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i Pet. i. 8.
Whom, having not seen, ye love z In -wham, though now ye fee him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory,
TWO branches of the christian difposition toward the blessed Jesus, have been particularly discoursed of from this paiiage; believing in him, and love to him. One yet remains to be considered.
III. Rejoicing in Christ ; which, as wets as the other, is affirmed here by the apostle tohave been the frame of the primitive Christians: ** In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of gjory."
Joy in him is an advance upon our faith and love. It imports a rest and fatisfaction of mind, upon the apprehension we have of his real excellence, and of the benesits accruing tous by him. The word used in another place, Phil. iii. 3. to express this temper, ««u%2ssfl«/, signisies to glory or triumph in Christ: and fo our translators render it in Gal. vi. 14. "God forbid, that I should glory, fave in the crofs of Christ." The apoftle observes of the Jews, that they " rested in the law," the Mosaical law, and they "made their boast of God," Rom. ii. 17. The fame
word. .word is there used; they gloried in God; i. e. they gloried in their visible relation to God, as eminently their God, beyond what he was to the heathen world, by virtue of the covenant of peculiarity made with their nation, upon their consent to observe the law of Moses, Exod. xix. These Christians, on the other hand, of whom the apostle speaks in the text, upon their conversion from Judaism to Christianity, gloried and rejoiced in Christ, as opening the way to a more distinguishing relation to God, than that to which the Jewish nation was admitted by virtue of the Mofaical covenant. They esteemed Christ to "bring glad tidings of greater joy" than Moses did, to be more " sull of grace and truth;" and therefore rejoiced in him, as having found the best treasure.
The two characters given of their joy, intimate the high degree of it. It was "joy unspeakable," more than they could express: they could hardly apprise others what a joy they selt. And it was ** sull of glory." The word exactly rendered is glorified joy: it was akin to the joy selt by thofe in the glorisied state.
But it may be faid; though these primitive believers thus rejoiced in Christ, is this to be esteemed a necesfary part of every true Christian's character?
I answer, The Gofpel gives refon to all who entertain it for such a high degree of joy: certainly it may be attained, and is a frame sit to be aspired at by all Christians, since it is left upon record as the actual character of . . these nhese primitive examples. But I am Far from thinking it in such a large measure, to be an essential character of a Christian. And yet a prevalence of this temper, as well as of faith and love, must be understood as a discriminating nark of every sincere Christian: for fo St. Paul represents it, Phil. iii. 3. "We are the circumcision," the true people of God, " which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus."
I shall therefore consider, 1st. The grounds which a Christian has for joy in Christ. And adly, How far k may be elleemed the necessary temper of every true Christian. And then make fome reflections.
First, I am to consider the grounds, which a Christian has for rejoicing in Christ.
And upon this head I would observe, that
(1.) The Gofpel-revelation surnishes the materials of his joy. (.2.) His faith in that revelation is the principal of his joy. (3.) The efficacy of his faith, as working by love, gives him ground for still a-more special joy.
1-. The Gofpel-revelation surnishes the ma* terials of his joy; the good news, .the gladtidings contained in the blessed Gofpel. For instance,
(1.) The kind and gracious design upon which Jesus came into the world. One, which had the most. comfortable aspect upon mankind of any thing which was ever manisested since the apostacy. It was to testisy the good-will of an offended God toward men, and to open a way for the free communication of it: which was accordingly proclaimed claimed at his birth by the heavenly host, Luke ii. 14. "God lent his Son, not to condemn the world;" as our guilty sears might have surmised, is notice had been given of his approach, without any account of the design of it; "but that through him the world might be fayed," John iii. 17. "To seek and to fave them that were loit," Luke xix. 10. And not only such as had been guilty of less ofsences, but even the "chief of sinr.ers," 1 Tim. i. 15. To "save them from their sins" themselves, Matt. i. 21. and " from the wrath to come," due upon that account, 2 Thess. i. 10.
What a subject of joy is this! considering the greatness of the evils in which we were involved, and to which we were farther liable. We were alienated from God, under the sentence of condemnation, ready to fall into the hands of the living God. And at the fame time we were utterly unable to help ourselvds. We had dejlroye.d ourselves; but in God alone, if any where, our help must be fowii. We could neither resist his almighty vengeance, nor atone his just displeasure. AU other ways, which carried an air of relief, were insufficient to reach their end. There were facrisices under the law to put away sin; but they were not sufficient to purify, as pertaining to the conscience. "Sacrisice and offer-. iug thou wouldst not," fays the Son of God; "then faid I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God," Heb. x. 5, 7. And yet, when this grace was intended us, we were altogether unworthy of any instance of compassion; and
Vol. 1. U .* therefore therefore have the more abundant reafon to rejoice, that notwithstanding that, a faving design is set on foot.
(2.) The capacity and sitness of Jesus to accomplish this gracious design, is a farther ground of joy in him. "Help is laid upon one who is mighty to fave; able to fave to the uttermost all thofe that come unto God by him."
The constitution of his perfon admirably qualisied him for this province. The dignity of his divine nature ennobled his offering, fo that the church was sully redeemed by his blood, Acts xx. 28. By his having been in the bofom of the Father, he was every way surnished to reveal him, his will and grace to the world, John i. 18. On the other hand, by his condescending to be made flesh, he " had wherewith to offer," Heb. viii. 3. A " body was prepared him," that he might " bear our sins in his own body on the tree." By ther fame means, when he became our instructor, the terrors which must have seized us, had God himself in his glory spoke to us, were prevented. And his government is become more suitable, as he is "bone of our bone, and slesh of our flesh."
The sull commission, which he received to be our Mediator, enters into his capacity to be a Saviour. None but God, our ruler and judge, could authorise and make valid any 'expedient for our relief: he might have insisted on cur bearing in our own perfons the punishment we had deserved. It is-therefore matter of great joy, that he hath commissioned