John 8:31
So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples.
Sermons
Genuine DiscipleshipD. Young John 8:31
My DisciplesJ.R. Thomson John 8:31
True Christian DiscipleshipB. Thomas John 8:31, 32
A Glorious LiberatorSunday School TimesJohn 8:31-59
Bondage and DeliveranceW. Arnot, D. D.John 8:31-59
Bondage and FreedomJohn 8:31-59
Christ Sets Free the SinfulC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:31-59
Constancy a Severe Test of PietyJ. Spencer.John 8:31-59
Continuous Piety is Piety IndeedJ. Trapp.John 8:31-59
Disciples IndeedT. G. Horton.John 8:31-59
Evidence of DiscipleshipH. C. Trumbull.John 8:31-59
Freedom Aided by GodJohn 8:31-59
Freedom and ResponsibilityH. W. Beecher.John 8:31-59
Freedom by the TruthF. W. Robertson, M. A.John 8:31-59
Freedom by the TruthW. Birch.John 8:31-59
Freedom by the TruthJ Todd.John 8:31-59
Freedom by the TruthP. N. Zabriskie, D. D.John 8:31-59
Freedom Only to be Found in GodR. S. Barrett.John 8:31-59
Glorious LibertyW. Jay.John 8:31-59
Jesus and AbrahamH. A. Edson, D. D.John 8:31-59
LibertyW. Arnot, D. D.John 8:31-59
Moral BondageD. Thomas, D. D.John 8:31-59
No Place for the WordW. M. H. Aitken, M. A., G. S. Bowes.John 8:31-59
Sin is Spiritual SlaveryProf. Shedd.John 8:31-59
Spiritual and Scientific TruthAubrey L. Moore, M. A.John 8:31-59
Spiritual EmancipationJ. M. King, D. D.John 8:31-59
Spiritual FreedomC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:31-59
Spiritual LibertyCanon Stowell.John 8:31-59
Spiritual LibertyH. W. Beecher.John 8:31-59
The Best Service is ConstantJohn 8:31-59
The Effects of the Rejection and the Reception of the WordThe Leisure HourJohn 8:31-59
The English SlaveS. S. Times.John 8:31-59
The Freedom Which Christ GivesJohn Howe.John 8:31-59
The Grace of ContinuanceA. T. Pierson, D. D.John 8:31-59
The Great LiberatorC. H. Spurgeon.John 8:31-59
The Hour of EmancipationHeroes of Britain.John 8:31-59
The Kingdom of the TruthC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 8:31-59
The Liberty of BelieversJohn 8:31-59
The Method of Christian FreedomW. Arnot.John 8:31-59
The Progress of the Lost Soul to DestructionBp. Samuel Wilberforce.John 8:31-59
The Servant Abideth not in the House ForeverA. Maclaren, D. D.John 8:31-59
The Son and the Slave ContrastedArchdeacon Watkins.John 8:31-59
The Spiritual Slavery of ManT. Binney.John 8:31-59
The Vain Boast of the JewsAbp. Trench.John 8:31-59
True FreedomO. F. Gifford.John 8:31-59
True LibertyCanon Liddon.John 8:31-59
Truth and LibertyH. Bonar, D. D.John 8:31-59
Truth and LibertyH. G. Trumbull, D. D.John 8:31-59
Ye Shall be Free IndeedArchdeacon Watkins.John 8:31-59
Teaching and learning are the condition alike of the intellectual and of the moral life of humanity. All men who live do both, and good men do both well. Of the scholar of Oxenford, Chaucer says, "And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach." Christianity, being a Divine religion, accepts and adapts itself to this condition of our existence.

I. THE MASTER. Christ was acknowledged to be a Hebrew Rabbi, even a Prophet. But the enlightened knew him to be the Teacher and the Master of mankind. Witness his ministry, his sermons, his parables, his conversations and discourses. As a Master, he was wise, winning, patient. His vocation of teaching he continues to fulfil through human history. He is still and ever teaching men who are prepared to learn from him. And those who know him first as Teacher, come to know him afterwards in the other great mediatorial offices he sustains to man.

II. THE SCHOLARS. As the Pharisees had their disciples, and as John had his, so the Prophet of Nazareth gathered around him those who were docile and sympathetic, and communicated to them his truth, and bestowed upon them his spirit. Thus the twelve, the seventy, learned of him. Wherever Jesus went, he made disciples: women, as the woman of Samaria and Mary of Bethany; scholars, as Nicodemus; persons counted socially inferior, as Zacchaeus. After our Lord's ascension, "disciples" became a common designation of Christian people, as much as "saints" or "brethren," It justly remains such throughout this spiritual dispensation.

III. THE LESSONS. Christ himself has always been his own chief Lesson, far greater than any words can embody and convey. This appears from his own language, "Learn of me," and from the apostolic appeal, "Ye have not so learned Christ." His character and his Word are truth. In Christ his disciples learn

(1) to believe aright regarding God, man, eternity; and, what is even greater,

(2) to do, viz. to acquire the practical lessons of righteousness, fortitude, and patience, etc. Who has mastered Christ's teaching? Who has thoroughly learned his lessons? Who has completely drunk into his spirit?

IV. THE STRAIT OF CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP.

1. Lowly, as regards ourselves, the learners.

2. Reverent, as regards him, the Teacher.

3. Diligent and persistent, as regards the lessons to be acquired.

4. Interested and appreciative, sympathetic and receptive.

V. THE CULTURE OF CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP. Learning is a means to an end. To what end is Christian discipleship the means? To what discipline of blessing do Christ's pupils attain?

1. The culture of knowledge - Divine and precious knowledge.

2. The culture of character - Christ-likeness.

3. The culture which qualifies for usefulness. As school and college fit a youth for business or professional life, so Christ's discipline qualifies for Christian service.

4. The culture for immortality. This is Christ's school; above is Christ's home, the scene of perfect service and of lasting joy. - T.







Then said Jesus unto those Jews which believed on Him.
Sunday School Times.
I. FREEDOM PROFFERED.

1. Sin makes bondage (ver. 34; Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; Romans 6:16, 17; Galatians 4:25; 2 Peter 2:19).

2. Truth brings freedom (ver. 32; Romans 6:14, 18; Romans 7:6; Galatians 5:18; James 1:25; 1 Peter 2:16).

3. Christ gives freedom (ver. 36; Psalm 40:2; Psalm 118:5; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:2; 1 Corinthians 7:22; Galatians 5:1).

II. BONDAGE DEMONSTRATED.

1. By doing evil deeds (ver. 44; Genesis 3:13; Genesis 6:5; Matthew 13:38; Mark 7:23; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:8).

2. By disbelieving the Lord (ver. 45; Isaiah 53:1; Luke 22:67; John 4:48; 5:58; 6:36; 8:24).

3. By not hearing truth (ver. 47; Isaiah 6:9; Matthew 13:15, Mark 4:9; John 3:12; John 5:47, 1 John 4:6).

III. DEATH VANQUISHED.

1. A dying race (ver. 53; Genesis 3:19; Psalm 89:48; Ecclesiastes 12:5; Zechariah 1:5; Romans 5:12; Hebrews 9:27).

2. A life-giving obedience (ver. 51; Deuteronomy 11:27; Jeremiah 7:23; Acts 5:29; Romans 6:16; Hebrews 5:9; 1 Peter 1:22).

3. An ever-living Saviour (ver. 58; Psalm 90:1; John 1:1; John 17:5; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:10; Revelation 1:18).

(Sunday School Times.)

I. PHYSICAL BONDAGE.

1. An ancient institution (Genesis 9:25, 26).

2. Called bondmen (Genesis 43:18; Genesis 44:9).

3. Some born in bondage (Genesis 14:14; Psalm 116:16).

4. Some captured in war (Deuteronomy 20:14; 2 Kings 5:2).

5. Subject to sale (Genesis 17:27; Genesis 37:28-36).

6. Debtors sold into bondage (2 Kings 4:1; Matthew 18:25).

7. Thieves sold into bondage (Exodus 22:3).

8. Bondage of Israelites not perpetual (Exodus 21:2; Leviticus 25:10).

II. SPIRITUAL BONDAGE.

1. Is to the devil (1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26).

2. Is to fear of death (Hebrews 2:14, 15).

3. Is to sin (John 8:34; Romans 6:16).

4. Is to corruption (2 Peter 2:19; Romans 8:21).

5. Is to iniquity (Acts 8:23).

6. Is to the world (Galatians 4:8).

7. Is to spiritual death (Romans 7:24).

8. Is unknown by its subjects (John 8:83).

III. SPIRITUAL FREEDOM.

1. Promised (Isaiah 42:6, 7; Isaiah 61:1).

2. Typified (Exodus 1:13, 14 with Deuteronomy 4:20),

3. Through Christ (John 8:36; Romans 7:24, 25).

4. Proffered by the gospel (Luke 4:17-21).

5. Through the truth (John 8:32).

6. Testified by the Spirit (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5, 6).

7. Enjoyed by saints (Romans 6:18-22).

8. Saints should abide in it (Galatians 5:1).

(Sunday School Times.)

I. THOSE WHO ARE NOT ITS SUBJECTS THOUGH THEY SAY THEY ARE.

1. Accepting a mere dead orthodoxy does not constitute one a genuine subject of the Kingdom of Truth (vers. 31-33). This declaration is levelled against the traditional faiths and old maxims which those Jews were holding as their birthright blessing.

2. Nor being born of respectable and even believing lineage. Our Lord was confronted with the dry statement that they descended from Abraham, and that they were never slaves even in morality. "Professing themselves wise, they became fools." Christ answered with directness that the plain reason why they did not believe in Him, was that they were not born of God. All there was of good in their boasted ancestor was due to his having by faith seen Christ's day. And when this maddened them, He raised His word to an imperial utterance, such as only the King of the Kingdom of Truth could make (ver. 58). There are two things in this:(1) He that is not in Christ's kingdom is in Satan's.(2) He who is not a Christian cannot be a true man in life, thought, temper, etc.

3. Nor following mere blind formulas of performance. Education has value; but the truest men in an age like ours must sometimes turn back upon their training with a free judgment. Antiquity is no proof of soundness in the right. The devil has all the force of the argument in that direction, and Jesus told these Jews that Satan was their first father.

4. Nor insisting on mere sincere convictions. One may have honest preferences for an absolutely false standard. It is possible that the affections have grown perverted. The later history of Turner can be explained only on the supposition of a disease in his eyes; this threw all his work out of drawing. He was as honest and industrious as ever; his sense of colour was as fine as in his early days, but his eyes had become mechanically untrustworthy. The men, arguing here with our Lord, did not believe in Him, not because what He told them was not true, but because they, in their innermost hearts, were not true; there was a distorted image upon their souls.

II. THOSE WHO ARE ITS SUBJECTS.

1. A true man will accept true doctrines. "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." The two grand divisions of our race have always been ranged around Christ and Anti-Christ (1 John 4:2-6).

2. A true man will cherish true principles. Joseph said he must refuse sin because he could not offend against God. Hazael had no more to offer in objection than that he was afraid he might be thought only a dog. Expediency is not enough, genuineness of principle is needed.

3. A true man will cultivate true tastes. He may not always get in love with some forms and phases of religion. He may find that he has to get himself into a more amiable and trustful frame of mind before he is anything but the artificial being that training for a bad lifetime has made him. If he does not love gentleness, or humility, or charity, or temperance, or godliness, when he sees it, it is a task for him to set about to grow to love it as soon as he can. For a critic who does not like a true painting is not himself true. If one prefers Turkish jargon to a harmonious tune, he is not true. And when one turns away from a true child of God, it is because he is not true.

4. A true man will manifest true consistency. Christ gave us the Word of God as the standard of reference. The New Testament is the book of manners in the social circle of the Kingdom of Truth.

5. A true man will live a true life. There will be a fine, high unconsciousness that anything else could be expected of him. He never will seek to pose; he means to be. Pure and noble, he wishes only for a career "without fear and without reproach." Can anyone tell why the old college song still thrills us when we are quite on in life? There is a wonderful power in the famous "Integer Vitae" of our early days. We would like to be reckoned as integers — whole numbers — when the world adds up the columns of its remembered worthies (Psalm 15:1-4).

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. THE RELIGION OF THESE JEWS.

1. It was a matter of blood and ancestry. There were, it is true, certain ceremonies to be observed, but it was enough to be "Abraham's seed" to secure the favour of Jehovah. Without that the most diligent piety could not avail. Good parentage no one will despise. If we have got our vigour from virtuous ancestors, we may well be thankful. Even if prodigal of such an inheritance, we shall still have an advantage in the battle of life. Aaron Burr was a stouter sinner because his mother was Jonathan Edward's daughter. Robert Burns exhausted himself at thirty-eight, but what did he not owe to an honest and frugal parentage? The first generation of sinners lasts longer than the second; much longer than the third. But it will not do to trust blood as a substitute for religion. "Who is your father?" may be the first question, but "Who are you?" comes next. Many a boy disclosing his father's. name has excited surprise in the police court, but the father's good name does not keep him out of prison. Absalom was David's son, and Judas Abraham's.

2. Christ told the Jews that this dead faith in our ancestor was really a bondage to the devil (vers. 34-44). Their ancestors had been slaves in Egypt and Babylon, and now the Roman Eagle had them in its talons. Yet by some legerdemain of logic they reasoned that to be a Hebrew was to be a free man. At once Jesus set them on a deeper search (ver. 44). What a hard master the devil is! For Paradise Eve gets an apple. See this illustrated in the case of Cain, Esau, Samson, Saul, Judas, Agrippa. The prodigal is sure to be set on the lowest tasks, and left to crave even husks. Nor has the devil grown kinder since.

3. Of course the bondsmen of Satan "cannot bear" the truth (vers. 43, 45, 47), neither receive nor recognize it. Paul thought he was doing God service when killing Christians, and perhaps these Jews were sincere, but with the maladroitness of those who give themselves to the service of evil they reserve their criticisms for that which was most fair, and direct their assaults when the line was most secure. Our Lord's treatment of the woman was apparently the cause of their hostility. The truth and goodness which angered them angers sinners now.

II. CHRIST'S DISCIPLES.

1. They are those who abide in Christ's Word. The dead religion was a mere name, an accident of birth; the new religion laid hold of the soul and was light and life (vers. 31, 32, 47). What the mind must have is truth. A man who believes a lie warms a serpent in his bosom. Christ's heel has crushed the head of the serpent of falsehood, and for His disciples its charm is broken. Having come to the light the real children of Abraham continue in it. Bartimaeus has no wish to return to his blindness. The Christian's love of the truth is one that lasts. And Christians obey the truth (ver. 31; cf. Peter 1:22; Galatians 3:1, 5, 7). The truth not only touches their intellect, judgment, conscience, but quickens, guides and establishes their will (ver. 39).

2. Yet they enjoy a real freedom — a further contrast (vers. 32, 36; cf. Romans 6:14-22). Subjection to Christ's word is not slavery. Freedom does not destroy law nor overturn authority. The best liberty finds its satisfaction within the limits of a law which is loved. Note the Divine order; first a change of heart, then morality and piety. To require these bloodthirsty children of Abraham to do his works would be to put an intolerable yoke upon them. The Bible is a weary book to a bad man. Prayer to the worldly is a burden. For the dissolute no shackles so heavy as the rules of virtue. But change a man's mind, and his world is changed. Obedience becomes a song. Besides this, there is the liberty from the penalty of sin by Christ's Cross.

3. As a result of all comes an assurance of endless life (ver. 51, etc.).

(H. A. Edson, D. D.)

I. A PREPARATORY STAGE OF DISCIPLESHIP. The mind, heart, will, moved, but the soul not yet made new in Christ. The vestibule of salvation. All depends on holding on. The seed is in the soil, but needs to get root and grow. Satan then tries to check it.

II. THE RESULTS OF CONTINUANCE.

1. Confirmation of discipleship.

2. Revelation of truth.

3. Emancipation from sin.

III. OUR LORD GIVES HIS FOLLOWERS SOMETHING —

1. To do.

2. To prove.

3. To know.

4. To become.

(A. T. Pierson, D. D.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF A DISCIPLE INDEED. Let us look at Christ's first disciples.

1. They forsook all they had. See the case of Paul (Philippians 3:7, 8). Every sin, idol, circumstance inconsistent with Christ's claim must be renounced.

2. They were docile. Christ taught them as they were able to hear. They had much ignorance and many prejudices, but they willingly sat at Christ's feet. This is requisite in all true disciples (Matthew 18:2, 3).

3. They had a spiritual knowledge of Christ (John 17:6-8), although the world knew Him not. So it is still (2 Corinthians 4:6).

4. They enjoyed the friendship of Christ (John 15:15). The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him (1 John 1:3).

5. They were engaged in Christ's service (John 15:16). "None of us liveth to himself."

II. THE PRIVILEGE PROMISED TO CHRIST'S DISCIPLES. "Ye shall know the truth."

1. The truth referred to. Christ is the truth (John 14:6). We read (Ephesians 4:21) of the truth as in Jesus — the truth full of Christ's personal glory, love, power to save. There is truth in His holy character, in His sublime life, in His vicarious death. He speaks here of the redemptive truth of which He Himself was the sum and substance!

2. The knowledge spoken, of "Ye shall know," not as mere theory, but living power, spiritually, experimentally. The inner eye is opened, the inner car is unstopped, the heart is melted, the soul is subdued. Truth must be engrafted in the soul (James 1:21).

3. The result predicated. The truth in Jesus emancipates the soul from the —

(1)Condemnation (Romans 8:1);

(2)the power and depravity of sin (Romans 6:23; Romans 8:30);

(3)harassing fear of the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:9, 101;

(4)the depressing anxieties of life;

(5)from the dark and gloomy forebodings of death (Hebrews 2:14, 15).

III. THE CROWNING EVIDENCE THAT ONE IS A DISCIPLE INDEED. "If ye continue in My word." Many of Christ's professing disciples do not continue in His word. See the parable of the sower. But all Christ's true disciples do.

1. His word is engrafted in their souls. The gospel is a living shoot that produces fruit of its own. That soul thus Divinely operated on continues in Christ's word, and Christ's word continues in it.

2. They are joined to the Lord in an everlasting covenant. Every true disciple has entered into a perpetual covenant to be Christ's, having found that he is interested in God's everlasting covenant, ratified and established forever by the blood of the Surety! His motto is, "I am not My own!"

3. They are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. Without the indwelling, ever-abiding Spirit, there is no spiritual life, power, worship or service; without Him there is no safety. He comes as our life, and He seals us as God's forever and ever.

4. They are kept by the power of God through faith unto final salvation (Peter 1:15; John 13:1, 2). His Almighty arms of unchanging love are placed underneath, and round about (Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 27:3). God's true people are kept not in mere safety, but in a life of holy love and devotedness; not in sloth and indolence, but in holy activity and spiritual diligence.

(T. G. Horton.)

It is the evening that crowns the day, and the last act that commends the whole scene. Temporary flashings are but like conducts running with wine at the coronation, that will not hold, or like a land flood, that seems to be a great sea, but comes to nothing.

(J. Trapp.)

Many who have gone into the field, and liked the work of a soldier for a battle or two, soon have had enough, and come running home again; whereas few can bear it as a constant trade: war is a thing that they could willingly woo for their pleasure, but are loath to wed upon what terms soever. Thus many are easily persuaded to take up a profession of religion, and as easily persuaded to lay it down. Oh! this constancy and persevering is a hard word; this taking up the cross daily; this praying always; this watching night and day, and never laying aside our clothes and armour, indulging ourselves to remit and unbend in our holy waiting upon God, and walking with God, this sends many sorrowful from Christ; yet this is the saint's duty, to make religion his every day's work, without any vacation from one end of the year to the other.

(J. Spencer.)

After a great snowstorm a little fellow began to shovel a path through a large snow bank before his grandmother's door. He had nothing but a small shovel to work with. "How do you expect to get through that drift?" asked a man passing along. "By keeping at it," said the boy, cheerfully. "That's how." That is the secret of mastering almost every difficulty under the sun. If a hard task is set before you, stick to it. Do not keep thinking how large or how hard it is, but go at it, and little by little it will grow smaller, until it is done. If a hard lesson is to be learned, do not spend a moment in fretting; do not lose breath in saying, "I can't," or "I don't see how;" but go at it, and keep at it — steady. That is the only way to conquer it. If you have entered your Master's service and are trying to be good, you will sometimes find hills of difficulty in the way. Things will often look discouraging, and you will not seem to make any progress at all; but keep at it. Never forget "that's how."

A soldier's confidence in his commander is evidenced by the soldier obeying his commander's orders. A patient's trust in his physician is shown by the patient following the physician's directions. A disciple's sincerity in his professions of discipleship is proved by the disciple walking according to the Master's teaching. It is not that there is any merit in the obedience itself; but it is that there is no sincerity in a profession of faith where there is no obedience.

(H. C. Trumbull.)

Faith cometh by hearing (ver. 30). It is in connection with the word of truth that the Holy Spirit works in us.

I. THE RECEPTION OF CHRIST'S WORD BEGINS DISCIPLESHIP. There may be alarm, disquietude, inquiry, before this, but these are not discipleship. They are but inquiries after a school and a teacher which will meet the wants, capacities, and longings. All men are saying, "Who will show us any good?" Discipleship begins, not with doing some great thing, but with receiving Christ's word as the scholar receives the master's teaching. What does He teach?

1. The Father.

2. Himself. From the moment that we accept this we become disciples — taught not of man, but of God.

II. CONTINUANCE IN THAT WORD IS THE TEST OF TRUE DISCIPLESHIP. This is not continuance in general adherence to His cause; but continuance in the word by which we become disciples. As it is by holding the beginning of our confidence that we are made partakers of Christ, so by continuing in the word we make good the genuineness of our discipleship. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" — in that word is everything we need.

1. It is an expansive word: ever widening its dimensions; growing upon us; never old, ever new; in which we make continual discoveries; the same tree, but ever putting forth new branches and leaves; the same river, but ever swelling and widening — loosing none of its old water, yet ever receiving accessions.

2. It is a quickening word: maintaining old life, yet producing new — "Thy word Lord hath quickened me."

3. It is a strengthening word: nerving and invigorating us; lifting us when bowed down; imparting health, courage, resolution, persistency.

4. It is a sanctifying word: it detects the evil and purges it away, pouring holiness into the soul. Let us continue in this word; not weary of it, not losing relish for it.

III. KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH IS THE RESULT OF DISCIPLESHIP. All that enter Christ's school are taught of God. Consequently they know the truth; not a truth or part of it, but the truth — not error — Him who is the Truth. They shall know it; not guess at it, speculate on it, get a glimpse of it; but make choice of it, realize it, appreciate it. Blessed promise in a day of doubt and error!

IV. THIS TRUTH IS LIBERTY. All truth is, so far, liberty, and all error bondage; some truth is greater liberty, some error greater bondage. Bondage, with many, is simply associated with tyranny, bad government, evil or ecclesiastical despotism. Christ's words go deeper, to the root of the evil. The real chains, prison, bondage are within — so true liberty. It springs from what a man knows of God and of his Christ. Seldom do men realize this. Error, bondage! How can that be if the error be the man's own voluntary doing — the result of his intellectual effort? But the Master is very explicit. The truth shall make you free. There is no other freedom worthy of the name. "He is a free man whom the truth makes free; and all are slaves besides."

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.
1. Three mighty thoughts — knowledge, truth, freedom.

2. Men claim to be free born or to attain freedom at a great price; yet he who sins is a slave of sin.(1) Political freedom is but the bark, intellectual freedom but the fibre, of the tree spiritual: freedom is the sap. Men contend for bark and fibre, Christ gives the sap. Sometimes we have political freedom, but formal, sapless, as dead as telegraph poles strung with the wires of politicians.

3. Circumstances cannot fetter freedom or confer it. Joseph was as free in the dungeon as on the throne. "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage." The Israelites in the desert were a nation of slaves despite their liberty. It matters not where I place my watch, so I wind it, it is really free; if I interfere with the works, wherever it may be, it is in bondage. So of man — bind, chain, imprison; if the soul be in sympathy with God, sustained by truth, you have a free man; if the reverse, you have a slave. John, though in prison, was free; Herod, though on the throne, was a slave — Christ and Pilate. Freedom, like the kingdom of heaven, is within. The text teaches a threefold lesson — man may know; truth is: the knowledge of the truth brings freedom.

I. The word KNOW carries us back to the dawn of history.

1. Two possibilities are placed before man — life or knowledge. Full of life, he chooses knowledge at the risk of life.

2. The race is true to its head — exploration, geographical, scientific, philosophical.

3. Yet men were then setting up altars to the unknown God: men now to God unknowable. The great Teacher says: "Ye shall know."

4. The promise implies that man can trust himself and the results of his research and experiences.

II. THE SUBJECT OF KNOWLEDGE IS TRUTH. Truth stands in contrast —

1. With a lie. Christ accuses His hearers of being children of the devil. Today as then men lie; wilfully misrepresent in business, political, and social life. Truth is consistency between what we

2. With veracity, think and say and what is. Veracity is consistency between what we say and think; but we may think wrongly.

3. Truth is reality as opposed to a lie and to appearance. Christ, as Son of God and Son of Man, sets forth certain realities regarding both, and the relation between the two. That God is, what God is, and what man is: alienation and possible reconciliation; regeneration by the Spirit; the results of separation from and reconciliation with God. These facts, relations, results, are truth, and may be known,

III. THE RESULTS OF SUCH KNOWLEDGE IS FREEDOM.

1. Freedom from the past, "Son, remember;" but the knowledge of God's reconciliation blots out the sin-stained past as a cloud.

2. Freedom from fears for the future based upon the past.

IV. THE ONE CONDITION OF ALL THIS IS BELIEF IN CHRIST. Faith as a grain of mustard seed grows into knowledge, etc.

(O. F. Gifford.)

Observe —

1. The greatness of Christ's aim — to make all men free. He saw around Him man in slavery to man, race to race; men trembling before priestcraft, and those who were politically and ecclesiastically free, in worse bondage to their own passions. Conscious of His Deity and His Father's intentions, He, without the excitement of an earthly liberator, calmly said: "Ye shall be free."

2. The wisdom of the means. The craving for liberty was not new, nor the promise of satisfying it; but the promise had been vain. Men had tried —(1) Force: and force in the cause of freedom is to be honoured, and those who have used it have been esteemed as the world's benefactors — Judas Maccabaeus, etc. Had Christ willed so to come, success was certain. Men were ripe for revolt, and at a word, thrice three hundred thousand swords would have started from their scabbards; but in that case one nation only would have gained independence, and that merely from foreign oppression.(2) Legislative enactments. By this England could and did emancipate her slaves; but she could not fit them for freedom, nor make it lasting. The stroke of a monarch's pen will do the one — the discipline of ages is needed for the other. Give a constitution tomorrow to some feeble Eastern nation, and in half a century they will be subjected again. Therefore Christ did not come to free the world in this way.(3) Civilization. Every step of civilization is a victory over some lower instinct; but it contains elements of fresh servitude. Man conquers the powers of nature, and becomes in turn their slave. The workman is in bondage to his machinery, which determines hours, wages, habits. The rich man acquires luxuries, and then cannot do without them. Members of a highly civilized community are slaves to dress, hours, etiquette. Therefore Christ did not talk of the progress of the species; he freed the inner man that so the outer might become free. Note —

I. THE TRUTH THAT LIBERATES. — The truth Christ taught was chiefly about:

1. God. Blot out that thought and existence becomes unmeaning, resolve is left without a stay, aspiration and duty without a support. Christ exhibited God as —(1) Love; and so that fearful bondage to fate was broken.(2) A Spirit, requiring spiritual worship; and thus the chain of superstition was rent asunder.

2. Man. We are a mystery to ourselves. So where nations exhibit their wealth and inventions, before the victories of mind you stand in reverence. Then look at those who have attained that civilization, their low aims and mean lives, and you are humbled. And so of individuals. How noble a given man's thoughts at one moment, how base at another I Christ solved this riddle. He regarded man as fallen, but magnificent in his ruin. Beneath the vilest He saw a soul capable of endless growth; hence He treated with respect all who approached Him, because they were men. Here was a germ for freedom. It is not the shackle that constitutes the slave, but the loss of self-respect — to be treated as degraded till he feels degraded. Liberty is to suspect and yet reverence self.

3. Immortality. If there be an idea that cramps and enslaves the soul it is that this life is all. If there be one which expands and elevates it it is that of immortality. This was the martyrs' strength. In the hope and knowledge of that truth they were free from the fear of pain of death.

II. THE LIBERTY WHICH TRUTH GIVES.

1. Political freedom. Christianity does not directly interfere with political questions, but mediately it must influence them. Christ did not promise this freedom, but He gave it more surely than conqueror, reformer, or patriot. And this not by theories or constitutions, but by truths. God a Spirit, man His redeemed child; before that spiritual equality all distinctions vanish.

2. Mental independence. Slavery is that which cramps powers, and the worst is that which cramps the noblest powers. Worse therefore than he who manacles the body is he who puts fetters on the mind, and demands that men shall think and believe as others have done. In Judaea life was a set of forms and religion — a congeries of traditions. One living word from Christ, and the mind of the world was free. Later a mountain mass of superstition had gathered round the Church. Men said that the soul was to be saved only by doing what the priesthood taught. Then the heroes of the Reformation said the soul is saved by the grace of God; and once more the mind of the world was set flee by truth. There is a tendency to think, not what is true, but what is respectable, authorized. It comes partly from cowardice, partly from habit. Now truth frees us from this by warning of individual responsibility which cannot be delegated to another, and thrown off on a church. Do not confound mental independence with mental pride. It ought to co-exist with the deepest humility. For that mind alone is free which, conscious of its liability to err, and, turning thankfully to any light, refuses to surrender the Divinely given right and responsibility of judging for itself and having an opinion of its own.

3. Superiority to temptation. It is not enough to say that Christ promises freedom from sin. Childhood, paralysis, impotence of old age, may remove the desire of transgressions. Therefore we must add that ode whom Christ liberates is free by his own will. It is not that he would and cannot; but that he can and will not. Christian liberty is right well sustained by love, and made firm by faith in Christ. This may be seen by considering moral bondage. Go to the intemperate man in the morning, when his head aches and his whole frame unstrung: he is ashamed, hates his sin, and would not do it. Go to him at night when the power of habit is upon him, and he obeys the mastery of his craving. Every more refined instance of slavery is just as real. Wherever a man would and cannot, there is servitude.

4. Superiority to fear. Fear enslaves, courage liberates. The apprehension of pain, fear of death, dread of the world's laugh at poverty, or loss of reputation, enslave alike. From all such Christ frees. He who lives in the habitual contemplation of immortality, cannot be in bondage to time; he who feels his soul's dignity cannot cringe.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

There is a well-known picture by Retzsch, in which Satan is represented as playing at chess with a man for his soul. The pieces on the board seem to represent the virtues and the deadly sins. The man is evidently losing the game, while in the background stands an angel sad and helpless, and statue-like. We need not stay to criticize the false theology implied in that picture, because our immediate concern is with a meaning which has been read into that picture by a great scientific teacher of our day. We have been told by Professor Huxley, that if we "substitute for the mocking fiend in that picture a calm, strong angel who is playing, as we say, for love, and would rather lose than win," we shall have a true picture of the relation of man to nature. "The chessboard is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules of the game are what we call the laws of nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us, We know that his play is always fair, and just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance." Such is the modern reading of the picture. And here there is a great truth, or at least one side of a great truth, expressed. It puts before us in a very real and concrete form the fact that, in our mere physical life, we are engaged in a great struggle. We must learn to adapt ourselves truly to the physical conditions of our life, or we must perish in a fruitless opposition to natural laws. But that physical life which we live is not our whole life, nor are what we call the laws of external nature the only laws which we need to know. We are surrounded by spiritual forces in which our moral life is lived. In that more real life we have relations with spiritual beings, some like ourselves and some above us, and One whom we love to call our Father, which is in heaven. Are there no laws in that spiritual world? No truths there, the knowledge of which will make us free? If the violation of physical law is death, is there no death in the moral and spiritual sphere? Is the life of the soul less real, its death less terrible than that of the body? And if not, what do we know of the great spiritual realities which environ life?

1. All truth gives freedom. To know nature is to gain freedom in regard to her; to know her fully is to conform ourselves to her. And to know God is to cease to be afraid of Him, to know Him fully is to love Him perfectly, and to conform ourselves to His likeness.

2. Why, then, is there such fear and jealousy of dogma amongst men who gladly welcome every new truth about their physical life? If all truth is from God, and every truth sets us free, why is it that men hesitate to allow these characteristics to that which, above all, claims to be from God, and to give us perfect freedom? It is here that we touch the characteristic difference which exists between the laws of the spiritual and the laws of the material world. The laws of nature are discoveries; the laws of the spiritual world are revelations. The former are found out; the latter are given. The former are confessedly imperfect, added to continually as years go by; the latter are complete, the same yesterday, to day, and forever. The former lay claim to no finality; they may be challenged, put upon their trial, called upon to justify themselves. The latter, if they are from God, claim our reverence, our obedience, our willing submission.

(Aubrey L. Moore, M. A.)

Last summer the good ship Wieland brought over a large number of caged birds. When we were about mid-ocean one restless bird escaped from his cage. In ecstasy he swept through the air, away and away from his prison. How he bounded with outspread wings! Freedom! How sweet he thought it! Across the pathless waste ha entirely disappeared. But after hours had passed, to our amazement, he appeared again, struggling towards the ship with heavy wing. Panting and breathless, he settled upon the deck. Far, far over the boundless deep, how eagerly, how painfully had he sought the ship again, now no longer a prison, but his dear home. As I watched him nestle down on the deck, I thought of the restless human heart that breaks away from the restraints of religion. With buoyant wing he bounds away from Church the prison, and God the prison. But if he is not lost on the remorseless deep, he comes back again with panting, eager heart, to Church the home, and God the home. The Church is not a prison to any man. It gives the most perfect freedom in all that is good and all that is safe. It gives him liberty to do what is right, and to do what is wrong, there is no rightful place to any man in all the boundless universe.

(R. S. Barrett.)

The truth shall set us free from —

I. PHYSICAL SUFFERING. The laws of nature are the laws of God, and to know and obey them will liberate us from every sickness except that of death. There is —

1. The law of heredity, This is a Bible law; for it states that the sins of the fathers shall be carried down to the third and fourth generation, Know that, and care for the health of your bodies, and your posterity will be free from the taint of hereditary disease.

2. The law of sanitation. Know that, and obey it, and you free your cities from fevers and infectious diseases. Much suffering is entailed by ignorance, apathy, or wilful negligence about this truth.

3. The law of temperance; that obeyed will make you free from the suffering of bodily anguish and the sense of degradation.

II. SOCIAL DISARRANGEMENT. This is one of our most rampant evils. Contrast the suburbs with their villas and the slums with their hovels. These extremes should not exist in a Christian country. What is the cure? The truth that humanity is one.

1. The strong should help the weak. The rich, who enjoy their libraries, drawing rooms, gardens, should not be satisfied that the poor should have to tramp long distances to see a tree or read a book. Parks, museums, baths, libraries, should be within reach; and by recognising the truth on this matter, the wealthy should lend a helping hand.

2. The weak should help themselves. Too much help would pauperize. The poor must be taught and encouraged to raise them. selves. Much can be affected by cooperation. If the money spent in beer were utilized for this purpose, the millennium would be hastened.

III. CHRISTIAN ANTAGONISM. What a pity it is to see the strife of sects over nice doctrinal or ceremonial points. Christ wants His Church to be one, and so do good men. But the truth only will unify; and there is enough truth held in common by all churches, which, if recognized, would soon bring Christian unity. All are agreed that Christ's life should be lived by His followers. Surely this is a good working truth; and as all hold it, all should act upon it, and be one.

IV. ALIENATION FROM GOD. What a slave was the prodigal, and all his degradation arose from his distance from God. But when the vision of his father arose before his mind, he arose and went back. What sinful men want to know is, the truth about God as revealed by Christ; how He loves the sinner, and would save him from his sins.

(W. Birch.)

It is no strange thing for truth to set people free. What delivers men from terror — e.g., over prodigies, etc. — but the truth about them? In the darkness, which invests harmless objects with weird appearances, the imaginative man is as timid as a child. But let the day dawn, and the truth of things be revealed, and fear vanishes. The truth sets us free from —

I. THE DREADS OF LIFE.

1. Those which belong to our physical life — dreads of want, disease, poisoned air, accidents. Christ frees us from these by revealing the providence of God (Matthew 6:26-28).

2. Social fears — fears of what men can do unto us. Christ says, "Fear not them which kill the body," etc. Their wrath is restrained by our Father; and at their worst they can only drive man closer to God, and bring him nearer home.

3. Spiritual fears — about God. Christ frees from this by His truth — "Our Father."

II. THE SINS OF LIFE. These make the real bondage. Our fears weaken us, but our sins corrupt, and lead to death. They bind in two ways.

1. By spreading their shame through our soul (Ezra 9:6). Christ frees us by His declaration (John 3:17), and His own treatment of a sinner in shame (vers. 3-11).

2. By weakening our will, so that when we would do good we cannot. Christ brings not only pardon to banish shame, but power to put away sin (1 Timothy 1:13).

III. DWARFED CONDITIONS OF LIFE.

1. In church life — from the tyranny of forms and places (John 4:21-23).

2. In individual life. The truth of Jesus liberates the highest faculties — faith, hope, love, conscience.

(J Todd.)

Christ, by His truth, delivers man —

I. From the bondage of IGNORANCE. That truth enlightens, invigorates, instructs.

II. From the bondage of ERROR.

1. Intellectual — scepticism or superstition.

2. Practical; for with it He gives His example and His guiding spirit.

III. From the bondage of ream

1. The fear of death and judgment.

2. Of God's conscience-searching word.

3. Of the supernatural.

IV. From the bondage of sin.

1. As a fitter.

2. As a service.

V. From the bondage of the LAW.

1. The ritual, which is abolished.

2. The moral, which by grace becomes perfect freedom.

(P. N. Zabriskie, D. D.)

God's grace reveals itself in endless diverse forms. The thousand changing colours which play upon sea, land, and sky, in the high day of summer, are but variations of the one clear and transparent light which comes down from above; and the same water of the sea is the same water of the sea, whether it is called ocean, gulf, or strait. A recognition of this truth is essential to the understanding of what Christian liberty is. It is the liberty of the light which, always opposed to darkness, yet reveals itself in constantly new tints and shades of colour; it is the liberty of the water, ever cleansing and ever essential to life, which yet takes its shape from the vessel into which it is poured. It is the liberty of the tree to be green, of the sea to be blue, of the sunset to be crimson, of the sand to be yellow — each obtaining its own tint from God's clear light, and no one quarrelling with the beauty of the other. So God's grace reveals itself in the lives of God's true children. In each it is the same grace, yet in each it takes a special form and colour — that of the individuality in which it reveals itself. And the liberty for which Christ has made us free, is the liberty for each of us to grow into that special manifestation of grace for which his nature is most fitted. It is freedom for us to grow in our own way, without conforming at all points to the growth of another; and (what we are more likely to forget) it is liberty for others to grow in their way without conforming at all points to our way of growth. If we compare the Church to "a garden shut up," we ought to remember that the wise cultivator does not expect the tender vine to grow in the same way as the sturdy oak, nor does he expect the apple or the pear tree to bring forth grapes or figs.

(H. G. Trumbull, D. D.)

Liberty is a matter which interests everyone. But it is sadly limited. By it men mean political, intellectual, physical, and some, alas! sinful freedom. Christ proclaims real liberty — that of the soul. Secure this, and all that is worth the name of liberty will follow. Christ effects this emancipation by the truth. We must accept the truth, not as theory in our minds, or sentiment in our hearts, but by experience and practice; then we shall be free. The truth thus received liberates from —

I. THE FETTERS OF IGNORANCE, SUPERSTITION, AND PREJUDICE — three links in a mighty chain.

1. We have but to pass the line of Christendom to behold a world ignorant of God and Divine truth. What follows? The most debasing superstition, idolatry, witchcraft, etc. Hence the almost invincible prejudice there is at first against the reception of the gospel.

2. But within Christendom and in its most cultivated circles, how many men learned in this world's wisdom are utterly ignorant of the things of God? And what can result here but superstition, the worship of the idols of the mind, and putting light for darkness, bitter for sweet? The consequence is sceptical prejudice.

3. The same holds good in regard to Popery. The Bible-prohibited people are in gross darkness; believe what they are told to believe, however irrational; bow to images, and worship the creature above the Creator; and therefore bitterly oppose, and, where they can, persecute the gospel.

4. From all this Christ's truth sets us free.(1) By throwing light on the darkness of ignorance, and bringing knowledge to mind and heart.(2) This knowledge removes the grounds of superstition and prejudice.

II. THE THRALDOM OF SATAN. However manifold the links bound round the soul led captive by the devil, the last link is in his hand. Men are either slaves of Satan or free men of Christ. Christ comes as a strong man armed to break the links of the chain, which are mainly three.

1. Guilt, and the consequent curse of God. For this Christ provides pardon, and secures God's blessing.

2. Corruption, and consequent moral impotence. For this Christ provides the grace of the Holy Spirit.

3. The world and the fear of man, that bringeth a snare. But "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."

III. THE BONDAGE OF THE FEAR OF DEATH. Spite of his boasting, no man is so hardy but he shrinks from death. Why? Because "after death the judgment." This is seen in the mad recklessness of the profligate, and the unspiritual service of the moralist, the religious inventions of the devotee. Momentary oblivion of the dread spectre is all that these can produce. But he who receives the truth of Christ triumphs over death. Conclusion: This liberty includes a service, but it is perfect freedom.

(Canon Stowell.)

These words suggest —

I. THAT A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH MAY BE SECURED.

II. THAT THIS KNOWLEDGE IS MENTAL AND EXPERIMENTAL.

III. THAT EXPERIMENTAL KNOWLEDGE IS ALONE SAVING.

IV. WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL TRUTH, THE EXPERIMENTAL KNOWLEDGE OF WHICH MAKES FREE.

1. We may know the truth as we know language, science, etc.; as a mass of doctrines; Christ a historical character like Pilate. All this knowledge may have no effect on the heart or life.

2. The new man obtains his knowledge by a different process. He experiments, verifies, proves. Truth becomes the prevailing principle of action, and enthrones itself. To be sure a man must become possessed of Christian facts and doctrines. These are the bones for the body of holiness.

3. An experimental knowledge of the truth frees man morally, and from the bondage of merely human views, and introduces man into the broad province of ideas world wide in their grasp and extending back to the Creation.

4. The condition of the freedom promised by Christ is belief in His Divine sonship, "as many as received Him," etc. The emancipating power of this truth is made to us —

(1)Wisdom, by enlightening us and thus freeing the mind;

(2)Righteousness, by justifying us and thus freeing us from the law;

(3)Sanctification, by purifying us and thus freeing our hearts:

(4)Redemption by the union of them all, thus purchasing us into blessed immortality.

(J. M. King, D. D.)

August 1, 1834, was the day on which 700,000 of our colonial slaves were made free. Throughout the colonies the churches and chapels were thrown open, and the slaves crowded into them on the evening of the 31st of July. As the hour of midnight approached they fell upon their knees and awaited the solemn moment, all hushed in silent prayer. When 12 o'clock sounded, they sprang upon their feet, and through every island rang the glad sound of thanksgiving to the Father of all, for the chains were broken and the slaves were free.

(Heroes of Britain.)

It is a freedom from the servitude of sin, from the seduction of a misguided judgment, and the allurement of any ensnaring forbidden object: consisting in an unbounded amplitude and enlarged. ness of soul towards God, and indetermination to any inferior good; resulting from an entire subjection to the Divine will, a submission to the order of God, and steady adherence to Him.

(John Howe.)

They make a great fuss when they give a man the freedom of the City of London. There is a fine gold casket to put it in. You have got the liberty of the New Jerusalem, and your faith, like a golden box, holds the deeds of your freemanship. Take care of them and rejoice in them tonight.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man.
Note that its subjects —

I. ARE UNCONSCIOUS OF IT (ver. 33). This was an interruption of Christ's discourse on freedom. As much as to say "Why talk of freedom to us? We are free men." But in the eye of Christ they were in the most miserable captivity. It is common here in England to hear men —

1. Boast of religious liberty who have no religion. Some of its most strenuous advocates are destitute of reverence to God, and charity to men. These will repeat the boast while they are in bondage to their own prejudices, exclusiveness, love of fame or gain.

2. Boast of civil freedom who are moral slaves. Men who are under the tyranny of their own lusts and greed, who are even governed, as Carlyle says, "by a pot of heavy wet" and a clay pipe, peal out in thunderous chorus "Britons never shall be slaves." The worst part of this bondage is that men are unconscious of it. Hence they are mere creatures of circumstances. It is the more sad because it precludes any aspiration for self-manumission; and it is only self-effort that can liberate. Other men may deliver the prisoner from his dungeon, or the slave from his tyrant, or the serf from his despot; but no one can deliver him from bondage but himself, "He who would be free, himself must strike the blow."

II. ARE THE AUTHORS OF IT (ver. 34). It is not the sin of another man that makes me a slave, but my own. Solomon says, "His own iniquities shall take the wicked." Paul says, "To whom ye yield yourselves to obey his servants ye are," etc. Shakespeare says, Vice is imprisonment. Every sin a man commits forges a new link in the chain that manacles his soul. The longer a man pursues a certain course of conduct the mere wedded he becomes to it, and the less power he has to abandon it. Habit is a cord strengthened with every action, at first it is as fine as silk, and can be easily broken. As it proceeds it becomes a cable. Habit is a momentum, increasing with motion. At first a child's hand can obstruct the progress, by and by an army of giants cannot arrest it. Habit is a river, at its spring you can divert its course with ease, as it approaches the ocean it defies opposition.

III. CAN BE DELIVERED FROM IT (ver. 36). How does Christ make the soul free? By generating in the heart supreme love to the supremely good. It is a law of mind to have some permanent object of affection, and that object limits its field of operation. The man who loves money most will have all his faculties confined to that region. The same with him who loves fame, or pleasure, etc. But all these objects are limited; hence the soul is hemmed in as in a cage. In order to have freedom the heart should be centred on an infinite object, and this Christ does. And with God as the centre of the heart all the faculties have unbounded scope. Conclusion: All souls not made free by Christ are in slavery. Even the heathen considered the virtues essential to true freedom. said "The wise man alone is free." represents the lusts as the hardest tyrants. Seneca speaks of the passions as the worst thraldom. said "Liberty is the name of virtue." And this virtue is obtained only through Christ.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

The whole past history of their nation was the record of one bondage following hard on another, they for their sins having come at one time or another under the yoke of almost every people round about them. They have been, by turns, in bondage to the Canaanites, in bondage to the Philistines, in bondage to the Syrians, in bondage to the Chaldaeans; then again to the Greece-Syrian kings; and now, even at the very moment when this indignant disclaimer is uttered, the signs of a foreign rule, of the domination of the stranger, everywhere met their eye. They bought and sold with Roman money; they paid tribute to a Roman emperor; a Roman governor sat in their judgement hall; a Roman garrison occupied the fortress of their city. And yet, with all this plain before their eyes, brought home to their daily, hourly experience, they angrily put back the promise of Christ, "The truth shall make you free," as though it conveyed an insult: "How sayest thou, ye shall be made free? We were never in bondage to any man."

(Abp. Trench.)

Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin
Sin is the suicidal action of the human will. It destroys the power to do right, which is man's true freedom. The effect of vicious habit in diminishing a man's ability to resist temptation is proverbial. But what is habit but a constant repetition of wrong decisions. The will cannot be forced or ruined from outside. But if we watch the influence upon the will of its own yielding to temptation, we shall discover that the voluntary faculty may be ruined from within. Whatever springs from will we are responsible for. The drunkard's powerlessness issues from his own inclination and therefore is no excuse. "If weakness may excuse, what murderer, what traitor, parricide, incestuous, sacrilegious, may not plead it? All wickedness is weakness." Sin is spiritual slavery, if viewed in reference —

I. TO MAN'S SENSE OF OBLIGATION TO BE PERFECTLY HOLY.

1. The obligation to be holy as God is rests upon every rational being, and he is a debtor to this obligation until he has fully met it. Hence even the holiest are conscious of sin, because they are not completely up to this high calling. This sense is as "exceeding broad" as the commandment, and will not let us off with the performance of a part of our duty. It is also exceeding deep, for it outlives all others. In the hour of death it grows more vivid and painful as all else grows dimmer. A man forgets then whether he has been prosperous or unsuccessful and remembers only that he has been a sinner. It might seem that this sense would be sufficient to overcome sin, and bring man up to the discharge of duty; but experience shows that in proportion as a man hears the voice of conscience, in this particular does be become aware of the bondage of his will.

2. In our careless unawakened state we sin on, just as we live on without being distinctly aware of it. A healthy man does not go about holding his fingers on his wrist, neither does a sinner as he goes about his business think of his transgressions. Yet the pulse beats, and the will transgresses none the less. Though the chains are actually about us they do not gall us. "We are alive without the law." But as the Spirit of God awakens the conscience, that sense of the obligation to be perfectly holy starts up and man begins to form an estimate of what has been done in reference to it. Now the commandment comes, shows us what we ought to be and what we are, and we die (Romans 7:9-11). The muscle has been cut by the sword of truth, and the limb drops helpless, and we learn in a most affecting manner that "whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin." But suppose after this discovery we endeavour to comply with the obligation: this only renders us more painfully sensible of the truth of the text.

II. TO THE ASPIRATIONS OF THE SOUL. All those serious impressions and painful anxieties concerning salvation, which require to be followed up by a mighty power from God to prevent their being suppressed again by the love of sin and the world. For though man has fallen into a state of death in sins, yet through the common influences of the Spirit of Grace, and the workings of rational nature, he is at times the subject of aspirations which indicate the heights from which he fell The minds of the greatest of the ancient pagans were the subjects of these aspirations, and they confess their utter inability to realize them. The journals of the missionary disclose the same in modern heathenism. All these phenomena show the rigid bondage of sin. The drunkard in his sober moments longs to be free and resolves never to drink again. But the sin is strong and the appetite that feeds it is in his blood. Temptation comes before the enslaved will. He aspires to resist but will not; and never is he more conscious of being a slave to himself than when he thus ineffectually aspires to be delivered from himself. This applies to all sin. There is no independent and self-realizing power in mere aspiration, and when, under the influence of God's common grace, a man endeavours to extirpate the inveterate depravity of his heart, he feels his bondage more thoroughly than ever.

III. TO THE FEARS OF THE SOUL.

1. The sinful spirit fears the death of the body, and therefore we are all our lifetime subject to bondage. We know that bodily dissolution can have no effect on the imperishable essence, yet we shrink back from it.

2. The spirit fears that "fearful something after death" — eternal judgment. We tremble having to give an account of our own actions, and to reap the harvest, the seed of which we have sown.

3. The spirit has an awful dread of eternity. Though this invisible realm is the proper home of the soul, never is the soul stirred to so great depths as when it feels the power of an endless life. Men will labour convulsively day and night for money, power, fame, pleasure; but what is the paroxysm of this activity compared with those throes, when the startled sinner sees the eternal world looming into view.

4. If, now, we view sin in relation to these three great fears we see that it is spiritual slavery. Our terror is no more able to deliver us than our aspirations. The dread that goes down to hell can no more save us than the aspiration that goes up to heaven.Conclusion:

1. This bondage is self-inflicted, and therefore the way of release is not to throw the burden of it upon God.

2. The way out of it is to accept the method of deliverance afforded by Christ.

(Prof. Shedd.)

I. Note OF WHOM OUR LORD SPEAKS. "He that committeth sin" — i.e., he who has become a doer of sin; the habitual, conscious, wilful sinner. He is the bondslave, the absolute thrall, the hopeless subject of an overmastering tyranny. It will help us to obtain a completer view of what this implies if we trace the steps by which the end is reached.

1. We must begin by having a clear idea of what temptation is. It is the suggestion to our mind of the pleasure or good to be got by doing or allowing something which is against the will of God, and so against the perfectness of our own true nature. Such suggestions are innumerable and take their peculiar colour from the temperament of our own mental and bodily constitution. For as there is a special excellence to which we may attain, so there must be, in the perversion of that excellence, a special character of evil to which we are most prone. In the mere entrance of this suggestion there is nothing sinful. Such were east into the mind of our Lord. Sin begins when the mind rests with pleasure upon the evil suggestion, but if this is resisted there is no sin. But when the sweet morsel is rolled under the tongue, the acting of sin has begun, and the next step is near the consent of the will to the suggestion.

2. How the bond is wound around the soul, the contemplation of the progress of sin suggests to us. One impure thought cherished, still more one impure act allowed, is the certain cause of after suggestions of impurity: and so it is of every other sin. The harbouring of anger opens the mind to new suggestions of wrath; the allowance of one wandering thought in prayer, invites the disturbing presence of a crowd of others: the nursing one doubt multiplies after its kind.

3. He who has allowed his spirit to rest on the conscious sweetness of sin has made that indulgence a necessity to him: and then, as this, like all other sweetness, soon palls upon the taste, he has made it needful in order to obtain the same gratification, to yield himself more completely to it, and to seek it in its larger measures and fiercer qualities. And so his taste becomes degraded and his gratifications coarser; until the power of relishing purer pleasures is rapidly becoming extinguished; they seem used up and insipid; and thus he is led to the one step further of consenting to the evil which has miserably become his good. Then indeed the chain is bound about him. For though every indulgence lessens the pleasure of indulging, yet the growing power of habit more than supplies the place of the energy of enjoyment, nay, the pleasure of sin may not only be lessened, but be gone; the chain may even gall him, but he cannot break it.

4. Other bonds besides those of habit are winding themselves around him.(1) There is from the conscience, commixing continually with pollution, a daily lower. ins of the standard of the soul, which makes it with less consciousness of its degradation bow itself to greater evils, until the infirmity is such that it can in no wise lift itself up.(2) With this growing disorder of the conscience the other faculties sympathize. The will which was once calm, ready, resolute, grows vehement and irresolute, passionate and yet tardy, an uncrowned king, the helpless sport of insolent menials.

5. Even this is not all. For higher powers and greater endowments have been passing from his soul in the sad process of its enchaining; it has been denying its fellowship with Christ, resisting and grieving the Holy Spirit; and as that free Spirit withdraws itself, all true liberty for the soul is lost, and the evil spirit comes in and dwells there, making the slavery complete.

6. All this is true of spiritual sins. The suggestion of doubt — e.g., involves no sin; for into the mind of Jesus was thrown the question, "If Thou be the Son of God?" But if the suggestion, instead of being cast out, is gloated on; if the pleasant thought is indulged of being a great thinker, and being able to manifest a certain shallow ability by the utterance of petulant flippancy, then assuredly sin enters, and the assent of the soul to that which at first startled or offended it soon follows. Then comes boldness and rudeness of spirit in dealing with heavenly mysteries. The mind becomes darkened, and the eyes blind, and then comes the end of the dungeon and the chain. The lamentations which sometimes break forth from the prison are the saddest to be heard on earth; the voice of the despairing soul crying aloud for its early power of believing, sad echo of this note of warning, "He that committeth sin is the servant of sin."

II. THE CHIEF PRACTICAL GUARDS AGAINST THE ENEMY.

1. Guard especially against the beginnings of temptation. Galling as is the end of the sinner's captivity, the separate bonds by which it is secured are seldom heavy. The soul is the giant who is being manacled unawares, by the winding round him of a multitude of threads; those painted gossamers which float so brightly in the dewy morning will grow into fetters, and you will lose the power of resisting before you know that it is threatened. Moreover, temptations in their early stages are mostly to little sins, which severally do not alarm the conscience, and thus men grow to sin securely. The snowflakes, with their feathery lightness, choke the highway with an immovable barrier, whilst the giant tree which falls across it, is but the obstruction of an hour. A waterspout bursts, makes a moment's inundation, and disappears; whilst the small but numberless drops of rain furnish the deep floods which fill the banks of mighty rivers.

2. Realize your own place in the kingdom of grace. Despair is destruction; and self-trust only despair in its early unsuspected actings. Only in the strength of God's grace can we resist sin.

3. Seek a living union with Christ. If thou art one with Him, thou canst not be enslaved. But for this, more is needed than profession, or baptism; there must be personal surrender to Christ. He must be the centre round which thy life moves.

(Bp. Samuel Wilberforce.)

1. Our Lord is speaking of servant and son generically. A son is a natural inalienable part of the family; a slave is not. He may be acquired, sold, given away, set free. There was in Jewish servitude provision against the slaves continuing "in the houses forever," at the Jubilee, unless he gave himself to his master, in which case bondage was exchanged for consecration: he was free. But a son is bound to his father's household by a tie which no distance breaks, and no time wears away.

2. The application of this is not that the servants are the Jews, who were such because of their constrained obedience, and would, therefore, forfeit their national privileges, and be cast out of the house; for in ver. 34 the master of the slave is distinctly specified "Sin," and therefore cannot be "God" in this verse.

3. The force of the thought, "Slave's sin does not abide in sin's house," is that, however hard the bondage of sin, the slave is not in his true home, nor incorporated hopelessly into his taskmaster's family.

4. Into the midst of this tyrant's household there has come one who is a Son, and abides forever in the household of God, even Christ. Sin's house, in so far as that expression denotes this fair world, belongs to God, and the tyranny is usurpation. Into the midst of human society He comes who is a Son forever, and the emancipation He effects is adoption.

I. THE POSSIBLE ENDING OF THE TYRANNY OF SIN. "A slave abides not in the house forever." All the world has dimly hoped that it was so; but no man has been sure of it, apart from revelation. Christ has shown that sin is not natural to man, as God meant him to be, howsoever it may have twined around his life.

1. We see that from our own constitution. Look at these minds of ours, originating thoughts, born for immortality; these hearts with their rich treasures of transcendent affections; these wills so weak, yet so strong, craving for authority, and yet striving to be a law unto themselves; these consciences so sensitive and yet so dull, waking up only when the evil is done, voices which have no means of getting their behests obeyed, and yet are the echo of the supreme Lawgiver's voice; the manifest disproportion between what we are, and might, and ought to be; and then say whether the universal condition of sinfulness is not unnatural, a fungus, not a true growth.

2. Then there is no such relation between a sinner and his sin as that deliverance should be impossible. It must be possible to part them, and to leave the man stronger for the loss of what made him weak. We may be brought to our true home in our Father's house. Howsoever the fetters may have galled and mortified the limbs they may be struck off.

3. Men have always cherished these convictions, and in spite of history and experience. They have tried to set themselves free, and their attempts have come to nothing — and yet after all failures this hope has sprung immortal. True, we cannot effect the deliverance. It is like some cancer — a blood disease. We may pare and cut away the rotting flesh — the single manifestations of evil we can do something to reduce; but a deeper surgery is needed. Sin is not our personality, and so we may have it removed and live, but sin has become so entangled with ourselves that we cannot undo it. The demoniac, who, in his confused consciousness, did not know which was devil and which man — "my name is legion, for we are many" — could not shake off the demon. But the voice that said "Come out of him" has power still.

II. THE ACTUAL DELIVERER. "The Son abideth ever," while a general statement, has a specific reference to our Lord, and if so the two houses must be the same, or at least the Son, who is ever in His Father's house, must yet be in the midst of the bondsmen in the dark fortress of the tyrant. That is but a figurative way of putting the necessity that our freedom must come from outside humanity, and yet be diffused from a source within. Unless it come from above it will not be able to lift us, but unless it be on our level we shall not be able to grasp it. The Deliverer must Himself be free, therefore must be removed from the fatal continuity of evil; but he must be a sharer in their condition whom He would set free. These contradictory requirements meet in Him who has been anointed to proclaim liberty to the captives (John 3:13). Two things are required, that the Deliverer should be the Son of God, and that He should be the Son forever (Galatians 4:4, 5). We have to trust to a living Saviour who is as near the latest generations as to the first. "This man because he continueth ever is able to save to the uttermost."

III. THE ABIDING SONSHIP WHICH CONSTITUTES THE SLAVE'S EMANCIPATION. The process of deliverance is the transfer from the one household to the other. We are set free from our bondage when through Christ we receive the adoption, and cry, "Abba! Father!" This filial spirit, the spirit of life which was in Christ Jesus, "makes us free from the law of sin and death." Conclusion: There are but two conditions in which we can stand — slaves of sin or sons of God.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

This contrast between the position of the slave, who is a chattel that maybe bought or bartered or sold, and has no affinity with the members of the house, and no permanent right in it; and the son, in whose veins is the master's blood, and who is heir of all things, is obvious and general; but here, again, the present meaning is special. They claim to be the seed of Abraham. Did they remember the history of Isaac and Ishmael? The son of the freewoman abideth in the house; the son of the bondmaid is cast out.

(Archdeacon Watkins.)

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
S. S. Times., E. White.
A common objection of workingmen to going to church is that they will be brought into subjection to the priesthood. They stay away therefore to protect their freedom. Now let us look at —

I. THE ENGLISH SLAVE WHO GOES TO CHURCH. He is a man who dares not think for himself, or dares not say what he thinks.

1. No one can deny that some forms of religion frighten people from the use of their faculties on religious subjects; hence they give themselves over to a priesthood who tell them how they must and how they must not think. And so wherever we find religious teachers organized into a priesthood, we find a mighty instrument for the enslavement of the mind. It was so of old. Whenever there was an organized national priesthood, the nation lost its senses, and became slaves to caste, as in Egypt and India; but wherever the priests of the different temples had no organic connection, or the monarch was priest, as in Greece, and Rome, there the people retained some of their freedom. The same holds good in England today. In proportion as priests congregate in councils, unchecked by the laity, to issue decrees, candid thought is extinguished. But to what a miserable condition is the man reduced whose soul is a sort of parrot, kept by a priest to repeat the phrases authority has taught him.

2. But there are slaves who are not under the thumb of the priesthood, but dare not think or speak for themselves for fear of their congregation or party. Thus it is that so many persons never grow wiser. In order to grow wiser you must drop some old opinion or form some new one; and to do either of these you must defy the world and use your faculties without asking anyone's leave. And this is what many are not prepared to do, because it might involve loss of repute, friends or position.

3. Now, whatever they may profess, neither the priest or party ridden are true worshippers of God. True worship is based on personal conviction — "In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

II. THE ENGLISH SLAVE WHO DOES NOT GO TO CHURCH. The influence of men upon each other is at its maximum where there is the closest association and the freest speech. This is the case among the working classes. Here, therefore, it requires most courage for a man to stand on his own feet and be true to his own conscience. And there is a large proportion of skilled artizans who are not strong minded enough to resist the dictation of their leaders or equals. Suppose a man who works in a large factory finds himself in the midst of a system of drinking and conversation which disgusts his better nature, and where his conscience commands him not to go with this multitude to do evil, but to assert his manhood; does every skilled workman obey that inward voice? Is it not notorious that thousands dare not? And is it not as bad to be in slavery to bad people as to good? Or if an intelligent workman finds himself surrounded by men who have resolved that the clumsy and idle shall be paid at the same rate as the industrious and skilful, and who in his heart abhors this part of the system, has he the courage to say so and to act accordingly? There is in some parts a reign of terrorism, so that few would dare to say that the present exaggerated system of combination and intimidation in strikes is crushing the spirit of personal liberty, and the chivalrous, independent character of the old English artificer. Now such, notwithstanding all their other excellencies, are the last who ought to point to the enslavement of men's minds in the churches. The secret of national greatness and dignity is the setting free of thought, labour, trade, capital. Combine voluntarily for trade purpose as much as you please, but intimidate no man.

III. THE TRUE METHOD OF BECOMING FREE.

1. Slavery requires two parties — the tyrant who domineers, and the slave who submits. The true remedy therefore is to teach men not to submit to unlawful authority; and this is what Christ came to do. All external slavery proceeds from internal. When men dare to think and speak honestly, and act out their convictions, the tyrant's occupation is gone. To set free the thinking power, therefore, is the secret of all other liberties. But this is enslaved. What is freedom? To have the proper use of one's powers and faculties. The condition of the free action of the understanding is that the animal appetites be restrained within certain limits. If a man give way to his thirst for drink, then his intellect ceases to act freely, and thus he is a slave. And so with the other passions.

2. Christ offers to set us free.(1) By setting before us the only Being who has a right to control our thoughts, and by demanding that we should fear Him and no one else. Out of this springs all true freedom. This is what gave boldness to the early Christians. "We ought to obey God rather than man."(2) By supplying the only adequate motive — love to God and man.

(E. White.)

I. THE AFFECTING REPRESENTATION WHICH GOD'S WORD GIVES OF MEN AS SINNERS. The text goes upon the supposition that freedom is required. The idea of bondage represents —

1. Our relation to God as sinners. We have violated the law, which consequently has its hand upon us. We are therefore convicted criminals, shut up until the judgment shall be executed.

2. Our moral condition, which is under the control of diabolical powers who reign in the children of disobedience. This spiritual slavery may differ much. There are some who have practised upon them, and who practise on others, a splendid imposition. Their chains are gilded. Their tyrants put on the appearance of virtue. But others are slaves to the lowest and most degrading appetites.

II. SCRIPTURE GIVES US A CONTRAST — LIBERTY.

1. With respect to our relation to God. The law takes off its hand, the man is loosened, and he comes forth to the liberty of the child of God, forgiven, justified.

2. With respect to the bondage of the devil. As the man once gave up his members, servants of unrighteousness, he now yields himself to God as a servant of holiness.

III. HOW THIS EMANCIPATION IS EFFECTED. It is evidently of such a nature that it could not effect itself. Observe that bondage may be a matter of justice or of usurpation. Then freedom in the former case must be a matter of righteous arrangement, in the latter of force.

1. With respect to bondage as a matter of justice, the case of the sinner in relation to God, the law has a righteous demand on the sinner, for it is holy and good and cannot be violated. Hence we find there is a righteous arrangement — a consideration, a ransom — the atoning death of Christ. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law," etc.

2. With respect to the usurpation. Sin and Satan are usurpers. Man was made for God, not for sin; for truth, not for error. Hence there is a positive operation of mind. God comes down upon a man's heart by the power of His Spirit and renews him.

3. All this is accomplished in consistency with our rational nature. There is something to be observed in the mind of man. The ransom being paid, the mind of man must be brought to harmonize with the mind of God. There are three stages in the process of delivery from the bondage which is matter of justice.(1) The offended Moral Governor admitting an arrangement at all; it is matter of grace entirely.(2) This arrangement being effected is acknowledged and accepted by God, and then published to the individuals concerned, that they may know that their loss will henceforth be their own.(3) Repentance, and faith in the means, thus harmonizing with the arrangement of God. But this faith which justifies also sanctifies. Faith leads to the acceptance of the proffered Deliverer, who frees us from the bondage of corruption.

IV. THE PERFECTION AND REALITY OF THE GOSPEL — "free indeed."

1. Freedom from bondage by ransom is complete in every sense.

2. Freedom by power brings the highest liberty of a rational and moral nature.

3. When God gives the one He always gives the other. You may emancipate the slave, but you cannot give him the virtues of a freeman, but when God sets you free He operates on the character, and thus we are free indeed.

V. PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS.

1. We rejoice in the liberty of the slave, and we do well, but how dreadful to think that many who do this are slaves themselves. The slave often fixed his hope on death, which would terminate his agony, but if you die in slavery it will continue forever.

2. Let your minds be affected by the splendour of that ransom which has been paid for your freedom. We talk about the twenty millions that we gave for the liberty of the slave, but "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things," etc.

3. If you profess to be the subjects of God's delivering mercy, walk worthy of your profession. "Ye are debtors, not to the flesh to live after the flesh."

4. Rejoice in that which is to come.

(1)The liberating kingdom of Christ.

(2)The deliverance of the whole creation from bondage.

(T. Binney.)

Blessed is that word "free," and blessed He who lives to make men so. Political slavery is an intolerable evil, and blessed the man who hurls down the despot and gives men their true rights. But men may have political liberty and yet be slaves, for there is religious bondage, and he who cringes before the priest is a slave. Blessed are our eyes that see the light of gospel liberty, and are no longer immured in Popish darkness. Yet a man may be delivered from the bond of superstition only to become a slave to his own lusts. He only is a free man who is master of himself by the grace of God.

I. FREEDOM IS POSSIBLE. The Son of God can make the prisoner free.

1. Negatively.(1) From past guilt which weighs so heavily upon many — for His blood "cleanseth from all sin."(2) From the punishment of sin, the fear of which is grievous bondage, for He has borne it in our place,(3) From the power of sin, the same blood which purifies enables a man to overcome. They in heaven washed their robes and overcame through the blood of the Lamb.(4) From the fear of death, which keeps many "all their lifetime subject to bondage." When sin is pardoned the law is satisfied, and the strength of sin therefore broken and the sting taken out of death. If we believe in Christ we shall fall asleep, but never die.

2. Positively. We are not only free from, but free to. When persons receive the freedom of a city certain privileges are bestowed. To be made free by Christ is to be free to call oneself God's child, to claim His protection and blessing, to sit at His table, to enter His Church, and at last to be free of the New Jerusalem.

II. BEWARE OF FALSE LIBERTY. Every good thing is imitated by Satan. There is —

1. Antinomian liberty. "I am not under the law, therefore I may do as I like." A blessed truth followed by an atrocious inference. To be under the law is to give God the service of a slave who fears the lash, but to be under grace is to serve God out of pure love.

2. National professional freedom, based upon baptism, and regular attendance at religious ordinances, and performance of outward religious duties. But a good many people dream that they are what they are not. Christ must have come and shown you your slavery, and you must have found through Him the way of escape or you are enslaved.

3. The liberty of natural self-righteousness and the power of the flesh.

III. TRUE FREEDOM COMES TO US THROUGH HIM WHO IS IN THE HIGHEST SENSE "THE SON." No man gets free but as he comes to Christ; otherwise he will only rivet on his fetters. This liberty —

1. Is righteously bestowed. Christ has the right to make men free.

2. Was dearly purchased. Christ speaks it by His power, but He bought it by His blood. He makes free, but by His own bonds.

3. Is freely given. Jesus asks nothing of us for it. He saves sinners just as they are.

4. Is instantaneously received. The captive has often to pass through many doors — but the moment we believe we are free, although we may have been fettered at ten thousand points.

5. Is done forever. When Christ sets free no chains can bind again.

IV. ARE WE FREE? If so, then —

1. We have changed our lodging place, for the slave and the Son sleep not in the same room. The things which satisfied the servant will not satisfy the Son.

2. We live not as we used to do. We go not to slaves' work, to toil and sweat to earn the wages of sin; but now as a Son serveth His Father we do Son's work.

3. We strive to set others free; if we have no zeal for the emancipation of others we are slaves still.

4. We hate all sorts of chains, all kinds of sin, and will never willingly put on the fetters any more.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Free indeed! Really free! Then there must be an unreal, imaginary freedom.

1. A whole family or nation in bondage is a sad sight, but it is sadder if their eyes are out, so that they fondly dream themselves free.

2. The most melancholy thing in a madhouse is the poor patient who weaves a crown of rags and gives orders as a king, casting all the while stolen and startled glances on the iron bars, and trembling under the keeper's glance.

3. You have lain down wearily to sleep, and dreamt that you soared in the upper air; but when you awoke your limbs were stiffer and heavier. Flying was a dream; the cold reality was only a painful dragging of benumbed limbs.

4. In literary and political circles liberty is plentiful as a profession, but scanty as a power. Independence is frequently a term of sarcasm when men desire to make sport of bondage.

5. But the cases are most numerous of men loudly boasting of their liberty, while vice, like a possessing spirit rules in the heart, and lashes to a degrading task. Apart from Christ, redemption and the Spirit's renewal, the struggles of a sinful race to shake off their bonds are like those of Samson when his locks were shorn and his eyes put out, with the Philistines making sport.

6. The Jews took it ill that Jesus should propose to make them free. "We were never in bondage," and yet the Romans held them in their grip.

7. Our inherited and actual bondage has two sides, corresponding to the two sides in Christ's liberty. Spiritual slavery is guilt on the conscience and rebellion in the will. Like the relation between perpendicular pressure and horizontal motion is the relation between these two. Sin and the wrath it deserves constitute the dead weight which presses the spirit down, and thus it cannot go forward in duty. When God's anger is removed we yield ourselves willing instruments of His righteousness. When the Son, by redeeming us from the guilt and power of sin, has made us free, we are free indeed.

I. THE MAIN ELEMENT OF THE BONDAGE IS GUILT AND APPREHENSION OF JUDGMENT.

1. The book in which our debt is registered lies far above, out of our sight; but the charge against a man is led by an electric wire from God's secret book right into the man's own bosom, disturbing his rest and blighting all his joys. Conscience is a mysterious, susceptible instrument, bringing the man in close and mysterious connection with the great white throne and the living God. The pain is in practice deadened more or less by a hardening of the instrument, so that it loses a measure of its susceptibility; but mysterious beatings sometimes thrill through all its searings and compel the sinner to realize the presence of the living God.

2. It is natural that the slave, wearied of such inspection, should cast about for means of becoming free. To quench this burning of the unclean conscience all the bloody sacrifices of the heathen were offered, all the efforts of self-righteousness are directed. They are so many blows to sever the connecting rod, so that the Judge's anger may not be felt; but "there is no peace to the wicked."

3. But a real liberty is possible. The Son can open the seven-sealed book and blot out the reckoning: "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." The Mediator has placed Himself in the line of communication between the Judge and the culprit. The frown of justice due to sin is changed into love as it passes through the Mediator, no longer a consuming fire, but the light of life. On the other side, my sins are absorbed in the suffering Saviour as they pass, and His righteousness ascends as mine and for me.

II. THERE IS A FALSE FREEDOM WITH WHICH MEN DELUDE THEMSELVES AND A REAL FREEDOM WHICH CHRIST BESTOWS UPON HIS OWN.

1. The essence of slavery lies in the terror of the master, that sits like a stone upon the heart. After the slave has accomplished his task, something occurs that he ought to have done, and he asks tremblingly, "What lack I yet?" There may be a good deal of work without reconciliation, but there is no liberty in it and no love. It is the heavy weight of unforgiven sin that prevents a man bounding fleetly on the errands of his Lord. When condemnation is taken away obedience begins (Psalm 116:16).

2. Those who are strangers to the liberty of dear children misunderstand this obedience. Here is a man who lives for pleasure. He is good-natured, and if he would not suffer much to promote the happiness of others he would not injure them. He knows another who denies himself, and prosecutes some difficult line of benevolence, and cannot understand him. If the Christian were morose and gloomy he could explain his conduct, but he is precisely the reverse. He counts that liberty which the Christian counts bondage, and that bondage which the Christian counts liberty. But the disciple of Christ has changed, and therefore cannot be understood: he has been made willing in the day of God's power, which the worldling has never felt.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

It is impossible to mistake the charm and power which attach to the word "liberty." There is something in our nature which at once responds to it. It appeals to sympathies which are universal and profound. Liberty is itself, in one particular sense, the excellence of man as man, i.e., of man as endowed with a free will. As man compares himself with the inanimate creation and the lower animals he knows that he is what they are not. The sense of this prerogative is the ground of human self-respect. To attempt to crush the exercise of this endowment is regarded, as a crime against human nature, while the undertaking to strengthen its vigour and enlarge its scope appeals to man's profound desire to make the best of that which is his central self. But when in this connection we use the word two different things are often intended. The liberty to choose between good and evil, with an existing inclination in the direction of evil is one thing; the true moral liberty of man is another. Man's true liberty may be described as the unimpeded movement of his will towards God; but the only liberty with which many speakers and writers trouble themselves is a liberty to choose between good and evil, as though we could not conceive of a liberty which did not include the choice of evil — as though the power of choosing evil was an integral element of real human liberty. Let us rid ourselves of this miserable misconception. True liberty is secured when the will moves freely within its true element, which is moral good. Moral good is to the human will what the air is to the bird, what water is to the fish. Bird and fish have freedom enough in their respective elements. Water is death to the bird as air is death to the fish. A bird can sometimes drown itself; a fish can leap out of the water and die upon the bank; but the liberty of fish and bird is sufficiently complete without this added capacity for self-destruction. And so it is with man. Moral good, the moral law of God, is the element within which the human will may safely find room for its utmost capacities of healthful exercise and invigoration; and when a man takes it into his head that his freedom is incomplete if it does not include a license to do wrong, he is in a fair way to precipitate himself out of his true vital element, to the enslavement and ruin of his will. Every Christian will understand this. He knows that he would gain nothing in the way of moral freedom by a murder or a lie. He knows that our Lord, who did no sin, was not, therefore, other than morally free, since it was His freedom in giving Himself to death, which is the essence of His self-sacrifice for the sins of the world. Nay, a Christian knows, too, that God could not choose evil without doing violence to His essential nature. But is God, therefore, without moral freedom? And does it not follow that the more closely man approaches the holiness of God, the more closely does he approach to the true idea of liberty.

(Canon Liddon.)

I. WHAT BELIEVERS ARE NOT FREED FROM IN THIS WORLD.

1. From obedience to the moral law. It is true that we are not under it as a covenant for justification, but we are still under it as a rule for direction. Its matter is as unchangeable as the nature of good and evil is (Matthew 5:17-18). Its precepts are still urged under the gospel to enforce duties (Ephesians 6:12). It is therefore a vain distinction of the Libertines that it binds us as creatures, not as Christians; the unregenerate part, but not the regenerate. But this is a sure truth that they who are freed from its penalties are still under its precepts, and though no more under its curse, Christians are still under its conduct. The law sends us to Christ to be justified, Christ sends us to the law to be regulated (Psalm 119:4, 5).

2. From the temptations and assaults of Satan. Even those who are freed from his dominion are not free from his molestation (Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 12:7). Though he cannot kill them, he can and does afflict them (Ephesians 6:16).

3. From the motions of indwelling sin (Romans 7:21-24). Corruptions, like Canaanites, are still left to be thorns in the side.

4. From inward troubles and exercises on account of sin (Job 7:19; Psalm 88:14, 16; Psalm 38:1-11).

5. From the rods of affliction. God in giving us liberty does not abridge His own (Psalm 89:32). All God's children are made free, yet what son is there that his father chasteneth not (Hebrews 12:8). Exemption from affliction is rather the mark of a slave.

6. From the stroke of death, though they are freed from its sting (Romans 8:10).

II. WHAT THAT BONDAGE IS FROM WHICH EVERY BELIEVER IS FREED BY CHRIST.

1. From the rigour and curse of the law, which is replaced by the gentle and easy yoke of Christ (Matthew 11:28). The law required perfect working under the pain of a curse (Galatians 3:10), accepted of no short endeavours and no repentance, gave no strength. But now strength is given (Philippians 4:13), sincerity is reckoned perfection (Job 1:1), duty becomes delight, and failings hinder not acceptance.

2. From the guilt of sin. It may trouble, but it cannot condemn them (Romans 8:33), the handwriting against them is cancelled (Colossians 2:14).

3. From the dominion of sin (Romans 6:14; Romans 8:2).

4. From the power of Satan (Luke 11:21, 22).(1) By price. The blood of Christ purchases believers out of the hand of justice by satisfying the law for them, which being done, Satan's authority fails of course, as the power of a jailer over the prisoner when he has a legal discharge (Hebrews 2:14).(2) By power (Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 2:15).

5. From the poisonous sting and hurt of death (1 Corinthians 15:55, 56). Where there is no hurt there should be no horror.

III. WHAT KIND OF FREEDOM THAT IS WHICH COMMENCES UPON BELIEVING. There are two kinds of liberty.

1. Civil, which belongs not to the present business. Believers are not freed from the duties they owe to their superiors, whether servants (Ephesians 6:5) or citizens (Romans 13:4).

2. Spiritual. That which believers have now is but a beginning — they are free only in part — but it is growing every day and will be complete at last.

IV. THE EXCELLENCY OF THIS STATE OF SPIRITUAL FREEDOM.

1. It is a wonderful liberty never enough to be admired.(1) We owed God more than we could pay.(2) We were in the possession of the strong man, armed.(3) We were bound with many chains — the understanding with ignorance, the will with obstinacy, the heart with hardness, the affections with bewitching vanities. For such to be set at liberty is a wonder of wonders.

2. It is a peculiar freedom — one which few obtain, the great multitude abiding still in bondage (2 Corinthians 4:4).

3. A liberty dearly purchased. What the captain said (Acts 22:28) may be much more said of ours (1 Peter 1:18).

4. A growing and increasing liberty (Romans 13:11).

5. A comfortable freedom (1 Corinthians 7:22). It ranks the slave above the noble.

6. Perpetual and final (Acts 26:18).Improvement.

1. How rational is the joy of Christians above the joy of all others in the world (Psalm 126:1, 2; Luke 15:24).

2. How unreasonable and inexcusable the sin of apostasy. Will a delivered captive return to his shackles (Matthew 12:44, 45).

3. How well-becoming is a free spirit in believers to their state of liberty.

4. Let no man wonder at the opposition of Satan to the preaching of the gospel (Acts 26:18).

5. How careful should Christians be to maintain their spiritual liberty (Galatians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 1:24).

6. Let Satan's captives be encouraged to come to Christ.

(J. Flavel.)Only in the Son does human nature come to liberty, to the free use of all its powers. to the realization of all its privileges, to the full satisfaction of all its desires Christ gives us freedom from sin.

I. AS SIN REVEALS ITSELF IN UNBELIEF.

1. Peter says of some, "they cannot see afar off." They are short-sighted, they can only see what is close to them: food on the table, a five-pound note, title deeds, the earth and the stars, but they cannot see the highest universe, its grandeurs, its treasures, its delights. Thousands of men apparently free are really the poorest of slaves — the slaves of the senses. Some of these look round and think it a big cage, but the physical is only a cage, ample as it may seem. Many contrive to make themselves comfortable in their captivity; they trim their feathers, peek their sugar, sing their song, yet is the earthly life at its best but a captivity. It is only when man emerges into the spiritual element that he gets into the sky, stretches his wings, and tastes the pleasures for which he was born.

2. The truth as it is in Jesus makes us free from the tyranny of the senses; it opens our eyes and causes us to see the world behind the world, the sun behind the sun; it strengthens us that those heavenly places become accessible to us. Oh! how the walls of the prison house of sense would close in upon us quite if it were not for Jesus Christ. How the Lord's Prayer brings us into the full presence of the spiritual universe — the Divine Father, the Divine kingdom, the Divine will, the Divine grace, the Divine and everlasting goal! With that prayer realized in our heart, we feel there is something more than physiology, mechanism, and victuals; we have dropped the fetters of sense, we have got our feet out of the clogging bird lime of earthliness, we are free, gloriously free, like Tennyson's eagle "ringed round with the azure sky!"

3. We hear much in these days about "free thought," but free thought in the truest, noblest sense is realized only in Jesus Christ. The bondage of thought is the tyranny of materialism. Christ frees us from the most terrible illusions of all, the illusions of time and sense, and causes us to see that real universe, that glorious city of God of which this earth is but the shadow.

II. AS SIN REVEALS ITSELF IN DISOBEDIENCE.

1. "Whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin." Sin makes slaves of us in a variety of practical irregularities. Some of these are coarser, some more refined, but how impossible thousands find it to shake off the tyranny of those evil habits which have established themselves through years! One man is the victim of vanity, another of covetousness, another of ambition, another of appetite. A man's will can do much, but it sadly fails here. You will see sometimes a performer at a fair with an electric machine. At length a bumpkin comes up, and at the invitation of the professor smilingly seizes the handles. In a moment the poor fellow is convulsed, dances in pain, and cries for deliverance. Why does he not drop the thing? He cannot. Does not the crowd help? No; the crowd grins — the crowd always grins. The poor simpleton is at the mercy of the operator, and he goes on grinding. So it is today with thousands of men in sin; they are ashamed of themselves, horrified at themselves, filled full of torment and remorse; but they are powerless under the mysterious spell, and do again and again the thing they execrate.

2. But here again Christ can make you free indeed. Some of you think you will have to be buried in your fetters. Let me assure you Christ, by His mighty truth, and love, and grace, can strengthen you to burst these miserable bonds as Samson burst the green withes wherewith he was bound. Where is the proof? I will give you the best logical proof in the world — thousands of living men and women who have attained full mastery by the spirit of Christ. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?...And such were some of you," etc.

III. AS SIN REVEALS ITSELF IN LUST.

1. Christ does not repeal the moral law. He does not accommodate it to our weakness; on the contrary, He brings out more fully its deep, wide meaning, making it more imperative than ever. One of our sceptical writers tells us that when she got rid of Christianity she felt she emerged on "the broad breezy common of nature." Well, we are bound to accept her testimony. But, is there anything so very desirable about "breezy commons?" I never understood that the best things grew there; ferns and furze bushes are there, brambles, and crab apples; but the ripe orchards, the golden corn, the purple clusters, the richest blooms and blossoms, these are not found on breezy commons. I never understood that breezy commons were very desirable places to live on. And I never understood that the picturesque parties who usually pitch their tents and live on breezy commons constitute the cream of the world's population. There was far more truth in that lady's words than she suspected. To get rid of Christianity, its laws, its hopes, its fears, its inspirations, its reverence and love, is to emerge on a breezy common, all the best things lost forever. If our countrymen are to repudiate Christ, our country will emerge on that breezy common, and we shall dwell there as our Druidical fathers did before us. It has taken us more than a millennium to get off that breezy common, and find the goodly heritage of our present civilization, and every step of our progress has been through self-denial, self-limitation, renunciation, subordination, obedience. We have nothing to gain by license.

2. Christ does not give us liberty by modifying the law to suit our weakness. He destroys in us the element of lust or irregular desire. We find in ourselves what the theologian calls our fallen self, what the evolutionist calls our animal self, and this contradicts our best reason, and brings us into bondage. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit," etc. A man is a real slave when he is a slave at heart, when he cannot follow out delightfully the noble impulses and aspirations of his nature, and such slaves are we all by birth. Christ makes us "free indeed" by putting God's laws into our heart and writing them in our mind; by filling us with high, pure, bright, strong, expansive feeling; by making us to say with Himself, in His strength, "I delight to do Thy will O God." This is the true liberty, to will the good, to delight in it, to follow it passionately, to find our only heaven in it. And this is the freedom wherewith Christ maketh free.

IV. AS SIN REVEALS ITSELF IN FEAR.

1. The slave serves in fear. Now Christ, the Son, makes us sons, and, filling our heart with love to our heavenly Father, makes all life's duty light. In the power of a sublime love we accomplish the loftiest law, and taste the utmost freedom. Science tells us that the atmosphere presses upon us to the extent of something like fifteen pounds to the square inch, and an average sized man carries about with him something like fifteen tons weight. But we feel the atmosphere no burden — it is a pleasure to breathe, to feel it around us; "light as air" is a proverb. Why is this? The inward pressure of gases in our body is equal to the external weight, so we suffer no inconvenience — the air is no burden, it is life, joy, to all healthy organizations. So, as John shows, when we love God "His commandments are not grievous." The inward pressure, joy, power, hope, are equal to every exaction of the outward law, and so far from the commandment being a burden to us, it is a delight and glory.

2. And then, as to the future, sin fills us with fear. As Christ shows us in this place, sin disinherits us. "The slave has no permanent place in the household." And so we look forward with dismal apprehension. We are all our lifetime subject to the fear of death. Here Christ, by making us sons, changes fear to hope, and so gives us precious liberty. "The sting of death is sin," etc.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

or in reality: — The word is not the same as in ver. 31. The Jews claimed political freedom, but they were in reality the subjects of Rome. They claimed religious freedom, but they were in reality slaves to the letter. They claimed moral freedom, but they were in reality the bondmen of sin. The freedom which the Son proclaimed was in reality freedom, for it was the freedom of their true life, delivered from the thraldom of sin and brought into union with God. For the spirit of man, that in knowledge of the truth revealed through the Son can contemplate the Father and the eternal home, there is a real freedom that no power can restrain. All through this context the thoughts pass unbidden to the teaching of St. Paul, the great apostle of freedom. There could be no fuller illustration of the words than is furnished by his life. He, like St. Peter and St. John (Romans 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Revelation 1:1), had learned to regard himself as a "bondservant," but it was of Christ, "whose service is perfect freedom." We feel, as we think of him in bonds before Agrippa, or as a prisoner at Rome, that he is more truly free than he himself was when armed with authority to bind men and women because they were Christians. The chains that bind the body cannot bind the spirit whose chains have been loosed.

(Archdeacon Watkins.)

A ship outward bound has struck on a sunken rock ere she has well cleared out of the harbour. There she lies in the water, a mile from land, with the ocean all clear before her from that spot to her journey's end; but she moves not. What will make her move? The mechanical resources of our time could bring an enormous accumulation of force to bear upon her, but under all its pressure she will remain stationary. If you increase the dragging power beyond a certain point, you will wrench her asunder limb from limb, but you will not win her forward on her voyage. No; not this way — not by any such method can the ship be set free to prosecute her voyage. How, then? Let the tide rise, and the ship with it: now you may heave off your hawsers and send home your steamers. Hoist the sail, and the ship will herself move away like a bird on the wing. It is thus that a soul may be set free to bound forward on the path of obedience. Dragging will not do it. A soul cleaving to the dust is like a ship aground — it cannot go forward until it be lifted up; but when it is lifted up, it will go forward without any violent drawing. Further: the soul cleaving to the dust is lifted, as the ship was, by a secret but mighty attraction in the far-off heaven. Elevated by a winning from above, it courses over life with freedom. "I will run in the way of Thy commandments, when Thou hast enlarged my heart."

(W. Arnot.)

Three hundred years ago, in Holland, about one million of people stood for Protestantism and freedom in opposition to the mightiest empire of that age, whose banners the Pope had blessed. William, the Prince of Orange, a man who feared God, was the champion of the righteous cause. In the heat of the struggle, when the young republic seemed about to be overwhelmed, William received a missive from one of his generals, then in command of an important post, inquiring, among other things, if he had succeeded in effecting a treaty with any foreign power, as France or England, such as would secure aid. His reply was, "You ask me if I have made a treaty for aid with any great foreign power; and I answer, that, before I undertook the cause of the oppressed Christians in these provinces, I made a close alliance with the King of kings; and I doubt not that He will give us the victory." And so it proved.

Every man because he is free has the responsibility laid upon him by the hand of God of using His freedom in finding out the truth of duty, the obligations of conduct, the conditions of character. It is not enough to reject the authority of the Church; it is not enough to reject the authority of the minister; it is not enough to rail at the past; it is not enough to separate yourself from sects. You are to exercise this prerogative of liberty, not for the sake of forming systematic views, but for the sake of so shaping your life as to prepare yourselves for your eternal destiny. I lay that responsibility upon your liberty. Use, then, your liberty of judgment and conscience, but in God's name I enjoin you to use it for your salvation.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Take your stand on the margin of the ocean, on the western coast of this island, where the shore is a bold rugged rock, and when a long blue ground swell is rolling towards the land. I know not any aspect of merely inanimate nature that tends so strongly' to make one's heart sad. I have stood and gazed upon it until I was beguiled into a painfully tender sympathy with a mute struggling captive. Slowly, meekly, but withal mightily, the sea wave comes on in long, regular array, and striking with its extended front at all points simultaneously against the pitiless rock, is broken into white fragments and thrown on its back all thrilling and hissing with expiring agony. Sullen and sore the broken remnants of the first rank steal away to the rear, and hide themselves in the capacious bosom of the mother sea. Again, you perceive another long blue wave gathering its strength at a distance; with gloomy, unhopeful brow, as if warned by the fate of its predecessor, and hurried onward to its own, it rushes forward and delivers another assault against the rocky shore. It shares the fortune of the last. Again, and yet again, the water wearily gathers up its huge bulk, and again strongly but despairingly launches itself upon its prison walls, to be again broken and thrown back in utter discomfiture. You weep for the great helpless prisoner, who cannot weep for himself year after year, century after century, era after era, that prisoner toils and strikes upon the walls of his prison, but never once succeeds in clearing the barrier and flowing across the continent free. That mighty creature, with its sublime strength, and dumb, patient, unceasing labour, never succeeds in breaking its bonds — never leaps into liberty. Here you find a picture, such as no artist could ever make, of a sinner, or a worldful of sinners in the aggregate, as they lie in their prison, ceaselessly striving for enlargement, but never attaining it. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest." And can this water never get freedom? Is it doomed to lie weltering forever in its prison? Cannot the prisoner by any means be ever set free? The captive may be set at liberty; the captive is set at liberty day by day. Above the firmament are waters, as well as in the hollow which constitutes the ocean's bed. They are higher up — nearer heaven — as you see, these aerial waters; but being high in heaven, they are therefore free to move across the earth. Nothing conveys a more lively idea of quick, soft, unimpeded motion, than a flying cloud. Here is none of the effort visible even in the flight of birds. Absolutely free they are; and sweetly swiftly do the free run on the errands of their Lord. In this respect there is a sublime contrast between these waters that have been made free and those that are still enslaved — held down by their own dead weight within their prison walls. It is thus that human spirits advance in fleet, gladsome obedience, when the weight is lifted off, and they are permitted to rise. It is when you are raised up into favour that you can go onward to serve. "O Lord, truly I am Thy servant." That is a great attainment, David; how did you reach it? Hear him give the reason: "Thou hast loosed my bonds" (Psalm 116:16).

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

What a thrifty, robust plant is the potato when out in the field it grows beneath the sun! Its leaf so coarse and green, its stem so stout and succulent, it is a pleasure to look upon a thing which seems so to take hold of all the elements of life. But when it has sprouted in the cellar, which has but one north window, half closed, it is a poor, cadaverous, etiolated, melancholy vine, growing up to that little flicker of light; sickly, blanched, and brittle. Like the cellar-growing vine is the Christian who lives in the darkness and bondage of fear. But let him go forth, with the liberty of God, into the light of love, and he will be like the plant in the field, healthy, robust, and joyful.

(H. W. Beecher.)

What a difference must a Christian and a minister feel, between the trammels of some systems of divinity and the advantage of Scripture freedom, the glorious liberty of the sons of God. The one is the horse standing in the street in harness, feeding indeed, but on the contents of a bag tossed up and down; the other, the same animal in a large, fine meadow, where he lies down in green pastures, and feeds beside the still waters.

(W. Jay.)

I have heard that a great English prince on one occasion went to visit a famous king of Spain. The prince was taken down to the galleys, to see the men who were chained to the oars, and doomed to be slaves for life. The King of Spain promised, in honour of the prince's visit, that he would set free any one of these men that the prince might choose. So the prince went to one prisoner and said, "My poor fellow, I am sorry to see you in this plight; how came you here?" "Ah! sire," he answered, "false witnesses gave evidence against me; I am suffering wrongfully." "Indeed!" said the prince, and passed on to the next man. "My poor fellow, I am sorry to see you here; how did it happen?" "Sire, I certainly did wrong, but not to any great extent. I ought not to be here." "Indeed!" said the prince, and he went on to others, who told him similar tales. At last he came to one prisoner, who said, "Sire, I am often thankful that I am here; for I am sorry to own that if I had received my due I should have been executed. I am certainly guilty of all that was laid to my charge, and my severest punishment is just." The prince replied wittily to him, "It is a pity that such a guilty wretch as you are should be chained among these innocent men, and therefore I will set you free."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Only a short time ago a friend of mine was preaching in one of our cathedral churches. As he was going to select for his text a prominent passage in one of the portions for the day, he thought it expedient to inquire of the clerk, "What did the Canon preach from this morning?" The clerk became very pensive, seemed quite disposed to cudgel his brains for the proper answer; but, somehow or other, he really could not think of it just then. All the men of the choir were robing in the adjacent vestry, so he said that he would go and ask them. Accordingly, the question was passed round the choir, and produced the same perplexity. At length the sagacious clerk returned, with the highly explicit answer, "It was upon the Christian religion, sir!" I think those good people must have needed a reminder as to how we should hear; don't you?

(W. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)The only reason why so many are against the Bible is because they know the Bible is against them.

(G. S. Bowes.)

The Leisure Hour.
The Bible has been expelled for centuries, by atheistic or sacerdotal hate, from the dwellings of many of the European nations. As a matter of course, the domestic virtues have declined; the conjugal relation is disparaged; deception and intrigue have supplanted mutual confidence; and Society has become diseased to its very core. The very best thing we can do — the only thing which will be efficient — to arrest these evils, is to restore to those nations the Word of God; to replace in their houses that Bible of which they have been robbed. Only do for France and Italy, Belgium and Spain, Portugal and Austria, what has been attempted, and to a great extent accomplished, for our country; put a Bible in every family, and a mightier change will pass over Europe than can be effected by all the diplomacy of her statesmen, or all the revolutions projected by her patriots.

(The Leisure Hour.)

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