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habituate our selves to this Vice, To instance in. a few: This argues a great Pride and Self-conceit; for this Humour of prying so wistfully into, and censuring so severely our Neighbours Faults, is not more owing to any other Cause, than that we are willing and desirous to preserve in our own Minds the highest Idea of our selves that may be. And because we have not good Deeds enough of our own to raise it to this height, we take all the Assistance we can from the bad Qualities and Actions of our Neighbours, to increase and feed a comparative Pride in our selves, and a vilifying Contempt of them.
This Temper likewise argues a great Disingenuity and want of Candour and Sincerity in our own Spirits; for these Persons are under a strong Bias to interpret their Neighbours Actions in the worst Sense, being blinded with Pride, Malice, and Envy.
This Temper likewise argues Abundance of ill Nature, and delighting in Mischief; for it is a great Satisfaction to that Sort of People to make and find out Faults. They are of a vulturous Disposition, exceeding (harp scented to smell out Carrion, and then they delight to feed upon it, till they arc quite glutted; and then rest a little, and at it again.
This ill Nature, and Hatred of their Neighbour, is likewise very apt to break out in all Acts of Cruelty and Severity that are in their Power; and goes often to the highest Acts of Murder and Persecution. And therefore it is no wonder that our Saviour extends the Sixth Commandment, Mat. v. 22. 'Thou Jhall do no Murder\ to a Prohibition of inward Anger and Hatred. It is the fame Root and Principle, that causes severe Censures in private Men, which produces sanguinary Laws, Dragoonings, and- Burnings in Men of Po wer; and therefore it is no Vice of an ordinary Dye. .•; '?
Lajl/y, It is always joined either with supine Incogitancy, or a great deal of Malice. If they see not the evil Consequences of ruining their Neighbours Reputation, it argues a vast deal of Stupidity and Inconsideration; but if they do fee these Consequences, and yet will go on with their rash Censures and Calumnies, then it argues, what is a great deal worse, a vast deal of Malice, enough to unqualify them for the Society of the blessed, which requires the quite contrary Temper, the being in Charity with all Men. Thus we see what Reason the Persons who are addicted to this Vice of rash judging and censuring have, without Repentance and Amendment, to expect a severe Reckoning and Retribution in the World to come. For if Pride, and Malice, and Cruelty, and Injustice, and Uncharitableness, and Insincerity, and Impiety, (ail which I have shewed to be involved in this Temper,) do not deserve Hell, without Repentance, I know not what does.
I shall not detain you, to shew how Candour and Charity to our Neighbour, may expect to be rewarded with God's merciful Retribution in the World to come. It is enough to acquaint you that this follows by the Rule of Contraries; and that this is likewise included in the Text; With what Judgment ye judge, y e Jhall be judged; and with what Measure ye mete, it jhall be measured to you again. For it is both a Promise and a Threatning; and therefore, will, I trust, both
; work work upon our Hopes and Fears, by the one, to draw and invite us to our Duty; and by the other, to scare us from the contrary Practice.
I shall only add a very little by Way of Application, and so have done.
1. Let none of us pretend to remove this Guilt from our selves, and fix it on our Neighbours. This Crime of rash judging, is a Crime alas, of which we are all more or less guilty; we are all too apt to censure our Superiours; to insult our Inferiours; and to envy our Equals. And these bad Inclinations in our Hearts, are very apt to break out in rash Judgments and Calumnies; and therefore the best use we can make of what we have heard, is to let our Neighbours alone, and to judge and condemn our selves, and to set about Repentance and Amendment.
2. Since Life and Death, as Solomon fays, are in the Power of the Tongue, and the good Government of the Tongue is made easy by the abounding of Charity in the Heart, let Love and Charity be one of our principal Studies. Ye know it is the chief Character or Mark, whereby our Saviour would have his Disciples distinguished. By this, says he, fiall all Men know that ye are my Disciples, if ye have Love one for another. If this noble Principle governs in our Hearts, rt will be fruitful in an infinite Number of good Words and Actions, and put us on our Guard against ill Offices to our Neighbour in both
3. But if we know no good to fay of our Neighbour, let us be silent, rather than feed our Malice with discovering his Nakedness, and delighting our selves with his Sin and Folly. But if we speak of it at all, let it be with a tender and^charitable Design. Let us grieve and mourn when we fee his Transgressions; let us pray to God for his Repentance and Amendment; let us contrive by our selves, or others that are more capable, to administer the Duty of fraternal Admonition and good Counsel, if there is any Probability that he is capable of it: at least from his Example let us take warning to our selves, and likewise caution others under our Care, to be guarded against the like Temptations. These are the Christian Uses we are to make of our Neighbour's Failings, instead of proclaiming or insulting over his Sin or Misery.SERMON III.
Now God os his infinite Mercy endow us with this charitable Temper, for his dear Son Jesus Christ's Sake. To whom, &c.
Mat. VII. 3.
Arid why beholdejl thou the Mote that is in thy Brothers Eye, but considered not the Beam that is in thine own Eye?
V. 4. Or how wilt thou fay to thy Brother, Let me pull out the Mote out of thine Eye; and behold, a Beam is in thine own Eye?
V. 5. Thou Hypocrite, first cast out the Beam out of thine own Eye; and then shalt thou fee clearly to cast out the Mote out of thy Brothers Eye.
The Third Sermon on this Text.
NOT to trouble you with Repetition; our Saviour is here arguing against the Sin of rash judging; a Sin, which the Scribes and Pharisees of that Time were very guilty of; and a Sin, alas! which is confined to no one Party or Sect; but runs through all Parties, all Ranks, and almost all Persons, in all Ages of the World; but never reigned more than at this Day.
The First Reason whereby our Saviour dehorts from this Sin is, that rash Judgments of our Neighbour expose us both to the Censures of 1 Men,