THE SEVENTH PRIVILEGE OF VIRTUE: THE TRUE LIBERTY OF THE JUST.
From the privileges we have been considering, but particularly from the graces of the Holy Spirit and His divine consolations, there arises a seventh, though no less marvellous, privilege, which is true liberty of the soul.
The Son of God brought this gift to men; hence He is called the Redeemer, or Deliverer, for He freed mankind from the slavery of sin, and restored them to the true liberty of the children of God.
This is one of the greatest of God’s favors, one of the most signal benefits of the Gospel, and one of the principal effects of the Holy Ghost. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” [2 Cor. iii. 17.]
This liberty is one of the most magnificent rewards which God has promised to His servants in this life: “If you continue in My word, you shall be My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” To this the Jews answered: “We are the seed of Abraham, and we have never been slaves to any man; how sayest Thou: You shall be free? Jesus answered them: Amen, amen I say unto you, that whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. Now the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the son abideth for ever. If, therefore, the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” [St. John viii. 31-37.]
Our Saviour teaches us by these words that there are two kinds of liberty.
The first is the liberty of those who are doubtless free in body, but whose souls are enslaved by sin, as Alexander the Great, who, though master of the world, was a slave to his own vices.
The second is that true liberty which is the portion of those whose souls are free from the bondage of sin, though their bodies may be held in chains.
Witness the great Apostle, whose mind, despite his fetters, soared to Heaven, and whose preaching and doctrine freed the world.
To such a condition we unhesitatingly give the glorious name of liberty. For the noblest part of man is the soul; in a measure it constitutes man. The body is merely matter vivified by the soul. Hence, only he whose soul is at liberty is truly free, and he whose soul is in bondage, however free his body may be, possesses only the semblance of liberty.