Luke 6:37.---'Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.'

The puzzles of the Sermon on the Mount begin to be solved as soon as one remembers that it was spoken in a human language, and that all human languages have this limitation, that you cannot say in them all you mean, but must trust to the hearer to supply part of the meaning. If you try to say the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, you find that the reservations and exceptions and qualifications will make your speech intolerably long, and none of it will be remembered at the end of it. The greatest of all teachers knew this, and He therefore spoke the truth as men could best lay hold of it; He spoke it briefly and broadly, trusting men to add by help of common-sense that which would balance and correct and complete it.

Here with His 'Judge not' he has himself supplied the suggestion as to how common-sense should qualify the precept. It is 'Judge not, and ye shall not be judged,' or, as it is in Matthew, 'that ye be not judged.' Now, this second clause evidently defines the kind of judgment which we should not like to have passed upon ourselves. To judge one's neighbor, then, is unchristian, so far as it would be unjust that we should be ourselves judged in the same way. But there are ways in which we do not object to be judged ourselves. That another man should pass a kind judgment on us is a thing we do not object to, but desire. That he should pass on us not a kind, but a merely just and correct judgment is a thing which we may not wholly desire, but still which we should not have the face to object to; we should say we were quite content, even if we did not feel so. And, indeed, whichever of us is wise will honestly prefer that he should be estimated carefully and thoughtfully, even if coldly, rather that his reputation should be at the mercy of the reckless chatter of people who may mean no ill in the world, but do not take the trouble to find out if the things they say and the tales they repeat are true. Well, then, if we are ready to be judged ourselves, provided our judge is kind, and wise, and careful, do we break Christ's command if we kindly, and wisely, and carefully judge our neighbor?

What if we are not only content to be dealt with as we deal with others, but actually make our judgment of them a judgment of ourselves? The fault-finding which Jesus reprobates is that finding of fault which is a sidelong praise of oneself: 'Such a one lives loosely, but how respectable am I! such a one is grasping and mean---let him imitate my generosity; such a one is a very poor creature---what a pity he has none of my fine spirit'! But can one not also use one's fellow's faulty nature, not as a foil, but as a mirror---a mirror in which we discover a faulty nature which is our own, and which, but for this mirror, we should not have seen? We are noting, let us say, some acquaintance's deplorable fall from rectitude or virtue. What then? Is it that we may bestow an approving smile on our own unstained, honorable self? Then 'Judge not' is the word for us. But if it is that we may recall with a shudder how once a whisper of a bad ambition, a prick of covetousness, a hot gust of passion, shook our very soul, even ours, and our footing had wellnigh slipped; if the moral disaster of another man lights up deeps of evil inclination in our own being which we had forgotten, or never had explored in the decorous passage of our days; then who will blame us for giving the true name of the sin of our fellow-man, when the naming of it is a confession and a deploring of our own? For here with what judgment we judge, we are by our own sentence judged; and with what measure we mete, it is measured to us by ourselves again.

I have been driven to ask myself, and I find that all the mischief I discover in others and in the age were really rioting in myself. Of all spirits, I believe the spirit of judging is the worst, and it has had the rule of me I cannot tell you how dreadfully and how long. Looking for the faults, which I had a secret consciousness were in myself, in other people, and accusing them instead of looking for their faults in myself, where I should have been sure to find them all, this, I find, has more hindered my progress in love and gentleness and sympathy than all things else. I never knew what the words ;Judge not, that ye be not judged,' meant before; now they seem to me some of the most awful, necessary, and beautiful in the whole Word of God.

In Christ, timothy. Maranatha