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tell us, that we impofe upon the world false and fantasticks notions of virtue and liberty: that religion does enslave man, not set him free; awing the mind by groundless and superstitious principles, and restraining and infringing our true and natural liberty: which, if we will believe them, consists in giving nature its full swing; letting loofe the reins to the most headstrong lufts, and the wildest and the most corrupt imaginations. But to this 'tis easy to answer, that while these men attempt to establish their errors, and fortify their minds in them, by arguments of some sort or other, as they do; 'tis plain, that they suppose and acknowledge with us, that they ought to be ruled and governed by reason : and if this be true, thien, by undeniable consequence, true liberty mult consist, not in doing what we lift, but what we ought; not in following our luft or fancy, but our reason; not in being exempt from law, but in being a law to our felves. And then I appeal to all the world, whether the discipline of virtue, or libertinism; whether the schools of Epicurus, or Christ, be the way to true liberty. I appeal to the experience of mankind, whether spiritual or sensual pleasure ; whether the love of God and virtue, or the love of the world and body, be the more like to qualify and dispose us to obey


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the dictates of sober and solid reason. But the truth is, here is no need of

arguments; the lives and fortunes of atheists and deists proclaim aloud what a glorious kind of liberty they are like to bless the world with, 2 Pet. ii. 19. Whilst they promise liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption. And this corruption draws on their ruin. The dishonourable and miserable courses, in which these poor wretches are plunged, and in which, generally, they perish before their time, are such an open contradi&tion to reason, that no man doubts but that they have abandoned its conduct, that they have given themselves up to that of lust and humour ; and that they earnestly endeavour to force or betray their reason into a compliance to screen themselves from the reproach and disturbance of their own minds, and from the shame and contempt of the world. I have dwelt long enough on this argument. 'Tis now time to pass on, and resolve what Christian liberty really is.

This is in a manner evident from what has been suggested already. For if reason be the governing faculty in man, then the liberty of man must consist in his fubjection to reason : and fo Christian liberty will be nothing else but subječtion to reason enlightened by revelation. Two things therefore are esential to true liberty: A



clear and unbyassed judgment; and a power and capacity of acting comformable to it. This is a very sort, but full account of liberty. Darkness and impotence constitute our savery: light and strength our freedom. Man is then free, when his reason is not awed by vile fears, or bribed by viler kopes: when it is not tumultuously transported and hurried away by lusts and pasions; nor cheated and deluded by the gilded appearances of sophisticated good; but it deliberates impartially, and commands effe£tually. And because the great obstacle of this liberty is fin; because natural and contracted corruption are the fetters in which we are bound; because the law in the body wars against the law in the mind, obscuring the light, and enfeebling the authority of reason; hence it is, that Christian liberty is as truly as commonly described by a dominion over the body, by the subduing our corrupt affections, and by deliverance from fin. This notion of liberty may be suificiently established upon that account of servitude or bondage which the apostle gives us, Rom. vii. where he represents it as consisting in impotence or inability to do those things, which God commands, and reason approves : For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not, ver. 18. Liberty therefore must on the contrary consist in being

able, able not only to will, but to do good ; in obeying those commandments, which we cannot but acknowledge to be holy, and just, and good. And this is the very notion which our Lord and Master gives us of 7oh. viji. For, when the Jews bragged of their freedom, he lets them know, that freedom could not consist with fubjeciion to pn : He that committeth fin is the fervant of hin, ver. 34. That honourable parentage, and the freedom of the body, was but a falle and ludicrous appearance of liberty : that if they would be free indeed, the Son must make them se, ver. 36. i. e. they must, by his spirit and doctrine be rescued from the fervitude of lust and error, and be set at liberty to work righteousness. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples in

and ye mall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, ver. 31, 32. Finally, not to multiply proofs of a truth that is scarce liable to be controverted, as the apostle describes the bondage of a finner in Rom. vii; so does he the liberty of a saint in Rom. viii. For there, ver. 2. he tells us, that the law of the Spirit of life has set the true. Christian free from the law of fin and death. And then he lets us know wherein this liberty consists; in walking, not after the flesh, but after the spirit ; in the mortification of the body of fin, and reNitution of the mind to its just empire P 2



the body

and authority. If Christ be in you, is dead because of hin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness, ver. 10. And all this is the same thing with his description of liberty, chap. vi. where, 'tis nothing else, but for a man to be made free from fin, and become the servant of God. Thus then we have a plain account of bondage and liberty. Yet for the clearer understanding of both, it will not be amiss to observe, that they are each capable of different des grees; and both the one and the other may be more or less entire, compleat, and absolute, according to the different progress of men in vice and virtue. Thus, in fome men, not their will only, but their very reason is enslaved. Their understanding is so far infatuated, their affections fo intirely captivated, that there is no confliet at all between the mind and the body : they commit fin without any reluctancy beforehand, or any remorse afterwards : their feared conscience making no remonstrance, inflicting no wounds, nor denouncing any threats. This is the last degree of vajjalage. Such are said in fcripture to be dead in trespasses and fins. Others there are, in whom their lust and appetite prevails indeed, but not without opposition. They reason rightly; and, which is the natural result of this, have some depres and wishes of righteousness. : but through


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