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ous fruit of this salvation. Were he merely permitted to look forward to a state, in which the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest, and to an entire exemption from those torments which he has most righteously deserved, his joy would not be small. But such is the love,—such the munificence of Him with whom the believer has to do, that he is privileged to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, that is, in the hope of sharing that glory in the eternal world, so far as a creature can share it. What that glory will be, we know not fully; for it doth not yet appear what we shall be. But since we are justified in regarding it, as far more excellent than any thing of which the mind of man can form an adequate conception, our expectations cannot be too highly raised; nor can our rejoicing in the hope thereof well be too unbounded.

But since, as the wise man observes, there is a season for every thing, would it not be unseemly in the believer to be always rejoicing ? “No," says the Apostle: “I not only say unto you, rejoice, but “ rejoice always," or “evermore." I grant that the believer, who has fallen into the depths which Satan has prepared for the unwatchful, has no cause to rejoice. He must remember from whence he has fallen, and repent and do his first works, ere he can expect that the Lord will restore unto him the joy of his salvation. In him, at least until he has repented of his sin, joy would indeed be unseemly; for he has more cause to doubt whether he has any part or lot in Christ, than to imagine that his name is written in the Lamb's book of life. To such backsliders, however, the Apostle spake not. He spake to those who were neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but who were giving all diligence to make their calling and election sure; and who, consequently, were privileged to “rejoice evermore.”

Let us consider a few of the most difficult situations


in which the believer can be placed, and see if he be not privileged to rejoice in them all.

Temptation is justly considered a severe ordeal : yet one who spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost has said, “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” I mean not to say that believers are to court temptation. No: they will ever do well to remember, that though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak; and that it is their duty to watch and pray that they enter not into temptation. But if notwithstanding all their vigilance and prayers, the Lord permits them to fall into temptation, they may rejoice in this opportunity of showing the preciousness of their faith, for it is the trial of faith that proves its sterling worth, and of glorifying God in the fires.

Persecution is another fiery trial to which believers in every age are more or less exposed. In our times, and in our own land, we see little of that violent persecution through which the early Christians were made a spectacle unto the world, unto angels, and unto men; but if “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus” must in some way or other suffer persecution, the sincere and zealous believer will not be, nor indeed would he wish to be, exempt from it. But in whatever shape it comes, whether he is visited with the contempt and coldness of the worldly, or the condemnation of the timid and temporizing, or the reproaches of his own household, he is not moved thereby,,he is not astonished at it, as though some strange thing had happened unto him : he rejoices rather that he is made partaker of Christ's sufferings, and counted worthy to suffer shame for his name; and, indeed, he could even rejoice were he deemed worthy to be enrolled amongst the number of those, who through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God, having washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Adversity is another situation in which it seems difficult for a believer to rejoice; and even Job gave way to despondency, when wave after wave rolled over his head. But admitting that most, yea, admitting that all find adversity grievous rather than joyous, this does not prove that a believer ought not to rejoice under such circumstances. By no means: it simply shows how prone persons are to distrust their heavenly Father; and how much occasion He has to say to them, “O ye of little faith, wherefore did you doubt?” The man whose faith is strong,—who feels assured that all is well with his soul,—who leans confidently on the word of promise, “ All things shall work together for good to them that love God,” may and will rejoice in adversity, as an evidence of the watchfulness of the divine husbandman, who purges his choicest branches that they may bring forth more fruit : and remembering that the Lord is ever at hand to supply his need, he will be careful for nothing; he will rejoice more in that treasure of which neither violence nor natural decay can deprive him, than he will mourn over what he has lost.

We may place the believer in a situation more awful than any that has yet been named. Temptation, persecution, and adversity may be borne, so long as life is untouched; but can the believer rejoice in death,—an event so solemn, that the very contemplation thereof, oft causes the heart and the flesh to fail? Why should he not? The traveller, when he comes in sight of the home which he loves, and from which he has been absent many a long year, feels his spirit revive, and his heart rejoice, at the prospect of embracing those on whom his affections are fixed, and of gazing on those endeared scenes on which memory had long loved to dwell. And will not the Christian traveller feel similarly? Heaven is his home, and death the entrance to it; so that the nearer he approaches to it, the more cause he has for rejoicing. He may say in that hour, “I have heard much of my God and Saviour; but soon I shall see Him for myself, and mine eye

shall behold Him." I have read much of the saints sweet home, and with the eye of faith have already surveyed it ; but soon, I shall be put into possession of it. Why then, O my soul, art thou disquieted within me? Why dost thou start at this Jordan which flows between thee and thy rest? It becomes me rather to say,

“ I feel this mud-walled cottage shake,

And long to see it fall ;
That I my willing flight may take

To Him that is my all.” Seeing, then, that the fruitful Christian is privileged in all situations and under all circumstances to rejoice, I would say to him, “ Cultivate this joy; for it shall be your strength.” Many are reluctant to indulge the Christian with this exhilarating draught, as though it had a necessary tendency to intoxicate those that partake of it. The Apostles were teachers of another cast. They well knew that joy is the main spring of Christian exertion ; and hence they exhorted their followers to rejoice, and to rejoice always. And to every fruitful Christian amongst you, I would say the same. Why should those who have the only valid title to joy be forbidden to exercise their privilege ? How can they commend religion to others—how can they bear up under temptation, persecution, or adversity-how can they grapple comfortably with the last enemy death, if they are destitute of Christian joy? It is this which must lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. It is this which will enable them to say,

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” It is this which will make them eloquent in commending the Gospel rest to others. Rejoice then, ye believing servants of Jesus; and again I say unto you rejoice.

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To those believers who are walking in darkness, and see not the light of Christian joy, I would say, Seek to have a pure conscience, and a conversation in all things such as becometh the Gospel of Christ; for as a most exemplary Christian once observed, “ If any would walk cheerfully, he must be careful to walk holily." I grant that some real believers are permitted for a season, and sometimes for a long season, to be destitute of Christian joy: the Comforter that should relieve the soul is far from them. I do not mean to say that the Holy Ghost has withdrawn from them. No: I simply mean that He hides his face from them. Their remedy is to wait, -to stay themselves on the Lord,—to remember the past, and trust their covenant Lord for the future: then though “weeping may continue for a night, joy shall come in the morning.” But most commonly, the absence of joy arises from some worm at the root,—some sin secretly retained and indulged,—some worldly, selfish, or covetous propensity cherished. In such a case, there is only one effectual remedy. The believer must without delay cast the Jonah that troubles his soul overboard. If then, beloved, your comforts be small, institute an impartial examination into the cause, and unsparingly sacrifice every thing which conscience condemns : then though for a season you may be sorrowful, your heart will at length rejoice, and your joy no man shall take

from you.

To those who are Christians in name, rather than in heart, I would say, Try your joy; for you have neither part nor lot in the joy of the Holy Ghost. See whether it will sustain you in the night season of affliction, in the hour of death, or in the day of judgment. You know, my brethren, it will not. Then, you will find that your joy, like the lamps of the foolish virgins, is extinguished; and that whilst the servants of God, the spiritual Israel, have light in their habitations, darkness, even a darkness

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