Page images

vour; and then the soul cries, as in Psal. cxvi. 7: “Return unto thy rest, 0 my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee."

5thly, It has in it an elevation of the heart and soul after the Lord Jesus, and things that are above; by which the soul gets above this weary land, and all the storms, clouds, and tempests of it.

The man mounts up as upon eagles' wings; and the higher he ascends, like the lark, he sings the sweeter notes of praise and thanksgiving.

Prop. 4. Of all other joy, this joy of faith is the most glorious and excellent: which will appear from the following qualities of it:

1st, It is a cordial joy: it pervades the heart, and all the recesses of the soul; " Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. My heart is glad.”. The joy of the wicked is but skin-deep; it is superficial: “ In the midst of laughter the heart is sorry;" but the joy of faith is like the “ best wine, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak," Song. vij. 9.

2dly, It is a hidden and a secret joy. Many a joyous heart has the believer in secret, of which the world knows nothing. His life is a hidden lise, “ hid with Christ in God;” and his joy is like his life. The springs of this joy are hidden, it flows out of a secret fountain, even from the throne of God and of the Lamb. The channel of it is bid, even the covenant of grace and promise: The actings of it are hid, and the subject in which it resides.

3dly, It is a strengthening joy. Neh. viii. 10: “ The joy of the Lord is your strength;" and no wonder, for faith brings in strong consolation, Heb. vi. 18. This spiritual joy is health to the navel, and marrow to the bones. What appeared insupportable before, now appears to be easy; duties are easily performed, and difficulties in the way are easily surmounted; when the joy of faith comes, the feeble then becomes as David, Zech. xii. 8: and the poor soul becomes like a giant, refreshed with new wine, hearty and strong for battle.

4thly, It is a glorious and unspeakable joy. 1 Pet. i. 8: “ Whom having not seen, ye love: in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoice, with joy unspeakable and full of glory." There is only a gradual difference between it and the joy of heaven; and it is so great, that the tongue cannot make language of it; as Paul said of the language of the third heaven, it is unutterable.

5thly, It is a permanent and abiding joy; a joy which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot take away; no, not the severest tortures and persecutions of the world. Hence it is, that the saints have gone to the stake, fire, and gibbet, with an air of heavenly grace about them.

“ Your joy no man taketh from you," says Christ. It is but the dawnings of that eternal joy and triumph which the saints shall have above, through eternity.

6thly, It is a matchless, and transcendent, and incomprehensible joy. There are several joys that we read of in scripture, but the joy of faith transcends them all.

1. There is the nuptial joy. The day of marriage is called a day of gladness.

2. There is the joy of children: there is joy when a man child is born into the world. It was, and is still reckoned a valuable mercy, because children are a heritage of the Lord.”

3. There is the joy of conquest and victory : “ They shall rejoice as men when they divide the spoil,” Is. ix. 3.

4. There is the joy of harvest : “ They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest.” But now, I say, the joy of faith surpasses them all; for it is unspeakable, and full of glory. “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased," Psal. iv. 7. This much for the third thing in the method.

IV. The fourth thing was, to inquire whence it is that a sight of Christ, and of his day, by faith, fills the soul with joy and gladness.

Ans. 1st. This flows from the excellency that faith sees in the day of Christ: “ This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will be glad, and rejoice in it.” Psal. cxviii. 24. It is a day of light, of life, of salvation, &c., as you heard in the

doctrinal part.

2dly, Because of the many great and excellent things it sees to be done in his day, which are all matter of joy and gladness. In his day the glory of heaven is brought down to earth ; the New Testament temple is reared and opened, &c. (for which see the first head.)

3dly, Faith applies Christ, and all the great blessings of his day. It sits down under his shadow, and tastes the sweets of his fruits; and hence it is that it fills the soul with joy and gladness. Whatever great things we see or hear tell of, we will not be much moved, except we have an interest and concern in them. Now, faith interests the soul in Christ, and all the blessings of his kingdom and administration; and hence it is, that it brings such gladness; the language of faith is, “ This is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.”

4thly, Faith is the parent of hope, and is “the substance of things hoped for," and so it fills with joy. “ We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."

V. The fifth thing is the use of the doctrine.

Use first. It serves for Information, in the few following particulars :

1st, From what is said, we may see from whence it was that the Old Testament saints longed so much for the coming of Christ, and the days of the New Testament. O, says the 1 spouse, “Until the day break, and the shadows fly away, turn, my Beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.” All that they had in the type, promise, or prophecy, were but shadows and expressions of what was to come.

2dly, See hence of what a privilege and happiness we are possessed, whose lot is cast in the day of Christ, the gospelday, which Abraham and other saints rejoiced to see at such a great distance. Christ says to his disciples, while here on earth, “ Blessed are your eyes and ears, for they see and hear those things, which many prophets and righteous men desired to see and hear, and did not see nor hear them.”—But yet we, who live in the day of the gospel, see and hear more than the disciples did themselves. They saw the Messiah only in a state of humiliation at that time, like a prince in disguise; but now we see him upon the throne, vested with “all power in heaven and in earth." Upon this account, Christ says, that the least in the kingdom of heaven, namely, in the kingdom of the New Testament church, is greater than John the Baptist, who was greater than any that had been born of a woman since the fall of Adam, because he was put in a condition to say, “ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

3dly, See hence the misery of unbelieving sinners under the New Testament dispensation. Why, the day is broken, and yet they never saw day-light, " The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” There is an awful word that points at you, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4: “ If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost : in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them:" And that word of Christ, John ix. 39: “For judgment I am come into this world ; that they who see not might see, and that they who see might be made blind."

4thly, See hence whence it is that there is such opposition by hell, and its agents, at this day, to the settlement of an honest ministry in vacant congregations. Why, they see plainly that, if an honest ministry get into a 'congregation, the day of Christ 'would break there, and that would break Satan's kingdom, and his works of darkness, in which the un



[ocr errors]

godly world delight; and in them is literally fulfilled that word of Christ, John iii. 20: “ Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." They know very well that a faithful minister would lift up his voice like a trumpet, and reprove their deeds; and therefore it is that they cannot endure'a man that has any thing of the savour of God or religion about him: a hue and cry will presently be raised against him, as a dangerous and turbulent person, one that will make a rent in the church, or turn the world upside down.

5thly, See hence whence it is that believers are called the “ children of the light, and of the day:" Why, because they not only live in the day of Christ, but the Day-spring has visited them in a saving way; the day has dawned, and the day star has arisen in their hearts, “even the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” And this is the reason why there is a divine light that shines in the way and walk of the believer, which is not to be seen about others: Their “ light so shines before men, that they, seeing their good works, glorify their Father which is in heaven."

Use second may be of Trial.

Sirs, since it is your privilege to live under the day of Christ, I ask you, Has ihe light of the day ever dawned savingly? If so, then,

1st, The light of it has darkened the light of this world, and all the transient' vanities of it, discovering them to be vanity and vexation of spirit; and you will look “not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”

2dly, The light of it has discovered the abominable nature of sin, so that you will abhor it, and abhor and loathe yourselves because of it, saying, "Behold I am vile.” The light of the day of Christ is of an humbling quality, Is. vi., &c.

3dly, If the light of the day of Christ has arisen on you in a saving way, your eyes will be turned towards the that makes day, I mean Christ

, the glorious Sun of righteousness ; and you will be so much taken up with him, that you will account all things but loss for his sake.

4thly, The light of the day of Christ has warmed thy soul with love to the Lord; love to his ordinances, a day in his courts will be better than a thousand ; love to his people: they are my delight, the excellent ones of the earth.

Use third shall be of Exhortation.

Sirs, has your lot fallen in the day of Christ, which Abraham saw by faith, and was glad? Then,

1st, Receive the light of the day; entertain the light of the Sun of righteousness. O behold that glorious Sun, that is

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


shining upon you in the dispensation of the gospel ! You are as much warranted to make use of the light of the Sun of righteousness, to direct you to glory, as you are warranted to make use of the natural sun, to direct you

your way.

home to your several abodes. What is freer than the light? The beggar has as good a right to use it as the prince upon the throne. So the day-light of the Sun of righteousness, and the blessings of his day, are as free to you as to any man; and therefore, do not shut out the light; but entertain and receive it, John viii. 12: “I am the light of the world,” says Christ;" he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

2dly, Is this the day of Christ? O then, “ work while it is day," work out the work of your salvation while the day lasteth, " for the night cometh, wherein no man can work." And if you ask, "What is the work of God ?" I give you the same answer that Christ gave, and I cannot give you a better: “ This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." The everlasting gospel is “ preached to all nations, for the obedience of faith." o, for the Lord's sake, believe on the name of the Son of God, for this is his great commandment; this is the foundation of all obedience, and without it you cannot obey one commandment of the law, for 66 whatever is not of faith is sin,” Rom. xiv. 23.

3dly, Is this the day of Christ? O then, “let us be glad, and rejoice in it.” This was the practice of Abraham, the father of the faithful, and this will be the practice of all the genuine true-born children of Abraham, Psal. cxviii. 24: “ This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” O let us rejoice in his person; for he is the glory of mankind, as well as “the brightness of the Father's glory." Let us rejoice in him, saying, “ To us a Son is given," Is. ix. 6. Let us rejoice in his fulness, suitableness, and excellency, " For such a High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless undefiled, separate from sinners,” Heb. vii. 26; " who is made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” 'Let us rejoice in the great things that we see actually done in his day, that he has finished transgression, made an end of sin. Let us rejoice to see the glory of heaven brought down to earth," the Word made flesh, and tabernacling among us." O rejoice and wonder, that the tabernacle of God is with man, that the temple of God is opened ; and in view of all this together, let us join issue with the church, Is. xii. 3: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, he also is become my salvation;

« PreviousContinue »