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pensations of his Providence in this World, and by his final Judgment in the World to come. For with what Judgment ye judge, ye /hall be judged: and with what Measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
This is the first Consideration suggested by our Saviour, and^ a very terrible one it is, that this rash Judgment we pass on our Neighbour .exposes us to severe Judgments on our selves. This Threatning is couched in such general Terms, that I must believe our Saviour meant it in the largest Sense; which accordingly I shall ^endeavour to explain and enforce; and to shew the Influence it ought to have on our Life and Practice.
I. As to the Sense of the Threatning, I shall comprehend it in these two Particulars.
1. That as to Mens Judgment and Censure, it is commonly severest on them, who are harsh and severe to others.
2. That God, in the Dispensations of his Providence in this World, and likewise in his final Retributions in the World to come, doth order Things so, that they who are forward to judge and condemn others unjustly, meet with Judgments suitable to their Sins.
1. One Thing meant by this Threatning is, that as to Mens Judgment and Censure, it is v commonly severest on them, who are harsh and severe to others. It is a certain true Observation, that the keeping of a good Tongue gains many Friends, whereas the allowing our selves the Liberty to be sharp in censuring of others, doth at the long run draw down a great Shower of Odium upon our selves, and so makes our lives very uneasy. What Man is he that dejireth Life, says the Psalmist, Psal. xxxiv. 12, 13. and loveth many Days, that he may fee good? keep thy 'Tongue from evil, and thy Lips from speaking Guile. It is very natural for the censorious Man to meet with this Fate threatned in my Text, that is, of being as much censured and condemned himself, as he is apt to censure and condemn others. For, first, if we consider the Persons who are censured, we cannot believe but that it is a very high Provocation to them ; and that they will endeavour to justify and defend themselves; and such a Justification is most easily made by detecting the Falshood of the Slander; and the very doing of that leaves an horrid Imputation on the Slanderer. And to meddle so far as this defensive Part comes to, even the best of Men think, and think justly, they may concern themselves, in wiping off an unjust Reproach: But the common Sort of Men go a great deal further than this; for they think they do not sufficiently justify themselves, unless they recriminate, and so endeavour to take away all Credit from the Slanderer, by shewing him in his own black Colours. I am far from justifying of this Practice; for this effectually shuts the Door to Reconciliation, and drives every secret Slander to an open Breach; nay, carries on Differences not by a fair War, but in an unfair pyratical Way. Yet I must fay, the first Aggressor in Slanders has of all Men the least Reason to complain of this; for it is but fighting him at his own Weapon. If he will begin and shoot poi
C 3 . . soned soned Bullets, he has no Reason to complain that others follow, and do the fame by him.
But it is not only the Person immediately injured by rash Judgments and Censures, who think9 himstlf concerned in this bad Usage. The censorious Slanderer is generally reckoned an Enemy to Mankind. Every Man is quickly sensible, how soon it may be his own Cafe $ and how liable he is to be abused, in a Way against which there is no Guard or Defence. And therefore the Slanderer is very inconsiderate and short-sighted, if he thinks his Injury will only reach the Person against whom it is immediately intended; it reaches all Men in general; and it will certainly reach himself at last, and be paid Home with Interest into his own Bosom. As if a dishonest Trader mould not make an universal Practice of cheating every Body, but only here and there one, against whom he has the fairest Opportunity; the Effect of this would not terminate in the Unjust Benefit he would make of those few; or the just Odium he Would incur from them: but he would quickly find, by the Decay of his Trade, that he has got the general bad Character of ah unfair Man in his Dealing, and that all People are upon their Guard against him; and tvould suspect him, even when he uses them well. It is no hard Matter to apply this that I have said of the unfair Dealer, to the Slanderer; bow he will quickly lose himself, and be reckoned a common Enemy of Mankind, and his false Characters will lose all their Venom 3 for in a little Time ho Body will believe them; not his true ones neither. He will find at last that Mankind are agreed in nothing more about him,
than to believe nothing that he says; and that in Justification of this, finding he is a Man of a prostitute Reputation in many Things, they will suspect him to be so in every Thing; and then he will find by Experience, that there was some Truth and good Sense in the Threatning of my Text; Judge not, that ye be not judged: for with what Judgment ye judge, ye jhall be judged; and with what Measure ye mete, it Jhall be measured to you again.
2. Another Thing meant by this Threatning in my Text is, that God, both in the Dispensations of his Providence in this World, and in his final Retributions in the next, will so order Matters, that they who in their Judgments and Censures are harsh and uncharitable to others, shall meet with Judgments suitable to their Sins; that is, such as have a greater Mixture of Severity than Mercy.
(1.) I begin with the Dispensations of Providence in this World. It is true, God does not always punish Sinners visibly in this Life; but the Wicked often prosper in this World; for if all had their visible Punishment here, there would be little Occasion for a solemn Day of Judgment hereafter; yet God thinks fit often, for the Vindication of his own Honour, to make Examples of Sinners in this World; and such Examples, that their Sin is legible in their Punishment. And particularly in this Sin of rash judging or condemning, all Histories are full of Instances of this fort of Sinners exemplarily punished in their own Way. This Adonibezek confessed, when he came to have his Thumbs and great Toes cut off in his Captivity, Judg. i, 6, Three
C 4 Jcori score and ten Kings, having their 'Thumbs and great 'Toes cut off] gathered their Meat under my Table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. Haman had misrepresented and slandered the Jews to King Ahafuerus, to that degree, that he had obtain'd a cruel Edict to murder them, and particularly he had prepared an high Gallows fpr Mordecai; but it pleased God to reverse all these wicked Designs, and to bring them upon his own Head. He was forced to do Honour to Mordecai; and the Jews had the Slaughter of their Enemies; and he himself was hanged on the Gallows he had prepared. But it is needless to multiply Examples. This was so common an Observation, that it is frequently used as a Proverb in the Jewish Writings, that With what Measure we mete, it slwll be measured to us again. And, He that digs- a Pit to catch another, esmmonly falls into it himself. The Lord is known by the Judgment which he executeth, says the Psalmist, Psal. ix. 16. The Wicked is snared in the Work us his own Hands. It is very rare, I believe, that the censorious Detractor and Slanderer escapes severe Punishment in this World; for I know not . any thing whatsoever that makes more Enemies, or stirs up more lasting Resentments, or is followed with more fatal Consequences. And it is often observed, that if an Enemy is ever so despicable at present, Providence so orders Matters, that some time or other it is in his Power to retaliate and make his Friendship valuable. The World js so full of Changes and Revolutions, that there is no Man or Party ever so much depressed, but fhat the Face of Affairs has its Changes, and \% is in the Power of the fame Persons to revenge