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our Cenforiousness first and chiefly upon our selves. For we are blamed for not beholding the Beam in our own Eye; and commanded first to cast the Beam out of our own Eye, in order to the disposing us to see clearly to cast out the Mote out of our Brother's Eye. This is a great and important Duty, the Duty of Self-examination, and of strictly censuring and correcting ourselves for our Sins and Follies ; a Duty which our corrupt Natures have in as great Aversion, as they are inclined to that of judging and censuring our Neighbour. In this Work of Self-examination, we must endeavour both to find out the several Species or Kinds of our Sins, and likewise the Frequency, and other Aggravations of them; as if they have been committed against Knowledge ; upon Deliberation ; against Checks of Conscience ; against Vows and Promises; against Admonitions and Warnings ; against signal Mercies and Judgments; and other extraordinary Means to reform and reclaim us.
But you may think, perhaps, how is this such an opposite Duty to the rash judging of others ? One may fancy that the Charper we are in discovering our own Faults, we shall know so much the better how to find out those of other Men. But this may be easily answered ; for though it may acquaint us better with the Nature of Sin, and the Temptations of Satan, yet this will not incline us to be more cenforious of our Neighbour. For, 1. The more Time we spend at home, the less we have to squander away abroad; we shall find such a full Business and Employment in this work of searching and trying our own Hearts and Ways, that we shall have no
Leisure to pry narrowly, and to search wilhfully into our Neighbour's Concerns. 2. The better acquainted we are with our own Sin and Folly, we shall be so much the more Charitable to the Errors of others; as being then more capable to judge of the Temptations and Infirmities incident to Mankind. 3. The better we are acquainted with our own Sins, we shall be so much the freer from Pride and Vanity, which is the great Cause of rath Judgments. We shall be apt to think our felves the unworthiest and most undeserving of all others ;, and so living in Humility, shall have no vain Curiosity, by lefsening others, to increase the vain Phantom of our own Superiority and Excellency. This Work then of Self-examination, acquainting us intimately with our own bad Character, and beating down all touring Thoughts and Imaginations, as fast as they rise in our Hearts and Minds, is an excellent Antidote both against positive and comparative Pride, which last is the chief Cause and Occafion of rash Judging and Censuring. By the by, from this Part of the opposite Duty, we may observe a seeming Paradox, that they who lealt mind their own Faults, are the severest in Censuring the Faults of others, as was plain in the Scribes and Pharisees, who, though very Tharp-sighted in spying out the Motes, that is, the smallest Faults in their Neighbour's Eye, could not discern the Beams, that is, the greatest Faults in their own.
II. A second Branch of the contrary Duty to rash Judgment, is, to look charitably on the Actions of our Neighbour, and neither 'to be VOL. IV.
too sharp-sighted in spying out his small Faults, nor too forward to censure him our selves, nor apt to assent to the Censures of others. It is one Property of Charity, that it covers a multitude of Sins, i Pet. iv. 8. But that we may be more fenfible of this Truth, how Charity prevents rash Judgments, it will not be amiss to consider this Matter a little more particularly. The Occasion of all our raih Judgments of our Neighbour is from these two Causes; our own Night or partial Observation; or the believing the rath Reports of others.
1. As to the first, our own slight or partial Observation, let us consider whether there is not a previous Aversion to the Person on some Account or other, which makes us so ready to form these Judgments. We pretend we fee many Things amiss, because we secretly wish that these our Conjectures and Observations may be true; and when we have once made thefe raih Judgments and Censures, we think our selves obliged in Honour to stand by them, and defend them, and are afraid of every thing that may be offered to undeceive us ; so that what was at first a mere Error of our own raih Judgment, occasioned by a Spice of Malice and Averfion to the Person against whom we pafs it, comes in Time to be judged neceffary to be justified and maintained ; because it would be a disreputable Thing to admit into our vain Thoughts such a choaking Truth, (far less to let it be understood by the World,) as that we committed an Error in our Judgment, or did any Thing of which we have occasion to repent. I am confident that this unreasonable Admiration of our own Judgment, as
if it were infallible; and of the unbyassed Rectitude of our own Will, as if it inclined to nothing that perverts the Judgment; is one plentiful Source of rafh Judgments. To which if we add some of those false Principles of Honour, that it is more reputable to defend than to retract a precipitate rafh Judgment once given, this, instead of Remedying, roots this Evil fo firmly, that it is really Proof against all Remedies. But because nothing is to be despaired of, through the Grace of God, let us try fome Antidotes that Scripture and Reason suggest to this great Evil of rash Judging.
1. First then, let me entreat you to consider the most pernicious Consequences of rath Judg
I will offer you two Instances out of the Holy Scriptures, one in which it is plain what the wicked Consequence would have been, if they who gave the raih Judgment had not been undeceived, and had not retracted it; and the other, in which they were not undeceived till it was too late ; but drove on their Prejudices to the Extremity of the fatal Consequences that attended it.
The first is the rath Judgment which the rest of the Children of Israel made of the Tribe of Reuben and Gad, and the half Tribe of Ma. nasseb, Josh. xxii. 11, &c. for Erecting an Altar in the Borders of Jordan, mistaking and misconstruing their Intent therein, as if it had been with an idolatrous Design of setting up an Idolaltar against the Altar of the true God; whereas it was quite otherwise, to be only a Memorial of their being one and the fame People with those that worshipped the true God on the other Side of Jordan. Upon this rash Judgment, they de
signed no less than the utter Extirpation of those two Tribes and an half, and they carried the Matter so far, that they assembled themselves in warlike Manner for that End. But yet they shewed themselves good Men, in that they were not so carried away with their first Prejudices, but that they used Means to be better informed; and after right Information, were as ready to lay down their Arms, as they had before upon a rath Judgment taken them up.
The next was a more fatal Example, namely, the Example of Rehoboam, 2 Chron. X. 13, &c. who, by the Advice of some hot-headed young Men, chose to treat the People of Israel in a huffy, threatning Manner, when they represented their Grievances to him, and desired some Relaxation of them ; which rash Judgment loft him Ten of the twelve Tribes of Israel. And tho' he quickly repented of it, and would have made
up the Matter, it was then too late ; and they were by that Time fo incensed, that they refused to hear any offers of Peace, and stoned the Person who was sent to them on that Account. It is really strange to observe, both what dismal Effects raih Judgments have on the Persons guilty of them, and on the Persons against whom they are pronounced; the one, or the other, if not both, proving implacable, and Peace irretrievable. 2. Together with the evil Consequences, let us consider the bad Causes and Occafions of raih Judgments, I mean that Sort which proceeds from our own Observation, both as to the first making them, and our Perseverance in them, and at the same Time think of the Antidotes and Remedies. The Causes of raih Judga