Christ the Deliverer

CHRIST THE DELIVERER.

"Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? Bntthiu •alth the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that coutendeth with thee, and I will save thy children."—Isaiah 49: 24, 26.

You find in these verses what Christ came to do. He did not come to preach elegant sermons: He came to the world to proclaim liberty to the captive. Every soul in this building is either under the power of the prince of this world and doing his bidding, or he is brought out of this old kingdom and is brought into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are only two classes in this world. You must be either for the Lord or against him. There may be some persons here who are not Christians, who are saying to themselves, "I am not under the power of Satan. I will do as I please. Satan has no power over me; I do as I please." If there is an unconverted person here who has that idea, I can tell him it is a false one. You cannot hold a more false impression than that. I can prove to you that it is false. Have you not some sins that trouble you? and have you ift>t said, "I will try and break off that sin?" and have you not tried and tried, and failed every time? And could not you, if you were honest tonight, write " failure" over every attempt you nave made to reform yourself? Satan binds us—every one of us. If we have not been liberated by Christ, we are still under his power. Every one of us has some besetting sin; and Satan knows our weak point and holds us: and we have not the power to liberate ourselves. We cannot give ourselves liberty. A great many do not want to become Christians, because they do not want to give up their liberty, but the greatest slaves in the world are the slaves of the devil. They are under hia power; they cannot do as they please; they have not the power to do as they please. When we had slavery in this country, if a slave had a wife that was a slave, all their children were born into slavery. Every one of us is born into slavery to Satan, by nature. In sin did my mother conceive me. We cannot talk about liberty until we know Christ. We see the old nature in children, even when but one year old. We see the child's will rises against its mother's -will; there it is, under the very power of the evil one. How many young men in this assembly have tried to break off some of their habits that are taking them down to ruin, and sinking them lower and lower? They nave tried to get the victory over them; but they have failed. How many have been in the inquiry-room daring these past weeks, and told us how they have tried to break off old habits and failed every time? They have said: "It is an awful hard thing to be a Christian. I have tried to serve God and failed." It Ib utterly impossible for you to serve God until you get liberty in Christ—until you get power over Satan. I do not know what your besetting sin is; but every man and woman in this assembly, out of Christ, has some besetting sin, and Satan holds you with that sin. He holds some by the power of strong drink; others by their tempers; and others by profanity. Satan does not care which way he takes you to hell, if he only gets you there at last. He has all men in his power who have not been liberated by Jesus Christ. Christ •ays, He came to proclaim liberty. That is his proclamation; and there is not a slave of the devil to-night but what may be set free. No one but Christ has the power to set the sinner free. That is why the Gospel is good news: it is good news because it proclaims liberty to the captive.

In the days of Wilberforce, there was an effort made to get a bill through the British parliament to give liberty to the slaves held by their masters in those West India islands belonging to Great Britain. Those poor fugitives were anxious to hear the decision of parliament upon that question. They could not telegraph over the water, as we can now; but they were watching for a vessel to come in. At last a vessel came in to one of those islands. The captain could not wait until he got on shore to proclaim the news of freedom; but he shouted at the top of bis voice, as loud as he could cry: "Free! free! fret!" The people took up the cry, and it rung all through the island: "'Free Ifree I freel" They were no longer slaves—that was the proclamation. Jesus Christ comes from the throne of God, and he proclaims liberty to every slave of the devil. If there is one here in this assembly whom the devil holds in slavery, he can be free if he will only come to Christ.

When I was returning from Europe in 1872,1 met Governor Curtin on board the steamer coming back from Russia. I was much interested in the account he gave of the Emperor having liberated forty million serfs. We thought President Lincoln had done a great "ring when he liberated our slaves; but it was far surpassed by the *ction of the Emperor of Russia. He called his imperial council together, to endeavor to devise some way by which liberty could be given to these serfs. They assembled, and consulted together for six long months; and af last, one night, they sent in word to the Emperor that it would not be expedient to liberate them—that it was not best to liberate them. That night the Emperor went to the Greek church and partook of the sacrament. The next morning he ordered his guards up with their guns; they guarded the palace, and planted tLeir cannon for a protection. At midday a ukase was sent forth by the Emperor, proclaiming liberty to forty million serfs. They were made'free. That is the proclamation I bring you tonight, and what you want to-night is just to believe the proclamation. It is not bad news; it is good news.

During our war, a number of our men were taken prisoners by the Southern army. These prisoners were very anxious to be released; they waited anxiously to hear the news that prisoners were to be exohanged. At one prison nine hundred men were confined. Word was brought to them one day that every man with the rank of captain was to be taken to the commanding officer's office. The prisoners thought that these captains were to be sent home. Then every oolonel wished he was a captain. He would like to come down in the ranks; and every lieutenant wished he was higher up. They were all congratulating t^hese captains, for they thought they were going back to their wives and mothers, and they had been suffering in that prison for a long time. They were taken to the commanding officer's office; they were all silent; all of them expected to be paroled out. The commanding officer said: "I have painful news to tell. I am ordered to select two of you for immediate execution." The feeling that came over that company was something awful. The officers proceeded to put the names of these captains into a hat; one of them then put his hand into the hat, and brought out the names of two men. He read the names he had drawn—they were Sayer and Flin. The hair of one of these men turned gray during the next night. Our government heard what was going on, and they sent this word to Richmond: "You take the lives of those men, and we will take the life of the nephew of General Lee." All at once news came to these two captains, "You are going to be saved." Do you think that was not good news to them? Now, you know you are under the sentence of death. We are all condemned to die? the sentence is already out against us. And now comes liberty for every poor captive that wants it. If you want liberty, this night you can have it.

I will give you another illustration. We will look into Libby prison and see those one thousand men there, some of them dying for want of care. The news comes to them: "General Lee has been defeated, and has been driven in from his outer works." What news it must have been to those poor men. By and by they receive other news; they hear that Richmond has been taken. How jubilant they are I By and by they can hear our Union soldiers coming down the streets of Richmond; they can hear the band playing the tune of "The Star Spangled Banner." Soon they throw open the prison doors, and the captives are free. I came to-night to proclaim liberty to the captive. If Satan has you bound to-night by some terrible •in, the Son of God will set you free. He has the keys of heaven and hell. He will deliver you this night, if you will let him.

A parable was told by Mr. Spurgeon of a tyranf. who ordered one of his subjects, a blacksmith, into his presence, and said to him: "Make a chain of a certain length, and bring it to me on a certain day." The blacksmith returned on a certain day, with the chain of • certain length. The tyrant said: "Make it twice as long and bring it to me." The blacksmith made it, and brought it to him. The tyrant said again: "Make it twice the length, and bring it to me." The third time the man made the chain twice its former length, and brought it back. The tyrant then said to his officers: "Take that chain, and bind that man hand and foot." That is what the devil is going to do with you. He is making you forge your own chain. What you want to-night is to become free. I do not care how dark the sin may be, you can be free.

There is no class of sinners in Philadelphia but is represented in this Bible. One man says: "I am a thief; and if I am converted, I will have to make restitution." It is the best thing you can do. Some may say: "I have not the power to make restitution; I have squandered the money." Then go and confess it, and the man whom you have wronged will have compassion on you. You may say, "I am afraid he will put me in prison." I never knew a man but had mercy on the man that confessed to him that he had wronged him, and asked his forgiveness. A minister told me of a man whose conscience was aroused under the sermon, and he said to the minister: "I am a clerk in such a store, and I have stolen five hundred dollars. I want to become a Christian; but that is standing in my way, and (taring me in the face. I have had no peace of mind for a long time. I have not got the money, and I cannot make restitution." Says the minister: "Why don't you go to your employer and tell him?" The young man said, "He will put me in prison." The minister «aid: •• I would make a clean breast of it. Go to him and tell him all about it. It is better for you to do right than to do wrong. You have done wrong; don't conceal it and you will get liberty. The minister could not get the young man to consent to go. At last he ttid: "I will go and talk with your employer, if you will allow me." The young man gave him permission. He went to the countingroom of the young man's employer, and told him all about it, and laid: "I have faith to believe that man is reformed, and if you will foreive him you will find him a good clerk." The merchant said, "I *ill not speak to him about it." He did not discharge him; he kept him in his old place, and he turned out to be the best man in the place. Many a man thinks he cannot get free because he is bound in that way. The Lord Jesus Christ will give you victory. If you will confess your sin, he will give you victory. That is what he came to do: "to proclaim liberty to the captive." As long as a man i* living in sin, there is no liberty; but the moment you come to Jesus Christ and confess to him, he will sweep your sins out of the way, and the clear light of Calviiy will burst across your path.

How many men are so guilty that they cannot look in your eye; and yet these men talk about liberty, and do not want to become Christians because they do not want to give up liberty. You never will know what true liberty is until you come to Christ. If you confess your sins, Christ will give you pure liberty; and peace and joy will flow over your soul fike a river. Look over the list of those who have been saved, as recorded in the Bible; and see how many have been saved when they came to the Lord and confessed their sins. When you confess your sins, the Lord is ready to forgive you. If there is a sin-sick soul here to-night, if you will be honest and go and confess your sin, he will take it away, and bring your soul out of that dark prison it is in. I would much rather have my body in

Erison than my soul. It is better to have the soul safe with God and ave the body in prison, than to have the soul in prison and the body under the power of the devil. Look at poor Barabbas in prison in Jerusalem. He is counting the hours when he will be led out to execution. He has had his trial and been found guilty. The laws have condemned him to die the death of the cross; the day is set for his execution; the hour will soon oome. I can imagine the night before the day appointed for his execution he did not sleep; I can imagine he did not eat anything; I see him trembling from head to foot, because he is going to meet God. Bear in mind that the time may be very short to some of us. A man who was here last night said to a friend, "I am coming to-morrow into the inquiry-room." He fell dead twenty minutes before three o'clock this afternoon. Christ has proclaimed liberty to every captive. Poor Barabbas; he knows his hour is coming; perhaps he is counting the minutes. He says, "So many minutes, and I will be gone." They had a man executed a few years ago in Chicago, and they put up the scaffold in the jail. It troubled him very much to hear them putting up the scaffold, because it brought the thought to him that he was to be led out and executed. Poor Barabbas might have heard the carpenters working on the cross, and he might have said, "In a few hours I am to be led out." The great iron door of the prison swung baok and the executioner says to him, "Barabbas, you are free." Barabbas aays, "What! Free I" "Yes, you oan go to your wife and children." "What does it mean? I free! My God! What does it mean? I have not to die?" The executioner says, "The people have chosen Jesus of Nazareth to die." That is substitution. Barabbas was the man that ought to die; his hand was trickling with the blood of his fellow men. Jesus came to set the captive free. Every man that has committed sin is a lawful captive. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Here is Christ dying in the place of Barabbas; he has gone up on high; he loves and intercedes for you; he has power to proclaim liberty to every poor bondman upon the earth. He went to the temple, one day, and there was a poor woman there who had been bound by Satan for eighteen years. There she was, doubled up. Satan had bound her physically, as well as binding her soul. Christ spoke a word and proclaimed her free. He has power. If your soul is so dwarfed on account of sin, and so vile and polluted, if you come to Jesus he will make you perfectly whole.

Am I talking to a man here to-night who has some besetting sin and wants to get rid of it? Is there a man here who has a bad temper? Christ came to deliver us from these bad tempers. That is what he will do if you ask him. I onoe knew a woman who had such a bad temper that she could not keep any servant girl. No servant girl would live in the house with her, and she was disgusted with herself. She tried to get rid of her temper, but she could not do it. She said there was no chance of her being a Christian, as she could not keep her temper. A Christian lady said to her: "Why not let Jesus keep that temper for you?" She said, "I have never thought of that." If you commit your temper to Jesus, he will keep it for you; that is what he came for. The Christian lady asked this lady to trust Christ to keep her temper. God used that as the arrow to her soul, and she went bome with her heart leaping for joy. She said, "I will trust him to keep my temper." When she arrived home she found the servant girl doing something she had told her never to do; the servant was surprised to see her, and dropped something and spoiled it. The old temper came up, but she said nothing to the servant. She went into the parlor and said, "Jesus, keep my temper for me." She came out and spoke to the servant kindly, and the servant broke down through her kindness. Christ has kept her temper all through these years.

Another man says: "I am guilty of the terrible sin of blasphemy. I curse my wife and children. Many a time I have said: 'I will not take the name of the Lord in vain; I will stop swearing.'" He has said that a thousand times. Now, have you..not learned the lesson that you cannot deliver yourself—that Satan has you bound? If you come to Christ, he will give you power to overcome that, and every other besetting sin.

Here is another man who says: "That is not my trouble. My sin is selfishness; I am so supremely selfish, it is self in all my plans. I will work only for myself; I will talk for myself; I will do everything from the standpoint of self." If you receive Jesus Christ, you will love him more than you will love yourself. He will be dearer to you than yourself. I pity the man who is living only for himself; he is but little higher than the ox. When a man lives for himself, there is nothing heavenly in him. We want to get outside of ourselves, and live for others. Christ will deliver us from that sin—for it is a sin.

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Here is another man says: "I am bound by a sin; I wish I could get the victory over it. I am bound hand and foot; Satan lias me bound." I need not mention what that sin is. Many of you know the sin you are bound by. If it is not one thing, it is another. Satan holds every man bound in his kingdom with some sin—some besetting sin. But let me tell you, all are the same with the Lord Jesus Christ He has power to redeem to the uttermost; and there is no one so bound by any sin but Christ will give him the victory. The Lord sent him to proclaim liberty to the captive.

Look at him in the temple. A woman was taken in adultery, and was dragged into his presence. He said he did not come to condemn the world. The Law condemns: Grace does not condemn. The people were going to put a question to him, which they thought he could not answer. They said: "The Law says, stone this woman to death. What do you say, Jesus?" He stooped and wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. They continued asking him. Then he says: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Then he wrote again on the ground. Her accusers, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last. Jesus then looked up, and be turned to the poor fallen woman that had been bound by Satan many years, and said: "Where are thy accusers? Is there none to condemn thee?" And she said: "No man, Lord." And Jesus said unto her: "Neither do I condemn thee: Go, and sin no more." He sent her out with her heart full of joy; he set that poor captive free. If there be one here to-night that is guilty of adultery, the Lord Jesus Christ will forgive that sin, and will give you power over it, if you come to him. That is what he came to do. All you have to do is to flee right to him; and the moment we come, he gives us victory. As long as you stay away from him, there is no victory for you. If you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, he will give you power over every sin.

While we were in t{ie North of England, a man came to a minister at one of our meetings, and said: "I would like to come to Christ, but it seems as if my heart was chained, and I cannot come." The minister that was talking to him said: "Come to him, chains and all." The man said, "I will do that." Christ snapped the chains, and he got liberty that night, If you are chained, come with chains and all, and he will save you. We will now sing—

*'Ju*t M I ftin. without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,"