Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
spirit as distinguished from the form and the letter, and liberty as distinguished from religious bondage.
I. MAN'S NEED OF LIBERATION.
1. Sin is bondage, however he may confuse between liberty and licence. There is no slave so crippled and so pitiable as is the bondman of sin.
2. Man's happiness and well being depend upon his deliverance from this spiritual serfdom.
3. No earthly power can effect this great enfranchisement.
II. THE DIVINE LIBERATOR. Many of the designations applied to our Lord Jesus imply this character and function. He is the Saviour, who saves from the yoke of sin, the doom of death; the Redeemer, who ransoms from a spiritual captivity, who pays the price, and sets the prisoner free. "The Lord is the Spirit;" i.e. the work of redemption was wrought by Jesus in the body, and is applied and made actual to the individual soul by the unseen but mighty and ever-present Spirit, in whose operations the Lord. Christ perpetuates his action and achieves his dominion.
III. THE ESSENCE OF SPIRITUAL LIBERTY. It is irrespective of personal condition; for the slave can enjoy its sweets, even when his clanking chains remind him of his earthly bondage. It is emancipation from the curse and penalty of the Law, as this oppresses every sinner who is at all aware of his real condition. It is freedom from what St. Patti calls the dominion of sin. It is the glad consecration of all powers to the service of the Divine Redeemer. It is "the glorious liberty of the children of God."
IV. THE FRUITS OF FREEDOM.
1. Obedience, strange and paradoxical as the assertion seems, is the consequence of the gracious enfranchisement of the soul. The service of the heart, which cannot be rendered in bondage, is natural in the state of emancipation.
2. Joy is natural to the emancipated slave, who realizes the dignity and the blessedness of freedom.
3. Praise of the Deliverer never ceases, but ascends in unintermitting strains to the Author and Giver of spiritual and everlasting liberty. - T.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is libertyI. NOTE THE GREAT PRINCIPLES IN THE TEXT.
1. Christianity is a spirit.(1) There is a "letter" and a "spirit" in everything. These two things are quite distinct. The letter may be changed, the spirit may be unchangeable. The same spirit may require for its expression to different minds different letters. The spirit may not only cease to be represented, but may be positively misrepresented, by its form. Christ, e.g., enjoined the washing of one another's feet where washing the feet was a common service; but we smile at the professed obedience to this precept every year of his holiness of Rome.(2) The Old Testament was a letter in which there was a spirit. The very idea of a letter supposes that something is written. And, further, that spirit, so far as it went, was the same as in the gospel; the law represented the same ideas and sentiments as the gospel, but in a different way, and with different results, so as to justify the calling of one a "letter" and the other a "spirit." The first, though not without spirit, had more letter in it; and the second, though not without letter, has more spirit in it. Christianity is like a book for men, which assumes many things that children must have in most explicit statement. It is more suggestive than explanatory, trusts more to conscience than to argument, and appeals more to reason than to rule. Its doctrines are principles, not propositions; its institutions are grand outlines, not precise ceremonies; its laws are moral sentiments, not minute directions.
2. Christ is the Spirit of Christianity.(1) The fact of there being a revelation at all is owing to Christ. But for Him the beginning of sin would have been the end of humanity, But God had, in anticipation of the fall, devised a plan of redemption. Forfeited life was continued because of Christ. Whatever was done was for Him. The great events of past times were preparatory to Him. Prophets spoke of Him, kings ruled for Him, priests typified Him. According to Christ's contemplated work men were treated. But if the law was through Christ as its grand reason, how much more is the gospel! For now He is not the secret but the revealed agent of God's providence. What was done before was done because of Him, what is done now is done directly by Him. He realised the conceptions expressed by Judaism, made its figures facts, its predictions history.(2) Christ is the Spirit of Christianity, as He is the personal representation of its truths. The gospel is Christ. It shines in Him as in a mirror, it lives in Him as in a body. Is God the prime idea of all religion? "He that has seen Me has seen the Father." Is the moral character of God as important as His existence? Behold "the image of the invisible God" as "He goes about doing good." Is reunion with God the great need of humanity? It is consummated in the Incarnation. Do we want law? "Walk even as He walked." Do we die? "Christ, the firstfruits of them that slept." Are we sighing for immortality? "This is the eternal life."(3) The Holy Spirit, by whom spiritual blessings are conveyed, is emphatically the Spirit of Christ. This Spirit, the closest and most quickening contact of God with our souls, is the fruit of the reconciliation with God effected by Christ. That effected, Christ went to heaven that He might give us this "other Comforter, even the Spirit of truth."
3. Christ, as the Spirit of Christianity, is the Spirit of liberty." The genius of a spiritual life is to be free. "The law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient." The more spiritual men are, the less do they require external regulations; and one of the most striking features of Christianity is its comparative freedom from such. It is a "law of liberty," in the sense of leaving us at liberty upon many points; moral excellence is its requirement, not ceremonial exactness. Its law is summed up by love to God and man. You do not need to fetter a loving child with the rules you lay upon a hireling. The gospel is spiritual in its form, because it is spiritual in its power. In the following verse a sublime truth is set before us. The liberty of the gospel is holiness. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death": only the Spirit can do this. The letter may keep sin down, but the spirit turns it out. The letter may make us afraid to do it, the spirit makes us dislike to have it. And is not that liberty, when we are free to serve God in the gospel of His Son, free to have access to Him with the spirit of adoption, free to run the way of His commandments, because "enlarged in heart"? He is the slave whose will is in fetters; and nothing but the Spirit, the Lord, can set that free.
II. THE SUBJECT IS FRUITFUL IN REFLECTIONS AND ADMONITIONS.
1. The text is one of a large class which intimate and require the divinity of Christ. The place assigned to Christ in the scheme and providence of God is such that only on the supposition of His Divine nature can it be understood and explained. Destroy Him, take Him away, and you do not merely violate the language, but annihilate the very life of God's covenant. If Christianity be what we are accustomed to regard it, He who is its Spirit, in the way and for the reasons which itself explains, can be no other than the "true God and eternal life."
2. We see the greatness of the privileges with which, as Christians, we have been favoured, and the source of their derivation. The apostles do employ language severely depreciating in its tone, when contrasting previous economies with our own. "Darkness," "flesh," "letter," "bondage," "the world," are set against "light," "spirit," "grace," "liberty," and "the kingdom of God" and "of heaven." And the reason of our being so blessed is to be found in Christ. Shall we not be grateful? And shall not gratitude express itself in holiness? "Ye are not under the law, but under grace," and the great worth of this position is in the facilities for sanctification which it affords.
3. Let us give to the personal element in Christianity its proper place and power. In the apostles' writings there was an indestructible connection of every principle of the gospel with the personal Christ. Everything was "in Him." Christ was Christianity. He is "the Truth," "the Way," "the Life," the "peace," "hope," and "resurrection" of men; He is their "wisdom," "righteousness," "sanctification," and "redemption." Religion is not merely a contemplation of truth, or a doing of morality; it is fellowship with God and with His Son. We are to love Christ, not spiritual beauty; to believe in Christ, not spiritual truth; to live to Christ, not spiritual excellence.
4. Our subject instructs and encourages us in connection with the diffusion of our religion through the earth. The gospel is a spirit. Well, indeed, might we despond, when contemplating the powers of darkness, if we could not associate with our religion the attributes of spirit. But, said Christ, "the words that I speak unto you are spirit and life." And our subject also teaches charity. Can there be any heart unaffected when the promise of "liberty," in its highest state and completest measure, is before us? Can you dwell upon the hard bondage of the souls of men, both in civilised and uncivilised conditions, and not long to "preach deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound"?
(A. J. Morris.)
(A. Bonar.)1. It is remarkable that, when our Lord expounded in the synagogue of Nazareth, He chose a passage of which two-fifths related to "liberty." Between that passage and my text there is a singular connection. " The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," etc. " Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
I. WE ARE ALL OF US SO CONSTITUTED THAT THERE MUST BE A CERTAIN SENSE OF FREEDOM TO MAKE A PLAY OF THE AFFECTIONS.
1. Satan knew this quite well when he destroyed the loving allegiance of our first parents by introducing first into their minds the thought of bondage. "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not cat of every tree of the garden?" And so the poison had worked. "You are not free." In catching at a fictitious freedom the first Adam lost the true. The second Adam made Himself a "servant of servants," that He might restore to us a greater freedom than Adam lost.
2. But still the same enemy is always trying to spoil our paradises by making us deny our freedom. He has two ways of doing this. Sometimes he gives us a sense of bondage, which keeps us back from peace, and therefore holiness. Sometimes he gives us an idea of imaginary "liberty," of which the real effect is that it leaves us the slave of a sentiment or of a passion.
3. Some persons are afraid of "liberty," lest it should run into "licentiousness." But I do not find in the whole Bible that we are warned against too much "liberty." In fact, it is almost always those who have felt themselves too shut up who break out into lawlessness of conduct. Just as the stopped river, bursting its barrier, runs into the more violent stream.
II. THAT YOU SHOULD "STAND FAST IN THE LIBERTY WHEREWITH CHRIST MAKES HIS PEOPLE FREE," UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR REAL "LIBERTY" IS.
1. "By and by," somebody says, "when I have believed and prayed a little more, and lived a little more religiously, then I hope God will forgive me." So every night he has to consider whether he is yet good enough to justify the hope that he is a child of God; and the consequence is that man prays with no "liberty." But, all the while, what is the fact? God does love him. All he wants is to take facts as facts. It needs but one act of realisation, and every promise of the Bible belongs to that man. This done, see the difference. He feels himself a child of God through God's own grace, and his "liberated" mind leaps to the God who has loved him. Now the right spring is put into the machinery of his breast. He works in the freedom of a certainty. And from that date that man's real sanctification begins.
2. There are many whose minds are continually recurring to old sins. They have prayed over them again and again, but still they cannot take their thoughts off them. But the freeman of the Lord knows the meaning of those words — "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." All he feels he has to do is to bring his daily sins to that Fountain where he has washed all the sins of his former life. And do not you see that that man will go with a lightened feeling?
3. See the nature of that man's forgiveness. To obey the command of any one we love is pleasant, but to obey because it will please him, though he has not commanded it, is much happier. The spirit of the law is always better than the law. Deuteronomy is better than Leviticus. Now this is the exact state of a Christian. He has studied the commands till he has reached to the spirit of the commands. He has gathered "the mind of God," and he follows that. A command prescribes, and whatever prescribes circumscribes, and is so far painful. But the will of God is an unlimited thing, and therefore it is unlimiting.(1) And when man, free because "the Son has made him free," goes to read his Bible, like a man who has got the free range of all its pastures, to cull flowers wherever he likes, he is free to all the promises that are there, for he has "the mind of Christ."(2) Or hear him in prayer. How close it is! How boldly he puts in his claim!(3) The fear of death never hurts that man. Why? Because his death is over.(4) And, because he is so very free, you will find there is a large-heartedness and a very charitable judgment in that man. He lives above party.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
I. LIBERTY FROM CONDEMNATION. If a man is under sentence of death he cannot find liberty. He may forget his imprisonment in mirth and feasting, but it is not the less real because he forgets it. The morning will come when he will be dragged off to his fearful doom. We are under the sentence of God's broken law. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." How beautiful, then, the language of the apostle! (Romans 8:1).
II. LIBERTY FROM LAW. The law knows nothing of mercy and forgiveness, nor does it afford the least help to holiness. Its command is, "Do this, and live; break this in the least, and die." Therefore, "by the deeds of the law " shall no man have peace with God. But "what the law could not do," etc. (Romans 8:2-4).
III. LIBERTY TO OBEY. Many think they are free, and that they will do as they like; but they do not like to do what they ought to like, and therefore they are slaves after all. The way in which a man may convince himself of his slavery is to try to be what he ought to be. He can do nothing of himself, and he must be brought to feel that he can do no good thing without God. But what the flesh cannot do the Spirit will enable him to do. "It is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure"; therefore "work out your own salvation," etc.
IV. LIBERTY TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH. A man can do battle with his corrupt nature, he can win the victory over the principalities and powers of darkness, and his sword is a sword of liberty. The drunkard becomes sober, the impure chaste, the vindictive forgiving, by the power of the Spirit of God.
V. LIBERTY OF ACCESS TO GOD. The one true and living way is open, but it cannot be discerned except a man has it revealed to him by the Spirit of God. Through Christ we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
VI. LIBERTY OF HOLY BOLDNESS AND FORTITUDE IN THE SERVICE OF GOD.
(H. Stowell, M. A.)1. To possess the Lord Jesus Christ is to possess the Holy Ghost, who is the minister and guardian of Christ's presence in the soul. The apostle's conclusion is that those who are converted to Jesus have escaped from the veil which darkened the spiritual intelligence of Israel. The converting Spirit is the source of positive illumination; but, before He enlightens thus, He must give freedom from the veil of prejudice which denies to Jewish thought the exercise of any real insight into the deeper sense of Scripture. That sense is seized by the Christian student of the ancient law, because in the Church of Christ he possesses the Spirit; and "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
2. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ because He is sent by Christ, and for the purpose of endowing us with Christ's nature and mind. His presence does not supersede that of Christ: He co-operates in, He does not work apart from, the mediatorial work Of Christ. To possess the Holy Spirit is to possess Christ; to have lost the one is to have lost the other. Accordingly our Lord speaks of the gift of Pentecost as if it were His own second coming (John 14:18). And, after telling the Romans that "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His," St. Paul adds, "Now if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin." Here Christ's "being in" the Christian, and the Christian's "having the Spirit of Christ," are equivalent terms.
3. Freedom is not an occasional largess of the Divine Spirit; it is not merely a reward for high services or conspicuous devotion. It is the very atmosphere of His presence. Wherever He really is, there is also freedom. He does not merely strike off the fetters of some narrow national prejudice, or of some antiquated ceremonialism. His mission is not to bestow an external, political, social freedom. For no political or social emancipation can give real liberty to an enslaved soul. And no tyranny of the state or of society can enslave a soul that has been really freed. At His bidding the inmost soul of man has free play. He gives freedom from error for the reason, freedom from constraint for the affections, freedom for the will from the tyranny of sinful and human wills.
4. The natural images which "are used to set forth the presence and working of the Holy Spirit are suggestive of this freedom. The Dove, which pictures His gentle movement on the soul and in the Church, suggests also the power of rising at will above the dead level of the soil into a higher region where it is at rest. The "cloven tongue like as of fire" is at once light and heat; and light and heat imply ideas of the most unrestricted freedom. "The wind" blowing "where it listeth"; the well of water in the soul, springing up, like a perpetual fountain, unto everlasting life — such are our Lord's own chosen symbols of the Pentecostal gift. All these figures prepare us for the language of the apostles when they are tracing the results of the great Pentecostal gift. With St. James, the Christian, no less than the Jew, has to obey a law, but the Christian law is "a law of library." With St. Paul, the Church is the Jerusalem which is "free"; in contrast with the bondwoman the Christian is to stand fast in a liberty with which Christ has freed him; he is "made free from sin, and become the servant of righteousness." St. Paul compares "the glorious liberty of the children of God" with the "bondage of corruption"; he contrasts the "law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus," which gives us Christians our freedom, with the enslaving "law of sin and death." According to St. Paul, the Christian slave is essentially free, even while he still wears his chain (1 Corinthians 7:22). Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is —
I. MENTAL LIBERTY.
1. From the first God has consecrated liberty of thought by withdrawing thought from the control of society. Society protects our persons and goods, and passes judgment upon our words and actions; but it cannot force the sanctuary of our thought. And the Spirit comes not to suspend, but to recognise, to carry forward, to expand, and to fertilise almost indefinitely the thought of man. He has vindicated for human thought the liberty of its expression against imperial tyranny and official superstition. The blood of the martyrs witnessed to the truth that, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is mental liberty.
2. In the judgment of an influential school dogma is the enemy of religious freedom. But what is dogma? The term belongs to the language of civilians; it is applied to the imperial edicts. It also finds a home in the language of philosophy; and the philosophers who denounce the dogmatic statements of the gospel are hardly consistent when they are elaborating their own theories. Dogma is essential Christian truth thrown by authority into a form which admits of its permanently passing into the understanding and being treasured by the heart of the people. For dogma is an active protest against those sentimental theories which empty revelation of all positive value. Dogma proclaims that revelation does mean something, and what. Accordingly dogma is to be found no less truly in the volume of the New Testament than in Fathers and Councils. It is specially embodied in our Lord's later discourses, in the sermons of His apostles, in the epistles of St. Paul. The Divine Spirit, speaking through the clear utterances of Scripture, is the real author of essential dogma; and we know that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
3. But is not dogma, as a matter of fact, a restraint upon thought? Unquestionably. But there is a notion of liberty which is impossible. Surely a being is free when he moves without difficulty in the sphere which is assigned to him by his natural constitution. If he can only travel beyond his sphere with the certainty of destroying himself, it is not an unreasonable tax upon his liberty whereby he is confined within the barrier that secures his safety. Now truth is originally the native element of human thought; and Christian dogma prescribes the direction and limits of truth concerning God and His relations to man.(1) Certainly the physical world does not teach us that obedience to law is fatal to freedom. The heavens would cease to "declare the glory of God" if the astronomers were to destroy those invariable forces which confine the movement of the swiftest stars to their fixed orbits. And when man himself proceeds to claim that empire which God has given him over the world of nature, he finds his energies bounded and controlled by law in every direction. We men can transport ourselves to and fro on the surface of this earth. But if in an attempt to reach the skies we should succeed in mounting to a region where animal life is impossible, we know that death would be the result of our success. Meanwhile our aeronauts, and even our Alpine climbers, do not "complain of the tyranny of the air."(2) So it is in the world of thought. Look at those axioms which form the basis of the freest and most exact science known to the human mind. We cannot demonstrate them, we cannot reject them; but the submissive glance by which reason accepts them is no unworthy figure of the action of faith. Faith also submits, it is true; but her submission to dogma is the guarantee at once of her rightful freedom and of her enduring power.(3) So submission to revealed truth involves a certain limitation of intellectual licence. To believe the dogma that God exists is inconsistent with a liberty to deny His existence. But such liberty is, in the judgment of faith, parallel to that of denying the existence of the sun or of the atmosphere. To complain of the Creed as an interference with liberty is to imitate the savage who had to walk across London at night, and who remarked that the lamp-posts were an obstruction to traffic.
4. They only can suppose that Christian dogma is the antagonist of intellectual freedom whose misery it is to disbelieve. For dogma stimulates and provokes thought — sustains it at an elevation which, without it, is impossible. It is a scaffolding by which we climb into a higher atmosphere. It leaves us free to hold converse with God, to learn to know Him. We can speak of Him and to Him, freely and affectionately, within the ample limits of a dogmatic definition. Besides this, dogma sheds, from its home in the heart of revelation, an interest on all surrounding branches of knowledge. God is everywhere, and to have a fixed belief in Him is to have a perpetual interest in all that reflects Him. What composition can be more dogmatic than the Te Deum? Yet it stimulates unbounded spiritual movement. The soul finds that the sublime truths which it adores do not for one moment fetter the freedom of its movement.
II. MORAL LIBERTY.
1. There is no such thing as freedom from moral slavery, except for the soul which has laid hold on a fixed objective truth. But when, at the breath of the Divine Spirit upon the soul, heaven is opened to the eye of faith, and man looks up from his misery and his weakness to the everlasting Christ upon His throne; when that glorious series of truths, which begins with the Incarnation, and which ends with the perpetual intercession, is really grasped by the soul as certain — then assuredly freedom is possible. It is possible, for the Son has taken flesh, and died, and risen again, and interceded with the Father, and given us His Spirit and His sacraments, expressly that we might enjoy it.
2. But, then, we are to be enfranchised on the condition of submission. Submission! you say — is not this slavery? No; obedience is the school of freedom. In obeying God you escape all the tyrannies which would fain rob you of your liberty. In obeying God you are emancipated from the cruel yet petty despotisms which enslave, sooner or later, all rebel wills. As in the material world all expansion is proportioned to the compression which precedes it, so in the moral world the will acts with a force which is measured by its power of self-control.
3. As loyal citizens of that kingdom of the Spirit which is also the kingdom of the Incarnation, you may be really free. "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Political liberty is a blessing; liberty of thought is a blessing. But the greatest blessing is liberty of the conscience and the will. It is freedom from a sense of sin when all is known to have been pardoned through the atoning blood; freedom from a slavish fear of our Father in heaven when conscience is offered to His unerring eye by that penitent love which fixes its eye upon the Crucified; freedom from current prejudice and false human opinion when the soul gazes by intuitive faith upon the actual truth; freedom from the depressing yoke of weak health or narrow circumstances, since the soul cannot be crushed which rests consciously upon the everlasting arms; freedom from that haunting fear of death which holds those who think really upon death at all, "all their lifetime subject to bondage," unless they are His true friends and clients who by the sharpness of His own death has led the way and "opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers." It is freedom in time, but also, and beyond, freedom in eternity. In that blessed world, in the unclouded presence of the emancipator, the brand of slavery is inconceivable. In that world there is indeed a perpetual service; yet, since it is the service of love made perfect, it is only and by necessity the service of the free.
I. WHAT WE ARE FREED FROM.
1. The bondage of sin. Of all slavery there is none more horrible than this. "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me" from it? But the Christian is free.
2. The penalty of sin — eternal death.
3. The guilt of sin.
4. The dominion of sin. Profane men glory in free living and free thinking. Free living! Let the slave hold up his fetters and jingle them, and say, "This is music, and I am free." A sinner without grace attempting to reform himself is like Sisiphus rolling the stone up hill, which always comes down with greater force. A man without grace attempting to save himself is engaged in as hopeless a task as the daughters of Danaus, when they attempted to fill a vast vessel with bottomless buckets. He has a bow without a string, a sword without a blade, a gun without powder.
5. Slavish fear of law. Many people are honest because they are afraid of the policeman. Many are sober because they are afraid of the eye of the public. If a man be destitute of the grace of God, his works are only works of slavery; he feels forced to do them. But now, Christian, "Love makes your willing feet in swift obedience move." We are free from the law that we may obey it better.
6. The fear of death. I recollect a good old woman, who said, "Afraid to die, sir! I have dipped my foot in Jordan every morning before breakfast for the last fifty years, and do you think I am afraid to die now?" A good Welsh lady, when she lay a-dying, was visited by her minister, who said to her, "Sister, are you sinking?" But, rising a little in the bed, she said, "Sinking! Sinking! Did you ever know a sinner sink through a rock? If I had been standing on the sand I might sink; but, thank God! I am on the Rock of Ages, and there is no sinking there."
II. WHAT WE ARE FREE TO. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," and that liberty gives us certain rights and privileges.
1. To heaven's charter. Heaven's Magna Charta is the Bible, and you are free to it — to all its doctrines, promises, etc. You are free to all that is in the Bible. It is the bank of heaven: you may draw from it as much as you please without let or hindrance.
2. To the throne of grace. It is the privilege of Englishmen that they can always send a petition to Parliament; and it is the privilege of a believer that he can always send a petition to the throne of God. It signifies nothing what, where, or under what circumstances I am.
3. To enter into the city. I am not a freeman of London, which is doubtless a great privilege, but I am a freeman of a better city. Now some of you have obtained the freedom of the city, but you won't take it up. Don't remain outside the Church any longer, for you have a right to come in.
4. To heaven. When a Christian dies he knows the password that can make the gates wide open fly; he has the white stone whereby he shall be known as a ransomed one, and that shall pass him at the barrier.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. A LIBERTY OF HOLINESS, TO FREE US FROM THE DOMINION OF SIN (Luke 1:75). As children can give a bird leave to fly so it be in a string to pull it back again, so Satan hath men in a string if they live in sin. The beast that runs away with a cord about him is catched by the cord again; so, having Satan's cords about us, he can pull us in when he lists. From this we are freed by the Spirit.
II. A BLESSED FREEDOM AND AN ENLARGEMENT OF HEART TO DUTIES, God's people are a voluntary people. Those that are under grace are "anointed by the Spirit" (Psalm 89:20), and that spiritual anointment makes them nimble. Otherwise spiritual duties are as opposite to flesh and blood as fire and water. When we are drawn, therefore, to duties, as a bear to a stake, for fear, or out of custom, with extrinsical motives, and not from a new nature, this is not from. the Spirit. For the liberty of the Spirit is when actions come off naturally, without any extrinsical motive. A child needs not extrinsical motives to please his father. So there is a new nature in those that have the Spirit of God to stir them up to duty, though God's motives may help as the sweet encouragements and rewards. But the principle is to do things naturally. Artificial things move from a principle without them, therefore they are artificial. Clocks and such things have weights that stir all the wheels they go by, and that move them; so it is with an artificial Christian. He moves with weights without him; he hath not an inward principle of the Spirit to make things natural to him.
III. COURAGE AGAINST ALL OPPOSITION WHATSOEVER, JOINED WITH LIGHT AND STRENGTH OF FAITH, BREAKING THROUGH ALL OPPOSITIONS. Opposition to a spiritual man adds but courage and strength to him to resist. In Acts 4:23, seq., when they had the Spirit of God, they encountered opposition; and the more they were opposed, the more they grew. They were cast in prison, and rejoiced; and the more they were imprisoned, the more courageous they were still. There is no setting against this wind, no quenching of this fire, by any human power. See how the Spirit triumphed in the martyrs. The Spirit of God is a victorious Spirit (Romans 8:33, 34; Acts 6:10, 15).
IV. BOLDNESS WITH GOD HIMSELF, otherwise a "consuming fire?" For the Spirit of Christ goes through the mediation of Christ to God. That familiar boldness whereby we cry, "Abba, Father," comes from sons. This comes from the Spirit. If we be sons, then we have the Spirit, whereby we cry, "Abba, Father."
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)
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