Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

(for I do not aspire to that character) but as a minister of Jesus Christ; that there is no true liberty but in the service of God; and that the greatest of all grievances is sin, 'as fatal to societies as to individuals. The only free men, properly so called, are they whom the Son of God hath made free from the bondage of sin : the slavery is all on the other side; with those who are subject to their own turbulent lusts and passions, by which they are as effectually enslaved as the wretch who is chained down to drudge at the car, all the days of his life: his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness. Pride, vanity, avarice, envy, hatred, ambition, extravagance, and impatience; these are the tyrants of the children of disobedience, who, while they are under the dominion of such masters, are generally the most forward to hold out the temptation of liberty, and promise it to all their followers; but the beggar may as well promise crowns and scepters. Of such men St. Peter gives us this character, that they speak evil of diynities; and while they promise liberty are themselves the servants of corruption. Tied and bound with the chain of their vices, and probably of their debts,

they

they commence arbiters of freedom; and would have us believe, what great quietness we should enjoy, and what very worthy deeds would be done by their providence.

It is a mistake of the worst tempers only, to suppose that liberty consists in contradiction ; for if that were true, then the more unreasonable the contradiction, the greater the liberty. Every society is a body, the meinbers of which being appointed to different offices, should all conspire to the same end for the good of the whole. Hath the tongue no liberty, but in uttering imprecations, and calling down vengeance upon its owner? Have the hands no liberty, but when they are lifted up against the head, or striking at the heart? It is the honour of the feet, that they can support the head, by which they are animated and directed : it is the honour of the hands, that they can defend the vital parts, and repel the adversaries of the body : this is their proper employment, and when the order of nature is observed, the whole system will be in safety, which is all the liberty good men will ever expect in a world so full of mischief and danger.

As to grievances, it must be owned we have our share; and no government in the

M 3

world

ma

world is without them; but it is the unhappiness of this nation, to be more disturbed with imaginary than with real evils. The sick man may suffer much from his distemper; but he often suffers much more from his dreams, and throws himself into certain destruction, while he is flying from the terrors of a vision. It is no such easy matter for people in a lower sphere, especially in this age of scandal and defamation, to know when and how their superiors are in fault. The inhabitant of the valley blames the dimness of the air, and sees a mist spread over the hills and higher grounds; which to those in a better situation, appears to rise out of his own soil, and to settle upon the place of his own habitation, But then, have governors no faults, and are we to see nothing amiss in them? undoubtedly they have their faults, if they are mortal men, together with many difficulties, misfortunes, and mortifications from their office; under all which, it is our duty to pray for them, and not to revile them; to pray that God will give them grace to amend their faults, and assist them by his good providence, in the critical affairs of their country; approving ourselves as true Christians, servants of Gød, and friends of mankind."

erno

Let

Let not then any heathen principles, any visionary notions of liberty, interpose to debauch our minds with disaffection, and thereby give occasion to foreign enemies, whose envy will always be active, and is even now awake, to foment our divisions, and to triumph in all the unhappy effects of them *. Not many years are passed since we might justly be accounted the first people in the world. Nothing can support us in that high rank, but loyalty and unanimity; without which, a king

dom that hath attained its utmost greatness, · must soon fall with its own weight. .

. May therefore the King immortal and invisible, in whose hand are all the nations of the earth; who, according to his good pleasure, sendeth counsel in peace and success in war, give us all grace, in our several stations, to correct what is amiss, to hold fast what is good, to restore what is lost, to preserve what is ready to perish, and to see the things that belong to our peace, before they are hid from our eyes! Amen.

* Those enemies have now disarmed themselves, by falling into the doctrine of licentiousness, against which this discourse was directed.

[blocks in formation]

SERMON VIII,

TO THE ONE WE ARE THE SAVOUR OF DEATH UNTO DEATH; AND TO THE OTHER THE SAVOUR OF LIFE UNTO LIFE : AND WHO IS SUFFICIENT FOR THESE THINGS? 2 Cor. II. 16.

so strangely has the world been divided in

its opinion concerning the Gospel, that the ministers of Jesus Christ, whose business it is to preach it, have always found themselves in a difficult situation; for which no man can be sufficient without the gifts of fortitude, and prudence, and patience, from the Spirit of God, to support and assist him in his office. Christianity always had, and always will have its adversaries : it corrects the false opinions, and controuls the licentious morals of unconverted nature; therefore nature rises

Ses

up

« AnteriorContinuar »