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SERM. true, that on the contrary Christianity VIII. can no more countenance, or admit of
Slavery, than any other Scheme can give Liberty ; nay, 'tis the only Scheme in the World, in which Liberty has any Place, , All within this Circle is Liberty and Free dom; all without is Bondage and Slavery: Accordingly, all good Christians are, and ever have been free, and all others are, and ever have been Slaves.
No doubt there will always be fome, who will be forward enough to promise Liberty upon another Footing: the most profligate and abandon'd Part of Mankind will not be wanting in Pretences of this kind ; but then the Performance will never come up to the Promise: There may indeed be a Shew of Liberty, something that
may look like it at first. Sight, but a good Eye will quickly see thro' the thin Disguise, perceive the Chain that is conceald under it, and discover that they, who thus promise Liberty, are themselves the Servants of Corruption. But for a further Illustration of this point, I purpose in my following Discourse to Thew,
First, What Liberty is.
only Claim to it.
the Side of Infidelity are false and
By Liberty then, consider'd as the Privilege of Human Nature, (in which Sense only we now consider it) we are not to understand a Power of doing as we please, exclusive of all possible Motives of Action; a Power of doing Right or Wrong, Good or Evil: This is indeed an Opinion many have entertain’d of Liberty, who have accordingly represented Man, their Free-Agent, as a Being endued with a strange Sort of Freedom, a Freedom to do all this, or any thing else. But now to denominate a Man free, because he has Power to do Evil, is little else but an Abuse of Words : For the Question is not, whether
Serm. a Man can do Right or Wrong, Good or VIII. Evil, but in doing which he may
counted free. Every Tendency to Evil is à Tendency likewise in exact Proportion to Slavery, because it is a Clog, and Incumberance upon the Mind, that hinders it from exerting itself as it ought; and surely no Man would think himself the fréer for being bound or confin'd; but a Man would then think himself free, when he had it in his power to renounce all ObItacles of that Kind.
Liberty then is not the having it in our Power to chuse Right or Wrong; for tho' we may do either of these, yet we can't be therefore said to be free, but when we chuse what is Right: for to be able to chufe Wrong implies a Defect, and every Defect is a want of so much Liberty. God to be sure is free, and if Liberty is a Privilege, he must have it to an infinite Perfection; and yet no one, I suppose, will say he has a Power to chuse Wrong, or do Evil. No. His Liberty consists in an infinite Remove from this: therefore Liberty in the abstract Nature of it consists
in a Power of doing Right, and in a Re-Serm. moval of every thing, that stands in the VIII. way of it, either in thinking, believing, acting, or exerting any Faculty within us. Perfect Liberty is the Property of God only: But as we are his Image in this, as well as other respects, we have a Ray of it likewise in ourselves; only, as we are imperfect Creatures, and a want of Pertection being a proportionable Want of Liberty, we have it but in an imperfect Degree ; such a Degree, as Human Nature will admit of. Having thus shewn what Liberty is, I come now to shew,
Secondly, That Christianity has the only Claim to it. Liberty thus understood is to be met with only in the Christian Scheme, because there only, (supposing Christianity to be a true Religion; and whether it is or not must be determin’d by other Arguments : However this is no unreasonable Suppofition, if we will but allow, that people had the same Use of their Reason and their Senses at the first Propagation of it, as they have now, and that Tradition has at least the same Weight
these Defects be remedied?
SERM. with respect to the sacred Writings, as it VIII. has with respect to profane ;) I say, be
cause there only is a Provision made for the Imperfections of Human Nature ; which, by the way, is a corroborating Argument of the Truth of it, no other Scheme of Religion in the World besides having ever propos'd such advantages to Humankind.
If we fuppofe Defects and Imperfections in Man, we must suppose, at the same time,' a Want of so much Liberty; and so if we suppose a Remedy for these Defects, we of course fuppose a proportionable Ada dition of Liberty. Now, I believe, it will be readily enough agreed on all Hands, that there are some defects in HumanNature. They who carry Human-Reafon ever so high will, I fuppole, acknowledge there are some Bounds to it; that it is defective in some things. But how shall
Let us turn over the various Systems of Man's Wif. dom, and see whether any Aslistance may be fetch'd from thence. Will any of the Gods of Human Imagination afford us any