Christianity the only true liberty.

The religion, which the son shall establish, being final and perpetual, shall do away that instituted by the servant, who was only sent to prepare you for the greater dispensation of the son. For, the servant ubideth not in the house forever, but the son abideth forever. If the son, therefore shall make you free; if you will acknowledge him, and live by the truths which he teaches; you shall be free indeed; you will then be the true seed of faithful Abraham, inheritors of the spiritual freedom, in which he served God. You shall be superior to every hurtful influence to which your nature can be exposed; you shall have all your faculties at full liberty to obey God in a present life of holiness and righteousness, so that you may fulfil his will hereafter in the blessed inheritance, which, from the foundation of the world, He hạth prepared for all that love Him..


Hence you may learn, my brethren, that the service of God is perfect liberty; that the religion of Christ is the law of liberty; and that no man is truly free, who does not form

Christianity the only true liberty. ·

his heart, and direct his life by its doctrines and precepts, although under its restraints, True liberty, therefore, cannot be the possession of the wicked, however gifted by nature or fortune, enlightened with knowledge, or polished by education. And hére let me observe; this truth is no less of reason than of religion; a kindred sentiment is found in the most approved and most elegant of profane writings. That the wise man only is free, is a position maintained in the way of a paradox by both the Greek and Roman casuists. It is, indeed, no matter of wonder, since the primary duties of our being are immutable as the supreme power that ordained them, and gave the intellect by which they are apprehended, that the philosopher in the light of nature, and the inspired Apostle, should each incul. cate the same moral precept.

Yet it is deserying of remark that in the writings of the licentious, although philosophic, Roman Satyrist, there may be discovered a coincidence, on the subject before us, with the doctrine of the divine author of our religion. In some passages of the works of this elegant profane в 3


Christianity the only true liberty.

writer, it is inferred or asserted, that the mind, under the influence of any low or hurtful propensity, cannot be at liberty to fulfil the duties, or enjoy the pure pleasures, of life; and that he, who is so misguided, however he may appear to the world, and whatever be his station or dignity, is really in a condition of servitude. This sentiment he derived from a philosophy the most popular in his time, But the easy and elegant diction in which it is clothed, might almost give it the charm of novelty. He says in one particular passage, the wise man only is free; he, who has coma mand of himself, who is affrighted neither by poverty, imprisonment nor death; who is brave to deny his appetites, and be indifferent to honours: who is finished and entire in him, self, so that nothing from without, can impede the smooth course of his life, and fortune always retires wounded from assaulting him.'

These thoughts grace the productions of a celebrated writer, who professed the tenets of the most licentious sect of the Greek Philosophers. If we trace the detail of bis morality in other parts of his works, or its practice in

Christianity the only true liberty.

his own life, we find a most humiliating disagreement with the beautiful principle set forth in the passage, of which I have endeavoured to give you the meaning without the brevity and elegance.

The purpose of this observation upon a profane writer is to exemplify to you that, unassisted reason could discover the truth, which I am illustrating, although it fails of the power to display it in practice; and that philosophy approves the sacred apophthegm, but to act upon it, needs the aid of him who delivered it.

[ocr errors]

The very name of liberty to our ears has in it something imposing and delightful. But, in this, as in numerous other instances, men are proud to possess, and to extol, what they do not understand. We would all possess those things, which are productive of the purest pleasure, and most lasting satisfaction; to pitch upon such things, we world have the discernment clear; to attain them the faculties unimpeded. But we are deceived with appearances, and carried away in the current of

B 4


Christianity the only true liberty,

fashion and opinion, or with our own giddy and vain conceits. Looking with contempt upon what is familiar to us, we are ever sending forth the thoughts in search of something new and strange. The mind active, restless, and enterprising, is ignorant or regardless of the sources of happiness, which are near, or easily accessible; and ranges in negligence and ease, or toils through peril and difficulty, for the delight and satisfaction to be found in nothing external. Impatient of controul, and anxious to command, elated with the possession, or busy for the acquisition, of pre-eminence, it surrenders the more estimable good, the free use, and right direction, of its own powers;; and often, while seated in authority dispensing, the laws of society, sinks within itself, the secret slave of imperious and unlawful desires.

Thus we often sigh for what we do not understand; eargerly pursue, and ignorantly embrace, the very thing, which if we knew its nature and its consequences, we should cautiously avoid; and render even liberty a visionary good, or a virtual evil.


[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »