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of life's oppressive day, with a measure of resignation, knowing that they shall at length lie down in the grave, and feel their bondage no more. Alas! conscience, if not wholly unawakened and deceived, denies to the servants of sin this remaining hope, for it tells them, that at death the toils of time shall be exchanged for the torments of eternity.
We were sold under sin, yet are we not proper objects of commiseration on that account, for we have sold ourselves, and do not repent of what we have done; nor is there, among the servants of sin, at this day, a single person who is not so, voluntarily and of choice. Like the prodigal in the parable, we have left a Father's house, and refused a Father's love; and with wilful determination, against entreaty and against commands, have we addicted our lives to courses of evil, and have taken upon ourselves the chains of servitude, to do the works of Satan, in preference to serving the Lord our God, who promised us a life of peace and joy, if we continued in his love; but we despised that immortality, and chose the way of death. Our bondage is our crime, and not our calamity; and therefore, by whom shall we be pitied or re
lieved? Or who was competent to relieve
Other captives might be released by an [ act of power; and all slaves, unless the
slaves of sin, may recover their freedom at the will of their master, without price. But man, having sold himself under sin, could not regain moral liberty by an act of power, without moral compensation to the law and justice of God for his liberation. The power of God could summon into being, harmony, and order, this vast creation; but to deliver man from the bondage of corruption, and from the sufferings of eternity, without an adequate ransom; to dissolve his obligation to undergo future punishment for his iniquity, and treat him as righteous, though in no sense righteous, was not compatible with wisdom or equity, and therefore, not within the limits of omnipotence. Man was a lawful captive; strict justice held him bound; and as well to' requite his own demerits, as for an example to the rest of the creation, he was under a doom of death. Every attribute of rectitude, the glory of the divine character, and the interests of the universe, forbade man's deliverance from death, without satisfaction rendered to the claims of truth
and holiness. The language of the text leads us to ideas taken from the customs of men, in the way of liberating captives, or releasing slaves, on the payment of adequate rémuneration. And though human transactions afford very imperfectanalogies of divine things, the word of inspiration makes use of them as far as they will go, in order to illustrate things transcendently above them, yet having some points of resemblance. To expect an exact parallel, would be unwarrantable; and our wisdom consists in tracing it as far as Scripture guides us, and then to stop. All beyond is conjectural and unsure.
Now, when we are led to compare man's moral captivity to an instance of captivity among men, there is sufficient resemblance to warrant the comparison, though in many things the similitude fails. The principal things insisted on in Scripture, in the allusion to such a condition, are,-first, that there was no possible deliverance from the sin and misery of a fallen state, without an adequate compensation ; and next, that such compensation has been actually rendered by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes! we were in a state of bondage, not
alike miserable, indeed, to all in the present time, for some are put on service that deludes them into forgetfulness of their condition, and in serving sin, they seem to themselves as serving pleasure, and hence their vain and irrational joys; yet though some have much pleasure for a while, the same end is appointed to all—to die without hope, and to suffer for ever: We may ask, Who can dwell with everlasting burnings? but the answer is certain-All we must have so suffered, if left to ourselves. None of us could have redeemed another, however dear to us-none of us could have redeemed his own soul ; we were helpless, and unwil. ling to quit our bondage for God; we were fast bound in fetters of congenial sin ; blinded, too, by our dire oppressor; so that we could neither discover a way of salvation, nor perceive the destruction that lay just before us, and to which we were tending every hour. If left to our own ability and resources, we had all perished, for we had nothing to give in exchange for our souls; our souls were forfeited, and we had nothing so precious to offer as an equivalent for their deliverance.
But the Son of God, whose name is above
every name, had compassion on our ruined state; pleaded for our deliverance; and when eternal truth and holiness refused the freedom of the lawful captive, without such a sacrifice as should demonstrate the evil of sin, and vindicate the glory of the divine government, in remitting successive acts of most aggravated treachery and revolt; the Saviour engaged to answer for his redeemed, and even to give his life a ransom for their redemption. And what he divinely undertook, he gloriously fulfilled, even to the uttermost.
In the fulness of time, the Redeemer came to the place where the captives were bound; what the law required to deliver them from condemnation, he paid; and when eternal justice fixed the price of our redemption at a life of obedience unto death, and a death of inexpressible anguish and pain, he did not decline the terms. When nothing less would suffice, he gave his own most precious life,-a life doubtless more valuable than the united lives of all sinful generations : this invaluable life he laid down for us. He shed his blood for our redemption, of which it was the costly price. But now, the price is paid, and we are warranted to go forth from captivity,