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about the happiness of our future days; that would be to render life much more burdensome than it is.
1. "Let us obey the excellent counsel of our divine master, when he exhorts us to lay up treasures in heaven rather than upon earth. They will be more safe, more durable, and in every respect more valụable..--Let us now therefore apply ourselves to do good; let us labour for our own improvement in knowledge, virtuę and piety; let us employ our time and spend our substance in instructing the ignorant in the knowledge of their duty; in reclaiming the wicked from their vicious courses; in supplying the wants of the mind, or alleviating the distresses of the afflicted; in promoting the happiness of mankind, by whatever means are capable of advancing it. The men of the world may smile at such services as useless labours, and marks of a weak mind, because they bring with them no worldly profit; but they will turn to good account hereafter: if they meet with no reward in this life, they will be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. The riches which we possess in this life, are often destroyed or carried away by the hands of violence, or waste away under the influence of time: but if they escape the ravages of time and the rapine of the wicked, they necessarily forsake us at death: then, however, it is that the good works which we perform discover their true value; they are a treasure laid up in heaven, which no one can take from us; beyond the reach of accident, beyond the reach of time or death; they will follow us into another world, and afford us immensely great and everlasting profit. Let us now give our hearts entirely to these treasures: Christ has informed us that
it is impossible to serve two masters; yet there are many who, notwithstanding this declaration and the experience of past ages, are resolved to make the fruitless experiment; they give their hearts to the world, but presume to hope that because they perform a few religious ceremonies and useful services; that because they preserve the external forms of respect to the Divine Being, they shall be accepted of him: but God will admit of no such compromise between himself and the world; he must have the first place in the heart, or he will not accept of any.
2. From the language of Christ upon this occasion, we may learn the importance of forming just opinions upon religious subjects; for he tells us that the affections will follow the judgment; that whatever is believed to contain the source of true happiness will possess the heart; nor is it less certain that the actions of men follow their affections. Here then we see that the judgment of the mind is the leading spring of human conduct, upon which all that is right or wrong in the behaviour of mankind depends. It is then of infinite importance, that this judgment should be well informed respecting the nature of duty and the value of the different objects which men are pursuing: from mistakes here have arisen the most dreadful evils to mankind. Some have been led to place the whole of religion in the observance of external ceremonies, or in certain extravagant, enthusiastic feelings; nay, many, through a mistaken conscience, have been induced to make it a point of duty to violate the plainest principles of morality, and to be guilty of treachery, cruelty and every species of barbarity, in order to render themselves acceptable to the Divine Being.
3. How thankful should we be for the various powerful arguments which Christ employs, to guard our minds against anxious cares about the future; he borrows them from the most familiar objects, which are open to the observation of men in every condition of life ; from the fowls of the air and the flowers of the field. These are all produced to read lessons of instruction to us upon these important subjects; let us not indulge ourselves in cares which the whole frame of nature condemns, and which Christ himself has taken so much pains to remove: let us leave such distressing anxieties as have for their object the superfluities or even necessaries of life, to Gentiles, who know not God and believe not in Providence: better things may be expected from Christians, and even from those who only believe in the existence of a wise, powerful and good Being, who superintends the works of his hands.
Matthew vii. l-12.
1. Judge not that ye be not judged. Christ does not here forbid all kinds of judging, but only that which is severe or without foundation; as when we impute to men evil intentions and wicked characters, although their actions will not justify such conclusions; or when we censure with too much rigour what is wrong; that he would have us avoid, because we may hereby expose ourselves to the just condemna- . tion of God. The caution contained in these words was intended for the instruction of his followers; but had probably a reference to the conduct of the Scribes and Pharisees, who were very censorious and uncharitable in judging others.
2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
This is the literal translation of the verse; but it would be more intelligible, and not less agreeable to the original, to render it thus; “ For as ye judge ye
will be judged; and the measure that ye give will be given to you again.” These words were a proverb, in common use among the Jews, to express that as men behaved towards others, they would be treated by them in return. Christ here applies it to the Divine Being, declaring that his conduct towards us will depend upon our conduct towards each other, and, in particular, that if we are severe in the judgment which we form of other men, we must expect no mercy from God. The sentiment contained in them is the same as James expresses, when he says, (ii. 3.), “ he shall have judgment without mercy who hath shewed no mercy.
3. And why beholdest thou the mote, rather, “ splinter,” that is in thy brother's eye; but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
It appears that this was a proverbial saying among the Jews, as well as that in the preceding verse. The word which we have translated mote, a small seed or a grain of sand, signifies also a small splinter of wood, which, as it is opposed to a beam of timber, is probably the meaning of it in this place.
The purpose of the proverb is, that men are sharpsighted to discern the inconsiderable faults of others, while they wink at much greater faults of their own,
4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the splinter 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 splinter out of thy brother's eye.
Those who are guilty of the same vices which they condemn, or of others equally criminal, are not qualified for admonishing and reforming their brethren; for their own vices corrupt their understandings, and prevent them from forming a just estimate of the faults of others; leading them to judge too lightly of those offences which they commit themselves, and too severely of those which are to be observed in the conduct of other men, but from which their own lives are exempt. To pretend to great zeal for reforming mankind, while men are themselves vicious, is also a plain proof of hypocrisy; for they can feel no real attachment to virtues which they refuse to practise.---Let men reform their own hearts and lives; let them first cure the diseases of their own minds, and then they will be qualified for pronouncing upon the nature of the diseases of others, and for suggesting the best means of removing them. Men will listen to the admonitions of such persons with patience; but they will reject with disdain the reproofs of the wicked. There appears to be something peculiarly seasonable in this language of our Saviour, when we consider that it was addressed to persons who were shortly to assume the office of instructing and reforming mankind. It reminded them, how requisite an irreproachable character was to the success of their undertaking.
6. Give not that which is holy, “ the sacrifice," unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine ; lest these, the swine, trample them under their feet, and those, the dogs, turn again
and rent you,
" tear you."
Christ, in the preceding verses, had been reminding. his followers of an important qualification for a public teacher of religion----that he should be free from those vices which it will be the business of his office to condemn: he here suggests to them another rule, which it would be proper for them to observe, that to an atten