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in a Power of doing Right, and in a Re-Serm.
moval of every thing, that stands in the VIII.
way of it, either in thinking, believing,
acting, or exerting any Faculty within us.
Perfect Liberty is the Property of God
only: But as we are his Image in this, aś
well as other respects, we have a Ray of
it likewise in ourselves; only, as we are
imperfect Creatures, and a want of Per-
fection being a proportionable Want of Li-
berty, we have it but in an imperfect De-
gree ; such a Degree, as Human Nature
will admit of. Having thus shewn what
Liberty is, I come now to shew,

Secondly, That Christianity has the only Claim to it. Liberty thus understood is to be met with only in the Christian Scheme, because there only, (supposing Christianity to be a true Religion ; and whether it is or not must be determin’d by other Arguments : However this is no unreasonable Suppofition, if we will but allow, that people had the same Use of their Reason and their Senses at the first Propagation of it, as they have now, and that Tradition has at least the same Weight

X

with

SERM, with respect to the sacred Writings, as it VIII. has with respect to profane ;) I say, be

cause there only is a Provision made for the Imperfections of Human Nature ; which, by the way, is a corroborating Argument of the Truth of it, no other Scheme of Religion in the World befides having ever propos'd such advantages to Humankind.

If we fuppofe Defects and Imperfections in Man, we must suppose, at the same time, a Want of fo much Liberty; and fo if we suppose a Remedy for these Defects, we of course fuppofe a proportionable Addition of Liberty. Now, I believe, it will be readily enough agreed on all Hands, that there are some defects in HumanNature. They who carry Human-Reafon ever so high will, I fuppole, acknowledge there are some Bounds to it; that it is defective in some things. But how shall these Defects be remedied? Let us turn over the various Systems of Man's Wifdom, and see whether any Aslistance may be fetch'd from thence. Will any of the Gods of Human Imagination afford us any

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SERM. Help? Will the Idols we set up in our

VIII. own Hearts relieve us ? No. Could we indeed suppose the Reafon of Man lengthen'd out to Infinity, we must then fuppose him perfect, and confequently free: But the Possibility of this is not to be supposed of any Creature whatsoever ; much less that it actually is the Case of Man, who we find is compass'd about with Infirmities of every kind.

But now the Christian Religion supplies the Want of this; not, as fome think, by setting aside Reason, but, leaving to Reason all its Advantages, by afsifting it with the Reason of God. For if we believe Christianity to be a true Religion, we have by virtue of that Faith, besides the Advantage of our own Reason, the Benefit also of the Reason of God.

Thus a Christian, tho' of himself in no respect more excellent than another Man, yet by means of the Divine Reason, which is now by Faith become his own, is exalted to a fuperior Class of Beings, and shines with the Divine Splendor of this Heavenly Light, while the rest of Mankind are sunk

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on Serm. down an amazing Depth below, groping VIII. in the thick Darkness and Obscurity of

their own Inventions. This Faith then is not any thing besides, or opposite to Reason, but is itself a Principle, that procures us the Benefit of the highest, and most perfect Reason.

It also improves every Spring and Movement of Action within us to its utmost Perfection. The two great Springs of all Human Actions are generally thought to be Hopes and Fears. Now let us confider Christianity with respect to both these, as directing them to their proper Objects

, to which they must operate in exact Proportion. Now as every thing in this Life is casual and uncertain, and consequently Good and Evil, Happiness and Misery are so too, the Hopes and Fears that belong to Thele must ånd ought to be proportionably small, languid, and feeble: For if they rise to any great Height, we lay out more upon these things than they deserve; but if we suppose Good and Evil, Happirefs and Mifery to be no longer casual but çertain, which we must suppofe in the

Christian

Christian Scheme; if we suppose them to SERM. be no longer temporal things, but car

VIII. ried out into all Futurity, our Hopes and Fears must and ought then to rise in Proportion, to receive new Life and Vigour, and be strong enough to influence a Set of good and virtuous Actions; and in a mind rightly dispos’d by Religion they will do so.

In short, as eternal Happiness and Misery is the Sum of all Happiness and Mifery, so the Hope of the one, and Fear of the other is, or ought to be, the Sum of all Hopes and Fears. So that these Hopes and Fears, thus regulated by Religion, tho' they will still be employ'd about things in this Life, because Religion no way

interferes in this matter, being not defigned to destroy and root them out, but to direct and perfect them; yet still, if a Man acts right, they will be in exact Proportion, as the Good and Evil, Happiness and Misery, of this Life stands to the Good and Evil, Happiness and Misery

We may indeed lay them out too much upon temporal things, but

then

of the next.

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