Heb. 11:35.---' Not accepting deliverance.'

Among the blessings which we connect with faith, one of the most conspicuous is deliverance. The Bible is a great record of deliverance effected through the agency of faith. Abraham was delivered from idolatry. Joseph was delivered from his brethren. David was delivered from Goliath, and Peter from the prison at Jerusalem. And, most notable of all, there was the Exodus, when Israel was delivered from its bondage---drawn out of Egypt, by the might of God, into the peril and the prize of liberty. All these are instances of deliverance, wrought in the power of a living faith. Men trusted God, and in the joy of trust were freed from darkness and captivity. And so the Bible, as we read its pages, grows into a great argument for this, that God is able and willing, if we trust Him, to equip us for the immanent task of His purpose; now and the future.

The same issue of faith also arrests us when we come into the company of Jesus. Here, too, as in the rest of Scripture, faith is a mighty power to deliver. We see the maniac released from legion, and sitting clothed and in his right mind. We see the withered arm restored again, the eye that had been blind regain sight. We see a woman delivered from infirmity, and a loved brother delivered from the grave, and a great company whose eyes are glad because they have been delivered from their sin. Christ was the great enemy of bonds. He was the lover and the light of liberty. He came to preach deliverance to the captives, and to bestow the gift which was His message. And so again we learn this happy lesson, that faith is a mighty power to redeem, and that in every sphere where faith is active, one of its blessed fruits is liberty---deliverance from captivity.

Yet while that is true, and gloriously true, in a way we should all know something of, there is a suggestion in our text that is fitting we should not forget. 'They were tortured, not accepting deliverance'---and the whole chapter is a song of faith. The chapter is a magnificent review of all that faith is powerful to achieve. So this is also a result of faith, not that it brings deliverance to a man, but that sometimes, when deliverance is offered, it gives him fine courage to refuse it. There are seasons when faith shows itself in taking. There are seasons when it is witnessed in refusing. There is a deliverance that faith rejects. They were tortured, not accepting deliverance---that was the sign and seal that they were faithful. There are hours when the strongest proof of faith is the swift rejection of the tolerant status quo.

Think in the first place of the martyrs, to whom our text immediately applies. When a man was charged with being a Christian, deliverance was always at his hand. He had only to blaspheme the name of Christ; a word or two of cursing---that was all. he had only to spit upon the name of Christ, when the Roman centurion scratched it on the wall. He had only to put his hand into a box, and take a grain or two of incense from the box, and sprinkle it without a single word before the beautiful statue of Diana. On the one hand was life, and life was sweet. On the other hand was death, and death was terrible. On the one hand was liberty and home. On the other hand was torture and the grave. And they were tortured, not accepting deliverance. They might have had it by a single word. It was their faith that led them to the scaffold. It was better to be faithful than to be free.

The same issue of faith is seen again amid the troubles of our common life. In precisely the same manner it is witnessed in the pettier martyrdoms of every day. Each of us has his cross to carry. There is no escaping from that law. For one the trouble may be in business matters; for another the cross may be at home; while for a third, perhaps, it is the body that wakes the heart to trembling in the night. Now, whatever be the trouble, Jesus Christ has come to preach deliverance. There is peace in Him, and quietness of soul, and conquest over death and all its terrors. But remember that there are other outlets which sometimes loom upon our gaze invitingly, and promise us the release that we are craving---if only we are untrue to our best selves. Probably all of us are tempted so, though these are temptations of which we seldom speak. Sometimes indeed we hardly understand them, they are so subtly hidden and disguised. But always there is a tempering with conscience in them, and a certain lowering of the flag, and a sinking down upon a lower level than we know in our hearts to be worthy. It is when a man or woman is so tempted that, to be true, faith in God is needed. To choose the drudgery and spurn the liberty is the open revelation of faith in him. 'They were tortured, not accepting deliverance.' They let the laughter and the sunshine go. And sometimes in the quiet of our obscurity we may be called to be their children.

In Christ, timothy.