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The Duty of Reproof

The Duty of Reproof

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
REV. PROF. ELEAZAR T. FITCH, D.D.


EPHESIANS, V: n.

HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS ; BUT RATHER REPROVE THEM.
REV. PROF. ELEAZAR T. FITCH, D.D.


EPHESIANS, V: n.

HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS ; BUT RATHER REPROVE THEM.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on May 10, 2013
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THE DUTY OF REPROOF,REV. PROF. ELEAZAR T. FITCH, D.D.EPHESIAS, V: n.HAVE O FELLOWSHIP WITH THE UFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKESS ;BUTRATHER REPROVE THEM.WORKS of darkness, literally, are those deeds of sin,which men would blush to commit under the light of day. But the desire of concealment, which throws somany crimes, actually, into the night, characterizes, tosome extent, every species of overt iniquity ; and on thisground, all this class of actions are properly denominated" works of darkness " unfit for the light of day.The apostle knew that his converts at Ephesus hadonce been addicted to such conduct, and that they werestill surrounded by the children of disobedience, whowere indulging in such iniquities ; and, in the text, hegives them counsel respecting their behavior towardsthese workers of iniquity. Have no fellowship with theirdeeds. ever join them in their sins. ever encouragethem by example. ever allow yourselves to do that,which they can plausibly allege in their own justification ;" but rather reprove them." Let your conduct standforth as a sentence of condemnation against their sins.Let your opinions be known to carry with them a holyindignation against their crimes. Reprove them. Go,bear the indignation and grief of your hearts into theirpresence ; and tell them when no other eye sees thembut yours and your Maker's tell them their faults totheir face. Carry the expostulations of love to their ears,and, with all the persuasion you can draw from the wordof Christ, claim a hearing.Such are the directions of the apostle to Christians,who were surrounded by the sinful deeds of the wicked38290 The Diity of Reproof.
 
not only to shun the fellowship with them that would beruinous to themselves, but to carry to them the reprootthat might lead to their salvation. I learn from thewords, therefore, a duty which belongs to the friends of God and virtue in all ages, when surrounded by thecrimes of the wicked THE DUTY OF REPROOF.In pursuing the subject, I would point out some of themethods, in which you may with propriety reprove thewicked for their sins, and mention some considerationswhich may serve to enforce this duty.Among the methods, in which you may with proprietyreprove the wicked for their sins, I specify the following :I. By refusal to comply with their enticements.The slightest species of reproof that can be given tosinners, arises from the refusal to unite with them in theircrimes. When they are grown so bold in iniquity, as tosolicit the followers of Christ to come down from theheight of their profession and hopes, to unite with themin their sins and follies, the mildest reproof that can pos-sibly be given is, to return to their solicitations a promptand decided negative. Unless the Christian can give soslight a reproof to a sinner, as to say * no ' to his entice-ments, the sinner will never fear reproofs from his exam-ple or his lips. or is there any impropriety in usingwith sinners this species of reproof. They have no claimon you, surely, to unite with them in their deeds of folly.You are lords over your own conduct, and may makeyour own choice, without saying why or wherefore toany but your Master in heaven. In the exercise of yourunalienable rights, you may throw a flat denial in the faceof every enticing sinner ; and by it effectually say, ' Gothy way. When I have need of thee, I will call for thee.Obtrude not on me thy sinful schemes. Take the reproof my denial gives thee.'II. You may reprove the wicked, by an example opposedto their practices.A still stronger reproof is thus conveyed to the wicked,by the light that is reflected upon them from examples of 
 
piety and virtue. The man who always carries with himThe Duty of Reproof . 291into their society the stern front of unyielding virtue ;who is known by his uniform conduct to bear in his breastsentiments of abhorrence and indignation towards crime ;who shows himself so firmly attached to the governmentof God, and the schemes of divine benevolence, as torepel even the approaches of their solicitations ; speaks,with silent and impressive eloquence, the language of reproof to their consciences. Incomparably more is doneby the heavenly light attending such reproof, than can beby all the reproofs of the tongue without it. The wickedsee in such examples the mirror, that reflects the glory of the Deity, the authority of his law, the excellence of virtue, the deformity of sin. They stand" Abashed, and see how awful goodness is."And in the midst of such exhibitions of character, theypass on themselves the verdict of condemnation for theirsins.or is there any impropriety in bearing to the wickedthis form of reproof. Your right to obey the God of heaven, to show your loyalty no man can wrest fromyou. You need only be loyal and be virtuous amongyour companions, and the living reproof is carried hometo their consciences. As it has been eloquently remarkedof our republican country, that her very existence carriesup a reproof to the throne of tyrants, and a refutation of all the arguments by which they would uphold arbitraryrule, so the very existence of stern piety and virtue isitself a stinging reproof to the wicked, and a loud con-demnation of their guilt and folly.III. You may reprove the wicked, by direct address totheir consciences.The highest form of reproof, is that of bearing to thewicked the direct expression of virtuous grief and indig-nation, which their conduct excites in your souls. When,

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