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36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
One of the great mental infirmities to which human nature is subject, is that of giving a verdict or judgment upon things which they do not understand. In the language of scripture, "they speak evil of things which they understand not" and there is not wanting in every society a class of persons, censoriously inclined, who have an inveterate propensity to magnify the motes in their neighbours' eyes, into very uncomely, sight-destroying beams.
To form some kind of a judgment, however, upon things which we see and hear, is a natural instinct, and a very useful and important one-for without it, we should be deprived of that tact and sagacity essential for carrying on our affairs, for self-protection and preservation, and for proper discernment between right and wrong; this is the lawful, legitimate use of the faculty; but like all other faculties which we inherit by natural descent from the first Adam, it has been sadly misused and perverted, as the natural consequence of the blindness and perversion of judgment manifested by the father and mother of our race.
Many persons, labouring under this very unhappy inheritance, allow their judgment to revel in the mazes of conjecture, supposition and imagination, concerning "other men's matters," and finally decide to condemn the apparently real ways and conduct of others, the inmost recesses of whose private affairs, it is impossible for them to fathom-pronouncing judgment upon things which they understand not. Judgment used in this way, is misused and perverted, and is a fruitful source of mischief in any society, but especially among the faithful in Christ who desire to live in peace, love and harmony with each other.
There is a natural judgment, and there is a spiritual judgment-or in other words, there is a judgment according to the flesh, and there is a judgment according to the spirit. When we become members of the spiritual family, we must not assert the right to judge our fellows according to fleshly rules, but according to the divine standard, by which all are to be judged. Let no one judge or condemn his brother on account of some infirmity or weakness of character, which causes no special violation of gospel principles or divine commands; the one who does this, is himself the subject of a great infirmity-and, as often happens, is far more culpable, than the object of his censure or condemnation.
It is well understood that all men and all women are compassed with infirmities-otherwise what need have we of a saviour? Our Lord said, "I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance"-that is, he came not to call the righteous in their own estimation, who, in reality were sinners, but those who knew that they were sinners-with honest and good hearts, notwithstanding all the sins which they had committed-sinners, possessing a love for truth, and consequently with unsophisticated understandings-that is, understandings untrammelled by the intricate meshes and webs of the serpent's deceitfulness. Such sinners as these were considered fit receptacles for the truth of God, by which they might be cleansed from all unrighteousness. We see that there is a classification of sins in the scriptures.
The heart that is full of serpentine subtilty and deceitfulness, is not a heart in which the truth can take root and bear fruit unto eternal life-but only the honest and good heart, although it may have been guilty of evil thoughts resulting in evil actions. When repentance comes to such, turning them from dead works to serve the living God, they are prepared to accept any conditions, to make any sacrifice, to give up their whole heart with unselfish devotion to the service of God and His truth; completely divested of selfish objects and feelings-having only one object before their minds, viz. the glory of God; that is, the promotion of his truth, the service of his ecclesia; the internal culture of their own hearts-showing the triumphant power of the truth over the flesh, the devil....
A heart filled with tender mercy and loving kindness, is not likely to be severe in judgment upon fellow heirs of the saints' inheritance. The more our hearts are filled with love toward our brethren for the truth's sake, the less inclined we shall be to judge them at all; but if at any time it become necessary to exercise the faculty of judgment in any particlar case, we shall be careful to judge righteously, according to the Written Word, and not according to fleshly standards.
In the law of Moses it is written "Thou shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; but in righteousness thou shalt judge thy neighbour." This is also according to the gospel, for Jesus said "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." It was because of their failure to render righteous judgment, that the eyes and ears of the Jewish people became dim and heavy, and powerless to act for the general good; the Lord accused them of heavy transgressions in this respect, when enumerating their iniquities, which brought down His wrath upon them. If, therefore, He spared not the natural branches because of these things, it behoves us to take heed that we come not under the same condemnation; for the gospel rule is, "with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged."
The judicial courts of the kingdom of heaven, being based upon a higher code of laws, will pronounce judgments upon higher principles, than can be attained under the present order of things; for it is written of the supreme judge himself, that "He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, nor reprove after the hearing of His ears; but in righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth."
Under present arrangements, the sight of the eyes, and hearing of the ears, generally form the only basis for judgment, owing to the limitation of human wisdom, and being disqualified to discern the hidden springs of action; the thoughts, motives and intents of the heart. May we, therefore, who profess to follow Christ, cease to judge after the flesh, but endeavour to form our judgment upon a more enlightened basis. Indeed, it is very essential that we who are to be the future judges and rulers of mankind, should seek to build upon the true basis in this respect as well as in all others.
Above all things, let us not judge or condemn our brethren upon light, frivolous grounds; but if, as before stated, it become necessary to exercise our judgment in some particular case, we have the rule; "judge not according to the appearance" and in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall everything be established.
Let not the brother or sister who is gifted with ten talents, condemn the possessor of only one; and let not the possessor of one talent envy and misjudge the possessor of the ten. The Lord has distributed to all according to His good pleasure, for the furtherance of the gospel; only let all take care that these talents are applied for the given purpose, and not used for selfish objects, that we may receive the blessing in due time, and reap abundantly, if we faint not.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, Aug 1867. p185-188.