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Good and Welfare of Neighbours, undermines the Peace and Comfort of Society, begets Hatred, Discord and Contention, increases Law-suits, promotes Revenge, and does unspeakable Mischiefs beside, it usurps the Authority of God, and invades his Tribunal: And therefore the Apostle asks the Censurer, Who made thee a Judg? and who art thou thatjudgest another? To his own Master hestandeth or salleth: and having no such Power committed to thee, Why dost thou judg thy Brother? God hath appointed a Day wherein he will judg the World in Righteousness; and therefore lay aside thy weak and partial Judgment, and judg nothing before the time: for thee to meddle herein, is to take too much upon thee, and to forestal the Day of Judgment. But if the Sinfulness and Injustice hereof will not discourage Men from it, let the Danger of it deter them from this evil Practice. Our Saviour's Caution in St. Matthew is, Judg not, that ye be not judged; implying, that they shall have Judgment without Mercy, who shew no Mercy: Men will repay their Censures upon them, and will judg as harshly of them as they do of others; but God will repay them much more, and pass the severest Sentence upon them for taking the Right of Judicature out of his hands, and judging of his Servants. But our Saviour here in St. Luke encourages Men to forbear this Practice from Motives of Mercy, which will be shew'd to them that shew it to others; Judg not (faith he) and ye stall not 'be judged; condemn not, and ye stall not be condemned. Men are not so forward to speak or judg hardly of those that are wont to speak and judg favourably of others^ nor will they condemn or pass Sentence upon such as put the best Construction on others Actions, and give to every one their due Commendation. The good Effects of their Mercy and Charity are commonly return'd into their Bosom: Give therefore (faith our Saviour) good Words, and good Works to others, and it sha/l be given to you; and that in good measure, preyed down, andstaken together, and running over, stall Men give into your Bosom: which referring to all sorts of Commodities, dry and liquid, signifies the plentiful Returns that will be made for all the Acts of Mercy and Loving-kindness; for with the same Measure that ye mete withal, it stall be measur'd to you again. They that trade in evil Reports and hard Censures, will be surely paid home in their own Coin; and they that deal in good Words and kind Actions, shall have the Kindness of both abundantly repaid by God and Man: in which
both both Scripture and Experience may folly confirm us. This is the first Branch of Mercifulness, which consists in giving, and directs us to shew mercy to the Bodies, the Souls, the Goods, and good Names of all Men.
The Second Branch of this Vertue consists in Forgiving 5 to which we are here likewise call'd and encourag'd in these words, Forgive, and ye shaU be forgiven. Where by forgiving we are to understand the pasting by of Injuries, especially Censures, Contumelies, and all forts of Indignities ^ which we are to be so far from revenging, as not to suffer them to cool or lessen our Charity towards them that do them, but rather to heap the Acts of Mercy and Charity upon the heads of such Enemies, as well as Friends. To this we are frequently exhorted: Dearly Be loved, avenge not your selves, but rather return Good for Evil - , so that if thine Enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirsts give him Drink ; for thereby thou si) alt heap Coals of Fire upon his head, not to consume, but to melt him into Love and Kindness. And if we thus forgive others, we mail be forgiven our selves. Men are commonly willing to pardon the Faults and Failings of those, who are willing to pardon others; but God will be much more so, for he hath made bur forgiving of others the Condition of his forgiving of our Offences; and if we perform our part, we may be sure God will not fail of his. And therefore,
If the World should be so wicked and short-sighted, as to reproach any for his Kindness, and return him nothing but Evil for his Good-will yet let him not be dismay'd: our Saviour met with such Ufage from the World, and was rewarded for it with a Crown of Glory and so shall we too, if we persevere to the end in Well-doing. This he illustrates here by a Parable, faying, Can the Blind lead the Blind? Shall they not both sall into the Ditch? If we follow the blind Guidance of the World, mult we not be led into great Errors and Dangers? Can it be thought that the Disciple should be above his Afafter? And if he met with the Censures and Contradiction of Sinners against himself, may we hope wholly to escape them? Is it not sufficient for the Servant to be treated as his Lord? Yea,, Every ont that is perfect [hall be as his Master : and if he way made perfect by Sufferings, shall we grudg to arrive at it the fame way?
After this, our Saviour turns his Discourse again to the rigid Censurers, by another Parable; faying in the next words, And why beholdest thou the Mote that is in thy Brother's Eye, hut perceivest not the Beam that is in thine ownEye t Where by the Mote in the Brother's Eye is meant some lesser Failing or Infirmity, such as some Indecency of Behaviour, some Inadvertence or Indiscretion; which having no great Guilt or Malignity in it, is compar'd to the small Dimensions of a Mote, which if gotten into the Eye, may a little disturb the Sight, but not darken or put it out. By the Beam in their own Eye, we are to understand some greater Crime or Enormity ; which having the bigger Dimensions of a Beam, totally hinder the Sight, and keep the Eye from discerning matters aright. So that the Sense of this Rebuke is, Why dost thou so easily fee and censure small Faults in others, when thou hast much greater of thine own which thy Pride makes thee overlook, and thy Partiality will not suffer thee to discover? Now front hence we learn two very obvious, but fad Truths:
1st, The Pronenefs of Mankind to espy and aggravate small Faults in other Men. There is scarce a Mote in a Brother's Eye, which an evil Eye will not discover ., yea, and magnify too into a Beam: the Censurer is eagle-ey'd to discern another's Failings, and can make a Mole-hill to become a Mountain. Do not too many put the worst Construction upon some Mens Words and Actions, omitting all the Circumstances that may extenuate and excuse them, and insisting only on those that may enhance and increase the Guilt? And this proceeds (as was before hinted) sometimes from Pride, which prompts Men to asperse and blacken others, that themselves may shine the brighter: Sometimes from Envy, which cannot bear the Lustre of another's Merits, and therefore must raise some Dust of Detraction to obscure and darken it: Sometimes from Malice, which works its mischievous Ends upon those it hates, by blasting their Reputation: Sometimes again this proceeds from Differences in Religion; it being usual with Sectaries and Separatists to raise and spread evil Reports of others, to countenance their own Separation. In short, there is a certain Pride and Pleasure that some Men take in finding faults, partly to shew their great Sagacity and Integrity' above others, and partly to gain some Power and Superiority over them, that they may appear greater by a shew of being better than they. And there is that Ill-nature and Ill-will reigning in many, that never speaks well, but makes them ever ready to shoot out their Arrows, even bitter Words. '..
zdly, We may observe here, as the Proneness of Men to espy Faults in others, so their great Backwardness to fee their own greater Miscarriages. One would think that a Beam should be more easily seen than a Mote^ and indeed so it would, if there were not something else to interpose and hinder: but such is the Prejudice and Partiality of most Men, that'they can sooner see a Mote in their Brother's Eye, than a Beam in their own. They that^ like Argus, are all Eyes to behold the least Slip or Infirmity of their Neighbours, are yet stark blind with relation to themselves, and cannot fee a much greater Enormity of their own: and this is owing to Self-love and Self-interest- Men are so fond of themselves, that they cannot fee any thing amiss in them, and like Lais would break their Looking-glass, if it Ihew'd the Spots and Wrinkles of their Face. Others again are so addicted to their Interest, as to hide all that may hinder it •, and because Vice and Wickedness, Fraud and Falshood, are great Enemies to Prosperity and Preferment, they must by all means be conceal'd in themselves, and disclos'd in others. This Horace perceiv'd long since in his time, Cum tua pervideas, &c. and half an Eye may plainly discern it in ours.
idly. Our Saviour observes here Mens Forwardness not only to fee, but to reform and amend Faults in others, without any regard to their own. This is held forth in the next Question Either how canst thou fay to thy Brother, Brother, let me pull out the Mote that is in thine Eye, when thou thy self beholdest not the Beam that is in thine own Eye t Where he rebukes the Forwardness of their Zeal, who would pull out a Mote, or amend a small Failing in another, and in the mean time overlook a Beam, and neglect more heinous Enormities in themselves. We know some who talk much of Reformation of Manners, and call loudly for the punishing of Vice and Immorality, when at the fame time they can indulge themselves in the more pernicious Evils of Schism, Dissension, and all manner of Disobedience.
These our Saviour, in the next Verse, calls by the name of Hypocrites, and directs to another and better Course for the reforming of Manners; faying, Thou Hypocrite, cast out first the Beam out of thine own Eye, and then shalt thou fee
* clearly Nearly to pull out the Mote that is in thy Brother's Eye. Where he first brands such Reformers with the name of Hypocrites, for affecting a feign'd Shew of greater Piety and Religion than other Men, and seeking to appear to the World better than they really are. Next, he lays before them the true and right Rule of Reformation, which is to begin with our selves, and to amend what is amiss there. True Reformation! like Charity, begins at home, and makes Men more sollicitous to reform their own Ways, than to pry into and censure the Manners of others. Such Cenfores Morum had need have not only sufficient Authority, but an exemplary and unspotted Integrity; lest their own Miscarriages upbraid the Forwardness of their Zeal; and v confute their goodliest Pretences. To act aright then, we rhust first pull out the Beam that is in our own Eye j for while that is there, it wilL so cloud and intercept the Sight, that we shall not see matters aright either in our selves or others. But when that is remov'd, then shall we see the more clearly to pull out the Mote that is in our Brother's Eye. We shall be able with better Judgment and greater Authority to reprove and reform others, when our own Miscarriages are laid aside, and cannot be objected against us.'
This is the Sum of this Day's Gospel: it remains that we observe and practise the great Lessons contain'd in it: As,
i, To be ever mindful of the great Duty of Mercifulness, and that in both the Branches of Giving and Forgiving: by the one giving to the Wants and Necessities of others, by the other forgiving the Injuries and Trespasses done to our selves j and in both imitating the Goodness and Bounty of our heavenly Father, who denies not the Blessings of the Sun and the Rain to the Evil and Unthankful, and passes by the Offences of them that daily provoke him; Let us not then confine the good Offices of Mercy and Kindness to them only, from whom we have or hope to receive the like again ; for this is rather Bartering than Bounty, and is not so much Mercy as Merchandize : but let us extend them to those that are unable or unwilling to re* turn them $ yea, to such as repay us only with Ingratitude and Unkindness ' so shall we become the Children of the most High, and be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfeti. And this we should the rather do, because the Proceedings
Vol.IV. Part* M oi