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joy which commences here, but goes on deepening and increasing until you are before him in whose presence is fulness of joy, and until you enter into that which words cannot describe with greater force,
"the joy of the Lord." If there be any such that hear me, may God pour out his Holy Spirit upon you, and give you a proper understanding in this matter! Turn not from the preaching of Christ then. Say not we will not have him to reign over us; his yoke is severe, his burden heavy, there is nothing to sweeten his service;' but believe that his yoke is easy, his burden light, his service freedom, when God makes the heart willing in the day of his power. O come to him! come and taste and see that the Lord is gracious; only give yourselves to him wholly, and follow him fully, and you will experience a joy and gladness of heart which will not only compensate for all you have resigned, but will be a blessed foretaste of that pure and holy joy which will have hereafter in the presence him, who is and will be the joy of his people.
And to you, my brethren, who have been made partakers of that joy which is here recorded of the people of Samaria, we would address a few words. Praise God for his mercy. Acknowledge constantly the work of grace. Trace it back to the Holy Spirit. If with the psalmist, “Praise the Lord, you can say O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgiveth all thy sin and healeth all thine infirmities," you cannot be sufficiently thankful. To you I need
6 Matt. xxv. 23.
7 Psalm ciii. 2.
not say, "Rejoice evermore, rejoice in the Lord alway," but I would say to you, let your rejoicing, not less than your moderation, "be known unto all men.’ Let the people of the world who traduce the gospel see their error. Let them see in the happiness of your lives that religion is something real and substantial; and that there is that which can produce joy besides their false and fading pleasures. Who has a right to be happy but the Christian? And who is there that is happy, that is not imperatively called upon, in consideration of him who conferred that happiness, to show it forth? "It well becometh the just to be thankful." It well becometh the justified believer, the pardoned sinner, to be grateful to God for his mercies, and to show forth his praise not only in his life but with his lips.'
But some sorrowing child of God will say, 'You mock me with this exhortation; tell me to be happy. I desire it above all things; tell me to have peace of mind, I would give the world to enjoy it. I can truly say I have put away its joys, but still I have not attained that better joy!' My brother, to you what would we say? Would we mock you by calling upon you to do that, which your only sorrow is, that you cannot do. O! no; but we would direct your mind to Christ, we would again and again preach Christ to you. It was preaching Christ" that produced joy, and nothing else will. We would say to you, "Look to Jesus." It may be, you are 9 Psalm xxxiii. 1. Prayer-book version.
8 Phil. iv. 4, 5.
labouring under some of the errors to which we have referred; and that with a morbid sensitiveness you are raking into the recesses of your own heart, and cannot raise your eyes from the sight. Every thing discloses some fresh corruption, and gives you a further view into the chambers of imagery and all the idols of your heart. Every day shows you more and more how little of God is there. O lift up your eyes; we do not regret your present state, we are sure there is nothing in it to cast you down; we are sure that the very sense of sin which enchains your mind is God's doing; that conviction and contrition are the Spirit's work, and that in his time you will have deliverance; that the smile of gladness will illumine the dejected countenance; that the feeble hands will be lifted up, and the weak knees strengthened. There are two instances in this chapter in which we may conclude that the presentation of the gospel was immediately followed by joy; but it is no consequence from this that it shall always be so. God works in various ways, and it may be his good pleasure not to enable you to take to yourself at once the comfort which the gospel ought to give, and which we cannot say is altogether received until it be given. However, hold on, and let not the idea of this relax your exertion, but look more and more to Christ. Fix the eye of your mind upon him, meditate upon him, spread out his promises, look for the simplest and most unconditional ones. Cherish them in
your minds, and be assured that you shall not do so in vain. Heaven and earth may pass away,
but his words cannot pass away; and He has said, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."1
PSALM li. 1, 2, 3.
HAVE MERCY UPON ME, O GOD, ACCORDING TO THY LOVING KINDNESS; ACCORDING UNTO THE MULTITUDE OF THY TENDER MERCIES BLOT OUT MY TRANSGRESSIONS. WASH ME THROUGHLY FROM MINE INIQUITY, AND CLEANSE ME FROM MY SIN. FOR I ACKNOWLEDGE MY TRANSGRESSIONS; AND MY SIN IS EVER BEFORE ME.
THE season naturally leads us to select a subject connected with repentance; and the case of one of the greatest penitents on record, with the most remarkable instance of his repentance, immediately presents itself to our minds; I allude to David, and to that psalm which has formed a part of the services of the day.' I need not enter minutely into the case. It is one with which all are familiar. I need not dwell upon the singular mercies he had enjoyed, both spiritual and temporal; nor upon the remarkable manner in which God had selected him as a subject upon whom to shower down his favours; the high situation to which, from obscurity, he had raised him; the injurious effect of his sin, in consequence of his station making all that he did
1 Preached in Lent.