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Soul-Liberty

True liberty is never won by physical force, because evil is not overcome by evil, but can only be overcome by good. All true liberty is achieved by obedience to the everlasting; laws of right, and by self-subjugation and self-control. Wisdom spoke by Jesus when He said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." And this is true in all if departments of life. Most of the great and terrible experiences and sorrows of our race can be traced to their origin in human ignorance; we load ourselves with burdens by desiring to possess, when we might rejoice in giving up and bestowing. The craving for sensual pleasure always ends in disappointment or disgust, if the voluptuary does not sink down into the slave of his base appetites, and then he loses his manhood.

So, then, freedom of soul can only be found in freedom from evil. Thomas á Kempis says: "No man is richer, no man more powerful, no man more free, than he that can leave all things, and set himself in the lowest place." And George Fox wrote, "Walk in the power and spirit of God that is over all in love and unity. For love overcomes, builds up, and unites, love keeps out of all strife, and is of God. Love keeps the mind above all outward things, and strife about outward things, it overcomes evil, and casts out all false fears." Therefore we win true soul-liberty by giving up rather than by gaining, by reducing our desires, instead of—increasing our wants or our wealth. We win our freedom by obeying the truth, and save our real life by self-sacrificing love.

Jesus is recorded to have said: "To this end was born and for this cause came into the world, to bear witness to the truth," and the tragedy of Calvary bears testimony to His victory, and to His perfect soul-liberty when He prayed: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

By every one of us this victory is possible, this liberty may be won. By obedience to the light of reason and conscience all soul-slavery ceases, and the emancipated man can stand forth free with the freedom of holiness, for "where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty," wherein all who are willing may rejoice and be glad. The bondage of sin can no longer enslave the soul which has achieved unity with the Great Eternal Soul of Goodness, before Whom all evil must perish and with Whom no evil can contend. The reign of Truth in the soul means the reign of liberty and perfect Love. Thus we may make our life, by effort, patience and submission, a life of Liberty in God.

Oh, restless spirit wherefore strain
Beyond thy sphere?
Heaven and hell, with their joy and pain
Are now and here.
Back to thyself is measured well
All thou hast given;
Thy neighbor's wrong is thy present hell,
His bliss thy heaven.

And in life, in death, in dark and light,
All are in God's care:
Sound the black abyss, pierce the deep night,
And He is there!
All which is real now remaineth,
And fadeth never:
The hand which upholds it now, sustaineth
The soul forever.

Leaning on Him, make with reverent meekness
His own thy will,
And with strength from Him shall utter weakness
Life's task fulfill:
And that cloud itself, which now before thee
Lies dark in view,
Shall with beams of light from the inner glory
Be stricken through.

And like meadow-mist through Autumn's dawn,
Uprolling thin,
Its thickest folds when about thee drawn
Let sunlight in.

There is nothing in the whole world able to do us good or hurt;
but our own will; neither riches nor poverty, nor disgrace nor honor, nor life nor death, nor angels nor devils;
but willing or not willing as we ought to do.
Should hell itself cast all its fiery darts against us, if our will be right, if it be informed by the divine will, they can do us no hurt.
—Dr. Ralph Cudworth

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