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Serm. phy had a fair Hearing, as it would be so vlli. refufe t0 excrt 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 opposing the Truth, sitting 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 Falshood, 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 Creeks Foolishness, and to every Unbeliever liever ever since, Nonsense and Absurdity, Serm. triumph over all the Wisdom and Philo- VIII. sophyor Man: And among the many great .and excellent Advantages that attend it> this one is most remarkable, which is the Redeeming 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 pall'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.
a % SER.
/Withhold not Good from them to <whcm it is due, when it is in the Power of thine Hand to do it.
H O E V E R considers the true State and Condition of Man, hqw 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 surprized 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
to to discharge, there is another Sort, whichSErM. we are obliged to the Payment of, over L, and above what those Laws have made any Provision for; which is that of Charity. From the Words of the Text I (hall endeavour to prove,
First, That Charity is a Debt, which we
owe Mankind. Secondly', IJhall bring some Arguments to perjwade you chearfully to discharge it. First then I am to prove, that Charity is a Debt. To do good, and to assist and help our Fellow-creatures, which I here mean by Charity, and which I apprehend is implied in the Text, is no more than what we owe each other; as is plain both from the Old and New Testament. 'Tis what the Law teaches, and the Gospel excels in. To do good and to communicate forget not, is a noble Precept of Christianity j and to do unto all Men, as you would they should do unto you, is the Law and the Prophets, The Jews are commanded in Leviticus to be compassionate towards those that were in Distress. If thy Brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with
SeRm. thee, then thou shalt relieve him • yea, •IX. tho' he be a Stranger, or a Sojourner, that
4/^>^ he may live with thee. And to take in a still greater compass and extent of Charity, they were to love their Neighbours as themselves. Now Self-Preservation, and a natural Care and Concern for ourselves, every one knows, is one of the first things we discover any Apprehensions of; and to owe our Neighbour a Love like this, is a Debt of no small Consequence; a Debt it is, which we shall always owe, as long as we have a Being. For though there are some Duties, such as the Relative Duties subsisting between Children and Parents, Masters and Servants, &c. which upon the Death of either do immediately cease and become void, because the Reason of them • ceases with them; yet as long as there are any Men in the World, that have any Wants to be relieved, so long will Charity be a Debt by the Law of God. St. Paul, teaching the Romans to render every Man his Due, tells them, that they should owe no Man any thing, hut to Love one anctber: So that after we have discharged al*