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ten: or, finally, it may produce in us a more earneft and fteddy application to the truth of God, Thirdly, I fee no reafon why the Spirit may not vouchfafe us particular impulfes, directions, and intimations upon extraordinary occafions and fudden 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 fcripture. This then, I conceive, is what the Spirit does in the work of Illumination. But how it does it, is not neceffary, nor, I doubt, poffible to be determined. Nor ought our ignorance of this to be objected against the truth of divine Illumination. We are fure we understand and remember, and exercife 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 fee, wholly furpafs and tranfcend our philoJaphy.
I will here clofe 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 fetting up himfelf a mafter, doctor, or dictator to his brethren, he breaks out into thefe devout and pious words- I will not ceafe to pray, that our true Mafter and Doctor • Chrift
"Chrift Jefus, either by the oracles of his gofpel, or by the converfation of my brethren or joint-difciples; or elfe by the fe'cret and delightful inftruction of divine infpiration, in which, without the ele'ments of letters, or the found of fpeech, • truth speaks with fo much the sweeter, as the ftiller and fofter voice; would vouchfafe to teach me thofe things, which I may 'fo propofe, and fo affert, that in all my ex'pofitions and affertions, 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 affent to the truth. By truth I defire 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 affifting grace, to be inftructed in whatever I yet know not, which conduces to the intereft of my virtue and happiness; to be preserved and kept stedfast in those truths which I know; to be reformed and rectified in thofe points, in which, as is common to man, I am mistaken; to be confirmed and established in those truths wherein Iwaver; and to be delivered from thofe opinions that are erroneous or hurtful. I beg, laftly, that
truth may ever find, both in my thoughts and speeches, all that found and wholefome 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 confequently acceptable to all faithful Chriftians in the next.'
CHA P. III.
Of liberty in general. The notion of it truly ftated, and guarded. The fruits of this liberty. 1. Sin being a great evil, deliverance from it is great happiness. 2. A freedom and pleafure in the acts of righteoufnels 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.
FTER Illumination, which is the Perfection of the understanding, follows liberty, which is the Perfection of the will. In treating of which, I fhall, first, give an account of liberty in general: and then difcourfe of the feveral parts of it; as it regards wickedness, unfruitfulness, human infirmities, and original corruption.
§. 1. What
§. 1. What liberty is. There have been feveral mistakes about this matter: but these have been fo abfurd or extravagant, fo defigning or fenfual, that they need not, I think, a ferious refutation. However, 'tis neceffary 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 eafily and regularly. Some then have placed Chriftian liberty in deliverance from the Mofaic yoke. But this is to make our liberty confift in freedom from a yoke to which we were never subject; and to make our glorious Redemption, from the tyranny of fin and the mifery that attends it, dwindle into an immunity from external rites and obfervances. 'Tis true, the Mofaic inftitution, as far as it confifted in outward obfervances and typical rites, is now diffolved; the Meffias being come, who was the fubftance of those Shadows; and the beauty of holiness being unfolded and difplayed, without any veil upon her face. But what is this to ecclefiaftical authority? or to thofe ecclefiaftical inftitutions, which are no part of the Mofaic yoke? from the abrogation indeed, or abolition of ritual and typical religion, one may infer, first, That Chriftianity must be a rational worship, a moral fpiritual fervice. And therefore, fecondly, That human inftitutions, when they enJoyn
joyn any thing as a neceffary and effential part of religion, which God has not made fo, or when they impofe fuch rites, as, thro' the number or nature of them, cherish fuperftition, obfcure the gospel, weaken its force, or prove burthenfome 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 fome have placed Chriftian 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 thefe opinions fufficiently confute them: fince 'tis notorious to every one, that disobedience and anarchy is as flat a contradiction to the peaceableness, as voluptuousness and luxury is to the purity of that wisdom which is from above. But how abfurd and wicked foever these notions are, yet do we find them greedily embraced and induftriously propagated at this day; and behold, with amazement, the baffled and defpicable Gnofticks, Prif cilianifts, Libertines, and I know not what other pawn of hell, reviving in deifts and atheifts. Thefe indeed do not advance their errors under a pretence of Chriftian liberty; but, which is more ingenuous, and lefs fcandalous of the two, in open defiance and confessed oppofition to Christianity. They tell