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as though the Lord had forsaken us, but rather to think that the Lord is causing us then to repeat our lessons, that we might rejoice so much the more in knowing of ourselves, as St. James speaketh, “ Myg brethren count it exceeding joy when you fall into exceeding temptations, knowing that the trial of your faith bringeth forth patience.” Thus our faith being tried bringeth wonderful comfort to the soul of a man; when we have experience of it, it ministers great comfort
The joy of God's children is so great and firm, that the greatest tribulation that can befal them in this world cannot put it away, but is a means to increase the same; which thing the apostle Peter further confirmeth, saying, thath they are “ begotten again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance immortal and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in the heavens for you which are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ; which is prepared to be showed in the last time.” The ground that the apostle aimeth at is, that although we are tossed up and down in our own eyes, by many tentations and trials, yet that we should rest assuredly in hope not to be overcome of them; seeing there is an eternal crown of glory reserved for us in heaven, and that we also are reserved for it, by the power of God, so that now
our own keepers, as Adam was, but are reserved and kept unto this life, by the mighty power of God, with whom our life is hid in Christ; the one is as sure and sound as the other, that we may now say, it dependeth not upon my power or watchfulness, not upon my weak arm, for the Lord's power is engaged in it, and by him I stand. Do I sin and fall? Why then I know there is a stronger hand to uphold me. of God shall keep me to salvation. Here is a sure ground of comfort.
Therefore when we see this sin, or these and these sins to leave us, falling unto the ground before us, rest then assured, that it is this mighty power of God, whereby it is done; therefore, rejoicing in God, assuring yourselves, that
1 Pet. chap. 1. ver. 3, 4, 5.
both your salvation is sure (although it be locked up in the heavens), and you are as surely reserved until the last time for it by the mighty power of God; so that unless any be able to bereave God of his power, and pull him from heaven, none is able to bereave you of this salvation. From whence this foundation being laid, that God's children are in the state of grace, and shall continue unto the end ; the apostle proceedeth, wherein' (saith he) we rejoice. But because this joy cometh with many troubles in this world, although it be so, yet shall they not hinder it, wherein ye rejoice (saith the apostle) though now for a season (if need require) you are in heaviness, through manifold tentations. Where let us mark the difference of the estate of God's children, being compared with the wicked man's joy : let the wicked man be at the merriest, yet, as the wiseman speaketh, “evenk in laughing his heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness ;" so that they can never certainly have any true joy, but one thing or other abateth it. And it is further said, “That which the wicked feareth, it shall come upon him.” So that whatsoever fair show he make, yet is he full of fears, all his joys are mingled with gall, yea full thereof. Nom peace (saith my God) to the wicked. But the joy which is in God's children, that is far more excellent, their greatest sorrows have some portion of joy, contrary to the wicked. Because" (saith the apostle) “ that the trial of your faith might be made much more precious than gold that perisheth, and might be found to your praise.” Why should then the tribulations of this world hinder their joy and glory, whereas they come for their good ? And therefore it followeth in the next verse, “whomo
have not seen, and yet love him, in whom now though you see him not, yet do ye believe, and rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorious; receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” Mark here is a wonderful point, and certainly if thou canst find it in thine heart, blessed is thine
i 1 Pet. chap. 1. ver. 6.
* Prov. chap. 14. ver. 13.
estate, there is Jesus Christ, a man whom I find I never saw, and yet I find that I love him notwithstanding wonderfully. We say commonly that sight is the original of love, and out of sight, far from affection. But when faith cometh into the heart of a man, though he himself never beheld Christ, who is now ascended into heaven, yet he loveth him, and what love is this? Why a love which filleth our hearts full of unspeakable joy. Whom you have not seen, and yet love him, rejoicing with joy unspeakable and glorious. And indeed here is the end of all our Gospel, to bring unto many this fulness of joy. This joy is only proper to the godly (although I confess mingled with sorrows) yet have they still so much joy, which at last swalloweth up all their sorrows, in endless joys, having the fulness of joy. So St. John speaketh, “ These things write I unto you that your joy may be full.” Yea this is (as I have said) the end of our Gospel, of all our preaching, the message of angels, which we have heard from the beginning, that we might have this fulness of joy. This joy cometh by apprehending of Christ by a true and lively faith constantly. So that now the point being proved of this point of doctrine, that it is only the proper estate of God's children to rejoice and have true joy in this life.“ Be glad then ye righteous, and rejoice in the Lord, and shout for joy all ye that are upright of heart.”
This serveth to reprove the gross blockish hardheartedness, and error of most part of the worldlings, who will believe no more than they are able to see and conceive. Say they, What is this he telleth me of these and these joys in another world to come ? To pursue a flying shadow, must I enter into so strict a course of life? Must I let go all my pleasures in this life for hopes only? Shall I forego a bird in the hand for one in the bush ? I will not. O fool, stay but a little, and thou shalt see a great change. Thou lookest indeed upon the present state of things; but I tell thee, but one minute of the joys of the godly is worth all the pleasures a wicked man enjoyeth. O miserable
P John, chap. 1. ver. 4.
man, have but a little faith, and I dare presume that (if thou follow this narrow way) thou shalt have a true joy in place of the shadow. They think this worldly joy is the only joy indeed, yet are they deceived. And therefore, if a man would have true joy, let him labour to obtain the mercy of God, to be found in Christ; let him labour to have his heart fixed upon him, and he shall then have a comfortable passage out of this life, and shall be joyful indeed, if you have peace with God.
You see the Apostle Peter's exhortation, “ If9 any man long after life and to see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him pursue peace and follow after it, eschew evil and do good.” He knew, that many men would desire to see long days; which is the cause that so many do cark and care, toil and labour, spend themselves and break their sleep. Well therefore (saith the apostle) if ye would see good days in good earnest, eschew evil and seek after that which is good. Let them labour for a true sanctified heart; for only such can have true joy. Be glad ye righteous, shout for joy all ye that are upright of heart. Labour then to have thy heart upright, to be friends and at peace with God, and then thou shalt have good days and follow after peace. O but, say many of God's children, indeed perhaps I would be brought to rejoice in God, but this joy doth not abide with me long; I meet with the sons of Anak in my way, many crosses, mocks, disgraces, afflictions, the which hinder and interrupt this joy, that I cannot attain to this rejoicing, but still one cross is attended with another, and when I think to rejoice, it flieth from me. Yet we see the apostle he propoundeth it, as a thing that is running away; therefore, if peace be running away, see that thou follow hard after it, follow it close at the heels, for therefore it flieth, that thou mayest follow after it, that thou mayest pursue it. Then follow and pursue thou close after it, and at last thou shalt find that all these supposed lets shall but settle, and be in the end the procurers and keepers of this peace and joy.
9 1 Pet. chap. 3. ver. 10.
Now, to have this peace and joy it shall be an especial thing to consider, how to discern the joy and peace of God's children from that of worldlings, which is but an image of joy. This may be seen by the ground of this joy. Be glad, and rejoice ye righteous. In whom ? Why in the Lord. That is the point whereby a man must examine himself, whether the ground of his joy be fixed merely upon Almighty God; and not so much upon the gift of God, not so much for the gift as for God himself. God bestoweth riches upon his children, and I deny not but that they may rejoice in them, yet not so much for the gift as because they are the gift of God, in that respect, because they love any thing which cometh from his hand who is so loving a Father, because they are given of such a one as he is. So that now put the case of a righteous man's and a worldling's rejoicing together : then observe, the one rejoiceth only in God, the other in the gift. For example, the wicked he rejoiceth; but doth he rejoice in the Lord ? No. For let God take away that which was the cause of his joy, and his joy perisheth. Is there a man who rejoiceth in his riches and promotion, howsoever he adjudgeth it to be the gift of God, yet doth he rejoice in the gift alone, and not in God. It may be thus tried; for take away that man's riches and preferment, and then away goeth his joy; but it is otherwise with God's children. The righteous rejoice, not only when they have good things, but also when they are taken away. And consider for a second point, to try the truth of this joy, that as a man may discern a difference of this joy in outward things; so secondly,
For the trial of this joy,
Let him compare his joy in outward things with his inward rejoicing, and let him put both in the scales, weighing the one with the other. There are some who when wealth flows unto them, may by their countenance be discerned, that they have many joys, are well pleased, and the like. Consider now then hath God lifted
the light of his countenance upon thee, and canst thou esteem