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temptation too :---how easily I was drawn aside ;--how like a forward fool, I ran at the holding up of a finger, and met the temptation half way. I will conceal nothing from him, cost me what it will.
• I will go and tell him my fears :---how greatly I am distressed at times, when I perceive this or the other corruption so strong which I thought had received its death's wound, for fear it should prevail over my feeble grace, and bring me again into captivity to the law of sin ;---how I tremble, when I have by my folly provoked the Lord to leave me, for fear he will never return again ;---how I have been afraid of evil tidings, when my heart ought to have been “fixed, trusting in God.”
• I will go and tell him my hopes; for some hope I have, amidst all my discouragements ;-- I hope, that “ he, which hath begun a good work in me, will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ;"-.I hope, that, though at present I walk in darkness, yet in the even-time it shall be light ;---I hope, that, though I have not such enjoyments now as I hear other Christians talk of, yet I shall be ad. mitted into the presence of God hereafter, “ where is fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore.”
'I will go and tell him all this; I will unbosom. and unburthen my whole heart to him: and if my necessities did not drive me to him, I should go to him from inclination. The very pleasure of conversing with God, entertaining myself with beholding his beauty, contemplating his perfections, talking over the history of his providence for years past, and anticipating the pleasure of conversing with him in heaven for ages to come :---this would be inducement enough to go
to him as often, and to stay with him as long, as I can.'
But this brings us to the next general – viz.
II. The good man's Blessedness-expressed by rejoicing in God, and rejoicing exceedingly.
It is a blessed privilege to be able to rejoice in God at all; for it is what comparatively very few
The world in general are utterly incapable of it. They are conscious that all is not right between God and them: they know that he is justly, and greatly, offended with them, and therefore they care not to go to him : they had rather keep away, and like not to retain him in their knowledge: the sight of God, the very thoughts of God, are troublesome and terrifying. Where any, therefore, are enabled to go to God as their “joy,” it is a proof that grace hath made a happy change in their heart and state: they must have been “ renewed in the spirit of their minds." God is in Christ reconciled to them; and 6 the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts, through the Holy Ghost:” and then there is ground enough for rejoicing. To think that God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth: and to be able to say,
< this God is our God for ever and for ever:”-no wonder they go to him with so much joy. And the Psalmist might well call God his exceeding joy: for it infinitely exceeds all other joy, in its Nature, Degree, and Duration.
1. In its Naturé.'
Creature joy is “of the earth, earthy;" but this is spiritual and divine. Carnal men have their joy ; and, if you would hearken to them, you must be.
lieve that no persons in the world have any joy but themselves: whereas, in reality they have no cause for joy at all; and what joy they have, is muddy and mixed: it is the joy of brutes or devils: it always tastes of earth, and sometimes tastes of hell, from the guilt and wrath mixed with it. But the good man's joy is all pure and sweet, like the Fountain from whence it flows
“ Where pleasure rolls its living flood,
From sin and dross refined;
And fit to cheer the mind.
The glorious and the Great,
To make our bliss complete.” Let the worldling or the voluptuary rejoice as he will in his large possessions, or in sensual gratifications; what is his joy, when compared with that rational and sublime satisfaction which a gracious soul feels when God smiles, and says, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward ?” This is a joy of the same kind, though not of the same degree, as the joy of angels and the other inhabitants of heaven; and in this respect infinitely exceeds all the joys of sense and sin.
2. As to degree.
Creature joy is but, as it were, drop by drop--little at most, and very little at a time;- but in “ God's presence is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore,” Some things entertain one faculty, and some another, but fill none:
is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. No indeed :
SATISFYING is a word too big för creature comforts---for any of them-for all of them toged ther. The love of novelty is a plain confession of this:
we go from one thing to another, seeking rest, and find none, But in God every faculty is entertained and filled. He is in reality what other joys only pretend to : “ That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance.; and I will fill their treasures.” (Prov. viii. 21.) Yea, he gives to all other joys a reality and sweetness which otherwise they would not have. - In this respect, also, our joy in God exceeds all other joy, as it is substantial and satisfying.
Let a man have never so much of creature comforts, there is still an empti. ness and craving after more: but the soul that can rejoice in God hath enough: it looks no further ; it desires no more; “for” (it will say) “ I have all and abound.” “Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee."
3. As to duration.
Creature joy, like the house built upon the sand, shakes at every blast: and a storm of sickness, poverty, and disgrace sweeps it all away. Let but a finger ache, let but a gourd wither, let but a fellowcreature frown, and there is an end of all this joy at once. But joy in God, like the house built upon a rock, stands undemolished, unshaken by the greatest outward desolations. Those disasters that quite ruin all other joy, do not at all affect our joy in God. Let a believer be never so poor, never so sickly, never so slighted by the world; let him lose what he will: so long as he can keep his hold on God none of these things move him; and you may bear him sing, with all the exultation of the Prophet,
“ Although the fig-tree do not blossom, and there be no fruit in the vine; though the labour of the olive fail, and the fields do yield no meat; though the flocks be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stall; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Hab. iii. 17.) Other joys must end at death---and may, and very often do, end before ;---but joy in God improves by adversity ; grows brighter and stronger at the approach of death; and it will flourish in full perfection when earth, and earthly joys, shall totally disappear.
This is the good man's joy. May I now ask, What is yours? What is it that in your esteem and relish exceeds all other things ?---Much depends upon this question; for the answer determines your character. The text is only suited to a good man's mouth: it were adding insult to impiety, for any to say, “ God is my exceeding joy," when all the world knows there are many things which you take more delight in than ever you did in God.--I shall not waste your time in laying down marks in so plain a case, for it may be seen at a glance. When I put the question, if you would let conscience speak out, I should hear one say, "My greatest joy is in fine clothes,' another, “My greatest joy is in a full table;' another, “My greatest joy is in entertaining company, and spending the evening in social mirth and play ;? and here and there, perhaps, I should bear one say, My greatest joy is in fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.'---Which is the most respectable character-r-yea, and which is the happiest man. I may leave it to yourselves to determine, &,433