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with great intensity and enlargement. Then it is that it gives itself away to the beloved object, and as it were loses itself in it. Hope too is fed by joy; joy, in this world, being the earnest and foretaste of the object of hope. The full assurance of hope is always the effect of joy reigning in the soul ; it can come from nothing else; no external evidence can produce it; it cannot be gained from inference, or any witness without; no, it is the beginning of heaven, the peace of God which passeth all understanding, this it is, that displaces every doubt" in the soul, and fills the mind with certainty respecting its eternal blessedness ; — joy does it, and nothing else can. Faith likewise rises and approximates to vision, when joy gives it wings ; for when the things believed are at the same time rejoiced in, how can it be otherwise than that faith in the reality of those things should amount to the utmost confidence and boldness ? How also does the relenting of the heart in view of sin and the mercy of God abound, when the soul turns her eye to these objects, after being melted into tenderness and sweetness, by a rejoicing sense of the beauty of holiness? We could add to these instances, if it were necessary ; but they are sufficient. It is exceedingly manifest, that it must give zest and strength to every good feeling of which the mind is capable, to have that feeling attended with conscious delight, and such delight too as the joy of the Lord, the very joy of the supreme and blessed God.
Let us next notice how nobly this feeling of spiritual delight can bear up the mind amidst assaults of outward affliction. Through these assaults must all make their triumphant way, who at last gain entrance into the world of rest. I love, I rebuke and chasten. I have chosen thee in the furnace of afliction. Here it is that strength is demanded, and what in these circumstances imparts strength like this holy joy ? Hope and faith are indeed needful, but it is joy commonly which gives faith and hope their strength. Unattended by joy, they may stay up the mind in some sort, amidst these seasons of storm and darkness; they may keep it from sinking into the deep waters of despair, but they may not do even this without a great inward strife. Many a saint going through the floods of trouble in the mere exercise of hope and faith, has meanwhile trembled in himself, lest by failing to retain these supporters, he should perish in the passage. But how is the scene changed at once, when the light of heavenly joy springs up in darkness? What can any floods or fires of tribulation then do, to hinder the mind's
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steadfastness, and swift progress in its upward course to God ? These trials seem to assist rather than hinder it on its way. How matchless the efficacy of this divine joy! It enlivens faith and hope, and all the other heavenly affections. It is as if omnipotence itself had entered into all the feelings of the mind. The mind becomes more than a conqueror. The very violence of fire is quenched; and sometimes, as in the case of the martyr, the fiercest flames under the mighty influences of spiritual joy, not only lose their peculiar power, but become an instrument of ease, as the dying martyr found the flames were to him a bed of roses. This may savor of mere ardor to the externally strict religionist, but he is not set to judge in this case : we appeal in verification of what we have said to the Scriptures of truth, and the history of the church. It has been fulfilled in thousands of real examples of whom the world was not worthy.
The power of this feeling, as evinced in its resistance to the influence of worldly good, is a further commendation of it. It is this influence, far more than that of outward affliction, that tries and ensnares the spirit of man. Indeed, what is it that constitutes the bitterness of affliction, but its abridging or destroying our enjoyment of the world ? Were we wholly dead to worldly good, small would be the power of affliction to disturb us. It is then the world's influence that forms our grand incumbrance. Here is the great adversary of our souls. Here is what gives all other temptations their strength. It is this which gives the great destroyer himself all the advantage he has against us; which enables him to reach our spirits, with his wiles and darts of perdition ; and which makes us his willing captives and vassals. What then can most effectually secure us against the encroachment and tyranny of this present evil world? Whatever that is, it is more to be desired than all things in the universe besides ; he who has it, would be a madman to part with it for the treasures of creation.
What then is this priceless treasure? It is unquestionably a happiness higher than that which the world has to offer. The human mind, by the nature God has given it, evermore seeks enjoyment. Since its sad perversion, by the original apostasy, it looks for enjoyment to the visible and outward world. That world besets it, with its ensnaring temptations, at the commencement of its existence, and works in it, the fatal delusion that in worldly good lies the supreme blessedness. This gross delusion, the grand difficulty to be overcome in recovering the mind
The Power of Spiritual Joy.
to the dominion of virtue and truth, can no otherwise be disarmed of its controlling influence than by the presence and experience in the mind of a better happiness than the world can give. We appeal for confirmation of this remark to human consciousness in all the generations of mankind. Many means have been employed to break the world's power in the heart; the world's deceitfulness has been set in the strongest light; the terrors of eternity have been set in array against the idolatry of the world; the utmost power of motive and persuasion has been exhausted; and to what result? The understanding has been convinced, resolutions have been formed, vows have been made, seclusion from the society of men has been tried, but the world's pleasures have been secretly loved, and if they have not been returned to, with increased eagerness, the effects of forced mortification and abstinence have been worse, if possible, than those of indulgence itself. For levity and smiling deceit, and contemptuous indifference to divine things, there has been an exchange of disdainful self-righteousness, and grave formality and bitter misanthropy. No, never has the influence of the world been truly excluded, or even interrupted, except where the mind has been conscious of having within itself a joy superior to any which can be obtained from created and temporal things. And what is such a joy, but that whereof we speak? Besides this, and creature-joy, there is no other. Here then is the one thing needful for the effectual resistance and banishment of the spirit of the world, the strength of all temptation, and of the tempter himself.
This is the world's vanquisher, and how easy, how perfect is its triumph. The heart takes a farewell of the world, a glad and rejoicing farewell, a farewell final and everlasting. Why should it not? Does he who eats at the table of a king care for the beggar's crumbs? The man who walks at large enjoying the sweet influences of God's works, and exulting in the consciousness of being an illustrious family's boast, or a nation's benefactor, does he envy the fancied greatness of the naked maniac chained to the floor of his cell? No more can he who tastes the joy of the Lord, long, while he does so, for the low pleasures of the world. How can he be tempted by appeals to ambition, whose ambition is already fixed upon higher honor than that of any throne in creation; or by appeals to the love of possession who is by enjoyment at this moment, the heir and possessor of all things; or by appeals to the love of pleasure Vol. IX. No. 26.
whose spirit is drinking of the pure river of the water of life? The joy of a renewed soul, when it first sees and adores the beauty of the divine character, what a poor recompense would the wealth and the glory of a thousand creations, be to that soul for the loss of what it then feels. Oh! there is nothing so much needed, in order to invest Christians with the mild glory of a heavenly conversation, as this frame of soul. Were this sacred feeling habitually dominant in their breasts, how would it adorn them in the eye of God and man, in all the beauties of practical spirituality ? Holiness to the Lord, would be inscribed on all their secular actions and pursuits ; they would be in respect to care for the body as the fowls of heaven for their food, or the lilies of the field for their clothing; in room of a fretted and peevish spirit under the bitter disturbances of life, they would have enduring meekness and quietness; instead of aiming by covert measures at self-promotion in the church, there would be brotherly love, in honor preferring one another ; and instead of that spirit of mutual contention and concision which has ever been the reproach of the christian name, there would be the keeping of the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. Oh, this is the great desideratum for the times in which we live. Have what we may, be the signs of the times more animating than they ever have been, let revivals be more and more multiplied, there will not, there cannot be, the needful improvement in christian character and temper, until God in his mercy, shall send abroad the spirit of holy joy in the hearts of his unfaithful, unworthy people.
Again, notwithstanding the advancement of this age on former times, in respect to liberality and labors of love, there will never be what we judge needful to the world's conversion, in these grand respects, until the time comes for the more general effusion of this spirit upon the church. The joy of the Lord is our strength, for making what we deem to be the requisite sacrifices and exertions for the universal spread of the gospel. We have more than enough of treasure in our hands, but we have no heart to use it, for the purpose in question. We admit that we ought so to use it, we confess this to one another, we consess it in prayer to God, we lament over our parsimony, but we still lavish our possessions on our lusts, or hoard them for the ruin of our children ; and reluctantly give, it may be, the fraction of a tithe, to aid in pouring the glorious light of christian hope over the wide world of heathenism. Appeals on appeals,
the year round, are rung in our ears from every quarter of the earth. We are plied almost daily with a system of strenuous solicitation ; the universe of motive is searched for materials of persuasion ; but still, the mass of Christians, having ears to hear, hear not, and having hearts to perceive, yet, in this matter of giving for the spread of the gospel, they do not understand. That it is a privilege and a mercy to be allowed to contribute any thing for the furtherance of this object, is to them a mystery indeed: they cannot even comprehend the extent of duty here : they are wearied beyond their patience by incessant calls for their aid, and after all is done, the burden of the expense of carrying on the great enterprise, to which Christians have by profession and covenant, devoted all they have, is borne chiefly
by a few.
Can we be ignorant of the cause of this insensibility to sacred obligation in the christian church? Do we not see what it is, that makes members of the church so merciless towards the souls of their perishing fellow men ? Is it not palpable that the joy of God's salvation is wanting in their own hearts ; that they take little or no lively pleasure in the things of the Spirit ? If their own hearts were but inoderately expanded, with this pure feeling, they would not be able to shut up their compassions from the wretched children of darkness, who, by myriads a day, are dying without hope. It must verily be so ; the Christians of this age have generally but little happiness, little sensible delight in God. They are not, as to any feeling of blessedness, happy Christians. They have little communion in spirit and feeling, from day to day, with the Head and members of the heavenly church. The first touches of this joy would break asunder every cord of avarice, and open wide the heart and the hand for beneficent action. There seems to be a tendency in all delight to incline us to liberality. Hence, those who solicit our favor, prefer making their approaches to us, when our mood of mind is happy. But this joy is the very life and strength of benevolence; it is the parent of all good; the source of every stream and drop of blessedness in creation. Let it enter the heart, and covetousness is gone out of it, by the same necessity by which darkness flees before the beams of the sun. See how its contrariety to covetousness showed itself in the first converts to the cross of Christ, what solicitation did they need to induce them to give for the extension of the gospel ? they gave all they had, and who can suppose that they could have had as