Images de page

from their dogmatical, but conflicting interpretations, would almost lead us to suppose that two different revelations had been made to man by the Spirit of God, directly the reverse of each other. For one class of interpreters perceives in them only the plain doctrines of morality, though admitting that they are inculcated in a purer and more influential form than they had ever before been by the wisest of heathen philosophers. The corruption of human nature by the fall of our first parents, our restoration by the death of Christ to a state of salvation, the indispensable necessity of faith in him, as Saviour of the world,-the internal influence of the Holy Spirit,-and all those purely scriptural doctrines peculiar to the Christian system, though not denied by these interpreters, are yet passed over by them in such a way as if they were unworthy of their serious consideration. The beauty of virtue, the deformity of vice, the advantage of a sober, circumspect manner of life; such points of morality, in short, as are essentially connected with our conduct, rather than our belief with our character in the eyes of the world rather than with our duty to God-are, in their opinion, the most essential parts of revelation; and they hesitate not to declare, that he who honestly endeavours to conform his life to such precepts has nothing to fear. Pp. 271, 272.

Mr. Irvine surely does not believe that any such declaration ever escaped the lips of a minister of the generally and rightly esteemed orthodox party in the Church. If they have erred, their error was of a negative, rather than a positive, description. As we have already admitted, in our review of Mr. Townsend's volume, they may have been led, by an over-cautious zeal to avoid the perversities of the evangelical doctrines, to enforce the condition of works somewhat too exclusively. But they have never depreciated the importance of the equally necessary condition of faith, or asserted the merit of either, independently of the atonement of Christ. We have no doubt that we agree with our author in the spirit of his argument, and, vindicating the orthodox Clergy from so serious a charge, we can assent to the advice which he has given, of keeping a middle course

between the opposite errors of speculative morality and barren faith.

The volume contains sixteen discourses on the following subjects:—

Scripture Mysteries-doctrine of the Trinity. The Rise and Growth of Christianity. The Divinity of Christ proved from Scripture, and from the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. Personality and Office of the Holy Spirit. The Millennium. The Judgment-Seat of Christ. The Guilt of murmuring against the afflictive Dispensations of Providence. The duty of Self-denial. Elijah the Prophet and John the Baptist compared. The Ministry of John the Baptist contrasted with that of the Apostles. The Atonement. Christ in Glory the Christian's Safety. Nature and Obligation of the Christian Sabbath. Duties of the Christian Sabbath. The Necessity of a strict Adherence to Scripture.


The Dying Hours of a Young Villager; a true Narrative. By Field Flowers, B.A. Curate of North Thoresby and Gainsby. Second edition. Price 2d.


We understand that the Rev. Edward Burton, D. D. Regius Professor of Divinity, and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, is preparing an edition of the Greek Testament, with Critical and Explanatory Notes in English, which is nearly ready

for the Press.


Sermons, preached in St. George's Church, Everton, by the Rev. Matson Vincent, M. A. of University College, Oxford. In one vol. 12mo.

Shortly will be published, Popular Lectures on the Prophecies relative to the Jewish Nation. By the Rev. Hugh M'Neile, M. A. Rector of Albury, Surrey.

Sir Isaac Newton and the Modern Socinians foiled in their Attempt to prove a Corruption in the Text of 1 Timothy iii. 16, Θεὸς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκὶ; and the true Reading established on Principles of General and Biblical Criticism. By E. Henderson, Professor of Divinity and the Oriental Languages at Highbury College.



LUKE vi. 37.

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.

CHRISTIANS are joined together in the most endearing bonds of union. They are peculiarly distinguished in the Gospel by the title of the Brethren; and the most prominent and characteristic feature of the Gospel itself is harmony and peace. "By this shall all men know," says our blessed Lord, "that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." In the writings of the Apostles we are repeatedly enjoined to be "like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind;" "to seek peace, and to ensue it;""to walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us ;" and "if it be possible, as And more much as lieth in us, to live peaceably with all men." especially does our Saviour's sermon on the mount abound with precepts, by the observance of which punctually and faithfully, love and peace would be effectually promoted among men ;-precepts, too, which apply not only to the ordinary transactions of man, but extend to the daily intercourse of social and domestic life. Our Divine Master was well acquainted with our mutual dependence upon each other for comfort and happiness, and accordingly he inculcated those tempers and dispositions, with which we ought always to meet our fellow-creatures. And perhaps among all his admonitions, there is not one of greater interest and importance, than that which is proposed in the Gospel for the day; "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged."

This precept, like many others in the New Testament, is delivered in general terms. There are cases, however, to which it does not apply; and wherein the contrary is not only necessary, but sanctioned in the Gospel. If, indeed, the dispositions which our Saviour recommends were universally adopted, the precepts would also be as general as the words in which they are expressed. But our blessed Lord "knew what was in man ;" and he therefore knew, that in many instances, instead of peace, envyings and strife would arise; and we are told by St. James, that "where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." To suppress this confusion, therefore, and to eradicate these evil works, whether in Church or State, there must of necessity be constituted authorities, endowed with the power of inquiring into the conduct of offenders, and of passing judgment upon, and punishing their crimes. "Magistrates," says the Apostle, are the ministers of God, for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well." And again, St. Paul exhorts Timothy, "that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty."


But we may go yet further; and we shall see that there is a line of conduct, which Christians, and more particularly ministers of the Gospel, are bound to pursue, which may seem at first sight to miliTo convince the sinner of his tate against the command in the text.

errors, and to labour to restore him to the favour of his God, is, perhaps, the noblest feature which Christian charity can assume. "He that converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death;" and our blessed Lord assures us, "that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth." Now it is manifestly impossible, that this benevolent spirit should be exercised, without passing judgment upon the guiltiness of the sinner, and convincing him of the necessity of amendment ;-without preserving the distinction between right and wrong, and guarding against the error and condemnation of those who "call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." It is farther commanded in the New Testament, that from such persons as persist in their wickedness, after repeated and ineffectual admonitions, we are to withdraw ourselves. "Have no fellowship," says St. Paul, "with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Again, we are commanded to "withdraw ourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly ;" and from such as, "having a form of godliness, deny the power thereof." By this behaviour, therefore, we manifest our reprobation of the character of such persons, and pass à tacit judgment upon their lives and actions; and it cannot be supposed that such conduct would be enjoined by the Apostle, if it were at variance with the precept in the text. Nor are we called upon to resist the evidences of our senses, and refrain from judging ill of a person who is a notoriously disorderly liver, and conducting himself in a manner evidently repugnant to the dictates of virtue, sobriety, and justice. And even in those cases where we have no foundation for thinking ill, we are not always required to think well. Common experience teaches us, that we may place our reliance upon those who are unworthy of confidence, and therefore we are justified in selecting such persons to manage our affairs, upon whom no suspicion can possibly rest. Such a selection is by no means a positive judgment; it does not imply that we think ill of one, because we think well of another. And at all events, if we keep our opinions within our own breasts, and say nothing to the injury of a man's cha racter, even though we may have reason to be on our guard against him, we cannot be considered as offending against our Saviour's command; "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged."

What then is the extent of the admonition, and what are the consequences of neglecting it? First, our Lord forbids all rash judgment, and censorious opinions upon the conduct of our fellowcreatures. We are not to condemn the conduct of another, without sufficient grounds for the charges which we bring against him. Human nature is ever liable to be deceived by appearances, and it may easily happen that an action may be perfectly correct, which, when looked upon in an improper light, may appear ill-advised and blameworthy. A man may proceed upon principles with which a stranger is unacquainted; who is therefore unqualified to give an opinion upon the matter in hand. Circumstances, moreover, may render an action perfectly justifiable in one man, which, under different circumstances, would be equally unjustifiable in another. And, indeed, even in cases where the event decides that a man has been actually wrong, we should

be very careful how we judge harshly or hastily. He may have proceeded conscientiously, and have erred through ignorance ;-his motives may have been right, though his conduct should be wrong. And if he declares that he has so erred, we have no right to judge otherwise, unless there is the clearest proof to the contrary. In fact, till we can scrutinize the thoughts and sentiments of our fellow-creatures, "Who are we that judge another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth :" and by our judgment we invade the prerogative of God, who is alone the searcher of hearts, and from whom no secrets are hid. We arrogantly anticipate the judgment which he will pass upon all men at the last day, and assume to us the right which he has reserved exclusively to himself. Let us "therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart." This advice of the Apostle refers more particularly to the judgments which are passed in religious concerns,a species of censoriousness, perhaps, of all others, the most uncharitable. That there may be hypocrisy and affectation in the exercise of devotion-that there may be ostentation in charity and benevolence— and deceit in a grave and sanctified deportment, we shall not pretend to deny. These vices were condemned by our Saviour himself in the Pharisees of old, "who made clean indeed the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they were full of extortion and excess. But nothing can be more uncharitable than to judge of the hearts of men, denouncing whole sects as hypocrites, because their tenets are different from our own.

Analogous to this, is that unfavourable judgment which those, who are influenced by what is called party-spirit, are apt to pass upon others, who think differently from themselves. The opinions of another may be wrong, and if generally acted upon, productive of fatal consequences;-but are we therefore to misrepresent his character, and because he is mistaken, reproach him as dishonest? Are we not all liable to error? and may we not, even at the time we are finding fault with another, be ourselves much more deserving of blame?

Another offence against the precept in the text, is a tendency to form our opinions of a man's character from personal prejudice, and to allow ourselves to be biassed by a feeling of private resentment. An unforgiving spirit is, of all others, the most at variance with the cha racter of a Christian. Such, indeed, is the infirmity of human nature, that offences must necessarily arise; and we cannot expect, with our most anxious endeavours, to maintain a perfect and unceasing fellowship with all around us. We should, therefore, be prepared to meet with provocations and injuries, and exert ourselves to bear them patiently, and to restrain our resentment within proper bounds. In this, as in all other virtues, our blessed Lord has left us an example that we should follow his steps. Amidst all the insults which he endured, and all the taunts and calumnies which were heaped upon him, he never once expressed the slightest feeling of revenge. "When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." With this bright example, then, before our eyes,

shall we allow ourselves to be led astray by any trifling injury, to vilify and defame the character of a fellow-creature? We are all compassed by infirmity, and we may all be drawn, in the hour of temptation, into offence. But we should none of us, perhaps, be very ready to admit the justice of the judgment, which should affix a general stain upon our conduct, and from a single failing decide upon the whole tenour of our lives and actions. Truth and charity should never give way to any feeling of ill-will; but we should follow carefully the advice of the Apostle, "putting on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any." But above all, in censuring the faults of others, let us look to our own. There are too many in the world, who justly expose themselves to the answer of the Apostle : "Wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself, for thou that judgest doest the same things." It is not unfrequent, that the most censorious are by far the most blind to their own frailties and imperfections. While they are prying into the affairs of others, and seeking occasion of censure against them, they have no time to attend to themselves, and correct what is amiss in their own conduct. How many, for instance, are there who do not hesitate to condemn the practice of others in neglecting the public worship of God, whilst they themselves yet more shamefully neglect the blessed sacrament! This is a species of hypocrisy, against which the precept in the text seems more particularly directed, and which is strikingly represented in the parable which immediately succeeds; "Why beholdest thou the mote which is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye e? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye." To these, and similar cases, does the injunction of our Saviour apply. The disposition from which they arise, originates in a sinful pride, which makes us think "more highly of ourselves than we ought to think," and less highly of our neighbours ;-from a foolish self-conceit, which exalts us in our own eyes, and raises us in our own imaginations; and from those corrupt inclinations of the heart, which would derive a borrowed splendour to our own actions, by throwing a cloud over those of others. The mischief which such tempers cause, and the confusion which they create, are easily discernible. By ill-judging of the intentions of another, -by interpreting an indiscreet word into an intended affront, - by denouncing a mistaken kindness as a meditated injury-how easily may an attached friend be regarded as a disguised enemy! By condemning the benevolence, the piety, and the devotion of a sincere Christian, and charging him with hypocrisy and affectation, how may the virtuous be discouraged, and their examples lost to the world! And even by aggravating the offences of those who are really guilty, and treating them with undue severity, how easily may we render them callous to reproof, and heedless of penitence and amendment !

« PrécédentContinuer »