AT nos non Imperium neque Divitia, petimus; quarum Rerum Causa, Bella atque Certam. [...]a inter Mortales sunt; sed LIBERTATEM, quam N [...]o bo­nus, nisi cum Anima simul, amittat. SA [...]L.


[Page 3]



LIBERTY is an inestimable treasure; the delight and passion of mankind. It is the source of almost all human felicity; the parent of virtue, pleasure, plenty and se­curity: And the love of it is an appetite so strongly implanted in the nature and consti­tution of all living creatures, that even the principle of self-preservation, which is allow­ed to be the strongest, seems to be contained in it; since by means of Liberty, they enjoy the means of preserving themselves, and of satisfying their desires in the manner which they choose and like best. Hence many ani­mals can never be tamed, but feel the bit­terness [Page 4] of restraint in the midst of the kindest usage; and often grieve and starve themselves to death.

By Liberty in general, I understand the Right every man has to pursue the natural, reasonable and religious dictates of his own mind; to enjoy the fruits of his own labour, art and industry; to work for his own profit and pleasure, and not for others, who live in idleness, and would riot in luxury, rapine and oppression. In short, liberty is to live upon one's own terms; and whenever this is lost or invaded, labour and industry will in­evitably languish; life grows precarious, al­ways miserable, and oftentimes intolerable. Slavery, on the other hand, is to live at the mere mercy and caprice of another; and a life of slavery must be a continual state of uncertainty and wretchedness; often an ap­prehension of violence; often the lingering dread of a premature death; and hence in most heroick souls, the love of liberty is su­periour to the love of life.

How many have forsaken the tenderest connections, and fled to the barbarous or so­litary wilderness, to enjoy the blessings of li­berty, and a good conscience? How many have rushed into precipitate death, as a remedy for the loss of it? What convulsions have shook the world from nations struggling under vio­lence [Page 5] and oppression? How many haughty tyrants have felt their vindictive rage? How many princes have brought sudden vengeance upon themselves and posterity by their unjust usurpations? Never was a nation so degene­rate or regardless of their rights, as tamely to suffer the loss of natural liberty and the exer­cise of unlimited power. People must be de­ceived and frightened before they will be­come slaves. And thus, by the engines of vi­olence and delusion, have wicked and ambiti­ous men extinguished liberty in almost every country except Great-Britain and her Ame­rican colonies. And here too, by the same fatal means, it must presently expire, unless a sovereign remedy be suddenly applied: The symptoms are many and dangerous, and its groans are continually ecchoing from shore to shore.

What have not Americans done to prevent this sad catastrophe? When parliamentary pre­rogative and ministerial caprice first began to extend their formidable arm and crush the tender plant of LIBERTY; how were its jealous SONS alarmed, and unanimous re­solved to defend their favourite TREE? Fired with an unquenchable love for their country, and the British constitution, they wrote with all the energy and enthusiasm of Greek or Roman orators. They painted li­berty in the most attractive charms, adorned [Page 6] with the pleasant fruits of peace, plenty, science, virtue and happiness; and slavery in its native horrour and deformity, black with ignorance, wickedness and misery. They as­serted their inherent right to all the privileges of Englishmen; they gave sufficient testi­monies of their loyalty and affection; they re­monstrated with a zeal becoming patriots; and they petitioned with the dutiful submission of humble dependants. And what is the e­vent? What is the result of all these ani­mated endeavours? Why, instead of obtain­ing immediate redress, which they had reason to expect upon the principle of right, they were threatened by administration; charged with unwarrantable combinations,, and with be­ing in a state of violence and opposition to legal authority; their memorials were passed by in silence, and neglected, whilst their mali­cious enemies were caressed and heard with applause.

As the last effort of a virtuous and op­pressed people; they have lately framed and entered into Resolutions of industry, frugality and oeconomy, hereby intending to defeat the Acts of the British legislature; to distress the merchants and manufacturers in England, and thus interest them in our favour. A measure of this nature unanimously adopted, and vi­gourously prosecuted seems the most probable means left in their power for obtaining re­dress [Page 7] of grievances, and a restitution of their invaluable rights and privileges. May di­vine providence smile upon their attempts and grant the desired success!

The nature and design of these resolutions you cannot be ignorant of. They are neces­ary, practicable, and judiciously calculated to promote the end in view. I doubt not, the generality of you have signed them, evi­dencing at once a sincere affection for your country, and a genuine love of liberty. You have given demonstration of your magnani­mity, and your abhorrence of oppression and arbitrary power. You detest the black thoughts of slavery, or of betraying your rights by an indolent or timid behaviour. This encourages me humbly to propose to you, and I hope you will shew an equal spirit and alacrity in this case, to enter into Resolu­tions for securing another kind of liberty; a LIBERTY as much excelling the former as the Soul is more excellent than the Body; a LIBERTY which shall exalt you to the pri­vileges and immunities of the sons of God; for in the emphatical language of our text, "If the son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

You confess that a future state is of infi­nitely greater importance than the present, and that temporal things cannot come into [Page 8] competition with things eternal and everlast­ing; you acknowledge that there will be a solemn day of retribution, when the righteous and the wicked shall be eternally rewarded and punished, by him who is appointed the sovereign judge of quick and dead; you know from constant experience, that this is but a transient and evanescent scene, and that the fashion of this world very soon passeth away. Can you therefore make earthly temporal things the sole objects of your attention and pursuit, and neglect the endless joys of hea­ven, and immortal glory? Can you be alarm­ed at every innovation and encroachment up­on your civil liberty, and at the same time sink into spiritual and perpetual bondage to the worst of tyrants? Well might the earth wonder and the heavens be astonished at your folly. Surely if you know what it is to be reasonable creatures, you will not hesitate a moment to enter into steady, permanent and inviolable resolutions for obtaining such a per­fect liberty, and becoming the free and hap­py subjects of the Prince of peace.

To assist you in this important matter, I shall endeavour to explain to you the connec­tion and relative meaning of the text, "If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed;" and then consider some of the essential properties of that freedom which a­lone is perfective of your natures, and to [Page 9] which I would urge you earnestly to aspire. And may God vouchsafe his almighty bles­sing, and grant us the glorious liberty of his children, "that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life." Luke i. 74, 75.

I. We are to take a view of the connection and relative meaning of the text.

In this chapter we have an account of di­vers remarkable conferences our Saviour had with the unbelieving Jews, who daily sought occasion against him, and made every thing he said a matter of controversy and cavil. However he had a remnant, according to the election of grace, who believed on his name, and were his constant and faithful followers. In one of those discourses therefore, after having denounced death and final misery a­gainst the impenitent Jews, he addresses him­self to those Christians who believed on him, and tells them, "if you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." I exhort you to make it appear to the world that ye are my disciples, by a holy and ex­emplary conversation; by adhering imparti­ally to my word, and the faith of the Gospel; and for your encouragement, ye shall enjoy the privileges of all my sincere and humble [Page 10] followers, ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

The Pharisees, who were present at this Conference, thinking themselves egregiously affronted by the charter of liberty granted to believers, were much exasperated at this say­ing, and with equal pride and indignation replied, "we be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man, how sayest thou, ye shall be made free?" We are of no slavish extraction; our pedigree is noble and virtuous; we are descended from that il­lustrious father of the faithful, who was in special covenant with God; and by that means we are free-born, or at least possess privileges quite incompatible with a state of slavery; yea, "we never were in bondage to any man;" therefore to talk of our being made free is perfect mockery and insult.

Jesus, who bore the contradiction of sin­ners against himself, did not chuse to dispute the truth of their insinuations, though he might with a great [...] justice and pro­priety. For how long did the seed of Abra­ham groan under the heavy yoke of Egyptian bondage? How often were they brought in subjection to the neighbouring nations in the time of the Judges? They were seventy years in a Babylonish captivity; and at this very juncture were lying under a national bondage [Page 11] being tributaries to the Romans, and impa­tiently looking for the Messiah, who, accord­ing to their crooked apprehensions, would be a great temporal monarch, and would restore the kingdom to Israel. But if Christ had introduced a dispute with the Jews, at present, concerning their civil liberty, it would have been intirely foreign to his subject; for he was speaking before of a liberty where-with the truth should make them free, which must undoubtedly be understood of a spiritual freedom. Therefore, without upbraiding them with their fallacy, he proceeded to ex­plain the doctrine more fully, and answered them, "verily, verily, I say unto you, who­soever committeth sin is the servant of sin." He that maketh provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof; he that yieldeth his members instruments of unrighteousness un­to sin; he that complies with all the sinful tendencies of corrupt nature, without any reluctance; is emphatically a slave; he hath sold himself to work wickedness; and there­fore can have no pretence to liberty, whatever boast he may make of his parentage, or li­beral extraction.

This is a truth of universal concern. It is not limited to the Jewish nation, or to the Pharisees of old, but is co-extensive with the whole human race, "that whosoever com­mitted sin is the servant of sin." He is in [Page 12] captivity to the Prince of this world. Though he never were in bondage to any man, yet he is in bondage to his own corruption. "Know ye not, (faith the apostle) that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whe­ther of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Rom. vi. 16.

Now that all men are naturally the ser­vants of sin is an undeniable proposition. All are naturally in the gall of bitterness, and the bonds of iniquity. Hence proceeds that in­difference about heaven and eternal things which characterizes the present age; that a­version to the pleasures of holiness and be­nevolence which universally prevails; and that deluge of iniquity which has overspread the world with such an uncontrouled predo­minance. This, my brethren, is your own con­dition. Though you enjoy all the external rights of freemen and British subjects, which is a doubtful case at present, yet you are na­turally in spiritual bondage; slaves to cor­ruption; and to be insensible of it is a more shocking symptom of degeneracy, and that every heroick and generous principle is ex­tinguished in your minds.

Would you now aspire after liberty and happiness? Would you escape from a wretch­ed captivity unto sin? Would you become [Page 13] free citizens of the new Jerusalem? Then you must determine to enter into steady, per­manent and sacred resolutions to oppose the motions of sin in your members, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in the world. You must offer up humble and fervent peti­tions to the throne of grace for relief. The Majesty of Heaven will not be deaf to your complaints; "behold the Lord's hand is not shortened, that he cannot save; neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear." But your pe­titions must be presented through Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. He is the believers agent in the celestial court. He is able to save to the uttermost, all that will come unto God through him. And then "if the son shall make you free; ye shall be free indeed."

I have now explained the connections and relative meaning of the text; I proceed there­fore,

II. To consider some of the essential pro­perties of that freedom which alone is per­fective of your natures, and to which I would urge you earnestly to aspire.

1. It is a liberty that frees all believers from the guilt of sin and the condemning sentence of the law. The law required per­fect and universal obedience in heart and life [Page 14] under pain of a most tremendous curse; "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." It prohibited the minutest failure, and admitted of no repent­ance. The smallest transgression rendered the soul obnoxious to death and endless tor­ment. God's immaculate holiness obliged him to annex threatenings of the most ex­quisite misery to the breach of his law; and his unchangeable veracity makes him exe­cute them; else few would reverence his au­thority, and his government would be ex­posed to perpetual insult and violation.

Now all men, being by nature the children of wrath and disobedience, lie exposed to the penalty of a broken law. We are transgres­sours from the womb; "and there is none righteous, no not one." Every person that reflects upon his own moral conduct, and compares it with the extent and purity of the divine commandment, will find just cause to lament with the prophet Isaiah, "Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips." And woe unutterable shall be the certain portion of all unbelievers, who live and die under the en­slaving power of sin; "they shall be cast in­to outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth." But believers in Christ are already freed from the condem­ning sentence of the law, and delivered from [Page 15] the guilt of sin whereby, they were bound over to the awful terrours of death and a fu­ture judgment. "Christ hath redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them; therefore being justified by faith, they have pardon and peace with God."

Believers indeed are not freed from a con­scientious regard to the duties of the moral law. They are freed from it as a covenant for justification, but not as a rule for their direction and practice. This is the measure of their conduct both in private and in social life. Hence the precepts of the law are still urged under the gospel, to enforce the duties of the Christian religion. But yet it is certain, "that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." He hath blotted out the hand writing of ordinances, which threatened their eternal ruin; he hath canceled the obligation to punishment, and having spoiled principalities all powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them. O GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF BELIEVERS! "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justisieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Romans viii. 33. 34.

[Page 16] 2. Another essential property of this li­berty of the gospel is, that it frees all be­lievers from the reigning power and domi­nion of sin; what an abject and intolerable slavery is the service of divers lusts? How sad and deplorable is their condition, who follow the dictates of a hard heart and a de­praved conscience. Subjection to the most despotick prince on earth cannot exceed it. On the contrary, how secure and happy is the estate of those who are renewed and sanc­tified by the operations of the blessed spirit! Their bondage is at an end. and their obe­dience is perfect freedom. "For the law of the spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus hath made them free from the law of sin and death." Romans viii. 2.

'Tis true, perfection is not attainable in this life. None enjoy an absolute freedom from corruption; the best of Christians feel and lament the workings of indwelling sin; they find a law in their members warring a­gainst the law of their mind, and bringing them into captivity. Corruptions, like the Canaanites, are still left in the land, to be thorns in our eyes, and goads in our sides. Often too they prevail against the believer, and bring him into captivity and spiritual bondage; so that he cries out with the apostle [Page 17] "O wretched man that I am, who shall de­liver me from the body of this death!"

But it is also true, that sin shall not have perpetual dominion over them, "for they are not under the law, but under grace." Their evil affections are crucified with Christ, and the body of sin dieth in them daily; they are gradually gaining a more compleat victo­ry over their corruptions; and advancing by degrees to that region of perfect freedom and never-ending felicity which is beyond the grave.

3. Believers by the liberty of the gospel are delivered from the controul and authori­ty of Satan. I mean not that they are freed from the assaults and temptations of our ma­lignant adversary. The devil and his infer­nal ministers, under whose administration they were by nature, are continually imposing taxes and exacting a revenue from the children of God, and exerting every malicious scheme to bring them into their former state of ser­vitude and subjection. Hence we are said to wrestle not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers; with the rulers of the darkness of this world; with spiritual wickedness in high places. Our blessed Saviour himself conflicted with the vi­olent temptations of Satan; and Job, He­man [Page 18] and David, have left on record, doleful complaints on this account.

But as Christ foiled the devil in every as­sault and led captivity captive; "so believers are made more than conquerours by the pow­er of his might." Being purchased not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Redeemer, they pay him the voluntary tribute of gratitude and praise for his infinite condescension and un­merited blessings; and bear their strongest testimony against paying any duties to that evil spirit which ruleth in the children of disobedience.

4. Believers, by the liberty of the gospel are delivered from the slavish fears and ter­rours of death. The Christian is subject to the same calamities of life, and to the same laws of mortality with the infidel world; but not to the same dire and gloomy appre­hensions of futurity. When the sinner ap­proaches near the borders of the invisible world, and yields to grave and serious re­flections, then he knows and feels himself to be, what he actually is, a wretch, a self-ac­cused, self condemned criminal, presaging in his conscience, that witness within him, his condemnation at a higher tribunal. But a sincere Christian's reason and conscience are his friends and advocates. His rejoicing is [Page 19] the testimony of a good conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, he has had his conversation in the world. Hence he hath confidence towards God; and when the time of his dissolution comes, he can say in triumph, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, who giveth me thy victory, through Jesus Christ." I . Cor. xv. 55, 57.

Upon the whole, the liberty derived from the truth of the gospel, is glorious, and its privileges extensive; it frees us from the yoke of the ceremonial law, and from the more grievous burdens of the tradition of the elders; it frees us from false prejudices and mistakes; from the dominion of lust and passion; and restores the soul to a reli­gious self-government, and to the rational life of a Christian; it enlarges the mind with spiritual knowlege; elevates it above the objects of time and sense; and makes it an heir of glory and immortality; it brings e­very thought unto the obedience of Christ; nor does the soul ever act with greater liberty than when it acts under a divine command. The enemies of Christianity pretend to free-thinking, whereas those are the freest reason­ings that are guided by faith; those are the men of freest thought, whose thoughts are captivated and brought unto obedience to Christ.

[Page 20] You have now heard explained, though in a very cursory and imperfect manner, the essential nature of that freedom, which Christ, the eternal Son, grants to all those who em­brace the truth of his gospel, and continue stedfastly in his word. You have also heard, that the whole world lieth in wickedness, by nature exposed to the curse of a broken law, and in miserable captivity to the prince of this world. A little candid reflection, and self-examination will convince you that this is the case. Arise then, my brethren, and lash up your resentment; view the LI­BERTY, the transporting LIBERTY of the SONS OF GOD! View the fulness of joy and immortal pleasures that are before you! These shall attend as rewards of your success. Ignominy, disgrace, slavery and endless tor­ment should enflame you more than all the harangues in the world.

Consider the wiles and stratagems of your common enemy. "He is continually going about seeking whom he may devour." He is striving to deprive you of your heavenly inheritance, and to involve you in common misery and destruction. Now when your friend or neighbour injures you in your tem­poral pursuits, or defrauds you of some ex­pected good, your revenge immediately rises! When administration makes an illegal attack [Page 21] upon your civil liberty, your resentment is presently roused, and every means exerted to frustrate their designs! Surely it becomes you much more to be jealous of your spi­ritual liberty; to oppose the avowed enemy of God and man, and endeavour to disap­point his wicked machinations.

Consider at what prodigious expence this freedom was procured; when thousands of rams, and ten thousand rivers of oil were in­sufficient to purchase it, the blessed Jesus "gave himself a ransom for us." He who was the brightness of his father's glory, and the express image of the invisible God, dis­robed himself of his magnificence; assumed the humble garment of poverty and con­tempt; and suffered the rude insults of a wicked world, and even the agonies of death itself, for our redemption Can you there­fore neglect a treasure of such immense va­lue? Can you forget your almighty bene­factour and advocate, whilst you honour and applaud every common patriot that has di­stinguished himself in the cause of your coun­try? Then every noble principle is eradicated out of your minds, and you are capable of venturing upon any form of ingratitude and baseness.

Consider your own eternal felicity is at stake; this you cannot be altogether indif­ferent [Page 22] about; it is of more importance to you than kingdoms and empires; "For what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his soul?" This consideration should awaken every one to vigourous endea­vous after that grace and sanctification, which alone can release him from the bondage of corruption, and constitute him an heir of a blessed immortality. You mutually run in­to measures of oeconomy, frugality and industry, in order to defeat the acts of parliament, and promote a general repeal; much more should you adopt another kind of oeconomy and industry, as absolutely necessary in order to defeat the empire of sin in your souls, and to promote your own salvation.

LASTLY, Consider the welfare and happi­ness of succeeding generations. A regard for posterity is a considerable argument in the present contest for liberty. You want to transmit inviolate to the latest posterity the rights and privileges of that happy constitu­tion you have derived from your ancestours: an honest and laudable ambition! But sure­ly a favour of religion and christian liberty is equally worthy to be transmitted to posterity. You cannot convey them a better inheritance. God visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth gene­ration of them that hate him; but shews mer­cy [Page 23] unto thousands of them that love him and keep his commandments.

From these and the like considerations, which are highly proper and rational, I hope you will not delay to enter into holy and in­violable resolutions, for obtaining this glori­ous and exalted freedom, which shall make you happy amidst all the storms and tempests of this mortal scene, and heirs of a kingdom that shall never end, where you shall sing hallelujahs and songs of salvation to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb that was slain, for ever and ever. AMEN.


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