« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ten: or, finally, it may produce in us a more earneft and fteddy application to the truth of God. Thirdly, I see no reason why the Spirit may not vouchfafe us particular impulfes, directions, and intimations upon extraordinary occasions and sudden emergencies; where holy writ affords us no light, and human prudence is at a lofs. Nor does any thing, that I attribute to the Spirit in all this, detract or derogate from the dignity or the efficacy of the scripture. This then, I conceive, is what the Spirit does in the work of Illumination. But how it does it, is not necessary, nor, I doubt, possible to be determined. Nor ought our ignorance of this to be objected against the truth of divine Illumination. We are sure we understand and remember, and exercise a freedom or liberty of will, in our choices, refolutions and actions : but the manner how we do this, is an enquiry that does hitherto, for ought I can see, wholly furpafs and tranfcend our philoaphy. .
I will here close this chapter with a prayer of Fulgentius, lib. 1. cap. 4. After he has in the beginning of the chapter difclaimed all pretences to the setting up himfelf a master, do&tor, or dictator to his brethren, he breaks out into thefe devout and pious words . I will not ceafe to pray, that our true Master and Doctor « Christ Jesus, either by the oracles of his i gospel, or by the conversation of my brethren or joint-disciples; or else by the se
cret and delightful instruction of divine o inspiration, in which, without the ele
ments of letters, or the sound of speech,
truth speaks with so much the sweeter, as • the stiller and softer voice ; would vouch
safe to teach me those things, which I may • so propose, and so assert, that in all my ex
positions and assertions, I may be ever • found conformable, and obedient, and
firm to that truth, which can neither deceive, nor be deceived. For it is truth itself that enlightens, confirms, and aids me, that I may always obey and assent to the truth. By truth. I desire to be
informed of those many more things (which I am ignorant of, from whom I « have received the few I know. Of truth ' I beg, through preventing and assisting
grace, to be instructed in whatever I
yet know not,, which conduces to the • interest of my virtue and happiness;
to be preserved and kept stedfast in thosé
truths which I know; to be reformed " and rectified in those points, in which, "as is common to man, I am mistaken;
to be confirmed and established in those
truths wherein I waver ; and to be de"livered from those opinions that are erroneous or hurtful. I beg, lastly, `tliąt:
truth may ever find, both in my thoughts
and speeches, all that sound and whole'some doctrine I have received from its
gift ; and that it would always cause me to utter those things which are agreeable to itself in the first place; and consequently
acceptable to all faithful Christians in the o next.'
CHA P. III. Of liberty in general. The notion of it true
ly stated, and guarded. The fruits of this liberty. 1. Sin being a great evil, delia
verance from it is great happiness. 2. A · freedom and pleasure in the acts of righte
ousness and good works. 3. The near relation it creates between God and us. 4. The great fruit of all, eternal life; with a brief exhortation to endeavour after deliverance from fin.
A FTER Illumination, which is the A Perfe£tion of the understanding, folTows liberty, which is the perfe&tion of the will. In treating of which, I shall, first, give an account of liberty in general: and then discourse of the several parts of it; as it regards wickedness, unfruitfulness, human infirmities, and original corruption.
§. 1. What
§. 1. What liberty is. There have been several mistakes about this matter : but these have been so absurd or extravagant, fo designing or sensual, that they need not, I think, a serious refutation. However, 'tis necefsary in a word or two to remove this rubbish and lumber out of my way, that I may build up and establish the truth more easily and regularly. Some then have placed Christian liberty in deliverance from the Mosaic yoke. But this is to make our liberty consist in freedom from a yoke to which we were never subject; and to make our glorious Redemption, from the tyranny of fin and the misery that attends it, dwindle into an immunity from external rites and observances. 'Tis true, the Mosaic inftitution, as far as it confifted in outward obfervances and typi. cal rites, is now dissolved ; the Mesñas being come, who was the substance of those Jadows ; and the beauty of boliness being unfolded and displayed, without any veil upon her face. But what is this to ecclefiaftical authority ? or to those eccleßaftical institutions, which are no part of the Mofaic yoke ? from the abrogation indeed, or abolition of ritual and typical religion, one may infer, first, That Chrifianity must be a rational worship, a moral spiritual service. And therefore, secondly, That human institutions, when they en
joyn any thing as a necessary and essential part of religion, which God has not made fo, or when they impofe such rites, as, thro' the number or nature of them, cherish fuperstition, obscure the gospel, weaken its force, or prove burtbenfome to us, are to be rejected and not complied with. Thus much is plain, and nothing farther. There have been others, who have run into more intolerable errors. For some have placed Christian liberty in exemption from the laws of man: and others, advancing higher, in exemption even from the moral and immutable laws of God. But the folly and wickedness of these opinions fufficiently confute them : since 'tis notorious to every one, that disobedience and anarchy is as flat a contradiétion to the peaceableness, as voluptuousness and luxury is to the purity of that wisdom which is from above. But how absurd and wicked soever these notions are, yet do we find them greedily embraced and industriously propagated at this day; and behold, with amazement, the baffled and despicable Gnosticks, Pris cilianists, Libertines, and I know not what other spawn of hell, reviving in deifts and atheists. These indeed do not advance their errors under a pretence of Christian liberty; but, which is more ingenuous, and less scandalous of the two, in open defiance and confessed opposition to Christianity. They