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either dismiss or suppress them until “ a more convenient season” shall arrive. I fear that the temporizing and delusive spirit of Felix is most fatally prevalent in the present day. Men hear, but they do not consider, and apply, or resolve. The young plead their youth, the man of business his numerous engagements, the poor their ignorance and poverty, the rich their pleasures and connections, the sick their disease and inability,—and thus life is frittered away, the kingdom of heaven lost, the soul undone for ever. Melancholy infatuation! 0! guard against it, my brethren. Seize the important now,—trust not to futurity; to-day—“while it is called to-day harden not your hearts.” What can you expect if you live in sin, and die without Christ? Moral decency, which is but the accomplishment of a Pharisee, will never save you. The heart must be changed: for if the fountain be corrupt, such will be its streams. O that all of you, “among whom I have gone preaching the word,” would lay these things to heart before it be too late: and when the angel shall lift up his hand to heaven, and swear by him who liveth for ever and ever, that time shall be no longer, may you enter into bliss, and join the happy band of the redeemed, in singing the everlasting song of “ blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, unto him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever." Amen and Amen.
MATTHEW vii. 1-6.
" JUDGE NOT, THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED. FOR WITH WHAT
JUDGMENT YE JUDGE, YE SHALL BE JUDGED: AND WITH WHAT MEASURE YE METE, IT SHALL BE MEASURED TO YOU AGAIN. AND WHY BEHOLDEST THOU THE MOTE THAT IS IN THY BROTHER'S EYE, BUT CON. SIDEREST NOT THE BEAM THAT IS IN THINE OWN EYE? 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? THOU HYPOCRITE, FIRST CAST OUT THE BEAM OUT OF THINE OWN EYE; AND THEN SHALT THOU SEE CLEARLY TO CAST OUT THE MOTE OUT OF THY BROTHER'S EYE. GIVE NOT THAT WHICH IS HOLY UNTO THE DOGS, NEITHER CAST YE YOUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, LEST THEY TRAMPLE THEM UNDER THEIR FEET, AND TURN AGAIN AND REND YOU.
We now enter on the third part of our Lord's sermon, and which brings it to a close. Like the preceding portions of this discourse already considered, it is highly practical and important. It shows us how to order our conversation aright towards God and man. It may be divided into eight particulars, the illustration of which will finish the present series of meditations. The passage now under attention lays down some admirable rules with regard to censure and reproof; these are followed by an exhortation to prayer,—the universal rule of equity,—the necessity of resisting the evil example of the multitude,the test by which we are to ascertain both doctrines and characters,—the disappointment of hypocritical professors at the last day,—the safety of the practical, and the dangerous situation of the merely nominal, hearer of the word, -and, finally, the impression which the whole sermon produced upon the audience," they were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes."
It is generally supposed, that the whole discourse was delivered in the presence of some of the Scribes and Pharisees, whose conduct the Saviour kept in view throughout the whole. However that may be, of this we are certain, that he describes them as a vile generation of men, who, by the semblance of extraordinary devotion, endeavoured to conceal the most hateful baseness, and impose the most detested delusions on the unsuspicious and unwary. Among other evils of which they were guilty, was that of censoriousness, of which we are now to treat. Instead of watching their own hearts, and correcting their own errors, they spent their time in censuring the failings of their fellow-creatures,-a species of conduct too common in the present day, and which is most unamiable in its spirit, as well as totally opposite to the humility and charity of the gospel.
In discoursing on this subject, I shall endeavour to explain, and then apply, the words of my text.
I. OBSERVE THE PROHIBITION. “ JUDGE NOT.”
And here I remark, that it is important to ascertain the cases to which this brief but comprehensive precept does not extend, that we may be the better able to enforce the reasons which our Lord adduces for its observance.
It is evident, from the whole passage, when taken in connection with other parts of the sacred writings and the Scripture can never contradict itself-that it refers to the conduct of private individuals, and not to men in a public capacity. The office of magistrate is of divine appointment; it is " ordained of God," and should therefore be regarded with due respect. Most disordered, indeed, would be the state of society, if there were none to “ bear the sword,” or any sent “ for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” Besides, we are specially commanded to be “subject unto the higher powers;"* to “ submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king as supreme; or unto governors;” + “ and to make intercession for kings, and for all that are in authority." I Nor must we suppose that the injunction is designed to restrain us as private persons, from forming any opinion upon the misconduct and sinful course of others. If we were thus to surrender our judgment, we should be unable to discharge many of the duties of our holy religion. For instance: we are exhorted to " have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them ;" and, also, “ in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" we are commanded “ to withdraw ourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly;" which we could not do if we were to relinquish the right of private opinion.
What, then, does our Lord forbid by this short precept? I reply, the indulgence of a censorious temper—a disposition to pry into the conduct of others, with the hope of finding something to blame—a readiness to pass sentence of condemnation upon the slightest appearance of evil, and without sufficient proof of its commission—a presumptuous and positive charge of error and wrong upon the secret motives and intentions of another-an uncharitable construction of any transaction which our enemy may perform, and a partiality in our judgments and reproofs, when we condemn an act in one, and pass by even greater in others. These are the evils which the Saviour prohibits, and well had it been for the cause of truth and justice, if the solemn prohibition had been regarded by all his professed disciples. But, alas ! how often is a different line of conduct adopted even by those who, in the judgment of charity, must be considered pious. It is a common failing of the professors of Christianity. They are too apt to look on the dark side of the question; to view with suspicion the motives of their brethren; and to deny them the exercise of that “ charity which hopeth all things,” and which they would consider their own due in all cases, where their conduct was matter of enquiry. This is, however, at once unreasonable and unbecoming men who bear the Christian name, and our Lord, therefore, guards us against the indulgence of such a disposition in the following verses. Let us, therefore, consider,
* Rom. xiii. l.
+ 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14.
Tit. iii. l. 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2.
II. THE METHODS BY WHICH HE REPROVES AND CONDEMNS IT.
First. He refers to the common principle of retribution,—" that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged : and with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.” This observation will generally be found true as it respects the present world. They who presume to judge others, may justly expect to be judged themselves; and will fall unpitied by their fellow men.
“ He that usurps the bench shall be called to the bar;" for it most frequently happens that none are more censured than they who are full of censure themselves. Against such persons every one will have a stone to throw, as soon as the slightest instance of miscon