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judge one another any more.” “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment—Therefore judge nothing before the time till the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts"——” “Let no man judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of any holy day, or of the new moon, or sabbath".” Quest. “But when have I a call to judge another ?” Answ. You may take the answer to this from the answer to Quest. x. Chap. xxiii. Tit. l. l. If your office and place require it as a magistrate, pastor, parent, master, tutor, &c. 2. If the safety of the church, or your neighbour do require it. 3. If the good of the sinner require it that you may seek his repentance and reformation. 4. If your own preservation or welfare (or any other duty) require it. Direct. 11. ‘Keep up an humble sense of your own faults, and that will make you compassionate to others.” He that is truly vile in his own eyes is least inclined to vilify others: and he that judgeth himself with the greatest penitent severity, is the least inclined to be censorious to his brother. Pride is the common cause of censoriousness: he that saith with the Pharisee, “I fast twice a week, and pay tithes of all that I have, I am no adulterer,” &c., will also say, “I am not as other men, nor as this publican :” when the true penitent findeth so much of his own to be condemned, that he smiteth on his own breast and saith, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” The prouder, self-conceited sort of Christians are ever the most censorious of their neighbours. Direct. 111. “Be much therefore at home in searching and watching, and amending your own hearts: ' And then you will find so much to do about yourselves, that you will have no mind or leisure to be censuring others; whereas the superficial hypocrite whose religion is in externals, and is unacquainted with his heart and heaven, is so little employed in the true work of a Christian, that he hath leisure for the work of a censorious Pharisee. Direct. Iv. ‘Labour for a deep experimental insight into the nature of religion, and of every duty.' For no men * 1 Cor. iv. 3—5. * Col, ii, 16.
are so censorious as the ignorant who know not what they say; whilst experienced persons know those difficulties and other reasons which calm their minds. As in common business, no man will sooner find fault with a workman in his work, than idle praters who least understand it. So is it commonly in matters of religion: women and young men that never saw into the great mysteries of divinity, but have been lately changed from a vicious life, and have neither acquaintance with the hard points of religion, nor with their own ignorance of them, are the common, proud censurers of their brethren much wiser than themselves, and of all men that are more moderate and peaceable than themselves, and are more addicted to unity, and more averse to sects and separations than they. Study harder, and wait till you grow up to the experience of the aged, and you will be less censorious and more peaceable. Direct. v. ‘Think not yourselves fit judges of that which you understand not : and think not proudly that you are more like to understand the difficulties in religion, with your short and lazy studies, than those that in reading, meditation and prayer have spent their lives in searching after them.” Let not pride make you abuse the Holy Ghost, by pretending that he hath given you more wisdom in a little time, and with little means and diligence, than your betters have by the holy industry of their lives: say not, God can give more to you in a year than to others in twenty ; for it is a poor argument to prove that God hath done it, because he can do it. He can make you an angel, but that will not prove you one. Prove your wisdom before you pretend to it, and overvalue it not : Heb. v. 11, 12. sheweth that it is God's ordinary way to give men wisdom according to their time and means, unless their own negligence deprive them of his blessing. - Direct. vi. “Study to keep up Christian love, and to keep it lively.” For love is not censorious, but is inclined to judge the best, till evidence constrain you to the contrary. Censoriousness is a vermin which crawleth in the carcase of Christian love, when the life is gone. Direct. vii. “Value all God's graces in his servants:’ and then you will see something to love them for, when hypocrites can see nothing: make not too light of small degrees of grace, and then your censure will not overlook them. Direct. v1.11. “Remember the tenderness of Christ,’ who condemneth not the weak, nor casteth infants out of his family, nor the diseased out of his hospital; but dealeth with them in such a gracious gentleness, as beseemeth a tenderhearted Saviour: he will not break the bruised reed : he carrieth his lambs in his arms, and gently driveth those with young He taketh up the wounded man, when the priest and Levite pass him by. And have you not need of the tenderness of Christ yourselves as well as others? Are you not afraid lest he should find greater faults with you, than you find in others ? and condemn you as you condemn them? Direct. 1x. ‘Let the sense of the common corruption of the world, and imperfection of the godly, moderate your particular censures.” As Seneca saith, ‘To censure a man for that which is common to all men, is in a sort to censure him for being a man, which beseemeth not him that is a man himself.’ Do you not know the frailty of the best, and the common pravity of human nature ? How few are there that must not have great allowance, or else they will not pass for current in the balance. Elias was a man subject to passions: Jonah to peevishness: Job had his impatience : Paul saith even of the teachers of the primitive church, “They all (that were with him) seek their own, and not the things of Jesus Christ.” What blots are charged on almost all the churches, and almost all the holy persons, mentioned throughout all the Scriptures' Learn then of Paul a better lesson than censoriousness: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Let every man prove his own work, and then he shall have rejoicing in himself alone",” &c. Direct. x. “Remember that judgment is God's prerogative,’ (further than as we are called to it for the performance of some duty, either of office, or of private charity, or selfpreservation :) and that the Judge is at the door! and that judging unmercifully maketh us liable to judgment without
mercy. The foresight of that near universal judgment, which will pass the doom on us and all men, will do much to cure us of our rash censoriousness.
Direct. xi. ‘Peruse and observe all the Directions in the last ehapter against Evil-speaking and Backbiting, that I may not need to repeat them.' Especially avoid, 1. The snare of selfishness and interest; for most men judge of others principally by their own interest: he is the good man that is good to them, or is on their side ; that loveth and honoureth them, and answereth their desires; this is the common false judgment of the corrupted, selfish world; who vilify and hate the best, because they seem unsuitable to them and their carnal interest; therefore take heed of their judgment about any man that you have a falling out with ; for it is two to one but you will wrong him through this selfishness. 2. Avoid passion; which blindeth the judgment. 3. Avoid faction; which maketh you judge of all men as they agree or disagree with your opinions, or your side or party. 4. Avoid too hasty belief of censures, and rebuke them. 5. Hear every man speak for himself before you censure him, if it be possible, and the case be not notorious.
Direct. x11. ‘Keep still upon your mind a just and deep apprehension of the malignity of this sin of rash censuring.’ It is of the greatest consequence to the mortifying of any sin, what apprehensions of it are upon the mind. If religious persons apprehended the odiousness of this as much as they do of swearing, drunkenness, fornication, &c., they would as carefully avoid it: therefore I shall shew you the malignity of this sin.
Tit. 3. The Evil of the Sin of Censoriousness.
1. It is an usurpation of God’s prerogative, who is the judge of all the world; it is a stepping up into his judgment-seat, and undertaking his work, as if you said, ‘I will be God as to this action;' and if he be called the antichrist who usurpeth the office of Christ, to be the universal monarch and head of the church, you may imagine what he
doth, who (though but in one point) doth set himself in the place of God.
2. They that usurp not God's part in judgment, yet ordinarily usurp the part of the magistrate or pastors of the church. As when mistaken censorious Christians refuse to come to the sacrament of communion, because many persons are there whom they judge to be ungodly, what do they but usurp the office of the pastors of the church 2 To whom the keys are committed for admission and exclusion ; and so are the appointed judges of that case. The duty of private members is but to admonish the offender first secretly, and then before witnesses, and to tell the church if he repent not, and humbly to tell the pastors of their duty, if they neglect it; and when this is done, they have discharged their part, and must no more excommunicate men themselves, than they must hang thieves when the magistrate doth neglect to hang them.
3. Censoriousness signifieth the absence or decay of love; which inclineth men to think evil, and judge the worst, and aggravate infirmities, and overlook or extenuate any good that is in others. And there is least grace where there is least love.
4. It sheweth also much want of self-acquaintance, and such heart-employment as the sincerest Christians are taken up with. And it sheweth much want of Christian humility and sense of your own infirmities and badness; and much prevalency of pride and self-conceitedness: if you knew how ignorant you are, you would not be so peremptory in judging; and if you knew how bad you are, you would not be so forward to condemn your neighbours. So that here is together the effect of much self-estrangedness, hypocrisy and pride: did you ever well consider the mind of Christ, when he bid them that accused the adulterous woman, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her".” Certainly adultery was a heinous crime, and to be punished with death, and Christ was no patron of uncleanness; but he knew that it was an hypocritical sort of persons whom he spoke to, who were busy in judging others rather than themselves. Have you studied his words against rash censurers; “And why beholdest thou the mote in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let
• John viii. 7,