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gality alone ? The creditor cometh, and there is nothing to give him. The loss of liberty is the consequence: the evil becomes worse and worse. He who entered within the walls of a prison unfortunate only, continues there under a total incapacity of shaking off calamity. What was at first the pressure of debt, imperceptibly changes into an intolerable load of vice, from which a miracle of grace alone can deliver. How many thousands of our fellow subjects are in this unhappy, this almost hopeless condition! But liberty may exist even in a dungeon. If the prisoner carr
carries with him into confinement the “spirit of adoption,” he is already delivered from bondage. No bolts, nor bars, nor fetters of iron can restrain the heaven-born mind: he can look up and “cry, Abba, Father!" “ He that is called in the Lord, being a slave, is the Lord's freeman." “ If the Son shall make you free, ye
shall be free indeed." Paul in bonds, a prisoner in the cause of Jesus Christ, possesses a nobly free and independent spirit. Galled with “ many stripes ;' “ thrust into the inner prison" at Philippi, with Silas his companion in tribulation, “ their feet made fast in the stocks,” they enjoy liberty of access to the throne
" At midnight they prayed, and sang praises unto God.” Thus “ the Lord looseth the prisoners,'. and thus the Anointed is “ sent to preach," and to give deliverance to the captives."
But what, in respect either of multitude or of misery, are imprisoned debtors, or even felons lying under the rod of the law, compared to the voluntarily enslaved ? « Whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin.” And what blindness is like wilful blindness, and what servitude so hopeless, so inglorious as that into which a man degrades himself? It is some alleviation of the depression of servile estate, that the master is honourable, and that the service required is neither humiliating nor severe : but O how mortifying the reflection of being in subjection to an unfeeling monster,
to a capricious tyrant, to a contemptible groundling! And such is every slave to irregular appetite, whether it be the lust of the flesh, or the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life.” Such dream that they are following their own will, but in truth they “are led captive by Satan at his will ;” and “ the wages of sin is death." To deliver from this most inglorious, this fatal thraldom, then, is the object of Christ's mission. What, Britons, glory, and well you may, in your civil liberties! and willingly assume the yoke of a paltry interest, of a grovelling propensity which you are ashamed to avow! What, make it your boast that the moment the ill-fated African breathes British air he becomes free ! and continue deliberately to “ fulfil the desires of the flesh and of the mind,” which “ war against the soul!" Great Deliverer, exert thy power, display thy grace ; “ open their eyes, turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified.”
“ He hath sent me for the recovering of sight to the blind.” On what numberless, and what delicate hinges does human comfort turn! Who can describe “ the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to?" Were the kindness of nature or the care of Providence to be suspended but for a day, into what a lazar-house would the world be instantly transformed! The defect of a nail of a little finger is a blemish in organization, but a blemish which nature seldom permits ; how much less a deficiency of one of the nobler parts, or a disarrangement of the whole system! “ But that the works of God should be made manifest,” a
man is blind from his birth ;” and another loses “ the precious treasure of his eye-sight.” Of the two, the latter surely is the greater evil
. We cannot regret what we have hardly an idea of, what we never possessed, and to which we become perfectly reconciled before we are conscious of existence. But to recollect the pleasures
of vision after the organ is destroyed; but to be reduced to mourn with the poet in these affecting strains :
With the year
Parad. Losr. This is “ darkness which may be felt.” In representing, accordingly, the deplorable state of the world under the image of blindness, a state of ignorance, guilt and wretchedness; and in representing the cor. respondent office and work of the Redeemer, that blindness is not described as an original and radical defect of sight, but as the casual deprivation of a bless. ing once in possession: and he is considered as sent not to confer a benefit unknown, unenjoyed before, but to restore that which was lost, to relumine the extinguished orb. The truth is, men had wilfully shut their eyes, because they could not bear the light. This was the condemnation of the unbelieving Jews, with all their superior advantages: “ Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world ; that they which see might be made blind. And some of the pharisees which were with him heard these words and said unto him, Are we blind also, Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” And this was the condemnation of the self conceited Gentiles, with all their affectation of wisdom : "professing them. selves to be wise, they became fools :" " they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” They are in another place thus describVol. IV.
ed, and under the same image ; “ The Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart :” And this mental darkness is represented as necessarily blended with moral corruption of the grossest kind. Thus are both Jews and Gentiles involved in thick darkness, and both under the domin. ion of sin; “God hath concluded them all in unbe- : lief, that he might have mercy upon all.” The promises of Messiah are of equal extent; as “a salvation prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel.”
“ He is sent, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” We have here a represi ntation of human misery in every circumstance of aggravation; poverty, mental depression, captivity, blindness, fetters of iron.
There is in this gradation, perhaps, an allusion to the horrid treatment of unhappy prisoners on falling into the hands of their enemies. They were shut up in prison, their eyes were thrust out, they were loaded with chains. Thus was Samson treated, the moment his strength failed, and his cruel adversaries had obtained power over him : « The Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison-house." And the sight of his wretchedness they called sport. In this manner could one king act by another, “ So they took the king, and brought him
up to the king of Babylon to Ribiah; and they gave judgment upon him. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the
put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound hiin with fetters of brass, and carried him to Bubylon.” Such are the draadful abuses which a man commits against his brother ! such is ihe dreadful maligoity of the human heart; such the detestable working of “the carnal mind,” which is enmity against God'' and an unrelenting foe to man!
This enumeration of human woes, is equivalent to a
declaration, that whatever may be the nature, and whatever the extent of the malady, the promised De. liverer should come provided with a suitable remedy. And when he did come, he not only exercised this gracious power himself; for “ they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them ;” but he com. municated the same salutary virtue to his disciples also; “ He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease.” And thus was the Scrip. ture fulfilled. The prophecy contains one important article more:
The anointed is sent to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. “ The law had a shadow of good things to come."
With its severity was blendid a powerful infusion of mercy and mildness, the particulars of which had a direct reference to the times and the spie rit of the gospel. Of these the year of jubilee was one of the most distinguished. It was ushered in with the sound of the trumpet, “ proclaiming liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.” On the return of this hallowed fiftieth year, debts were remitted ; alienated lands reverted to their original proprietor ; the Hebrew bond-servant to a Hebrew, i he and his children with him” were to be set free, and restored to their rank in Israel; the poor Hebrew, who had been reduced to the sad necessity of selling himself as a slave to a stranger, was to be redeemed by his next of kin. In a word, at the expiration of every seven times seven years, all the disorders which had crept into the commonwealth, from the period of the preceding jubilee, were to be rectified, and all rein. stated on the original basis. It it easy to conceive how such an era would be looked unto and longed for, what a happy tendency it had to ameliorate the condi