for many reigning, particular sins, a book called “Solomon's Prescription against the Plague ;” for directions in the daily practice of godliness, “ The Practice of Piety," or Mr. Thomas Gouge's “ Directions, &c.” Such books may speak more pertinently than you can ; and be as constant food to their sober thoughts, and so may further what you have begun.
Direct. xvi. When you cannot speak, or where your speaking prevaileth not, mourn for them; and earnestly pray for their recovery S.' A sad countenance of Nehemiah remembered Artaxerxes of his duty. A sigh or a tear for a miserable sinner, may move his heart, when exhortation will not. He hath a heart of stone, who will have no sense of his condition, when he seeth another weeping for him.
Quest.' But is it always a duty to reprove or exhort a sinner? How shall I know when it is a duty, and when it is not?'
Answ. It is no duty in any of these cases following. 1. In general, When you have sufficient reason to judge, that it will do more harm than good, and will not attain its proper end ; for God hath not appointed us to do hurt under pretence of duty; it is no means which doth cross the end which it should attain. As prayer and preaching may be a sin, when they are like to cross their proper end ; so also may reproof be.
2. Therefore it must not be used when it apparently hindereth a greater good. As we may not pray or preach when we should be quenching a fire in the town, or saving a man's life : so when reproof doth exclude some greater
Ezek. ix. 4. 2 Pet. ij. 7, 8.
duty or benefit, it is unseasonable, and no duty at that time. Christ alloweth us to forbear the casting of pearls before swine, or giving that which is holy to dogs, because of these two reasons fore-mentioned, It is no means to the contemptuous, and they will turn again and all to rend us". Much more, if he be some potent enemy of the church, who will not only rend us, but the church itself if he be so provoked: reproving him then is not our duty. 3. Particularly, When a man is in a passion or drunk, usually it is no season to reprove him. 4. Nor when you are among others, who should not be witnesses of the fault, or the reproof; or whose presence will shame him, and offend him (except it be the shaming of an incorrigible or malicious sinner which you intend). 5. Nor when you are uncertain of the fact which you would reprove, or uncertain whether it be a sin. 6. Or when you have no witness of it, (though you are privately certain) with some that will take advantage of you as slanderers, a reproof may be omitted. 7. And when the offenders are so much your superiors, that you are like to have no better success than to be accounted arrogant; a groan or tears is then the best reproof. 8. When you are so utterly unable to manage a reproof, that imprudence or want of convincing reason, is like to make it a means of greater hurt than good. 9. When you foresee a more advantageous season, if you delay. 10. When another may be procured to do it with much more advantage, which your doing it may rather hinder. In all these cases, that may be a sin, which at another time may be a duty. But still remember, first, That pride, and passion, and slothfulness, is wont to pretend such reasons falsely, upon some slight conjectures, to put by a duty. Secondly, That no man must account another a dog or swine, to excuse him from this duty, without cogent evidence. And it is not every wrangling opposition, nor reproach and scorn, which will warrant us to give a man up as remediless, and speak to him no more ; but only such, 1. As sheweth a * Prov. ix. 7, 8. Matt. vii. 6.