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The Freedom of Sonship.

The Freedom of Sonship.

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Published by glennpease
REV. J. LLEWELYN DAVIES, M.A.


ROMANS vm. 15. "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage
again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption,
whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
REV. J. LLEWELYN DAVIES, M.A.


ROMANS vm. 15. "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage
again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption,
whereby we cry, Abba, Father."

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 29, 2014
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THE FREEDOM OF SOSHIP. REV. J. LLEWELY DAVIES, M.A. ROMAS vm. 15. "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." THERE is a danger against which we in these days have some special need to be put upon our guard, described by St Paul under the name of bondage, or a servile condition, in things relating to God. Our tendency at the present moment is to shrink from irreligion, and to rejoice in the spread of all religious feelings and practices. There are many, I believe, to whose thoughts it has scarcely occurred that there is such a thing as a spirit of bondage by which the most religious persons may be oppressed, and from which it is the glory of the Gospel to set men free. Such forgetfulness is not due to any lack of warnings and explanations in the ew Testament. o 'doubt the kind of bond- age most familiar to us, and of which none but the utterly careless can be unmindful, that of law- less desire and a perverse will, is constantly kept 30 THE FREEDOM OF SOSHIP. in view in the ew Testament as opposite to Gos- pel liberty. But the Apostles, and especially St Paul, are often speaking of a bondage expressly associated with religion. And the two forms of bondage are in their view connected in kinship or close alliance. DeatJi, Sin, the Law, are three op- pressors in league together. There is a whole world of practical theology in these few words, " The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin
 
is the law ; but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ !" Here "the law" might be explained as the religion which brings into bondage. It is impossible that the danger of such a bondage can have passed away from the world. I fear rather that we may have too little knowledge of that liberty of the Gospel which makes the bondage also known and felt. You Christians, St Paul says, did not receive a spirit of slavery again unto fear, but what you received was a Spirit of sonship, in which we cry Abba, Father! That they had received some kind of spirit was to the Christians of that age a fact of experience, which no one doubted. The entrance into the Church was marked, as a general rule, for every believer, by an access of new spiritual emotions THE FREEDOM OF SOS HIP. 31 prompting him to unwonted utterances. So that a Christian defined himself no less as a partaker of a Spirit from above, than as a believer in a risen Lord. St Paul therefore takes the receiving of a spirit for granted ; the question is what kind of a spirit it was. He tells his readers emphatically that it was not one suitable to slaves, generating a habit of fear ; they had not simply exchanged a heathen or a Jewish spirit of bondage for a Christian spirit of bondage ; the Spirit received by the Church was he does not here use the formally opposite phrase, one of freedom, but an equivalent and more instructive term one of sons/tip. From the day of Pentecost onwards, the true Spirit of the Church had always prompted the believers to cry to God with trust and hope as to their Father. That
 
impulse declared the nature of the Spirit ; it was evidently a filial Spirit ; if its cry was one which God inspired, then they in whom it moved were God's children. God was himself claiming them as his children, by teaching them to call him Father. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God," otherwise, how could they call God Father? And the Spirit of sons/lip is essentially the Spirit of freedom. In no other way can men attain to the highest kind of freedom, and 32 THE FREEDOM OF SOSHIP. be permanently secure against every kind of bondage, than by living the inner life of children of God. If you wish to see how much slavery there may be in religion, you have but to glance at some of the heathen religions. They have not been all equally oppressive; where nature has been bright and free from terrors, there religion has generally had its cheerful and joyous elements. But how frightfully have some races been tormented by their religions ! Having experience of arbitrary rulers and cruel enemies in the visible world, they have peopled the invisible with principalities and powers far more cruel and capricious. Their worship has been devil- worship. Imagine how the fear of their false gods must have harassed the souls of a people, before they would make their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, to propitiate them ! This seems the last extremity to which the spirit of bondage could drive human beings ; but, short of that, the lives of men have been filled with misery and darkness in various degrees by the malevolent powers which they have placed in their heaven.

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