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Law of Liberty

By George Matheson


      "...the law of liberty" (James 2:12).

      There are two theories in the world about the human will. One says, "Man is a slave; he is bound hand and foot; he is for ever under law." The other says, "Man is free; he is master of his own actions; law has no dominion over him." St. James suggests terms of peace between the opposing views. He says that each of them assumes something which is wrong--that "to be free" is the opposite of "to be bound." He declares that on the contrary there is such a thing as a "law of liberty"--a compulsion whose very essence consists in the strength of human will.

      What is this mysterious union of contraries--this law of liberty? It can be expressed in one word--love. Love is at once the most free and the most bound of all things. We say habitually that one in love is "captivated"--made prisoner. And yet the prison is his own choice. He would not lose his chain for all the world. It is to him a golden chain--the badge not of his servitude but of his empire. It represents the freest thing in his nature--the desire of his heart. My love is my heart's desire, my heart's hunger, my heart's prayer. It is the strongest exercise of will conceivable. Nothing shows the power of my will like my love. It is the power of my personality to pass out of itself and to claim a share in yours--to say, "You are mine." James is right when he says that love is the marriage of opposites--liberty and law.

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