Joy in the Lord: Opened in a Sermon Preached at PAƲLS, May 6.
PHIL. 4. 4.
THere is nothing which the hearts of Believers doe either more willingly hear, or more difficultly observe, then those precepts which invite them unto joy and gladness, they be∣ing on the one hand so suitable to the natural desires, and yet withall on the other so disso∣nant to the miserable condition of sinful man. Had our Apostle called on the blessed Angels to rejoice, who have neither sin, nor sorrow, nor fear, nor suf∣ferings, nor enemies to annoy them, it might have seemed far more congruous: But what is it less then a Paradox to perswade poor creatures, loaded with guilt, defiled with corruption, cloathed with infir∣mities, Page 2 assaulted with temptations, hated, persecu∣ted, afflicted by Satan and the world, compassed a∣bout with dangers and sorrows,*born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward, that notwithstanding all this, they may rejoice, and rejoice alway? But we have a dou∣ble corrective to all these doubts in the Text, one in the Object, another in the Preacher of this Joy. The object of it is Christ the Lord, as appears by the same thing twice before mentioned, cap. 3. 1. 3 The Lord that pardoneth our guilt, subdueth our lusts, healeth our infirmities, rebuketh our tempta∣tions, vanquisheth our enemies, sweetneth our suf¦ferings, heightneth our consolations above our affli∣ctions, and at last wipeth all tears from our eyes.* Here is matter of great joy, may we be satisfied in the truth of it: And for that we have the word of an A∣postle, who gives assurance of it by Divine Revelati¦on, and by personal experience. He who next to the Lord himself,* was of all his servants, a man of sorrow, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in perils, in deaths, in weariness, in watchings, in hun∣ger, in thirst, in cold, in nakedness, beaten with rods, stoned with stones; shipwrackt at Sea, beset at Land; he who in the prison, the inner prison,a the stocks (a kind of case of prisons one within ano∣ther) did yetb rejoice and sing Psalms unto God, Acts 16. 24, 25. He it is, who from the Lord cal¦leth upon Believers to rejoice alway. Instead then of a Paradox, you have here a Paradice, a Tree of life, as joy is called Prov. 13. 12. And the servants of God may securely, notwithstanding their sorrow Page 3 for sin, their sense of sufferings, their certainty of temptations, their conflicts with enemies, their sym∣pathy with brethren, may yet I say securely rejoice, and rejoice alway, they have the Lord to warrant it, they have his Apostle to witness it. Let world∣lings delight in sensual pleasures, Let false Apostles delight in carnal worship, and ceremonial priviledg∣es; but you my brethren have another kind of ob∣ject to fix your joies upon; Rejoice in the Lord, and again rejoice, and rejoice alway; and that upon the word and credit of an Apostle, I say it, and I say it again.
There are many particulars couched in the words; 1. The Subject of them, spiritual joy, or an holy exul∣tation of soul in the Lord, as the most beloved, de∣sired supreme good, wrought in it by the spirit of grace, rendring Christ by faith, present unto it; whereby it is not only supported under all afflictions, but enabled to glory in them, and to triumph over them. 2. The difficulty of this joy intimated, in that believers are so often invited unto it 3. The sureness and the greatness of it, noted in the dou∣bling of the words. 4. The stability and perpetuity of it, They may rejoice alway in the midst of their sorest fears or distresses. 5. The object of it, a glorious and replenishing object, Christ the Lord. 6. The Apostolical attestation given unto it, Again I say, rejoice; I speak it by Commission from the mouth of Christ, requiring it; I speak it by the experience of mine own heart, enjoying it in the midst of all my sufferings: So you have both a mandatum and a probatum for it; Rejoice in the Page 4 Lord alway; and again I say rejoice. But because I love not to mince and crumble the bread of life into too many particulars, I shall therefore comprize all in this one Proposition (which I shall make the subject of my present service.
That the Lord Jesus is the great, sure, and perpe∣tual joy of his own people.
By accident, unto wicked and impenitent sinners, he is a stumbling block, as wholsom meat is offensive to sick stomacks, and the light of the Sun unto dis∣tempered eyes; but unto those that believe, he is altogether lovely,* pretious, and desireable. Abra∣ham rejoiced to see his day, Iohn 8 56. Mary rejoi∣ced more that he was her Saviour, then her son, Luke 1. 47. Simeon embraced him with a Nunc di∣mittis, Luke 2. 28. Mathew made a great Feast to receive him, Luk 5. 29. Zacheus entertained him at his house joifully, Luke 19. 6. The Eunuch as soon as he knew him, went on his way rejoicing, Acts 8. 39. The Jailor, who even now was ready to have killed himself; when Christ was preached unto him, rejoiced and believed Acts 16. 34. Christ is the author of our joy; he calleth it his joy, Iohn 15. 11. It is the work and fruit of his spirit, Gal. 5. 22. and he is the object of our joy, it is fixed and termi∣nated on him, as on the most commensurable mat∣ter thereof, Phil. 3. 3.
There are many things belonging unto the ob∣ject of a full and compleat joy. 1. It must be good in it self, and unto us. 2. That good must have se∣veral qualificatious to heighten it to that pitch Page 5 and proportion which the joy of the heart may fix on.
1. It must be a Good present,a in the view and possession of him whom it delighteth: Good absent is the object of desire, good present, of delight. It is true,b a man may rejoice at some good that is past, as that he did at such a time escape a danger, or receive a benefit; but then the memory makes it as it were present, and the fruit of that past good is some way or other still remaining. Also a man may rejoice in a good to come, as Abraham rejoiced to see Christs day. Iohn 8. 56. and believers rejoice in the hope of glory, Rom. 5. 2. but then faith gives a kind of subsistence to the things so hoped for, Heb. 11. 1. and the vertue and benefit of them is in being, though they themselves be but yet in hope, and so in regard of efficacy, Christ was a Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, though not actually slain before the fulness of time: So still the most proper ground of delight is fruition, which presupposeth the presence of the thing enjoied.
2. It must be good pretious which hath some spe∣cial value belonging unto it. We read of the joy of harvest, Isa. 9. 3. because men then reap the pre∣tious things of the earth, as they are called, Deut. 33. 14, 16. Iam. 5. 7. It was not an ordinary thing, but a treasure, a pearl of great price, which made the Merchant-man sell all that he had to buy it,*Mat. 13. 44. 46.
3. It must be a full good, sufficient and through∣ly proportionable to all the desires and exigencies of him that is delighted with it: Bring the richest Page 6 pearl to a man under some sore fit of gout or stone, he cries, groans, sweats, is in pain still: The object, though good, though pretious, yet is not suitable to his present condition; in that case he takes more pleasure in an anodine medicine, then in a rich Jewel. It would be little good news to such a man, to tell him that his kidnies or his bladder were full of pearls or diamonds, because there they would not be his treasure, but his torment.
4. It must be a Pure good, without any dregs or dross to abate the sweetness of it: All earthly de∣lights are bitter-sweets, wine tainted by the vessel, which brings a loathing along with it;* the best corn hath its chaff, the richest wine its lees, the sweetest oyle its dregs, the sun it self its spots; no∣thing of meer creatures can cause an unmixed joy, free from all tang and tincture of the vessel, from whence it proceeds: And any one defect may corrupt all the content which the rest mini∣streth as a dead fly will spoile the whole pot of oynt∣ment.*
5. It must bearare, wonderful, glorious; the com∣monness even of good things, takes from the love∣liness of them. If diamonds were as plentiful as pebles, or gold as iron, they would be as little e∣steemed; if there were but one balsom or drug in the world that would cure any mortal disease, a man would value the monopoly of that above the richest Jewel. Because the Pool of Bethesda had a rare healing vertue, multitudes of impotent, blind, halt, withered, were waiting continually for the moving of it, John 5 2, 3.
Page 7 6. It must be various,* like the holy anoynting oyle, compounded of many principal spices, Exod. 30 23-25. in rich hangings in choice gardens, in great feasts, in select libraries, variety is that which great∣ly delighteth the spectators: were a table filled with one and the same dish, or a study with the same book, or a garden with the same flowre, it would wholly take away from the delight of it. And this varie∣ty is then much more delightful, when each parti∣cular good doth answer some particular defect, or desire in him that enjoyeth it; when it is as a rich Storehouse, as the Shop of the Apothecary, or as a Physick Garden, wherein a man may in any distem∣per fix on some thing proper to help him.
7. It must be a prevalent and soveraign good,* a most efficacious catholicon against evils. Victory e∣ven in trifles, where no evil is to be removed, as in bowling or shooting, is that which makes the plea∣sure in those games; much more delightful must that needs be, which can help a man to overcome all the evils and enemies that assault him; no joy to the joy of a triumph when men divide the spoils.* In this case Iehosaphat and his people came to Ierusa∣lem with Psalteries, Harps, and Trumpets, to the house of God, rejoicing over their enemies, 2 Cron. 20. 25, 20.
8. It must be a perpetual good,* commensurate in duration to the soul that is to be satisfied with it; they are but poor and lying delights, which like Ior∣dan, empty all their sweetness into a stinking and sulphurious lake. True comfort is a growing thing, which never bends to a declination. That man will Page 8 find little pleasure in his expedition, whose voyage is for a year, and his victual but for a day, who sets out for eternity with the pleasures and contents of nothing but mortality. Such are all natural, sensu∣al, secular, sinful joies. As the sheep feeds on the grass,* and then the owner feeds on him, so poor sin∣ners feed awhile on dead comforts, and then death at last feeds on them, Psal. 49. 14.
Lastly, That which crowns and consummates all, is, it must be our own proper good; all the rest with∣out this, signifie nothing unto us. A begger feels not the joy of another mans wealth, nor a cripple of another mans strength; the prisoner that is leading to death, hath no comfort in the pardon which is brought to another malefactor. As every man must live by his own faith, so every man must have his rejoicing in himself, and not in another, Gal. 6. 4.
Now then let us consider the Apostle and High-Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, and we shall find him alone in every one of these particulars, to be a most adequate object of the joy and delight of all his people.
1. He is a Good ever more present with them; I am with you alway, Mat. 28. 20. though bodily absent, and that for the expediency and comfort of his servants, Iohn 16. 7. yet in his Ordinances, and by his Spirit ever amongst them; You shall see me (saith he to his Disciples) because I go to my Father, Iohn 16. 16. whereby is not only intimated his pur∣pose of appearing unto them before his ascension, but with all the full manifestation of himself unto them, when he was gon, by sending the holy spirit, per Page 9 cujus vicariam vim,* his bodily absence should be a∣bundantly compensated. By that spirit his people are joined unto him, as the feet below to the head a∣bove, 1 Cor. 6. 17. by that spirit in the Gospel he Preacheth peace unto them, Eph. 2. 17. and is evi∣dently set forth before them, Gal. 3. 1. by that spirit he dwelleth in them, Eph. 3. 17. manifests himself unto them, makes his aboad with them, Iohn 14 20-23. Rev. 3. 20. walks in the midst of them, as in his house and Temple, 2 Cor. 6. 16. is more present with them then any good thing they have besides. Some things are present with us, in our eye, in our possession, yet still without us, as Goods, or Friends; some things more intimate, but yet sepa∣rable from us, as health, strength, our soul it self; but Christ is not only with us, but in us, Col. 1. 27. not only in us, but inseparably abiding with us, Rom. 8. 38, 39. As in the Hypostatical union there is an inseparable conjunction of the manhood to the God∣head in one person: so in the mystical union, there is an inseparable conjunction of the members to the head in one Church or body.
2. He is not an ordinary common good; which if a man want, he may compensate by some other thing; but a Treasure and Pearl of highest price, in whom are unsearchable riches, Eph 3. 8. Hidden treasures, Col. 2. 3. in comparison of whom, all o∣ther things are loss and dung, Phil. 3. 7, 8. most pre∣cious in the eyes of his people, 1 Pet. 2. 7. precious in his own immediate excellencies,*the chiefest of ten thousand, Cant. 5. 10-16. precious in the respects he bears towards us; in the sweet and intimate relati∣onsPage 10 of an Husband,* an Head, a Saviour, a Brother, a Father, a Friend, a Surety, a Mediator, a Propiti∣ation, an Advocate, Pretious in the great things he hath done for us, in the rich supplies of grace and peace he doth bestow upon us, in the high dignity whereunto he advanceth us, John 1. 12. 1 Iohn 3. 1. Rom. 8. 15, 16. in the great promises he makes unto us, 2 Pet. 1. 2, 3, 4. in the glorious hope which he sets before us, and blessed mansions which he prepareth for us, Col. 1. 27. Iohn 14. 2. in the light of his countenance shining on us, in the fruits of his spirit wrought in us, in the present life of faith, in the hidden life of glory,* in the great price he paid for us, in the great care which he takes of us, in the effusi∣ons and manifestations of the love of God unto us: In the Seals, Pleadges, Testimonies, first-fruits of our eternal inheritance, which he is pleased by his spirit to shead forth upon us, in the free and open way which he hath made for us unto the Throne of grace; in these, and many other the like, is the Lord Christ more honorable and precious in the eyes of his peo∣ple, then a thousand worlds could be without him.
3. He is not only a most present, and a most precious good, but full and sufficient for his people; He ascended on high that he might fill all things, Eph. 4. 10. that he might powre forth such abun∣dance of spirit on his Church, as might answer all the conditions whereunto they may be reduced: Righteousness enough to cover all their sins, plenty enough to supply all their wants, grace enough to subdue all their lusts, wisdom enough to resolve all their doubts, power enough to vanquish all their ene∣mies, Page 11 vertue enough to cure all their diseases, ful∣ness enough to save them, and that to the uttermost, all other good things below, and without him, have a finit and limited benignity. Some can cloath, but cannot feed; others can nourish, but they can∣not heal; others can enrich, but they cannot secure; others adorn,* but cannot advance; all do serve, but none do satisfie: They are like a beggers coat made up of many pieces, not all enough either to beautifie or defend; but there is in Christ something propor∣tionable to all the wants and desires of his people. He is Bread, wine, milk, living-water to feed them, Iohn 6. 51. 7. 37. he is a garment of righteousness to cover and adorn them, Rom. 13. 14. a Physician to heal them, Mat. 9. 12. a Counseller to advise them, Isa 9. 6. a Captain to defend them, Heb. 2. 10. a Prince to rule, a Prophet to teach, a Priest to make attonement for them, an Husband to protect, a Fa∣ther to provide, a Brother to relieve, a Foundation to support, a Root to quicken, an Head to guide, a Treasure to enrich, a Sun to enlighten, a Fountain to cleanse. As the one Ocean hath more waters then all the Rivers in the world, and one Sun more light then all the Luminaries in heaven; so one Christ is more All to a poor soul, then if it had the All of the whole world a thousand times over.
4. He is a most pure good without any mixture of dross, or bitterness to abate or corrupt the excellen∣cy of it; A Lamb without spot and blemish, 1 Pet. 1. 19. He did no sin, no guile was found in his mouth, 1 Pet. 2. 22: Holy, harmless, undefiled, Heb. 7. 26. Never any believer found any thing in him, for the Page 12 which to repent of making choice of him; as holy Polycarp said,* I have served him these eightysix years, and he never did me any hurt; even the se∣verest things of Christ are matter of joy unto his servants: If he make them sorrowful, their sorrow is turned into joy, Iohn 16. 20. his very yoke is easie, his burden light, his Commandments not grievous, nay his very cross and afflictions, matter of choice, of joy,* of gloriation, of triumph, Heb. 11. 25, 26. Acts 5. 41. Rom. 5. 3. Rom. 8. 37. It was an heroi∣cal speech of Luther, Malo ego cum Christo ruere quam cum Caesare stare; I had rather fall with Christ, then stand with Caesar. And if his sufferings are so sweet, O then how glorious are his consolations?
5. He is the rarest good in the world; his whole name is Wonderfull, Isa. 9. 6. his whole dispensation mysterious, 1 Tim. 3. 16. the invisible God mani∣fested, a Son born of a Virgin, the Law-giver made under the Law, the Lord of Glory, who thought it no robbery to be equal with God, humbled, empti∣ed, in the form of a servant, reckoned amongst transgressors, without form or comeliness, rejected, despised, put to shame, a man of sorrows; a dead man raised by his own power, and advanced to the Throne of God; these, and all the particulars, Christ crucified, are things so profound and un∣searchable, that the very Angels desire to look into them with wonder and astonishment, 1 Pet. 1. 12. The best and most excellent things God hath made single, one Sun in the Firmament, one Tree of Life in Paradice, one heart, one head in the body: So to us there is but one Lord Iesus Christ, by whom Page 13 are all things, and we by him. He the alone living, elect, pretious, chief corner stone, no other name un∣der heaven given amongst men whereby we must be saved, Acts 4. 11, 12.
6. As a rare good, so full of exquisite and copious variety, wisdom, righteousnesse, sanctification, re∣demption. It pleased the Father, that in him all ful∣nesse should dwel, Col. 1. 19. In him he hath made known unto Principalities and Powers, the mani∣fold wisdom of God, Eph. 3 10. As the curious Ephod in the Law was made of Gold, blew, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linnen; and the breast-plate set with twelve curious pretious stones: So Christ, the substance of those types, was filled with the spi∣rit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, know∣ledge, and the fear of God; Isa. 11. 2. and that a∣bove measure; Iohn 3. 34. That there might be e∣nough in him to answer all the desires and delights of his people: Wisdom to teach; righteousness to justifie, grace to renew, power to defend, peace to comfort, life to quicken, glory to save them; se∣ven eyes upon one stone.
7. He is a most prevailing and victorious good, stronger then the strong man, Luke 11. 22: casting out, and judging the Prince of the world, Iohn 12. 31. 16, 11. abolishing death, 2 Tim. 1. 10. taking a∣way sin, destroying the works of the Devil, 1 John 3. 3. and overcoming the world and the lusts there∣of, John 16. 33. treading all his Churches enemies under his and their feet, 1 Cor. 15, 15. triumphing openly over them in his cross before God and An∣gels, Col. 2. 15. ascending up on high, and leading captivity captive, Ephes. 4. 8.
Page 14 1. By a way of wisdom catching Satan by the hook of his divine power, hidden under the infir∣mities of his human nature.
2. By a way of Judgement, condemning him for shedding the innocent bloud of the Son of God.*
3. By a way of Power vanquishing him, and cast∣ing him out of the possession which he had purchast.
8. He is a perpetual and durable good: Death hath no more dominion over him, Rom. 6. 9. He e∣ver lives to make intercession, Heb. 7. 25. there is an Oath, an Amen upon the perpetuity of the life and Priesthood of Christ, Psal. 110. 4. Rev. 1. 18. Be∣hold, I am alive for evermore, Amen: And he lives not only for ever in his person, but he is for ever the life portion, and blessedness of his people. Because he lives, they live, John 14. 19. they shall appear with him, they shall be like unto him: As he is sate on his Fathers Throne, so shall they sit on his Throne, never to be degraded.
Lastly, He is the proper good of his own people: He hath not only given himself unto God for them, as their Sacrifice, but he hath given himself likewise unto them, as their Portion. He is theirs, and they his, Cant. 6. 3. They his, by a dear purchase, and he theirs by a sweet communion: They are said to have him, John 5. 12. as a man hath his most pecu∣liar possession; his name is, The Lord our righte∣ousness, Jer. 23. 6. he is made unto us of God, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor. 1. 30. he is more ours then we are our own, we have and possess infinitely more in him then in our selves; defective in our selves, com∣pleat Page 15 in him; weak in our selves, strong in him; dead in our selves, alive in him; miserable in our¦selves, blessed in him; mutable in our selves, esta∣blished in him. Thus we see there is nothing ne∣cessary to the compleating of an object of joy, which is not fully to be found in Christ.
Unto these grounds of joy drawn from the nature of delectable objects, I shall add a few more menti∣oned by the Prophet Zachary, Chap. 9. 9, 10. drawn from the Royal Office of Christ; Rejoice greatly O daughter of Sion, shout O daughter of Ie∣rusalem, behold thy King cometh unto thee, he is just, and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon an ass, &c.
1. He is a King, thy King, the promised Messiah, in whom all blessings were to be made good unto Is∣rael. They had been servants under strange Lords, Nehem. 9. 36, 37. and so had we: The Prince and God of this world had the first possession of us, Eph. 2. 2. But they were to have a King of their own from among their brethren, Deut. 17. 15. Their Governor was to proceed from the midst of them, Ier. 30. 21. And this must needs be matter of great joy; That whereas oppressors did pass through them before v. 8. the King now promised them should be a near kinsman should not be asham∣ed to call them brethren, Heb. 2. 11. The shout of a King should be amongst them, who should have the strength of an Unicorn, able to break the bones of his enemies, Numb. 23. 21, 22.
2. His approach, He cometh: When Solomon, a type of Christ, was made King, they did eat and Page 16 drink with great gladness before the Lord,* 1 Chron. 29. 22. At such solemn Inaugurations, the Trum∣pets sound, the people shout, the Conduits run Wine, honours are dispenced, gifts distributed, prisons opened, offenders pardoned, Acts of grace published, nothing suffered to eclipse the beauty of such a Festivity. Thus it was at the coming of Christ: Wise men of the East bring presents unto him, rejoicing with exceeding great joy, Mat. 2 10, 11. The glory of God shines on that day, and an heavenly Hoast proclaim the joy, Luke 2. 9, 14 Iohn Baptist leapeth in the womb, Mary rejoiceth in God her Saviour, Zachary glorifieth God for the horn of salvation in the house of David; Simeon and Hanna bless the Lord for the glory of Israel: And after when he came to Ierusalem, the whole multitude spread garments, strewed branches, cried before him and behind him, Hosanna to the son of David, Hosanna in the highest, Mat. 21. 9. And the Psalmist Prophecying long before of it, said, This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it, Psal. 118. 24.
3. His Character: 1. He is Iust. And this is the great joy of his people, Isa. 9. 3. 7. especially being such a King as is not only just himself, but maketh others just likewise: In the Lord shall the seed of Is∣rael be justified and glory, Isa. 45. 25. Sin pardoned, guilt covered, death vanquished, conscience pacified God reconciled, must needs be a glorious ground of joy and peace unto believers, Rom. 5. 1, 2. Luke 10. 20.
But a Prince may be just himself, and yet not able Page 17 to deliver his people from the injustice of enemies that are stronger then he, as Iehosaphat said, We have no might against this great company, 2 Cron. 20. 12. Therefore 2. Our King here hath salvation, is able to save himself and his people from their ene∣mies, and that to the uttermost, Heb. 7. 25. It was his Name, his Office, the end why he was sent, why he was exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, Acts 5. 31. 1 Iohn 4. 14. And this surely matter of great joy. It is an Angelical Argument, I bring you ti∣dings of great joy which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savi∣our, which is Christ the Lord, Luke 2. 10, 11.
But Princes possibly, the more powerful and vi∣ctorious they are, may be likewise the more stately; it is not altogether unusual with men where they do much good, to be supercilious and haughty towards those to whom they doe it: But loe here, 3. A Prince great in honor, righteous in peace, valiant in war; and yet humble and lowly still: So lowly as to minister to his own servants, and to wash their feet, Iohn 13. 14. as to be an example of meekness unto them, Mat. 11. 29. The meanest of his people have access unto him, may present their wants be∣fore him; nay he staies not for them, he comes to seek, as well as to save, calls on us, stands and knocks at our dores, waits that he may be gracious; bears with us in our failings, expects us in our delaies, for∣gives our wandrings,* praies us to be reconciled to God, Luke 19. 10. Isa. 13. 18. Rev. 3. 20. Now there is nothing more rejoiceth the hearts of a peo∣ple, then the mildness, gentleness, and clemency of Page 18 their Prince, whence, when his heart is not haughty, nor his eyes lofty, as David said of himself, Psal. 13. 1. when he is as a servant to his people, and speak∣eth good words unto them, as the old men advised Rehoboam, 1 Reg. 12. 7.
But a Prince may have a righteous heart, a vali∣ant hand, a meek temper, and yet do the less good by a natural slowness and indisposedness to actiona; there is nothing more acceptable to the people, and necessary for the Prince, then vigour and di∣spatch in works of Justice and prowesse. Therefore, 4, Our King is here set forth riding: He did alwaies go about doing of good, made it his meat and drink to do his Fathers work: And here, when it seem∣ed most reasonable for him to have drawn back and spared himself, when he was to be crucified, he shews his cheerfulness in that service, by riding to Jerusalem about it, which we read not that he did upon any other occasion: He did earnestly desire that Passover, he did severely rebuke Peter when he disswaded him from that work, he did express his singular readiness to become a sacrifice; Loe I come, I delight to do thy will O God; yea thy Law is with∣in mine heart, Psal. 40. 7, 8. And though in his ago∣ny he did earnestly desire that the cup might pass from him, yet those groans of his nature under it, did greatly set forth the submission and willingness of his love to undergo it. Now this is a further ground of great joy to a people, when all other Princely endowments in their Soveraign, are vigo∣rously acted and improved for their safety and pro∣tection; Page 19 when they see him deny himself in his own ease and safety, that he may be ever doing good to them. We see what an high value the people set on David, Thou art worth ten thousand of us; and this the occasion; I will surely go forth with you my self, 2 Sam. 18. 2, 3.
But a Prince may have all the endowments requi∣site to render him amiable in the eies of his people, just and meek to them, valiant and active against their enemies, and yet faila of success in his under∣takings, and they consequently have the joy of his Government much abated; for, The Race is not al∣waies to the swift, nor the Battel to the strong: But it is otherwise with our King here. Therefore it is added, 5. He cuts the Chariot and the horse, and the battel-bow, he speaks peace to his people, he ex∣tends his Dominion from Sea to Sea, from the River to the ends of the earth; he rides on in his Majesty prosperously, the people fall under him, Psal. 45. 4, 5. He goes forth conquering, and to conquer, Rev. 6. 2. he takes from the strong man all his armor, and divides the spoil, Luke 11. 22. Isa. 53. 12. he ne∣ver fails of full and final victory, reigns till all ene∣mies are put under his feet, 1 Cor. 15. 24, 25. And this is the Crown of his Peoples Joy, That they have not only a just, a valiant, an humble, an active, but a prosperous and successfull Prince, making his people rejoice in the spoils of their enemies, break∣ing the yoke of their burden, the staff of their shoul∣der, the rod of their oppressor, extending peace to them like a River, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream, causing them to put their feet on Page 20 the necks of their adversaries. Thus, many waies are the people of Christ encouraged to rejoice in him.
This then serveth, 1. To reprove the sin and folly of all those who seek for joy out of the broken Ci∣sterns of the Creatures, which can hold none, and leave that living fountain out of which it naturally floweth. Some seek it in secular wealth and great∣ness, others in sensual pleasures, feasting, gaming, luxury, excess; some in Titles of Honor, others in variety of knowledge, some in stately Structures, magnificent retinue, goodly provisions; others in low, sordid, and bruitish lusts. Unto all whom we may say as the Angel unto the women, Luke 24. 5. Why seek ye the living amongst the dead; or as Sa∣muel did unto Saul, Set not thy mind upon the Asses, there are nobler things to fix thy desires upon. So∣lomon had more variety this way, and more wisdom to improve it, then any now have; and he made it his business critically and curiously to examin all the creatures, and to find out all the good which was un∣der the Sun. And the product and result of all his enquiries, amounted at last to a total made up all of Cyphers, of meer wind and emptiness, Vanity of va∣nities, vanity of vanities, all is vanity: So he be∣gins his book; and to shew that he was not mista∣ken, so he concludes it, Eccles. 1. & 12. Every par∣ticular vanity alone, and all in a mass and collection, vanity together, enough to vex the soul, enough to weary it; but never enough to fill it, or to suffice it: Many of them sinfull delights, poisoned cordi∣alls, killing, cursing, damning joies; dropping as Page 21 an honey-comb, smooth as oyle, but going down to death, and taking hold of hel, Prov. 5. 35. All of them empty delights, in their matter and expectati∣on earthly; in their acqnisition painful, in their fruition nauseous and cloying, in their duration dy∣ing and perishing; in their operation hardning, effe∣minating, levening, puffing up, estranging the heart from God; in their consequences seconded with anxiety, solicitude, fear, sorrow, despair, disappoint∣ment, in their measure shorter then that a man can stretch himself on, narrower then that a man can wrap himself in; every way defective and d•spro∣portionable to the vast and spatious capacity of the soul, as unable to fill that, as the light of a candle to give day to the world. What ever delights men take pleasure in leaving Christ out, are but as the wine of a condemned man; as the feast of him who sate under a naked sword, hanging over him by a slender thread; as Adams forbidden fruit second∣ed by a flaming sword, as Belshazars dainties with an hand-writing against the wall, In the midst of all such joy, the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviniss,*Prov. 14. 12. Like a flame of stubble, or a flash of gun-powder, Claro strepitu, lar∣go fulgore, cito incremento: sed enim materia levi, caduco incendio, nullis reliquiis. A sodain and fla∣ming blaze which endeth in smoak and stink. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment, Iob. 20. 5. Like the Roman Saturnalia,* wherein the servants feasted for two or three daies, and then returned to their low condition again.
Page 22 2. This discovereth the great sin and folly of those who take offence at Christ; and when others entertain him with Hosanna and acclamations, are displeased at him, as the Scribes, Mat. 21. 15. and with the yong man in the Gospel, go away sorrowful from him, Mark 10. 22. Our Saviour pronounceth them blessed, who are not offended with him, Mat. 11. 6. thereby intimating the misery of those, who stumbling at him, as a rock of offence, are thereupon disobedient unto his word. Christ doth not give any just cause of offence unto any; but there are many things belonging unto Christ, which the proud and corrupt hearts of men do turn into mat∣ter of grief and offence unto themselves.
1. Some are offended at his Person, in whom the Godhead and Manhood are united, as the Jews, John 1. •. 33. & the Samosatenians, Photinians, and Neophotinians since; who though the Lord in his Word call him the Miphty God, Isa. 9. 6. tell us that the Word was God, John 1. 1. God blessed for ever, Rom 9. 5. Equal with God, Phil. 2. 6. The true God, 1 John 5. 20. The Great God. Tit. 2. 13. a God whose Throne is for ever and ever, Heb. 1. 8. The Lord who in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, v. 10. Iehovah our righteousness, Jer. 23. 6. yet will not endure to have him any more then a meer man, without any personality or real subsistence, till he was born into the world of the Virgin Mary. It would be tedious to trouble you with the manifold offence which ancient and modern Hereticks have taken at the Person, Nature and Hypostatical uni∣on in Christ. TheaSabellians acknowledging three Page 23 names of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but onely one Hypostasi. ThebArians affirming him to have been of like essence with the Father, but not co∣essential, nor coeternal, but a meer creature. The cManichees denying the truth of his humane na∣ture. ThedApollinarians the integrity of it. The eValentines and Mareionites, the original of it from the blessed Virgin. The Nestorians affirming a plurality of persons, as well as of natures. The fEuthychians, a confusion of natures in one person. So mightily hath Satan bestirred himself by many and quite contrary instruments to plunder the Church (if it had been possible) of the Lord their Righteousness.
2. Others are offended at his Cross, both Iews and Greeks, 1 Cor. 1. 23. Those pitching in their expectations upon a glorious Prince, who should free them from the Roman yoke, could not endure to be so disappointed, as in the stead thereof to have a crucified man, one in the form of a servant to be their Messiah; and therefore whosoever rule over them, he shall not, Luke 19. 4. These, judging it a foolish thing to expect life from a dead man, glory and blessedness from one who did not keep himself from shame and curse, hearing doctrines wholly dissonant and inconsistent with the principles they had been prepossessed withal, did thereupon refuse to submit to Christ; who notwithstanding, to them which are called, was the power of God, and the wisdom of God; had more power then that which the Jews require, more wisdom then that which the Greeks sought after. The Cross of Christ, like∣wise Page 24 to be taken up by his Disciples and followers, is matter of offence unto many others, called the offence of the Cross, Gal. 5. 11. When they hear that they must suffer with him, if they will reign with him; that through many tribulations they must enter into the Kingdom of God; that affliction is an appendix to the Gospel, and find the truth of it by experience (persecution arising because of the word) then presently they are offended, Matth. 13. 21.
3. Others are offended at the Free-grace of Christ, cannot endure to be shut out from all share and causality towards their own salvation. Thus the Iews not willing to seek righteousness by faith in Christ, but as it were by the works of the Lavv, stumbled at that stumbling stone,* Rom. 9. 32, 33. Men would fain owe some of the thank for their salvation to themselves, to their own will, their own work, their consenting to Christ, their not resisting of him, their co-operating with him, their works of condignity and congruity disposing them towards him; they like not to hear of discriminating grace. But when men have used all the Arts and Argu∣ments they can to have the efficacy of divine grace unto conversion,* within the power or reach of their own will; yet still this will be Scripture, That it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure, Phil. 2 13. That it is God who maketh us to differ, 1 Cor. 4. 7. that he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, Rom 9. 15. that his grace is his own, to dispose of as he wil, Mat. 20. 15. 1 Cor. 12. 21. That the purpose of God according to election shal stand; not Page 25 of works, but of him that calleth, Rom. 9. 11. That by grace we are saved, through faith, and that not of our selves, Ep. 2. 8. That it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy, Rom. 9. 16. That Gods divine power gives us things pertaining to life & godliness, 2 Pet. 1 3. That there is an exceeding greatness of his power, towards those that believe the working of the might of his power, Ephes. 1. 19. That the Lords people are willing in the day of his power, Psal. 110. 3. So then our wil∣lingness is the work of his power the efficacy of his power is not suspended upon our will; we will, be∣cause he effectually works; he doth not work ef∣fectually, and with success, because we will.
4. Others are offended at the Doctrine of Christ, they are not able to endure the things that are spo∣ken by him.
1. Some at the sublimity of it, as being above the disquisition of Reason, the Philosophers mocked at the Doctrine of the Resurrection,*Acts 17. 32. Julian scorned Christians, as yield∣ing up their souls captive to a blinde belief; pride of Reason disdaining to admit any thing beyond its own comprehension, hath been the cause of that offence which many have taken at Evangelical Do∣ctrine, The Deity of Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the Hypostatical union, traduction of sin, impu∣tation of righteousness, &c. It hath been noted by learned men,* that the Eastern Nations by reason of the pride and curiosity of their wits, have been most troubled with horrid and prodigious herefies. And it hath been regularis Haereticorum temeritas, the Page 26 constant presumption of heretical spirits, to oppose sound believers, as unskilful and illiterate persons, with the name and pretence of Reason.
2. Some at the simplicity of it: The doctrine of the Cross was esteemed foolishness by the Gran∣dees of the world,* partly because delivered with∣out the enticing words of mans wisdom, 1 Cor. 2. 4. partly because the things were such as pride and lust judged unreasonable to stoop to. Christian do∣ctrine is above reason natural, against reason sinful.
3. Some at the Sanctity and severity of it. When it teacheth Self-denial,* pulling out the right eye, cutting off the right hand, taking up a cross, fol∣lowing Christ without the Camp, hating and for∣saking all for him, walking in the narrow way, having our conversations and affections in heaven, mortify∣ing our lusts, loving our enemies, wrestling against Principalities and powers, praying always, abstain∣ing from all appearance of evil, exercising our selves in a good conscience toward God and men, living without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked generati∣on, walking circumspectly, setting the Lord al∣way before us, chusing the reproaches of Christ, rather then the pleasures of sin, or honors of the world. When sensual and earthly minded men are held close by such Doctrines as these, they con∣clude with the men of Capernaum, This is an hard saying, who can hear it? John 6. 60.
Now the greatness of this sin appears by the o∣ther dangerous sins that are folded in it: for it plain∣ly implyeth;
1. Unthankfulness for Christ, and undervaluingPage 27 of him; for did we apprehend him (as in truth he is) exceeding pretious, no such slender prejudices would cause us to take offence at him. There is no∣thing in him which is not lovely to believers; those very things at which wicked men stumble, are to them amiable.* As that Odour which is deadly to a Vultur, is comfortable to a Dove; as the same water of jealousie, in case of an innocent woman, did cause to conceive, which, in case of guilt, did cause the belly to swell, and the thigh to rot, Num. 5. 27, 28.
2. It noteth love of sin, and senselesness under it; for were men truly affected with the danger of that, they would not be offended at the bitterness of the medicine that removes it. Had the young mans affections been looser from his possessions, they would have cleaved closer unto Christ.† An adul∣terous heart doth many times take more pleasure in an unhandsome harlot, then in a beautiful wife. Unbelief in Christ ever proceeds from the predo∣minancy of some other love, Iohn 12. 42, 43.
3. It noteth slight apprehensions of the wrath to come. The more the heart is possessed with the ter∣ror of wrath, the more it will value the Sanctuary which protecteth from it. No condemned man is offended at his pardon, by what hand soever it be brought unto him.
4. It noteth Hardness and contumacy in sin: no∣thing shuts out the voyce of Christ, but pride of heart, which will not submit to the law of faith, Heb. 3. 7. Rom. 10. 3.
5. It notes an unsavouriness of soul, which can∣not Page 28 rellish the things of God. As a bitter pallate tastes every thing bitter, so an impure heart knows not how to judge of things that are spiritually dis∣cerned, 1 Cor. 2. 14. Heb. 5. 13. makes even an im∣pure Scripture an impure Christ, an impure Reli∣gion. And this is indeed a right dangerous condi∣tion; for where Christ is not for the rising, he is for the fall of men; where his sweet favour is not re∣viving, it is deadly: That sickness, of all other, is most incureable, which rejecteth Cordials: no state so desperate, as that which thrusteth away salvati∣on from it, Acts 13. 46.
3. We should therefore be exhorted unto this so comfortable a duty, to stir up in our hearts that joy in Christ which the inestimable benefit of our high calling requireth of us. It is a comely thing for the righteous to rejoyce, Psalm 33. 1. Shall wicked men glory in that which is their shame, and shall not the righteous rejoyce in him who is their salvation? Shall he rejoyce over us to do us good, Ier. 32. 41. and rests in his love to us, Zeph. 3. 17. And shall not we rejoyce in him who is the chiefest of ten thousand? Are not all the objects of joy, which are scattered amongst the creatures, heaped up, and everlastingly treasured in him alone? Do we de∣light in wealth (as many will say, Who will shew us any good) behold here unsearchable riches, Ephes. 3. 8. Durable riches, Prov. 8. 18. without bounds, without bottom, without end. Do we delight in pleasure? Behold here rivers of pleasure that ne∣ver dry, pleasures for evermore that never vanish, Psalm 36. 8. and 16. 11. Do we delight in beauty?Page 29 He is fairer then the children of men, Psalm 45. 2. In sweet odours? All his garments smell of myrrh, alloes and cassia; he is perfumed with all the spices of the Merchant, Psalm 45. 8. Cant. 3. 6. In musick or elegant orations? His mouth is most sweet, alto∣gether lovely, grace is poured into his lips, Cant. 5. 16. In plentiful provision? behold here a feast of fat∣ted things, Isa, 25. 6 living water, John 4. 10. Bread of life, meat indeed, John 6. 51, 55. a Banquetting-house, with flagons, apples, fruits, Cant. 2. 3, 5, 7, 17. In stately buildings? Here is an Ivory Palace, whose beams are Cedar, whose galleries are cyprus, Ps. 45. 8. Cant. 1. 16. In profound learning? Here is know∣ledge that passeth knowledge,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Phil. 3. 8. the excellency of knowledge, knowledge that is life, Iohn 17. 3. In honor and dignity? Here is the Lord of Glory, honorable in himself, Phil. 3. 9. an honor to his people, 1 Pet. 2. 7. making them all Kings and Priests to God, Rev. 1. 6. In safety and security? This man is our peace, when the Assyrian is in the Land, Mic. 5. 5. He will cast out our enemies, he will undo those that afflictus, Zeph 3. 15, 19 In him the fulness of all delectable things; and that which makes all the more delightful, it is bonum pa∣rabile, though so superlatively precious, yet not to be purchased at a dear rate, set before us, offered unto us, without money, without price, Isaiah 55. 2. a gift, a free gift a gift of grace, a gift of righte∣ousness, Rom. 5. 15, 18. Well might the Psalmist bid us rejoyce, and exceedingly rejoyce, Psalm 68. 3. Well might the Prophet bid us sing, and shout, and rejoyce, and be glad with all the heart, Zeph. 3, 14. Page 30 Well might the Apostle call it, a joy unspeakable, and full of glory, 1 Pet. 1. 8. since the Lord Jesus is not onely the joy of Saints, Luke 19. 37, 38. but of blessed Angels, Luke 2. 13. yea of God himself. He is called the Lords delight, Prov. 8. 30. Surely then Gods people cannot but be fully agreed upon it to Rejoyce in him.
And how in him?
1. In his person and immediate excellencies, those glorious treasures of wisdom and grace wher∣with he is replenished, a spectacle of Angelical adoration, 1 Pet. 1. 12. Heb. 1. 6.
2. In his mediation, the great things he hath done, the great benefits he hath procured for us. God forbid (saith the Apostle) that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Iesus Christ, Gal. 6. 14.
3. In our knowledge of him, and communion with him in all those benefits; a knowledge, in com∣parison of which, the Apostle esteemed all other things as loss and dung, Phil. 3. 8.
4. In all the means which he hath appointed to bring men to this knowledge of him, and commu∣nion with him: In his Ordinances, which are his voyce speaking from heaven unto us, according to our estimation whereof, he accounteth himself re∣garded by us, Luke 10. 16. In his Ministers, to whom he hath committed the word of reconcilia∣tion, whom his people have received as Angels of God, Gal. 4. 14, 15. unto whom what respect, or disrespect is shewed, Christ looketh on as done unto himself, Mat. 10. 40, 41. And here I cannot but fol∣low the example of our Apostle towards these Page 31Philippians, Chap. 4. v. 10—14—19. & with joy and thankfulnness make mention of the zeal and Chri∣stian care of this Honorable City, both to provide a learned and faithful Ministery, and having such to speak comfortably unto them, as Hezekiah did, and to encourage them in the service of the Lord: And this your work of faith, and labour of love, is the more acceptable, in that it hath flourished in these loose times, wherein many unstable and se∣duced souls have been misled by the prophane im∣pulsions of such as bear evil will to the prosperity of our Sion, to load the Ministers of Christ, as the Jews did their Lord before them, with execra∣tions and reproaches. This your zeal hath been fa∣mous in all places at home, and I perswade my self in all the Churches of Christ abroad; and I doubt not but it will be a rejoycing and a crown unto you at the appearing of the Lord. And truly your Ho∣nor standeth not so much in your spacious City, in your goodly Structures, in your great River, in your numerous ships▪ in your wise Senate, in your full Treasures,* in your vast Trade, in your ancient Name (for you have been a most famous Emporium upon record, for above fifteen hundred years) all these are but thin and empty Elogies unto that one, Ezek. 44. 35. The name of the City shall be Iehovah Shammah, the Lord is there. This is, this will be your honor, if you be a City of truth, the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy Mountain, Zach. 8. 3. The Gospel is the riches of a Nation, Rom. 11. 12. obedience and wisdom the renown of a people, Deut. 4. 6. Go on therefore thus to rejoyce in Page 32 Christ, by honoring his Ordinances, by strengthen∣ing the hands, and comforting the hearts of his Mi∣nisters in his service, and the Lord will be with you, and men shall say of you, The Lord bless thee O ha∣bitation of justice, and mountain of holiness, Ier. 31. 22
5. Rejoice we in that work whereunto by these he cals us; as it was his joy to do his Fathers work, so it is the joy of believers to do his work, 2 Cor. 1. 12. they live not, they die not unto themselves, but unto him, Rom. 14. 7, 8.
6. In the graces he supplies us withall for the per∣formance of that work: Thus we read of the joy of faith, Phil. 1. 25. not only in regard of the good things it assureth unto us, but of the efficacy which it hath in us, inabling us to work by love.
7. In the light of his countenance shining on us, which is much better then life it self; Psal. 63. 3. We may all say unto him, as he said unto his Father, Acts 2. 28. Thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
8. In the hope of his glory: The spirit of adopti∣on is even now a glorious thing, John 1. 2. But it doth not yet appear what we shall be, only this he hath assured us of, That we shall be like unto him, shall see him as he is, shall appear with him in glory; shall sit upon his Throne, and be ever with him; 1 John 3 1, 2. Col. 3. 4. And this blessed hope, secured by the witness of the spirit (who is the seal and earnest of our eternal inheritance) filleth the hearts of belie∣vers with joy unspeakable and full of glory; while they look not on the things that are seen, but on the things that are not seen.
Page 33 9. In the fellowship of his sufferings, which though to sense they be matter of sorrow, yet unto faith are they matter of joy. When Gods servants consider, that unto these sufferings they were ap∣pointed, 1 Thes. 3. 3. That Christ owns them as his, Col. 1. 4. That they work for them a far more excee∣ding and eternal weight of glory, 2 Cor. 4. 17. That thereby the spirit of glory resteth on them, and that God himself is glorified in them: 1 Pet. 4. 14. In these respects they not only rejoice, but triumph as more then conquerors in all their afflictions, Acts 5. 41 Rom. 8. 37. Iam. 1. 2.
Thus are Believers to rejoice in Christ: And that, 1. Greatly, again and again. Other delights may please the senses, tickle the fancy; gratifie the reason; but there is no joy that can fill all the heart, but the joy of the Lord, Zeph. 3. 14.
2. Alway: Rejoice ever more, 1 Thes. 5. 16. all other joies have their periods and vacations, they flow and ebb, they blossom and wither: In a fit of sickness, in a pang of conscience, under a sentence of death, they are all as the white of an egg, with∣out any savor. But no condition is imaginable, wherein a conscionable believer hath not a foundati∣on of joy in Christ: This Tree of life hath fruit on it for every month, Rev. 21. 2. The comforter he sends abides with us for ever, Iohn 14. 16. The joy he gives, none can take away, Iohn 16. 22. Though Gods people have many causes of sorrow in them∣selves, strong corruptions, hard hearts, little strength, weak graces, many temptations; yet in Christ they have still matter of rejoicing; in the constancy of Page 34 his love, in the abundance of his pardoning mercy, in the fulness of his spirit, in the sufficiency of his grace, in the fidelity of his promise, in the validity of his purchase, in the vigilancy of his eye, in the readines of his help, in the perpetuity of his interces∣sion; we disparage so good a Lord, discredit his service, disquiet our selves, discourage others, grieve his spirit, expose his waies to prejudice & reproach, weaken our hands in his service and our hearts in his love, when we pine and languish under groundless perplexity, and waste that time which should be spent in his work, about our jealousies of his favor.
3. With trembling and holy reverence, Res seve∣ra est verum gaudium, without levity, without wan∣tonness, without presumption, without arrogance, Psal. 2. 11. So rejoice in him, as withall to fear to offend him, to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; even for this very reason, because he is so gracious as to give us both, to will and to do of his own good pleasure, Phil. 2. 12, 13.
4. With improvement of this joy: 1. Unto thankfulness for Christ, and any thing of Christ in our selves,* having tasted that the Lord is gracious, let us ever be speaking good of his name; though our measures are not so great as some other mens, yet we may not esteem any thing of salvation small, or little; it will grow unto perfection.
2. Unto more chearful service, the more we tri∣umph in his victory, the more we shall abound in his work, 1 Cor. 15. 57, 58. The joy of the Lord is our strength, Nehem. 8. 10. Return to thy rest, O my soul; there is Davids joy, I will walk before the Lord;Page 35 there is the work of that joy, Psal. 116. 8, 9. None are more fruitfull in his service, then they who are most joifull in his favor.
3. Unto consolation against any other evils, though we have not the wealth, health, gifts, imployments, honors that others have; yet if Christ have given us himself, his bloud to redeem us, his spirit to quicken us, his grace to renew us, his peace to com∣fort us; Should such consolations seem small unto us? Iob 15. 11. What wants are there which the joy of the Lord doth not compensate? What suf∣ferings are there which the joy of the Lord doth not swallow up? Would we exchange Christ if we might have all the world without him? And shall we be displeased if we have not all the world with him? Nay have we not in him all other things more emi∣nently, sweetly, purely, richly to enjoy, then in all the creatures besides? Fidelibus totus mundus di∣vitiarum est. Doth thy journey to heaven displease thee, because the way haply is deep and stony? ad∣mit it were a Carpit-way like Salisbury Plain, haply there thou wouldst loiter more, haply there thou wouldst be more assaulted, whereas in a deeper way thou art more careful of thy self, and more secure against thine enemies.
Lastly, unto a zealous provocation of others to come in and be partakers of the same joy. In times of festivity, men use to call their neighbours under their Vines and Fig-trees, Zach. 3. 10. The Lord Jesus is the feast of his servants, 1 Cor. 5. 7, 8. unto him therefore we should invite one another, as An∣drew did Simon, and Philip Nathaniel, Iohn 1. 41, 45. Page 36 Joy is of all affections the most communicative, it leaps out into the eyes, the feet, the tongue, staies not in one privat bosom, but as it is able, sheds it self abroad into the bosoms of many others.* It was not enough for David to express his own joy by dancing before the Ark; but he deals amongst all the people, cakes of bread, pieces of flesh, flagons of wine, that the whole multitude of Israel might re∣joice in the Ark of God as well as he, 2 Sam. 6. 14. 19. I shall shut up all with removing two obstacles which seem to stand in the way of this joy.
1. If I must alway rejoice, how then, or when, shall I sorrow for sin? I answer, These two doe sweetly consist. As the Passeover was a Feast, yet eaten with bitter hearbs, so Christ our Passeover may be feasted upon with a bitter sense of our own sins. As in the Spring many a sweet flowre falls, and yet the Sun shines all the while: So there may be sweet flowres of Godly sorrow, and the Sun of righteousness still shine on the soul. None do more mourn for offending Christ, then those who do most rejoice in the fruition of him.
2. But what shall we say of wounded and affli∣cted consciences, lying under the buffets of Satan, under divine desertions, sinking under temptation, and wrestling with the sense and fear of wrath, can these rejoice at all, much less always? It is true, when God hides his face, none can behold him, in such a shipwrack neither Sun nor Stars wil appear. But yet,
1. There is the matter and foundation of true joy, the seed of comfort Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart, Psa. 97. 11.
Page 37 2. These sorrows are many times preparations for more joy, as the sorrow of a travailing woman, Joh. 16. 20. black roots bear beautiful flowres: The Whale that swallowed Jonah, carried him to the shore. Dark colours make way to an overlay∣ing of gold. The more a stone is wounded by the hand of the engraver, the more beauty is superin∣duced upon it. Many times where the Lord intends most comfort, he doth usher it in with more sorrow; as the Angel first lamed Iacob, and then blessed him.
3. This very estate is far more elegible then the pleasures of sin, and therefore hath more delight in it. If you should ask an holy man in this case, you see how severely Christ deals with you: Will you not rather give over serving him, lamenting after him, languishing for want of him, and resume your wonted delights of sin again? What other answer would a good soul give, but as Christ to Peter, Get thee behind me Satan, thou art an offence unto me. Though there be little reason that he should comfort me, yet there is great reason that I should serve him. The wounds of Ghrist are better then the kisse of the world; it is much better being with a frowning fat••r, then with a flattering foe. The worst estate of a Saint is better then the best of a sinner, the bitterest Physick, then sweetest poyson. As in the midst of worldly laughter the heart is sorrowful; so in the midst of saddest Temptations, the soul still concludes, It is good for me to draw nigh to Christ. Let him deny me, let him delay me, let him desert me, let him destroy me, yet I will love him, and desire him still. As the blackest day is lighter Page 38 then the brightest night; so the saddest day of a believer is more joyous then the sweetest night of a wicked man.
We have thus considered the Lord Iesus as a pre∣sent, a precious, a full, a pure, a rare, a various, a victorious, a perpetual, a proper good of his people; a Prince adorned with justice, with salvation, with humility, with dispatch, with success and peace; We have shewed the folly of those who fix their delights upon empty creatures; the danger of those who are offended at the Person, the Cross, the Grace, the Do∣ctrine, the Sublimity, the Simplicity, the Sanctity of the ways of Christ. We have exhorted his ser∣vants to rejoyce in his Person, in his Mediation, in their knowledge of him, in the Ordinances and In∣struments he hath appointed to bring unto that knowledge, in the service whereunto he calls us, in the graces wherewith he supplies us, in the light of his countenance, in the hope of his glory, in the fellowship of his sufferings; to rejoyce in him ful∣ly, to rejoyce in him alway, to rejoyce with trembling, to improve this joy unto thankfulness for his bene∣fits, unto chearfulness in his service, unto Consola∣tion against all evil, unto the provocation of one another unto the same joy: Now the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope, through the power of the holy Ghost; that the peace of God which passeth all under∣standing, may rule in our hearts; that we may re∣joyce with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls. Page 39 And the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Iesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do his will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Iesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.