Page images


Gal. ii. 4.


SERM. The Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty. Of This alfo he is to be understood in those places, where he advifes Chriftians to beware of falfe brethren that would spie out their Liberty, and bring them again into bondage; to ftand faft in the Liberty wherewith Chrift had made them free, and not be intangled again with the yoke of bondage; Gal. v. 13. not to use Liberty for an occafion to the Flesh; to take heed left by any means this I Cor. viii. Liberty of theirs, became a ftumbling-block to them that are weak: And accordingly concerning himself he declares in this respect, that To them that are without law, he became as without Law, yet being not without Law to God, but under the Law to Chrift. The meaning is, that though men were delivered by Chrift, from the bondage of the ceremonial Law'; yet were they by no means discharged from any moral Obligations. And the fame is the intent of St Peter's Exhortation, 1 Pet. ii. 16. As free, and yet not using your Liberty for a cloke of Malicioufness, but as the Servants of God.

3x. 21.

2dly, IN other places of Scripture, the Freedom of Chriftians, fignifies their Deliverance


V. I.



xxviii. 1.

Tiverance from the Bondage of that Fear, SER M. which was the confequence of the Curfe and Severity of the Law. Of the Wicked 'tis faid, that they flee, when no man Prov. purfueth; and are in great Fear, even prii. 5. where no Fear is. Not that they have no juft Canfe of Fear; but on the contrary *because they have always fo much reason to be afraid, that it often fhows forth itTelf even upon improper occafions.

BUT further; even with regard to thofe, who are not notorioully wicked; their being under the Law, is in general called the Spirit of Bondage to Fear, Rom. viii. 15. And their Deliverance from that Fear 'by the gracious Terms of the Gospel, is ftiled the Spirit of Adoption, whereby they cry Abba Father; whereby they apply to God, not as to a strict and fevere Judge, but as to a merciful and reconciled Father. And our Lord is faid to have delivered them, Heb. ii. 15. who through Fear of Death were all their Lifetime fubject to Bondage.

3dly, THE Liberty of a Chriftian, may also fometimes very properly fignify, his Deliverance from the 'Slavery of endless Superftition. Of the Prophets of Baal 'tis recorded,



SER M. recorded, 1 Kings xviii. 28. that they cried I. aloud, and cut themfelves with knives and lancets, till the Blood gushed out upon them: And of fome other Idolaters; that they caufed their own Children, to pass through the Fire to Moloch. Thofe among the Heathen, who were lefs Cruel; yet were in perpetual Fear, of Dreams and Omens and vain Prefages; and in continual Bondage to tedious and ufelefs Obfervations. The Corrupters of Chriftianity, have after the fame Example, introduced an intolerable Burden of Pilgrimages and Abftinencies and voluntarily Humilities, which Who has required at their Hands? All which things when a reasonable man seriously confiders, he may very properly afk himself that Queftion, which Naaman's fervant put to his Mafter, 2 Kings v. 13. If God had bidden thee do fome great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he faith unto thee, Wash and be clean; when he only faith unto thee, Repent and amend.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

BUT 4thly and lastly, That which it chiefly and above all fignifies in Scripture-phrafe, is (what I have applied it to in the foregoing difcourfe) Freedom



dom from the Slavery of Sin, So the SER M. Apoftle expreffly, Rom. vi. 18. Being then made Free from Sin, ye became the Servants of Righteoufnefs. Rom. viii. 2. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Chrift Jefus, has made me free from the law of Sin and Death; and ver. 21. delivered from the bondage of Corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Where this Liberty is improved to any confiderable degree, the perfon is faid to be dead to Sin; in oppofition to those who on the contrary, for want of any improvement at all, are reprefented as dead in Sin. Rom. vi. 7. He that is dead, (or, as it is explained by an eafier Phrafe in the verfe before, he in whom the body of Sin is deftroyed,) is free from Sin; and 1 Pet. iv. 1. He that has fuffered in the Fleft, (viz. he that has conquer'd his corrupt affections ;) has ceafed from Sin. That the Words, fuffered in the Flesh, must in this place be understood thus, not literally but figuratively, appears evidently from That be no the following Words, v. 2. longer fhould live the rest of his Time in the Flesh, to the Lufts of Men, but to the Will of God. The highest improvement





SER M.and perfection of this Liberty in the prefent Life, is, when a man not only obeys the Commands of God, but does it habitually with ease and pleasure; when the Commandments of God feem not grievous to him, but the yoke of Christ easy, and his burden light; when he can delight to know the Ways of God, and call his Sabbaths a delight, If. lviii. 2, 13; when he can fay with Job, ch. xxii. ver. 26, that he has his delight in the Almighty; with the Pfalmift, P. i. 2. that bis delight is Pf. exix. in the Law of the Lord, and in his Law 14, 16, 24, doth he exercise himself day and night; and

35, 47,70,

77. 174. with our Saviour himself, Job. iv. 34. My

meat is to do the Will of him that sent me,
and to finish his Work. When This is the
Cafe, which is the highest pitch of Chri-
ftian Perfection Earth; then
then may it
be faid of fuch a Perfon, that he continu-
eth in the perfect Law of Liberty, Jam. i.
25; ii. 12.
12. Then may he cry out with
the Pfalmift, P. cxvi. 16. O Lord, I am
thy fervant and the fon of thine handmaid,
thou hast broken my Bonds in funder; And
I will walk at Liberty, for I seek thy com-
mandments, Pf. cxix. 45. Then is fulfilled
That Prophecy, I. lxi. 1. applied by our

« PreviousContinue »