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me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold a beam is in thine own eye 2 Thou hypocrite first cast out the beam out of thine own eye and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote which is in thy brother's eye'.” I know well that impenitent sinners do use to pervert all these words of Christ, against any that would bring them to repentance for their sin; and account all men rash censurers, who would make them acquainted with their unsanctified hearts and lives. But it is not their abuse of Scripture, which will justify our overpassing it with neglect: Christ spake it not for nothing; and it must be studied by his disciples. 5. Censoriousness is injustice, in that the censurers would not be so censured themselves: you will say, ‘Yes, if we were as bad, and did deserve it: * but though you have not that same fault, have you no other? And are you willing to have it aggravated, and be thus rashly judged 2 You do not as you would be done by: yea, commonly censurers are guilty of false judging; and whilst they take things hastily upon trust, and stay not to hear men speak for themselves, or to inquire throughly into the cause, they commonly condemn the innocent; and call good evil, and put light for darkness"; and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him, when God hath cursed such with a WOe. 6. And false censuring is the proper work of the devil, the accuser of the brethren; “who accuseth them before God, day and night";” and Christians should not bear his image, nor do his work. 7. Censoriousness is contrary to the nature and office of Jesus Christ; he came to pardon sin, and cover the infirmities of his servants, and to cast them behind his back, and into the depth of the sea, and to bury them in his grave; and it is the censurer's work to rake them up, and to make them seem more and greater than they are, and to bring them into the open light. 8. Censoriousness causeth uncharitableness and sinful separations in the censurers; when they have conceited their brethren to be worse than they are, they must then reproach them or have no communion with them, and avoid ( Matt. vii. 3, 4. & Isa, v. 10. h Rev. xii. 10.
them as too bad for the company of such as they. Or when they have usurped the pastor's work in judging, they begin the execution by sinful separation. 9. Censoriousness is an infectious sin, which easily taketh with the younger and prouder sort of Christians, and so setteth them on vilifying others; and at this little gap there entereth all uncharitableness, backbitings, revilings, church-divisions and sects, yea, and too often rebellious and bloody wars at last. 10. Censoriousness is a sore temptation to them that are censured, either to contemn such as censure them, and go on the other hand too far from them ; or else to comply with the errors and sinful humours of the censurers, and to strain their consciences to keep pace with the censorious. And here I must leave it on record to posterity for their warning, that the great and lamentable actions, changes and calamities of this age, have arisen, next to gross impiety, from this sin of censoriousness producing these two contrary effects, and thereby dividing men into two contrary parties. The younger sort of religious people, and the more ignorant, and many women, having more zeal than judgment, placed too much of their religion in a sharp opposition to all ceremonies, formalities and opinions which they thought unlawful; and were much inclined to schism and unjust separations upon that account; and therefore censured such things as antichristian, and those that used them as superstitious and temporizers; and no man's learning, piety, wisdom or laboriousness in the ministry could save him from these sharp, reproachful censures. Hereupon one party had not humility and patience enough to endure to be so judged of; nor love and tenderness enough for such peevish Christians, to bear with them in pity, as parents do with froward infants; but because these professed holiness and zeal, even holiness and zeal were brought under suspicion for their sakes; and they were taken to be persons intolerable, as unfit to lie in any building, and unmeet to submit to Christian government; and therefore meet to be used accordingly. Another sort were so wearied with the profaneness and ungodliness of the vulgar rabble, and saw so few that were judiciously religious, that they thought it their duty to love and cherish the zeal and piety of their censorious weak ones, and to bear patiently with their frowardness, till ripeness and experience cured them, (and so far they were right.) And because they thought that they could do them no good, if they once lost their interest in them (and were also themselves too impatient of their censure), some of them seemed (to please them) to be more of their opinion than they were ; and more of them forbore to reprove their petulance, but silently suffered them to go on; especially when they fell into the sects of Antinomians, Anabaptists and Separatists, they durst not reprove them as they deserved, lest they should drive them out of the hive, to some of these late swarms. And thus censoriousness in the ignorant and self-conceited, drove away one part to take them as their enemies; and silenced or drew on another party to follow them that led the van in some irregular, violent actions; and the wise and sober moderators were disregarded, and in the noise of these tumults and contentions could not be heard, till the smart of either party in their suffering forced them to honour such, whom in their exaltation again they despised or abused. This is the true sum of all the tragedies in Britain of this age.
Tit. 4. Directions for those that are rashly censured.
Direct. 1. “Remember when you are injured by censures, that God is now trying your humility, charity and patience; and therefore be most studious to exercise and preserve these three.’ 1. Take heed lest pride make you disdainful to the censurer; a humble man can bear contempt; hard censures hurt men so far as they are proud. 2. Take heed lest imbecility add to your impatience, and concur with pride : cannot you bear greater things than these? Impatience will disclose that badness in yourselves, which will make you censured much more; and it will shew you as weak in one respect as the censurers are in another. 3. Take heed lest their fault do not draw you to overlook or undervalue that serious godliness which is in many of the censorious; and that you do not presently judge them hypocrites or schismatics, and abate your charity to them, or incline to handle them more roughly than the tenderness of Christ alloweth you. Remember that in all ages it hath been thus: the church hath had peevish children within, as well as persecuting enemies without; insomuch as Paul, Rom. xiv. giveth you the copy of these times, and giveth them this counsel, which from him I am giving you. The weak in knowledge were censorious and judged the strong. The strong in knowledge were weak in charity, and contemned the weak; just as now one party saith, ‘These are superstitious persons, and antichristian: ' the other saith, “What giddy schismatics are these ; ” but Paul chideth them both; one sort for censuring, and the other for despising them. Direct. 11. ‘Take heed lest whilst you are impatient under their censures, you fall into the same sin yourselves.” Do they censure you for differing in some forms or ceremonies from them 7 Take heed lest you overcensure them for their censoriousness; if you censure them as hypocrites who censure you as superstitious, you condemn yourselves while you are condemning them. For why will not censuring too far, prove you hypocrites also, if it prove them such 3 Direct. 111. “Remember that Christ beareth with their weakness, who is wronged by it more than you, and is more against it.’ He doth not quit his title to them for their frowardness, nor cease his love, nor turn every infant out of his family that will cry and wrangle, nor every patient out of his hospital that doth complain and groan; and we must imitate our Lord, and love where he loveth, and pity where he pitieth, and be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful. Direct. Iv. “Remember how amiable a thing the least degree of grace is, even when it is clouded and blotted with infirmities.” It is the Divine nature, and the image of God, and the seed of glory; and therefore as an infant hath the noble nature of a man, and in all his weakness is much more honourable than the best of brutes (so that it is death to kill an infant, but not a beast): so is the most infirm and froward true Christian more honourable and amiable than the most splendid infidel. Bear with them in love and honour to the image and interest of Christ. Direct. v. “Remember that you were once weak in grace
yourselves; and if happy education under peaceable guides did not prevent it, it is two to one but you were yourselves censorious.” Bear therefore with others as you bear with crying children, because you were once a child yourself. Not that the sin is ever the better, but you should be the more compassionate. Direct. vi. “Remember that your own strength and judgment is so great a mercy, that you should the more easily bear with a censorious tongue.” The rich and noble can bear with the envious, remembering that it is happy to have that worth or felicity which men do envy. You suffer fools gladly seeing you yourselves are wise. If you are in the right let losers talk. Direct. v11. “Remember that we shall be shortly together in heaven, where they will recant their censures, and you will easily forgive them, and perfectly love them.’ And will not the foresight of such a meeting cause you to bear with them, and forgive and love them now 2 Direct. v. 111. “Remember how inconsiderable a thing it is as to your own interest, to be judged of man; and that you stand or fall to the judgment of the Lord '.' What are you the better or the worse for the thoughts or words of a man; when your salvation or damnation lieth upon God's judgment. It is too much hypocrisy, to be too much desirous of man's esteem and approbation, and too much troubled at his disesteem and censure, and not to be satisfied with the approbation of God. Read what is written against Man-pleasing, Part i. Direct. ix. ‘Make some advantage of other men's censures, for your own proficiency.” If good men censure you, be not too quick in concluding that you are innocent, and justifying yourselves; but be suspicious of yourselves ; lest they should prove the right, and examine yourselves with double diligence. If you find that you are clear in the point that you are censured for, suspect and examine lest some other sin hath provoked God to try you by these censures; and if you find not any other notable fault, let it make you the more watchful by way of prevention, seeing the eyes of God and men are on you; and it may be God's
* 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4.