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ON RASH JUDGMENTS ; AND BELIEVERS TAKING

THE JUDGMENT CHAIR AND CONDEMNING THEIR

BRETHREN. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged : condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned:

forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.—Luke, vi. 37. (From a personal acquaintance with the writer of the following paper, we are

justified in entertaining the fullest belief that—while he censures the too common practice of many of the Lord's family, whose souls are robbed and spoiled by the indulgence of a spirit of acrimony, and that to this very prin. ciple they may attribute their leanness—yet from his long standing in the church, and a spirit of discernment, he would be cautious how he received all as Christians who bear the Christian name. While, on the one hand, a child of God is to beware how he judges others-conscious, as he is, of the very erroneous conclusions to which he not unfrequently arrives, when left to the exercise of his own contracted ideas, or to the influence of a censorious spirit -yet, on the other hand, he is to try the spirits (1 John, iv. 1). The bound. ary-especially in the present day, when there is so much of the semblance of Christianity-between that union of heart which exists between the living family of God and the enthusiastic, flesbly zeal which characterises those who have a name to live and are yet dead to everything like vital religion-the boundary, we say, is, to all outward appearance, so narrow, that it needs the exercise of much caution ere we, at least, express our opinions of others; and causes us to stand much in need of the inward witnessing and gracious lead. ings of God the Holy Ghost. Of some there is the sealing testimony in a moment, and our confidence in such as are thus made manifest to the conscience, nothing 'can shake; in others there is a discovery of so much peculiarity, that we have to travail in birth for them amid hope and fear; of a third description, though, perhaps, standing in a high profession, there is enough to awaken our fears, and cause us to receive their testimony with

inward caution, and beware wherein we follow their example.--Ed.] Though the Holy Ghost hath led his servant and amanuensis, Matthew, to record the sermon of our blessed Lord on the Mount at great length, making 107 verses, and the same Spirit moved Luke to sum up its most important contents very shortly in thirty verses (vi. 20—49); yet in the matter of Christ's disciples sitting in judgment on their brethren-pronouncing harsh decisions, rash censures, condemnations, and anathemas against the holy disciples of Jesus, whom he not only bears with, but loves and honours as his own children and servantsLuke is more minute than Matthew ; as will be easily proved by comparing Matt. vii. 1-5, with Luke, vi. 37-45.

From this fact, and being thus earnestly enforced on believers by the Holy Spirit, I gather the importance and great stress that should be laid upon this much neglected, this greatly violated, this weighty Command of Christ to his church and people.

An eminent minister of the Gospel, who died in 1813, said this Command was not binding on him, and stoutly maintained, as many now do, that he was authorized to assume the character and perform the functions of a Judge. He limited this precept to the unregenerate and ungodly, who could have no right and correct judgment about either persons or things in regard to Christ's kingdom. A little examination into this matter will prove the fallacy of this conclusion. Surely nothing can be more plain and evident from the whole context, than that these words are a clear and express Command of Christ to his

own peculiar people, the objects of his love, redeemed by his precious blood, and partakers of his Spirit, grace, and truth. In Matthew they are said to be of little faith, have God for their Father, such as seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, to whom the promise of all needful things is given and secured, the poor, meek, mourners, merciful, pure in heart, &c.; the ye kept up through the greater part of this discourse, and so very often repeated ; they are those who should not behold and condemn the mote in their brother's eye, while they perceive not the beam in their own ; they are told not to cast pearls before swine, or give that which is holy unto dogs. Doubtless none but the Lord's called ones have any jewels or holy things thus to use. In Luke they are called the children of the Highest, and told to be merciful as their Father is merciful; good men bringing forth that which is good out of God's good treasure lodged in their hearts. The servant of Jesus that came to the conclusion that this word was not binding upon him, greatly erred ; and though a great man and a prince in God's Israel, yet in this instance and some others, he became little ; for he not only broke this wise and holy Command, but, by his example, taught and influenced many others so to do (Matt. v. 19). It is a matter of deep lamentation that he has found innumerable and apt scholars, for evil is soon learnt and easily practised. On the other hand, Christ declares that whosoever does these his Commandments, in the first place, and then teaches them afterwards, shall be called great in His kingdom.

From these premises it will necessarily follow, that whosoever ascend or usurp the Judgment Chair - issuing from thence their rash sentences, and fulminating their anathemas upon Christ's brethren, who are manifestly called, and chosen, and faithful; especially on those servants of Jesus who have clearly proved by their doctrines, their lives, and their deaths, they were pastors after his heart, whatever infirmities they were the subjects of, or the mistakes they might make on some points (who can tell his errors, or how oft he offendeth ?), who fed that church which the glorious God-Man purchased with his own blood (Acts, xx. 24-28)-must be self-elected to that seat-must be self-made Judges of the Israel of God. The Holy Ghost never leads any believer to slight, much less to break, his clear and express command. Jesus never calls to, or invests with, an Office which he hath forbidden any of his followers to take, and which he himself is alone appointed to fill (John, v. 22–30; Acts, x. 42, 43).

This infinitely wise, holy, and gracious Judge brings all his saints and chosen ones to his bar, and judges them in a twofold way. First, sooner or later, in some way or other, they are cited in the Court of his holiness and justice, and there tried by that Law which is holy, just, and good. There they are not only arraigned, but condemned. He becomes a Spirit of judgment to and in them, causing them ultimately, however reluctant and rebellious at first and bent on justifying or excusing themselves, to condemn themselves, plead guilty, finding themselves utterly lost. They thus justify the Lawgiver, and fall under the sentence of his righteous Law. Their mouths are stopped so effectually in the issue of this trial, that they have not one word of self-vindication to utter, nor a thought of urging one excuse. They would rather aggravate than extenuate their guilt, which in their view cannot be aggravated; they would multiply their sins rather than diminish them, for they are to themselves innumerable. When the Lord hath thus judged his people, so that their strength and goodness are all gone, and none shut up or left, he will repent himself for his servants (Deut. xxxii. 36), or change his mode of dealing with them, and take them from the throne of Judgment to the throne of his Grace, where mercy and free-favour are abundantly dispensed, which is the second way or Court into which they are led by the Holy Spirit. Here they come to him who is a glorious Throne to his Father's house (Isa. xxii. 23); the Mediator and Advocate for poor, lost, ruined sinners; the Surety of the better Covenant; the Judge that brings near his righteousness to justify the ungodly, and applies that blood that cleanseth from all sin. He gives them that faith in Himself as made sin for them, though perfect holiness and purity, and altogether separate from sin and sinners; that they, who are in and of themselves nothing but sin, and can do nothing but sin, might be made the righteousness of God in him : which brings with it a freedom from all condemnation, a perfect justification from all things, a full, free, and everlasting forgiveness of all sins, past, present, and future ; a passage from death unto life, and the possession of that Eternal Life which can never be lost. For all these blessings and glories, and many others, this glorious and merciful Judge hath himself connected with, and attached to, a living faith in him who is the true God and Eternal Life. Thus this branch of their judgment issues in glorious victory and truth (Isa. xlii. 3, Matt. xii. 18—21). Joshua received such a judgment as this (see Zech. iii.). Thus, where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound and reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord ; filling the soul with all joy and peace in believing on him, just as in an overwhelming springtide wave follows wave, until all the sands of innumerable transgressions, doubts, fears, and misgivings, are entirely covered and lost in this infinite sea of Divine love and mercy. · When the solemn realities, the vast importance, the dreadful and blessed consequences connected with these Judgments of the Most High God, and the very nature of the office of a Judge, are duly considered, surely it is an astounding thing when we find men forward to rush into, and make an assumption of, the Judgment Chair. How dare poor, weak, erring, blinded mortals thus venture! Do they know their own heart fully? How then can they know the hearts of others ? Doth not the Lord say that he alone knows the depths of its deceit and wickedness? What means have they of knowing the states, before God and in his sight, of those upon whom some of these Judges have pronounced sentences of condemnation, without the least degree of remorse, and with no slight symptoms of self-complacency?

If the knowledge, experience, and years of many of these Judges of Israel be considered, it is not a little surprising to behold such persons in such situations. Though there are painful instances of some being found in the chair of judgment of great age, with one foot in the grave, yet the bulk of such characters are young Christians, and own peculiar people, the objects of his love, redeemed by his precious blood, and partakers of his Spirit, grace, and truth. In Matthew they are said to be of little faith, have God for their Father, such as seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, to whom the promise of all needful things is given and secured, the poor, meek, mourners, merciful, pure in heart, &c. ; the ye kept up through the greater part of this discourse, and so very often repeated ; they are those who should not behold and condemn the mote in their brother's eye, while they perceive not the beam in their own ; they are told not to cast pearls before swine, or give that which is holy unto dogs. Doubtless none but the Lord's called ones have any jewels or holy things thus to use. In Luke they are called the children of the Highest, and told to be merciful as their Father is merciful ; good men bringing forth that which is good out of God's good treasure lodged in their hearts. The servant of Jesus that came to the conclusion that this word was not binding upon him, greatly erred ; and though a great man and a prince in God's Israel, yet in this instance and some others, he became little ; for he not only broke this wise and holy Command, but, by his example, taught and influenced many others so to do (Matt. v. 19). It is a matter of deep lamentation that he has found innumerable and apt scholars, for evil is soon learnt and easily practised. On the other hand, Christ declares that whosoever does these his Commandments, in the first place, and then teaches them afterwards, shall be called great in His kingdom.

From these premises it will necessarily follow, that whosoever ascend or usurp the Judgment Chair - issuing from thence their rash sentences, and fulminating their anathemas upon Christ's brethren, who are manifestly called, and chosen, and faithful; especially on those servants of Jesus who have clearly proved by their doctrines, their lives, and their deaths, they were pastors after his heart, whatever infirmities they were the subjects of, or the mistakes they might make on some points (who can tell his errors, or how oft he offendeth ?), who fed that church which the glorious God-Man purchased with his own blood (Acts, xx. 24-28)—must be self-elected to that seat-must be self-made Judges of the Israel of God. The Holy Ghost never leads any believer to slight, much less to break, his clear and express command. Jesus never calls to, or invests with, an Office which he hath forbidden any of his followers to take, and which he himself is alone appointed to fill (John, v. 22–30; Acts, x. 42, 43).

This infinitely wise, holy, and gracious Judge brings all his saints and chosen ones to his bar, and judges them in a twofold way. First, sooner or later, in some way or other, they are cited in the Court of his holiness and justice, and there tried by that Law which is holy, just, and good. There they are not only arraigned, but condemned. He becomes a Spirit of judgment to and in them, causing them ultimately, however reluctant and rebellious at first and bent on justifying or excusing themselves, to condemn themselves, plead guilty, finding themselves utterly lost. They thus justify the Lawgiver, and fall under the sentence of his righteous Law. Their mouths are stopped so effectually in the issue of this trial, that they have not one word of self-vindication to utter, nor a thought of urging one excuse. They would rather aggravate than extenuate their guilt, which in their view cannot be aggravated; they would multiply their sins rather than diminish them, for they are to themselves innumerable. When the Lord hath thus judged his people, so that their strength and goodness are all gone, and none shut up or left, he will repent himself for his servants (Deut. xxxii. 36), or change his mode of dealing with them, and take them from the throne of Judgment to the throne of his Grace, where mercy and free-favour are abundantly dispensed, which is the second way or Court into which they are led by the Holy Spirit. Here they come to him who is a glorious Throne to his Father's house (Isa. xxii. 23); the Mediator and Advocate for poor, lost, ruined sinners ; the Surety of the better Covenant; the Judge that brings near his righteousness to justify the ungodly, and applies that blood that cleanseth from all sin. He gives them that faith in Himself as made sin for them, though perfect holiness and purity, and altogether separate from sin and sinners; that they, who are in and of themselves nothing but sin, and can do nothing but sin, might be made the righteousness of God in him : which brings with it a freedom from all condemnation, a perfect justification from all things, a full, free, and everlasting forgiveness of all sins, past, present, and future ; a passage from death unto life, and the possession of that Eternal Life which can never be lost. For all these blessings and glories, and many others, this glorious and merciful Judge hath himself connected with, and attached to, a living faith in him who is the true God and Eternal Life. Thus this branch of their judgment issues in glorious victory and truth (Isa. xlii. 3, Matt. xii. 18—21). Joshua received such a judgment as this (see Zech. iii.). Thus, where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound and reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord ; filling the soul with all joy and peace in believing on him, just as in an overwhelming springtide wave follows wave, until all the sands of innumerable transgressions, doubts, fears, and misgivings, are entirely covered and lost in this infinite sea of Divine love and mercy. • When the solemn realities, the vast importance, the dreadful and blessed consequences connected with these Judgments of the Most High God, and the very nature of the office of a Judge, are duly considered, - surely it is an astounding thing when we find men forward to rush into, and make an assumption of, the Judgment Chair. How dare poor, weak, erring, blinded mortals thus venture! Do they know their own heart fully ? How then can they know the hearts of others? Doth not the Lord say that he alone knows the depths of its deceit and wickedness? What means have they of knowing the states, before God and in his sight, of those upon whom some of these Judges have pronounced sentences of condemnation, without the least degree of remorse, and with no slight symptoms of self-complacency?

If the knowledge, experience, and years of many of these Judges of Israel be considered, it is not a little surprising to behold such persons in such situations. Though there are painful instances of some being found in the chair of judgment of great age, with one foot in the grave, yet the bulk of such characters are young Christians, and

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