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fad accident; to correct a very vicious humour, which hath always reigned in the world, of censuring the faults of others, whilst we overlook our own.
The principle of self-love, which was planted in innocent nature, is by the fall and corruption of man degenerated into felt-flattery; so that it is now almost become natural to men, to supply the want of a good conscience, by a good conceit of themselves. Hence it comes to pass that men are so ready to take all advantages to confirm themselves in that false peace which they have created to themselves in their own imaginations : and so they can but maintain a comfortable opinion of themselves, they matter not how uncharitable they are to others; and knowing no better way to countenance this fond conceit: of themselves, than by fancying God to be their friend; hence it comes to pass, that they are so apt to interpret the several providences of God towards others, in favour of themselves; and to abuse the judgments of God, which fall upon their neighbours, into an argument of their own comparative innocency.
And therefore our Saviour (who knew what was in man, and what kind of conclufions 'men are apt to draw from such occurrences of providence as this which was now presented) endeavours in the first place, to prevent the bad use they were likely to make of it; Suppose ye, (says he) that these Galileans were finners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay; &c. To this inftance of the Galileans, he adds another of the same kind, well known to all that dwelc in Jerufalem :' and that was of the eighteen person's, who were flain by the fall of a tower, which was in the pool of Siloam at the foot of mount Sion, ver, the 4th, or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, think ye that they were finners above all that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell Now, Nay.
And having thus anticipated their censuring of others, our Saviour proceeds to awaken them to a consideration and care of themselves, I tell you, Nay: but except je repent, ye Mall all likewise perih.
The general sense of which words is, That impenitency in sin will certainly be the ruin of men sooner or later; it will probably bring great mischiefs and calamities upon men in this world ; however it will, infallibly plange them into misery in the next. But besides the certain denunciation of misery and ruin to all impenitent sinners, which is the largest sense of the words, and agreeable to many other express texts of scripture, it is probable enough, that they may more immediately and particularly refer to those temporal calamities which were to befall the Jews, and be-spoken by our Saviour by way of prediction, foretelling what would be the fate of the whole Jewish nation, if they continued impenitent, wivTes ouobws a'Toatio 9 ,'re shall all perish in like måne,
that is, it ye do not repent, besides the venge. ance of another world, a temporal judgment as fad as these I have instanced in, and not much unlike them, shall come upon this whole nation : and so indeed it came to pass afterwards: For Josephus tells us, that at the time of the passover, when the whole nation of the Jews were met together, as their cuktom was at. Jerufalem, they were all shut up and besieged by the Romans. And he tells us farther, that in the time of that fjege, upon a sedition among themselves, a great multitude of them were Nain in the temple, as they were facrificing, and their blood poured forth, together with that of the beasts which were to be offered, as had happened before to the Galileans.
From the words thus explained, I shall observe these two things. First, The
wrong use which men are apt to make of the extraordinary and fignal judgments of God upon others. Suppose ye that these Galileans were finners above all the Galileans, because there suffered such things ? intimating that men are very apt so to conclude, and that the Jews did so.
Secondly, The right use that we should inake of these things, which is, to reflect upon our own fins, and repent of them, left the like or greater judgments
overtake us. I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, gue Mall all likewise perish.
First, The wrong use which men are apt to make of the extraordinary and signal judgments of God upon others; and that is to be uncharitable and censorious towards others, which is commonly confequent upon a gross and ftupid neglect of ourselves. For inen do not usually entertain and cherish this cenforious humour for its own fake, but in order to some farther end; they are not so uncharitable merely out of spite and malice to others, but out of selfflattery, and a fond affection to themselves. This makes them forward' to represent others to all the disadvantage that may be, and to render them as bad as they can, that they themselves may appear less evil in their own eyes, and may have a colour to ser off themselves by the comparison. It is the nature of guilt
' to fee from itself, and to use all possible arts to hide and lefsen it. For guilt in the soul is like deformity in the body. Persons very deformed fel- . dom arrive to that absurd conceit of themselves, as to think themselves beauties; but because they cannot think so, they do all they can to comfort and commend themselves by comparison. Hence men are apt to censure and aggravate the faults and miscarriages of their neighbours, that their own may appear the less; fora leffer evil in respect of a greater, hath some face and appearance of good; and therefore men are ready to take all advantages to represent others as bad as may be: and because there can be no greater 'evidence, that a' man is a great finner, than if he be declared to be so from heaven hence it is, that men are so forward to interpret the remarkable judgments of God upon any person, as an argument of his being a more notorious offender than others.
For the farther explication and illustration of this point, I shall do these three things :
1. I shall thew that men are very apt to make this bad use of the signal judgments of God upon others.
II. I Mall more particularly consider several of the rash conclusions which men are apt to draw from the judgments of God upon others; whether upon publick societies and communities of men, or upon particular persons.
III. I shall fnew how unreasonable it is to draw from hence any such rash and uncharitable conclu. sions concerning others, and likewise how foolish it is from hence to draw comfort and encouragement to ourselves.
1. That men are very apt to make this bad use of the signal judgments of God upon
This our Saviour plainly intimates in the text, Suppose ye that these Galileans were finners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell
, think ye that they were finners above all that dwelt in Jerusalem ? by which manner of speaking, our Saviour fignifies, that men are very apt thus to suppose, that those upon whom the extraordinary judgments of God fall, are no ordinary sinners, but are guilty of somewhat above the common rate of men.
Thus we find. Job's friends, when they saw him af. Alicted by the hand of God, in so strange and extraordinary a manner, from hence presently concluded, that he must needs be a prodigious finner ; and because they could find no evidence of this in his life and actions, therefore they concluded that his wicked. ness was secret, and that it lay there where they could not see it, in his heart and thoughts : for this they laid down for a certain conclusion, that being so remarkable a sufferer, he must needs be a great linner; and because they could discern no such thing in his outward conversation, they charged him with hypocrify, and concluded all his external profession of piety and religion to be false and counterfeit.
So likewise, when the man that was born blind was brought to our Saviour, John ix. 2.' the dir. ciples presently asked him, Master, who did fin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? This was that which lay uppermost in their minds, the very first thing that suggested itself to their thoughts :
surely surely this judgment was in Aicted upon this man for some particular and extraordinary fin, which either he, or (because that was not so likely) his parents had been guilty of.
And we find in common experience, how prone men are to make , uncharitable constructions of the judgments of God upon others, and grievously to censure those whom God hath smitten ; partly because it looks like a vindication of themselves from the guilt of the like crimes, since they are not involved in the like sufferings ; partly to gratify, their pride and curiosity, in seeming to understand the reason and end of God's judgments, as if they had beer of his council, and saw farther into the reasons of his providence then other men; like some pragmatical people in civil matters, who though they think no more than their neighbours, yet will needs seem to understand those hidden and secret springs which move publick affairs : and, which is yet worse, many times to gratify their own passions and foolish conceits, that God is angry with those things and persons which displease them, and that God's judgments are expressions of his particular disike of those whom they disaffect, and would certainly punish, if the government of the world were in their hands. Or lastly, men think it a piece of piety, and affectionate zeal for God, and a taking of his part, to censure those heavily, whom God afflicts severely; like some foolish parasites, who if they see a great man be angry with any one and strike him, they think themselves bound to fall upon him, and out of an officious flattery will beat him too. But from whatever cause it proceeds, it is certainly a very bad thing, and our Saviour here in the text does with great vehemency deny, that any such conclusion can certainly be 'col. lected from the judginents of God upon others; I tell you, Nay. And to express this more vehemently, he repeats it again, I tell you, Nay. Let us therefore,
II. More particularly consider some of the rash conclusions which men are apt to draw from the judgments of God upon others, whether upon pu