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dissolved, that His faithfulness can never fail, and that, though He is a God that hideth Himself, He is still the unchanging covenant God of Israel, of one mind, and none can turn Him. Whom, having not seen, yet believing!
Look, to it, beloved, that your religion is not the religion of the flesh, but a life of faith upon the Son of God, that whether it be night or day in your soul, whether ye see Him or not, in this spiritual sense your believing hold of Him may be maintained in all seasons, dark or light, and your answer to all the suggestions of Satan and unbelief be "yet believing,"—" yet believing," and this will open the door to joy unspeakable and full of glory.
III.-The third particular of my text is lasting joy realized"joy unspeakable and full of glory." "Ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." I hope my hearers are not content with that spurious Christianity which we deprecated in the opening of our subject. But probably there may be some of God's dear children present who are a little discouraged and dismayed, saying, Oh, we shall never reach that amount of joy which we have witnessed reflected in your countenance whilst preaching to us this morning. Who can tell? Why should rash conclusions be drawn? Who imparted it to my soul? It existed not in nature. It is the free-gift of God; and His treasury is not exhausted-His gifts are as rich and full as ever. Oh! dispute not His loving-kindness or His faithfulness; but begin to examine what kind of a joy this is. Not the joy of the hypocrite, for that is like the "crackling of thorns under a pot," which, going out, leaves only an offensive smoke behind. Not the joy of the world, because that is in temporal things, in some earthly gratification or fleshly pleasure that may have been realized. What joy is it? It is spiritual-spiritual, not carnal; not mere mental joy. I wish to keep up the distinction between that which is mental and that which is spiritual; because many a man has mental powers that are perfectly amazing, absolutely wonderful, yet has no spiritual life. His mental powers exercised successfully upon any subject may afford a great deal of pleasure; but this pleasure is not spiritual. The man who has studied deeply, and constructed a beautiful piece of mechanism that was never before thought of, may contemplate his work with a great deal of pleasure; but there is no spirituality in that pleasure. I make these remarks to show the importance of the word "spiritual.' It is spiritual joy that the apostle speaks of in the text. And I do not know how a poor sinner can refrain from this joy when he gets a cure from above-from the Physician of souls!
Look again into the third chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. When the poor cripple, who had never walked, had been healed at the beautiful gate of the temple, directly he obtained the cure we find him “leaping, and walking, and praising God." What for? For the cure which had just been effected in his person. Now, you will bear in mind that we were all, by nature, born as this cripple was. Lame, blind, deaf, dumb, dead-dead in trespasses and in sins. And can the poor sinner who obtains a cure of these maladies refrain from joy? Impossible! Look also at the case of the poor prodigal. Sorrowful enough was he when he tried to chew the husks which the swine were partakers of. Covered with rags and dirt, and all his money spent, he resolved to return to his father's house, and I dare
say tremblingly said, "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants." The meanest drudgery he would perform if he could get back to the parental roof. But mark, what must have been his surprise and joy when returning home he is received in the open arms of his father, embraced, owned as his child, "the best robe put upon him, and a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet," feasted in the banqueting room, the fatted calf slain, the music produced, and the father's command is given, "Let us eat and be merry, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." I can easily conceive when the poor, formerly rag-a-muffin boy had overcome the first powerful sensations occasioned by his father's love, he could not help joining the music and the song, and shouting the love of his father, his compassion, and his readiness to forgive, for he himself was the subject thereof. So, beloved, if forgiving love has been brought to your heart; if the filthy rags of self-righteousness have been taken away, and the best robe of the Saviour's righteousness placed upon you; and if the spirits of just men made perfect in heaven rejoice to witness your redemption, then I am sure that as soon as Divine love is felt in your souls, you will break out into the song with them, and unite in the joy which my text says is "unspeakable and full of glory." The centre of this joy is in paternal love and kindness. All the Father's love is treasured in Jesus, for "it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell;" and the poor pardoned soul sees it all in Jesus, "in whom ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." So this spiritual joy will go on increasing perpetually in knowledge, in adoption privileges, and in justifying righteousness, in the intimacy which will be kept up and maintained, and in the prospect opened of the "glory that shall be revealed." If we were living as believing characters, our life would be a life of joy, and we should understand better what is meant by the phrase, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." Away, then, with your religion of painful forebodings about the creature's debility. It will hold you in bondage on earth and embitter your dying hour; but relying on Jesus, finding life and salvation in Him, appropriating to yourselves all the blessings contained in the covenant engagement, and having them applied by the power of the Holy Ghost, you may rejoice in Him with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
Then look at the nature of this joy which the text says is unspeakable. Well, I will say a little about it. I will say the best I can of it; but it is poor miserable stammering the best that I can say of spiritual enjoyment. Well do I know that there are others besides Paul who have been "caught up to the third heaven." Well do I know that there are many believers on earth now as well as those in glory, who were never able to find utterance for the heights, the lengths, the breadths, and the depths of the joys they have experienced. One of old said, concerning them, he was like new wine in a bottle, ready to burst with the joy God had brought to his soul. Nor is this an uncommon thing; so overwhelming are the views of Jesus, the anointings, and the unctuous bedewings of the Holy Ghost to the soul; the glimpses of paternal love, the fact that the united Three in One are all engaged, pledged, bound by a solemn oath, each to the
other, for my eternal salvation, that the soul, gazing upon the fact, falls before the footstool of Divine mercy, and cries, "Is this the manner of man with God?" No, indeed, but the manner of God with man. When, at the dedication of the temple, Solomon, in all his glory, and with all the devotion of his mind, poured out his requests that God would honour that house with His presence, and while engaged in the act of worship, "the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God." Would God that it should come down so now! My soul would rejoice in extacies of joy if God would so fill His temples with His glory, that there should be no room for any priests except the Lord Jesus Christ. I should be glad to see them all turned out by His glory. My hearer, has it not been so sometimes here? I am sure that it has been with me, and I trust with many of you, when we have scarcely known whether we were in the body or out of the body. Oh, "joy unspeakable!" We could not find language to utter it. We could not set it forth out of our poor circumscribed vocabulary, our faint tropes, figures, and metaphors; and we fell before the throne of Divine mercy, and asked, "What shall we say unto thee, O Lord our God?" But mark the other expression, which seems to surmount all the rest "full of glory." Oh, my soul, what must the glory be within the veil if thou art full of it now? What must the glory be when it is unveiled? What must the glory be when the poor limited vision, the poor limited vessel, shall expand into immensity"full of glory?" We know something of its kind even now, though not of its extent. And I delight in the phrase which is employed repeatedly by dear old Dr. Hawker, in which he says, "We shall change our place, but not our company, nor yet our employment." It is glory; it is heaven begun on earth. I do not think that Christians have half learned the hymn they teach their children,
"I have been there and still will go,
'Tis like a little heaven below."
Have you come, expecting a "heaven below," here this morning?—a manifestation of Divine glory—a look of love from the Father-a smile from the Son conveyed upon a stream of blood—a look of unctuous anointing and holy influence by the Holy Ghost-a look right into the inmost recesses of the soul, giving you a knowledge of yourselves? Oh, the blessedness of commencing heaven on earth!
What do I expect my heaven to be, as far as I can learn from my Bible? My expectations of heaven consist in two things, and my Christianity must be of a meagre description if I have not a glimpse of them now. They are set down under Divine inspiration by the Apostle John, where he says, "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." That is heaven. That is the highest conception I can form of it. As to sin, care, anxiety, and the like, they will be all fled away. Sorrow and sighing all fled away. They are no more than negatives as regards heaven. And if I come to positives, the Apostle John sets them down fully, that my heaven shall consist of being like Christ, and seeing Him as He is a glorified body like His, sufficiently capable of enjoying God in His unveiled beauty and glory, as deeply as the vessel in the extent and dimensions of its capacity can possibly, and that happiness sustained, preserved, perpetuated by one uninterrupted gaze upon the glories of Christ. I shall view His precious person, His official charocter, His perfect work, His eternal respon
sibility, His doing and dying, the manifestations of His love, the union He has formed from everlasting in covenant, made clear and plain by its vitality between Him and my soul, I shall rise to the climax of realizing all that He prayed for "that the love," said He to the Father, "wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them." Does not your soul long for this glory? to enjoy eternally an uninterrupted gaze of the glory of Christ? Be thankful for the glimpse you have of Him here, and for the manifestations of His person through lattices and behind walls, as is represented in the Canticles; and wait until the walls are thrown down, the lattices removed, and the open vision realizes all that eye can see, all that the ear can hear, all that the ransomed, regenerated, glorified spirit can receive and enjoy, and the glory revert to the throne, and be ascribed to Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for ever and ever.
HYMN 350 OF ZION'S HYMNS.
REJOICE, my soul, thou hast a right,
Thy Father is a King:
And thou art precious in His sight;
Rejoice, my soul, for thou art blest,
And in Him, with Him, thou shalt rest,
Rejoice, my soul, in every state,
Trust cov'nant love, and daily wait,
Rejoice, my soul, and prize thy lot,
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, June 25, 1848, BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.
I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."-
WHERE shall I go, in what direction shall I look, of whom shall I inquire, to find in modern times a patriarchal religion? It appears to me that not a few of Christ's disciples have taken pattern from one of Peter's worst transactions, and are "following Christ afar off." A close, familiar, personal, heartfelt embosoming of one's-self in Deity seems in these days to be a novelty. I hear it even denounced as presumption. I find the modern race of dwarfs and cripples, who pass for Christians, ready to cry out, "What egotism! what daring! thus boldly to intrude yourself before God." And yet, however much the possessors of a patriarchal religion may be censured, I tell you, beloved, that the attainment of it is out of their own power-that it is not the fruit of their free-will, nor of their native and inherent strength, nor of their talent or natural warmth of disposition; but it is a gift just like that which brought Jacob into the enjoyment of the blessing conferred upon him when the Angel of the covenant came to him. And sure I am-for 1 know it by experience that when the Angel of the everlasting covenant descends and manifests himself to His disciples otherwise than to the world, a distant cry will not satisfy. A lengthened petition, however orthodox, is not enough for the soul. It must be a face to face view, a close dealing with God, a wrestling with the Most High, as Jacob did, until we prevail and obtain the blessing for which we sue. May I hope that the very first paragraph of my discourse Published in Weekly Numbers, 1d., and Monthly Parts, 5d.