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diftin&tly perceive, in thine own make, and Serm.
The improving constantly in our minds
SERM. finally, our religion, built on such prinV. ciples, will be wise and rational ; and
there can be no foundation for any of those superstitious and enthuhastic mixtures, which expose the most excellent and useful thing in the world to contempt and ridicule.
SER M O N VI.
GALAT. V. 13.
unto liberty, only use not liberty
HERE is not a more valu-SERM.
able blessing in human life, VI. t han liberty. Civil liberty is m
the basis of all social happiness; and liberty of conscience the only foundation of a rational religion. When this latter is restrain'd, we are treated rather like brutes than men, i.e. creatures
SERM. endued with moral powers, and acV. countable for their actions : And there
fore’tis one of the chief excellencies of the Christian religion, and very far from the air and spirit of an imposture, that it preserves the rights of conscience facred and inviolable. But because the world is apt to run into extremes, the writers of the New Testament, like persons who had a thorough knowledge of human nature, have taken care in this respect, as well as in all others, to guard against excess and irregularity. Thus St. Paul, in the text, advises the Galatians not to mistake licentioufnefs for Chriftian liberty; or, in other words, not to imagine, that, because they were freed from the expensive, and burthensom obfervances of the Mosaic institution, which are elegantly described as a state of fervitude, they were discharg’d, likewise, from moral obligations, which are an Eternal and immutable law to all rational beings. I intend to consider the subject in a different light, suited to the complection and genius of the present age;
and shall enquire into some of the chief Serm. abuses of free-thinking, by which, it hap- VI. pens, that what is really the peculiar honour, and greatest advantage of our intelligent nature, becomes a reproach to it, and is attended with most injurious consequences. And,
ist. Embracing the principle of liberty has ended, with many, in infidelity, or a disbelief of all religion. 'Tis most evident, that infidelity never more abounded than in this age of free-enquiry; and that those who are most loose in their sentiments with respect to the obliga=' tions of religion in general, and of Christianity in particular, are, in profefsion at least, enemies to bigotry and implicit faith: Nay, it may be allowed farther, that 'tis likely they would never have gone such a length as to throw off all religion, if they had continued in a blind attachment to the principles of their education, and to established and popular opinions.---Whence now can this arise ? We who believe that re. ligion, in all the parts of it, is strictly