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thers Eye, signifies to us how improper a thing it is for us to exercise towards one another.
There is another Aggravation of this Sin insinuated in the Words, namely, our utter Unfit-' ness for this Work of judging; for having a' Beam in our Eye, whether that be Ignorance, Pride, Malice, Self-Love, or Partiality; some great Imperfection to be sure it is, which unfits us for that Work; aiad therefore it is no way proper for us; but because this will come in better afterwards from the 5th Verse, where we are told what we must do in order to the clearing of our Judgment and Understanding, I shall therefore pass it by at present, and come to,
IV. The Fourth and last Aggravation of this Sin, vtz. The Interrogation why the Censurer thus pries where he ought not to look, and looks not at Home, where he ihould use a diligent Inspection; for this mews that the censorious Man can have no good Motives and Intensions in so doing; the Interrogation having the Force of a Negation. The Import of this Interrogation is, to shew us there can be no good Reason for this Practice; but, on the contrary, very good Reason against it.
(1.) No good Reason for this Practice; and from no good Motives doth it proceed. The Parents that produce it are Pride, Self-conceit, Malice, Hatred, Anger, Inconsideration, Revenge, and such like evil Principles. The Effects are Animosities, Divisions, Discord, mutual Provocations, Parties and Factions.
(2.) The Reasons against it are very many, and very considerable. The- Blindness as to
our our own Faults stops the Door to Repentance y hardens us against all the Admonitions we might otherwise receive from the Word of God, or faithful Friends; it renders us utterly incapable of any Advice, but from Flatterers; it lays us open to be abused and imposed upon, and soothed in our evil Courses; it banishes all Freedom of Reasoning, Counsel, and Debate; it vitiates our Understanding and discerning Faculties to that Degree, that we do no more judge of Things by their intrinsick Worth and Goodness, but by their Agreeableness or Disagreeableness to our own vitiated Palate. It will expose: a Man of the best Sense to be a Prey to every the senselessest Creature, that has but the Dexterity to flatter, and to strike in with his Selfconceit. Then the Sharp-sightedness to others Faults makes us very unsociable, exposes us to all the Effects of the same implacable Dispositions in them, which we feel in ourselves, whenever we are vilified and despised. In short, it settles us in a Course of Injustice, that we see our own and other Mens Actions with quite different Eyes, and are presently for trafficking in the World with different Weights and Measures, one to weigh and measure our own Actions by, and a quite different one for the Actions of all other Men; so that the golden Rule of doing by others, as we would wish others to do by us, is quite laid aside by this Practice. Then it follows too, that not only themselves, but all that are carried away by their Influence, Authority, or Example, must infallibly be under a wrong Conduct; for as our Saviour observes, Mat. xv. 14. If the Blind lead the Blind, they SERMON IV.
Jball both fall into the Ditch. And to oppose one of this Temper, you infallibly lose him, and make him your Enemy; so that there is no Choice left, but Solomon'% Dilemma, Prdv. xxix. 9. If a wife Man contendetb with a fooli/h Man, -whether he rage or laugh, there is no Reft. If he laugh by your Assentation, or if he rage by your Opposition, there is no Quiet can follow; by Assentation they are carried blindfold till both fall into the Ditch; and by Rage, they are carried into Contention and all manner of stormy Weather; far from a settled Quiet and Serenity.
To conclude then, let us both endeavour to open our Eyes, and to look at home, that we may readily se« every Blemish in our selves, and likewise be moderate in our Judgment and Censure of the Blemishes of others; which is the only sure Way both to a well rectified Judgment, and a good Conduct of ourselves, and Peace and Quiet with others: and above all, to inward Peace and Quiet in our own Consciences, and Peace with God through Jesus Christ our blcilcd Saviour and Redeemer. To whom, &c.
M A T. VII. 4.
Or how wilt thou say 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 thenJloalt thou see clearly to cast out the Mote out of thy Brothers Eye.
The Fourth Sermon on this Text.
AS the Christian Religion has carried all Virtue to an higher Pitch of Perfection, than either Jews or Heathens knew before; so there are no Virtues it more directly aims and labours to perfect, than those of Humility,Peaceableness, and Charity. It was so much the more necessary to press these Duties, because the Scribes and Pharisees, the great Doctors of those Days, were Men of a quite different Spirit themselves, and by their Doctrine and Example were apt to infect others with their proud, censorious, and unpeaceable Temper.
We have heard, from the three preceding Verses, how our Saviour prohibited his Disciples the Sin of Censoriousness and rasti judging; and what Arguments, he has made use of, to dissuade »_'.■". frona from it; namely, that it exposes us both to the Censures of Men, and to the Judgments of God; and that it is a Practice highly unbecoming us, who have so many great Faults of our own, to be so sharp-sighted as to our Neighbours, and so censorious of them. I proceed now to 'Two Arguments more to the same Purpose, contained in the Words I have read.
III. The Third Argument then against this Practice of Cenforioufness is, that we are very unqualified for administering Censure and Correction to others, while we are so guilty ourselves, and so blind as to that Guilt. Or why wilt thou say to thy Brother, let me pull out the Mote out of thine Eye; and behold a Beam is in thine own Eye? This Argument has a particular Aspect on that sort of censorious Persons, who not only find Fault, but take upon them to reform and mend the World. In this though the Scribes and Pharisees perhaps are particularly aimed at; for they took upon them to be the great Censors and Reformers of Men; no doubt this Character reaches a great many others in all Ages. For there is always in the World a sort of Men, who pretend to be Dictators to others, and usurp an Ascendency over them, who by; the Authority of their Sect and Party take it very ill, if any of their Notions and Sentiments are disputed. Our Saviour often guarded his Disciples against this Spirit and Temper; forbidin g the Lording over Peoples Faith; and the usurping the Character of Rabbi and Master, Mat. xxiii. 7, 8. yet there is abundance of this Spirit in the World still; and every new Sect . Vol. IV. E and