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sorrow, but there is nothing desirable in sorrow on its own account, and God works it in his chosen, only that by means of it, he may open a fit channel into their breasts for the consolations of his Spirit to fow in. Hence Nehemiah the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest, the scribe, and the teaching Levites, dismissed that great assembly of mourners with these gracious words : This day is holy to the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep : go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send
portions to them for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto our Lord; neither be ye sorry, FOR THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH.
As is the sorrow of a penitent heart, such is the nature of the joy to which it leads. Both are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. There are joys of a different kind. There is a natural joy which one feels after escaping out of great danger, or being unexpectedly blessed with worldly good. There is also a religious joy which springs from mistaken impressions. These are not the joy of the Lord ; they are but for a moment; they pass away, and leave the heart void, desolate and despairing. The joy of the Lord, the same which fills the eternal mind, is the only joy that meets the desires and exigencies of any rational being. To all rational minds, of God, angels and men, there is but one true happiness. Angels are not happy, and men are not happy, unless they share the happiness of Him who is over all, blessed forever. With Him is the fountain of life; - not a rill, not a drop of bliss in the universe, which that fountain does not yield. They who yo elsewhere for happiness, wander into boundless deserts, where all is drought, and burning winds, and vast desolation. What is the exhilaration of the animal spirits, what mere intellectual delight, what the pleasures of sin, the utmost indulgence of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, to that immortal spirit in man which bears the image, and pants for the blessedness of God. How can a man be called happy, when almost every thing belonging to him that raises him above the brute, is either wholly portionless, or is tantalized with what is no more suited to its nature, than shadows or dreams to sustain the bodily life.
And now what is this joy of the Lord ? It is joy arising from the same causes, terminating on the same objects, and yielding the same results as that which the infinite Being himself possesses, without measure. Its spring is holiness ; its objects are the divine perfections and works ; its results are the various
forms of true beneficence and kindness. It is the joy of holy love; of complacency in God and goodness, and of benevolence to his creatures. It is delight, sensible and satisfying delight, such as forms the boundless and fathomless ocean of heavenly beatitude. As existing in sinners of mankind, its precursor ordinarily, as has been intimated, is holy sorrow; and its medium is a living union with Christ, by faith. It is, as shared by them, the purchase of the Saviour's precious blood, and the fruit of the renewing influence of the Spirit of God.
Our object, however, at present is not so much to describe this feeling, as to show the power of it, as a practical principle. The joy of the Lord is OUR STRENGTH. It is the spring of our greatest efficiency for good; the great mover and inciter of the soul to holy action and achievement; the sustainer also of our energies in accomplishing our benevolent undertakings; what, above all things keeps the mind going cheerfully forward in its spiritual efforts and adventures, and bears it on without fainting or weariness to a successful issue of its struggles and conflicts. We propose to offer a few remarks in illustration of this sentiment.
Joy is the achiever of almost every good or noble thing which is done under the sun. There is nothing like it to make the spirit of man erect, resolute, persevering, patient and indefatigable. Almost universally, where there is great labor, at least, available labor, there is also great mental delight. The exceptions do but confirm the general principle. Men may
be impelled to labor by ambition, by necessity, by fear, by avarice; but unless their labor becomes itself delight, what great thing, or noble thing, or what thing worthy of their pains, do they ordinarily accomplish? Consult the sons of the muses, the toilers at deep investigation and exact analysis, the makers of those books, the best products of human labor, that come forth into the community like living luminaries to pour the light and heat of mind through ages to come : Consult all successful artists, jurists
, statesmen, merchants and agriculturists; and you will find, that these several classes of laborers are held to their respective sorts of work, mainly by the chord of sensible delight or pleasurable interest in the object of attention. Who would anticipate brilliant success from any course of exertion in which the man went forward under some other impulse than that of lively interest in his work? Where there is no delight, the heart will not be found, and what can a man do in one sphere, when his
heart is in another? But we need not enlarge on this point. All men see it, feel it, perfectly understand it. It is responded to from the breast of every living soul.
Now, our remark is this, that the principle is as true in its application to man's moral agency, as to his physical or intellectual. It is joy, for the most part, that makes men industrious and indefatigable in the fulfilment of moral claims and undertakings. This is the great principle of christian attainment; of holy zeal and enterprise in the people of God. Why should it not be so? Would it not be surprising and unaccountable to find it otherwise ? Should we not ask with wonder, how is it that a principle which holds good in every other department of rational agency, should fail in this department? Are the laws of nature violated in the spiritual kingdom? No; reason requires us to believe that this is the very sphere, in which, above all others, the efficiency of this influence is discovered. The inAuence itself exists here in a far nobler kind, than any where else. The joy of the Lord is as far above all other kinds of joy, as holiness is better than other kinds of excellence. The just conclusion is, that the effects of this joy are proportionally superior; the conclusion of common sense, confirmed by the universal testimony of Scripture and experience. It may however be useful, to enter somewhat particularly, into an examination of the tendencies of this feeling; to inquire, in several instances, into the ways in which its efficacy is exerted and discovered.
We observe then, in the first place, that joy gives life and spirit to all the mental powers and operations. A delighted mind is full of brightness and alertness, finds action easy, has all its faculties at command, and exerts them with intensity of application. Under the vivifying effusions of joy, imagination awakes, perception becomes acute, the range of observation is enlarged, judgment is invigorated, memory is sharpened, taste refined, the whole soul, in short, is instinct with the spirit of intellectual life, and waits only for the orders of the will, to put forth its utmost energies, and to accomplish the highest results of which it is capable. And the will itself is in a great degree, influenced, if not determined by joy. It is when men have delight in the things about which their volitions and purposes are conversant, that they form bold and firm resolutions ; then it is that they decide freely and promptly to enter upon courses of mental exertion, of which perhaps the thought would
not have occurred to them in the absence of joy. We offer no proof of what we now affirm, but make our appeal directly to human consciousness. No one who reflects on the history of his own mental states and operations can call it in question. To every one the matter is as certain as consciousness itself. Nor is it inexplicable. Happiness is the ultimate end of rational being. All sentient being indeed, of whatever nature, languishes and pines when kept back from the final end of its existence; it is, on the other hand, in its state of greatest perfection, when it perfectly enjoys that end : It is so with the mind of man; joy is its ultimate end; in possession of that end, all its faculties are in their best condition. We only add, if other kinds of joy have an invigorating influence on the mind, much more must that incomparably higher joy of which we speak.
Again, as this feeling imparts such life to the mind itself, so does it brighten by this means, the objects of intellection. Its influence in this respect is sometimes as if a new sun had been created to irradiate the world in which mind moves. yesterday read Milton with a wearied heart, and fell asleep over the sublime glories of his page; this morning you perused the same page with a spirit refreshed by sweet and sufficient sleep, and you were amazed and overpowered, by its wondrous creations of fancy and taste. The world of Faith, the world revealed in the gospel, a short time since, when you endeavored to think upon it, with a soul almost dead to spiritual excellence, was nearly as the region of emptiness and darkness; now, when the spirit of a revival sheds its life through your bosom, that world of invisible glory eclipses the world of sense, and absorbs the powers and sensibilities of your being. What was the Holy One to you, some weeks ago, when you pretended to worship Him, with a dull and worldly heart; what is He now, when a joyful sense of his excellency draws from your breast the ardent exhortation to those who know nothing of your blessedness, to taste and see that the Lord is good? What a difference in the character of the Saviour at present, from what he seemed to you then? The whole Bible, the whole subject of religion how immensely different. Yet the whole of this difference is the result of spiritual delight in your own mind. The joy of the Lord then, is it not your strength ? If you had an angel's powers, what could you do, with no distinct views of the objects with which those powers are conversant ?
Attend, next, for a moment, to the influence of spiritual plea
sure on the performance of devotional exercises. Who is it that has grown weary of his closet, his Bible, his domestic altar, the meeting for prayer, and the solemn services of the Sabbath? Could you inspect the heart of such a person, is it probable that you would find it the abode of much religious enjoyment? Do you think it would be possible to discover any thing in such a man's heart, to justify his saying with the spiritually minded Psalmist, one day in the courts of the Lord is better than a thousand ? No one I am sure could believe it possible. A deserter from the throne of grace, a neglecter of devotional duties, is one who takes little or no delight in the performance of those duties. To him who has heavenly joy springing up in his mind, the sanctuary, the place of social prayer, the closet, the solitary walk, will be the gate of heaven. Such a man will be inclined to pray, not merely thrice, nor even seven times a day, but to be praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ; to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, to abide in the tabernacle of the Almighty continually. The spirit of devotion never tires, while the joy of the Lord is its prompter. Day and night, it can continue its aspirations and outpourings of affection. It has no content in shortness, in interruption, in lifeless exercises. No, the joy of the Lord lists the heart up to heaven, and keeps it there, communing with holy angels, with the church of the first born, with the spirits of just men made perfect, with God the Judge of all, with Jesus the Mediator, and with his most precious blood of sprinkling.
We will now advert, in few words, to the influence of this grace on other gracious states of mind. We refer not to the indirect influence which it exerts upon them, by promoting the mind's spiritual intercourse with their objects; by inclining it to heavenly meditation and prayer ; but to a direct and necessary connexion between this and other holy feelings. All the gracious affections, being of the same family and intimately allied to each other, exert a reciprocal influence on one another, promotive of each other's strength and growth; but there appears to be a preeminence in the friendly power of joy upon its sister graces. The reason seems to be, that joy, being the end of all the heavenly affections, when this feeling connects itself with them, they must of course be more vigorous than in any other circumstances. Let us illustrate in a few instances. Love often erists apart from joy, but it seldom flourishes apart from it. It is when the heart finds delight in loving, that it loves