HOLY JOY. REV. RICHARD CECIL, A.

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And ye now therefore have sorrow ; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. — John xvi. 22. [1806.] A Christian is the child of sorrow — the pupil of hope — and the heir of a heavenly kingdom. " These things," said Christ, " have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." It is possible to disturb a believer's quiet, when you cannot interrupt his peace and joy, which arise from the soul^s resting on the favor of God through Jesus Christ. The love of Christ in the heart is a satisfying treasure. It was the glory of the primitive ages, that though the world could torment Christians, it could not rob them of their joy. A believer has a prospect opened into eternity. " Your joy no man taketh from you." I shall endeavor to set before you, I. The origin and properties of this joy. II. The possessors of this joy. I. The origin of this joy. This Divine joy is planted in the soul by the Holy Spirit. It is therefore an inward and spiritual joy. It is deep rooted in the heart. It is solid and well founded : it is abiding and lasting : it is a satisfying joy, and purifying in its effects. It is a joy that flourishes most in adversity : it is a communicative joy. A man has not tasted what religion is, if he does not seek to impart this joy to others. It is the joy of communion with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a humble joy, but it causes a man to triumph in Christ. Though this joy may be interrupted, yet the source and matter of it remain unchanged. Just as in nature, clouds may some-

HOLY JOY. 441 times, for many days, interrupt the rays of the sun, but the order of creation continues the same. The sun still remains ; and, when the clouds disperse, it

will again appear in its splendor, and diffuse cheerfulness all around. So it is with the joy of a Christian. " In the world," says our Saviour, " ye shall have tribulation." You will be weary ; your hearts may be often distressed ; but " these things have I spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace." I have finished transgression, and made an end of sin. I have opened the prison doors to let the captive go free. " Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." The Christian finds a cordial in every sorrow, from the covenant of grace, and from the comfort which Christ ever affords his believing people. It is the privilege of the true believer to retire from the trials and temptations of the world to the peace of Christ. He has always a warrant to do so. He is a legatee of Christ's bequest, " My peace I give unto you :" " My peace," i. e., that peace I possess myself I give the warrant, the grant ; and I work it by my Spirit. Is there anything except what the Gospel offers that will sustain in every distress to which mankind is liable ? Matt. vii. 24 — 27. The joy of the world differs entirely from the Christian's joy. It is turbulent, fastidious, licentious, intemperate, and evanescent. It leaves a man poor and wretched. The voluptuary is the most miserable creature upon the earth. The plan of the worldling is momentary : misfortune and death put an end to his joy, and it is well if death is not anticipated by suicide. But when Christ affords us any grace or gift, it is both a present good and an earnest of future. Let us inquire, II. Who are the possessors of Christian joy. One of the greatest mistakes a minister can com-

442 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. mit is to address his congregation indiscriminately, as though all its members were partakers of this joy. Shall it not be ill with the wicked ? Their joy, vain as it is while it lasts, shall soon expire. " The lamp of the wicked shall be put out." Prov. xiii. 9. The Gospel, indeed, as being a message of invitation, is sent to all men as sinners ; and a congregation may be col-

lectively addressed under that general character. But for a minister to address his hearers as though they were all spiritual persons, when he knows the fact to be far otherwise, is to frustrate the design of the Gospel, and to delude men to their eternal ruin. The most useful part of a discourse is the application. But how is it possible to apply the subject to the conscience, unless the different characters of men are faithfully delineated, and the real believer carefully discriminated from all the classes of merely nominal Christians ? The Christian's joy is the joy of a sinner's deliverance. The man who opposes the truths of the Gospel has no more right to it than one who opposes a conqueror has to be benefited by his successes. It is they only whose hearts are towards God who are warranted to rejoice. " Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord." Psalm cv. 3. It is not here said. Let the heart of them rejoice Who have found him : nor is the privilege limited to such as have full assurance. The man who sincerely and honestly seeks the Lord in his appointed way, has ground for this joy.. Mark v. 28. o man can have this joy who is not engrafted into Christ the true Vine. The fruit of this union is " love, joy, peace." " If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." God's remedy is his sending his Son and his Spirit. In any Church where the doctrines of the Gospel have become perverted, and the Spirit's teaching is despised, the only Saviour will be rejected,

HOLY JOY. 443 and there is left no foundation for joy. A Christian's joy is the result of a discovery : when a man has found the pearl of great price, " he rejoiceth." When the Lord God, who knows the human heart, would speak comfort to it, he proposes one object, and one only, as the all-sufficient source of qonsolation : this is the Messiah. Zech. iii. 8. The rich are apt to consign the Gospel to the poor, because they want comfort. But I will ask the rich man, did you never feel the heart-ache ? Have you not at times felt that it would be difficult to find a poor

man so wretched as yourself? It is enough to drive a rich man (if he be a thinking man) into absolute despair, to know that he must soon be torn away from all his fine things. In this world the Christian's joy is but like a winter's sunbeam. Though he here sees the face of God by faith, it is but " through a glass darkly." But hereafter he shall have a clear vision, an uninterrupted enjoyment. "They shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads." There will be a conformity and likeness to his character. " When I awake up after thv likeness,'' savs David, " I shall be satisfied with it." Did the world, with all its attractions, ever propose anything like this ? Creatures will sometimes win our affections ; but what are creatures, even the best of them ? What are the finest strains of the finest music ? they may be disturbed in a moment. What are the kindest offices of friends compared to the friendship, the condescending and tender affection, of our Lord and Saviour ? What may we not hope for from such a friend ? what security in such love ? Here is a true source whence joy may spring ! What Christ has encouraged his Church to expect, his Church should look to receive. It is true our faith

444 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. can bring no merit, but it can bring a strong plea : " Remember thy word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope." Let the Christian rest in this joy : let him take hold of the hand of this Almighty Saviour. — Pilgrim, go thy way ; " The world is all before thee, where to choose Thy place of rest, and Providence thy guide." Go thy way, but let thine eye be fixed on Christ : go thy way, leaning on the Beloved. Fear not : for *' who shall separate us from the love of Christ ?" Rom. viii. 35 — 39. A weary traveller knows what it is to rest upon his staff; but a Christian is called to lean on no staff, but upon God, the Rock of Ages.

Watch against those things which you know, from experience, have a tendency to disturb your peace and joy. You know better than I can tell you what these are. Ask your own consciences. You know what is carnal compliance, the following the world close at its heels. You know what are the sinful indulgences which poison your comforts at the very core. Watch against vain speculations : such things unavoidably disturb. Finally, take every means to demonstrate that you have such a peace and joy ; that you have such a rest. In proportion as a man loves gold, he hates counterfeits. Manifest the reality of your joy. A believer should never be sad : we should encounter trouble by often looking to the consolation which Christ has left. " They that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country." Heb. xi. 14.

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