William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

Cases And Directions Against Censoriousness And Unwarrantable Judging.

by Richard Baxter

Quest. 1. Am I not bound to judge truly of every one as he is?

Answer. I. There are many that you are not bound to meddle with, and to pass any
judgment at all upon. 2. There are many whose faults are secret, and their
virtues open and of such you cannot judge as they are, because, you have no
proof or evidence to enable you: you cannot see that which is latent in the
heart, or done in darkness. 3. You neither ought on pretence of charity, nor can
believe an evident known untruth of any man.

Quest. Doth not charity bind me to judge men better than they are?

Answer. Charity bindeth you, 1. Rather to observe the best in them, than the
worst. 2. And, as I said, to judge of no man's faults uncalled. 3. Nor to judge
of that which is not evident, but out of sight and thus consequently it bindeth
you to judge some men to be better than they are; but not directly.

Quest. Then a man is bound to err and believe an untruth.

Answer. No; you are not bound to believe that it is certainly true, that such a
man is better than he is; because you have no evidence of its certain truth. But
you are bound to believe it a thing probable or likely, likely to be true, by an
opinion or fallible human faith and this is not a falsehood; for that is likely
and probable to you, which hath the more probable evidence, and more for it than
against it so that the thing which you are to believe immediately is this
proposition: There is more evidence to me to prove it likely that this man is
sincere than contrary: and consequently you believe this, and believe not the
contrary, because the contrary hath no evidence. But you are not to take it as a
certain thing, that the contrary hath no latent reality.

Quest. II. How far may I judge ill of one by outward appearances, as by the
countenance, gestures, and other uncertain but suspicious signs?
Answer. There are some signs which are not so much as probable, but a little
suspicious, and which men are very ordinarily mistaken by: as those that will
judge of a man at the first look by his face; and those that will judge a
studious, serious person (a lawyer, a judge, or a divine) to be morose or proud,
because they are not complimentary, but of few words; or because they have not
patience to waste precious hours in hearing an empty vessel sound, an ignorant,
self-conceited person talk foolishly. Such censures are but the effects of
injudiciousness, unrighteousness, and rash haste. There are other signs which
make it probable to a wise and charitable person, that the man is bad (e.g.
proud, or covetous, or a hypocrite). If with these, there are as great sins to
make the contrary probable, we must rather incline to the better than the worse.
But if not, we may fear the worst of that person, but not conclude it as a
certainty; and therefore we may not in public censures, proceed upon such
uncertainties, nor venture to divulge them; but only use them to help us for due
caution, and pity, and prayer, and endeavour for such a one's recovery and help.
Quest. III. How far may I censure upon the report of others?

Answer. According to the degree of the credibility of the persons, and evidence
of the narrative; not simply in themselves, but as compared with all that is to
be heard on the contrary part; else you are partial and unjust.

Quest. IV. Doth not the fifth command oblige me in honour to parents and
princes, to judge them to be better than their lives declare them to be?

Answer. You are gradually to honour them more than others, and therefore to be
more afraid of dishonoring them, and must not sit in judgment on them, to
believe any harm of them, which evidence doth not compel you to believe. But you
are not to judge any sin the less, because it is theirs; nor to judge contrary
to evidence, nor to call evil good, nor to be willfully blind, nor to flatter
any in their sin.

Quest. V. Whom must we judge for sincere and sanctified Christians?

Answer. 1. All those that profess to be such, whom you cannot disprove. 2 But as
there are several degrees of evidence and probability, so must there be several
degrees of your good opinion of others. Of some who give you the highest
probability, you may have the strongest confidence short of certainty of others
you may have less; and of some you may have much more fear than hope. 3. And yet
in matters of church rights and public communion, your fears will not allow you
to accept them as no Christians; for their profession of faith and repentance is
certain and as long as your fears of their hypocrisy or unsoundness are but
uncertain, it must not (on that account) prevail to deprive another of his

Quest. VI. But is not my error my sin, if I prove mistaken, and take that man
for a sincere Christian who is none?

Answer. If you judged it to be certain, your judgment and error was your sin;
but if you only judged him a professor of Christianity, and one that on that
account you were bound to have church communion with as if he were sincere,
because you cannot prove the contrary, this was no error; or if you erred for
lack of sufficient evidence to know the truth, this error is not in itself a

Quest. VII. Whom must I judge a visible member of the church, with whom I am
thus bound to hold communion?

Answer. 1. If you are the pastor of the church who are made the judge, at his
admission by baptism, or afterwards, you must so judge of every one who maketh a
credible profession of true Christianity, that is, of his present consent to the
sacramental covenant: and that profession is credible, which is, 1. Understood
by him that maketh it. 2. Deliberate. 3. Voluntary. 4. Seemingly serious. 5. And
is not disproved by valid evidence of the contrary. These are the true measures
of church communion; for every man, next God, is the judge of his own heart; and
God would have every man the chooser or refuser of his own mercies.

2. But if you are but a private member of the church, you are to judge that
person a visible member of the church, whom the pastor hath taken in by baptism,
and not cast out again by excommunication; except the contrary be notorious: and
even then you are oft obliged for order sake to carry yourself towards him as a
visible member, till he be regularly cast out.

Quest. VIII. Whom must I judge a true worshipper of God, and whom not?

Answer. Him that professeth true Christianity, and joineth in true worship with
a Christian church, or privately (when hindered) acknowledgeth the true God in
all his essential attributes, and heareth his word, and prayeth to him for all
things necessary to salvation, and praiseth him accordingly, not giving the
worship proper to God unto any creature; and doth all this as a sinner redeemed
by Jesus Christ, trusting in his merits, sacrifice, and intercession, and giveth
not his office to any other. And he is a false worshipper who denieth any
essential attribute of God, or essential part of the office of Christ, or giveth
these to any other; or refuseth his word, or excludeth in his prayers any thing
essential to Christianity, or absolutely necessary to salvation. But secundum
quid, in lesser parts, or in circumstances, or measures, every man on earth is a
false worshiper, that is, he offereth God a worship some way faulty and
imperfect, and hath some sin in his worshipping of God; and sin is a thing that
God requireth not, but forbiddeth even in the smallest measures.

Quest. IX. Which must I judge a true church of Christ, and which a false church?
Answer. The universal church is but one, and is the whole society of Christians
as united to Christ their only Head; and this cannot be a false church. But if
any other set up a usurper as the universal head, and so make another polity and
church, this is a false church formally, or in its polity; but yet the members
of this false church or policy may some of them as Christians be also members of
the true church of Christ: and thus the Roman church as papal is a false
catholic church, having the polity of a usurper; but as Christians they may be
members of the true catholic church of Christ. But for a particular church which
is but part of the universal, that is a true church considered merely as an
ungoverned community, which is a true part of the catholic, prepared for a
pastor, but yet being without one: but that only is a true political church,
which consisteth of professed Christians conjoined under a true pastor, for
communion in the profession of true Christianity, and for the true worshipping
of God, and orderly walking for their mutual assistance and salvation.
Quest. X. Whom must we judge true prophets and pastors of the church?
Answer. He is a true prophet who is sent by God, and speaketh truth by immediate
supernatural revelation or inspiration. And he is a false prophet who either
falsely saith that he hath divine revelations or inspiration, or prophesieth
falsehood as from God And he is a true pastor at the bar of God, who is, 1.
Competently qualified with abilities for the office. 2. Competently disposed to
it, with willingness and desire of success; and hath right ends in undertaking
and discharging it. 3. Who hath a just admission, by true ordination of pastors,
and consent of the flock; and he is to be accounted a true pastor in foro
ecclesia, in the church's judgment, whom the church judgeth to have all these
qualifications, and thereupon admitteth him into possession of the place, till
his incapacity be notoriously or publicly and sufficiently proved, or he be
removed or made uncapable.

Tit. 2 Directions for the Cure of Sinful Censoriousness.

Direct. I. Meddle not at all in judging of others without a call. Know first
whether it be any of your work; if not, be afraid of those words of your Judge,
Matt. 7:1-5, "Judge not, that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge,
you shall be judged," &c. And Rom. 14:, "Who art thou that judgest another man's
servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth." And verses 10, and 13, "But
why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? We
shall all stand before the judgment seat of ChristEvery one of us shall give
account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more." 1
Cor. 4:3-5, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of
you, or of man's judgmenttherefore judge nothing before the time till the Lord
come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make
manifest the counsels of the hearts-." Col. 2:16, "Let no man judge you in meat
or in drink, or in respect of any holy day, or of the new moon, or Sabbath."
Quest. But when have I a call to judge another?

Answer. If your office and place require it as a magistrate, pastor, parent,
master, tutor, &c. 2. If the safety of the church or your neighbour do require
it. 3. If the good of the sinner require it that you may seek his repentance and
reformation. 4. If your own preservation or welfare (or any other duty) require

Direct. II. Keep up a humble sense of your own faults, and that will make you
compassionate to others. He that is truly vile in his own eyes, is least
inclined to vilify others: and he that judgeth himself with the greatest
penitent severity, is the least inclined to be censorious to his brother. Pride
is the common cause of censoriousness: he that saith with the Pharisee, "I fast
twice a week, and pay tithes of all that I have, I am no adulterer," &c. will
also say, "I am not as other men, nor as this publican:" when the true penitent
findeth so much of his own to be condemned, that he smiteth on his own breast
and saith, "God be merciful to me a sinner." The prouder, self-conceited sort of
Christians are ever the most censorious of their neighbours.

Direct. III. Be much therefore at home in searching, and watching, and amending
your own hearts and then you will find so much to do about yourselves, that you
will have no mind or leisure to be censuring others; whereas the superficial
hypocrite, whose religion is in externals, and is unacquainted with his heart
and heaven, is so little employed in the true work of a Christian, that he hath
leisure for the work of a censorious Pharisee.

Direct. IV. Labour for a deep experimental insight into the nature of religion,
and of every duty. For no men are so censorious as the ignorant who know not
what they say; whilst experienced persons know those difficulties and other
reasons which calm their minds. As in common business, no man will sooner find
fault with a workman in his work, than idle praters who least understand it. So
is it commonly in matters of religion: women and young men that never saw into
the great mysteries of divinity, but have been lately changed from a vicious
life, and have neither acquaintance with the hard points of religion, nor with
their own ignorance of them, are the common, proud censurers of their brethren
much wiser than themselves, and of all men that are more moderate and peaceable
than themselves, and are more addicted to unity, and more averse to sects and
separations than they. Study harder, and wait till you grow up to the experience
of the aged, and you will be less censorious and more peaceable.

Direct. V. Think not yourselves fit judges of that which you understand not: and
think not proudly that you are more like to understand the difficulties in
religion, with your short and lazy studies, than those that in reading,
meditation, and prayer have spent their lives in searching after them. Let not
pride make you abuse the Holy Ghost, by pretending that he hath given you more
wisdom in a little time, and with little means and diligence, than your betters
have by the holy industry of their lives: say not, God can give more to you in a
year than to others in twenty; for it is a poor argument to prove that God hath
done it, because he can do it. He can make you an angel, but that will not prove
you one. Prove your wisdom before you pretend to it, and overvalue it not: Heb.
5:11,12, showeth that it is God's ordinary way to give men wisdom according to
their time and means, unless their own negligence deprive them of his blessing.
Direct. VI. Study to keep up Christian love, and to keep it lively. For love is
not censorious, but is inclined to judge the best, till evidence constrain you
to the contrary. Censoriousness is a vermin which crawleth in the carcass of
Christian love, when the life of it is gone.

Direct. VII. Value all God's graces in his servants; and then you will see
something to love them for, when hypocrites can see nothing: make not too light
of small degrees of grace, and then your censure will not overlook them.
Direct. VIII. Remember the tenderness of Christ, who condemneth not the weak,
nor casteth infants out of his family, nor the diseased out of his hospital but
dealeth with them in such a gracious gentleness, as beseemeth a tender-hearted
Saviour: he will not break the bruised reed: he carrieth his lambs in his arms,
and gently driveth those with young! He taketh up the wounded man, when the
priest and Levite pass him by. And have you not need of the tenderness of Christ
yourselves as well as others? Are you not afraid lest he should find greater
faults with you than you find in others; and condemn you as you condemn them?
Direct. IX. Let the sense of the common corruption of the world, and
imperfection of the godly, moderate your particular censures. As Seneca saith,
To censure a man for that which is common to all men, is in a sort to censure
him for being a man, which beseemeth not him that is a man himself. Do you not
know the frailty of the best, and the common pravity of human nature? How few
are there that must not have great allowance, or else they will not pass for
current in the balance! Elias was a man subject to passions: Jonah to
peevishness Job had his impatience: Paul saith even of the teachers of the
primitive church, "They all (that were with him) seek their own, and not the
things of Jesus Christ." What blots are charged on almost all the churches, and
almost all the holy persons, mentioned throughout all the Scriptures! Learn then
of Paul a better lesson than censoriousness: Gal. 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be
overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit
of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one
another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Let every man prove his own
work, and then he shall have rejoicing in himself alone," &c.

Direct. X. Remember that judgment is God's prerogative (further than as we are
called to it for the performance of some duty, either of office, or of private
charity, or self-preservation): and that the judge is at the door! And that
judging unmercifully maketh us liable to judgment without mercy. The prospect of
that impending universal judgment, which will pass the doom on us and all men,
will do much to cure us of our rash censoriousness.

Direct. XI. Peruse and observe all the directions in the last chapter against
evil-speaking and backbiting, that I may not need to repeat them: especially
avoid, 1. The snare of selfishness and interest. For most men judge of others
principally by their own interest. He is the good man that is good to them, or
is on their side; that loveth and honoreth them, and answereth their desires:
this is the common false judgment of the corrupted, selfish world; who vilify
and hate the best, because they seem unsuitable to them and their carnal
interest. Therefore take heed of their judgment about any man that you have a
falling out with: for it is two to one but you will wrong him through this
selfishness. 2. Avoid passion; which blindeth the judgment. 3. Avoid faction;
which maketh you judge of all men as they agree or disagree with your opinions,
or your side and party. 4. Avoid too hasty belief of censures, and rebuke them.
5. Hear every man speak for himself before you censure him, if it be possible,
and the case be not notorious.

Direct. XII. Keep still upon your mind a just and deep apprehension of the
malignity of this sin of rash censuring. It is of greatest consequence to the
mortifying of any sin, what apprehensions of it are upon the mind. If religious
persons apprehended the odiousness of this as much as they do of swear-jag,
drunkenness, fornication, &c. they would as carefully avoid it. Therefore I
shall show you the malignity of this sin.

Tit. 3. The Evil of the Sin of Censoriousness.

1. It is a usurpation of God's prerogative, who is the Judge of all the world:
it is a stepping up into his judgment-seat, and undertaking his work; as if you
said, I will be God as to this action. And if he be called the antichrist, who
usurpeth the office of Christ, to be the universal monarch and head of the
church, you may imagine what he doth, who (though but in one point) doth set up
himself in the place of God.

2. They that usurp not God's part in judging, yet ordinarily usurp the part of
the magistrate or pastors of the church. As when mistaken, censorious Christians
refuse to come to the sacrament of communion, because many persons are there
whom they judge to be ungodly, what do they but usurp the office of the pastors
of the church, to whom the keys are committed for admission and exclusion, and
so are the appointed judges of that case? The duty of private members is but to
admonish the offender first secretly, and then before witnesses, and to tell the
church if he repent not, and humbly to tell the pastors of their duty, if they
neglect it: and when this is done, they have discharged their part, and must no
more excommunicate men themselves, than they must hang thieves when the
magistrate doth neglect to hang them.

3. Censoriousness signifieth the absence or decay of love: which inclineth men
to think evil, and judge the worst, and aggravate infirmities, and overlook or
extenuate any good that is in others. And there is least grace where there is
least love.

4. It showeth also much lack of self-acquaintance, and such heart employment as
the sincerest Christians are taken up with. And it showeth much lack of
Christian humility and sense of your own infirmities and badness; and much
prevalency of pride and self-conceitedness. If you knew how ignorant you are,
you would not be so peremptory in judging: and if you knew how bad you are, you
would not be so forward to condemn your neighbours. So that here is together the
effect of much self-estrangedness, hypocrisy, and pride. Did you ever well
consider the mind of Christ, when he bid them that accused the adulterous woman,
John 8:7, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her?"

Certainly adultery was a heinous crime, and to be punished with death, and
Christ was no patron of uncleanness; but he knew that it was a hypocritical sort
of persons whom he spake to, who were busy in judging others rather than
themselves. Have you studied his words against rash censurers, Matt. 7:3,4; "And
why beholdest thou the mote in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam
that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out
the mote out of thine eye; and behold a beam is in thine own eye? Thou
hypocrite! First cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see
clearly to cast out the mote which is in thy brother's eye." I know well that
impenitent sinners do use to pervert all these words of Christ, against any that
would bring them to repentance for their sin; and account all men rash
censurers, who would make them acquainted with their unsanctified hearts and
lives. But it is not their abuse of Scripture, which will justify our passing
over it with neglect. Christ spake it not for nothing; and it must be studied by
his disciples.

5. Censoriousness is injustice, in that the censurers would not be so censured
themselves. You will say, Yes, if we were as bad, and did deserve it. But though
you have not that same fault, have you no other? And are you willing to have it
aggravated, and be thus rashly judged? You do not as you would be done by: yea,
commonly censurers are guilty of false judging; and whilst they take things
hastily upon trust, and stay not to hear men speak for themselves, or to inquire
thoroughly into the cause, they commonly condemn the innocent; and call good
evil, and put light for darkness; and take away the righteousness of the
righteous from him, when God hath cursed such with a woe.

6. And false censuring is the proper work of the devil, the accuser of the
brethren, Rev. 12:10, "Who accuseth them before God, day and night;" And
Christians should not bear his image, nor do his work.

7. Censoriousness is contrary to the nature and office of Jesus Christ: he came
to pardon sin, and cover the infirmities of his servants, and to cast them
behind his back, and into the depth of the sea, and to bury them in his grave;
and it is the censurer's work to rake them up, and to make them seem more and
greater than they are, and to bring them into the open light.

8. Censoriousness causeth uncharitableness and sinful separations in the
censurers: when they have conceited their brethren to be worse than they are,
they must then reproach them, or have no communion with them, and avoid them as
too bad for the company of such as they: or when they have usurped the pastor's
work in judging, they begin the execution by sinful separation.

9. Censoriousness is an infectious sin, which easily taketh with the younger and
prouder sort of Christians, and so setteth them on vilifying others: and at this
little gap there entereth all uncharitableness, backbitings, revilings, church
divisions, and sects, yea, and too often rebellious and bloody wars at last.
10. Censoriousness is a sore temptation to them that are censured, either to
contemn such as censure them, and go on the other hand too far from them; or
else to comply with the errors and sinful humors of the censurers, and to strain
their consciences to keep pace with the censorious.

And here I must leave it on record to posterity for their warning, that the
great and lamentable actions, changes, and calamities of this age have arisen
(next to gross impiety) from this sin of censoriousness producing these two
contrary effects, and thereby dividing men into two contrary parties: the
younger sort of religious people, and the more ignorant, and many women, having
more zeal than judgment, placed too much of their religion in a sharp opposition
to all ceremonies, formalities, and opinions which they thought unlawful; and
were much inclined to schism and unjust separations upon that account; and
therefore censured such things as anti-Christian, and those that used them as
superstitious and temporizers; and no man's learning, piety, wisdom, or
laboriousness in the ministry could save him from these sharp, reproachful
censures. Hereupon one party had not humility and patience enough to endure to
be so judged of; nor love and tenderness enough for such peevish Christians, to
bear with them in pity, as parents do with froward infants; but because these
professed holiness and zeal, even holiness and zeal were brought under suspicion
for their sakes; and they were taken to be persons intolerable, as unfit to lie
in any building, and unmeet to submit to Christian government; and therefore
meet to be used accordingly. Another sort were so wearied with the profaneness
and ungodliness of the vulgar rabble, and saw so few that were judiciously
religious, that they thought it their duty to love and cherish the zeal and
piety of their censorious weak ones, and to bear patiently with their
frowardness, till ripeness and experience cured them (and so far they were
right). And because they thought that they could do them no good, if they once
lost their interest in them, (and were also themselves too impatient of their
censure,) some of them seemed (to please them) to be more of their opinion than
they were; and more of them forbore to reprove their petulance, but silently
suffered them to go on; especially when they fell into the sects of antinomians,
Anabaptists, and separatists, they durst not reprove them as they deserved, lest
they should drive them out of the hive, to some of these late swarms. And thus
censoriousness in the ignorant and self-conceited drove away one part to take
them as their enemies; and silenced or drew on another party to follow them that
led the van in some irregular, violent actions; and the wise and sober
moderators were disregarded, and in the noise of these tumults and contentions
could not be heard, till the smart of either party in their suffering forced
them to honour such, whom in their exaltation again they despised or abused.
This is the true sum of all the tragedies in Britain of this age.

Tit. 4. Directions for those that are rashly censured.

Direct. 1 Remember when you are injured by censures, that God is now trying your
humility, charity, and patience; and therefore be most studious to exercise and
preserve these three. 1. Take heed lest pride make you disdainful to the
censurer; a humble man can bear contempt; hard censures hurt men so far as they
are proud. 2. Take heed lest imbecility add to your impatience, and concur with
pride: cannot you bear greater things than these? Impatience will disclose that
badness in yourselves, which will make you censured much more; and it will show
you as weak in one respect as the censurers are in another. 3. Take heed lest
their fault do not draw you to overlook or undervalue that serious godliness
which is in many of the censorious; and that you do not presently judge them
hypocrites or schismatics, and abate your charity to them, or incline to handle
them more roughly than the tenderness of Christ alloweth you. Remember that in
all ages it hath been thus: the church hath had peevish children within, as well
as persecuting enemies without; insomuch as Paul, Rom. 14 giveth you the picture
of these times, and giveth them this counsel, which from him I am giving you.
The weak in knowledge were censorious, and judged the strong; the strong in
knowledge were weak in charity, and contemned the weak: just as now one party
saith, These are superstitious persons, and anti-Christian; the other saith,
What giddy schismatics are these! but Paul chideth them both; one sort for
censuring, and the other for despising them.

Direct. II. Take heed lest whilst you are impatient under their censures, you
fall into the same sin yourselves. Do they censure you for differing ill some
forms or ceremonies from them? Take heed lest you over-censure them for their
censoriousness: if you censure them as hypocrites who censure you as
superstitious, you condemn yourselves while you are condemning them. For why
will not censuring too far, prove you hypocrites also, if it prove them such?

Direct. III. Remember that Christ beareth with their weakness, who is wronged by
it more than you, and is more against it. He doth not quit his title to them for
their frowardness, nor cease his love, nor turn every infant out of his family
that will cry and wrangle, nor every patient out of his hospital that doth
complain and groan; and we must imitate our Lord and love where he loveth, and
pity where he pitieth, and be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.

Direct. IV. Remember how amiable a thing the least degree of grace is, even when
it is clouded and blotted with infirmities. It is the divine nature, and the
image of God, and the seed of glory; and therefore as an infant hath the noble
nature of a man, and in all his weakness is much more honourable than the best
of brutes (so that it is death to kill an infant, but not a beast): so is the
most infirm and froward true Christian more honourable and amiable than the most
splendid infidel. Bear with them in love and honor to the image and interest of

Direct. V. Remember that you were once weak in grace yourselves; and if happy
education under peaceable guides did not prevent it, it is two to one but you
were yourselves censorious. Bear therefore with others as you bear with crying
children, because you were once a child yourself. Not that the sin is ever the
better, but you should be the more compassionate.

Direct. VI. Remember that your own strength and judgment is so great a mercy,
that you should the easilier bear with a censorious tongue. The rich and noble
can bear with the envious, remembering that it is happy to have that worth or
felicity which men do envy. You suffer fools gladly, seeing you yourselves are
wise. If you are in the right let losers talk.

Direct. VII. Remember that we shall be shortly together in heaven, where they
will recant their censures, and you will easily forgive them, and perfectly love
them. And will not the foresight of such a meeting cause you to bear with them,
and forgive and love them now?

Direct. VIII. Remember how inconsiderable a thing it is as to your own interest,
to be judged of man; and that you stand or fall to the judgment of the Lord, 1
Cor. 4:3,4. What are you the better or the worse for the thoughts or words of a
man; when your salvation or damnation lieth upon God's judgment. It is too much
hypocrisy, to be too much desirous of man's esteem and approbation, and too much
troubled at his disesteem and censure, and not to be satisfied with the
approbation of God. Read what is written against man-pleasing, part i.

Direct. IX. Make some advantage of other men's censures, for your own
proficiency. If good men censure you, be not too quick in concluding that you
are innocent, and justifying yourselves; but be suspicious of yourselves, lest
they should prove the right, and examine yourselves with double diligence. If
you find that you are clear in the point that you are censured for, suspect and
examine lest some other sin hath provoked God to try you by these censures; and
if you find not any other notable fault, let it make you the more watchful by
way of prevention, seeing the eyes of God and men are on you; and it may he
God's warning, to bid you take heed for the time to come. If you are thus
brought to repentance, or to the more careful life, by occasion of men's
censures, they will prove so great a benefit to you, that you may bear them the
more easily.


Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Discovery of the Americas