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real perfection and happiness, is that which isSERM. exercised according to the direction of reason H. and wisdom. <—y—*

On this account principally the gospel is called the law of liberty, it restores the empire of reason in men, and rescues them from servitude to their lusts and passions. It has this denomination on another account, which I may afterwards insist on, namely, as it has abolished the ceremonial-law, a yoke, which St. Peter says, neither we nor our fathers were able to bear *. This liberty by the gospel is largely explained by the apostle Paul. But St. James, not treating of that subject particularly, it is reasonable to understand the character as applied by him in a greater latitude. In the 1 ft chap, he has recommended a diligent attention to, and a due improvement of the word of God, that we should receive it with meekness as the ingrafted word which is able to save us, laying apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness; and, then, he describes the different forts of hearers, the careless, unattentive, unreformed; and the serious and obedient. The former he compares to a man beholding his natural face in a glass, who soon forgets what manner of man he was. The other, looking stedfastly, and with the most earnest attention into the gospel, is transform'd


* Acts xv. 10.

Er M.by the renewing of his mind, and becomes a **• faithful and constant doer of the will of God. UJr"*ri"J'Tis in this description he inserts the Character of the law of liberty, which, therefore, I conclude has a reference to the rescuing of men from the power of their vices and corrupt affections, that they may practise pui;e religion as the proper effect of Christianity, r

, The connexion of the text stands thus. Tl^e apostle had censur'd the Jews, to whom he writes, for their partiality in making distinctions among men according to their outward condition, exhorting them to fulfil the royal law, thou Jhalt love thy neighbour as thyself, whicjh abstracts from all such considerations. ToJ' law we must have an universal respect, i obeying it in one instance only, but njUotherwise we shall not be accepted j then soj lows, so speak ye, andso do, as they that f:ajl be judged by the law of liberty, which application plainly points to universal obedience as the proper intent of the gospel, in opposition ^o the contrary tendency of our own lusts and passions.

Indeed St. Paul himself explains the freedom we have obtained by the law of Chrf^ in this manner j as in the viiith to the Rom. 2d ver. For the law of the spirit of tie life^ Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law

Jin and death. What these opposite laws are, S appears from the preceding chapter, where they are called the law of the members, and the law of the mind; the one leading to sin, and holding the foul in captivity to it, which is a most wretched and cruel slavery; the other directing to that which is good and wellpleasing in God's sight. Now, since immediately to this is subjoined that account of the christian law, or the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, that it makes us free from the law of sin and death, what can the meaning be, but that it restores the sovereingty of the mind, delivering it from the reign of sin in the mortal body, that henceforth christians should yield themselves unto God, and their members the instruments of righteousness, which is the truest liberty, the liberty of men, of intelligent and moral agents?

Secondly, Pursuant to this, christians by the gospel have obtained a deliverance from condemnation, and therefore it may justly be called the law of liberty. Death is the punishment of sin, established unalterably by the law of God; mankind, therefore, conscious of guilt, have a dread of it which fills their minds with horror, and holds them in an uncomfortable bondage. According to {he clearness of the apprehensions which

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E R M. they have concerning the divine law, and the threatnings contained in if, so is their terror; and the Jewish law being the most express in this point, without declaring the remission of sin, Jit is, therefore, called 4iie ministration of death and of condemnation j and they who were under it, received the spirit of bondage to fear, as the apostle fays, Rom. viii. 15. But, Christ Jesus having tasked death for every man, and being, in order to reconcile us to God, as mediator, made partaker of fiejh and bkodt that by death be might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, he has by his law of grace proclaimed forgiveness, arid an immunity from the punishment of sin to such as sincerely repent, thus express'd, Heb. it." ^5. to deliver them who through fear of death 1 were all their life time fubjecJ to bondage.

Upon which they who are so deliveredlfe'ce1ve the spirit of adoption, whereby they serve God and obey his commandments with 'freedom and chearfulness.

Thirdly, The gospel is a law of liberty, -as it frees christians from the burthenfowe 1 rites of the Mosaic institution. When <3od .' was pleased to separate the Israelites for a ^peculiar people unto himself, and form them <c *. into into a nation and a church, he saw fit, forSER what reasons I do not now inquire, to appoint H a multitude of ceremonies which were to con-<*"v' tinue in force during that dispensation. This must be very grievous to a rational worshipper, whose great satifaction it is to fee the reasonableness of the actions he performs, and their conduciveness to the true ends of worship. The apostles therefore speak meanly of those ordinances, comparing them with the liberty, the spirit and truth of christianityV they call them carnal, beggarly elements, the rudiments of this world, and • only shadows of good things to come. Besides, the terror which accompanied that ministration because of the severity of its threatnings, the weakness and unprofitableness of the service itself made the very attendance on it a great grievance. But, now, ''the Lord is that spirit of which Christianity jaitthe ministration j not like the killing letter of the 016. Testament, which denounced wrath for every offence, but a ministry of righteousness or justification, which exceeds vi» glory, especially, because thereby the yeccellent things of religious virtue, the di'"Yme precepts of eternal righteousness,, are engraven on the fleshly tables of the hearts 1 forming in it noble dispositions, most be

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