Monday, October 13, 2008

A joy that doesn't depend on circumstances

“There is a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God.” Believers drink of that river and thirst not for carnal delights. They are made “to lie down in green pastures,” and are led “beside the still waters.” Now this solid, lasting joy and peace of mind sets the Christian so on high above all others, that I boldly testify that there are no people in the world to compare with him for happiness. But do not suppose that our joy never rises above this settled calm; for let me tell you, and I speak experimentally, we have our seasons of rapturous delight and overflowing bliss. There are times with us when no music could equal the melody of our heart’s sweet hymn of joy. It would empty earth’s coffers of every farthing of her joy to buy a single ounce of our delight. Do not fancy Paul was the only man who could say, “Whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth,” for these ecstasies are usual with believers; and on their sunshiny days when their unbelief is shaken off and their faith is strong, they have all but walked the golden streets; and they can say, “If we have not entered within the pearly gate, we have been only just this side of it; and it we have not yet come to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, if we have not joined the great congregation of the perfect in actual body, yet still-

“E’en now by faith we join our hands
With those that went before,
And greet the blood-besprinkled bands
On the eternal shore.”

I would not change one five minutes of the excessive joy my soul has sometimes felt for a thousand years of the best mirth that the children of this world could give me. O friends, there is a happiness which can make the eye sparkle and the heart beat high, and the whole man as full of bounding speed of life as the chariots of Amminadib. There are raptures and high ecstasies, which on festival days such as the Lord allotteth to his people, the saints are permitted to enjoy. I must not fail to remind you that the Christian is the happiest of men for this reason, that his joy does not depend upon circumstances.

From a sermon entitled "Alas For Us, If Thou Wert All, And Nought Beyond, O Earth,” delivered March 27, 1864. Flickr photo by Patrick Emerson; some rights reserved.

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