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Good and Welfare of Neighbours, undermines the Peace and Comfort of Society, begets Hatred, Difcord and Contention, increafes Law-fuits, promotes Revenge, and does unfpeakable Mischief; befide, it ufurps the Authority of God, and invades his Tribunal: And therefore the Apostle asks the Cenfurer, Who made thee a Judg? and who art thou that judget another? To his own Mafter he ftandeth or falleth: and having no fuch Power committed to thee, Why dost thou judg thy Brother? God hath appointed a Day wherein he will judg the World in Righteoufnefs; and therefore lay afide 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 difcourage Men from it, let the Danger of it deter them from this evil Practice. Our Saviour's Caution in St. Matthew is, Fudg not, that ye be not judged; implying, that they fhall have Judgment without Mercy, who fhew no Mercy: Men will repay their Cenfures upon them, and will judg as harfhly of them as they do of others; but God will repay them much more, and pass the feverest 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 fhew'd to them that fhew it to others; Judg not (faith he) and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned. Men are not fo forward to fpeak or judg hardly of thofe that are wont to speak and judg favourably of others; nor will they condemn or pafs Sentence upon fuch 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 Bofom: Give therefore (faith our Saviour) good Words, and good Works to others, and it shall be given to you, and that in good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, fhall Men give into your Bofom: which referring to all forts of Commodities, dry and liquid, fignifies the plentiful Returns that will be made for all the Acts of Mercy and Loving-kindness; for with the fame Measure that ye mete withal, it shall be meafur'd to you again. They that trade in evil Reports and hard Cenfures, will be furely paid home in their own Coin; and they that deal in good Words and kind Actions, fhall have the Kindnefs of both abundantly repaid by God and Man: in which
both Scripture and Experience may fully confirm us. This is the first Branch of Mercifulness, which confifts in giving, and directs us to fhew mercy to the Bodies, the Souls, the Goods, and good Names of all Men.
The Second Branch of this Vertue confifts in Forgiving; to which we are here likewife call'd and encourag'd in thefe words, Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Where by forgiving we are to understand the paffing by of Injuries, efpecially Cenfures, Contumelies, and all forts of Indignities, which we are to be fo far from revenging, as not to fuffer them to cool or leffen our Charity towards them that do them, but rather to heap the Acts of Mercy and Charity upon the heads of fuch Enemies, as well as Friends. To this we are frequently exhorted: Dearly Be loved, avenge not your felves, but rather return Good for Evil; fo that if thine Enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him Drink; for thereby thou shalt heap Coals of Fire upon his head, not to confume, but to melt him into Love and Kindness. And if we thus forgive others, we fhall be forgiven our felves. Men are commonly willing to pardon the Faults and Failings of thofe, who are willing to pardon others; but God will be much more fo, for he hath made our forgiving of others the Condition of his forgiving of our Offences; and if we perform our part, we may be fure God will not fail of his. And therefore,
If the World fhould be fo wicked and fhort-fighted, as to reproach any for his Kindnefs, and return him nothing but Evil for his Good-will; yet let him not be difmay'd: our Saviour met with fuch Ufage from the World, and was rewarded for it with a Crown of Glory; and fo fhall we too, if we perfevere to the end in Well-doing. This he illuftrates here by a Parable, faying, Can the Blind lead the Blind Shall they not both fall into the Ditch? If we follow the blind Guidance of the World, muft we not be led into great Errors and Dangers? Can it be thought that the Disciple should be above his Master? And if he met with the Cenfures and Contradiction of Sinners againft himself, may we hope wholly to escape them? Is it not fufficient for the Servant to be treated as his Lord? Yea, Every one that is perfect shall be as his Mafter: and if he was made perfect by Sufferings, fhall we grudg to arrive at it the fame way?
After this, our Saviour turns his Difcourfe again to the rigid Cenfurers, by another Parable; faying in the next words, And why beholdeft thou the Mote that is in thy Brother's Eye, but perceiveft not the Beam that is in thine own Eye? Where by the Mote in the Brother's Eye is meant fome leffer Failing or Infirmity, fuch as fome Indecency of Behaviour, fome Inadvertence or Indifcretion; which having no great Guilt or Malignity in it, is compar'd to the fmall Dimenfions of a Mote, which if gotten into the Eye, may a little difturb the Sight, but not darken or put it out. By the Beam in their own Eye, we are to underftand fome greater Crime or Enormity; which having the bigger Dimensions of a Beam, totally hinder the Sight, and keep the Eye from difcerning matters aright. So that the Senfe of this Rebuke is, Why doft thou fo eafily fee and cenfure fmall Faults in others, when thou haft much greater of thine own; which thy Pride makes thee overlook, and thy Partiality will not fuffer thee to discover? Now from hence we learn two very obvious, but fad Truths:
Ift, The Proneness of Mankind to efpy and aggravate fmall Faults in other Men. There is fcarce a Mote in a Brother's Eye, which an evil Eye will not discover; yea, and magnify too into a Beam: the Cenfurer is eagle-ey'd to difcern another's Failings, and can make a Mole-hill to become a Mountain. Do not too many put the worst Conftruction upon fome Mens Words and Actions, omitting all the Circumstances that may extenuate and excufe them, and infifting only on those that may enhance and increase the Guilt? And this proceeds (as was before hinted) fometimes from Pride, which prompts Men to afperfe and blac ken others, that themselves may fhine the brighter: Sometimes from Envy, which cannot bear the Luftre of another's Merits, and therefore must raife fome Duft of Detraction to obfcure and darken it: Sometimes from Malice, which works its mifchievous Ends upon those it hates, by blafting their Reputation: Sometimes again this proceeds from Differences in Religion; it being usual with Sectaries and Separatifts to raife and fpread evil Reports of others, to countenance their own Separation. In fhort, there is a certain Pride and Pleasure that fome Men take in finding faults, partly to fhew their great Sagacity and Integrity above others, and partly to gain fome Power and 'Superiority over them, that they may appear greater by a fhew of being better than they. And there is that Ill-nature
and Ill-will reigning in many, that never fpeaks well, but makes them ever ready to fhoot out their Arrows, even bitter Words.
2dly, We may obferve here, as the Proneness of Men to efpy Faults in others, fo their great Backwardness to see their own greater Miscarriages. One would think that a Beam fhould be more easily feen than a Mote; and indeed fo it would, if there were not fomething_elfe to interpofe and hinder but fuch is the Prejudice and Partiality of most Men, that they can fooner fee 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-intereft. Men are fo fond of themselves, that they cannot fee any thing amifs in them, and like Lais would break their Looking-glass, if it fhew'd the Spots and Wrinkles of their Face. Others again are fo addicted to their Intereft, as to hide all that may hinder it; and because Vice and Wickedness, Fraud and Falfhood, are great Enemies to Profperity and Preferment, they must by all means be conceal'd in themselves, and disclos'd in others. This Horace perceiv'd long fince in his time, Cum tua pervideas, &c. and half an Eye may plainly discern it in ours.
3dly, Our Saviour obferves 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 canft thou fay to thy Brother, Brother, let me pull out the Mote that is in thine Eye, when thou thy felf beholdeft not the Beam that is in thine own Eye? Where he rebukes the Forwardness of their Zeal, who would pull out a Mote, or amend a fmall Failing in another, and in the mean time overlook a Beam, and neglect more heinous Enormities in themfelves. We know fome 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 Schifm, Diffenfion, and all manner of Dif obedience.
These our Saviour, in the next Verfe, calls by the name of Hypocrites, and directs to another and better Course for the reforming of Manners; faying, Thou Hypocrite, caft out first the Beam out of thine own Eye, and then shalt thou fee
clearly to pull out the Mote that is in thy Brother's Eye. Where he firft brands fuch Reformers with the name of Hypocrites, for affecting a feign'd Shew of greater Piety and Religion than other Men, and feeking 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 felves, and to amend what is amifs there. True Reformation, like Charity, begins at home, and makes Men more follicitous to reform their own Ways, than to pry into and cenfure the Manners of others. Such Cenfores Morum had need have not only fufficient Authority, but an exemplary and unfpotted Integrity; left their own Mifcarriages upbraid the Forwardness of their Zeal, and confute their goodlieft Pretences. To act aright then, we must first pull out the Bean that is in our own Eyẹ; for while that is there, it will fo cloud and intercept the Sight, that we fhall not fee matters aright either in our felves or others. But when that is remov'd, then fhall we fee 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 afide, and cannot be objected against us.
This is the Sum of this Day's Gofpel: it remains that we obferve and practise the great Leffons contain'd in it. As,
1. To be ever mindful of the great Duty of Mercifulnefs, and that in both the Branches of Giving and Forgiving by the one giving to the Wants and Neceffities of others, by the other forgiving the Injuries and Trefpaffes done to our felves; and in both imitating the Goodness and Bounty of our heavenly Father, who denies not the Blef fings of the Sun and the Rain to the Evil and Unthankful, and paffes 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 fo much Mercy as Merchandize: but let us extend them to thofe that are unable or unwilling to re turn them; yea, to fuch as repay us only with Ingratitude and Unkindness: fo fhall we become the Children of the moft High, and be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. And this we fhould the rather do, because the Proceedings M
Vol. IV. Part 26