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cies, and the God of all comfort;" and therefore, to minister in the office, is to become like God, and to imitate the charities of heaven; and God hath fitted mankind for it: he most needs it, and he feels his brother's wants, by his own experience; and God hath given us speech, and the endearments of society, and pleasantness of conversation, and powers of seasonable discourse, arguments to allay the sorrow, by abating our apprehensions and taking out the sting, or telling the periods of comfort, or exciting hope, or urging a precept, and reconciling our affections, and reciting promises, or telling stories of the divine mercy, or changing it into duty, or making the burden less by comparing it with greater, or by proving it to be less than we deserve, and that it is so intended, and may become the instrument of virtue. And, certain it is, that as nothing can better do it, so there is nothing greater, for which God made our tongues, next to reciting his praises, than to minister comfort to a weary soul. And what greater measure can we have, than that we should bring joy to our brother, who, with his dreary eyes, looks to heaven and round about, and cannot find so much rest as to lay his eyelids close together; than that thy tongue should be tuned with heavenly accents, and make the weary soul to listen for light and ease, and when he perceives that there is such a thing in the world, and in the order of things, as comfort and joy, to begin to break out from the prison of his sorrows, at the door of sighs and tears, and, by little and little, melt into showers and refreshment? This is glory to thy voice, and employment fit for the brightest angel. But so have I seen the sun kiss the frozen earth, which was bound up with the images of death, and the colder breath of the north; and then the waters break from their enclosures, and melt with joy, and run in useful channels; and the flies do rise again from their little graves in walls, and dance awhile in the air, to tell that there is joy within, and that the great mother of creatures will open the stock of her new refreshment, become useful to mankind, and sing praises to her Redeemer so is the heart of a sorrowful man under the discourses of a wise comforter; he breaks from the despairs of the grave, and the fetters and chains of sorrow; he blesses God, and he blesses thee, and he feels his life returning; for to be miserable is death, but nothing is life but to be com
forted; and God is pleased with no music from below sa much as in the thanksgiving-songs of relieved widows, of supported orphans, of rejoicing, and comforted, and thankful persons. This part of communication does the work of God and of our neighbours, and bears us to heaven in streams of joy madeby the overflowings of our brother's comfort. It is a fearful thing to see a man despairing. None knows the sorrow and the intolerable anguish but themselves, and they that are damned; and so are all the loads of a wounded spirit, when the staff of a man's broken fortune bows his head to the ground, and sinks like an osier under the violence of a mighty tempest. But therefore, in proportion to this, I may tell the excellency of the employment, and the duty of that charity, which bears the dying and languishing soul from the fringes of hell, to the seat of the brightest stars, where God's face shines, and reflects comforts, for ever and ever. And though God hath, for this, especially entrusted his ministers and servants of the church, and hath put into their hearts and notices great magazines of promises, and arguments of hope, and arts of the Spirit, yet God does not always send angels on these embassies, but sends a man" ut sit homo homini Deus," "that every good man in his season, may be to his brother in the place of God," to comfort and restore him; and that it may appear, how much it is the duty of us all to minister comfort to our brother, we may remember, that the same words and the same arguments do oftentimes more prevail upon our spirits, when they are applied by the hand of another, than when they dwell in us, and come from our own discoursings. This is indeed X6γος χρηστὸς and ἀγαθὸς, it is, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας, ‘to the edification of our needs,' and the greatest and most holy charity.
3. Our communication must in its just season beiλıyarınds, 'we must reprove' our sinning brother; "for the wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy," saith Solomon: we imitate the office of the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls,' if we go, " to seek and save that which was lost ;" and it is a fearful thing to see a friend go to hell undisturbed, when the arresting him in his horrid progress may possibly make him to return; this is a course that will change
Prov. xvii. 6.
our vile itch of judging and censuring others, into an act of charity; it will alter slander into piety, detraction into counsel, revenge into friendly and most useful offices, that the viper's flesh may become Mithridate, and the devil be defeated in his malicious employment of our language. He is a miserable man, whom none dares tell of his faults so plainly, that he may understand his danger; and he that is incapable and impatient of reproof, can never become a good friend to any man. For, besides that himself would never admonish his friend when he sins, (and if he would, why should not himself be glad of the same charity ?) he is also "proud, and scorner is his name;" he thinks himself exempt from the condition and failings of men; or, if he does not, he had rather go to hell than be called to his way by an angry sermon, or driven back by the sword of an angel, or endure one blushing, for all his hopes and interests of heaven. It is no shame to be reproved, but to deserve it; but he that deserves it, and will do so still, shall increase his shame into confusion, and bring upon himself a sorrow bigger than the calamities of war, and plagues, and hospitals, and poverty. He only is truly wise, and will be certainly happy, that so understands himself and hates his sin, that he will not nurse it, but get to himself a reprover on purpose, whose warrant shall be liberty, whose thanks shall be amendment, whose entertainment shall be obedience; for a flattering word is like a bright sunshine to a sore eye, it increases the trouble, and lessens the sight;
Hæc demum sapiet dictio quæ feriet:
The severe word of the reproving man is wise and healthful:' but because all times, and all circumstances, and all persons, are not fit for this employment:
Plurima sunt, quæ
Non audent homines pertusâ dicere lænâ ;*
• Some will not endure that a poor man, or an obliged person, should reprove them,' and themselves are often so unprofitable servants, that they will rather venture their friend's damnation, than hazard their own interest; therefore, in the performance of this duty of useful communication, the following measures are fit to be observed.
1. Let not your reproof be public and personal :-If it be public, it must be in general; if it be personal, it must be in private; and this is expressly commanded by our blessed Saviour: "If thy brother offends, tell it him between him and thee;" for if it comes afterward, in case of contumacy, to be declared in public, it passes from fraternal correption to ecclesiastical discipline. When Socrates reproved Plato at a feast, Plato told him, it had been better he had told him his fault in private; for to speak it publicly is indecency:' Socrates replied; And so it is for you publicly to condemn that indecency.' For it is the nature of man to be spiteful when he is shamed, and to esteem that the worst of evils, and therefore, to take impudence and perseverance for its cover, when his shame is naked and for this indiscretion, Aristomenes, the tutor of Ptolemy, who, before the Corinthian ambassadors reproved the king for sleeping at the solemn audience, profited nothing, but enraged the prince, and was himself forced to drink poison. But this wariness is not always necessary. For, 1. A public and an authorized person may do it publicly, and may name the person as himself shall judge expedient.
secuit Lucilius urbem,
Te Lupe, te Muci,-et genuinum fregit in illis.*
Lucilius was a censor of manners, and by his office he had warrant and authority. 2. There are also some cases in which a public reproof is prudent; and that is, when the crime is great, but not understood to be any at all; for then it is instruction and catechism, and lays aside the affront and trouble of reproof. Thus Ignatius the martyr did reprove Trajan sacrificing at the altar in the sight of all the officers of the army and the Jews were commanded to reprove the Babylonians for idolatry in the land of their captivity:† and if we see a prince, in the confidence of his pride, and carelessness of spirit, and heat of war, spoil a church, or rob God, it is then fit to tell him the danger of sacrilege, if otherwise he cannot well be taught his danger, and his duty. 3. There are some circumstances of person, in which, by interpretation, duty, or custom, a leave is indulged or presumed, that liberty may be prudently used, publicly to reprove the
public vices: so it was in the old days of the Romans; vice had then so little footing and authority, so few friends and advocates, that the prophets and poets used a bolder liberty to disgrace whatsoever was amiss;
And much of the same liberty is still reserved to pulpits, and to the bishop's office, save only, that although they may reprove publicly, yet they may not often do it personally.
2. Use not to reprove thy brother for every thing, but for great things only :-for this is the office of a tutor, not of a friend; and few men will suffer themselves to abide always under pupillage. When the friend of Philotimus, the physician, came to him to be cured of a sore finger, he told him "Heus tu, non tibi cum reduvia est negotium!" he let his finger alone, and told him, that his liver was imposthumate,' and he that tells his friend that his countenance is not grave enough in the church, when it may be the man is an atheist, offers him a cure that will do him no good: and to chastise a trifle is not a worthy price of that noblest liberty and ingenuity, which becomes him that is to heal his brother's soul. But when a vice stains his soul, when he is a fool in his manners, when he is proud, and impatient of contradiction, when he disgraces himself by talking weakly, and yet believes himself wise and above the confidence of a sober person, then it concerns a friend to rescue him from folly. So Solon reproved Crœsus, and Socrates Alcibiades, and Cyrus chid Cyaxares, and Plato told to Dion, that of all things in the world he should beware of that folly "by which men please themselves, and despise a better judgment:" "quia ei vitio adsidet solitudo," "because that folly hath in it singularity," and is directly contrary to all capacities of a friendship, or the entertainments of necessary reproof.
3. Use not liberty of reproof in the days of sorrow and affliction ;-for the calamity itself is enough to chastise the gayeties of sinning persons, and to bring them to repentance; it may be sometimes fit to insinuate the mention of the cause of that sorrow, in order to repentance, and a cure: but severe