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III. KNOWING ourfelves fallible, it becomes us to maintain a jealoufy over ourselves, and be constantly on our guard. We should confider, that though we do not fin wilfully, and our own hearts do not condemn us, yet, we are not hereby juftified. We are confcious that we have often erred, and made wrong conclufions, when we did not defign to leave the right way. We are liable to do the fame again. Our eye fhould therefore be to God for direction and guidance-" That which I know not, teach thou me; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more."
THIS is the more neceffary, because "the light which is in us may have become darkness." For there are those who " put darkness for light and light for darkness." Thofe with whom this is the cafe know it not; they flatter themselves and cry peace. "To the pure, all things are pure; but to them that aredefiled, and unbelieving, is nothing pure; but even their mind and confcience is defiled." This often happens to those who for a time yield to temptation and go into the ways of fin; they contract falfe principles, and judge by them, and probably fometimes live and die under the deceptive influence of their darkening power. None would dare to plead before the bar of Chrift, that they were his disciples, " and had eat and drank in his prefence," had they not been deceived into falfe views of duty, and mistaken apprehenfions of the conditions of acceptance with him.
JUDGING well of ourselves doth not enfure juftification at the bar of heaven. Our judgments of ourselves may be erroneous. If they are fo, they will be reversed. We fhall" be judged out of 'the books, according to our works ;" not according to our falfe and deceitful views. I know nothing by myfelf, yet, am I not hereby juftified. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth:
I CORINTHIANS iv. 5.
-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 hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.
ST. PAUL having profeffed himself a minister of Christ, and steward of the myfteries of God, acknowledged the obligations of fidelity, and difclaimed anxious concern refpecting the opinion entertained of him by his fellow men, because the Lord was his judge, here adds a caution, reprehenfive of the cenforious fpirit of the Corinthians, who feem to have liftened to his enemies, and given into their suspicions of the apostle. Therefore judge nothing before the time
IN the text we obferve a caution against rafh judging the characters of men-a declaration that they will be known when the Lord comes-and that fome things commendable will then be found in all
then fhall every man have praife of God. We obferve
I. A CAUTION against rafh judging the characters of men-judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come.
CIVIL judges may give judgment according to law and evidence, on those brought before them for trial-fo may the church on those arraigned at her tribunal. These are neceffary to the fubfiftence of civil and ecclefiaftical communities; therefore ordered of God. It is another fpecies of judging which is here forbidden; judging the characters of men, especially fuch as profess Godliness, and appear to act fincerely; pretending to determine their moral ftate, before the motives which actuate them are disclosed. This is judging before the time, and without evidence on which to ground a judgment; which the wife man observes to be folly and a shame to him who doth it.
THIS had been done at Corinth, by the enemies of the apoftle; and hath been done by others in every age. There have ever been people who have dared to fcatter their cenforious decifions at random, according to the prevalence of humor, caprice, or prejudice; often to the wounding of the faithful; and rending of the body of Christ.
THIS Occafions temporary mifchief; but the day is coming when all thefe diforders will be rectified. The cenfurer, and the cenfured, will ftand at the same bar, and be tried by the fame Judge. Every wrong judgment will then be reverfed, and every injurious fufpicion be removed. For,
II. EVERY man's character will be known when the Lord comes-who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifeft the counfels of the hearts.
MANY things neceffary to determine the moral characters of men are hidden from mortal eyes. We are ignorant of the counfels of the hearts-do not know their purposes and views. Without this knowledge, right judgment cannot be formed.
OUR knowledge of ourselves is imperfect. For Lelf knowledge we have advantages which we have not for the knowledge of others. We can turn inward, and contemplate the motives which govern, and the views which actuate us. But pride, paffion, prejudice, or the corrupt bias, operating in ways unperceived, often blinds the mental eye, and renders us ftrangers at home. "Whofo trufteth his own heart is a fool.-The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?" It requires great attention to form a juft judgment of ourselves-yea, to attain that felf knowledge which is neceffary for us. With regard to the knowledge of others, the difficulty is ftill greater. We can neither fee the heart, nor know the thoughts and defigns.
WE are often at a lofs for the motives which occafion things which fall under our obfervation. Other things which might caft light upon them, are hidden from us. But when the Lord cometh, the veil spread over fecret matters will be removed. "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed, or hid that fhall not be known."