Brothers, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;…
Men may think falsely, and live virtuously; or they may live immorally, and think correctly. The one class are intellectual sinners: the other moral transgressors. They are to be judged by different standards, and so classified as not to be swept away in one common anathema. If error proceeds from sheer intellectual inability to see as the majority see, charity should be exercised in all its power and tenderness; but if error proceeds from a putrid heart — if it is cherished because truth is too regardful of the conduct, and too restraining for the wildness of passion — their indignation may be excited, and consequences allowed to discharge their retributive fires.
I. THE POSSIBILITY OF A TRUTH-POSSESSOR BECOMING A TRUTH-LOSER.
1. Through a daring, speculative turn of thought. We are not of those who would close the inquiring eye and bind the exploring wing; yet our duty is to warn the student that there are dangerous latitudes in every sea, and that many a gallant vessel has been shivered on the hidden rock.
2. Through want of sympathy in their intellectual difficulties. Woe unto the Church when honest thought and honest speech are repressed! When intellect is stagnant, its putrid effluvium may corrupt the heart's holiest feelings.
3. Through intellectual pride. Some men are ever in minorities through a love of singularity. They confound impertinence with candour, and mistake rudeness for originality.
II. THE PRINCIPLE OF MUTUAL OVERSIGHT IN SPIRITUAL LIFE IS RECOGNISED. GO to the erring one with a brother's gentleness, and you may win his soul from destruction. The nearer he is to the edge of the precipice, the more caution is required on the part of those who have his interest at heart.
III. THE SALVATION OF THE SOUL IS THE SUBLIMEST OF MORAL TRIUMPHS.
1. Christ deemed it worthy of His incarnation and sacrifice.
2. The mission of God's Spirit is thus fulfilled.
3. The sum of moral goodness is augmented.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;