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from hell only by a thin crust of earth, which, becoming thinner and thinner, as the fire eats it away, is already bending, cracking beneath his feet, ah! he understands the import of the words, Unto you, therefore, which believe, he is precious. Now, that Christ may be so to you, and that the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, may not come to you in vain, let me show how all of us require to be redeemed from the slavery of sin and Satan. And I remark:
1. That this slavery is the natural state of man.
We pity, how greatly do we pity, the mother, as one robbed of a mother's best joys, who knows that the little creature which hangs on her bosom is a slave; and only smiles because unconscious of its sad estate. But this calamity is ours. The progeny of slaves are slaves themselves. And we, having sprung from parents who, in the expressive language of Scripture, had sold themselves for nought, leave our mother's womb in bondage to sin. Accordingly, David says, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Let me recall to your recollection the testimony on this subject of one who, so far as civil liberty and Roman citizenship were concerned, was free born. You know how Paul stood on his rights as a Roman. He dared them to scourge him as they would a slave. Yet, speaking of himself, as before God, and in the eye of a holy law, he says, I am carnal, sold under sin. And—not to multiply examples—in what terms does he address his converts? "Ye were," he says, "the servants of sin," or as we would express it, ye were the slaves of sin. The slaves! for observe, I pray you, that the word which is there translated servant, means not a servant simply, but a servant who is a slave; not one hired for a period, whom the next term sets free to leave or stay, but one bound, branded with the mark of a perpetual bondage; and so the apostle says, " God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered yon," "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." David uses stronger terms. In one of his psalms, he uses this very strong expression, " I was as a beast before thee." And, though few of us have the deep sense of sin which that holy man had, there is no child of God who recalls the past to memory—what he was, and how he felt antecedent to his conversion, who looks back beyond that blessed day when the truth made him free, but will be ready to acknowledge that he was a man in bonds. Not master of himself, and free to follow the dictates of conscience and God's word, he slaved in the service of the devil, the world, and the flesh—three hard taskmasters. On that ever memorable day fetters stronger than iron were struck from his limbs.
I do not affirm that the most advanced saint is altogether free from the bondage of sin. No. The holiest believer carries that about with him which painfully reminds him of his old condition. I have seen a noble dog which had broken loose and restored itself to his liberty, dragging the chain, or some links of it, along with him. I have read of brave, stout captives who had escaped from prison, but who brought away with them, in swollen joints or festering wounds, the marks and injuries of the cruel fetters. And do not old sins thus continue to hang about a man even after grace has delivered him from their dominant power? Have you not felt that these called for constant watchfulness and earnest prayer? Who does not need every day and hour to resort to the fountain of cleansing, and wash his heart in the blood of Christ oftener than he washes his hands in water? We need to be renewed day by day; converted, as it were, not once, or twice, but— every day. Surely the happiness of a child of God lies mainly in this, that sin, though it remains within his heart, has ceased to reign there, and that, made perfect at length in holiness, he shall enter by the dismal gate of death into the full and glorious liberty of the children of God.
2. This slavery is the universal state of man.
Both sacred and profane history show that slavery, as it is one of the worst, is one of the oldest human, not humane, institutions. At an early period of man's history, in Cain, he who should have been his brother's keeper became his murderer. And when afterwards man did become his brother's keeper, alas! it was too often as an owner—selling, buying, oppressing him. It is long, very long since men and women, with broken hearts, turned a wishful eye on the grave as a welcome refuge—where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary be at rest. But while there might be lands that slavery never cursed, and while there were in every slave land a number who in a sense were free, the slavery of sin spared no land. There are no "free-soilers," so far as sin is concerned. It has exempted no class. The king on his throne, as much as the beggar on his dunghill, is a slave. The loveliest woman as much as the vilest outcast, the proudest peer and poorest peasant, the man of letters and the man so ignorant as not to know the letters, Jew and Greek, bond and free, are all branded and bound; and, like the gang of miserable captives which the slave-dealer is driving to the sea-board, they are moving on to eternity—bound in one long chain with every minor distinction sunk in the one misery, that all are sold under sin. In this, every difference of race, and rank, and color, is merged. Every man's heart is black— whatever his face may be.
It matters little, indeed, nothing before God, whether a man has a dark face or a pale one; but it is all important whether he has a black heart or no—whether our sin-stained souls have or have not been washed white in the blood of Jesus Christ. What avails it that you are not bound in fetters of man's forging, if you are bound in the devil's chain? The difference, yonder, between the white master with his lash, and the poor, trembling, crouching black, over whom he cracks it, is lost in this, that both are under bondage to sin. And I dare to say that of the two, the bigger, blacker, baser slave is he, who, boastful of his vaunted freedom, and proud of his blood and color, holds a brother in chains. The driver is more a slave than the driven; the oppressor than the oppressed. What chain, I ask, has been forged for human limbs so strong, degrading, intensely hateful in the sight of God, as the base cupidity which breeds human beings, like cattle, for the market; and grasps at wealth, although its price be groans and tears and blood and broken hearts?
3. This slavery is the actual state of all unconverted men.
Some are slaves of one sin ; some of another ; and the forms of slavery are as many and varied as the sins which people are addicted to. Let me give a few examples.
(1.) Some are slaves of gold. How they drudge for it! Their tyrant, the love of money, rules them with a rod of iron. Naturally kind, they feel disposed to assist the poor; but, No, says their master; and with an iron heel he crushes the tenderest feelings of their heart. Visited occasionally with solemn thoughts, and not altogether dead to the claims of Christ, they would part with something worthy of their wealth and of his cause; but what is Christ to Mammon? Again, their master says, No; you must make more money; toil on, ye slaves; you may not trust man, and you cannot trust God; toil on; you must be as rich as that man, and leave a fortune for your heirs to quarrel about over your grave, or squander in folly and dissipation. And thus, blushing at his mean excuse, the poor wretch—for I call him poor who has money which he cannot use—sends Christ's cause away to beg with more success at a much poorer door. Talk of slaves and slave-masters! What bondage like that which condemns a man to do what he condemns himself for doing, to harden his heart against the claims of pity, to deny his own flesh and blood, to lie, cheat, and defraud, or, if not that, every day of his life to run counter to the divine saying, What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? From such bondage, good Lord, deliver us!" Thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness;" "fight the good fight of faith;" and, like gold which a drowning man will drop to clutch the rope flung to him from ship or shore, let go the world. With thy hands set free, lay hold on eternal life.
(2.) Some are the slaves of lust. To what base