Imágenes de páginas

ten: or, finally, it may produce in us a more earnest and fteddy application to the truth of God. Thirdly, I fee no reason why the Spirit may not vouchsafe us particular impulses, directions, and intimations upon extraordinary occasions and fudden emergencies; where holy writ affords us no light, and human prudence is at a lofs. Nor does any thing, that I attribute to the Spirit in all this, detract or derogate from the dignity or the efficacy of the scripture. This then, I conceive, is what the spirit does in the work of Illumination. But how it does it, is not necessary, 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 liberty 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 see, wholly furpass and transcend our philoJopby. "I will here close this chapter with a prayer of Fulgentius, lib. 1. cap. 4. After he has in the beginning of the chapter difclaimed all pretences to the setting up himself a master, doctor, or di&tator to his brethren, he breaks out into these devout and pious words . I will not cease

to pray, that our true Master and Doctor

Christ Jesus, either by the oracles of his '

gospel, or by the conversation of my breotbren or joint-disciples; or else by the fe

cret and delightful instruction of divine inspiration, in which, without the ele'ments of letters, or the sound of speech, truth speaks with so much the sweeter, as the stiller and softer: voice ; would vouchfafe to teach me those things, which I may so propose, and so assert, that in all my ex• positions 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 Idesire to be

informed of those many more things (which I am ignorant of, from whom I have received the few I know. Of truth I beg, through preventing and affisting grace, to be instructed in whatever I yet know not, which conduces to the

interest of my virtue and happiness; 6. 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, Iam mistaken 6 to be confirmed and established in those ( truths wherein I waver ; and to be de"livered from those opinions that are erbroneous or hurtful. I beg, lastly, that

6 truth

truth may ever find, both in my thoughts ' and speeches, all that sound and whole'some doctrine I have received from its

gift; and that it would always cause me to utter those things which are agreeable to

itself in the first place; and consequently 'acceptable to all faithful Christians in the ! next.'

CH A P. III. Of liberty in general. The notion of it tru

ly 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 God and us, 4. The great fruit of all, eternal life; with a brief exhortation to endeavour after deliverance

from fin. A FTER Illumination, which is the

A Perfection of the understanding, folTows liberty, which is the Perfeétion 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 regards wickedness, unfruitfulness, human infirmities, and original corruption.

§. 1. What $. I. What liberty is. There have beeri feveral miftakes about this matter : but these have been fo abfurd or extravagant, fo defigning or fenfual, 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 Mofaic yoke. But this is to make our liberty consist in freedom from a yoke to which we were never subjeet; and to make our glorious Redemption, from the tyranny of fin and the misery that attends it, dwindle into an immunity from external rites and observances. 'Tis true, the Mofaic inftitution, as far as it confifted in outward' obfervances and typical rites, is now dissolved ; the Meffias being come, who was the substance of those Madows ; and the beauty of holiness being unfolded and displayed, without any veil upon her face. But what is this to ecclefiaftical authority? or to those ecclefiafti- ; cal institutions, which are no part of the Mosaic yoke ? from the abrogation indeed, or abolition of ritual and typical religion, one may infer, first, That Chriftianity must be a rational worship, a mo-ral spiritual service. And therefore, fecond ly, "That human institutions, when they en


joyn any thing as a necessary and essential part of religion, which God has not made to, or when they impose such rites, as, thro' the number or nature of them, cherish fuperftition, obscure the gospel, weaken its force, or prove burtbenfome 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 moral and 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 contradi&tion to the peaceableness, as voluptuousness and luxury is to the purity of that wisdom which is from above. But how absurd and wicked foever these notions are, yet do we find them greedily embraced and industriously propagated at this day; and behold, with amazement, the battled and despicable Gnosticks, Prif cilianists, Libertines, and I know not what other spawn of hell, reviving in deists and atheists. These indeed do not advance their errors under a pretence of Christian liberty; but, which is more ingenuous, and lefs scandalous of the two, in open defiance and confeffed opposition to Christianity. They


« AnteriorContinuar »