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both Scripture and Experience may fully confirm us. This is the first Branch of Mercifulness, which confifts 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 ; to which we are here likewise callid and encourag'd in these words, Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Where by forgiving we are to understand the pafling by of Injuries, especially Censores, Contumelies, and all sorts of Indigo nities; 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 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 ; fo that if thine Enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirft, give him Drink ; for thereby: thou Malt 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 shall 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 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 should be fo wicked and short-fighted, as to reproach any for his Kindnefs, and return him nothing but Evil for his Good-will; yet let him not be dismay'd ? our Saviour niet with fuch Usage from the World, and was rewarded for it with a Crown of Glory; and so hall we too, if we perfevere to the end in Well-doing. This he illustrates here by a Parable, saying, 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 mould 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 hall be as his Master : and if he was made perfect by Sufferings, shall we grudg to arrive at it the same way?
After this, our Saviour turns his Discourse again to the rigid Censurers, by another Parable ; saying in the next words, And why beholdest thou the Mote that is in thy Brother's Eye, but perceiveft not the Beam that is in thine open Eye ? Where by the Mote in the Brother's Eye is meant some leffer Failing or Infirmity, such as fome Indecency of Behaviour, fome Inadvertence or Indiscretion ; which having no great Guilt or Malignity in it, is compard 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 Senfe 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 from hence we learn two very obvious, but fad Truths :
ist, The Proneness of Mankind to espy and aggravate fmall 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 Con. struction upon fome Mens Words and Actions, omitting all the Circunstances 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) fometimes from Pride, which prompts Men to asperfe 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 fome Dust of De. traction 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 ulual with Sectaries and Separatists to raise and spread evil Reports of others, to countenance their own Separation. In fhort, there is a certain Pride and Pleasure that some Men take in finding, faults, partly to fnew 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 I'll-nature
and III-will reigning in many, that never speaks well, but makes them ever ready to shoot out their Arrows, even bitter Words.
2dly, We may observe here, as the Proneness of Men to espy Faults in others, so their great Backwardness to see 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 see 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 see any thing amiss in them, and like Lais would break their Looking-glass, if it Thew'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.
3dly, Our Saviour observes here Mens Forwardness not only to see, 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 say 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? 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 same time they can indulge themselves in the more pernicious Evils of Schism, Dissension, and all manner of Dif obedience.
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; saying, Thou Hypocrite, cast out first the Beam out of thine omn Eye, and then shalt thou see
clearly 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 felves, and to amend what is anriss there. True Reformation, like Charity, begins at home, and makes Men more follicitous 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 ; left their own Miscarriages upbraid the Forwardness of their Zeal; and confute their goodliest Pretences. To act aright then, we must first pull out the Beamì that is in our own Eye ; for while that is there, it will fo cloud and intercept the Sight, that we shall not see matters aright either in our felves 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,
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 Necessities of others, by the other forgiving the Injuries and Trespasses done to our selves; 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 passes by the Offences of them that daily provoke hini. 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 rea turn them ; yea, to such 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 should the rather do, because the Proceedings Vol. IV, Part 26
of the last and great Day of Judgment will turn much upon this point of shewing mercy. They that have relievid Christ in his Members, shall be pronounc'd blessed, and enter into their Master's Joy; they that have neglected or refus'd these Acts of Mercy, shall be denounc'd cursed, and doom'd to utter and eternal Darkness.
2. From this Discourse we may learn to be merciful in our Censures, not judging and condemning, one another, but interpreting mens Words in the best Sense, and putting the best Construction upon all their Actions. This Charity and the Commands of God require of all Christians, whereas all uncharitable and censorious Judging is directly opposite and contrary to both. 'Tis a piece of Injustice done to God, by taking his work out of his hand, and invading of his Prerogative : Every one of us (faith the Apoftle) nall give an account of himself to God, and therefore let us not judg one another any more; Rom. 14. 12, 13: Speak not evil one of another (faith St. James) he that speaketb evil of his Brother, and judgeth his Brother, Speaketh evil of the Law, and judgeth the Law; he fets himself above the Rule that he is to walk by, and so is no longer a Doer of the Law, but a Judg : which is a high Presumption, for there is one Lamgiver and Judg, who is able to save and to destroy ; and who art thou that judgest ? Jam.4. 11, 12. Moreover, this judging another is a great piece of Injustice done to our Brother, by usurping a Power over hin, that no way belongs to us; 'tis judging another Man's Servant without any leave or authority from his Master;: 'cis an Encroachment upon the Liberty of Christians in things indifferent, for why is my Liberty judged (faith the Apostle) of another Man's Conscience? for which no Man hath any Commission: 1 Cor. 10.29. Again, this judging is a great Injury to the Censurer himself; for his Censures commonly recoil upon himself, and the Darts he aims at others Reputation, ofttimes wound his own; he frequently makes à Rod for his own back, none being more shot at and censur'd, than they who so liberally let fly these Bolts: for with what Judgment ye judg (faith our Saviour) ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it fall be measur'd to you again. Mat.7.1,20
Lastly, From the Rule of Reformation here set by our Saviour, let us first begin with reforming and amending our felves, and remove Beains from our own Eyes, before We meddle with Motes in our Brother's. Let us converse