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The Gospel a Law of Liberty. SERM.coming the dignity of the human nature. II. . And where the spirit of the Lord is, there

is liberty, an enlargement of heart, and confidence becoming the sons of God. The different conditions of the servants of God by the law and the gospel, is represented, Gal. iv. by the difference between the state of a child who is an heir under age, and that of one who has obtained the plenary possession and free enjoyment of his inheritance. Now, I say, that the heir as long as he is a child differeth nothing from a servant or bondman, tho' he be Lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father ; even so, we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his fon, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of fons ; and because ye are fons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his fon into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.

And, lastly, the gospel is a law of liberty, as it sets us free from the power and authority of men in matters of religion and conscience. The Jews were in a servile state,

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not only by a multiplicity of external rites Serm.
which were of undoubted obligation, be- II.'
cause God had appointed them ; but their
teachers superadded to this yoke many cere-
monies merely of their own invention, and
imposed them on the people. This they
carried so far that our Saviour himself in-
veighed against them with great severity,
declaring that they transgressed the com-
mandment of God, and made it of no
effect by their traditions ; and to this pur-
pose he applies the words of the prophet
Isaiah, Matt. xv. 8. This people draweth
nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth
me with their lips, but their heart is far
from me;

but in vain do they worship me,
teaching for doctrines the commandments of

The blessed author of christianity has taken care to guard against such an invasion of his prerogative and the rights of his disciples, by establishing it as a perpetual law, that no one who is called by his name, and is his professed follower, shall at any

time claim a legislative authority in his church, Matt. xxiii. 8. Be not ye called Rabbi, for one is your master even Christ, and all ye are brethren; and call no man your father upon the earth, for one is

your father which is in beaven. Neither be ye called master, for one

men,

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SERM.is your master, even Christ. Do not aspire II. to such a domination over one another as

the Jewish masters and heads of schools do, who arrogate a precedency and jurisdiction even in religious things; but it Thall not be so with you my disciples; the firm bond of your

union, and foundation of your mutual good offices to each other, is your strict adherence to God your father, and your head and Saviour Christ Jesus. It would indeed be an intolerable bondage to have conscience in subjection to frail and fallible men, but it is the high privilege of Christ's servants, that they acknowledge no other Icrd but himself, and have an unalienable right to search the records of his will, every one for himself, as being only accountable to him. I come in the

Second place, to consider the apostle's direction to christians, that they should conftantly endeavour to form their whole conduct by a respect to the future judgment, which will be dispensed according to the gospel, to the law of liberty, fo Tpeak ye, and so do, as they who shall be judged by the law of liberty

. It ought never to be imagined that the liberty, wherewith Christ hath made us free, was intended to weaken the obligations of our duty, or take away the

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binding force of the divine pręcepts which SERM.
are indispensable. He came not to destroy the II.
law, but to fulfil it; and so far from dimi-
nifhing the strength of that motive which
is taken from the future judgment, on the
contrary, it is established by the gospel,
which declares, that God now commandeth
all men every where to repent, because he hath
appointed a day in which he will judge the
world in righteousness. This, therefore, at
least, is a necessary caution insinuated in the
text against the abuse of christian liberty,

if it imported an immunity from the
righteous judgment of God: instead of that,
the gospel has explained the nature of this

judgment more fully, and asserted it more
clearly, declared the impartial equity and
the univerfality of it, with all the circum-

{tances which can concur to render it awful
to men, and induce them by the expectation

of it to the practice of religion and virtue.
--
The light of nature itself, and that work of
his law which God has written in our hearts,
directs us to look for a distribution of rewards
and punishments hereafter, since the admi-
niftration of providence, here, does not
Thew such a differenee between the condi-
tions of good and bad men, as we cannot rea-
sonably doubt but the wise and righteous

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SERM. Tuler of the world will finally make ; and
II

our accusing and excufing thoughts are the
presages of that sentence which the great
lawgiver will pass upon us according to our
works. But the gospel has ascertained this
matter more particularly and expreilly to all
who believe its divine authority, as is evi-
dent from numberless passages in the Evan-
gelists. And we see that St. Paul, Rom. i.
14-17, having mentioned the rational an-
guments taken from those natural notices
God has given of their duty to all men,
adds in the 15th ver. this positive exprets
declaration, explaining the manner of the
judgment. In the day when Ged jball judge
the secrets of men, by Jesus Christ, according
to my gospel. Not meaning that the gofpel
shall be the rule of proceeding with all med
in the great day of their final accounts, which
it cannot be, particularly with respect to the
Gentiles, who never heard of christianity,
And of whom he is there particularly speak-
ing; but that the gospel has fix'd it as an
important article of our belief, that God
will judge every one of mankind by Jefus
Christ according to the law they were un-
der.
2: And, this certainly is a very strong argu-
ment for the practice of our duty in every

in particular

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