« PreviousContinue »
cause, or the general interest of society, and have not lore, “it profiteth me nothing."
The same apostle has not only pointed out the importance of love, but also drawn an admirable portrait of it. “Love suffereth long, and is kind,”—is neither impatient nor cruel; “ love envieth not,”—repudiates a spirit of hatred and bitter feelings; “love vaunteth not itself,” is not ostentatious but humble; “is not puffed up,” but is free from pride or presumption; "doth not behave itself unseemly,"_but is always respectful and consistent; “ seeketh not her own,"—is neither selfish nor craves monopoly; “is not easily provoked,”—doth not take offence at
any frivilous thing; "thinketh no evil,”-doth not look upon others with jealousy and distrust; “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth,”—abhors the former, but indulges and exults in the enjoyment and diffusion of the latter; “beareth all things," - sinks not under the weight of persecution or inhuman treatment; “ believeth all things,” so far as they are correct and scriptural ; "hopeth all things," – puts the best construction on every thing; "endureth all things,” with fortitude and submission. “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three ; but the greatest of these is love," 1 Cor. xii. 13.
3. A warning. To you who are strangers to the love of God, the Saviour on one occasion, when addressing the unconverteil, said, “But I know you, that ye have
I not the love of God in you,” John v. 42; which declaration is applicable to you. What! no love to God, who hath created, preserved, and redeemed you? No love to Christ, who hath suffered, wept, and died for you? How ungrateful! how reckless ! how criminal! and how ruinous ! You are haters of God, rejectors of Christ, and are cherishing principles which will involve you in interminable ruin. You are on the road to an awful doom ; and every step you take brings you nearer
hell, where there is "weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha," 1 Cor. xvi. 22.
Did you once love God, but are now enemies to him? Let me intreat you once more to listen to His voice : “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent,” Rev. ii. 4, 5. Renounce your hostility to God this hour, this moment; and earnestly and penitently seek by faith an interest in the atonement of Christ; for he is ready now to heal your backslidings, and love you freely.
“ 'Tis yet too soon, the Tempter cries;
But, Oh! make no delay;
And wash your sins away."
“How great the christian's portion is !
The Lord for them prepares !
And God, and Christ, are theirs.”
MISTAKEN notions have been entertained and expressed by many people respecting religion. They have viewed it as a gloomy, melancholy thing, and incapable of imparting to its possessors any real enjoyment or lasting pleasures. But we need not wonder at such views and opinions being formed and asserted, when we consider the character of those who venture to define religion. We might as soon expect a blind man to sketch a correct landscape of some nobleman's estate, paint an exact likeness of the person sitting before him, or pretend to teach a language he had never learned, as for the ungodly to judge correctly of the religion of the Bible, which they have never experienced.
But christianity is joy inspiring, as the testimony of every true christian fully demonstrates. Instead of creating gloom, and producing sadness and dejection, it inspires the believer with an inward satisfaction and external cheerfulness; a solid joy which nothing but itself can bestow, and of which all are totally destitute who are strangers to vital godliness. 'Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.”'
In speaking of the christian's joy as a fruit of the spirit, let us notice,
I. ITS SOURCE AND CHIEF PROPERTIES.
Joy arises from the possession of present, and the anticipation of future, good. Its origin and rise are on high. Jehovah is the highest object of the christian's joy, as well as the infinite and inexhaustible source from which it proceeds. “ And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb," Rev. xxii 1.
There are many passages of scripture which explain its nature, and reveal its source; better evidences and proofs than those furnished in the word of God cannot possibly be adduced. It may not be unnecessary nor unseasonable to remind christians occasionally of the source of their happiness and joy, in order to increase their courage, and inspire confidence in Him who is the fountain of all hope and blessedness. When Ezra read the law of Moses, as he stood
upon a pulpit of wood, and opened the book in the sight of all the people, all the people stood up. “ And Ezra blessed the Lord, and all the people answered, Amen, Amen, and lifted up their hands; and bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground :" and all the people wept when they heard the words of the law, “ Then he said unto them, go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither ye be sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Neh. viii. 10.
David said—“All my springs are in thee.” glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” Again, Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous : for praise is
comely for the upright.” “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,” saith Isaiah, “my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." “ And Mary said, my soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."
All are dependent upon God both for temporal and spiritual blessings. He is the source from which they are derived, and Christ is the medium through which they are communicated, having procured them by his death on the cross. How cheering is the promise; “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” In Him there is a fulness sufficientfor the world, a never-failing spring of the purest joy, a fountain of richest consolation, an ocean of perennial bliss. This source is always accessible, free, and inexhaustible.
“ Its streams the whole creation reach,
So plenteous is the store ;
Enough for evermore.”
Haring noticed the source of the christian's joy, we will now glance at a few of its chief properties. It is,
1. Elevating and satisfying. Worldly joy is often associated with sensuality and disappointment. Hear what Solomon says—“I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom, and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men which they should do under the heaven, all the days of their life. I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and orchards; and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: I gathered me also silver and gold, and the pecu