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SERM.measure, the privilege itself, and are in a kind II. of servitude; fo the scripture represents it and
very juftly. A liberty to act against reason, and against the principal end of our being, is not worthy of the name, but is a real bondage.
This having been the wretched condition of mankind generally, fo far that they were dead in trespasses and fins, overcome of their corruptions, and by them brought into bondage, it was the glorious design of christianity to recover them to true freedom; so our Saviour himself expressly declares in the 8th of St. John's gospel, zist and 32d verses : Then said Jesus to the Jews which believed on bim, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth fall make you free. This is the high privilege which by my religion ye shall obtain; if ye firmly believe the truths I have taught you,
if you adhere to them constantly, and improve them faithfully, you shall be free. And when they misunderstood his words, apprehending that he referred to an outward fervitude to men which they never had been under, he explains himself at the 34th ver. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth fin is the servant of fin; to be freed from that slavery is the truest freedom, which he intended to reftore to men; and he adds 36th ver. If the
Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be freeSERM. indeed. Thus we are to understand the II.
prophetic declaration of Isaiah, chap. lxi. which our Lord applies to himself, Luke, iv. 18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he bath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he bath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of fight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. Agreeably to which the apostle in my text gives the gospel the excellent character of the law of liberty, as he also doth in the ist chap. of this epistle, and 25th ver. with the addition of this epithet, the perfeet lawo of liberty; and as this is a very amiable representation and most worthy of our serious attention, I will endeavour in the following discourse, first, to explain it: 2dly, I will confider the apostles direction to christians, that they should constantly endeavour to form their whole conduct, by a respect to the future judgment, which will be dispensed according to the gospel, the law of liberty. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
First, To explain this charader of the chriftian religion, that it is a law of liberty. It is evident that it is a law, that is, a reve. velation of the will of god to men for the
SERM. direction of their lives, enforced by the fancII. tion of rewards and punishments.
Yet our condition is not rendered servile by it; for we ought not to imagine that every kind of restraint, and whatever is intended to give a direction to the exercise of these
which are the subject of liberty, that I say, every thing of this kind is inconsistent with freedom. We can't in any case act without motives, but they do not make us flaves. The brutes are determined by the appearance of sensible good, in which proportionably to the degrees and kind of their perception, they have liberty. The human nature being rational, reason does not destroy its freedom, but establish it, and is the rule of it; then only are we indeed free when we conduct ourselves with understanding. Nay, the liberty of the Supreme Being, the most perfect of all, is al. ways exercised with the exactest wisdom and rectitude. Perhaps some imagine that it is a high privilege to act without regard to any motive, and that the will should determine itself with a kind of supremacy independant of reason but it cannot be, the very frame of our nature does not allow it, that our minds should not be influenced by motives; and whether is he more free who is governed by those of sense merely, or of reason? It is true they are in this respect alike free, that they equally act with
out constraint; but surely it cannot be difficult SERM. to determine whether the liberty of a man or
II. a beast be the most valuable, and whether the real excellence of that privilege does not always depend on, and is proportioned to the wisdom with which it is exercised. A man in a fever, or a disturbance of mind from any other outward cause, acts with all the appearance of freedom, and yet no one will say that he is really free; which must rest on this principle as its foundation, that the exercise of true human liberty depends on the exercise of reason; and still the less reason, the less liberty.
Again, as the creator of all things is infi. nitely good, he must have bestowed this high prerogative on man, not to make him misera ble, but to make him happy. But, if we consider the intire human constitution, it will appear that the use of liberty without reason or against it, tends to misery. We cannot be happy otherwise than in the harmony of our powers and affections; and if there must be harmony there must be government, a subordination of some to others, because our affec. tions. have very different, nay, very opposite tendencies. The man who gives himself wholy up to the direction of his fenfes and appetites, will find that the superior faculties
Serm. make contrary demands; and if those demands
great uneasiness, the greatest often that the