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We have no sympathy with that sort of speculation which suggests that this penitent malefactor may after all have been a decent sort of fellow, and only incidentally a victim of the law. For all we know he may have been a hundredfold more vicious and criminal than his impenitent companion. The gist of the episode lies in the fact that when he comes into close touch with the Infinite this man senses a Divine quality and responds. His wondering ears had heard the rejected of the people pray with unspeakable tenderness, "Father, forgive them," and declare with compassionate discernment, "they know not what they do." The thief dropped into the background; the man came forward in the consciousness and bowed in reverence before the humanity so divinely good. In the depths of his soul occurred that mystical, marvelous swing of the inmost volition by which we choose the best by some power greater than ourselves. This freedom to righteousness no scholar can define, and yet it is what saves man, what makes him the accomplished image and likeness of God, the spontaneous functioner of the life of heaven.—New Church Messenger.

In a certain passage Jesus represents his Jewish hearers as in a state of slavery from which he could make them free. They resented the idea of their enslavement, thinking only of their physical condition, not even taking into consideration their political subjection to the Romans.

But Jesus proceeds to show them that he has in mind their slavery in a moral sense and that in the committal of sin they were involved in its power. This is a more subtle form of slavery, yet just as real as the yoke of physical bondage. It is not, however, realized in its beginnings, nor when it has fastened its fetters fully and finally upon the soul, on account of its deceptive character. The chains of moral slavery are not felt until they have produced results in some physical form of weakness or vice.

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June 24, 1905

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