(From his book “FREEDOM!”, 1878)
The freedom I speak of, is a freedom that is within the reach of every child of Adam who is willing to have it. No power on earth can prevent a man or woman having it, if they have but the will to receive it. Tyrants may threaten and cast in prison — but nothing they can do can stop a person having this liberty. And, once our own, nothing can take it away. Men may torture us, banish us, hang us, behead us, burn us — but they can never tear from us true freedom! The poorest may have it no less than the richest; the most unlearned may have it as well as the most learned, and the weakest as well as the strongest. Laws cannot deprive us of it.
The true freedom I speak of is spiritual freedom, freedom of soul. It is the freedom which Christ bestows, without money and without price, on all true Christians. Those whom the Son makes free, are free indeed: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17.) Let men talk what they please of the comparative freedom of monarchies and republics; let them struggle, if they will, for universal liberty, fraternity, and equality: we never know the highest style of liberty — until we are enrolled citizens of the kingdom of God. We are ignorant of the best kind of freedom — if we are not Christ’s freemen.
Christ’s freemen are free from the guilt of sin. That heavy burden of unforgiven transgressions, which lies so heavy on many consciences, no longer presses them down. Christ’s blood has cleansed it all away. They feel pardoned, reconciled, justified, and accepted in God’s sight. They can look back to their old sins, however black and many, and say, “You cannot condemn me!” They can look back on long years of carelessness and worldliness and say, “Who shall lay anything to my charge?” This is true liberty. This is to be free.
Christ’s freemen are free from the power of sin. It no longer rules and reigns in their hearts, and carries them before it like a flood. Through the power of Christ’s Spirit, they mortify the deeds of their bodies, and crucify their flesh with its affections and lusts. Through His grace working in them, they get the victory over their evil inclinations. The flesh may fight — but it does not conquer them; the devil may tempt and vex — but does not overcome them; they are no longer the slaves of lusts and appetites, and passions, and tempers. Over all these things, they are more than conquerors, through Him who loved them. This is true liberty. This is to be free.