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and prefers his person to the advantages attending a relation to him. It is hence an ardent and active principle of feeling and of conduct, outstripping the slow conclusions of reasoning, and giving, in his service, speed to the feet, strength to the arm, and courage to the heart. By rendering our actions voluntary and unconstrained, it makes our duty our pleasure ; and prompts to a thousand nameless offices, which a cold sense of natural obligation cannot suggest. By its celestial influence the heavy burden becomes light; the bitter potion sweet, the rough brow of adversity is smoothed ; and the pale cheek of death is decked in smiles : nothing is too hard for it. Its language, as it spake in the apostle to mourning and entreating friends, is this; “ What “ mean ye to weep, and to break mine heart? for * I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die, " for the name of the Lord Jesus."*
May this love of Christ fill all our hearts! Then will we delight to talk together of his excellencies : and feel indignant only when he is disesteemed. Then the least intimation of his pleasure shall put in action every energy of the mind: the mention but of his name shall warm the heart, and light up the countenance: and “beholding the glory of the “ Lord, we shall be changed into the same image, " from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the “ Lord.”+ And now that the heavens have receiv. ed him, till the time of the restitution of all things, we will ardently long for, we will joyfully and affectionately celebrate the solemnity, which he instituted to preserve the memory of his love; till the days of our exile having past, we shall be called Acts xxi. 13.
2 Cor. ii. 18.
home to Emmanuel's land, our restored inheritance, and shall be ever with the Lord.
We are thus reminded, that
The excellencies of the Lord Jesus, which are the objects of love, must also, indeed, be sources of joy, For what is love, but complacency or delight in contemplating its object? " He is fairer than the children of men : grace is poured into his lips: he ** loveth righteousness, and hateth wickedness :” and therefore it is added, that " with gladness and re, joicing shall his people be brought unto him."*
But we generally consider good expected or obtained, as a proper cause of joy. We admire excel. lencies, and are delighted while we admire: we are assured of an interest in them; and our delight is increased by self-gratulation. It is thus in the in. stance described in our text. Believing in Christ as a Saviour, we are filled with the hope of his salvation, a hope fruitful in exultation and joy. In this respect, the excellencies of his character, which are the objects of love, are also ample sources of rejoicing: for the higher these excellencies are, hiş salvation must be the more suitable and perfect. We might therefore trace his excellencies anew, and shew how each of them affords us matter of rejoicing on our own account, as well as of compla cency and delight in contemplating him. This, however, instead of affording matter for one branch of a discourse already considerably protracted, would furnish topics for the meditation of several sabbaths, Indeed, when Christ is mentioned as the source of his
Psalm ziv, 2, 7, 15.
people's joys, so various are the views, and so numerous the ideas which present themselves to our minds, that, on no one occasion, could we propose to specify them all. We must confine ourselves to a particular view, and to a few of the ideas which it suggests. On the present occasion, we cannot, perhaps, be better directed in our selection of these, than by the description given in the context of the object of our
lively” and joyful“ hope" in Jesus Christ ;--"an " inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that 56 fadeth not away.”
1. We rejoice in Jesus as the author of our hope of “ an inheritance undefiled." Nor is this cause of rejoicing small. The stronger our faith and love towards Christ, the more must we be sensible of our own imperfections, and the more bitter must the consciousness of them become. The more ardent, therefore, at the same time, will be our desire, and the more gladdening the prospect of deliverance from them. How blissful, then, to the true believer, must that inheritance appear, into which shall enter nothing that defileth! nothing to extort the cry,“ wretched man that I am, whe “ shall deliver me from the body of this death !" Delightful prospect! A day shall come, when we shall be no longer tormented with the motions of sin, the consciousness of disobedience, or the fear of falling. Then shall we serve God day and night in his holy temple; no discord within, no temptation without; the warfare with the rulers of the darkness of this world accomplished; the internal struggle ended; and victory completely secured. Joy unspeakable! to live in the hope of resembling him whom we supremely admire and love for
when Christ, who is our life, “ shall appear, we shall juo be like him ;" and to assure us of the resemblance, “ shall see him as he is."* Joy full of glory! to be freed from sin, his and our chief enemy; to tread it under our feet; and to be made “ more " than conquerors, through him that loved us.”
2. We rejoice in Christ, as the author of " an “ inheritance incorruptible, and that fadeth not “ away :” an inheritance, in itself more valuable than any earthly standard of worth can measure; but with these properties, valuable beyond conception, and beyond the capacity of our present faint desires, desirable. Why do we prefer gold to the sparkling glass, or the commodious iron? Because it is not, like the one, brittle ; nor, like the other, subject to rust. And why do we rejoice in the light of the moon, more than in the glare of a mighty meteor? Because her rays, though feebler, are more steady and lasting. What cause, then, has the christian exceedingly to rejoice, in the hope of his " inheritance incorruptible,” which shall know no end, of his “ inheritance unfading," the value of which shall never be diminished! It is an allusion to the poetical amaranth, a flower feigned to be eternally verdant and blooming; or to the wreath of evergreen that decked the brows of the conquerors of antiquity, that the inheritance of a be. liever is termed “unfading."+ And if happiness suited to a rational nature, eternal and uninterrupted, the reward of divine grace, and the end of human faith, be just grounds of self-congratulation, let every follower of Jesus rejoice in the
1 John üi. 2.
hope of this “ the prize of his high calling," with a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
But animating and sublime as these topics are, we should do injustice to this blissful theme, did we omit to mention,
3. That the chief source of the joy, with which our souls, believing in Christ, rejoice, is Christ himself. It is to love, to honour, and to hold fellow. ship with him on earth : it is especially, the hope of living, or honouring, and of having communion with him perfectly in heaven. The hope of seeing and conversing with that blessed friend and benefactor, who veiled the glories of heaven bea neath a mortal form, who lived and died on earth in misery and shame, out of love pure and disinterested unto the souls of men, is a spring of enjoyment which his apostles, who tasted it, have vividly described. Witness the language of the context: witness the glowing terms, in which Paul discourses of the time when Christ “ shall come to be glo“ rified in his saints, and to be admired of all them " that believe."*. “ To be with Christ”+ was, in the judgment of that apostle, “ far better” than the sweetest comforts, and highest honours of time. “ To be ever with the Lord”# is his comprehensive expression, for all that is glorious and blissful in the prospects of eternity.-And does not every redeem . ed soul participate of his feelings? To the souls of the reedeemed, what more gladdening than the hope of standing in Emmanuel's presence; of seeing him, who was crowned with thorns, invested with the diadem of glory-him, who was despised and rejected of men, adored by the innumerable • 2 Thess. i. 10. 4 Phil. i. 28.
¢ . Thess. iv, 17.