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tell us, that we impose 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 loose the reins to the most headstrong lusts, 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, then, by undeniable consequence, true K~ berty must consist, not in doing what we list, but what we ought; not in following our lust or fancy, but our reason; not in being exempt from law, but in being.a law so ourselves. 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
the dictates of sober and solid reason. But the truth is, here is rro 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 contradiction 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 pals 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 subjeBion to reason: and so Chrisstian liberty will be nothing else but subjection to reason enlightened by revelation. Two things therefore are essential to true liberty: A P clear
clear and unbyafled judgment; and a power and capacity of acting comformable to it. This is a very port, but full account of liberty. Darkness and impotence constitute our [slavery: light and firengtb our freedom. Man is then free, when his re a/on is not awed by vile fears, or bribed by viler hopes: when it is not tumultuoufly transported and hurried away by lusts and fajstons; nor cheated and deluded by the gilded appearances of sophisticated good; but it deliberates impartially, and commands effectually. And because the great obstacle of this liberty isfin; 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 sufficiently 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 ts 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 it, jfob. viii. For, when the Jews bragged of their freedom, he lets them know, that freedom could not consist with JubjeSlion to fin: lie that committeth Jin is the servant of fin, ver. 34. That honourable parentage, and the freedom of the body, was but a false and ludicrous appearance of liberty: that if they would be free indeed, the Son mujl make them jo, ver. 36. i. e. they must, by his fpirit and doSlrine be rescued from the servitude of lust and error, and be set at liberty to work righteousness. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall 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 & sinner in Rom. vii; so does he the liberty of a faint 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 sm and death. And then he lets us know wherein this liberty consists; in walking, not after the stesh, but after the spirit ; in tile mortification of the body of fin, and restitution of the mind to its just empire P 2 and
and authority. - If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of Jin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness, ver. 10. And all this is the fame thing with his description of liberty, chap. vi. where, Vis 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 degrees; 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 feme men, not their will onlyr but their very . reason is enslaved. Their understanding is so far infatuated, their affections so tntirely captivated, that there is no confliB at all between the mind and the body. they commit fin without any reluBancy beforehand, or any remorse afterwards: their seared conscience making no remonstrance, inflicting no wounds, nor denouncing any threats. This is the last degree of vajjalage. Such are said in scripture 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 ^e natural result of this, have some Mim and wifoes of righteousness: but through