Sunday Considerations: So Little Joy

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I shall now inquire into the reasons why so little of this joy is experienced by the majority of Christian professors. I assume that the multitude have far less than they might or should have. Look at the prosperous among them, and whence does their joy arise? From their religion? Or from their good spirits, their health, their family, their fiends, their success, and home enjoyment? Look at the afflicted—how oppressed with care; how tortured with anxiety; how overwhelmed with sorrow; how cheerless for the present, and how hopeless for the future, do they seem to be! How few appear to have the peace that passes all understanding, the joy which is unspeakable and full of glory! The bible tells the world that the springs of true happiness gush out from the hill of Zion, at the foot of the cross—and so they do—but how little do many who profess to have drank the living water, appear as if they had been at the crystal stream, and were satisfied with it.

Why is this? Is there in reality, not enough in the objects of spiritual truth to yield this joy? Yes, for they have comforted millions in the valley of tears, in every variety and degree of human woe; they are the rejoicing of spirits made perfect; the bliss of angels, and the joy of God’s own heart. Is it that the sources are inaccessible to them? No—they are open to every child of God. Is it that God is unwilling to impart this joy to them; that in a way of sovereignty he has withdrawn it? No—it is a mistake to suppose that God, by any positive act of his own, hinders our peace, or extinguishes it; that in a way of sovereignty, and not as a chastisement for sin, but for the purpose of trying and exercising the graces of his people, he withdraws from them what is usually denominated sensible comfort, and causes them to experience darkness and despondency. “This view,” says Wardlaw, “has long appeared to me not a little hazardous. It is too much calculated to make believers well pleased and satisfied with themselves, in circumstances which ought to excite them to self-jealousy, and searching of heart. It seems to me at once more safe, and more spiritual, to regard the lack of peace and joy as arising invariably (except where there is a physical cause in a nervous constitution) from, and indicating something wrong in—the spiritual temperament of our minds—some sin, or some defect in ourselves. It is of essential consequence for us to be impressed with the conviction that if we are destitute of peace and joy, the cause is in ourselves—uniformly and exclusively in ourselves. It is not that God has withdrawn from us—but that we have withdrawn from God.” ~ John Angell James. Excerpt from the sermon “Spiritual Joy”.

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The above article was posted on September 14, 2013 by Mark Lamprecht.
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