Chapter XLIII The liberty of hearts devoted to God
The true Christians are unmoved
From this source they derive what the wisest of the world vainly seek in their endeavors — namely, the entire freedom of mind, that they may be subjected to or bound by nothing but God nor be bound to do anything contrary to their will. The world was full of coercion, all things having gone contrary to everyone’s desires, each being inordinately bound either by himself or by others; hence he, having been compelled by the force of his or someone else’s will, has ever been struggling either with himself or with others. On the contrary, here all is serene. For all having given themselves to God so completely that they care nothing else, acknowledge no one above themselves but God. Hence, they do not obey the commands of the world, and spurn its promises, laughing at its threats, regarding as inferior all external things because of the certainty of the value of their inward riches.
2 Consequently, the Christian, otherwise quite approachable, yielding, willing, and obliging, in the privilege of his heart is adamant. Hence he is bound neither to friends nor foes, nor to lord or king, neither to wife nor children, nor finally even to himself to such an extent that he feels obliged, for their sake, to recede in any way from his purpose, namely, from the fear of God, but rather strides steadfastedly forward. No matter what the world may do, say, threaten, promise, command, beg, advise, or urge, he does not permit himself to be moved.
The greatest freedom together with the greatest bondage
3 The world, ever perverse, and grasping a shadow in place of the truth, imagines that liberty consists in being free, in serving no one, but in surrendering oneself to idleness, pride, and passions. On the contrary, the Christian acts far differently; for he, after fortifying well his own heart that it may preserve its freedom in God, employs all else in ministering to the needs of his fellows. For I have seen and learned that no greater servitude exists anywhere, and none is more enslaved, if I may use the expression, than the man devoted to God: for he performs willingly and gladly even the lowest menial services which one intoxicated with the world despises. Whenever he sees an opportunity to be of benefit to his fellows, he hesitates not or holds not back for a moment, pities not himself, exaggerates not the rendered, does not continually remind others of them, perseveres ever, and whether treateed with gratitude or not, quietly and joyfully keeps on serving.
And what a delight this is
4 Oh, the blessed servitude of the sons of God, than which nothing freer can be imagined, in which man submits himself to God in order to be free everywhere else! Oh, the unhappy liberty of the world, than which no greater slavery can exist, in which men disregarding God permit themselves to become miserably enslaved by things! Particularly when they serve creatures over whom they should rule, and resist God when they should obey. Oh, mortals, would that we might understand that there is but One and only One who is higher than we; the Lord, our Maker and our future Judge! Who, having the power to command us, does not constrain us as slaves, but calls us as children to His obedience; desiring that even when we obey we may do so freely and unconstrainedly. Truly, to serve Christ is to reign; and to be a vassal of God is a greater glory than to be the monarch of all the earth; what then shall it be to be a friend and a child of God!