Imágenes de página

law they at least were exempted from the curse and provocation to sin : and since to be free from the restraint of the law can mean nothing but that for which I contend, an entire exemption from the obligation of the law. For as long as the law exists, it constrains, because it is a law of bondage; constraint and bondage being as inseparable from the dispensation of the law, as liberty, from the dispensation of the gospel ; of which shortly.

Polanus contends, on Gal. iv. 4, 5. to redeem them that were under the law,' that when Christians are said to be redeemed from subjection to the law, and to be no longer under the law, this is not to be taken in an absolute sense, as if they owed no more obedience to it. What then do the words imply? They signify, that Christians are no longer under the necessity of perfectly fulfilling the law of God in this life, inasmuch as Christ has fulfilled it for them. That this is contrary to the truth, is too obvious not to be acknowledged. So far from a less degree of perfection being exacted from Christians, it is expected of them that they should be more perfect than those who were under the law; as the whole tenor of Christ's precepts evinces. The only difference is, that Moses imposed the letter, or external law, even on those who were not willing to receive it; whereas Christ writes the inward law of God by his Spirit on the hearts of believers,* and


what the Spirit within

Shall on the heart engrave. adise Lost, XII. 523. • The state of religion under the gospel is far differing from what it was under the law; then was the state of rigour, childhood, bondage, and works, to all which force was not unbefilting; now is the state of grace,

leads them as willing followers. Under the law, those who trusted in God were justified by faith indeed, but not without the works of the law ; Rom. iv. 12..the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our Father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.' The gospel, on the contrary, justifies by faith without the works of the law. Wherefore, we being freed from the works of the law, no longer follow the letter, but the spirit; doing the works of faith, not of the law. Neither is it said to us, whatever is not of the law is sin, but, whatever is not of faith is sin ; faith consequently, and not the law, is our rule. It follows, therefore, that as faith cannot be made matter of compulsion, so neither can this works of faith.* See more on this subject in the fifteenth chapter, on Christ's kingly office, and on the inward spiritual law by which he governs the church. . Compare also Book II. chap. i. where the form of good works is considered.

From the abrogation, through the gospel, of the law of servitude, results Christian liberty; though liberty, strictly speaking, is the peculiar fruit of adoption, and consequently was not unknown during the time of the law, as observed in the twenty-third chapter. Inasmuch, however, as it was not possible for our liberty either to be perfected or made fully manifest till the coming of Christ our deliverer, liberty must be considered as belonging in an especial manner to the gospel, and as consorting therewith :* first, because truth is principally known by the gospel,t John i. 17.

manhood, freedom, and faith, to all which belongs willingness and reason, not force : the law was then written on tables of stone, and to be performed according to the letter, willingly or unwillingly; the gospel, our new covenant, upon the heart of every believer, to be interpreted only by the sense of charity and inward persuasion.' Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, III. 335.

* Surely force cannot work persuasion, which is faith ; cannot therefore justify or pacify the conscience : and that which justifies not in the gospel, condemns ; is not only not good, but sinful to do: Rom. xiv. 23. • whatsoever is not of faith, is sin? Ibid. Prose Works, III. 342.

grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,' and truth has an essential connexion with liberty ; viii. 31, 32. "if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.' v. 36. “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. Secondly, because the peculiar gift of the gospel is the Spirit; but where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' 2 Cor. iii. 17.

Christian liberty is that whereby we are loosed as it were by enfranchisement, through Christ our deliverer, from the bondage of sin, and consequently from the rule of the law and of man; to the intent that being made sons instead of servants, and perfect men instead of children, we may serve God in love through the guidance of the Spirit of truth. Gal. v. 1. stand fast, therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free; and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.' Rom. viii. 2. the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.' v. 15. ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have

what will they then
But force the Spirit of grace itself, and bind

His consort Liberty? Paradise Lost, XII. 524. † "In respect of that rerity and freedom which is evangelical, St. Paul comprehends both ends alike, &c.' A Treatise of Civil Power, &c. Prcse Works, IV. 338. VOL. II.


[ocr errors]

received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.' Gal. iv. 7. •wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son. Heb. ii. 15. that he might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.' 1 Cor. vii. 23. 'ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.' James i. 25. “whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein.' ïi. 12. “so speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.'

That we may serve God. Matt. xi. 29, 30. "take my yoke upon you.....for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,' compared with 1 John v. 3–5. this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his comniandments are not grievous.Rom. vi. 18. being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.' v. 22. ‘now being made free: from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness. vii. 6. now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.' xii. 1, 2. present your bodies.....a reasonable service; and be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.' James i. 25. whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 1 Pet. ii. 16. as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Hence we are freed from the yoke of human judgments, much more of civil decrees and

penalties in religious matters. Rom. xiv. 4. “who art thou that judgest another man's servant ? to his own master he standeth or falleth.' v. 8. whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.' Matt. vii. 1. judge not, that ye be not judged. Rom. xiv. 10. “why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother ? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. If we are forbidden to judge (or condemn) our brethren respecting matters of religion or conscience in common discourse, how much more in a court of law, which has confessedly no jurisdiction here; since Paul refers all such matters to the judgment-seat of Christ, not of man? James ii. 12. "so speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty ;' namely, by God, not by fallible men in things appertaining to religion ; wherein if he will judge us according to the law of liberty, why should man prejudge us according to the law of bondage ?

By the guidance of the Spirit of truth in love. Rom. xiv. throughout the whole of the chapter; and chap. xv. 1-15. In these chapters Paul lays down two especial cautions to be observed ; first, that whatever we do in pursuance of this our liberty, we should do it in full assurance of faith, nothing doubting that it is permitted us.* v. 5. let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.' y. 23. whatever is not of faith, is sin.' Secondly, that we should give no just cause of offence to a weak brother, v. 20, 21. for

• In religion whatever we do under the gospel, we ought to be thereof persuaded without scruple ; and are justified by the faith we have, not hy the work we do: Rom. xiv. 5. let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.' A Treatise of Civil Power, &c. Prose Works, III, 341.

« AnteriorContinuar »