This instance may, I think, encourage us to hope for divine assistance, whenever we are by the providence of God called to undertake services for which we may seem too unequal. It is this hope (that) emboldens me now to appear in this place and it is also hoped that the present attempt, undertaken in obedience to authority, may be favorably accepted, or at least excused.
On this occasion, it will not, I presume, be expected, or desired, that I should attempt to go beyond my own line, or affect to discourse as a connoisseur in politics; but that I assist as a CHRISTIAN MINISTER at the solemn acts of religious worship which are this day publicly offered by a CHRISTIAN STATE to the supreme King of nations, whose ordinance civil government is; from whom all the authority of rulers and all the rights of subjects are originally derived; to whom the mutual duties of all orders of men are to be ultimately referred; and by whose blessing alone, communities, as well as individuals, can be happy.
The knowledge of ourselves is confessedly a capital and fundamental point of true wisdom, “The proper knowledge of mankind is man.” And of this there is no branch which more deserves the attention of every one, than to understand our duty on the one hand, and our rights and privileges on the other. For want of clear and just apprehensions of these things, some have been ready to imagine that there is a kind of opposition between duty and right; or in other words, that the bonds of duty are a restraint and abridgment of liberty; and that liberty is a license to do whatever we please. – Hence different men have inclined to different extremes. Some by urging the obligations of duty in such a manner as tends to beget and cherish a spirit of bondage, and by laying heavy burdens on the consciences of men in things where God has left them free, have entrenched on the rights and liberties of mankind. Others, in their unguarded zeal for liberty, have relaxed the bonds of duty, and have given and taken too much encouragement to licentiousness, “using liberty for an occasion to the flesh.”
But our duties, and our rights or privileges, if rightly stated, are so far from interfering, or being inconsistent, that they mutually infer, establish, and support each other.
The apostle, in the words now read, appears to have had both the mentioned extremes distinctly in his view. As there were some who, by endeavouring to impose the observance of the abrogated ordinances of the Jewish law, encroached on the rights and liberty of Christians, St. Paul asserts these their rights, reminds his Christian brethren that Christ had made them free, and exhorts them to stand fast in their liberty to which they were called, and not be entangled with a yoke of bondage. At the same time he cautions them against the opposite extreme, of abusing liberty for an occasion to the flesh or of indulging themselves in a carnal licentious life; and then directs them “by love to serve one another,” and not think such mutual subjection to be any way unsuitable the honor they were called to, of being the Lord’s free men.
But whatever may be the special occasion of the words, and however we may expound them in reference to that occasion, we may, I think; be allowed to consider them as applicable to all those liberties which belong to us either as men; or as citizens, or as Christians. GOD has called us to liberty in all these different respects; and the gospel furnishes us with a good warrant to assert and claim these our rights. And though the main design of the sacred writers be to instruct us in the great concernments of our eternal salvation; yet they have also given us to understand, that liberty, in a more general sense; is our undefeatable right. Christianity is indeed alike favorable to the liberty of subjects, and the rightful authority of rulers; and is the best security and support of both in their proper consistency with each other. And we are more beholden to the oracles of GOD than to the schools of philosophy, for just and generous notions of the rights of mankind. – A christian, besides his peculiar spiritual privileges, holds his natural and civil liberty by a stronger handle than any other, and can maintain it to better advantage. He has by the gospel, a new covenant right to the common privileges of humanity, as well as to those special ones he is entitled to as a child and heir of GOD. That state of liberty to which he is called, and which he is authorized to claim and maintain, comprehends those natural and civil rights which belong to him as a man, or as a member of the commonwealth, as well as those special privileges which appertain to him as a subject of the kingdom of heaven. If I should therefore take occasion to offer some considerations on LIBERTY in this general view, the argument would, I conceive, be not foreign to my text, nor unsuitable to the present solemnity, nor unworthy of the attention of this grave and respectable audience.
Here are three points which require to be distinctly considered, as the time will allow and I shall take them in the same order in which they lie before us in our text:
First, That GOD has called us to liberty.
Secondly, Liberty ought not to be used for an occasion to the flesh, or a pretence for carnal and licentious indulgencies.
Thirdly, It is our duty, and no infringement of our rights and privileges, to serve one another in love.
First. GOD hath called us to liberty.
It is his declared will that mankind should be free. The cause of liberty is the cause of GOD, which he approves, favors, and befriends. The law and light of nature make it evident that liberty is the right of all mankind. But the scriptures make it yet more evident that the people of GOD, the subjects of his heavenly kingdom, are entitled to, and invested with, this invaluable privilege, of which they have in the gospel an authentic charter, ratified, sealed, and sworn by GOD himself.
But it seems necessary that we here examine what we are to understand by that LIBERTY which we claim as our right, by virtue of Divine grant. For though we are generally forward to profess ourselves to be its friends and advocates, and the love of it is said to be natural to us; yet there are many who do not well understand what they say, or whereof they affirm, in their flourishes on this subject. Indeed, if the matter be duly considered, we shall have reason to think that none but persons of real virtue are heartily friendly to true liberty, or desire the enjoyment of it either for themselves or others, whatever flattering encomiums they may bestow upon it.
When we speak of liberty as our right or privilege, we must be supposed to mean something valuable, dignifying, and desirable; something which our nature and state are capable of; something which is consistent with our moral agency, and our being under the obligations of law, and duty to our maker and our fellow creatures.
Hence it follows clearly, that human liberty cannot consist in lawless licentiousness, or in being independent, and not subject to any authority; or in being allowed to invade the rights of others; to act unreasonably, and make ourselves and our fellow creatures miserable. Far be it from any of us to imagine that the state of liberty, to which God has called us, dissolves the bands of our duty, or confounds the essential differences of right and wrong: or to conceive that an exemption from the obligations of morality and from subjection to rightful authority, would be any desirable privilege. – A lawless person is the basest, most odious and contemptible creature in the world.
Every man is necessarily subject to the authority of God. This is indeed an argument of our imperfection and dependent state. But we are so far from having any reason to be uneasy at it, that it is matter of joy and glorying to us that the Lord is our king. And his authority over us is so far from depriving us of any desirable liberty, that it is indeed the basis, guard and security of it. We therefore claim it as our right to be free from every yoke of bondage which can justly be accounted any grievance, because we are the servants of God, who allows none to tyrannize or usurp authority over any, and forbids our submitting to such unauthorized claims. And though we are required to be subject to our lawful superiors in families, in church and state, yet God required us to yield this obedience not with a slavish, but a free and liberal spirit – we are to be subject to the higher powers in the Lord, and for the Lord’s sake, whose ordinance they are. And while we obey their lawful commands, it is our right and duty to disown them for our absolute masters. For we are not the servants of men, but of God alone.
If I should attempt a definition or description of liberty in general, considered as a right or privilege claimable by mankind, I would say that it consists in a person’s being allowed to hold, use and enjoy all his faculties, advantages, and rights, according to his own judgment and pleasure, in such ways as are consistent with the rights of others, and the duty we owe to our maker and our fellow creatures. Liberty must never be used but within the bounds of right and duty. God allows us not to hold, use, or enjoy any thing to the injury of any one. A license to do wrong and encroach on the rights of others, is no part of that liberty which God has granted us; nor is it any restraint of our true freedom for us to be restrained by laws from wicked, unreasonable and injurious actions.
But that we may understand more distinctly the nature and extent of our liberty under the government of God, we may consider ourselves in three different states – First, As individual persons in what is called the state of nature, that is previous to such confederation as forms a civil community, -- Secondly, As united and incorporated into a political society. – Thirdly, As members of the church of God. – Answerable to these several states or capacities, we may consider that liberty which we claim as our right as coming under a threefold distinction and denomination; supposing any one to be in a state of nature, he has then a right to NATURAL LIBERTY: if we consider him as a member of a civil body, he has a right to CIVIL LIBERTY, and if a member of the Christian church, he is entitled to CHRISTIAN LIBERTY.
NATURAL LIBERTY does not consist in an exemption from the obligations of morality, and the duties of truth, righteousness and kindness to our fellow men; nor does it give any one a right to seize by force or fraud whatever he may have a mind for, how much soever it may be to the damage of others; as some have most absurdly taught. The obligation of the law of God, which we are all under, and which requires us to love our neighbour, and do as we would be done unto, does not take its force from human compacts. Our natural rights are bounded and determined by the law of nature, which binds us to be subject to the will and authority of God, to love and worship him; to be just and benevolent to our fellow creatures, doing them all the good in our power, and offering no injury or abuse to any one. It is therefore no violation of our natural liberty and rights for us not to be allowed to do wrong, and to be restrained by force and punishment, from invading the right and property of others.
But in a state of natural liberty, every one has a right to be exempt from subjection to the authority of any man. There is also a right to think, speak, and act freely, without compulsion or restraint; and to use our faculties and property as we please, provided that none are thereby injured, nor the obligations of morality infringed. Liberty of conscience is also the natural and unalienable right of every one: A right of which no man can be justly deprived; which can never be forfeited, never given up to any one upon earth. Our Supreme Lord allows us not to subject our consciences to the authority of any but himself alone. If therefore any one should consent to give up this previous branch of liberty, and acknowledge any man as the Lord of his conscience, such an unwarrantable act would be null and void. – In a state of natural liberty, men have also a right to form such associations with others, and enter into such confederations, and submit to such laws and constitutions, as shall be for the general good. In other words, they have a right to form into a civil society, and authorize fit persons to exercise the powers of government necessary to effectuate the good ends for which the social union is formed.
But it is to be carefully remembered, that no man has ever any rightful liberty to consent to any constitution or compact inconsistent with his own safety and welfare, and that of his fellow men; for instance, to authorize any to govern unrighteously and oppressively, -- The establishing of a pernicious tyranny is a great injury to mankind, and so is beyond the limits of our natural rights. No human laws or covenants can give any authority or validity to an act which God disallows: and if any people have been so imprudent and blamable as to consent to and put themselves under a tyrannical government, they are so far from being bound in honor or conscience to support it, that it is their duty to overthrow and abolish it as soon as they can. – As individual persons in a state of natural liberty have no right or leave from God to make themselves miserable, or to injure and oppress others; so they have no right or leave to join and concur with others in any measures inconsistent with the interest of mankind. – And as no society has a right to oppress any of its members, it cannot convey to any one a rightful authority to oppress. All tyrannical government is therefore an unauthorized invasion of the rights of mankind, and no obedience is due to it.
A just apprehension of our natural rights is very useful and necessary in order to our conceiving aright the nature and extent of CIVIL LIBERTY, which is next to come under our consideration. And we are now to view mankind as united together in political societies or states, that so the united wisdom and strength of a community may be employed to advantage for the good of the whole, and of the several individual members, in a consistency with the public interest.
That the human species were formed and designed for civil union, appears from the rational faculties, and social affections which God has given them. It appears also from their moral character, and state, and the need they stand in of mutual assistance, in order that their rights and properties may be better secured, and enjoyed to greater advantage. The state of nature, tho attended with some peculiar privileges, is yet very unsafe; and subject to great and manifold difficulties and disadvantages. Civil polity is evidently for the interest of mankind: and in a well constituted and regulated state, subjection to civil government is no way prejudicial to true liberty. For though some of our natural rights and property are, as it were, put into a common stock, under the management of the community; yet this is supposed to be done by our own free consent, and in the prudent exercise of our natural liberty. And as each one continually receives his share of the vast profits thence accruing to the community, and has his most important rights so secured and improved as to be much more valuable; he is, upon the whole, a great gainer by all the expense he is at for the public service, and enjoys more liberty for the restraints he submits to.
Nay, further: since civil polity is evidently for the good of mankind, and since no individual ought to hold his natural right of independence, if it stands in opposition to the general interest – it would seem that men’s entering into civil society was a matter of duty as well as right, and that they may be justly compelled to it, when the general interest so requires.
Now, in every civil body there must be a governing authority and power, to be exercised on the behalf of the community, over the several members—ordering matters of common concernment for the good of the whole: and the rightful authority of those who are entrusted with powers of government, is the ordinance of God. They are not only the trustees of the state, but the minister of GOD, who ratifies their commission, requiring every soul to be subject to them, and not resist them on their peril, in the due exercise of their authority.
From the brief account here given of a state of civil polity, it is plain that civil liberty divides into two branches, which will require some distinct notice. It includes the freedom of the state considered as a system or collective body. It includes also the freedom of the several parts or members of which the community is composed.
The former branch of civil liberty is possessed by a people, when they hold and are allowed freely to exercise the rights, powers, and prerogatives of Free And Independent States. These are much the same with those of an individual in the state of natural liberty and independence; of which we have given some account; and are alike limited by the law of nature and of GOD, who is the sovereign of nations as well as particular persons. But it is to be observed, that free states have also right to rule their own members: whereas individuals have no natural right which properly answers to this.
Notwithstanding what has been so boldly presented by some, of the transcendent authority, and omnipotency of the supreme civil power, and of those who are entrusted with the administration of government, it is plain that the whole authority of a state over its members is limited. The liberty and authority of a free commonwealth to enact and execute laws and ordinances for the public good, must be always understood with this limitation, viz.—that the sacred rules of righteousness are not to be violated at any rate. The liberty and sovereignty of a state implies no right or authority to serve its own interest by unjust or immoral measures; even though such measures should be thought for the public advantage. It has no rightful liberty, under any such pretence, to violate the laws of GOD, or the rights of any of its members, to oppress or injure any of its neighbors, or falsify the public faith. The common maxim, “that the safety and welfare of the people is the supreme law,” how much soever it has been applauded, is, therefore, unfounded morality, unless it be understood and applied in an invariable agreement with that divine rule, “that evil is not to be done that good may come.” Every man has his private, unalienable rights, particularly the right of conscience, which he ought to hold and use without restraint or disturbance from any human authority. There can scarce be a worse mistake than to think that the laws of morality must give way to serve any interest, whether public or private; or that all personal rights in the subjects are absolutely at the disposal of the supreme civil power.
This liberty of a state may be violated and abridged several ways. It is to when a foreign authority, to whom the state owes not subjection, claims and exercises a governing and controlling power over it. This is also the case when a part of the state, without right, seizes on the powers of government, or hinders the free exercise of them: or, when those who are entrusted with authority, stretch their prerogatives beyond due bounds, to the enslaving of the people. If the whole authority of a state over its members be limited, as has been shown, much more is the authority of rulers so, who have not the whole authority of the state put into their hands to be used by them as they please, but only so much of it as is judged to be needful to fit them to answer the end of their appointment. The supreme civil authority remains always in the community at large, whose will and order is the supreme law of the state. And they have always a right, when their rulers are evidently unfaithful and unworthy of their trust, to restrain them and revoke their powers. – They have a right to alter and reform their laws when they are found to be pernicious; any law or compact to be contrary notwithstanding. Civil rulers are indeed to be considered as the ordinary representatives of the state, and the laws enacted by them as the will and law of the state, when the contrary does not appear: but surely such laws ought not to stand in force against the manifest will and interest of the community. – For a people to be so enslaved, either to the rulers, or even their own laws, as not to be able to exercise their essential right of sovereignty for their own safety and welfare, is as inconsistent with civil liberty, as if they were enslaved to an army, or to any foreign power. Whatever form of government a people may choose to be under, the supreme civil authority remains always attached to and diffused through the whole body; nor can they give it up without injuring and enslaving themselves, their fellow citizens and their posterity, which they have no natural right to do.
It is therefore a wise provision in our frame of government, that an orderly way is left open, and pointed out, for the state to revise its civil constitution, and make such amendments as may be found necessary. Alterations of this nature, are not, indeed, to be attempted for light reasons, since they are always attended with inconvenience and danger. But when the safety and interest of a people requires that such alterations be made, they have an indefeasible right to make them.
Having thus far considered the first great branch of civil liberty, and then touched a little on the rights of a free state, I will now attend to the other branch, which includes the rights and privileges of the several members of a political body in their individual and personal capacity. – Liberty is the right of every member, as well as of the whole body, or system. And a person may justly be accounted a free citizen, when he is allowed to hold and use his natural rights and faculties, together with the civil privileges proper to his rank in the commonwealth, according to his own judgment and pleasure, in such ways as are consistent with his obligations to the community, and his fellow citizens, and with just and reasonable laws of the state.
The order and interest of a civil society require that there should be different ranks of men, with different civil rights and privileges annexed to them; and subject to different restrictions. Nor is the true liberty of any rank infringed by this subordination, but rather secured, improved and enjoyed by all to better advantage. But though the several ranks in a political system may rise one above another in a long scale of subordination, yet we may conveniently distribute them all into two general classes, viz. Rulers and Subjects. Indeed in a free state the right of authority and the duty of subjection are interwoven, and, as it were, incorporated together through the whole system, so that they are mutually tempered by each other. They who are vested with most authority are yet fellow-subjects with their inferiors, who are governed by them. They are not only alike subject to the law of GOD, but also to the law and authority of the state, whose ministers they are. And the lowest orders of men have a rightful share in that sovereignty or supreme civil power which is lodged in and diffused through the whole community.
As the bounds of civil liberty are determined by just and reasonable civil laws, it is plain that when Rulers are allowed freely to use the power committed to them for the public good, and enjoy the privileges annexed to their rank, they then enjoy that civil liberty which is their right. But when they are overawed and controlled in the exercise of their rightful authority, or are not allowed the privileges they have a right to, their civil liberty is then infringed. But as rulers have no rightful liberty to claim and exercise powers to which they are not entitled by law, or to violate the rules of righteousness, or to oppress the community, or any of its members, by hindering them from holding and using their just rights, their liberty is not infringed in the least, if the state interposes its sovereign authority, when it is necessary to restrain them from effecting unrighteous and pernicious designs; which, whenever they attempt, they act without authority. GOD never gave them authority for any such purpose: the people never meant to do it: they could not do it if they would: they had no such authority to give.
And though Subjects, as such, have not rightful claim to the peculiar civil privileges of rulers, they have yet a right to civil liberty, and to all the privileges of citizens of their rank, unless they have forfeited them by some high misdemeanor. And they may justly be said to enjoy this their right, when they are allowed the free use of their natural unalienable rights, the most important of which are, the rights of conscience; and also to speak and act, to use and dispose of their property, to hold and enjoy every rightful privilege, without disturbance or control, in such ways as are not injurious to any, or contrary to the reasonable laws of that civil body of which they are members. And though such laws as lay the subject under needless and burdensome restraints may justly be accounted an abridgment of liberty, yet no one has any reason to complain that he is denied the liberty of a free citizen, when he is restrained by human laws and penalties, from vice and immorality, and obliged to yield due obedience to civil authority, and observe such ordinances, and pay such taxes, as are necessary for the support of government, and to maintain the order, peace and welfare of the commonwealth.
Natural and civil liberty is the right of every man and member of a civil community. But there is yet another branch which belongs peculiarly to Christians, and which we may therefore fitly term, CHRISTIAN LIBERTY.
The gospel does not curtail any of our natural rights, or civil privileges, but allows and acknowledges them, and ratifies the right which Christians in common with others have to the enjoyment of them. But the new covenant contains a grant of special privileges; and those of the highest importance. It calls us to, and invests us with the “glorious liberty of the children of God.” The apostle seems to have had the peculiar privileges of Christians most directly in his view, when he said in our text, “Brethren ye have been called to liberty.” It seems therefore but fit that some distinct notice should be taken of these, though the time and present occasion will not allow of enlargement.
The liberty we are called to as Christians, does not in any measure relax the obligation we are under to be subject to the authority and laws of GOD, and also to submit ourselves to those who, under him, have rightful authority, whether economical, political, or ecclesiastical. But the gospel calls us to liberty from the bonds of guilt, the condemning power and curse of the divine law, and from the obligations to punishment which sin had laid us under, which is a most miserable bondage. We are also called to liberty from a slavish subjection to the power of sin, and of Satan the God of this world, who rules in the children of disobedience, and leads them captive at his will; than which what slavery can be more wretched, abject and ignominious? We are called also to liberty from a slavish spirit in the service of GOD, and of one another; so that a Christian is not driven on in the way of his duty against his inclination, but acts with a cheerful, free, and ingenuous spirit, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” We are also discharged from subjection to any master or dictator on earth, in matters of faith and worship; and are to acknowledge no lawgiver to the church but Christ alone. We have liberty to use the ordinance instituted by Christ for the edification of his church, and to have communion with him, and his saints in them, and that without any human inventions, or unscriptural terms of communion imposed on us. Finally, we may think, and speak, and act, and use our spiritual privileges with all freedom, according to measures of wisdom and grace given to us; nor may any human authority forbid or restrain us from it.
I have taken the freedom to enlarge a little in opening the nature and stating the extent and proper bounds of Natural, Civil, and Christian Liberty; because the right understanding hereof might, I conceive, be of great use to us: and at this day in particular, it may seem to be a matter which needs to be considered with some special attention. In the next place, I am to show “that we have been called to liberty.” It belongs to us by virtue of divine grant – we claim it as our Right; and, blessed be GOD, we hold and enjoy it as our Inheritance. The expression “ye have been called to liberty,” may be taken both ways, and may signify either that GOD has given us a right to liberty, or that he has given the possession and use of this right. In the former sense he calls us to liberty, by declaring to us that it is his will that we be free, and requiring us to assert and maintain our right. In the latter sense, he calls us to liberty, when he gives us the possession of it, and breaks those yokes of bondage which had been imposed upon us.
That God has called to the Right of liberty; that he allows us to claim and maintain it, against all who would bring us into bondage; that he favors the glorious cause, and would have us stand up for it; is evident from the light of nature, and from the oracles of divine revelation.
The light of our own Reason and Conscience, that “candle of the Lord” which he hath put within us, makes it plain that we have a right to be free. There is no need of long and subtle trains of reasoning in the case. We appeal to the moral sense, the inward feelings and resentments of every honest heart. Can it be right that men, made in the image of God should be slaves? That fellow servants of the same Lord should usurp and tyrannize over one another? Are not the pretense urged to justify such usurpation so weak, so pitiful, so unfair, that it is a painful exercise of patience to a man of reason and virtue, and generous feelings, to have his understanding and heart affronted, and harrowed with them? It is true, the interests of society require subordination: but this deprives none of liberty, but helps all to enjoy it better. In short, if equity, requires us to do to others as we would that they should do to us; if the plainest and surest dictates of our reason are to be believed; if the law of nature be of force, then liberty is our right; and consequently it is the will of God that we be free. Nor is it easy to determine, whether the injustice of those who would put a yoke of bondage on their brethren, or the meanness of those who would tamely stoop to take it on, be the greater reproach to human nature.
If we now turn our eye to the oracles of Divine Revelation, we shall find clear and manifold evidence that God approves and favors the cause of liberty, and that tyranny is most offensive to him – This appears in his delivering the Israelites from a state of miserable bondage, and punishing their oppressors with a mighty hand, and stretched out arm. It appears in the laws and form of government he gave them whereby liberty and property were secured to every one. It appears in the awful threatenings denounced by the prophets against the enslavers and oppressors of mankind; and which have been terribly executed. It appears in the whole strain, spirit, and tendency of the doctrine and religion taught and inculcated throughout the scriptures; which is to promote the practice of goodness, righteousness and truth, with all other divine and social virtues; and to dissuade men from all acts of injustice or unkindness, whereby the rights or liberties of any might be violated. It appears further, from express directions and exhortations to Christians, that they stand fast in their liberty, and be not entangled with a yoke of bondage; nor be the servants of men; or call any man master upon earth; nor exercise lordly dominion over one another. Finally, it appears from the example of Christ, and the apostles, prophets, and holy men, whose characters and conduct are recorded for our imitation; who spoke and acted with the most ingenuous freedom, and most reverse to a base servile spirit. These hints might be copiously illustrated from the scriptures, which might be both instructive and entertaining. But I must wave it.—
But this call to liberty, which we are now considering, may be understood to import God’s giving us the Actual Possession of, as well as a Right to this invaluable privilege. And here this divine goodness deserves our grateful notice, that, through the kind and wonderful disposals of providence, mankind enjoy so much liberty. For though it is melancholy truth that there is much tyranny and oppression in the world, and all are more or less entangled with yokes of bondage in some kind; and are not so free as they ought to be; yet it must also be acknowledged, that as every degree of liberty which men enjoy, is the gift of God, so there are none but have a share of this sweet blessing; and indeed the greater part enjoy considerable degrees of it.—Notwithstanding the despotic claims of tyrants, we see that their pernicious and oppressive power is restrained by God in ways innumerable. These fierce beasts are chained, their horns are shortened, their mouths muzzled, and they are diverted from their purposes. By this means men often enjoy no small share of liberty, even under those forms of government which are most unfriendly to it.
It is, however, to be observed, that as God has a sovereign right to deal out his own gifts in what measure and proportion he pleases, so he calls different men to different kinds and degrees of liberty. Though the natural rights of men may, in general, seem much alike, they being, in this respect, “all Free and Equal;” yet it its in different degrees that they are permitted to use them. According to the different civil constitutions which men are under, their civil liberty is larger, or more restricted. – And, indeed, under every form of government it is necessary that some ranks and denominations of men should be allowed more ample civil privileges than others. And as to Christian liberty, this is the peculiar right and privilege of the disciples of Christ: no others have any lot or portion in this matter. And though all Christians are free indeed, and are by the special grace of God, entitled and admitted to the liberties and privileges of his heavenly kingdom; yet all do not enjoy them in like measure: nor is the liberty of any perfect in this world; but is more or less entangled and restrained by the power of sin and Satan, and the men and things of the world. It will, however, gradually work itself clear of all these clogs; and our call to the glorious liberty of the children of God, will, in the heavenly state, have it full effect.