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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 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 fatisfy 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 fome fins, unless
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 fall farther infist upon at this time, namely, libertinism in practise, or licenciousness 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 preffing the observance of all God's commandments, and enforcing it by the most powerful of all considerations, the future judgment, he gives the gofpel the character of the law of liberty ; which if Serm. it were to be understood in this fenfe, that II. it gives a licence to fin, would be perfectly inconsistent. Nay, in the words immediately following the text, and thro' the whole remaining part of the chapter, he designedly and largely proves, that we cannot be justified before God, otherwise than by works of righteousness, 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 Jude speaks, and making Christ the minister of fin ; but, St. James Thews 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, Isay, by examples from the Old Testament, such as Rabab, and the patriarch Abraham, which might be very convincing to the Jews
into this pernicious Error. 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
who had gone
SERM. defign; which we may be sure is always II.
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 Thould be made upon it; for, when false brethren were brought in privily, to spie out the liberty of chriftrians 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 fcore 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 him to the face, and he recommended it to christians, Chap. v. 1. To stand fast in the liberty wherewith Chrift bath made us free; but in the 13th Verfe, he gives this necessary caution, ye have been called into liberty, only use not liberty for an occafion to the flesh: do
* Gal, ü. s.
not take a licence to yourselves in any vicious SERM:
II. practices, nor indulge corrupt affections ; and let there be no animofities, no strife, nor envying among you, which will indeed thew you to be carnal and walk as men ; but by love ferue one another. To the fame purpose he warns the Corinthians that they should not in the use of their liberty offend against charity, ist epistle viii. 9. But take beed least by any means this liberty of yours become a fumbling 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, ift 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 ity and live in expectation of the future judgment; being boly in all manner of conversation *. Expecting the resurrection of the dead, both of the juft and unjust, let us,
after the example of the holy apostle, herein exercise ourselves to have always consciences void of offence towards God and towards men. Vok, I.
SER• Acts xxiv, 15, 16.
Matth. iv. 17.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at
SERM. HE kingdom of Heaven, or the III.
kingdom of God, does usually in
the New-Testament, and particularly in the discourses of our Saviour himself, signify the gospel state, that glorious model formed in the divine counsels for recovering finful 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