‘He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.’ Psalm 113:7–8
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 1:3–9
O the joy of being a Christian! I know the world’s idea is that we are a miserable people. If you read the pages of history, the writers speak of the merry cavaliers as being men of high spirit and overflowing joy; but the poor Puritans, what a wretched set they were, blaspheming Christmas Day, abhorring games and sports, and going about the world, looking so terribly miserable, that it were a pity they should go to hell, for they had enough of torment here! Now this talk is all untrue, or at best is a gross caricature. Hypocrites, then as now, did wear a long face and a rueful countenance, but there were to be found among the Puritans hosts of men whose holy mirth and joy were not to be equalled, not to be dreamed of, or understood by those poor grinning fools who fluttered round the heartless rake whose hypocrisies had lifted him to the English throne. The cavaliers’ mirth was the crackling of thorns under a pot, but a deep and unquenchable joy dwelt in the breasts of those men that ‘trampled on the haughty who slew the saints of God.’ O far above the laughter of the gallants of the court, was the mighty and deep joy of those who rode from the victorious field singing unto the Lord who had made them triumph gloriously. They called them ‘Ironsides,’ and such they were, but they had hearts of steel, which while they flinched not in the day of danger, forgot not to flash with joy even as steel glitters in the shining of the sun. Believe me, however, whatever they were, that we who trust in Jesus are the happiest of people, not constitutionally, for some of us are much tried and are brought to the utter depths of poverty, but inwardly, truly, our heart’s joy is not to be excelled.
For meditation: We do not have to choose between purity and joy, as if they were opposites or alternatives; the Christian can experience a pure joy and a joyful purity (Psalm 19:8; Matthew 5:8,12; Philippians 4:4,8,10; 1 Peter 1:6,8,22).
Sermon no. 658
5 November (1865)