Essex Congregational Remembrancer
For, brothers, you have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.…
I. THE NATURE OF THAT LIBERTY OF WHICH THE APOSTLE HERE SPEAKS. There is a charm in the very sound of liberty; it awakens many grateful recollections. But the word is employed in various acceptations. Civil liberty is that freedom which is our birthright as men. Spiritual liberty is that freedom, which belongs to us, not as men, but as Christians.
II. THE GREAT VALUE OF THAT SPIRITUAL LIBERTY TO WHICH ALL BELIEVERS OF GOSPEL TRUTH ARE CALLED. Political freedom, important as it is, may be overrated. It is highly advantageous to a nation, but not essential to the happiness of individuals. Good men have been happy in exile or in prison, and bad men cannot be so under any circumstances however favourable; the cause of the difference is to be referred to the state of the mind.
1. The measure of spiritual liberty, which a Christian even now attains, removes or alleviates some of the keenest and heaviest sorrows to which man is subject.
2. The measure of spiritual liberty, which a Christian now possesses, greatly heightens and refines all his enjoyments. Countermanding the original curse, it brings back some of the productions of paradise. It opens the noblest faculties and animates the best feelings of the mind.
3. It is but the beginning and pledge of that complete deliverance from all sin and sorrow, to which he is looking with lively hope. The best state on earth bears the marks of imperfection. Even where grace reigns, sin, like a rebel dethroned but not destroyed, is too near to leave any long interval of peace. In that kingdom to which we are hastening, no tumults or temptations will rise; no sickness or sighing, death or danger, will be known. No law in the members will be found warring against the law of the mind, or bringing us into captivity to sin. Even creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Romans 8:21).
III. THE WAY IN WHICH THE LIBERTY TO WHICH THE BELIEVER IS CALLED MAY BE DULY IMPROVED. All the principles of our holy religion have a practical bearing. We see a beautiful harmony in its doctrines and precepts. This is one of the great excellencies of Christianity. Paul was a wise master-builder, equally concerned to lay a good foundation, and to carry up the superstructure.
1. He gives a word of salutary warning — "Use not liberty," etc. There is hardly any good but is liable to abuse. Every sacred privilege has been and may be perverted. We must be on our guard against this. To use Christian liberty for an occasion to indulge the flesh is the best thing in the world turned to the worst purpose.
2. The apostle, in our text, gives a suitable word of direction — "By love serve one another." Love is the first and best of all the Christian graces. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. Love finds out many means of serving our brethren. It prompts and animates the mind-it makes us cheerful, active, tender, kind, forbearing.
(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.