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is his name.” (Jer. 1. 33, 34.) He "leads captivity captive.” (Ps. lxviii. 18.) “He spoils principalities and powers, makes a show of them openly, triumpbing over them in it." (Col. ii. 15.) He seizes “the keys of hell and of death.” (Rev. i. 18.) And he stands in the midst of that gloomy dungeon, and “ proclaims liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound ” (Isa. Ixi. l), till his voice echoes and rings through every vaulted passage, and every grated cell, “ Fear not, I have redeemed thee : thou art mine.” (Isaiah xliii. 1.)
Lily. Oh, mamma, what a glorious picture. How the hearts of all must dance for joy. I think I see them all breaking their chains, and crowding to the open gates, where the pure light streams in.
Papa. All, my child ? No, that is the saddest thought in our subject. The tidings are preached to all, but only a few believe, and break their chains and come forth; most “ love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” (John iii. 19.) And, notwithstanding all their real misery, they hug their chains, and do the drudgery work of Satan. But we will speak to-night of those blessed few who do yield to the striving of that Holy Spirit, with whom “is liberty” (2 Cor. iii. 17), and welcome their Redeemer. God
grant that my dear children may be among them! Are they not brought "into the glorious liberty of the children of God ?” (Rom. viii. 21.)
Mary. Yes, papa, in that same chapter, verse fifteen, it is said: “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
Arthur. And Jesus says, “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John viii. 36.)
Lily. But how is it, mamma, that in my verses, my favourite verses, He speaks of a yoke : “ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me ?” (Matt. xi. 29.)
Arthur. Oh, Lily, you know He goes on to say, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Mamma. Stay, Arthur ; I think Lily's was a very fair question. There is a yoke, no doubt; we are not sent off wild, like the Arab horses of the desert—that would be no happiness to us. Our soul would pine away, far off from God. There is a service, no doubt, but then, as our Prayer-book says, “ His service is perfect freedom.” We are not perfect servants, and therefore have not here perfect joy ; but while we serve Him, and just in proportion as we serve Him, we are free.
Papa. So, my children, while you keep within our commands, these commands never vex you : the yoke is easy; it does not fret you. It is the free service of affectionate children to loving parents. In heaven we shall serve God perfectly, and enjoy this perfect freedom in all its blessedness. But here, sin too often reminds us of the scars where old fetters have chafed us.
Arthur. I see it clearly now, papa ; and this explains a text which rather puzzled us about the Christian freedom : “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Rom. vii. 23.)
Papa. Yes, there is conflict, my boy, and sometimes defeat for a while; but the promise stands sure: “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace.” (Rom. vi. 14.) And, therefore, St. Paul charges the Galatians, “ Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Mary. And though they have to fight and stand fast, they have a happy life of it; for my eye just caught on that text, “ Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and
come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their head.” (Isa. li. 11.)
Mamma. Oh, yes, my children, to have the soul really freed from the guilt and reigning power of sin, makes men glad-hearted, whatever they may suffer here, so that we often read of a Christian freeman rejoicing in prison, and singing in his chains. Who can tell me of a happy prisoner in the Bible ?
Lily. Joseph, mamma,-" The Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.” (Gen. xxxix. 23.)
Arthur. Paul and Silas, too, when they “prayed and sang praises to God,” in the inner prison at Philippi. (Acts xvi. 25.)
Papa. Yes, and Paul went on serving his Master all the time he was in prison working out his own salvation with fear and trembling, praying, preaching, praising on. Always remember this, my children, that there is not a spot on earth, not a moment of time in which Jesus does not give us something to do for Him; and watches with a kind Master's eye to see how we do it.
Lily. What, when we are playing, mamma ?
Mamma. Yes, Lily. He who made the frisking lambs, likes to see your joyous, cheerful play; and play-hours often give most opportunities for obedience in little things, and kindness to each other. Read Zech. viii. 5. You see there, He mentions of restored Jerusalem, its streets shall be full of boys and girls playing. And, when you grow up, and “put away childish things," you still must "serve the Lord thy God, with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things.” (Deut. xxviii. 47.)
Mary. And we found the sober works of Christ's servants spoken of in 1 Thess. i. 3: “ Your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope.”
Arthur. And how He observes all: “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience and thy works.” (Rev. ii. 19.)
Papa. Yes, no work escapes Him,- not even a cup of cold water given in his name. But how long will our service last here?
Lily. Oh, Papa, I must read a text I found. “ If any man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am, there shall also my servant be. If any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” (John xii. 26.)
Papa. Yes, we are commanded to “occupy till He comes.” (Luke xix. 13.) But when He returns and reckons with his servants, how will He judge them ?
Mary. According to their works, papa. -" They were judged every man according to their works.” (Rev. xx. 13.)