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SERM.one, if applied, would prevail with the finner II.
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 shall be judged by the law of liberty. Let the inflaence of your profeffed 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 tisfy 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 fins, unless you
abound in every good work, and abstain from all kind and all
pearance 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 licencioufness 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 cha
racter of the law of liberty 5 which ifSERM,
following the text, and thro' the whole re-
and largely proves, that we cannot be jufti-fied before God, otherwise than by works of a righteousness, or an universal and persevering
obedience. There were some then, as there
of God into a criminal li-
gone into this pernicious Error,
liberty aright, and that we do not abuse it to
SERM. design ; which we may be sure is always
done, when men take any encouragement from it to fin ; 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 so 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 fo compelling the Gentiles to conform to the customs of the Jews ; Paul withstood him to the face, and he recommended it to christians, Chap. v. 1. To stand fast in the liv berty wherewith Christ bath 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 occafon to the files : do
* Gal, ii, 5
not take a licence to yourselves in any vicious Serm. practices, nor indulge corrupt affections ;
II. and let there be no animosities, no strife, nor envying among you, which will indeed thew you to be carnal and walk as men ; but by love serve one another. To the fame purpose he warns the Corinthians that they should not in the use of their liberty offend against charity, ist epiftle viii. 9. But take beed least by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. St. Peter, also, earnestly exhorts the converted Jews, not to imitate the rest of their country men who committed great disorders under the pretence of freedom, ist epistle ii." 16, as free and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, by an obstinate refistance 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; being boly in all manner of conversation *. Expecting the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjusi, let us, after the example of the holy apostle, herein ex+ ercise ourselves to have always consciences void of offence towards God and towards men. VOL. I.
SE R. * Acts xxiv, 15, 16.
Repent, for the kingdom of beaven is at
HE kingdom of Heaven, or the III.
kingdom of God, does usually in
the New-Testament, and particularly in the discourses of our Saviour himfelf, fignify 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 neceffarily 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