Luke 6:37

These words must be taken with discrimination; they must be applied in the exercise of our natural intelligence, distinguishing between things that differ. We must observe -

I. THE TRUTH WHICH LIES OUTSIDE THE THOUGHT OF CHRIST. Our Lord could not possibly have meant to condemn the exercise of the individual judgment on men or things. By so doing, indeed, he would have condemned himself; for did he not say, "Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right"? And almost in the same breath he intimates that men are to be judged by their actions as is a tree by its fruit (ver. 44). We are commanded by the Apostle Paul to "prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good;" and John exhorts us to "try the spirits whether they are of God." Things must be judged by us; new doctrines, new institutions, new methods of worship and of work, come up for our support or our condemnation, and we must judge them, by reason, by conscience, by Scripture, that we rosy know what course we are to pursue. Men must be judged by us also. We have to decide whether we will give them our confidence, our friendship; whether we will admit them into the family circle, into the society, into the Church. To decline to judge men is to neglect one of the most serious duties and most weighty obligations of our life. And knowing all that we do know from Jesus Christ what men and things should be, having learned of him the essential value of reverence, of purity, of rectitude, of charity, we are in a position to "judge righteous judgment," as he has desired us to do.

II. THE SINFUL ERROR WHICH CHRIST CONDEMNS. The judging and the condemning which our Lord here forbids are those of a wrong and guilty order. They are, at least, threefold.

1. Hasty judgment; coming to unfavourable conclusions on slight and insufficient evidence; not giving to the inculpated neighbour any fair opportunity of explaining the occurrence; not waiting to think or to learn what has to be taken into account on the other side.

2. Uncharitable judgment, and therefore unjust judgment; for we are never so unjust as when we are uncharitable - as when we ascribe the lower motive, the ignobler purpose, the impure desire, to our neighbour. All uncharitableness is sin in the sight of Jesus Christ; and when the want of a kindly charity leads us to misjudge and so to wrong our brother, we fall under the condemnation of this his word, and under his own personal displeasure.

3. Harsh condemnation; taking a tone and using a language which are unnecessarily severe, which tend to crush rather than to reform, which daunt the spirit instead of inciting it to better things; condemnation which is not after the manner of him who "hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities," who "will not always chide, neither doth he keep his anger for ever;" condemnation which would be disallowed by him who rebuked his disciples when they rebuked those mothers who were bringing their children to his feet, and who forbade these disciples to forbid any one doing good in his name, even though he "followed not" with them.

III. THE PENALTY WE PAY FOR OUR TRANSGRESSION. If we wrongly judge and wrongly condemn, we shall suffer for our mistake, for our sin.

1. God will condemn us for our injustice, or our undue and inconsiderate severity.

2. We shall have, some day, to reproach ourselves. But the most marked penalty will be found elsewhere.

3. Our fellow-men will treat us with the severity we impose on them. It is the universal habit among men to take up the attitude toward any neighbour which he assumes toward them. Toward the merciful we are merciful, even as our Father is; toward the severe we are severe. Again and again does the fact present itself to our observation that the men who have been relentless in their punishment of others have been held fast to the letter of the bond in the day of their own shortcoming; they who show no mercy will find none when they need it for their own soul. But if we judge leniently and condemn sparingly, we shall find for ourselves that men are just unto the just and generous unto the generous. - C.

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.
No man, avers Sir Thomas Browne, can justly censure or condemn another, because, in fact, no man truly knows another. "This I perceive in myself; for I am in the dark to all the world, and my nearest friends behold me but in a cloud."... Further, no man can judge another, because no man knows himself. The Vicar of Gravenhurst, in his position of parish priest, owns himself compelled to confess that the best people are not the best in every relation of life, and the worst people not bad in every relation of life; so that with experience, he finds himself growing lenient in his blame, if also reticent in his praise. "Again and again I say to myself that only the Omniscient can be the equitable judge of human beings, so complicated are our virtue with our failings, and so many are the hidden virtues, as well as hidden vices, of our fellow-men." If judge at all we dare and do, be it in the spirit and to the latter of Wordsworth's counsel: —

"From all rash censure be the mind kept free;

He only judges right who weighs, compares,

and, in the sternest sentence which his voice pronounces, "ne'er abandons charity." Never let it be forgotten, insists a Quarterly Reviewer, that there is scarcely a single moral action of a single human being of which other men have such a knowledge — its ultimate grounds, its surrounding incidents, and the real determining causes of its merits — as to warrant their pronouncing a conclusive judgment.

"Who made the heart, 'tis He alone

Decidedly can try us;

He knows each chord — its various tone,

Each spring its various bias;

Then at the balance let's be mute,

We never can adjust it."

(F. Jacox.)

It is related of a broker in one of the Italian cities, that his strict economy brought on him the reputation of miserliness. He lived plainly and poorly, and at his death a hundred thousand men in the city were ready to curse him until his will was opened, in which he declared that early his heart was touched with the sufferings of the poor in the city for the lack of water. Springs there were none, and the public wells were bad; and he had spent his life in accumulating a fortune that should be devoted to bringing, by an aqueduct, from the neighbouring mountains, streams that should pour abundantly into the baths and dwellings of the poor of the city; and he not only denied himself many of the comforts of life, but toiled by day and by night, yea, and bore obloquy, that he might bless his fellow-citizens. He is dead; but those streams pour their health yet into that city.

The majority of people are ever ready to judge the conduct of their neighbours — in other words, to "cast the first stone." But we have no right to judge others until we know all the circumstances that influence their conduct. In many cases we might imitate those we condemn, under like circumstances. A young man employed in a printing office in one of our large towns, incurred the ridicule of the other compositors, on account of his poor clothes and unsocial behaviour. On several occasions subscription papers were presented to him for various objects, but he refused to give his money. One day a compositor asked him to contribute for a picnic party, but was politely refused. Thereupon, the other accused him of stinginess — an accusation which he resented. "You little know," he said, "how unjustly you have been treating me. For more than a year, I have been starving myself to save money enough to send my poor blind sister to Paris, to be treated by a physician who has treated many cases of blindness similar to hers. I have always done my duty here in this office, and have minded my own business. I am sacrificing everything in life for another. Would either of you do as much? Could any one do more?" He had been judged without a knowledge of circumstances. We cannot read the heart of others, and in many cases to know all is to judge all. "Judge not, that ye be not judged."

(Dr. Guyler.)

While we are coldly discussing a man's career, sneering at his mistakes, blaming his rashness, and labelling his opinions — "Evangelical and narrow," or "Latitudinarian and Pantheistic," or "Anglican and supercilious" — that man in his solitude is, perhaps, shedding hot tears because his sacrifice is a hard one, because strength and patience are failing him to speak the difficult word, and do the difficult deed.

(George Eliot.)

1. Springs not from the Divine but from the malign elements of our nature.

2. Some men exercise it under the form of a blunt, plain-speaking honesty. There is nothing so blunt as a bull; but a bull is not usually considered to be a good thing to have in orphan asylums or in society. Men, however, who have come up along that line of development, go bellowing and horning their way through life, and justify their action because they are blunt, honest, plain-spoken men.

3. Then there are men who "hate hypocrisy," and who are always and everywhere looking around and suspecting people.

4. There is another form of uncharitableness which in some respects is harder to bear than any other. That is where criticism is put in the form of wit. Gold and silver are gold and silver, whether they be in the shape of coin or not; but when they are in the shape of coin and are in circulation, they have a power which otherwise they would not have.

5. The spirit of uncharitableness adds to the irritations, and quarrellings, and sufferings of life.

6. To form judgments of men, so far as their superficial qualities are concerned, requires but little; but to form judgments of their character and disposition is one of the most elaborate and difficult things possible.

(H. W. Beecher.)

"Judge not and ye shall not be judged"; by whom? By your fellow-men? It is to be feared that whether a man judge them or not, they will judge him. The most uncensorious man in the world will not escape the censure of the uncharitable; they will censure even his uncensoriousness, and pronounce him hypocrite or fool, because he speaks well of all. When your uncharitably-disposed man cannot find a vice in his neighbour, he is so disappointed and out of temper, that he begins to pull his neighbour's virtues to pieces. No, this is a warning of Divine judgments; judge not your neighbour lest God judge you. God will bring us into judgment for all our unkind and unfair judgments of our fellow-men.

(H. S. Brown.)

I. We do not hesitate to judge those whom God has placed in a condition, the effects of which, in character and habit, we have no means of correctly estimating.

II. And even supposing actual sin in the case of the exposed man, still judgment on its proceeding from us may be a condemnation of ourselves. What should we have been in his place?

III. In our common life the judging spirit places us in a hard, unfriendly attitude towards both God and man.

IV. The judging spirit, with the injustice it leads to, often displays a remarkable ignorance of human nature which would certainly be corrected by something more of self-inspection, and by that generosity towards others which a thorough knowledge of one's self always excites in a just mind.

V. There is one large part of our subject which I can only name: the habit of judging of the whole spirit and inward life of a man from the religion he has embraced. Creeds separate, as if the souls of men were of different natures, and one God were not the Father of all.

(J. H. Them.)

"Judge not."

I. WE HAVE NOT SUFFICIENT DATA. We see a few of the actions which a man performs, we hear a few of the words he utters; and that is all we know of him. Yet some of us imagine that, on the strength of this knowledge, we can form a complete and infallible judgment in regard to his moral worth. We could not make a greater or more foolish mistake. In order to arrive at a correct decision, we must know the history of the man's ancestors for hundreds of years past, and the different tendencies towards right and towards wrong which they have transmitted to him. "Many of us are born," says the author of "John Inglesant," "with seeds within us which make moral victory hopeless from the first."


III. EVEN IF WE WERE ACQUAINTED WITH THE FACTS, WE SHOULD BE INCAPABLE OF ESTIMATING CORRECTLY THEIR MORAL SIGNIFICANCE. This is owing partly to the misleading influence of self-esteem. According to an old Indian legend, there once appeared among a nation of hunchbacks, a young and beautiful god. The people gathered round him; and when they saw that his back was destitute of a hump, they began to hoot and jeer and taunt him. One of them, however, more philosophical than the rest, said: "My friends, what are we doing? let us not insult this miserable creature. If heaven has made us beautiful, if it has adorned our backs with a mount of flesh, let us with pious gratitude repair to the temple and render our acknowledgments to the immortal gods." This quaint legend illustrates very forcibly some of the curious delusions resulting from self-esteem. We are apt to plume ourselves even on our defects, and condemn those who differ from us merely because they differ.

(A. W. Mornerie, M.A., D.Sc.)

Whatever censuring is contrary to truth and justice, humanity and charity, civility and good manners, is here expressly forbidden.


(1)to pride and vanity;

(2)to ill-will and envy;

(3)to indolence and idleness.


(1)it implies great presumption and impiety towards God, inasmuch as it is an invasion of His prerogative;

(2)it implies great injustice towards men;

(3)it is great folly in respect of ourselves — "With what measure we mete," &c.

(J. Balguy, M. A.)

I. WHAT IS HERE FORBIDDEN. It is plain that the thing forbidden is not the office, or the upright discharge of the office, of a magistrate or a judge. When provision is made, in a Christian town or state, for the due punishment of offenders against the tranquility of our streets or the security of our homes, there is nothing in this contrary to the will or precept of Christ. He was Himself a respecter of civil order, and of the authority by which it is maintained. Only let the heart of the judge, in the exercise of his office, be full of humility and of compassion; only let him remember that common infirmity, that universal sinfulness, in which he himself is the fellow and the brother of him who stands at his bar for judgment; only let him acknowledge with becoming thankfulness that Divine goodness, of grace and of providence, which alone has made him to differ; and his administration of justice may be the offspring of a Christian devotion, the exercise of a calling in which he was called, of a ministry acceptable and well-pleasing to God.

2. Nor do we understand Him to blame the expression in common society of a righteous displeasure against deeds and against doers of iniquity. It is no charity to call evil good, or to refrain, out of a misplaced tenderness, from calling evil evil. Only let us remember what we ourselves are, and where — sinners living amid temptations; and let us, therefore, speak in humility, in sincerity, and in truth.

3. Yet the world is full of such judgments as are here forbidden.(1) How little of our conversation upon the faults of others is in any sense necessary l Our judgments are most often gratuitous, willing, wanton judgments; passed in idleness and unconcern; prompted by no feeling of duty; far, far worse, therefore, than any dulness, than any silence.(2) And, if needless, then uncharitable too. How full of suspicion I How unwilling to allow a merit not patent 1 How ready to imagine a bad motive, where, by the nature of the case (man being the judge), we cannot see nor know it!(3) And how many of them are false judgments I(4) Inconsistent and hypocritical. It is always the sinner who suspects sin. It is the practised deceiver who imagines and imputes deceit. There is no real abhorrence of evil where there is a readiness to declaim against it.


1. There is a retaliation in such things. A law of retribution. The censorious man will have his censor, whereas the merciful man will be mercifully judged — both here and hereafter. Not that a mere abstinence from censorious judgment will purchase for a sinner exemption from the sentence due to his own sins; but this we may say, that a merciful spirit in judging others will both be regarded as an indication of good in the man otherwise not blameless, and will save him from that aggravation of guilt which belongs to him who has both sinned and judged.

2. Such judgment as is here forbidden is an invasion of God's peculiar office (Romans 12:19).

3. To judge is to betray in ourselves a root of self-ignorance, self-complacency, and self-righteousness. No man could thus judge, who really felt himself to be a sinner.

4. As the root of this unchristian judgment is in self-ignorance, so the fruit of it is definite injury to the cause of the gospel, to the soul of our neighbour, and, most of all, to our own. Who can love so unlovely a Christianity? Who is not disgusted and alienated by that religion which clothes itself in a garb so odious.

5. The whole spirit of the self-constituted judge is, in reality, a spirit of hypocrisy. When he professes to be distressed by the fault of his brother, he has, in truth, within him a tenfold greater fault of his own. He knows not his own weakness; he offers a strength which he has not. He cares not for the cure; he cares only for the distinction, for the superiority, of the healer. Conclusion: No man is fit, in his own strength, to be the counsellor or the guide of man. Every man has his own faults and his own sins; and it is only self-ignorance which makes him overlook them. If any man undertakes to judge another, he thereby judges himself. Let a man first look into himself, try and examine himself as in the sight of God, drag his own transgressions to the light of God's judgment, and pass sentence with an unsparing strictness upon his own omissions of duty and commissions of sin.

(Dean Vaughan.)

God has reserved three prerogatives royal to Himself — vengeance, glory, and judgment. As it is not safe for us, then, to encroach upon God's royalties in either of the other two — glory or vengeance — so neither in this, of judgment. We have no right to judge; and so our judging is usurpation. We may err in out judgment; and so our judgment is rashness. We take things the worse way when we judge: and so our judging is uncharitable. We offer occasion of offence by our judging; and so our judging is scandalous (Deuteronomy 32:35; Isaiah 41:8; Romans 12:10; Romans 14:4).

(Bishop Sanderson.)

I never yet knew any man so bad, but some have thought him honest, and afforded him love; nor any one so good, but some have thought him vile, and hated him. Few are so thoroughly wicked as not to be estimable to some; and few are so just, as not to seem to some unequal: ignorance, envy, and partiality, enter much into the opinions that we form of others. Nor can a man in himself, always appear alike to all. In some, nature has made a disparity; in some, report has blinded judgment; and in others, accident is the cause of disposing us to love, or hate; or, if not these, the variation of the body's humours; or, perhaps, not any of these. The soul is often led by secret motions and attachments, she knows not why. There are impulsive instincts, which urge us to a liking; as if there were some hidden beauty of a more magnetic force than what the eye can see; and this, too, is more powerful at cue time than at another. The same man that has now welcomed me with a free expression of love and courtesy, at another time has left me unsaluted at all. Yet, knowing him well, I have been certain of his sound affection, and have found it to proceed not from an intended neglect, but from an indisposedness, or a mind seriously busied within. Occasion rules the motions of the stirring mind: like men who walk in their sleep, we are led about, we neither know whither nor how. I know there are some who vary their behaviour out of pride, and in strangers I confess I know not how to distinguish; for there is no disposition but has a varnished visor, as well as an unpencilled face. Some people deceive the world; are bad, but are not thought so; in some, the world is deceived, believing them ill, when they are not. I have known the world at large to fall into an error. Though report once vented, like a stone cast into a pond, begets circle upon circle, till it meets with the bank that bounds it: yet fame often plays the cur, and opens when she springs no game. Why should I positively condemn any man, whom I know but superficially? as if I were a God, to see the inward soul.

(Owen Felltham.)

One would have thought that experience must have convinced us, if not of the sin, yet of the absurdity of judging others. The ignorance, the blunders, of other people with regard to ourselves, strike home with startling force to our minds. We know the shame which we have felt, when they have praised us for actions whose motives deserved blame; we know how their disapproval has disheartened us, when we were making the bravest struggle to do right. We feel how little they can know of our deepest feelings — of our moments of fierce conflict, of passionate affection, of sharpest Suffering. There is nothing strange in this ignorance. But what is strange, is, that in the very teeth of this experience, we should calmly sit in judgment on others, and self-complacently try to determine the degree of their feelings, the depth or shallowness of their characters, the quality of their motives, and the precise measure of praise or blame which they deserve.

(E. C. R.)

— The way to righteousness lies in finding not other people's sins, but our own.


Of all the faults into which people are liable to fall, that of judging others is one of the most common. Pride, or envy, or a tinge of ill-nature, or an amalgamation of all three, causes them to arraign before the bar of their private judgment the actions, even the motives and thoughts of others. Many evils result from this. Even if we do not consider the habit as rather an ugly deformation of an otherwise lovable disposition, we may still see that it heralds into the soul some undesirable companions.

1. It engenders self-esteem and self-satisfaction in some. If a man always looks outside of himself, at the blots which mar the characters which he contemplates, he will forget what virtues he lacks himself. He will not be conscious of the beam that is in his own eye, yet he will imagine that he is quite capable of pulling out the mote in his brother's eye. He will, so to speak, put the large end of the contemplative telescope to his mental eye when he looks at his own heart; the small end when investigating his neighbour's. Consequently, there will be an inverse ratio in the investigation. His neighbour's motes will appear standing out in unjust relief; his own beams — the withered, shrivelled, sapless stanchion of self-love — the yawning chasm of avarice — the covert jungle of hypocrisy — the ungenial rock of pride — will become apparently very small, and in the distant prospect will have almost a charm about them.

2. Further, this spirit of judging others has the evil effect of providing untenable excuses for faults committed. People who are guilty of little sins, little failings, little excesses, are in danger of falling into this kind of error. They are, perhaps, aware of their shortcomings. They may even go so far as to acknowledge that they have them. But, in place of grappling with them and seeking to subdue them, they make excuses for them. And this is because they judge others. They compare themselves with others, and the comparison is prejudicial in their own favour.

3. And this judging of others prevents s healthy spirit of self-examination, and consequently of self-improvement. The man who continually pries into other people's affairs must neglect his own. So the man who looks out constantly with a critical eye on the motives of others, must be unaware of those which actuate himself. There is a means, indeed, by which we may benefit ourselves by a contemplation of others. We have it summed up in the saying of an old Roman writer — "Look into men's lives, as into looking-glasses." That is, judge them not, but seek to see yourself reflected in them. See them in their trials and temptations, see them in crises of thought and action, and consider how you would have fared in similar circumstances. This will help you to solve the problem of life, "Know thyself." It will also teach you to appreciate the Christian attributes of charity and forbearance. Conclusion: Man's heart, as it weighs and measures its judgment, is sometimes harsh and hard, and the picture of others which it conjures up is often a dark one. But behold arising in the soul the dayspring of the knowledge of the Most High; behold, awakening to a knowledge of self, the soul to which Christ shall give His light, and you will see that light reflected on to the contemplated scene. There may be shades, but there are bright, sunny spots, too, and even the shades take a fairer colour from their proximity. Seen with the eye, which faith, and hope, and love in Christ inspire, all hardness and harshness, all unkindly cynicism, all uncongenial sneers, all puerile ill-nature, all sordid envy, will gradually disappear. And as the beams in the one eye are thus plucked out, the motes in the other eye will be plucked out too. The one character will have its effect on the other. Christ's love is too great, too powerful, too immense, too vigorous, to loiter. It will push all before it. It will reflect itself on and on, like the dancing of sunbeams from wave to wave; and the motes and the mists and the fogs and the clouds — whatever they be — will disperse, even at His reflected light, making an entrance to prepare the soul for the full glory of His own presence. So may man's soul be a meet temple for the mighty Spirit. So may something of heaven's warmth be felt on earth.

(C. E. Drought, M. A.)

There is nothing more difficult in itself than to judge justly of the dispositions and conduct of other men; nothing more dangerous, or generally more hurtful, to the person who undertakes it; hardly anything more destructive of the peace and happiness of society; and but very few sins to which we have fewer temptations, and from which we can reap less pleasure or profit. And yet there is hardly anything that all of us undertake, with less diffidence of our abilities for the work — with less sense of our danger, or apprehension of the consequences; hardly any sin more universal, or in which inhumane and unthinking persons more persevere to the end of their lives. How few can lay their hands to their hearts, and say, "I am entirely free from this guilt!"

1. Rash censorious judgment of the dispositions or conduct of others, must always arise from great disorder in the heart, and proves that it is powerfully influenced, either by pride, or envy, or malice; and therefore must be very hateful to Him who knows all the secret and original springs of every part of our conduct.

2. It is a very presumptuous disobedience of the will and laws of God.

3. It is an arrogant usurpation of the great prerogative of the Almighty Creator, and of the office of our Blessed Saviour; and an uncharitable invasion of the rights and privileges of our fellowmen.

(James Riddoch, M. A.)

1. We have no capacity to do so with truth and justice. To know, without judging, might be modesty and charity; but to judge without knowing, must be always indiscretion and cruelty; and we must always be without proper knowledge, when we presume censoriously and rashly to judge our neighbour's conduct. Upon what insufficient evidence do men venture to censure and slander others.(1) They judge by appearances. How often has an open and unsuspecting temper, and a consciousness of innocence and right intentions betrayed men into the appearance of faults which their hearts detested, and exposed them to the censure and condemnation of the world; while, on the other hand, a grave, cautious, and designing conduct has covered a multitude of sins, and procured esteem and applause to men who needed only to be known to be despised and detested.(2) They condemn upon hearsay. That coming fame is frequently a liar, we admit as a maxim established by long experience, and yet we make it the foundation of our rash and censorious judgments, and seem to think that it gives us a right to condemn others with the greatest freedom, vainly perhaps imagining that the guilt remains with him from whom we received the report, while at the same time we are repeating the crime, Rumour, however ill-founded, is favourably received; an unhappy curiosity makes us hearken with attention; a pernicious credulity makes us find it probable; and a desire of telling something new makes us propagate it. Thus, what at first was only the conjecture, suspicion, or invention of one person, grows up to be the belief of the multitude, and is raised, in their opinion, into certainty and fact.(3) There is a too common disposition to judge of the intention, by the event, and to estimate the general character by some particular errors. Nothing can be more unjust or uncharitable than this. Moses once "spake unadvisedly with his lips," though meekness and patience were the prevailing features of his character. St. Peter once denied his Master, though he sincerely loved Him.

2. By judging others we expose ourselves to very great danger. It is impossible for any one habitually to censure others, and to judge of their conduct with severity, without passing sentence against some of his own sins; and nothing can be more just, than that our Judge should ratify these judgments as far as they respect ourselves, and condemn us out of our own mouths.

3. We are rarely so much divested of passions and prejudices, as to be in a capacity to judge righteous judgment. Dislike, affection, interest, envy, connection, and a thousand other things to which we do not even ourselves advert, insensibly mislead the understanding, and bias the judgment. Men judge according to the passions and prejudices that prevail in themselves, rather than according to the virtues or vices that appears in their neighbour's conduct.

(James Riddoch, M. A. .)

I. THE FACULTY OF JUDGMENT MAY BE MISAPPLIED TO IMPROPER SUBJECTS. This happens when it is applied to the character of our neigh-bouts for the mere purpose of detecting faults. Now, the province assigned to us is the detection and correction of our own faults, which is a prior and more important duty; and which we have it in our power to perform more correctly and more usefully than we can do respecting the faults of others. Besides, till we discover and amend our own faults, we shall be very ill-qualified to reform the faults of our neighbour.

II. THIS FACULTY MAY BE EXERCISED IN A CRIMINAL AND PERNICIOUS MANNER. In forming our opinions respecting our neighbours, we are apt to judge without evidence, or from evidence very defective. Our knowledge of our neighbour's faults is obtained either by our own observation, or from the testimony of others. Our own observation is often partial and defective; and from ambiguous appearances we often draw hasty and harsh conclusions. In admitting the testimony of others we are often incautious. For we are apt to forget that many judge from their passions; that some who see only a part, fill up what is wanting by the exercise of imagination; that some, anxious only to amuse or surprise, delight in telling wonderful stories of their own creation; that many cannot see things as they are; and that others can repeat nothing correctly. It is a matter, then, of great importance to the justness of our opinions concerning our neighbour, as well as to our own respectability, to be able to distinguish among our acquaintances the persons in whose testimony we can confide. Now, we shall easily discover that the man on whose accuracy we can rely is not the man who employs himself in retailing the faults of his neighbours.

(J. Thomson, D. D.)


1. Let us think how little we really know. What we see is but a small part of what is unseen and what can never be seen.

2. Again, in judging of others, we are apt to overlook their difficulties and temptations.

II. Consider THAT YOUR JUDGMENT OF OTHERS IS THE MEASURE OF THAT JUDGMENT WHICH MUST OVERTAKE YOURSELF. If a man, then, is rigorous and severe — if he applies to the conduct of others a high standard, and if he expects that standard to be reached — finding fault and passing condemnation where it is not reached — he is virtually laying claim to a high knowledge of what right and wrong really are; and it is only just and reasonable that this knowledge should be the criterion to which his own conduct and life should be brought: he cannot complain if he is judged by what he actually knows. So far, we see how there is no vindictiveness in judging men as they have judged others. We cannot say that this result is attained all at once. Our Lord Himself was an instance to the contrary: He did not receive into His bosom what He had given out; He did great good, and sought the good of others, but He was requited with evil and with ingratitude.

III. IT IS CARRYING OUT THE SAME TRUTH IN FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE WHEN CHRIST says, "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" To a man with the spirit of penitence in him, his own faults are never made less than they are; and indeed the more he condemns himself, the more will he be ready to justify others. He feels the mote in his own eye to be as a beam, and he reserves his highest condemnation for his own faults and sins.

IV. ARE WE, THEN, TO BE BLIND TO THE SINS OF THE WORLD AROUND US? Our Lord's teaching is calculated to enforce righteous judgment, not partial or false judgment. There is nothing in Christian teaching to sanction tolerance towards sin. It is not every kind of judgment which Christ condemns. Let the spirit of love be in the heart, and the spirit of true judgment will follow.

1. Before judging of the individual, then, in any ease, pause to think how much you really know, and let not your judgment of a man be formed on hearsay and imagination.

2. Remember that your judgment of others is the measure of that judgment which must overtake you.

3. Let your judgment of others take the tone of your judgment passed first on yourself.

4. Let all things be done tinder the remembrance of how much we ourselves owe to a love which is boundless, a forgiveness which has raised us from doubt and fear.

(A. Watson, D. D.)

Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
There is no point on which Christianity is more vital, searching, and severe than on this — the requisition of a forgiving spirit, as the highest form of benevolence or well-wishing towards our fellow-men. That we have an average good-nature towards good folks is all very well; that we forgive things done against us which we do not feel is all very well; but when an assault of any kind has been made in some tender and sensitive point, and we feel ourselves to be greatly wronged, then to have such a Divine sense of the great law of benevolence as that, under the stinging sensibility of the wrong, we can rise out of the selfness and think well of the offender — that is an example of Godlike love which evidences the Divine presence in the soul. A Christian man who hates, and will not forgive, is as much worse than an ordinary man, as salt that has lost all saltness is worse than common dirt; it is not good for manure; it is only good to make paths with. The only thing that it will not hurt is the bottom of one's foot.

(H. W. Beecher.)

In the Middle Ages, when the lords and knights were always at war with each other, one of them resolved to revenge himself on a neighbour who had offended him. It chanced that on the very evening when he had made this resolution, he heard that his enemy was to pass near his castle with only a few men with him. He determined not to let the opportunity pass. He spoke of his plan in the presence of his chaplain, who tried in vain to persuade him to give it up. The good man said a great deal to the duke about the sin of what he was going to do, but in vain. At length, seeing that all his words had no effect, he said, " My lord, since I cannot persuade you to give up this plan of yours, will you at least come with me to the chapel, that we may pray together before you go?" The duke consented, and the chaplain and he kneeled together in prayer. Then the mercy-loving Christian said to the revengeful warrior, "Will you repeat after me, sentence by sentence, the prayer which our Lord taught to His disciples?" "I will do it," replied the duke. He did it accordingly. The chaplain said a sentence, and the duke repeated it, till he came to the petition, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive." There the duke was silent. "My lord duke, you are silent," said the chaplain. "Will you be so good as to continue to repeat the words after me, if you dare to do so?" "I cannot," replied the duke. "Well, God cannot forgive you, for He has said so. He Himself has given us this prayer. Therefore you must either give up your revenge, or give up saying this prayer; for to ask God to pardon you, as you pardon others, is to ask Him to take vengeance on you for all your sins. Go now, my lord, and meet your victim. God will meet you at the great day of judgment." The iron will of the duke was broken. "No," said he, "I will finish my prayer. My God, my Father, pardon me; forgive me, as I desire to forgive him who has offended me; lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil." "Amen," said the chaplain. "Amen," repeated the duke, who now understood the Lord's Prayer better than he had ever done before, since he had learned to apply it to himself.

(Preacher's Lantern.)

I. THE PRETENCE OF GOOD-WILL TOWARDS OUR ENEMIES. "I wish nothing so much," a man will say, "as to be reconciled; I am perfectly disposed to it; and, whenever my adversary pleases, I will receive him in such a manner, as to show that no resentment remains with me." Now, this is plausible language; it seems to show generosity, and greatness of mind. But, would you know whence these fine words proceed? From great self-love and little Christianity. You wish to have the credit of a reconciliation without the fancied mortification of it.

II. THE PRETENCE OF SENSIBILITY. "If the affront were not so very galling," you may say, "if the injury were not so personal, I could make this sacrifice to God and religion; but I cannot forget what is due to myself, and be void of all feeling." I understand you well; this is the language commonly spoken in the world. And I reply, If you were insensible, or if the injury done to you were not deeply felt, I should mot labour to persuade you to forgive; I should consider this precept of the gospel as scarcely directed to you. You renounce both the spirit and the example of the cross.

III. THE PRETENCE OF PRUDENCE IS URGED for omitting this great Christian duty of forgiveness. " I cannot be heartily reconciled to my adversary; he is a bad man, and has been treacherous and base to me; prudence requires me to avoid such a one; and, as to religion, it cannot enjoin dissimulation, nor oblige me to do anything imprudent and dangerous!"


(S. Partridge, M. A.)

I. FORGIVENESS IS POSSIBLE. TO deem it impossible to forgive your offender is —

1. A fatal self-delusion. There have always been men who considered revenge a base passion, and have readily forgiven the greatest offences. Such men have been(1) amongst the Gentiles. Phocion, a prominent citizen in Greece, had been sentenced by his fellow-citizens to drink the cup of poison. Before tasting it, he said to his son, "This is my last will, O son, that thou mayest soon forget this cup of poison, and never take revenge for it."(2) Amongst the Jews: Joseph, David.(3) Amongst the Christians: Stephen. "Verily, I forgive thee, and thou shalt be my brother in place of him whom thou hast killed," said the Christian knight, John Gualbert, to the murderer of his brother, who, unarmed as he was, begged for his life in the name of the Crucified. If to them it was possible to forgive, why should it not be possible to you?

2. A blasphemy. God requires you to forgive your offender, and has a right to do so.(1) As our Lord.(2) As our Father and Benefactor. The best proof of our gratitude.(3) As our Model.(4) As our Judge.


1. Reason teaches it.(1) Noble and generous is the conduct of him who is ready for reconciliation. He manifests strength of mind and magnanimity of soul by forgiving the offence inflicted. He overcomes evil by good.(2) Dreadful are the consequences of implacability. Man is easily offended. If men were not ready to forgive, where would you find peace and happiness? Would not our life upon earth and the society of our fellow-men be a continual source of unhappiness and misery?

2. Revelation requires it (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:38-48; Matthew 6:12; Romans 12:19-21; Ephesians 4:26; Colossians 3:13).


1. By forgiving the offences committed against you, you gain(1) the favour of men (Romans 12:20).(2) The complacency of God (Matthew 6:14).

2. He who is not willing to forgive those who have offended him, sins(1) against God the Father by trespassing one of His commandments (James 2:13).(2) Against God the Son. He denies Him because he denies the characteristic feature and virtue of Christianity (John 13:35).(3) Against God the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit of love.(4) Against his fellow-man.(5) Against himself. He pronounces the sentence of condemnation upon his own head whenever he uses the Lord's Prayer (Luke 19:22). Grant us then, O Lord, a heart always ready for reconciliation, that in us Thy Word may be fulfilled (Matthew 5:9).


Go home to your own breast, and ask your heart these questions: "Hast thou, my heart, no other passions but pride and anger? What is become of the humanity and benevolence whereof, on some occasions, thou hast given such pleasing proofs? Wilt thou suffer thy pride to tyrannise over thy love? What an heart art thou, if rage, revenge, and mischief, can afford thee more pleasure than forgiveness and acts of kindness and generosity!" If an enemy is thus able to transform and degrade a man to the most odious class of beings, that man not only is now, but was before the injury done him, a very despicable being, and liable, it seems, to an infinitely worse sort of injury, than can possibly be done in regard to fortune, liberty, character, or even life itself; an injury, I mean, in regard to virtue. The enemy who can turn a good man into a bad one is the worst of all enemies. No man, however, can do this to us without our own concurrence.

(Philip Skelton, M. A.)

— Forgive, saith a master to one of his servants, in your hearing, forgive your fellow-servant the guinea he owes you, and you shall be forgiven the hundred you owe me. Forgive that other fellow-servant the reproaches he hath flung at you, and you shall be forgiven the theft you lately committed, when you were discovered stealing my goods. Forgive that third fellow-servant the blow you just now received from him, and you shall be forgiven the assault you committed on me, your master, for which you are now under prosecution. If you do not comply with me in this, you shall be paid your guinea; but then I will exact my hundred guineas of you to the very last farthing. You shall have satisfaction, too, for the affront offered you; but shall be publicly exposed to the infamy your theft has deserved. I will punish the man who struck you, as justice requires; but will also execute on you the rigour of that justice for your act of rebellion and violence against myself. As you measure from you, I will measure to you; mercy for mercy, justice for justice, vengeance for vengeance. You demand an exact account, and shall have it; but you shall also give it. You think this servant a perfect madman when you hear him crying out, "I insist on an account; I will be paid; I will have satisfaction." Do you indeed? Well, then, Christ is the Master, and thou art the man. What! will you not forgive a trifle, to be forgiven that which is infinite? Will you plunge to the bottom of the lake for the pleasure of seeing your enemy swim on the surface? How is it that you judge so clearly in things of little moment, which relate to others, while in a case of the same nature, but of the last consequence to yourself, you are wholly stupid? Is it self that shuts your eyes? Self! which of all things ought to open them, when your salvation is brought in question? Amazing! Whom will you see for, if you cannot see for yourself? Whom will be wise for, if you will not be wise for yourself?

(Philip Skelton, M. A. .)

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