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Serm, they who rely entirely upon Philosophy, VIII. and the Wisdom of Man; and they, who,
knowing nothing of this, depend only upon that Wisdom, which the Greeks call'd Foolishness. It is very remarkable, that a plain honest Man has a better Notion of things than the other with all his Learning and Philosophy: For such a one acts more agreable to the Simplicity of Nature, gives his Faculties room to exert themselves in a kindly Manner, and suffers them to have their proper Influence: Whereas, on the contrary, the Man of Reason is for ever contradicting Nature; the Senses, the Paffions are nothing in his Scheme; he believes nothing unless he sees the Reafon of it; accordingly Philosophy is bound to give it him, which it does : And what is it after all, but one Link of that grand universal Chain that is drawn over all Nature, and reaches up to the Infinity of God. How much wiser does he act, who, finding the Impossibility of discerning the whole of any one thing in Nature, i. e. the thing with all its Relations, rests satisfied in the Faith of God, who from an absolute
Knowledge of all Nature has furnish'd Serm. him with such Rules, as are the Result of VIII.
n thé infinite Relations of Things, which is of the fame Advantage to him, as if he knew all Nature himself?
Here then lies the Difference between the two Schemes: Philosophy refers all things to the Wisdom of Man, and Faith refers all things to the Divine Wisdom; that it may not stand, as the Apoftle says, in the Power of Man, but in the Wisdom of God. In one Scheme all things are consistent, a Man acts agreable to his Make, and does not labour under the Absurdity of contradicting Nature : In the other every thing is revers’d, it is all Confusion and Inconsistency, it is unhinging the whole Human Frame, and rooting up the Foundations of Reason, Morality, Religion, and every thing; and is as contrary to true Philofophy, as it is to Religion: For to'discard the Senses and the Passions, when there is a Use for them in Nature, and to reject Faith, when ever, thing offers that is proper to create it, is altogether as' unphilosophical
, if Philofo.
SERM. phy had a fair Hearing, as it would be to VIII.
refuse to exert any one Act of our Reason.
Now where after all is the Seat of Liberty? And who is the free Man? Does it consist in a Power of oppofing the Truth, fitting loose to every thing, and in cloging the Wheels of the grand Machine of Human Nature? Or, is a Man therefore free, because he can, or will do so ? No. Liberty is not a fluctuating thing, an Indifference to Truth or Fallhood, but a happy Situation of the Mind to Truth only; and he is more or less free, whose Mind is more or less situated that Way. Philosophy cannot give us that Situation, because it cannot direct us to absolute Truth; but if we do not prevent it, it will lead us to that that can, which is to Faith, and this is all it can do.
Thus then it appears, that Faith alone can give us Liberty, and that they, who promise it upon any other Foundation, are themselves the Servants of Corruption, And thus does that Faith, which was to the Jews a Stumbling-Block, and to the Greeks Foolishness, and to every Unbeamong the
liever ever since, Nonsense and Absurdity, SERM. triumph over all the Wisdom and Philo. VIII. sophy of Man: And
many great and excellent Advantages that attend it, this one is most remarkable, which is the şedeeming the captivated World from the Bondage of Corruption into the glorious Liberty of the Children of God.
It only remains for us, who are thus call’d to Liberty, to take care not to turn it into Licentiousness; and to remember what I have already often observ'd, that this Liberty does not authorize us to do Right or wrong, Good or Evil: People may indeed call this Liberty, because they find in themselves a Power to do so, but the true Christian Liberty directs us only to what is Right and Good.
In short, Liberty is the Absence of Slavery, of every thing that can lay an Incumbrance upon
the Mind; and the more we enjoy of it, so much the more shall we be like that Divine Being, who is the Sum of Liberty, as he is the Sum of all things.
PROV. iii. 27:
whom it is due, when it is in
HOEVER confiders the IX.
true State and Condition of
Man, how subject he is to an infinite Variety of Accidents in Life, and how liable to the Frowns as well as the Smiles of Providence, will not wonder at the Precept of the Wife Man in the Text, nor be at all furprized to find, that it is a Duty incumbent upon all Men to do all the Good they can, according to their Circumstances and Abilities in the World. For besides that kind of Debt, which by the Laws of our Country we are obliged