OTHER ME 'S SI S BY HE RY KOLLOCK, D.
1 Tim. v. 22. either be partaker of other men's sins. It was a frequent petition of the illustrious St. Augustine, " Lord, forgive other men's sins !" It is a petition which we all, my brethren, should constantly and fervently present to God ; for we, all of us, in a greater or less degree, have been instrumental in producing that iniquity which deluges the world, and in pushing sinners into the burning lake. one of us can say, with truth, « I am clean from the blood of all men ; I have never by my improper conduct, by my unguarded language, by my criminal temptatations, seduced others into guilt, and pulled down upon them the vengeance of God !' What a dreadful reflection is this ! Our personal transgressions are so many and so aggravated, that the weight of punishment due to them, could be borne by none but Him who had the strength of Deity to support him : and besides all these, we are chargeable with countless iniquities which others, drawn or driven by us, have committed. Surely, if this consideration is properly felt by you, you will need no other motive to
296 SERMO XCVf. induce you seriously to ponder the injunction of the apostle, " either be partaker of other men's sins." I acknowledge that the place in which this injunction is found, seems at first to restrain it to a particular order of men, and to a particular occasion. St.
Paul is instructing- Timothy in what manner to discharge his ministerial functions: having given him many important directions and solemn charges, he adds, " Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins," that is, do not hastily and inconsiderately, without the most careful examination, lay your hands on any person to ordain him, lest through precipitancy you introduce unsound or irreligious men into the ministry, and thus become accessary to their unfaithfulness, and partakers of their guilt. This is the particular object of the text; but it has a much more general sense. You all know that nothing is more common than, on the occurrence of particular cases, to produce general maxims that apply to them ; which general maxims, while they forcibly illustrate the points under consideration, do not become less extensive in their sense. What St. Paul therefore says to Timothy, to induce him to be circumspect in the ordination of ministers, he also says to us, to induce us to be vigilant in all our conduct. To explain and illustrate this important precept, three things will be requisite. We must, I. Show you by what means we may partake of other men's sins; II. Give you some motives to induce you to comply with this injunction of the apostle; and, HI. Afford you some directions to assist you in obeying it. 1. We are to show you by what means we may
MISCELLA EOUS. 297
partake of other men's sins. And here, my brethren, we do not pretend to mention all the methods whereby we incur this guilt : they are numberless ; and our limits will permit us only to give a rapid sketch of a few of the principal of them. I. We are guilty of other men's sins, when we set before them an evil example^ which induces them to plunge into guilt. By an irregular and unholy life, we may not only destroy ourselves, but cause the perdition of thousands who, strengthened in sin by viewing our life, go carelessly to perdition. " Why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews ?" said Paul to St. Peter. How did Peter compel them ? ot by any outward violence ; not by any public preaching; but by his example. In like manner, my brethren, even though we use no compulsion to drive men to iniquity, even though we utter no seducing word unto them, yet still, if our unholy conduct confirms them in guilt, we partake of their sin. Ought not this truth to make those open and undisguised sinners who are amongst us, to tremble at their danger? You detest the character of the hypocrite ; but do you not perceive that, in this respect, the hypocrite himself, odious as he is, is far less criminal than you. At the judgment-day, the hypocrite will have to bear his own burden, and will be crushed under its weight; but upon your heads will light not only your own iniquities, but those of many miserable wretches whom your example has undone. Unholy and profane parents! do you also seriously weigh this truth ? If your children, imitating your conduct, live sinful, prayerless lives, indulge in iniquity, and " run to excess of riot," they shall perish ; but you who, by your example, seduced them into sin, shall not be esteemed guiltless ! Do you, who are disvol. m. 38
298 SERMO XCVI. tinguished in the world by riches, by talents, or by any endowments which give you weight in society, do you solemnly consider this j " you are as a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid ?" Your virtues or your sins cannot be single : on you the eyes of your fellow men are fixed ; your example they stand ready to imitate; and they quiet the clamours of an accusing conscience by considering that they act as you do. Unless you set before them the pattern of a holy life, a host of sins, to which your example impelled others, will in the last day encircle you around, and fill you with horror. 2. We are guilty of other men's sins when wc connive at, consent to, or conceal them. The instance of Eli abundantly proves that he who winks at a crime, that by his office and power he is qualified to prevent or redress, becomes positively guilty of that very crime, as much as if he had been the single and personal trangressor. Think of this, you who patiently stand by, while the name, the authority, and cause of God are assailed ; and through a time-serving fear, or a cruel complaisance, neglect to oppose these crimes. Your silence and connivance make you actual transgressors: not to speak, is esteemed by God to approve; not to act, is to commit; not to oppose, is to load yourself with a share of the guilt! Think of this, you who are equally insensible in beholding sins committed against your brother. Do you remain cool and passive when you hear your brother calumniated, his reputation aspersed, his good name assailed by slander ? God marks you as a slanderer ! Think of this, magistrates, and tremble while you recollect that God esteems you guilty of every crime, which by your post, you are able to repress, but which you timidly and criminally overlook.
MISCELLA EOUS. 299 .i. We partake of other men's sins by uttering those sentiments which tend to subvert morality, or diminish our horror for guilt. If we propagate loose doctrines, if we scoflfat serious piety, if we persuade men that an holy and heavenly life is not necessary, "if we call evil good and good evil," weare murdering souls, and accumulating for ourselves indignation and wrath. It makes my heart ache, to think what store of unavailing anguish a man is preparing for himself, when he derides the practices, or the truths of religion : corrupting the persons with whom he associates, they may convey the infection to others ; it may be extended to generations yet to come ; the effects that may be produced by one loose witticism or one unholy address, are incalculable, except by that God who will judge us. It makes my heart ache, to think that so many are using the talents which God gave them, in sneering at the truths, and the children of God ; in deriding the ways of piety, and in employing sarcasms and sneers to induce men to relinquish heaven and to plunge into hell ! There is an expression which one of the fathers uses concerning Arius, which should cause these advocates of loose principles to tremble : "As many souls as Arius has seduced into heresy or blasphemy, so many degrees of torments will he have in the regions of wo." 4. We partake of other men's sins by alluring, inviting, tempting them to sin. When we spread the net before our neighbour, and decoy him into it ; when we solicit and incite him to iniquity, we partake of his sin ; we adopt it as our own. Oh ! how many are there, who, in this way, are guilty before God ! How many, who, acting as the co-adjutors of Satan, have designedly tempted their neighhour to intemperance, to fraud, to uncleanness
300 SERMO XCVI. How many, who have voluntarily provoked him to passion and rage ! Thoughtless men ! you may now laugh at these things ; you may exult at the ingenuity with which you spread your snares, and the art with which you drew your unsuspecting brother into them ; but God regards these as serious crimes, of which you must render a serious account. 5. We may partake of other men's sins even when we have not been instrumental in producing them, when we flatter them in these sins, and do not reprove them. " He that biddeth him God speed," says an apostle, speaking of a heretic, " is partaker of his evil deeds." When we encourage men in their iniquity ; when we commend their crimes ; when we give specious names to their iniquities ; when we reprove not at all ; or reprove like Eli, as though we were not in earnest, say what we please, think what we please, we are partakers of those iniquities at which we thus basely connive. 6. Finally, for my time obliges me to omit many other methods, even though we do not allure to sin or encourage men in it, yet if our hearts love their conduct, if we secretly rejoice in it and approve it, God, who looks chiefly at the heart,and esteems us impious or holy, according to its frame and disposition, esteems us to be guilty, and ranks us amongst the partakers of their sins. When St. Stephen was put to death by the Jews, Paul stood by as a spectator ; he assisted not the murderers, nor cast a single stone against the venerable martyr. Was he therefore guiltless ? o ! he himself confesses that he was guilty of murder, "because when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I was consenting to," or
as the original word [o-wcv^kuv] is more frequently translated, " I was well pleased with his death." Ah,
iMISCELLA EOUS. 30 1 my brethren ! how vast is the crowd of sins of which we have in this sense been partakers ? How many iniquities of others which we dared not openly approve nor publicly encourage, have yet afforded us secret pleasure? When this slanderer has calumniated the good name of our rival ; when this fraudulent man has over-reached one whom we envied ; when this revengeful person has injured our enemy; when this sinner has mocked at the obligations of religion, have we never said in our hearts, like the foes of David, " Aha ! so we would have it." If such have been our sentiments, we have been really guilty of calumny, fraud, revenge, impiety ; however closely these sentiments may have been confined in our own breasts. Such are the principal methods in which we partake of other men's sins ; and I am persuaded that if we candidly apply these observations to our own lives; we shall find a black catalogue of other men's sins, which are chargeable to us, and which merit deep repentance, and bitter tears. That we may in future be more guarded, let us attend to some of those motives which enforce the injunction of the apostle. This was our lid. Division. From the many motives which occur to me, I shall select only three. We should abstain from other men's sins : 1. From charity to our brethren.
2. From pity to ourselves. 3. From piety to God. 1. Charity to our brethren should encourage us to the performance of this injunction of the apostle. Is it consistent with that charity which we owe to 9ur brother, and which should prompt us to the peiv
302 SERMO XCVI. fbrmance of every kind oifice towards him : is it consistent with that charity which Jesus inculcated upon all his disciples, and enforced by the most alluring promises, and most dreadful threatenings ? Is it consistent with this divine grace, I do not say coolly to stand by and see our brother descending into hell, but to endeavour to plunge him deep into the infernal gulf? Yet this you do, whilst you violate the precept of the apostle. Instead of elevating a warning voice, you lure him to ruin ; instead of guarding him against the power of his corruptions, you inflame them, and give them tenfold strength ; instead of reaching forth your hand to pluck him from the precipice, you advance before him, and break down the mounds which God has erected to save him from damnation. Is this charitable ; is it humane : is it not diabolical ? The scripture denominates the neglect of admonishing and instructing our brother, hatred: " Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart ; thou shalt not suffer sin to lie upon him." (Lev. xix. 17.) If a mere omission to interest ourselves for his salvation, deserve this title, what terms can be found sufficiently strong to express the greatness of their enmity, who to this neglect, add positive exertions to seduce their companions into sin ? Tell me, or rather
answer to your own consciences, does your conduct more resemble the benevolent Saviour, who went about doing good, healing the disorders of the soul, as well as the pains of the body, or the malignant fiend, who goeth about seeking whom he may devour? 2. If you are insensible to this motive, yet still think of yourselves, and out of pity to your own souls, partake not of other men's sins. Their destruction will not diminish; it will inconceivably aggravate your misery. When you meet in the infernal pit
MISCELLA EOUS. 303 those whom you have seduced into sin ; when you there behold those to whom you have performed an irreparable injury, will it charm the flames, to hear them address you, and cry in a voice of despair and rage, " Wretch, it is you who have brought me hither ! it is you who, by your solicitations and example, pulled down this vengeance which oppresses me. My doom is remediless, but I will pursue you through eternity! I will continually present myself before you, enfettered by the chains which you have forged, surrounded by the fires which you have lighted : I will for ever pour into your ears, my shrieks and execrations !" Tell me, will such an address as this render the place of torment more pleasant; will such society as this sooth the anguish of your heart ? The ungodly rich man well knew to the contrary : he had partaken in his brethren's sins, and he cried out in agony, " I pray thee, Father Abraham, that thou wouldest send to my brother's house ; for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment." Sinner, a solitary punishment in those doleful regions will be sufficiently severe ; why should you wish to aggravate it in this dreadful manner? Your own iniquities are enough to crush you ; why should you be solicitous
to increase the burden ? 3. Finally, let me urge you by the authority of God. This God commands you not to partake of other men's sins : is it safe to despise his command ? Can you contend with him, and prosper? What account will you give him at the judgment-day, of those souls of which he is the rightful owner, and which you are striving to seduce from him? Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and make them holy : is it prudent for you to do all that is in your power to frus-
304 SERMO - XCVI. trate this, his design? Ah! be warned in time, and since you cannot contend with Omnipotence, strive by a holy life, by an abandonment of your own sins, and by ceasing to partake of the sins of others, to secure the favour of God. I might add many other motives, but these are surely sufficient to excite you, if you are not entirely insensible. Let us then pass to our Hid. Division, in which we were to give you some directions, to enable you to comply with the injunctions of the apostle. 1 . Be careful that your own heart and life are holy. Sin is infectious; and as long as you are polluted with it, you must communicate its poison to those with whom you associate. Besides, if yourown life is unholy, your conscience will prevent you from faithfully reproving sin in others, or your ill example will render your reproofs inefficacious. Make sure, then, of a sound conversion unto God. Begin with personal reformation; let the polluted fountain in your own heart be purified, or it will send forth streams to poi-
son your neighbour. 2. Cultivate a high value and love for the souls of men. That which we love, we shall not readily injure ; and if we have a proper regard for immortal souls, we shall rather forego many pleasures, than give a wound to them. If you look at those who are most noted for partaking of other men's sins, you will find that they are those who know not the worth of a soul. If you go to them and say, ' Act not thus, it exposes your brother to perdition,' you will hear them answer with the spirit of Cain, "Are we our brothers' keepers ?" or, like the malignant high-priests, " What is that to us? See thou to that.' 7 If you would, then, avoid the doom, avoid the sentiments of these men,
and ever remember that a soul will outweigh a world, that its eternal destiny is not to be trilled with. 3. Mourn before God for the sins of your brethren. When God passed through Jerusalem to smite it, he spared none but those who cried and sighed for the abominations that were done within it. (Ezek. ix. 4.) All others were esteemed partakers of the general corruption and were swept away with the overflowing scourge. Be careful, then, if your neighbours, and friends, and relatives, resist all other means, to lament their obstinacy, and bewail their wickedness before God. This has been the conduct of the pious: lest they should partake the sins of others,
they mourned over them. Lot " vexed his righteous soul from day to day, in seeing and hearing" the " unlawful deeds" of the inhabitants of Sodom. David cries, " Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law." " If ye will not hear the word of the Lord," says Jeremiah, " my soul shall weep in secret places for you, and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears." " Many walk," says Paul, " of whom I tell you weepings that they are enemies to the cross." And our blessed Lord himself, poured forth the tears of sorrow over rebellious Jerusalem. Thus must we act, if we would free ourselves from the sins of others ; thus must we act, if we would have that tender compassion for the souls of men, which would animate us to diligence in admonishing and instructing them. 4. If we would not partake of the sins of others, we must reprove them., I have reserved this direction as the conclusion of my discourse, because there are few duties more important, and few so much neglected as this duty of brotherly reproof. " Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, vol. in. 39
306 SERMO XCVI, but reprove them,'' says the apostle: clearly intimating that we shall be esteemed to have a fellowship and participation in those sins which we do not reprove. Rebuke, then, profane swearing, intemperance, blasphemy, and Sabbath-breaking, and other vices which you see committed. " There is a holy silence under God's correction ; Aaron held his peace : and there is a sinful silence under man's corruption ; Eli held his peace also."
But whilst I solemnly urge you to this duty, I must caution you also to perform it in a Christian manner, and with Christian sentiments ; or, instead of benefiting, you will injure religion and your neighbour. Be sure, before reproving, that your brother is guilty ; conjecture, suspicion, rumour, are not sufficient ground for a reproof: be sure that your aims are holy ; if you are animated by pride, by vain-glory, by a desire to contradict and control others, your reproof is a sin. Let God's glory, hatred of sin, and a love of your brother's soul, be the only principles which animate you. Reprove always in proper season, seriously, impartially, and with meekness.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000