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respect to the natural man, or with a respect to the Jew. For, if we compare the Christian with the natural man, the law of nature lays the same obligation upon the natural man, as the Gospel does upon the Christian, for the moral part thereof. The Christian is no more bound to love God, nor his neighbour, than the natural man is: therein the natural man hath no more liberty than the Christian; so far their law is equal: and then all the law which the Christian hath, and the natural man hath not, is a law of liberty to the Christian, that is, a law that gives him an ease, and a readier way to perform those duties; which way the natural man hath not, and yet is bound to the same duties. The natural man, if he transgress that law, which he finds in his own heart, finds a condemnation in himself, as well as the Christian; therein he is no freer than the Christian: but he finds no sanctuary, no altar, no sacrifice, no church; no such liberties, as the Christian does in the Gospel. So the Gospel is a law of liberty to us in respect of the natural man, that it sets us at liberty, restores us to liberty, after we are fallen into prison for debt, into God's displeasure for sin, by affording us means of reconciliation to God again.
It is so also in respect of the law given by God to the Jews. The Jews had liberties, that is, refuge and help of sacrifices for sin; which the natural man had not: for, if the natural man were driven and followed from his own heart, that he saw no comfort of an innocency there, he had no other liberties to fly to, no comfort in any other thing; no law, no promise annexed to other action; not to sacrifice, as the Jews; or to sacrament, as the Christians, but must irremediably sink under the condemnation of his own heart. The Jew had this liberty, a law, and a law that involved the Gospel; but then the Gospel was to the Jew but as a letter sealed; and the Jew was but as a servant, who was trusted to carry the letter, as it was, sealed, to another, to carry it to the Christian. Now the Christian hath received this letter at the Jew's hand, and he opens it; he sees the Jews' prophecy made history to him; the Jews' hope and reversion, made possession and inheritance to him: he sees the Jews' faith made matter of fact; he sees all that was promised and represented in the law, performed and recorded in the Gospel, and
applied in the church.
There Christ says, Henceforth call I you
not servants, but friends". Wherein consists this enfranchisement? In this; The servant knoweth not what his master doth (the Jews knew not that) but I have called you friends, says Christ, for all things that I heard of my Father, I have made known unto you. The law made nothing perfect, says the apostle "*. Where was the defect? He tells us that; the old covenant (that is, the law) gendereth to bondage. What bondage? He tells us that too, when he says, The law was a schoolmaster. The Jews were as schoolboys, always spelling, and putting together types and figures; which things typified and figured, how this lamb should signify Christ, how this fire should signify a Holy Ghost. The Christian is come to the university, from grammar to logic, to him that is Logos itself, the Word; to apprehend and apply Christ himself; and so is at more liberty than when he had only a dark law, without any comment, with the natural man; or only a dark comment, that is, the law, with a dim light, and ill eyes, as the Jews had: for though the Jew had the liberty of a law, yet they had not the law of liberty. So the Gospel is a law of liberty to God, who is still at his liberty to give and take, and to condemn according to that law; and a law of liberty to us, as we are compared to the natural man, or to the Jew. But when we confine ourselves in ourselves, positively, without comparison, it is not such a law of liberty to us, as some men have come too near saying, That the sins of God's children do them no harm; that God sees not the sins of his children; that God was no further out with David in his adultery, than in his repentance but, as to be born within the covenant, that is, of Christian parents, does not make us Christians, (for, Non nascitur, sed renascitur Christianus) the covenant gives us a title to the sacrament of baptism, and that sacrament makes us Christians so this law of liberty gives us not a liberty to sin, but a liberty from sin. Noli libertate abuti, ad libere peccandum, says the same father; It is not a liberty, but an impotency, a slavery, to sin. Voluntas libera quæ pia, says he, Only a holy soul is a free soul. Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, says
31 John xv. 15.
33 Gal. iv. 24.
32 Heb. vii. 19. 3+ Augustine.
the apostle and Splendidissimum in se quisque habet speculum3, Every man hath a glass, a crystal, into which, though he cannot call up this spirit (for the Spirit of God breathes where it pleases him) yet he can see this spirit, if he be there, in that glass: every man hath a glass in himself, where he may see himself, and the image of God, says that father, and see how like he is to that. To dare to reflect upon myself, and to search all the corners of mine own conscience, whether I have rightly used this law of liberty; and neither been bold before a sin, upon presumption of an easy; nor diffident after, upon suspicion of an impossible reconciliation to my God: this is evangelical liberty.
So then (to end all) though it be a law of liberty, because it gives us better means of prevention before, and of restitution after, than the natural man, or the Jew had; yet we consider, that it is this law of liberty, this law that hath afforded us these good helps, by which we shall be judged; and so, though our case be better than theirs, because we have this law of liberty, which they wanted, yet our case grows heavier than theirs, if we use it not aright. The Jews shall be under a heavier condemnation than the natural man, because they had more liberty, that is, more means of avoiding sin, than the natural man had; and, upon the same reason, the Christian under a heavier condemnation than either, because he shall be judged by this law of liberty.
What judgment then gives this law? This; Qui non crediderit, damnabitur; and so says this law in the law-maker's mouth, He that believes not, shall be damned. And as no less light than faith itself, can show you what faith is, what it is to believe; so no less time than damnation shall last, can show you what damnation is for the very form of damnation is the everlastingness of it; and, Qui non crediderit, He that believeth not shall be damned: there is no commutation of penance, nor beheading after a sentence of a more ignominious death, in that court. Dost thou believe that thou dost believe? Yet this law takes not that answer: this law of liberty takes the liberty to look farther; through faith into works; for, so says the law in the mouth of the Law-maker; To whom much is given, of him much
35 2 Cor. iii. 17.
37 Mark xvi. 16.
shall be required 38. Hast thou considered every new title of honour, and every new addition of office, every new step into higher places, to have laid new duties, and new obligations upon thee? Hast thou doubled the hours of thy prayers, when thy preferments are doubled; and increased thine alms, according as thy revenues are increased? Hast thou done something, done much in this kind? This law will not be answered so; this law of liberty takes the liberty to call upon thee for all. Here also the law says in the mouth of the Law-maker, If thou have agreed with many adversaries, says Christ, (let that be, if thou have satisfied many duties) (for duties are adversaries, that is, temptations upon us) yet, as long as thou hast one adversary, agree with that adversary quickly in the way"; leave no duty undischarged, or unrepented in this life. Beloved, we have well delivered ourselves of the fear of purgatory; none of us fear that: but another mistaking hath overtaken us, and we flatter ourselves with another danger, that is, compensation, that by doing well in one place, our ill-doing in another is recompensed: an ill officer looks to be saved, because he is a good husband to his wife, a good father to his children, a good master to his servants; and he thinks he hath three to one for his salvation. But, as nature requires the qualities of every element which thou art composed of; so this law of liberty calls upon thee for the exercise of all those virtues, that appertain to every particular place thou holdest: this liberty, this law of liberty takes; it binds thee to believe Christ, all Christ; God's Christ, as he was the eternal Son of the Father, God of God; our Christ, as he was made man for our salvation; and thy Christ, as his blessed Spirit, in this his ordinance, applies him to thee, and offers him into thine arms this minute. And then, to know, that he looks for a retribution from thee, in that measure, in which he hath dealt with thee; much for much; and for several kinds of good, according to those several good things, which he hath done for thee. And, if thou be first defective in these, and then defective in laying hold upon him, who is the propitiation and satisfaction for thy defects in these, this law of liberty returns to her liberty to pronounce, and the Judge to his liberty to execute that sentence, damnaberis, 39 Matt. v. 25.
38 Luke xii. 48.
thou wilt be cast into that prison, where thou must pay the last farthing; thou must; for Christ dies not there, and therefore there they must lie, till there come such another ransom as Christ; nay, a greater ransom than Christ was, for Christ paid no debts in that prison. This then is the Christian's case, and this is the abridgment of his religion; Sic loquimini, sic facite; to speak aright, and to do aright; to profess the truth, and not be afraid nor ashamed of that; and to live according to that profession for, no man can make God the author of sin; but that man comes as near it as he can, that makes God's religion a cloak for his sin. To this God proceeds not merely and only by commandment, but by persuasion too; and, though he be not bound to do so, yet he does give a reason. The reason is, because he must give account of both; both of actions, and of words; of both we shall be judged, but judged by a law; a law which excludes, on God's part, any secret ill purpose upon us, if we keep his law; a law which excludes, on our part, all pretence of ignorance; for no man can plead ignorance of a law. And then, a law of liberty; of liberty to God: for God was not bound to save a man, because he made him; but of his own goodness, he vouchsafed him a law, by which he may be saved; a law of liberty to us so that there is no epicurism, to do what we list; no such liberty as makes us libertines; for then there were no law; nor Stoicism, nor fatality, that constrains us to do that we would not do, for then there were no liberty. But the Gospel is such a law of liberty, as delivers us, upon whom it works, from the necessity of falling into the bondage of sin before, and from the impossibility of recovering after, if we be fallen into that bondage. And this is liberty enough; and of this liberty, our blessed God give us the right use, for his Son Christ Jesus' sake, by the operation of that Holy Ghost, that proceeds from both. Amen.