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Verses 15-17

Matthew 18:15-17. But if thy brother, &c. But how can we avoid giving offence to some? or being offended at others? especially suppose they are quite in the wrong? suppose they commit a known sin? Our Lord here teaches us how: he lays down a sure method of avoiding all offences. Whosoever closely observes this three-fold rule will seldom offend others, and never be offended himself. If any do any thing amiss, of which thou art an eye or ear witness, thus saith the Lord, If thy brother Any who is a member of the same religious community; sin against thee 1st, Go and reprove him alone If it may be, in person; if that cannot so well be done, by thy messenger; or in writing. Observe, our Lord gives no liberty to omit this, or to exchange it for either of the following steps. If this do not succeed, 2d, Take with thee one or two more Men whom he esteems or loves, who may then confirm and enforce what thou sayest; and afterward, if need require, bear witness of what was spoken. If even this does not succeed, then, and not before, 3d, Tell it to the elders of the church Lay the whole matter open before those who watch over your and his soul. If all this avail not, have no further intercourse with him, only such as thou hast with heathen. Can any thing be plainer? Christ does here as expressly command all Christians who see a brother do evil, to take this way, not another, and to take these steps, in this order, as he does to honour their father and mother. But if so, in what land do the Christians live? If we proceed from the private carriage of man to man, to proceedings of a more public nature, in what Christian nation are church censures conformed to this rule? Is this the form in which ecclesiastical judgments appear in the Popish, or even the Protestant world? Are these the methods used even by those who boast the most loudly of the authority of Christ to confirm their sentences? Let us earnestly pray that this dishonour to the Christian name may be wiped away, and that common humanity may not, with such solemn mockery, be destroyed in the name of the Lord! Let him be unto thee as a heathen To whom thou still owest earnest goodwill, and all the offices of humanity.

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