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own conduct? Who are the malicious and the envious, who detract from the merit of others, but those who have not merit enough to procure the success which excites their resentment? Such is the natural connection between a man's own character and the opinion he is disposed to form of others. The good alone; conscious of their own integrity, have the true principle of candour in their breast. Prudence therefore enjoins that we should not be rash in forming unfavourable opinions of others; for in so doing we condemn ourselves, or enable others to detect our wickedness.
With regard to God, the consideration which we are now illustrating is much more power
The person who judges, and he who is judged are both equally seen by him. He needs not to look for our character and our deeds in the opinions we form of others. He is our witness; and whatever we may do to our brethren, he will impute to us no crimes of which we have not been guilty. But for our want of charity, for our hard suspicions, and our severe censures, he will judge us on their own account. And with what peculiar aggravations will they appear in the sight of that being to whom the inost secret faults of
our own hearts lie open? Ye who judge your neighbours, lift up your eyes to your common judge, beholding the secrets of your own soul. Turn them inwards on yourselves. With the impressions which you now feel, stand up, call your neighbour before your tribunal, put on your dignity, your penetration, and your severity, and say unto him, “Thou sinful man, “ thou offender of God, I condemn thee;" heaven frowns at your presumption, and your own crimes assume a deeper dye.
When God shall judge us all, folly will weigh less against usin thescalethan ill-willand resentment; imprudence will not prove so heavy as calumny; nor will the frailties of humanity appear so criminal as that evil imagination which delighted to magnify them. And what shall the uncharitable man answer if God should
to him in the final settlement of cha. racters and rewards, “Thou didst look with a
severe eye on the faults of thy brother; shall “ I pass over thine, or shall thy unkindness « lessen them? Thou didst impute to him of“ fences which he meant not and committed 66 not: shall I overlook those which I saw, and “ of which thou thyself art conscious. Thyun
just and harsh censures made the innocent
lift up your
“ to suffer pain; what shall be done to thee, “ thou false tongue? With what judgment “ thou didst judge, shall I not judge thee; " and with what measure thou didst mete, “ shall it not be meted to thee again ?"
5. I shall only add one other motive to deter us from judging our neighbour, addressed not so much to the malicious and uncharitable, as to the generous and well-meaning who form unfavourable opinions of others chiefly from rashness and inattention. When
you voice against another without sufficient knowledge of his conduct, even when appearances may give some countenance to your reprehensions, it is not improbable they may be groundless. Of what wrongs may you not thus become the authour; against which the person you injure, will be less prepared to guard, the more innocent he is? To him who wishes to deserve the good opinion of the world, you may thus occasion the most discouraging of all mortifications. Of every advantage which depends on a good name, you may deprive him. You may be thus led to treat with unkindness those who merit favour. You may throw obstacles in the way of the most deserving and hurt the most tender feelings of a good man's heart.
To prevent you from following the practice of such evil, in addition to the other considerations already stated, we may observe, that, he alone is entitled to sport thus at random with the character of others, who would himself feel no pain from any injuries his own might receive; who could behold with indifference the suffering and distress which he occasioned; and whose condemnation could not be aggravated by being judged as he judged his neighbour. If this be a character which you justly abhor, and the imputation of which
you would reject with indignationthen judge not, that
be not judged.
On the divine origin of the Christian religion.
Acts, CHAP. 5, VERSE 38, 39.
3 Refrain from these men, and let them alone ; for if thiş council, or this work be of men, it will come to nought. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.”
THIS was the
sage advice of Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, and a man of great reputation, to the Jewish council, who were assembled to concert measures for suppressing the new religion then beginning to be preached by the Apostles. The object of this advice is to dissuade the Jews from doing any thing to injure the Apostles or to suppress the publication of their opinions.' For if that system which they taught with so much boldness and diligence was merely an imposition devi