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of this service and its wages in Rom. vi. 16—23. May I read it ?
Mamma. Yes, my child (Mary reads.) You see there not only the dark service of sin, with its works of iniquity and its fruitless results and its wages of eternál death; but set side by side with it, in bright contrast, the happy service of God with its works of righteousness, its fruits of holiness, and its issue, everlasting life. Do you know any type in Scripture of the slavery of sin ?
Lily. Yes, mamma; Israel in Egypt. It is said, “ They made their lives bitter with hard bondage in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field; all their service wherewith they made them serve, was with rigour.” (Exod. i. 14.)
Papa. And yet Satan's slaves are worse off still; at least, the Israelites saw some fruit of their labour. Some think the Pyramids, and we know that cities, were built with the bricks they made; but the works in this prison are as unprofitable as the labours of the treadmill, which you were so astonished at last summer. Arthur. All that wearisome toil, and yet nothing done but the great treadmill turned round. Do you remember St. Paul calls them “unfruitful works ?” (Eph. v. 11.) Arthur. And so, papa, Isa. lv. 2, “Where
fore do ye spend your labour for that which satisfieth not ?"
Mary. They are also called “ works of darkness.” (Rom. xiii. 12.)
Mamma. And there is a black list of these works of the flesh (Gal. v. 19–21,) no slave to which shall inherit the kingdom of God. But who is the great captor-king over them ?
Mary. The devil ; for we found some spoken of in “the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim. ii. 26.)
Papa. And he has slave-hunters and taskmasters under him, who entrap souls and keep them in bondage. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption : -for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." (2 Pet. ii. 19.) And all when ransomed must confess, “ Other lords beside thee have had dominion over us.” (Isa. xxvi. 13.) Have you found any other account of their captivity ?
Arthur. “ Such as sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron, because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the Most High; therefore He brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.” (Psalm cvii. 10-12.)
Mamma. And amid the darkness of their prison were gloomy terrors of worse things to
come, for they “were through fear of death all their lifetimesubject to bondage.” (Heb. ii. 15.)
Papa. What a pieture these few texts, and we might add many others, have given us of the fearful state of unconverted souls—a vast, dark prison-house, full of infatuated prisoners, who think themselves free, but are “holden with the cords of their sins" (Prov. v. 22,) amongst whom move their cruel tyrant and his task-masters : all hard at work in their fetters, yet nothing good accomplished. The prisoncourt full of wailings; and Death, the king of terrors, dragging one and another from their bondage here, to eternal chains hereafter ; of which prison Jesus says, “ Thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." (Matt. v. 26.) But is there no hope for them ?
Lily. Oh, yes, papa ; my heart aches for them : but we found them called “ prisoners of hope." (Zech. ix. 11. 12.)
Mary. “ They cry to God, and He hears them.” As it is said, “The children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and their cry came up to God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning.” (Exod. ii. 23.)
Arthur. And so my Psalm went on to say, " Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses; He brought them out of darkness
and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.” (Psalm cvii. 13. 14.)
Papa. But, my children, how can God save them? They, like Israel, “ have sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord." (2 Kings xvii. 17.) They are Satan's lawful captives : they work for him, and he pays them his terrible wages. How, I ask, with the prophet, “shall the prey be taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive be delivered ? ” (Isa. xlix. 24.)
Mary. But, papa, the next verse says : “ Thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered.”
Papa. Yes, Mary, but how are they rescued ? for not only is Satan their mighty captor, but the law of God itself bolts and bars the gates against the escape of any sinner.
Arthur. I know what you mean now, papa. They are bought back, they are ransomed. The Lord Jesus buys them with his blood.
Mamma. Yes, my children, the ransom paid is too great for man,-even the wealthiest of men," for it cost more to redeem their souls, so that he must let that alone for ever.” (Ps. xlix. 8, Prayer-book Version.) But we are told in the fifteenth verse of the same Psalm, “God will redeem my soul ;” and if Lily had read the verse before that in which
6 prisoners of hope” are spoken of, it tells us the same. “By the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” (Zech. ix. 11.) But I dare say you found many verses about this redemption.
Lily. Oh, yes, I found—“Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” (1 Pet. i. 18, 19.) · Mary. And in glory they sing, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Rev. v. 9.)
Arthur. And in the thirty-third chapter of Job, which I learnt for you, it is said, “If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his unrighteousness, then He is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom."
Mamma. Now think, my children, again, what a contrast-picture. The Lord Jesus Christ by dying as a prisoner, as a malefactor for us, in our stead paid the ransom price to the uttermost farthing. The law of God is satisfied, and unbolts the dungeon-gates. But Satan will not yield his prey so easily. And “all that took them captives held them fast, they refused to let them go." But fear not: “their Redeemer is strong, the Lord of Hosts