On Christian Liberty

“And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.”

Ps. 119:45

“and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

2 Cor. 3:17

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Gal. 5:13

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Order of Contents

Articles  3
Books  6

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Articles

1600’s

Preston, John – ‘The Christian Freedom, or the Charter of the Gospel, Showing the Privelege & Prerogatives of the Saints, by Virtue of the Covenant’  28 pp.  in Sun-Beams of Gospel-Light, Shining Clearly from Several Texts of Scripture, Opened & Applied...  (London, 1644)

Gillespie, George

English-Popish Ceremonies…  (1637), pt. 1

ch. 3, ‘That the Ceremonies thus imposed & urged as things necessary, do bereave us of our Christian liberty, first, because our practise is adstricted’, pp. 4-7

“Who can blame us for standing to the defence of our Christian liberty, which we ought to defend…  shall we bear the name of Christians, and yet make no great account of the liberty which has been bought to us by the dearest drops of the precious blood of the Son of God?…  Let us stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and not be entangled againe with the yoke of bondage [Gal. 5:1]…

…and thus is our practise adstricted in the use of things which are not at all necessary, and aknowledged gratis [freely] by the urgers to be indifferent, adstricted (I say) to the one part without liberty to the other, and that by the mere authority of a human constitution, whereas Christian liberty gives us freedom both for the omission and for the observation of a thing indifferent, except some other reason do adstrict and restrain it, than a bare human constitution…

And what means the apostle whiles he says, ‘If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (touch not, taste not, handle not, which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men?’ [Col. 2]  Sure he condemns not only humana decreta de ritibus [human decrees about worship rites], but also subjection and obedience to such ordinances of men as takes from us liberty of practice in the use of things indifferent, obedience (I say) for conscience of their ordinances merely.

What means also that place, 1 Cor. 7:23, ‘Be not ye the servants of men?’…  for to tie ourselves to the doing of anything for the will or pleasure of men, when our conscience can find no other reason for the doing of it, were indeed to make ourselves the servants of men.  Far be it then from us to submit our necks to such a heavy yoke of human precepts as would overloaden and undo us.  Nay, we will stedfastly resist such unchristian tyranny as goeth about to spoil us of Christian Liberty…

…’David thought the feeding of his body was cause sufficient to break the law of the showbread.  Christ thought the satisfying of the disciples’ hunger to be cause sufficient to break the ceremony of the Sabbath: He thought also that the healing of the lepers’ bodies was a just excuse to break the law that forbade the touching of them.  Much more then may we think now in our estimation that the feeding of other men’s souls, the satisfying of our own consciences, together with the consciences of other men and the healing of men’s superstition and spiritual leprosy are causes sufficient to break the law of the ceremonies and of the cross, which are not God’s but men’s,’ says Parker.

ch. 5, ‘That the Ceremonies take away Christian Liberty, proved by a third reason, viz. because they are urged upon such [persons] as in their consciences do condemn them’, pp. 15-18

ch. 7, ‘That [Imposed] Festival Days take away our Liberty which God has given us, Proved: & First out of the Law’, pp. 20-24

“Albeit we should most humbly subject ourselves to our governors, yet we may not submit our liberty to them, which God has graciously given us, because we are forbidden to be the servants of men (1 Cor. 7:23), or to be entangled with the yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).” – p. 21

ch. 8, ‘That [Imposed] Festival Days Take Away our Christian Liberty, Proved out of the Gospel’, pp. 25-31

Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty, or the True Resolution of a Present Controversy Concerning Liberty of Conscience…  (London, 1645)

Downame, George – A Brief Sum of Divinity, Showing the Plainest Way how a Man Ought to Examine his Ways in this Life, to the Attainment of Eternity: wherein the Whole Doctrine of Christian Liberty is Briefly Handled & may Serve for Instruction of All such as Desire to Exercise their Gifts Aright, which are in these our Days Very Much Abused  (Oxford/Cambridge, 1652)  22 pp.

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Books

1600’s

Downame, George – The Christian’s Freedom, wherein is Fully Expressed the Doctrine of Christian Liberty  (Oxford, 1635)

Sanderson, Robert – Two Sermons, the former concerning the Right Use of Christian Liberty…  the latter, concerning the persuasion of conscience…  (London, 1635)  97 pp.

Sanderson (1587-1663) was a reformed Anglican, royalist and casuist.

Sibbes, Richard – The Excellency of the Gospel Above the Law, wherein the Liberty of the Sons of God is Showed, with the Image of their Graces here & Glory Hereafter…  (London, 1639)

Cradock, Walter – Gospel-Liberty, in the Extensions [&] Limitations of it. Wherein is Laid Down an Exact Way to End the Present Dissensions & to Preserve Future Peace Among the Saints…  in Nine Sermons on 1 Cor. 10:23…  (London, 1648)  ToC

Binning, Hugh – The Sinner’s Sanctuary, or a Discovery made of those Glorious Privileges Offered unto the Penitent & Faithful under the Gospel, unfolding their Freedom from Death, Condemnation & the Law, in Fourty Sermons upon Romans, Ch. 8  (Edinburgh, 1670)

Bolton, Samuel – The True Bounds of Christian Freedom: or a Treatise wherein the Rights of the Law are Vindicated, the Liberties of Grace Maintained & the Several Late Opinions Against the Law are Examined & Confuted  (London, 1656)  ToC

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Latin

Calvin, John – ch. 19, ‘On Christian Liberty…’  in An Instruction Against the Fanatical & Furious Sect of the Libertines, which Call Themselves ‘The Spiritual Ones’  in The Smaller Works of John Calvin…  (1563), pp. 229-235

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“But 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.”

James 1:25

“As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”

1 Pet. 2:16

“While they [unbelievers] promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.”

2 Peter 2:19

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