« הקודםהמשך »
- real perfection and happiness, is that which is SERM.
exercised according to the direction of reason II. and wisdom.
On this account principally the gospel is called the law of liberty, it restores the empire of reason in men, and rescues them from fervitude to their lufts and paffions. 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 įst 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 fave us, laying apart all filthiness and fuperfluity of naughtiness; and, then, he defcribes the different forts of hearers, the careless, unattentive, unreformed; and the serious and obedient.' The former he compares to a man beholding bis natural face in a glass, who foon forgets what manner of man he was. The other, looking ftedfastly, and with the most earnest attention into the gospel, is transform’d
by * Aas XV. 10.
SERM.by the renewing of his mind, and becomes a II. faithful and constant doer of the will of God.
'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 cora rupt affections, that they may practise pure religion as the proper effect of christianity.
: The connexion of the text stands thus, The apostle had cenfur’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 shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, which abstracts from all such considerations. To this law we must have an universal respect, not obeying it in onc instance only, but in otherwise we shall not be accepted; then follows, so speak ye, and so do, as they that all be judged by the law of liberty, which application plainly points to universal obedience as the proper intent of the gospel, in opposition to the contrary tendency of our own lusts and passions.
Indeed St. Paul himself explains the freedom we have obtained by the law of Chriff in this manner; as in the vijith to the Rom. 2d ver. For the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus bath made me free from the law of
fin and death. What these opposite laws are, SERM.
Secondly, Pursuant to this, christians by
Serm.they have concerning the divine law, and II. the threatnings contained in it, so is their
terror; and the Jewish law being the most express in this point, without declaring the remission of fin, it is, therefore, called the ministration of death and of condemnation; and they who were under it, received the Spirit of bondage to fear, as the apostle says, Rom. viii. 15. But, Christ Jesus having tasted death for every man, and being, in order to reconcile us to God, as mediator, made partaker of flesh and blood, 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, and an immunity from the punishment of fin to such as fincerely repent, thus express’d, Heb. ii. 15. to deliver them who through fear of death
were all their life time subject to bondage. : Upon which they who are fò delivered receive 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 burthenfome rites of the Mofaic inftitution. When God was pleased to separate the Ifraelites for a peculiar people unto himself, and form them
into a nation and a church, he saw fit, for SERM. what reasons I do not now inquire, to appoint
II. a multitude of ceremonies which were to continue in force during that dispensation. This must be very grievous to a rational worshipper, whose great fatifaction it is to see 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 christianity; they call them carnal, beggarly elements, the rudiments of this world, and * only shadows of good things to come. Befides, the terror which accompanied that ministration because of the severity of its threatnings, the weakness and unprofitable
ness of the service itself made the very attendance on it a great grievance. But, now, the Lord is that spirit of which christianity is the ministration; not like the killing letter of the Old Testament, which denounced wrath for every offence, but a ministry of righteousness or justification, which exceeds in glory, especially, because thereby the excellent things of religious virtue, the di! vine precepts of eternal righteousness, are É engraven on the fleshly tables of the heart, si forming in it noble dispositions, most be