« הקודםהמשך »
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 apo pointed 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 son 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,
not only by a multiplicity of external rites Serm. which were of undoubted obligation, be- II.' cause God had appointed them; but their teachers fuperadded to this yoke many ceremonies merely of their own invention, and imposed them on the people. This they carried so far that our Saviour himself inveighed against them with great severity, declaring that they transgressed the commandment of God, and made it of no effect by their traditions ; and to this purpose 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 men. 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
Serm.is your master, even Chrift. 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 shall 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 bút 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 constantly 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 Speak ye, and jo 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
binding force of the divine precepts which Serm. are indispensable. He came not to destroy the II. law, but to fulfil it; and so far from diminifhing 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, as 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 universality of it, with all the circumstances 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 administration of providence, here, does not Thew such a differenee between the conditions of good and bad men, as we cannot reasonably doubt but the wife and righteous
Serm. taler of the world will finally make zit and II. our accusing and excufing thoughts are the
presages of that fentence which the great lawgiver will pass upon us, according to our works. But the gospel has ascertained this matter more particularly and exprefily to all who believe its divine authority, as is evident from numberless passages in the Evangelists. And we see that St. Paul, Rom. H. 14-17, having mentioned the rational ranguments 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 God foalli jador the secrets of men, by Jesus Christ, acéording 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 speaking; 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.
. ' "0. v And, this certainly is a very strong argus ment for the practice of our duty in every
an d particular