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• one, if applied, would prevail with the sinner to break the whole law, or any of its commandments, which actually prevails with him in the one point wherein he does offend. Now what is the consequence from all this? So speak ye, and so do, as they that jhall be judged by the law os liberty. Let the influence of your professed expectation of a future judgment by the gospel, appear in the whole of your Conduct, in all your works and words, Do not imagine, that you satisfy the obligations of your christian character, or that you can maintain the wellgrounded hope of divine acceptance at last by some good actions, and abstaining from some sins, unless you abound in every good work, and abstain from all kind and all appearance of evil.
One reflection upon what has been said, is very obvious, and that is all I shall farther insist upon at this time, namely, libertinism in practise, or licencioushefs of life, is so far from being included in, that it is directly contrary to christian liberty. For the apostle, when he is most strictly pressing the observance of all God's commandments, and enforcing it by the most powerful of all considerations, the future judgment, he gives the gospel the character raster of the law of liberty; whisk. ifSERM, j& were to be understood in this fense, 'that ^ it givea a4icence to sin, would be perfectly *"*^w~xJ inconsistent. Nay, in the words immediately following the text, and thro' the whole re
rmaining part of the chapter, he designedly and largely proves, that we cannot be justified before God, otherwise than by works of
yJtighteoufhefs, or an universal and persevering obedience. There were some then, as there have been at other times, who professing the gospel, expected to be justified by the faith of it without works, and tho'they indulg'd
* themselves; in wicked courses, which was turning the grace of God into a criminal liberty, and into lasciviousness, as the Apostle yude speaks, and making Christ the mimjier of fin: but, St. James (hews the vanity of
. such a pretence, and confirms his doctrine of Justification, or final absolution in the day of judgment, by works; he confirms it, I fay, by examples from the Old Testament, such as Rahab, and the patriarch Abraham, which might be very convincing to the Jews who had gone into this pernicious Error*
a Let us then, take care to understand our liberty aright, and that we do not abuse it to
; purposes inconsistent with its true nature and
.i flj . ..... - design j
SeRM. design; which we may be sure is always TM done, when men take any encouragement from it to sin j to allow themselves in any works contrary to righteousness, to the fear of God, to purity and charity. This is a point in which the apostles have taken great care to instruct christians. St. Paul, indeed, in his epistle to the Galatians, shews a very warm zeal for liberty; he could not bear that any encroachment should be made upon it; for, when false brethren were brought in privily, to spie out the liberty of christrians in order to ensnare, and bring them into bondage; he would not give place by subjection se much as for an hour *. Nay, when the apostle Peter thro' fear of the Jews, had gone into a separation upon the score of the ceremonies, requiring the observance of them' as a condition of religious communion, and so compelling the Gentiles to conform to the customs of the Jews; Paul withstood hM * to the face, and he recommended it to christians, Chap. v. 1. To standfast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free; but in the 13th Verse, he gives this necessary caution, ye have been called into liberty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh: do
* Gal. ii. 5.
not take a licence to yourselves in any viciousSERM. practices, nor indulge corrupt affections; H.. and let there be no animosities, no strife, nor * **J envying among you, which will indeed shew you to be carnal andwalk as men j but by love serve one another. To the same purpose he warns the Corinthians that they should not in the use of their liberty offend against charity, 1st epistle viii. 9. But take heed least by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. St. Peter, also, earnestly exhorts the converted. sews, not to imitate the rest of their coun- try men who committed great disorders under the pretence of freedom, 1st epistle *ii." 16, as free and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, by an obstinate resistance and contempt of lawful human authority, but as the servants of God,
Thus let us always value our liberty as a high priviledge; maintain, but not abuse it} and live in expectation of the future judgment j being holy in all manner of converfaiion *. Expecting the refurreclion of the dead, both of the just and unjust, let us, after the example of the holy apostle, herein ex± ercife ourselves to have always consciences void of offence towards God and towards men. Vol. I. E V; r S E R
* Acts xxiv, 15, 16.
Of Rep EN TANC'E,
Matth. iv. 17.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand*
Serm/ I A-ETE kingdom of Heaven, or she III. I kingdom of God, does usually in r"•-1-' the New-Testament, and particu
larly in the discourses of our Saviour himself, signify the gospel state, that glorious model formed in the divine counsels for recovering sinful men to their duty, and restoring them to the favour of God. The Deity has a upreme unalienable right to our obedience, which necessarily results from our relation to him as the workmanship of his hands, endued with those powers which render us capable of knowing and doing his will, continually depending on him, and receiving favours from him. But when mankind had corrupted their ways, and fallen short of the glory of God, it pleased