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tea: or, finally, it may produce in us a more earnest and steddy application to the truth of God, Thirdly, I &e no reason why the Spirit may not vouchlafe us particular impulses, directions, and intimations upon extraordinary occasions ?xA sudden emergencies; where holy writ aftords us no light, and human prudence is at a loss. Nor does any thing, that I attribute to the Spirit in all this, detract: or derogate from the dignity or the efficacy of thefiripture. This then, I conceive, is what the Spirit does in the work of Illumination. But how it does it, is not necesj'ary, nor, I doubt, possible to be determined. Nor ought our ignorance of this to be objected against the truth of divine Illumination. We are sure we understand and remember, and exercise a freedom or //'^r/y of will, in our choices, resolutions and actions: but the manner how we do this, is an enquiry that does hitherto, for ought I can fee, wholly surpass and transcend o\xv philosophy.
I will here close this chapter with a prayer of Fulgentius, lib. j. cap. 4. After he has in the beginning of the chapter disclaimed all pretences to the setting up himself a master, dofior, or dictator to his brethren, he breaks out into these devout and pious words—-, « I will not cease .« to pray, that our true Master and Do^or
Christ Jesus, either by the oracles of his gospel, or by the conversation of my brethren or joint-disciples; or else by the secret and delightful instruction of divine inspiration, in which, without the elements of letters, or the found of speech, truth speaks with so much the sweeter, as th&stiller and softer voice ; would vouchsafe to teach me those things, which I may so propose, and so assert, that in all my expositions and assertions, I may be ever found conformable, and obedient, and firm to that truth, which can neither deceive, nor be deceived. For it is truth itself that enlightens, confirms, and aids me, that I may always obey and assent to the truth. By truth I desire to be informed of those many more things which I am ignorant of, from whom I have received xh&sew I know. Of truth I beg, through preventing and assisting grace, to be instructed in whatever^I' yet know not, which conduces to the interest of my virtue and happiness; • to be preserved and kept stedfast in those truths which I know; to be reformed and rectified in those points, in which, as is common to man, I am mistaken; to be confirmed and established in those truths wherein 1 waver; and to be delivered from those opinions that are erroneous or hurtful. I beg, lastly, that
truth may ever find, both in my thoughts and speeches, all that found and wholesome doctrine I have received from its gift; and that it would always cause me to utter those things which are agreeable to itself in thefirst place; and consequently acceptable to all faithful Christians in the next.'
Of liberty in general. The notion of it truly stated, and guarded. The fruits of this liberty. 1. Sin being a great evil, deliverance from it is great happiness. 2. A freedom and pleasure in the acts of righteousness and good works. 3. The near relation it creates between Godand'us. 4. The great fruit of all, eternal life; with a brief exhortation to endeavour after deliverance from fin.
AFTER Illumination, which is the Perfection of the understanding, follows liberty, which is the PerfeBion of the will. In treating of which, I shall, first, give an account of liberty in general: and then discourse of the several parts of it; as it jegards wickedness, unfruitfulness, human infirmities, and original corruption.
§. I. What
$'. r. Ms hit liberty is. There have been several mistakes abo©£ this matter: but these have been so absurd or extravagant, £> designing or sensual', that they need not, I think, a serious refutation. However,, 'tis necessary in a word or two to remove this rubbish and lumber out of my way, that I may build up and establish' the truth more easily and regularly. Some then have placed Christian liberty in deliverance from the Mosaic yoke. But this is to make our liberty consist in freedom from a yoke to which we were never subject:; and comafce our glorious Redemption, from the tyranny di fin and' the misery that attends it, dwindle into an immunity from external rites and observances. 'Tis true, the Mosaic institution, as far as it consisted in outward observances and typical rices, is now dissolved; the Mesttas being come, who was thcfitbstance of those shadows; and the beauty of holiness being unfolded and displayed, without any veil upon her face. But what is this to ecclesiastical authority? or to those ecclefiastical institutions, which' are no part of the' Mosaic yoke? from the abrogation indeed, or abolition of ritu-al and typical religion, one may infer, str(l, That Christianitymust be a rational worship, a mo-" ralspiritualservice. Avnd therefore, secondly', That human institutions, when they en
joyn any thing as a netessary and essential part of religion, which God has not made lb, or when they impose such rites, as, thro' the number or nature of them, cherish superstition, obscure the gospel, weaken its force, or prove burtbensome to us, are to be rejected and not complied with. Thus much is plain, and nothing farther. There have been others who have run into more intolerable errors. For some have placed Christian liberty in exemption from the laws of man: and others, advancing higher, in exemption even from the moraland immutable laws of God. But the folly and wickedness of these opinions sufficiently confute them: since 'tis notorious to every one, that disobedience and anarchy is as flat a contradiction to the peaceablenefs, as •voluptuousness and luxury is to the purity of that wisdom which is from above. But how absurd and wicked soever these notions are, yet do we find them greedily embraced and industrioufly propagated at this day; and behold, with amazement, the baffled and despicable Gnosticks, Prif -cilianists, Libertines, and I know not what other spawn of hell, reviving in deijls and -atheists. These indeed do not advance their errors under a pretence of Christian liberty, but, which is more ingenuous, and ieis scandalous of the two, in open defiance and confessed oppofition to Christianity. They