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and braved so much, is perhaps the sweetest earthly cup man drinks. It has, indeed, been often said, that health is the greatest earthly blessing. It is a precious boon. How did the woman of the Gospels spend all she had in search of it; and how would thousands, now languishing on beds of sickness, and sinking into the grave under an incurable malady, buy this possession at as great a price? Without health, what is money? what, luxury? what, rank and sounding titles? what a crown, if it sits heavy on throbbing brows and an aching head? Yonder poor and humble cottager, browned by the sun, with ruddy health glowing on his unshaven cheeks, who, seated at his simple board, uncovers his head to wipe the sweat of labor from his brow, or to bless the God who feeds him and his little ones, might be an object of envy to many. In vain they court coy sleep on beds of down, and try to whet a failing appetite by costly luxuries—sighing, they say, what is money without health? That speech may come very well from those who never knew what it is to be a slave; but what is health without liberty—health in chains?
We sympathize even with the strong instinctive love of freedom which appears in the lower animals—the bounding noisy joy of the household dog when he gets off his chain; the sudden change on the weary horse, when shaking off his fatigue with his harness, he tosses his head, and, with buoyant spirits and flowing mane, careers amid his fellows over the pasture field. It has moved our pity to see a noble eagle chained to the perch, and, as she expanded her broad sails, turn up a longing eye to the golden clouds her wing shall never more cleave, to the bright blue sky where she shall never more soar. I have felt a deeper sympathy with the free-born denizen of the air, that, pining for his native haunts, declines his food, refuses to be tamed, and, dashing against the bars, dies—strangled in struggles to escape, then with the tamed and gentle captive which takes its food from some fair jailer's hand, and sings the song of golden moors and green woodlands within an iron cage.
Much more, of course, do we sympathise with our fellow-creatures—with the Hebrew exiles, for instance, who hung their harps on the willows by Babylon's sluggish streams, nor could sing the songs of Sion in a strange land; with all those, whether slaves or citizens, who have made the altars of Liberty red with their blood, preferring death to bondage. If I can judge from the interest with which I watched the progress, and, I confess it, all but wished for the escape of a man who, with the officers of justice at his heels, was running a race for freedom, I believe that unless the offence is one which nature taught us to avenge, it would cost a struggle between one's sense of duty as a subject, and one's sympathy with man's love of liberty, to arrest a runaway prisoner. But who would arrest a runaway slave? Who, that ever tasted the sweets of liberty, would not help him? What is the color of his skin to me? He is a brother wronged, a man oppressed; nor were he a man who would not in such circumstances espouse the side of innocent weakness against tyrannous strength, and hide him, and feed him, and lodge him, and help him, from chains, and stripes, and slavery, on to freedom.
If so, who would be himself a slave? What value should we set on health if we had to rise to our work in the rice swamp, in the cane or cotton field, at the sound of the horn, and were driven to it, like oxen, with the crack of the whip? Health! what value would a man set on a life itself, were his children to be torn from his arms, set up to auction, and knocked down to the highest bidder; sold before his eyes to slavery; if he must stand by and hear their mother's piercing shrieks, as with bended knees and outstretched hands she implores, in vain implores, for pity; stand by and hear his own mother cry for mercy, as the breast that nursed him bleeds under the cutting lash; who would value life a straw, if he must stand by, nor speak a word, nor shed a tear, nor from his bursting bosom heave a groan, nor lift a hand in their defense? How sad it is to think that there are lands, governed by Christian men, and in the prostituted name of liberty, where such scenes are witnessed, and crimes so foul are done! It almost tempts one to pray that an avenging Heaven would blight, and wither, and blast the fields that are watered with human tears: "Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain upon you, nor fields of offerings." May God give a noble country grace and power to wife from its shield so black a stain! \
In these sentiments I have no doubt you all sympathise; but I have to tell you of a worse and more degrading, a more cruel and dreadful slavery. There are among us many greater and more to be pitied slaves. I refer to those who, as the servants of Satan, are sold unto sin. Would to God that we set the same high price on spiritual as we do on earthly liberty! Ah, then what efforts would be put forth, what struggles would be made, what long, earnest, unwearying prayers be offered for salvation! And, when saved ourselves, how anxious should we be for the salvation of others? In the touching narrative of a fugitive slave I have read how, when he himself had escaped, the thought of his mother, a mother dear, and sisters, still in bondage, haunted him night and day, embittering the sweetness of his own cup. He found no rest. Liberty to him was little more than a name, until they also were free. And surely one may wonder how Christians can give God any rest, or take it themselves, while those near and dear to them are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity? And why is it, moreover, that when his servants appear, proclaiming, through Christ, liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, so few hearts leap for joy, and so many hear it—as if they needed it not, heard it not, heeded it not—with calm, cold, frigid indifference? Go, proclaim emancipation in a land of slaves, and the news shall fly like wildfire, sweep on like flames over the summer prairie. At such glad tidings how the bed-rid would leap from his couch, the lame throw away his crutches, the old grow young, the people go mad with joy! Mothers, with new feelings would kiss their babes, and press them to their bosoms; brothers, sisters, friends, would rush into each other's arms, to congratulate each the other that they were free, and, weeping the first tears of joy their eyes had ever shed, would they not make hut and hall, forest and mountain, ring with the glorious name of him who had fought their long hard battle, nor ceased, nor relaxed his efforts till he had achieved their freedom? Jesus! with what jubilant songs, then, should we celebrate thy name, and enshrine thy memory in our best affections! What great, glad tidings these, redemption through thy blood! Oh that God would inspire us with such a love of it, and give us so great enjoyment in it, that with some foretaste of the joys, we might sing this song of heaven, Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
In directing your attention to this subject, I remark:
I. That we all need redemption.
To a man nigh unto death, who is laboring under some deadly malady, and knows it, offer a medicine which has virtue to cure him, and he will buy it at any price. In his eyes that precious drug is worth all the gold on earth. But offer that, whichhe grasps at, to one who believes himself to be in robust and perfect health, and he holds it cheap. Just so, and for a similar reason, the Saviour and his redemption are slighted, despised and rejected of men. Some of you have no adequate conception of your lost state as sinners, nor do you feel, therefore, your great need of salvation. The first work, accordingly of God's Holy Spirit in conversion, is to rouse a man from the torpor which the poison of sin—like the venom of a snake infused into the veins—produces, to make him feel his illness, to convince him of his guilt, to make him sensible of his misery. And blessed the book, blessed the preacher, blessed the providence that sends that conviction into our hearts, and lodges it, like a barbed arrow, there. For, to an alarmed conscience, to a soul convinced of sin and misery, who so welcome as the Saviour? Let a man, who fancied that he was in no danger, see himself to be in great danger, know that he is a poor, polluted, perishing sinner, lost by nature, lying under sentence of death, deserving the wrath of God. and, like one standing over a volcano, separated