These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full. John 15 11.
THE SAVIOUR’S JOYS
Caroline Fry (1787-1846)
Extracted from Christ our Example
These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15, 11.
Had ‘the Man of sorrows’ any joys? The Gospels, the proper memories of his life, make no mention of any. His tears are spoken of, but not his smiles. When we consider what He wasÂ—holy, pure, divine, eternal; when we consider whence He cameÂ—from the bosom of the Father, from a throne in glory; and what He came forÂ—to suffer, the just for the unjust; we might conclude that in this unsatisfying, miserable world, the Son of God could find nothing to enjoyÂ—could have no thought of gladness; and yet I think He had. We must look very closely indeed to find the sources of His joy, for they were few, and hidden. Once, and I think no more, it is said in the Gospels, that Jesus rejoiced in spirit. (Luke, 10, 21.) The occasion of his rejoicing is very remarkable:Â—”I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” There of any oneÂ—no value for the soul of one above another; but as He saw his Father’s glory in it; He knew that had the wise and prudent of this world been chosen to make known His Gospel, men would have given to them the gloryÂ—perhaps they would have taken it to themselves. But God has chosen the foolish of this world to confound the wise, and Jesus delighted in the preference, because He saw the greater glory that would result from it to God: proving that salvation is of grace, and not of merit; that divine knowledge is imparted immediately from heaven, and not acquired by human understanding. I cannot help remarking how different a feeling prevails amongst men. There is apt to be great rejoicing in the Church when some great one, some wise one, is converted, as if it were more important that such a one should be saved than one who is poor and unknown. A great deal is said about the influence such a conversion may have on others, the power of such a one doing good, the conspicuousness of a light so elevated. This may be the result if God so pleases, but it is evident that Jesus made no account of all this: He expressly rejoiced that it was otherwise.
I have said, there is in the Gospels no other mention of the Redeemer’s joys. It is only by inference we can trace them. It may be inferred justly, that He Himself rejoiced in that which He declared to be a cause of joy in heavenÂ—the bringing of a sinner to repentance. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied;” entirely, when the purpose of His travail should be accomplished in the salvation of His Church; but prospectively
in the depth of His sufferings. As Paul also speaks, “Who, for the joy that was set before him,”… despised the shame. As one and another turned to follow Him, we must suppose the compassionate Saviour rejoiced in the fruits of anticipated victory, with a joy proportioned to His loveÂ—and that was infinite. When, of the ten who were healed, one only returned to glorify God, some pleasure in that one would mix itself with His sense of the ingratitude of the remainder.
And when, in the house of Lazarus, Jesus expressed so little satisfaction in the hospitable labours of Martha, needless to Him, and injurious to herself, we cannot suppose otherwise than that He felt pleasure in the company of Mary, as she sat listening at His feet. And did He not take pleasure in the Magdalen’s love and the Centurion’s faith? When we consider how dear to Him were the souls He came from heaven to save, and how dear the glory of the Father which He came to vindicate, it cannot be doubted that Jesus felt a joy exalted as His own nature, whenever a sinner gave tokens of repentance, and God was glorified in his works. And if goodness takes pleasure in the exercise of itself, Jesus must have been pleased whenever He exerted His Deity for the relief of human suffering. If we would know more, we must have recourse to the Psalms, those sacred soliloquies of Christ’s humanity. I pass over the expressions of triumph in the salvation of His people, so frequent in Isaiah and elsewhere: they seem to be the language of the glorified rather than the suffering Messiah;
our inquiry is confined to the period of His humiliation. In referring to the Psalms, I shall cite those only of which the application is unquestionable, because applied to Christ in the New Testament. Let them testify as to the character of the Redeemer’s joy. A single quotation will unfold it all. “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God.” Psalm 40, 7. “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16,5-11.
Were we to multiply quotations, as we might, the result would be only thisÂ—Jesus mentions, the prophetic Spirit mentions for Him, only two sources of delight; God, in His law. His glory, and His presence, and the salvation of mankind. If He had any other pleasuresÂ—if the senses and affections of His humanity could delight in what gratifies oursÂ—if He could enjoy those external blessings so abundantly bestowed on us, nothing is said
of itÂ—He does not tell us so. We know by experience, under the pressure of some great and abiding sorrow, how insensible we become to all that would otherwise delight us: how the beauties of nature, the gifts of Providence, the charms of social intercourse, cease to have any sensible existence in a season of deep calamity. Jesus came on earth in search of pain and sorrow: probably He found no joys but those He brought with Him from heaven;
certain it is. He does not speak of any other.
If this was so, we cannot but perceive in how different a position the servant stands with respect to the enjoyments of this life, to that in which His Lord was placed. “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” The meanest of God’s people, the most ungrateful of His enemies, have more sources of temporal enjoyment than were granted to the humanity of His only-begotten Son. The common gifts of Providence, those rains that descend alike on the just and the unjust, how abundant they are; how meet to gratify our senses and feelings, while waiting the more sufficient gratification of the immortal spirit! We are not justified in undervaluing them, and we are not forbidden by our Saviour’s example to enjoy them. If He did not, it was because He had a baptism to be baptised with, that admitted of no interval of ease: He had a debt of suffering to pay, which admitted of no temporal joy, and an aim too high, too holy, too much engrossed with the “joy that was set before him,” to leave Him any taste for wordly pleasure. Our case is very different: not only has our debt of misery been paid, but a large purchase of happiness has been made for us; comprising all good things by the way, as well as eternal felicity in the end. Every temporal good is the purchase, or rather the repurchase, from the forfeiture of the fall, of the Redeemer’s blood, given to us richly to enjoy: by Him who refused them for Himself.
No enjoyment therefore, if lawfully attained and sinlessly pursued, is forbidden to the followers of Christ; and I cannot think that those who are in possession of much of this world’s good, provided it has come to them in the order of Providence, without too much seeking of their own, and who are devoted to His service, have any reason to be uneasy because of this want of conformity to their Lord; neither to reproach themselves that they cull so many flowers where He gathered only thorns. He made Himself poor in joy, parting from that eternal weight of it He had with the Father before the worlds began, that we might be made rich in it. What wonder if He gives us more on earth than He enjoyed Himself? Let us understand whence we derive it, and take it, and be grateful.
Admitting, in this one respect, a merciful unlikeness, there is none the less a required conformity between the enjoyments of Christ and the enjoyments of His people. We must not forget there is a joy spoken of in Scripture that is none of His giving, and none of His sanctioning; it is cursed with a curse, a hundred times re-
peated. Let the eager contenders after this world’s delights stay their hand a moment, and listen to what is said of it; “Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.” Luke 6, 25. “The ease of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” Prov. 1, 32. “And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and the pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.”Isaiah 5, 12. “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.” Isaiah 5,14. “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.” Prov. 14, 13. “Now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.” James 4,16. “Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” Isaiah 50,11.
These are earthly pleasures, then, and earthly joys, in which there is not only no conformity to the Divine will and character, but of which the enjoyment is sin, and the end is death. There is the joy of Haman, when he went “forth that day joyful and with a glad heart.” Esther 5, 9. There is the joy of the Philistines, when they gathered themselves together to rejoice. Judges 16,23. There is the joy of them that are “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,” of them that are “choked with the pleasures of this life,” of them that “believed not, but had pleasure in unrighteousness;” of them that not only do such things as are contrary to the judgment of God, but “have pleasure in them that do them.” It would be vain to seek among these for the renewed image of our Lord. There was in Him not only no experience, but no capability of such enjoyment. The pleasures of sin, or lawful pleasures sinfully pursued, were equally impossible to Him; and we cannot hesitate to class with these all pleasures that are enjoyed in unthankfulness or forgetfulness of God. And if Jesus had, as we have shown, no pleasure but in His Father’s glory, love, and presence, and the salvation of His people, it is unnecessary to show how little likeness to Him there is in those, whose enjoyments are chilled and interrupted whenever such themes are forced upon them.
The pleasures that remain when the above are excludedÂ— objects of sinless desire to the believer, which he may seek with moderation, ask with submission, and receive with gratitude, great and many as they are, are little in comparison with those which he shares with Christ, and derives entirely from some degree of conformity to the mind that was in Him. If we found it difficult to set forth the secret sorrows of the believer,* how much more so to give the measure of his joys! Had we the language of heaven
to express them in, we should fail to convey a just impression to the mind of the ungodly. We find ourselves in a maze when we would set about it, and know not where to begin, and are ready to give up the attempt. I must recall the Saviour’s words, for I perceive that joy is joy, only in proportion as it resembles His.
How I “delight to do Thy will!” or as David, “Lord, how I love Thy law!” and Paul, “For I delight in the law of God after the inner man.” This the natural heart does not and cannot. The unconverted man may sometimes do the will of God: he may wish, with a view to the eternal consequences, that he could do it more; he may by his natural judgment perceive that God’s laws are good, and, without entering into the spiritual meaning, make an attempt to observe them in the letter. Those who do not so themselves, often bear testimony to their excellence, by admiring those that do. But to love them, to delight in themÂ—this no man ever did, but he who has learned it of his Saviour. Consider what this delight implies. It is in all His willÂ—in all His laws; this law, this will, may require of us the sacrifice of everythingÂ—the sacrifice of ourselves, and our sins, it must require. It can never require of us what it required of our Lord when He delighted in it; but it might comprise much that is painful to our human nature to suffer, and to doÂ—as the law of God requires the correction of every sinful habit, the renunciation of every proud desire, the subjection of every ungodly passion, and abstinence from many things very inviting to us in the world. The will of God often imposes severe and bitter trial, much passive endurance, as well as active self-sacrifice: a pharisaic effort to do the one, and a calm submission to endure the other, have often been manifested by the children of this world. It is reserved to the children of God to find joy in them. Paul rejoiced in his infirmities when it was the will of God they should not be removed; he speaks of them that glory in tribulation. James bids the rich rejoice when they are made low. Our Saviour bids us rejoice, and be exceeding glad, under falsehood, insult, and oppression. These are not nature’s joys; no natural man can say he ever felt themÂ—the believer can. He may feel glad, not only in spite of these things, but because of them;
and this he does for the same reason that Jesus did; not because they are less trying to him than to others, but because he so delights in the will of God that it is good to him in any way; and because he so delights in the law of God, that he is glad of anything that may subdue his sins, and bring him into more full subjection to it.
There is another sense in which a Christian rejoices in the law of God, as the world cannot. One who thinks to be saved by his own righteousness, or does not wish to part from his sins, is not glad that the law of God is what it is; he would rather its requirements were less, and is always trying to reduce the standard, and to excuse his deviations. Not so the believer. Being freed by grace from the terrors of the law, the price of his
salvation paid, it is gladness to him that God requires holinessÂ— that he is determined to root out every sin, however hard and painful the excision. It would be small joy to know that he is justified; if he were not sure he should be also sanctified; conformity, exact conformity, is what he longs for; not for worlds would he be excused, and suffered to continue in his sins. On this point, I believe, those that know not Christ will be obliged to convict themselves, and acknowledge that, apart from the consequences, they have more pleasure in sin than in holiness; if God would dispense with obedience, they could enjoy themselves better than they do. Should there be any, as I fear there may be, who profess to be followers of Christ and love His Gospel, but who do not love His lawÂ—who enjoy very much the doctrines of free salvation, and justification by faith, but disrelish those of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, the growth of grace, and the renewal of the divine image in the soul,Â—to such I must remark, that this was not the mind of Christ; He delighted in the law of God, as much as ever He delighted in His mercy or His grace. The unregenerate cannot, because the law is against them; but if we, as Christians, do not, there is something very defective, to say the least, in our religion.
The believer further manifests his delight in the law of God, by the joy he feels in seeing others do it. As he can never behold sin without feeling pain, so does he never see holiness without delighting in it. What exquisite joy, in the darkness of this evil world, to look upon the lights that grace has lightedÂ—to hear of, to see the works of them that walk according to His law: to find, it may be in some public walk, it may be in some abode of poverty, one who seems living only to fulfil His will: this is a pleasure worthy of Christ to have enjoyedÂ—and doubtless He did enjoy it, when He beheld Mary at His feet, forgetting everything in her desire to learn of Him.
If I speak less of joy in doing the will of God, than in having it done in us, and seeing it done by others, it is not because I do not know it to be greatest. But we so seldom attain itÂ—it is so seldom we are satisfied with anything we doÂ—we perceive so much more of defect than of conformity in our best performances, that though I know it may be felt, and be more grateful to us than any other joy, and though I know we may so desire it as to say, with our Lord, “My meat and drink is to do the will of God,” yet the sense of having done it satisfactorily is so rare, I can say little about it; it may at least be judged of by the pain of having failed in it.
“The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and my cup.” “The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” This is the gladness of him, who, having found a treasure hidden in a field, for toy thereof goes and sells all that he hath, and buys that field. Perhaps it would be too much to say the believer is the only contented one on earth. I have seen the children
of this world so well pleased with its perishable possessions, as long as they can keep them, that I must suppose they too believe they have a goodly heritage, as he did who said to his soul, “Soul, take thine ease.” But when these words applied to Christ, He had no such possessionsÂ—He had not where to lay His head; He had stripped Himself of infinite wealth, and retained no portion to rejoice in but His God. I shall not err, then, if I say that they who resemble Christ are the only people that rejoice in their portion, and think their heritage good, be their earthly condition what it may. The enjoyment of God, as a present portion, is very difficult to describe, but every experienced Christian knows what it is; it is something quite distinct from the expectation of future blessedness; it is what Paul calls “being filled with all the fulness of God;” of which David says, “Happy are the people that have the Lord for their God.” And again, “Thy loving kindness is better than life.” And in Rev. 2, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich).” This is spoken of present good. It is difficult sometimes to separate present enjoyment from eternal hope; but the believer knows that he has both. He as much seeks happiness in God now as he expects to seek it in heaven, and finds it in Him when he has none elsewhere. The moments of greatest delight in God are usually those of greatest destitution:
when we look for some to take pity, but there is none; and for comforters, but there is no man. Ask the tried saint, which have been the happiest moments of his life, and he will tell you of those in which every earthly good had departed from himÂ—in some deep affliction, some extreme suffering, some pressing danger, when man either could not or would not give him any help. These have been his happiest hours: for them, emptied of everything else, he was fullest of God; and had such sensible enjoyment of Him as earthly language is not suited to express, nor earth-devoted spirits able to understand. It is then that, having nothing, we are possessed of all things.
I proceed with the Redeemer’s words. “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth.” The Lord is to His people an abiding portion. He does not, like some friend of earth, come in at distant periods, give us a fond embrace, and go away. He makes His abode with us. He sits down, as it were, at our right hand, to be ready for our need of Him. The seasons of peculiar joy we have just spoken of, more akin to heaven than earth, are but for an occasion, and generally pass with it: leaving behind them a more distinct notion of what our future blessedness will be, a firmer evidence of what God will do, by what He has done in our time of need. Were this elevation to continue always, we should not only have no cross to bear, but should be unfit to do our work on earth. The disciples, together with their Master, descended from the mount of transfiguration, to try, in very different scenes, the love and faithfulness
of God. So must our seasons of spiritual enjoyment pass: leaving their remembrance like a beacon light to cheer the believer through his hours of darkness. But it is not in times of exaltation only that the child of God is conscious of his Father’s presence. Joyful above measure as these moments are, they are not those visits that he values most. It is the abidingÂ—the sitting downÂ—the perpetual consciousness of God’s presence, he values above these evanescent joys. “He is about my bed, and about my path.” “He knoweth my down-sitting and mine uprising.” “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee.” “I laid me down and slept, and rose up again, for the Lord sustained me.”
To an ungodly man the sense of God’s presence is no joy. Some restraint it may be upon his actions; and those in whose happier hours the thought of God’s presence does not occur, and would not be welcome if it did, will often, in a time of trial, or under a sense of injury, appeal to the omniscience of the Deity for justice and protection: not being themselves the aggressors, they are glad that God is present to behold what is done amiss, and to defend their cause, as they believe He will; though, as soon as the necessity is passed, they can well dispense with His observance, and find it convenient to forget it. This is natural. Nothing can be less agreeable than to live in the presence of one whom we are not certain whether he be for us or against us; who is taking account of every word and action to reproduce it at some future time. To make the consciousness of God’s presence, in the sense in which He is present to all men, a source of confidence and joy, we must be certain that God loves us; that He sees no iniquity in us, otherwise than as a father sees the faults of a cherished child: which, having corrected in love, he will no more remember. To acquire this certainty, we must be assured of our reconciliation with God by the blood of Christ in the renewing of the Holy Spirit: whence it is demonstrable that none but a real Christian can have delight in knowing that God is ever present with him. But the Christian does more than know it; in its common sense he perceives it, he feels it: perhaps he has more sensible enjoyment of it than ever they had, who, in the person of the Son, sat with Him, and walked with Him in the streets of Jerusalem. How familiar is the import of our Saviour’s words, “We will come in to him, and sup with him!” And how well do they depict the believer’s joy! He may eat the bread of affliction, and have tears for his drink; but the consciousness that God is with him sweetens everything. “Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”
The world conceives nothing of all this; it is that manifestation of Himself which God promised not to the world, but to them whom He had chosen out of the world. Men might understand something of it by what they know of the sweetness of human sympathy. We know what it is, when the heart is bursting with imprisoned feeling, to find some one to whom we can outpour it
all; who can understand our emotions, and take interest in our disclosures. I suppose there is no earthly solace like to this. Cannot those who have experienced it, and still oftener felt the want of it, believe what it must be to have such a Friend at all times near, at all times ready: from whom we have no apprehensions, no reserves; willing to listen, and certain to reply, by the responses of His Holy Spirit, speaking courage and comfort to the soul? Yes, they might understandÂ—their very want of it would teach themÂ—but they will not believe. They see the servant, as others saw the Master, with nothing in him that they should desire. While he goes in and out amongst themÂ—the one poor, perhaps, among many richÂ—the one unfortunate among many prosperousÂ—the one sick among many wellÂ—they do not perceive that he carries in his bosom a spring of joy, ebbing and flowing indeed, but never dry; more pleasant at its lowest than all their pleasant things:
they do not know he is the happyÂ—the essentially happy one amongst them: satisfied with his heritage, and exulting in his portion, even in the Lord his God: that only portion, beside His sorrows, that Jesus had on earth.
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell;
neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Jesus, from the depth of suffering, looked forward to joy. About to lay down His life, as He had already laid aside His glory. He knew that His sinless body could not see corruption; hell and the grave could not retain the Lord of life and glory. In His lowest humiliation He was able to rejoice that the power of Satan would be short, and that His enemies should not ultimately triumph over Him. How much does the situation of the believer resemble, in this respect, the situation of his Lord, and his rejoicing agree with His! Whatever the present burden of his sins, the temptations of Satan, and the trials and seductions of the world, he knows he shall not perish in them. He may suffer, he may sin, he must dieÂ— his body must pass through corruption; but he knows it will not remain for ever in the grave, neither his soul in hell. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” Romans 6, 5. What joyÂ—what gladness in this assurance, in the certainty of resurrection to eternal life! Let us consider of what this joy is compounded, and who enjoys it: for I believe it is not so universal as we might suppose it would be, where the doctrine of a resurrection is believed.
It is said that all beings are averse to the thought of annihilation: all that has life desires to continue it. This may be so naturally. But fallen man is so peculiarly placed, that if he be not pardoned, and the curse upon him removed, it would be better for him had he never been born, or that he could cease to be. If he does not think so it is because he does not believe his own condition, and the condemnation that awaits him. To an unrepent-
ing sinner, knowing himself to be such, the thought of resurrection would be one of unmixed dread: to be even at peace, he must disbelieve the fall, or disbelieve the consequences, as revealed in Scripture. Of course he can be no partaker in this joy. But with the mass of those who think that they believe in the resurrection, how is it? Thoughtlessness, forgetfulness, and indifference, are not joy. To rejoice and be glad that our soul will not be left in hell, we must know that it has been in danger of being so, and deserves to be so. A man does not rejoice in escape from shipwreck who has never been upon the waters, or seen a storm; and were he even there asleep in his hammock, dreaming of summer seas and peaceful havens, though insensible to danger, it could not well be said that he rejoiced in the hope of safety.
It is further necessary we should be assured of that which is the subject of rejoicing. Doubt, uncertainty, desire, are not ingredients of joy. A man cannot rejoice in that which he does not know. As the Scripture admits degrees of faith, we may equally admit degrees of pleasure proportioned to it, short of the enjoyment of actual knowledge. But if the believer would rejoice after the manner of his Lord, he must know that his soul will not be left in hell, nor his body in the grave. In the midst of sin, and under the deepest sense of guilt, he must know that he is pardoned Â—in the midst of danger he must be assured of safetyÂ—in the hottest of the battle he must be secure of victory. And wherefore not? There is a great deal more doubt on all sides than the Scripture warrants. Men are living without God in the world, walking after the course of this world, in the vanity of their minds; and they persist in doubting, and others with mistaken charity doubt for them, whether they are going in the way of destruction; in the very front of God’s revealed WordÂ—of His attested oathÂ—that they who do so shall perish: in defiance of such examples of His faithfulness in threatening as might well extinguish every doubt. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and spared not the old world, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly, and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly, what pretence can there be for doubting that they who so live shall perish? Yet not one seems sure of this. On the other hand. God has declared that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. He has described, in every manner human language will admit of, what is the meaning of being in Christ and what it is to walk after the Spirit; and, without a condition more, has
said, “Verily, verily, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.”
Yet how few are sure of this! The two charactersÂ—the regenerate and the unregenerateÂ—the man of the world and the man of GodÂ—the dead in Adam and the living in Christ JesusÂ—are
placed in juxtaposition throughout the Bible. They are described, contrasted, measured one against the other, with most minute exactness; they are exhibited in opposition under every imaginable circumstance. And men say they are indistinguishableÂ—so indistinguishable, we cannot know to which party we belong. This would be very strange, if it were true. But it is not true! If it be too much to say that all might know whether they are Christ’s or not, which I do not think it is, I can certainly say that thousands might know who do not. Some are endeavouring to deserve eternal
life, and doubt if they shall succeed. These might easily be made sure: for by the deeds of the law shall no man living be justified. Others, in accepting through Christ the remission of sins, think there is yet some measure of service to be filled up to entitle
them to a participation in the benefits of His death, and they doubt if their imperfect services will reach the required amount. They need not; for certain it is, that when they have done all, they will be found unprofitable servants.
Of those who have received the Gospel, and know the way of salvation by Christ alone, some are agitated by fears lest they should lose this pearl of great price, and depart from the path of life on which they believe that they have entered. This is indeed
an agitating doubt, and can only be relieved by Scriptures such as these:Â—”My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” “Having loved his own which are in the world, he loved them to the end.” “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” For such, by the light of Scripture, I see nothing but certainty. If we stand by any strength, if by any perseverance of our own, we shall fall certainly; if by the unchangeableness of God’s love and purpose, we as certainly shall stand fast. There are others, and too many,
who are not certain of their safety, because they are not certain