Summary: This Sermon is #16 from Rev. Andrew Lee’s SERMONS published in 1803 by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. at Lisbon, Connecticut.
The entire book Andrew’s Lee’s Sermons is available free at Project Gutenberg as e-Text #15031.
Characters will be disclosed, and Justice awarded.
1 Corinthians iv.5
"--Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both wilt bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall everyman have praise of God."
ST. PAUL having professed himself a minister of Christ, and steward of the mysteries of God, acknowledged the obligations of fidelity, and disclaimed anxious concern respecting the opinion entertained of him by his fellow men, because the Lord was his judge, here adds a caution, reprehensive of the censorious spirit of the Corinthians, who seem to have listened to his enemies, and given into their suspicions of the apostle. _Therefore judge nothing before the time_----
IN the text we observe a caution against rash judging the characters of men--a declaration that they will be known when the Lord comes --and that some things commendable will then be found in all--then shall every man have praise of God. We observe--
I. A caution _against rash judging the characters of men--judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come_.
CIVIL judges may give judgment according to law and evidence, on those brought before them for trial--so may the church on those arraigned at her tribunal. These are necessary to the subsistence of civil and ecclesiastical communities; therefore ordered of God. It is another species of judging which is here forbidden; judging the characters of men, especially such as profess Godliness, and appear to act sincerely; pretending to determine their moral state, before the motives which actuate them are disclosed. This is judging before the time, and without evidence on which to ground a judgment; which the wise man observes to be folly and a shame to him who doth it.
THIS had been done at Corinth, by the enemies of the apostle; and hath been done by others in every age. There have ever been people who have dared to scatter their censorious decisions at random, according to the prevalence of humor, caprice, or prejudice; often to the wounding of the faithful; and rending of the body of Christ.
THIS occasions temporary mischief; but the day is coming when all those disorders will be rectified. The censurer, and the censured, will stand at the same bar, and be tried by the same Judge. Every wrong judgment will then be reversed, and every injurious suspicion be removed. For,
II. EVERY _man’s character will be known when the Lord comes--who will bring to light the hidden sufferings of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts_.
MANY things necessary to determine the moral characters of men are hidden from mortal eyes. We are ignorant of _the counsels_ of the hearts--do not know their purposes and views. Without this knowledge, right judgment cannot be formed.
OUR knowledge of ourselves is imperfect. For self knowledge we have advantages which we have not for the knowledge of others. We can turn inward, and contemplate the motives which govern, and the views which actuate us. But pride, passion, prejudice, or the corrupt bias, operating in ways unperceived, often blinds the mental eye, and renders us strangers at home. "Whoso trusteth his own heart is a fool.--The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?" It requires great attention to form a just judgment of ourselves--yea, to attain that self knowledge which is necessary for us. With regard to the knowledge of others, the difficulty is still greater. We can neither see the heart, nor know the thoughts and designs.