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and often to cruel usage, till death puts an end to
their miseries, or their liberty is obtained by paying
a sum of money for it.* In such a case, a man may
be said to be redeemed; and, ceasing to be a slave,
he becomes a freeman. This may give us some idea
of the nature of Redemption. When God made the
first man, he made him upright; he made him
free; but he soon lost his liberty. Satan attacked
him, and prevailed against him; and not against
him only, but against all his posterity. In this
state we are born; in this we live; and in this we
die and perish, unless the Redemption of Christ be
applied to our souls by the Holy Spirit. You would
pity a number of poor captives, if you saw them in
heavy chains; if you saw them stripped of their
clothing, robbed of their property, or sold like
beasts; if you saw them cruelly abused and beaten,
and pining to death in pain and misery. Well,
this is our own state by nature. We are conquered
by Satan; far removed from our original happy
condition; deprived of our true riches, the image
and favour of God; tied and bound with the chain
of our sins; basely employed by the devil in the
horrid drudgery of our lusts, and, if grace prevent it
not, liable to be summoned by death into an awful
eternity, to receive the wages of our sin, which is
From this sad condition we cannot deliver ourselves. We have neither the will nor the power. It is the peculiar misery of sinful man that he knows not his misery. Other captives groan for freedom. Even a bird or a beast, deprived of liberty, struggles to get free; but more wretched and stupid sinners deny that they are slaves, and foolishly boast, like the Jews, "that they were never in bondage to any man." They hug their yoke; they love their prison, and fancy music in the rattling of their chains. If any here are in this condition, may God open their eyes, and deliver them from the sad infatuation!
* Since this was written, the Slave Trade, as fat as it respects Britain, has been abolished by law.
But if a man had a will to be free, he has not the power. What reason can he offer? Can he make satisfaction to the injured law of God? Can he render back to his Maker the glory of which he has robbed him? Or can he restore to his own soul the image of God which is lost and spoiled by sin? Can he renew his sinful nature to holiness, or make himself a new creature? No; it is impossible. If the heart of God do not pity, if the hand of God do not help, he must die a slave, and be the eternal companion of his cruel tyrant and fellow-slaves in the prison of hell.
But, blessed be God for Jesus Christ! When there was no eye to pity, no hand to help, his own Almighty arm brought salvation. The Son of God, touched with compassion for perishing man, descended from his throne of glory, and visited our wretched abode; and, because those whom he came to redeem were " partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage." Heb. ii. 14, 15.
Among the Jews, the right of redemption belonged to the kinsman. Jesus Christ, in order to redeem us, became a man, the kinsman of our nature, " bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh :"—" for both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." Heb. ii. 11.
The Redemption of captives is usually by paying a price or ransom. This Christ paid; and the price was no less than his own blood; so says our text—" In whom we have redemption through his blood." And so St. Peter speaks, 1 Pet. i. 18, "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ; not by so mean a price as the perishing riches of this world, such as the silver and gold which are paid for buying poor captives out of bondage, misery, and slavery among men; but it was at no less a price than the noble and invaluably precious blood, sufferings, and death of the Son of God.
Having taken a general view of Redemption, let us descend to some particulars, by which we may better understand the subject, and be more affected with it. The natural man is a captive of the Devil —of the Flesh—of the World—of the Law—and of the Grave.— From all these Christ delivers his people.
1. We are all, by nature, captives of the Devil. This may seem to you a hard saying, but it is too true; see the proof" of it in 2 Tim. ii. 26, "That they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, who are taken captive by him at his will"—taken alive, as captives of war, to be enslaved and ruined by the Devil. Oh, how dreadful is the power of Satan over wicked men; they are not aware of it, or they would earnestly pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," or the evil one. St. John says, "The whole world lieth in wickedness, or in the wicked one," 1 John v. 19; and St. Paul says, " He worketh in the children of disobedience," Eph. ii. 2. So that there is more truth in some vulgar expressions, used by wicked people, than they are aware of; as when they say "The Devil is in you." It is awfully true of all unconverted sinners. And it deserves notice, that many thoughtless people continually sport
with words such as these—Hell, and hellish—Devil, and devilish—Damn, and damnation. Surely the use of such words shows who is their master; and what is likely to be their place and portion. May God discover the evil of this practice to all who are guilty of it!
Now the blessed Redeemer came down from heaven to destroy the works of the Devil. He overcame all his temptations in the wilderness; he triumphed over him on the cross; and when he ascended into heaven, "he led captivity captive;" conquered the conqueror, and bound the strong one. He displayed his power over devils, by casting them out of the bodies of men; and he still displays the same power, by casting him out of the souls of all those who believe in him. Oh, that he may show this gracious power among us this moment!
Yes, my friends, if we are redeemed from Satan, we are "redeemed to God"—redeemed to God, as his peculiar property; for his honour and service; for communion with him now; aud for the everlasting enjoyment of him in glory.
2. We are all, by nature, captives of the Flesh; our minds are fleshly; "Sin reigns in our mortal bodies; we obey it in the lust thereof; our members . are instruments of unrighteousness ; we have yielded our members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity; for his servants we are whom we obey." Rom. vi. 12, &c.
Is not this true? Are not some here present yet the slaves of sin? one of drunkenness; another of swearing; another of fornication; another of lying; another of thieving, or of some other heinous sin? Ah, my friends! "the end of these things is death;" —" for these things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." Alas! how many are strong advocates for human liberty, who are themselves the slaves of corruption! "For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." 2 Pet. ii. 19.
But, adored be Jesus, he came to save us from our sins; "that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness, and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." By the power of his Spirit, his people are "born again," and made "new creatures in Christ Jesus; old things pass away, and all things become new." They are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; they walk not according to the flesh; they are enabled to crucify the old man of sin, and to put on the new man of grace; and to live, in some degree, in that holiness, without which no man can see the Lord. So St. Paul speaks to the converted Romans, "God be thanked, that (though) ye were the servants of sin, ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Romans vi. 17, 18.
3. We are all, by nature, captives of the World: or, as the Scripture expresses it, " we walk according to the course of this world,"—willingly carried along with the stream of sin, yet foolishly thinking we shall do well, because we do like others; forgetting that "broad is the road that leadeth to death, and many there be that walk therein;" while the narrow way to life is found by very few. By nature, we are conformed to the world; to its foolish customs, maxims, dress, and amusements; and also to its dangerous mistaken notions of religion. People are afraid to think for themselves: they take the religion of their neighbours on trust, without examining, by the word of God, whether it be right or wrong, true or false.
But our blessed Lord " gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world;" from the sins, snares, customs, and fashions of the