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be enjoyed, he indicated with sufficient clearness when he said, 'It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but when I go away I will send him unto you. For I will pray the Father, and he shall send you another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, who shall abide with you for ever.' These precious promises were not only fulfilled in a peculiar sense to the first disciples, but are still fulfilled and fulfilling in the most enlarged sense to every Christian. For where the heart is touched effectually by true repentance, and impressed with a living faith, manifested, as all living faith must be, by a life of correspondent righteousness, “the peace of God,' a holy calm, a sense of full forgiveness, and of kind acceptance at the hands of Christ, a consciousness of the Providential care and guardianship of our heavenly Father, and a consequent feeling of quiet security and repose—all this and more than words can express, for it passeth understanding_descends upon the soul, and insuses into its faculties a spirit which breathes of beaven. But not only does this inward peace bear witness to the truth of God, for outward peace is likewise generally found to be the portion of the believer. Clamor and strife, slander and calumny, seldom invade his tran. quil dwelling. The noisy and intemperate mirth of the world which so often terminates in quarrels and dissensions, is distasteful to his feelings. The struggles of angry rivalship, the machinations of intrigue, or the dishonest arts of gain, which estrange men from each other, and fill society with jealousy and hatred, enter not into the regular uprightness of his life. And above all, domestic discord rarely poisons his cup of contented moderation. While the regard of the wise, the confidence of the good, and the decent respect of the community around him, render his condition, under all circumstances, the most desirable which this earth is capable of affording. Thus, although the Christian is by no means, exempt from the ordinary trials and sorrows which are inseparable from a probationary state, yet is his lot, upon the whole, the most peaceful amongst mankind. Internally, he has peace of conscience, peace of temper, peace of soul. Externally, he possesses peace with his neighborhood and friends, peace with his family, peace with the world. Yea, he experiences the truth of that promise of Scripture, that "When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. And thus it is that the Holy Ghost, whose blessed influence gave him conviction of sin, true repentance, genuine humility, and living faith, also gives him peace in believing,—a peace which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot take away.
3. But there is a third characteristic of the kingdom of God, presented to us in the text, beyond righteousness and peace; and this is joy. Here we have a term expressing a high degree of felicity, even when applied to the things of this world; how pure and elevating must it be when it is the joy of angels, the joy of Paradise, the joy in the Holy Spirit of the Lord our God. To analyze aright, however, this branch of our subject, we must remember that earthly joy depends upon the state of the affections, in connexion with some event or circumstance which interests them most deeply. Relieve us from a state of bitter affliction by some sudden and unexpected interposition, and we feel the emotion of joy. Deprive us of the dearest object of our love, and, when we are least anticipating it, let this object be restored to us, and joy diffuses itself within our hearts, Nor is it necessary, in order to produce this state of happi
ness, that the change should be sudden and unexpected : it is only necessary that the object should be longed for with intense desire, and joy is always produced in the first hour of its possession. Thus the mother, whose heart yearns over the absence of a favorite child, rejoices in the moment of his return. The wife, separated for months or years from a beloved husband, rejoices when they meet again. The prisoner, long buried in the gloom of close captivity; rejoices when he breathes the air of freedom, The ship-wrecked mariner, exhausted in struggling with the billows, and almost hopeless of relief, rejoices in transport when some friendly arm has rescued him from destruction. And the Christian, in his joy, bears some faint resemblance to these analogies, because he is restored to the presence of Him whom he loves better than wife or child ; he has exchanged the worst of all captivities, for the most exalted and glorious liberty ; he is saved from the threatening billows of Almighty wrath, and his life is preserved, not for an uncertain period, but for ever. There are instances, however, in the annals of human joy, which afford a much closer analogy to the case before us,—where the danger from which we have been preserved was unknown and unsuspected, or where the delight we experience is altogether new. Of the first kind is the situation of one who sleeps amidst a conflagration, and who is not conscious of his peril, until his deliverer arouses him from his slumber and calls on him to flee for his life. Here, the fact of his own helpless inactivity and the awful risk of destruction, while utterly unconscious and unheeding, seem to give a character of seriousness and sublimity to the joy of his escape, and stamp upon his emotions a deep and abiding impression. And so, in a considerable degree, is the joy of the Christian exalted and enlarged by the circumstance of his own former ignorance of his danger. He slept, while surrounded with flames—he dreamed of folly and of pleasure, while imminent destruction hung over his unconscious head. And tenfold is the throb of gratitude and the flush of joy with which he thinks of the voice which first aroused him to the knowledge of his awful situation. Of the second description is the interesting case of him who is born blind, and who has no just conception of the darkness of his condition, until the blessed light of heaven first pours in upon his senses. Here, the novelty of the impression heightens his enjoyment beyond all comparison. He possesses a new source of delight, of which he had previously no idea whatever, and which far surpasses his highest hopes and expectations. And in like manner, the joy of the Christian is heightened by the new and hitherto unimagined communion of the Spirit, which is not only the light of the soul, as the sun is of the body, but in a degree greatly sue perior. A new sense, as it were, is given to his spiritual existence. New avenues of pure delight are opened to him.
A new world breaks in upon him; and while he looks back with wonder on his former blindness of heart, he rejoices in the Sun of righteousness, and 'joys in the God of his salvation.
But although we may thus endeavor, by human analogies, to give you, my brethren, an imperfect understanding of this portion of our text, yet be ye well assured that earth furnishes no parallel, mortality, no fitting illustration. “The heart knoweth his own bitterness,' saith the Scripture, and a stranger doth not intermeddle with its joy. Those who are strangers to the Spirit of God can form no true idea of the pure, the exalted, the glorious nature of that happiness, which, even on this side the grave, is felt at times by every experienced Christian. The best joys of earth are transient of necessity, because the excitement which they produce is too keen to be long supported by the mortal frame. They are commonly mingled with tears, and accompanied by confusion and agitation ; they unfit us, while they last, for any duty; they destroy our self-possession for a.time, and are generally succeeded by a depression and exhaustion of the animal spirits, which remind us, at once, of their imperfection and of our own. But the joy in the Holy Ghost raises, and strengthens, and confirms the soul. It places us on an eminence, from which every earthly change can be viewed with comparative calmness, and every real duty performed with the best success. It is not manifested by outward weakness or extravagance, for it flows from the communion of that Spirit who is the source of wisdom, and purity, and order, as well as happiness, and who does not find it necessary to prepare his children for heaven, by unfitting them for the proper avocations of their present lot. It enables us to look upon much of the pursuits and pleasures of the irreligious, with that sort of kindly compassion which a man exhibits towards the follies of ill trained children. It fixes our affections and desires upon a better world, and makes it practicable for us to feel as strangers and pilgrims in this. It teaches us to say, from the heart, · Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon the earth that I desire in comparison of thee.' It sweetens the bitterness of trial, lightens the burden of affliction, and converts the very sufferings of life into benefits and blessings. Even on the bed of mortal agony, it sustains the Christian's spirit, and confirms his hope. He feels its precious influence as a foretaste of heaven, and is enabled to say, " Thou art my trust and my confidence, my joy, and my crown of rejoicing. Though my flesh and my heart fail, thou art the strength of my heart and my