Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

I.

is now come into the World, and that SER M. ye continue in Obedience to his Doctrine and Government. The Servant abideth not in the Houfe for ever: but the Son abideth for ever: If the Son therefore shall you Free, ye shall be Free indeed.

make you

THE Design and Meaning of our Saviour's whole Difcourfe being thus explained, the Doctrine contained in the Words of the Text, appears evidently to be This; That the religious Restraints laid upon men by the Gospel are really and truly the greatest Liberty; and the Service of God, the most perfect Freedom: If ye continue in my Word, then are ye my Difciples indeed: And ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth fhall make you Free.

LIBERTY, afl men are fenfible, is a Jewel of ineftimable Value; and therefore there is nothing more earnestly or more justly contended for, nothing more univerfally or more reasonably defired. But, alas! As Children are often eagerly defirous of what they do not understand, and know not when they are in Poffeffion of what they defire, but are put off and pleased with falfe refemblances of things, and hold faft fomething really contrary

[blocks in formation]

SER M.to what they think they are fond of: I. So, in This particular, Men themselves,

even Wife men and Learned, the Rich and the Potent, the cunning and the most fenfible in other Affairs, are very frequently imposed upon, (I should fay, impose upon themselves,) and love to be deceived, and take pains to abufe their own Understandings; and, while they love Liberty above all things, embrace Slavery in the ftead thereof; fhutting their Eyes, and calling things by falfe Names, and ftiling Bondage Liberty, and Liberty Bondage. For while All men contend for Liberty, wherein does the greater part of the World imagine true Liberty to confift? Moft men feem to place it in being allowed to let loofe the Reins to all their Appetites and Paffions without controul; to be under no reftraint either from the Laws of Men, or from the Fear of God. Princes generally think it to confist in having the Power of tyrannizing over the multitude of their Subjects, and sacrificing the common Rights and Properties of Mankind to their own fingle and unreafonable Ambition. The common People, are apt to place it in unbounded Licentioufnefs, and having no fuperiour but

[ocr errors]

the

I.

the Humour of the Multitude. The Co-SER M. vetous perfon would gladly be allowed to increase his Treasure by fome fhorter steps than those of honeft Industry and patient Labour. The Debauchee thinks no Chains more troublefom, than those which would confine his Pleasures from irregularity and excefs. And oh! how happy would the revengeful Spirit be, might he but have Liberty to fatisfy his Malice, without prefent Shame or future Danger! This, 'tis to be feared, is the Notion too great a part of Mankind have of Liberty. And what a Liberty is This? Is it not like the Liberty a Madman defires, of being permitted to destroy himself? Is it any thing more, than a Liberty to chufe the worst of Slaveries, and to exchange the Goyernment of a moft reasonable Mafter, for that of the worst and cruelleft Tyrant? For, what does the Ambitious Prince or the Licentious Multitude; what does the Covetous, and Revengeful, or the Debauched Sinner; but only chufe to be a Servant to Paffion, inftead of a Follower of Right Reafon? What is it that makes a Beast be a Creature of lefs Liberty than Man, but only that its natural Appetites

more

I.

SER M. more neceffarily govern all its Actions, and that it is not indued with a Faculty of Reason, whereby to exert itself, and gain a Power or Liberty of over-ruling thofe Appetites? For if the true Liberty of a Moral Agent does not principally confift in the Power of over-ruling fuch Appetites; wherein lies the Excellency of humane Nature at all, above the inferiour Creation? Or what fuperiority has Man above the Beasts that perish, in any Moral regard; if his greater Knowledge and Understanding ferves only to make him feel and be fenfible of his Subjection to those lower Appetites, which the other Creatures are naturally fubject to, without being fenfible or having any uneafy Reflections that they are fo? Is not the Difference, in fuch a Cafe, This only that the Man is really the greater Slave, or has the lefs Liberty of the Two, becaufe He only is by his Reason capable of understanding that he wants it? If a man's Body be under confinement, or he be impotent in his Limbs, he is then deprived of his bodily Liberty: And for the fame Reason, if his Mind be blinded by fottifh Errors, and his Reafon overruled

I.

ruled by violent Paffions; is not This SER M. likewife plainly as great a Slavery and as true à Confinement? For, to whomsoever men yield themselves fervants to obey, (as the Apostle excellently expreffes it,) are they not his fervants to whom they obey, Rom. vi. 16. and of whomsoever a man is overcome, of the fame alfo is he not brought in bondage, 2 Pet. ii. 19?

BUT here it is obvious for the Libertine to reply, that he has no Notion of the Slavery we fpeak of, nor is at all fenfible that he is under any Restraint: For what greater Liberty can a man have, than to do what he pleases? or what can he defire more, than to do what he wills without controul? I anfwer: This is indeed the True Definition of mere phyfical or natural Liberty; that is to fay, of That Liberty which is common to Man with every living Creature, with the favageft Lyon, and with the meaneft Infect. For They also do what they will, and go and come as they please, and follow the Instinct, and gratify all the Appetites of Nature. But the Liberty of a Moral Agent and of a rational Being, implies fomething more. It implies a Liberty of do

« AnteriorContinuar »