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Serm. Gospel, should speak Evil of us, as of evil VII.
Doers, they may be alhamed, that falsely accufe our good Conversation in Chrift. This is to behave like the Disciples of Christ; to act agreeable to the Excellency of the Gospel, and the Dignity of the Law; and to mark out a strait and easy Path to that State of Happiness, where we may hope to sit down with Moses and the Prophets, and Chrif, and his Apoftles, in the Kingdom of God for ever.
2 PETER il. 19.
they themselves are the Servants
T has been the way of those, who serM. have apostatiz'd from Christiani- VIII. SERM. true, that on the contrary Christianity VIII.
ty, to do it
this Principle, in hopes of finding more Liberty on the other side of the Question; and it has been the constant Practice of those, whose Business it has been to make Profelytes that way,
like the false Teachers in the Text, to promise it them; as if the Chriftian Religion was calculated to introduce Slavery, and the Professors of it were in a Conspiracy against the Liberty of Mankind; whereas this is so far from being
can no more countenance, or admit of Slavery, than any other Scheme can give Liberty ; nay, 'tis the only Scheme in the World, in which Liberty has any Place, All within this Circle is Liberty and Freedom; all without is Bondage and Slavery: Accordingly, all good Christians are, and ever have been free, and all others are, and ever have been Slaves.
No doubt there will always be fome, who will be forward enough to promise Liberty upon another Footing: the most profligate and abandon'd Part of Mankind will not be wanting in Pretences of this kind; but then the Performance will never come up to the Promise: There may indeed be a Shew of Liberty, something that may look like it at first Sight, but a good Eye will quickly see thro' the thin Disguise, perceive the Chain that is conceald under it, and discover that they, who thus promise Liberty, are themselves the Servants of Corruption. But for a further Illustration of this point, I purpose in my following Discourse to Thew,
First, What Liberty is.
SERM. Secondly, That Chriflianity has the VIII.
only Claim to it. Thirdly, That all Pretences to it from
the Side of Infidelity are false and
groundless. First then I am to Thew, What Liberty is. And there is the more necessity for having a right Notion of this, because no Word has been more mil-understood, or occasion'd greater Errors and Mistakes.
By Liberty then, consider'd as the Privilege of Human Nature, (in which Sense only we now consider it) we are not to understand a Power of doing as we please, exclusįve of all possible Motives of Action; a Power of doing Right or Wrong, Good or Evil: This is indeed an Opinion many
have entertain'd of Liberty, who have accordingly represented Man, their Free-Agent, as a Being endued with a strange Sort of Freedom, a Freedom to do all this, or any thing else. But now to denominate a Man free, because he has Power to do Evil, is little else but an Abuse of Words : For the Question is not, whether
Serm. a Man can do Right or Wrong, Good or VIII. Evil, but in doing which he may be ac
counted free. Every Tendency to Evil is à Tendency likewise in exact Proportion to Slavery, because it is a Clog, and Incumherance upon the Mind, that hinders it from exerting itself as it ought; and surely no Man would think himself the fréer for being bound or confin'd; but a Man would then think himself free, when he had it in his power to renounce all Ob. stacles of that Kind.
Liberty then is not the having it in our Power to chuse Right or Wrong; for tho’ we may do either of these, yet we can't be therefore said to be free, but when we chuse what is Right : for to be able to chule Wrong implies a Defect, and every Defect is a want of so much Liberty. God to be sure is free, and if Liberty is a Privilege, he must have it to an infinite Perfection; and yet no one, I suppose, will say he has a Power to chuse Wrong, or do Evil. No. His Liberty consists in an infinite Remove from this: therefore Liberty in the abstract Nature of it confifts