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The Liberty Of The Spirit

by Rev. John Alison D.D. 1835-1902

Copyrighted (reproduced by kind permission of Thomas Nelson and Sons)

John Alison, Doctor of Divinity, was an anointed clergyman who lived and ministered in Scotland in the 19th Century in Paisley, Bonhill in West Dunbartonshire, and Newington, Edinburgh. Settle back and enjoy his anointed teaching in this sermon from a published book of a collection of his sermons and papers, and see how the passage of time has not dented the relevance of his illumination of the unchangeable Word of God for us today.

Picture of Loch Lomond, West Dunbartonshire,
near where the Rev. Alison lived.

The Liberty Of The Spirit

"Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Thy name" Psalm 142 verse 7.

"This text occured to me beside the Lake of Geneva, and near the famous Castle of Chillon. One can scarcely imagine a sharper contrast than experienced in passing from the brightness and beauty and Alpine magnificence of that part of the lake, in the sunshine of a spring day, to the gloom of the prison under the castle in which the innocent as well as the guilty were confined and often secretly executed in days of abitrary rule long ago. When one comes out again from that chill and lonesome place, he has learnt to value the freedom and warmth and brightness of the open air. One feels moved to praise God for the beautiful world in which He has set us, for the privileges we have without fully appreciating them, and for those freer and happy times in which we live. The scene linked itself in my mind to this text, in which a good man in trouble prays that his soul may be brought out of prison, that he may praise God's name. Now it occurs to me to say, first of all, that there is no hindrance to praise in an imprisoned body. It is the soul in prison which is so hindered. Many a time has a prison cell become a place of worship, with songs of praise. We read of Paul and Silas in the prison at Philippi praying and singing praises unto God. We know that constantly, in the history of the church, persecuted and imprisoned Christians relieved the loneliness of their imprisonment and fanned their spiritual life by praise. We know that "The Pilgrim's Progress" was written in a prison. It is itself a song of praise, and the unquenchable faith and hope which were expresssed in it would be kept living and strong through actual praise. Jesus said to His disciples," Fear not them that kill the body, but after that no more they can do." (Luke 12:4) As the leaves of some fragrant plants must be rubbed or crushed that they may give forth their fragrance, and as the bottom of a deep well is the most favourable place from which to see a star in daylight, so the crushing or chaining of the body often serves to release the spiritual fragrance of the soul by which God is praised, and out of the depths the soul looks up and sees as well as cries.

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