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[For the Fourth Sunday after Trinity.]
LUKE vi. 42.
Thou hypocrite! cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and thou shalt then see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
HE Gospel for the day is taken from blessed Saviour's Sermon on the Mount, which is more fully given in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of the gospel according to St. Matthew.. We there find, that it was delivered to the disciples, in. the presence and hearing of the multitude; and was of course intended for the edification and instruction of christians, of all nations, and of all times. This blessed discourse may be called the great body of the christian law; since it contains all that a member of CHRIST's religion has to prac
tise, in order to save his soul. That part of it which has been read to you this morning, relates to the social duties, or those which men owe to their fellow-creatures; and consists in injunctions to us to behave to each other with compassion, kindness, generosity, and equity. The conclusion of this portion of scripture conveys a solemn precept to christians to fulfil the duty of self-examination; in opposition to the practice, which is so common. among us, of discovering and blaming faults in others, while we are blind or partial to our own. "Thou hypocrite! cast out first "the beam out of thine own eye, and thou "shalt then see clearly to pull out the mote "that is in thy brother's eye." I shall first make some observations on the other parts of the gospel for the day, and conclude with more particular remarks on the verse with which it ends.
"Be ye therefore merciful," says CHRIST, "as your Father also is merciful." GOD, you are aware, my brethren, is infinite in all his attributes; it is therefore impossible for us poor, imperfect creatures, to approach, in the most distant degree, to any one of the divine perfections. But we may imitate our heavenly Father in the manner of his goodness, although even our imaginations
cannot reach to the extent of it. Thus, for instance, "He sendeth his rain upon the just "and unjust, and is kind even to the unthank"ful and the evil;" nay, He commendeth his love towards the general race of mankind in a still more striking and affecting way, "for while we were yet sinners, He
gave his only begotten Son to be a sacri"fice for our sins." It is in this spirit of mercy, therefore, (for that is all we can attain to,) that we are to act towards our fellow-creatures. We are not to be extreme to mark what they do amiss. We are not to return every little affront, or trifling injury, with hatred, malice, or vengeance. We are not to withhold our brotherly love from a fellow-creature, because he is of a different complexion or country; of a different religion, or way of thinking, from ourselves; but, on the contrary, we are to be merciful as our "Father also is merciful;" to look with pity on the sorrows of our fellow-creatures, by whomsoever they are poured forth; to be" ready to give, and glad to distribute,' according to our ability, to every one who may really stand in need of succour; and to afford, on all occasions, advice, instruction, and consolation, to the inexperienced, the ignorant, and the wretched, whenever objects may present themselves to our notice, who
may be benefited by such instances of our brotherly love.
The next precepts of our blessed LORD are these: "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be "condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." So much of the peace and comfort of a man's life depends upon his dwelling in unity" with those around him; that he never can "see good days," who is not on terms of kindness and cordiality with his neighbours. Now, my brethren, your own experience must have convinced you, that this cannot be the case, unless a man be charitable in his thoughts, civil in his language, and mild in his manners to others;. unless he be ready to do good offices, when occasions of being friendly present themselves to his notice; and unless he pass by in silence, and without anger, those little slights, af-. fronts, and instances of ill behaviour, which we are continually meeting with in society, either from the ignorance, or ill-nature, or inattention, of those among whom we live." There is scarcely a village, a neighbourhood, or a family, which is not rendered in some degree uncomfortable, by people not be having in this mild and christian like way. We see, perpetually, censorious, meddling, and ill-natured characters, who seem to de
light in destroying the harmony of the little circle about them; who, by idle stories, or false reports, distúrb the peace of individuals, make mischief between friends, or excite the suspicion or ill-will of one person "against another. If a difference arise between neighbours, they are the people to encourage and aggravate it. If a report, injurious to any one, be raised, it is they who magnify and circulate it. Should any offence be given them, even unintentionally, instead of forgiving it, they watch for an opportunity of returning it with tenfold interest; and, instead of not letting the sun go down on their wrath, they cannot sleep easy in their own bed, unless they have broken the sleep of those who have offended them. But, miserable are those, my brethren, who thus suffer themselves to be the prey of such mean and unchristian dispositions; for they suffer a vast deal more themselves, than they make others suffer; their minds are like "the troubled sea which cannot rest, whose
waters cast up mire and dirt ;" and, even the momentary gratification which they experience in making others uncomfortable, is infinitely over-balanced by that contempt, which they cannot help feeling for themselves, and a conviction that they are despised, or disliked, by all around them.