"Liberty in walking" in the Lord's ways will naturally produce boldness in speaking of them. Compare the conduct of the three unshaken witnesses for the truth before the Babylonish monarch. Mark the difference of the spirit displayed by the Apostles, and especially by Peter, before and after the day of Pentecost. Look at Stephen before the council, and Paul before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa. "God had not given to them the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Hear the great Apostle testifying of himself, "I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also"—at the metropolis of the world, in the face of all opposition and contempt, and at the imminent hazard of my life, "For"—says he, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." In the same determination of soul, he exhorts his dear son in the faith, "Be not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner." To how many does "the fear of man bring a snare?" Many a good soldier has faced the cannon's mouth with undaunted front, and yet shrunk away with a coward's heart from the reproach of the cross, and been put to blush even by the mention of the Savior's name. Far better—the Son of Man "strengthening you"—to brave the fiery furnace, or the den of lions in His service, than like Jonah, by flinching from the cross, to incur the sting of conscience and the frown of God.
Professing Christians! Are we ready to bear our testimony for Jesus, against the sneer and ridicule of the ungodly? We are not likely to "be brought before kings and rulers for the Son of Man's sake." Yet no less do we need Divine help and strong faith in withstanding the enmity of a prejudiced relative or scornful neighbor. Young people! you are perhaps in especial danger of being ashamed of your Bible, your religion, your Savior. You may be brought under the snare of the "fear of man," and be tempted to compromise your religion, and to sacrifice your everlasting all from a dread of "the reproach of Christ." But remember Him, who for your sake "before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;" and shall the dread of a name restrain you from sharing His reproach, and banish the obligations of love and gratitude from your hearts? Have you forgotten, that you once owned the service of Satan? and will you not be as bold for Christ, as you were for him? Were you once "glorying in your shame;" and will you now be ashamed of your glory? Oh! remember who has said, "Whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Think much and often of this word. Think on this day. Think on the station of "the fearful and unbelieving" on the left hand on that day. Think on their eternal doom. What is a prison, compared to hell? What need to pray and tremble! If you are sincere in your determination, and simple in your dependence, then will the "love of Christ constrain you," not to a cold, calculating, reluctant service; but to a confession of your Savior, bold, unfettered, and "faithful even unto death." Every deviation from the straight path bears the character of being ashamed of Christ. How much have you to speak in behalf of His testimonies, His ways, His love! When in danger of the influence of "the fear of man," look to Him for strength. He will give to you, as He gave to Stephen, "a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist." Thus will you, like them, be strengthened "to profess a good profession before many witnesses."
This is part of his liberty; he is free from fear of the greatest, proudest, and most tyrannical of men. David was called to stand before kings when he was an exile; and afterwards, when he was himself a monarch, he knew the tendency of men to sacrifice their religion to pomp and statecraft; but it was his resolve to do nothing of the kind. He would sanctify politics, and make cabinets know that the Lord alone is governor among the nations. As a king he would speak to kings concerning the King of kings. He says, "I will speak": prudence might have suggested that his life and conduct would be enough, and that it would be better not to touch upon religion in the presence of royal personages who worshiped other gods, and claimed to be right in so doing. He had already most fittingly preceded this resolve by the declaration, "I will walk"; but he does not make his personal conduct an excuse for sinful silence, for he adds, "I will speak." David claimed religious liberty, and took care to use it, for he spoke out what he believed, even when he was in the highest company. In what he said he took care to keep to God's own word, for he says, "I will speak of your testimonies." No theme is like this, and there is no way of handling that theme like keeping close to the book, and using its thought and language. The great hindrance to our speaking upon holy topics in all companies is shame, but the Psalmist will "not be ashamed"; there is nothing to be ashamed of, and there is no excuse for being ashamed, and yet many are as quiet as the dead for fear some creature like themselves should be offended. When God gives grace, cowardice soon vanishes. He who speaks for God in God's power, will not be ashamed when beginning to speak, nor while speaking, nor after speaking; for his theme is one which is fit for kings, needful to kings, and beneficial to kings. If kings object, we may well be ashamed of them, but never of our Master who sent us or of his message, or of his design in sending it