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THE IMPROPRIETY OF JUDGING OF THE
MISFORTUNES OF OTHERS,
ST. LUKE xiii. 3.
I tell you, Nay; but, except ye repent, ye
shall all likewise perish. The HE occasion on which these words were SERM. .
XIV. spoken, was this; it had just been related to our Saviour, that Pilate, the Roman go. vernor, had mingled the blood of some Galileans with their sacrifices, i. e, that he had put them to death whilst they were sacrificing at the altar; from which account Je. sus takes an opportunity (as was usual with him on most occurrences) to inculcate on
SERM. his followers some useful religious instrucXIV.
tion. Suppose ye (says he) that these • Galileans were sinners above all the Ga“ lileans, because they suffered such things? “ I tell you, Nay; but, except ye repent,
ye shall all likewise perish.”
Two instructive lessons are to be drawn from hence; first, that when we see mis. fortunes fall on our neighbours, it is very wrong in us, to interpret them into judg. ments—to conclude that they have happened to them on account of their sins; and, secondly, that the right use to make of them would be (without considering them at all as relating to others, or endeavouring to pry curiously into God's dispensations) to apply them to ourselves, to take warning by them, and to break off our sins by repentance, lest the same, or worse, calamities overtake us.
Our Saviour well knew the heart of man; for it is certain that we are very
much inclined to assign the sufferings SERM.
XIV. which others undergo, to some sins, either open or secret, of which they have been guilty: whether it be that we are induced to it from a desire of attributing our own exemption from the same misfortunes to our innocence, or whether we are flattered with appearing to understand God's dis pensations, or whether we think it a mark of piety to censure those whom the Almighty afflicts; the fact is, that it is greatly the custom among men, when any one is attacked by some remarkable calamity, to be immediately searching for, and endeavouring to discover, the occasion of it in his iniquities. From whatever cause this practice proceeds, it is very presumptuous and unreasonable, and not only so, but it is most probably in general unjust; since our Saviour peremptorily denies that any such conclusions can, with certainty, be collected: -" Suppose ye that
SERM. « these Galileans were sinners above all XIV.
“ the Galileans, because they suffered such
things; or those eighteen upon whom " the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them," (alluding to another late occurrence) " think ye that they were sinners above « all men that dwelt in Jerusalem ? I “ tell you, Nay.”
If we look into the history of past times, we shall find that many of those characters, who endured the greatest calamities, so far from being more wicked than those who lived at the same time, were eminently distinguished for their piety and virtue; and yet, even some of these were proached for suffering in consequence of their sins. The misfortunes of Job, you know, were caused by his virtue; it was that which drew on him the envy and malice of the devil; yet his friends, seeing what he underwent, although they could not, with all their ill.natured penetration,