“The Prisoner’s Friend” The Life Boat 5, 4, pp. 78, 79.
ALL mankind were prisoners. They had been taken and enslaved by a merciless oppressor, who was determined that this imprisonment and this oppression should be perpetual, for of him it is written, that he “opened not the house of his prisoners,” and that he would “not let his prisoners loose homewards.” Thus he intended to hold them while they lived, and even when they died he shut them up in his prison cell, intending that there they should be held perpetually.LIBO April 1902, page 78.1
But God did not create man for such a destiny as that, and he pitied the prisoners in their bondage. It is true that these prisoners were in great measure responsible for their imprisonment. They had committed evil deeds which gave to the oppressor opportunity to make them prisoners and to exercise his cruel power over them. Yet, responsible as they were, guilty as they were, God “looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death.” (.) He determined that the captives of the mighty” should be taken away and the prey of the terrible oppressor should be delivered.LIBO April 1902, page 78.2
God sent his only begotten Son, and that Son, who dwelt near to the heart of God, freely came to this land of the enemy, of the oppressor, and of the forlorn prisoners. He came to meet the oppressor upon his own ground and in his own kingdom to break the power of the oppressor, to break every yoke, to deliver the prisoners and let the oppressed go free. He came proclaiming “liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” He came to the prisoners just where they were. He submitted Himself to the same trials as themselves, the same sufferings, the same temptations. He did this in order that he might know in truest experience the real nature of their bondage, and that so he might be a complete deliverer. So completely did he make himself one with these forlorn prisoners in their experiences, that he gave himself up to death, and allowed himself to be shut up in his prison cell by the oppressor who had the power of death. For, inasmuch, “as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”LIBO April 1902, page 78.3
And so, though He was in the power of him that had the power of death, shut up in his prison cell, yet by his majestic power, He broke the bands of death, burst the prison cell and came forth triumphant, exclaiming, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of the grave and of death;” and leading at the same time from their prison cells “a multitude of captives.”LIBO April 1902, page 78.4
Now there is this unfortunate circumstance that some of those who are already prisoners become yet further prisoners. A second imprisonment falls upon them, beyond the original imprisonment. Unfortunately there are thousands of these to-day, and to them this number of THE LIFE BOAT is especially addressed, confidently bearing a message of hope. For though those in this double imprisonment may be in great measure responsible, though they may have committed evil deeds, which has brought upon them this additional imprisonment; yet, when the merciful, pitying, sympathizing God looked down from heaven to hear the groaning of those prisoners who were imprisoned but once, how much more will he the same merciful, pitying, and sympathizing God, hear to-day the groaning of those prisoners who are doubly imprisoned; how much more gladly will he deliver those who may be doubly appointed to death.LIBO April 1902, page 78.5
Every soul who has known the bitterness of the hard bondage and the cruelty of the imprisonment inflicted by the oppressor can sincerely sympathize, and does sincerely sympathize, with those who are in the bondage of a double imprisonment. And, of all things those who have know the bitterness of the hard bondage and the cruelty of the imprisonment of that terrible oppressor, and who know also the blessedness of the glorious deliverance from all bondage, that there is in the great Deliverer the perfect liberty with which Christ makes free—of all people these can sympathize with those who are doubly imprisoned, as well as those who are in prison at all, may know that blessed deliverance, that glorious liberty of those who are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. And all these can, in sincere sympathy, join in the prayer indited by the merciful God, the prisoner’s truest friend: “Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power, preserve thou those that are appointed to die.” (.)LIBO April 1902, page 79.1