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"Our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus.”Gal. ii. 4.
No man by nature is free ; he may boast of the freedom of his will, but it is biased by evil principles which rule his heart. He may talk loudly of his independence, but he is the slave of habit, custom, and depraved passions. The Jews were in bondage under the law, and the Gentiles were in bondage without the law. Man had liberty once, but he lost it, he wilfully sinned it away ; and now sin and Satan have dominion over the whole human race. Freedom there is not, freedom there cannot be, withont Divine interference. No man can free himself, and what is most surprising, no one naturally desires to do so. Men talk of liberty, but only the Christian understands and enjoys it. Jesus came “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that were bound;" and he has given us the comforting assurance, that if the Son shall make us free, we shall be free, indeed. Satan is the great enemy of liberty; he tries, by all means, to keep souls in bondage, and to entangle again those who have been set free. Now, as it is the privilege
of the Lord's people to enjoy freedom, and as many of them do walk at liberty, let us consider briefly the Apostle's words, “ OUR LIBERTY WHICH WE HAVE IN CHRIST JESUS."
First. THE CONNECTION. We were in Adam by nature; we are in Christ by grace. Once afar off, we are now made nigh. Once without Christ, we are now in union with him. Jesus has a kingdom in which he presides, over which he reigns, and we are subjects of that kingdom. For God, in the marvellous displays of his grace, hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; so that we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God. Jesus rules in us by his Spirit, over us by his precepts, and for us by his providence. Jesus is a Master, and we are his servants. We are not only subjects in his kingdom, but servants in his employment. He has hired us, and we have consented to serve him. We feed at his table, reside in his house, and labour in his vineyard. He supplies us now, finds us work for the whole day, and will settle with us in the evening. Not only so, but Jesus has a family, and we are members of his household. We are his children ; he loves us with paternal kindness. Jesus is a head, and we are the members of his body. Our union with him is vital, close, and eternal; for we are members of his
body, of his flesh, and of his bones. The arm in nature is not more one with the head. than we are one with Christ. As the vine and the branches form one tree, as the members and the head form one natural body, 80 Christ and his people are one spiritual body, the object of Jehovah's highest love. Yes, as believers in Jesus, we are all one in him, alike united to him, alike beloved by him, and alike designed to glorify him.
As one with Christ, we own him : publicly acknowledging our faith in him, love to him, and dependence upon him. We obey him, taking his word for our rule; we do his will from the heart. We love him, not as we would, for if we loved up to the full extent of our ability, we should wish for larger powers and more vigorous affections, that we might love him more. We receive from him, out of his fulness flows all our supplies; and from him we receive grace to do, to suffer, and to glorify God. We profess his name, observe his precepts, love his person, and live upon his fulness. Being in Christ Jesus, we have
Secondly. A GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE. “ Our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus.” Our liberty differs from all other liberty. Some boast of liberty, while they themselves are the servants of corruption; but we being made free from sin, become the servants of righteousness, and have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. Our
Hiberty comprises a freedom from sin, as a charge which may be perferred and substan. tiated against us to condemn us, for there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus ;-as a tyrant, which once held us in its grasp, and ruled us with an iron rod ;-as an object of love, which once attracted, allured, and ensnared us. So that we are freed from sin, that is, justified before God, liberated from the ruling power of corruption, and have our hearts set against sin, as that horrible thing which God hates. It is freedom from Satan, as a cruel Lord, who once claimed us, possessed, and influenced us. But his yoke is broken, his authority over us is taken away, and we overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony. It is also a freedom from the world, as it is made up of evil. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and pride of life, once fascinated, charmed, and controlled us. We walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. We once swam with the stream, and was carried along by it; now we swim against it, and overcome it; and “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” * Our liberty comprehends an acquittal, by the Judge of all. Once we were criminals, now we are just men. Once we were under guilt, now we are guiltless. Once we were
condemned, but now we are justified. For us all the claims of the law are met, all the demands of justice are paid, and we are pronounced righteous in open court. We are liberated by the stern jailor. Once, like the jailor at Philippi, he thrust us into the inner prison, and made our feet fast in the stocks. He felt sure of us, and exulted over us ; but a voice sounded in the prison, “Loose him and let him go," and our fetters were knocked off; the door of the prison was thrown open, and we walked forth to enjoy freedom and peace. No officer of the crown will touch us now. No jailor will be allowed to lay bands on us again. Our debts are paid, the price given for our ransom is accepted, the warrants for our liberation have been received, and we were bidden to go free. We are emancipated by the slaveholder. He has lost his right to us; he has been deprived of his power over us; he was obliged to consent to let us go free. “ Slaves to Satan, heretofore, we shall now be slaves no more.” The judge acquits us, the jailor liberates us, and the cruel slaveholder bids us go free.
The liberty which we have in Christ Jesus is the liberty to approach God. We may now come before the Lord without fear. We can draw nigh to God without a human medium. We come not to God through Mary, or Peter, or pope, or priests, but through Christ alone; and by him we have