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how they might best invade it. They might possibly have had that design: and on the other hand, there was nothing improbable in the design which they professed, the providing food for their family at home. To assume the wrong motive, and reject the innocent purpose; to treat them as spies, because it was possible they might be spies, would have been unrighteous judgment. For it is one among the features of charity, that it “believeth all things ;" believeth the best that the case admits : “thinketh no evil," where there is any opening to think well, and hope favourably. Charity will rather be deceived, through an unwillingness to suspect, than injure another even in thought. For, as St. Paul argues, “Who art thou that judgest another man's servant ?
To his own master he standeth or falleth.” He said this concerning a matter of indifference; the eating or not eating
of certain meats; the keeping or not keeping sacred certain days. If it had been a question concerning any part of duty, of worshipping for instance, or not worshipping in an idol's temple, they would have been bound to judge, and to pronounce such worshipping sinful, even though it condemned
of their brethren. But of things indifferent, or when there was no need of censure, he solemnly asks,“ Why dost thou judge thy brother, or why dost thou set at nought thy brother For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
The sanction by which our Lord enforces this precept, is remarkable : 2. “ For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged ; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
As it is written, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy :” and as we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass 8 Gen, xlii. 9.
5 Rom. xiv. 4.
4 1 Cor. xiii. 7. 6 Rom. xiv. 10-12.
against us:" in the same spirit is it said, With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. A habit of harsh and censorious judgment indicates a heart not properly renewed and influenced by divine grace; indicates, therefore, a heart not sound in the faith of Christ, and liable to be judged by Him,“ in whose sight no man living shall be justified.” If He were to mark severely what is done amiss, who could abide it? And if we break his commands, by judging uncharitably of our neighbours, how can we expect his clemency to judge mercifully of ourselves, not weighing our demerits, but pardoning our offences ?
Our business, in fact, is not to judge others, but ourselves, and the best security against severe censures of our brother, will be to look closely and diligently at home. 3. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but
considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye ? 4. “ 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 ? 5. “ 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
No one is so little likely to judge severely of another's offences, as the man who has most anxiously laboured to keep his own conscience void of offence : who has attended most closely to the workings of his own heart, and found the difficulty of bringing his words and actions to a conformity with the will of God. Let a man therefore first cast the beam out of his own eye. Let him strive against his own besetting sin. This will teach him the nature of the disease : how deeply it is seated, how liable to return. Consider, for instance, the state of David's mind, whilst reflecting upon his sins, and lamenting over them. “I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
? This was a proverb among the Jews: Those who say to others, Take out the small piece of wood from beneath thy tooth; are answered, “ Take out of thing eyes the beam.”
Against thee have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”: One who has been thus examining himself, and condemning his own guilt, is not inclined to judge harshly concerning a brother. He will rather exclaim, Who am I, that I should judge another? I, who am seeking pardon for myself? I, who have so much need of pardon ?
There is reason to fear that one who is ready, and quick-sighted, to perceive the mote that is in his brother's
eye, has never looked so clearly into his own : and may rather be compared with the same David on another occasion, and in a different state of mind, when he was vehemently indignant against the cruelty represented in Nathan's parable, and declared, “The man who hath done this thing, shall surely die.' He little expected the answer,
66 Thou art the man. First cast the beam out of thine own eye, and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
The true Christian conduct in this matter is prescribed by St. Paul : Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye that are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness.” He adds the reason, founded on our Lord's words: “Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” St. James uses the same argument _“ Brethren, be not many masters ;" (teachers, or censors :) “knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation :" knowing that if we censure others, we condemn ourselves ; that with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us again. “For he shall have judgment without mercy, who hath showed no mercy :" he must forgive, who hopes to be forgiven. 8 Ps. li. 3, 4. 9 2 Sam. xii. 5.
i Gal. vi, 1 8 Ch. iii. 1, 2.
8 James ii. 13.
DISCRIMINATION TO BE USED IN PROPOUNDING DIVINE TRUTH.
MATT. vii. 6.
6. “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." So it proved in the case of Stephen, the first who sealed his faith by his blood, and experienced the truth of his Lord's words, predicting that his people should be killed by men professing to “ do God service.” When they heard the things that he said,
they were cut to the heart, and gnashed on him with their teeth ; they ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him." They turned again and rent him. The multitude would have done the same to Paul at Jerusalem, if they had not been providentially restrained. When he declared how God had sent him to the Gentiles, “ they lifted up their voices and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth; for it is not fit that he should live." This was to turn again and rend him. Stephen indeed, and Paul, were discharging a duty: they were commissioned to speak the things which excited the violence of their countrymen. And our Lord's precept in this sentence does not extend farther than to teach a wise discretion in declaring divine truths to men. When He sent his disciples to proclaim his coming, and prepare the way for Himself, He prescribed the same discretion, saying, “Into whatever city or town ye enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide. Inquire for those whose character makes it probable that one who comes from God will be favourably re
1 John xvi. 2. 2 Acts vii. 54.
8 Acts xxii. 22.
4 Ch. x. 11.
ceived, and not rejected by them.
There are some, with whom to talk of holy things is to profane them; and who will turn against religion itself the very arguments which are furnished by religion. So that, as was said by Solomon, “ He that reproveth a scorner, getteth himself shame." There are places and seasons when to press that which is holy upon men, would be to expose it to contempt and ridicule, and no more wise or reasonable than to cast pearls before swine. At Antioch in Pisidia, for example, where “ the Jews were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming, Paul and Barnabas acted upon this maxim of their Lord, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken unto you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo! we turn to the Gentiles. And they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.”6
There is a limit, however, beyond which this precept must not be carried. If it were so construed, as to require that men should be willing hearers before they heard at all, or doers of the word before the word was proposed to them, it would contradict the whole purpose of the gospel. If we were to wait till unholy or ungodly men came of their own accord to listen to the words which condemn or the truths which should convert them, no sinner would be turned from the error of his way, no wanderer reclaimed, or brought to repentance and the knowledge of the truth. If they who have not that knowledge, and are living in ignorance and sin, were treated as dogs, so that nothing holy should be offered them, or as swine, and were not directed to the “pearl of great price” for which they might leave their filthiness ;-how should the will of God be answered, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live ?? or how
6 Acts xiii. 45–51.
5 Proy. ix. 7.
7 Ezek. xviii. 23.