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Festival Joy.

Festival Joy.

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Published by glennpease
BY TRACTS FOR THE TIME

ECCLESIASTES ix. 7, 8.
" Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink tliy wine with a merry heart;
for God now accepteth thy worlis : let thy garments be always white, and
let thy head lack no ointment."
BY TRACTS FOR THE TIME

ECCLESIASTES ix. 7, 8.
" Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink tliy wine with a merry heart;
for God now accepteth thy worlis : let thy garments be always white, and
let thy head lack no ointment."

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Published by: glennpease on May 04, 2014
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FESTIVAL JOY.
BY TRACTS FOR THE TIME
 ECCLESIASTES ix. 7, 8. " Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink tliy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy worlis : let thy garments be always white, and let thy head lack no ointment." This is one of those passages, so remarkable in the writings of Solomon, in which the words of sinful men in the world are taken up by the Holy Ghost, to be applied in a Christian sense. As they stand in Ecclesiastes, it seems very plain that they are in- tended to represent the sayings and thoughts of sensual, careless people, indulging themselves in their profane ways, their utter neglect of God and goodness, with the notion that this world is all. As if they should say, " When people are dead there is an end of them : therefore all we have to do is to enjoy ourselves as much as possible ; to eat our bread with joy, and drink our wine with a merry heart ; to wear always festival garments, and anoint our- selves with the oil of gladness, while God still ' accepteth our works,' that is, while it is yet well with us, and we are capable of finding delight in life, according to the order of God's Providence." It is much the same as the unbeliever's saying, in St. Paul, " Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." But see the ever-watchful goodness and mercy of God. The words which the dissolute, wild-hearted sinner uses to encourage himself in his evil inconsiderate ways, Hii teaches us to take up, VOL. VI. K 213 FESTIVAL JOV. and use them in a very different sense ; to express the imvard  joy and comfort which God's people may find in obeying Him. As thus : suppose a person giving himself up, with his whole heart, to the service and obedience of God ; suppose him really withdrawing himself from the sins which had most easily beset him ; suppose him making some great sacrifice, parting with what he held very dear, or submitting to pain or grief for Christ's sake : then the Holy and merciful Comforter seems to say to him in the words of the text, " Go thy way now, thank God, and take courage ; the blessing of God is now restored to thee, and will be upon all thou hast, and upon thine ordinary employments and re- freshments : now thou mayest eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, for God now accepteth thy works." For, " whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do," if we "do
 
all to the glory of God," we shall do it with His blessing and ap- probation : it will be so much more of happiness, joy, and thanks- giving to us. Thus we may understand the words to teach the same lesson as the Apostle, when he says, " Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice." They are God's gracious word of permis- sion to those who fear Him, encouraging them to enjoy, with innocence, moderation, and thankfulness, the daily comforts and reliefs, with which He so plentifully supplies them, even in this imperfect world. They bring the same assurance from God as St. Paul gives to Timothy: " Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving." Let us only think for one moment, what a heavenly light it would throw over our ordinary works and refreshments, if, being always careful to set about them with a good conscience, we could seriously bring it home to ourselves, that they are so many tokens of heavenly and eternal love ; so many reasonable grounds of hope, that God really accepteth our works. But there is yet a higher, a Christian sense of these words, a sense in which they were taken of old by the holy Fathers of the Christian Church. The bread and wine, the white garments, the ointment for the head, are, according to this interpretation, figures and types of our Christian privileges, the blessings and favours of the kingdom of Heaven. It is, then, as if the Holy Word had said to us, being, as we are, Christian men, Members FESTIVAL JOY. 119 of the mystical Body of our Lord and Saviour, " Now you have been brought into the communion of Saints ; now God has set His seal ujjon you; now," to speak the Apostle's words, " you are washed, sanctified, justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Go your way, then ; use your privileges with all reverence, joy, and fear. Draw near as often as you can, to the holy feast of that Bread and Wine, which, to those who take it with penitent and obedient hearts, is the very Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ. Awful as such an in- vitation is, you may yet draw near with holy cheerfulness, having God's seal and mark upon your forehead, and the earnest of His Spirit in your hearts." And it would seem that if Christians were at all such as they ought to be, the words might be well and profitably understood with a particular reference to this sacred season of Whitsuntide.
 
For at this time, as you know, the blessed Comforter came down, to set up the kingdom of Christ on earth ; to dwell in men's hearts so as to unite them to Christ ; by which union alone they can be partakers of the great things which the Gospel pro- mises. This time then is the last of the holy seasons ;• it repre- sents to us the full completion of God's unspeakable plan for the salvation of the world. Supposing, then, any humble, faithful Christian to have rightly kept the former holy seasons : to have " worshipped and served Christ, for His conception, in faith ; for His birth, in humility ; for His suflferings, in patience and irreconcileable hatred of sin ; for His death, by dying daily to sin; for His resurrection, by rising again more and more unto righteousness ; for His ascen- sion, by a heavenly mind:" may we not, without presumption, imagine him to hear the voice of his approving conscience, the certain yet silent whispers of the Holy Comforter in his heart, " Go thy way now, receive the fulness of the blessing of these sacred days, which thou hast so dutifully tried to observe. Let the light and warmth of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide spread itself in a measure over the rest of thy year. Whatsoever God putteth in thine hand to do, in the way of holy devotion and true Church communion, do it with all thy might, in the humble hope that God now accepteth thy works." Such is the kind of comfort, which the Sacred Scriptures cncou- K 2 120 FESTIVAL JOY. ra^-e us, as Christians, to take to ourselves, at every new return of these great days, bringing home to us things which are the very foundation of our hope. It is a comfort which would be to us far more perfect than it is, and far plainer to be understood, if we were less unworthy of our privileges; if we had not too gene- rally fallen from the righteousness of Jesus Christ, given to us at our baptism. But even as it is, the words have a sound most comfortable to penitents, as well as to those who, by God's help, have kept themselves from wilful, deadly sin. They sound like words of absolution : " Go thy way, return again to that holy Table, from which thy transgressions had for a time separated thee : eat thy Bread, and drink thy Wine with a courageous and hopeful heart: for now there is hope that God accepteth thy works ; that He hears thee, since thou hast left off inclining unto wickedness with thine heart. Thy case indeed is alarming, from the continual

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