POWER IN OPERATION.
THE power we have been considering is the Presence of the Holy Spirit. He is omnipotent. Power in operation is the actions of the Spirit or the fruit of the Spirit. This we shall now consider. Paul writes in Gal. v, 16, etc.:
"This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary, the one to the other; so that ye can not do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." * * * "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another."
Now there is a life of perfect peace, perfect joy, and perfect love, and that ought to be the aim of every child of God; that ought to be their standard; and they should not rest until having attained to that position. That is God's standard, where He wants all His children. These nine graces mentioned in this chapter in Galatians can be divided in this way: Love and peace and joy are all to God. God looks for that fruit from each one of His children, and that is the kind of fruit which is acceptable with Him. Without that we can not please God. He wants, above everything else that we possess, love, peace and joy. And then the next three -- goodness, long-suffering and gentleness -- are towards man. That is our outward life to those that we are coming in contact with continually -- daily, hourly. The next three -- faith, temperance, meekness -- are in relation to ourselves; and in that way we can just take the three divisions, and it will be of some help to us.
The first thing that meets us as we enter the kingdom of God, you might say are these first three graces,
LOVE, PEACE, AND JOY.
When a man who has been living in sin turns from his sins, and turns to God with all his heart, he is met on the threshold of the divine life by these sister graces. The love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost. The peace of God comes at the same time, and also the joy of the Lord. We can all put the test to ourselves, if we have them. It is not anything that we can make. The great trouble with many is that they are trying to make these graces. They are trying to make love; they are trying to make peace; they are trying to make joy. But they are not creatures of human planting. To produce them of ourselves is impossible. That is an act of God. They come from above. It is God who speaks the word and gives the love; it is God who gives the peace; it is God who gives the joy, and we possess all by receiving Jesus Christ by faith into the heart; for when Christ comes by faith into the heart, then the Spirit is there, and if we have the Spirit, we will have the fruit.
If the whole Church of God could live as the Lord would have them live, why Christianity would be the mightiest power this world has ever seen. It is the low standard of Christian life that is causing so much trouble. There are a great many stunted Christians in the Church; their lives are stunted; they are like a tree planted in poor soil -- the soil is hard and stony, and the roots can not find the rich loamy soil needed. Such believers have not grown in these sweet graces. Peter, in his second epistle, 1st chapter and 5th verse, writes:
"And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Now, if we have these things in us, I believe that we will be constantly bringing forth fruit that will be acceptable with God. It won't be just a little every now and then, when we spur ourselves up and work ourselves up into a certain state of mind or into an excited condition, and work a little while and then become cold, and discouraged, and disheartened, but we shall be neither unfruitful nor barren, bringing forth fruit constantly, we will grow in grace and be filled with the Spirit of God.
A great many parents have inquired of me how to win their children. They say they have talked with them, and sometimes they have scolded them and have lectured them, and signally failed. I think there is no way so sure to win our families and our neighbors, and those about whom we are anxious, to Christ, than just to adorn the doctrine of Jesus Christ in our lives, and grow in all these graces. If we have peace and joy and love and gentleness and goodness and temperance; not only being temperate in what we drink, but in what we eat, and temperate in our language, guarded in our expressions; if we just live in our homes as the Lord would have us, an even Christian life day by day, we shall have a quiet and silent power proceeding from us, that will constrain them to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. But an uneven life, hot to-day and cold tomorrow, will only repel. Many are watching God's people. It is just the very worst thing that can happen to those whom we want to win to Christ, to see us, at any time, in a cold, backslidden state. This is not the normal condition of the Church; it is not God's intention; He would have us growing in all these graces, and the only true, happy, Christian life is to be growing, constantly growing in the love and favor of God, growing in all those delightful graces of the Spirit.
Even the vilest, the most impure, acknowledge the power of goodness; they recognize the fruit of the Spirit. It may condemn their lives and cause them to say bitter things at times, but down deep in their hearts they know that the man or woman who is living that kind of life, is superior to them. The world don't satisfy them, and if we can show the world that Jesus Christ does satisfy us in our present life, it will be more powerful than the eloquent words of professional reformers. A man may preach with the eloquence of an angel, but if he don't live what he preaches, and act out in his home and his business what he professes, his testimony goes for naught, and the people say it is all hypocrisy after all; it is all a sham. Words are very empty, if there is nothing back of them. Your testimony is poor and worthless, if there is not a record back of that testimony consistent with what you profess. What we need is to pray to God to lift us up out of this low, cold, formal state that we have been living in, that we may live in the atmosphere of God continually, and that the Lord may lift upon us the light of his countenance, and that we may shine in this world, reflecting His grace and glory.
The first of the graces spoken of in Galatians, and the last mentioned in Peter, is charity or love. We can not serve God, we can not work for God unless we have love. That is the key which unlocks the human heart. If I can prove to a man that I come to him out of pure love; if a mother shows by her actions that it is pure love that prompts her advising her boy to lead a different life, not a selfish love, but that it is for the glory of God, it won't be long before that mother's influence will be felt by that boy, and he will begin to think about this matter, because true love touches the heart quicker than anything else.
POWER OF LOVE.
Love is the badge that Christ gave His disciples. Some put on one sort of badge and some another. Some put on a strange kind of dress, that they may be known as Christians, and some put on a crucifix, or something else, that they may be known as Christians. But love is the only badge by which the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are known. "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one toward another."
Therefore, though a man stand before an audience and speak with the eloquence of a Demosthenes, or of the greatest living orator, if there is no love back of his words, it is like sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. I would recommend all Christians to read the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians constantly, abiding in it day and night, not spending a night or a day there, but just go in there and spend all our time -- summer and winter, twelve months in the year, then the power of Christ and Christianity would be felt as it never has been in the history of the world. See what this chapter says:
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."
A great many are praying for faith; they want extraordinary faith; they want remarkable faith. They forget that love exceeds faith. The CHARITY spoken of in the above verses, is LOVE, the fruit of the Spirit, the great motive-power of life. What the Church of God needs to-day is love -- more love to God and more love to our fellow-men. If we love God more, we will love our fellow-men more. There is no doubt about that. I used to think that I should like to have lived in the days of the prophets; that I should like to have been one of the prophets, to prophesy, and to see the beauties of heaven and describe them to men; but, as I understand the Scriptures now, I would a good deal rather live in the thirteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians and have this love that Paul is speaking of, the love of God burning in my soul like an unquenchable flame, so that I may reach men and win them for heaven.
A man may have wonderful knowledge, that may unravel the mysteries of the Bible, and yet be as cold as an icicle. He may glisten like the snow in the sun. Sometimes you have wondered why it was that certain ministers who have had such wonderful magnetism, who have such a marvelous command of language, and who preach with such mental strength, haven't had more conversions. I believe, if the truth was known, you would find no divine love back of their words, no pure love in their sermons. You may preach like an angel, Paul says, "with the tongues of men and of angels," but if you have not love, it amounts to nothing. "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor," -- a man may be very charitable, and give away all his goods; a man may give all he has, but if it is not the love of God which prompts the gift, it will not be acceptable with God. "And though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity" -- have not love -- "it profiteth me nothing." A man may go to the stake for his principles; he may go to the stake for what he believes, but if it is not love to God which actuates him, it will not be acceptable to God.
LOVE'S WONDERFUL EFFECTS.
"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil."
That's the work of love. It is not easily provoked. Now if a man has no love of God in his heart, how easy it is to become offended; perhaps with the church because some members of the church don't treat him just right, or some men of the church don't bow to him on the street, he takes offense, and that is the last you see of him. Love is long-suffering. If I love the Lord Jesus Christ, these little things are not going to separate me from His people. They are like the dust in the balance. Nor will the cold, formal treatment of hypocrites in the church quench that love I have in my heart for Him. If this love is in the heart, and the fire is burning on the altar, we will not be all the time finding fault with other people and criticising what they have done.
Love will rebuke evil, but will not rejoice in it. Love will be impatient of sin, but patient with the sinner. To form the habit of finding fault constantly, is very damaging to spiritual life; it is about the lowest and meanest position that a man can take. I never saw a man who was aiming to do the best work, but there could have been some improvement; I never did anything in my life, I never addressed an audience, that I didn't think I could have done better, and I have often upbraided myself that I had not done better; but to sit down and find fault with other people when we are doing nothing ourselves, not lifting our hands to save some one, is all wrong, and is the opposite of holy, patient, divine love.
Love is forbearance; and what we want is to get this spirit of criticism and fault finding out of the Church and out of our hearts and let each one of us live as if we had to answer for ourselves, and not for the community, at the last day. If we are living according to the 13th chapter of Corinthians, we will not be all the time finding fault with other people. "Love suffereth long, and is kind." Love forgets itself, and don't dwell upon itself. The woman who came to Christ with that alabaster box, I venture to say, never thought of herself. Little did she know what an act she was performing. It was just her love for the Master. She forgot the surroundings, she forgot everything else that was there; she broke that box and poured the ointment upon Him, and filled the house with its odor. The act, as a memorial, has come down these 1800 years. It is right here -- the perfume of that box is in the world today. That ointment was worth [USD]40 or [USD]50; no small sum of those days for a poor woman. Judas sold the Son of God for about [USD]15 or [USD]20. But what this woman gave to Christ was everything that she had, and she became so occupied with Jesus Christ that she didn't think what people were going to say. So when we act with a single eye for the glory of our Lord, not finding fault with everything about us, but doing what we can in the power of this love, then will our deeds for God speak, and the world will acknowledge that we have been with Jesus, and that this glorious love has been shed abroad in our hearts.
If we don't love the Church of God, I am afraid it won't do us much good; if we don't love the blessed Bible, it will not do us much good. What we want, then, is to have love for Christ, to have love for His word, and to have love for the Church of God, and when we have love, and are living in that spirit, we will not be in the spirit of finding fault and working mischief.
AFTER LOVE, WHAT?
After love comes peace. I have before remarked, a great many people are trying to make peace. But that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all that we have to do is to enter into it. It is a condition, and instead of our trying to make peace and to work for peace, we want to cease all that, and sweetly enter into peace.
If I discover a man in the cellar complaining because there is no light there, and because it is cold and damp, I say: "My friend, come up out of the cellar. There is a good warm sun up here, a beautiful spring day, and it is warm, it is cheerful and light; come up, and enjoy it." Would he reply, "O, no, sir; I am trying to see if I can make light down here; I am trying to work myself into a warm feeling." And there he is working away, and he has been at it for a whole week. I can imagine my reader smile; but you may be smiling at your own picture; for this is the condition of many whom I daily meet who are trying to do this very thing -- they are trying to work themselves into peace and joyful feelings. Peace is a condition into which we enter; it is a state; and instead of our trying to make peace, let us believe what God's Word declares, that peace has already been made by the blood of the Cross. Christ has made peace for us, and now what He desires is that we believe it and enter into it. Now, the only thing that can keep us from peace is sin. God turneth the way of the wicked upside down. There is no peace for the wicked, saith my God. They are like the troubled sea that can not rest, casting up filth and mire all the while; but peace with God by faith in Jesus Christ -- peace through the knowledge of forgiven sin, is like a rock; the waters go dashing and surging past it, but it abides. When we find peace, we shall not find it on the ground of innate goodness; it comes from without ourselves, but into us. In the 16th chapter of John and the 33d verse we read: "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace." In me ye might have peace. Jesus Christ is the author of peace. He procured peace. His gospel is the gospel of peace. "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour," and then came that chorus from heaven "Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth." He brought peace. "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
How true that in the world we have tribulation. Are you in tribulation? Are you in trouble? Are you in sorrow? Remember this is our lot. Paul had tribulation, and others shared in grief. Nor shall we be exempt from trial. But within, peace may reign undisturbed. If sorrow is our lot, peace is our legacy. Jesus gives peace; and do you know there is a good deal of difference between His peace and our peace? Any one can disturb our peace, but they can't disturb His peace. That is the kind of peace He has left us. Nothing can offend those who trust in Christ.
NOT EASILY OFFENDED.
In the 119th Psalm and the 165th verse, we find "Great peace have they who love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them." The study of God's Word will secure peace. You take those Christians who are rooted and grounded in the Word of God, and you find they have great peace; but it is these who don't study their Bible, and don't know their Bible, who are easily offended when some little trouble comes, or some little persecution, and their peace is all disturbed; just a little breath of opposition, and their peace is all gone.
Sometimes I am amazed to see how little it takes to drive all peace and comfort from some people. Some slandering tongue will readily blast it. But if we have the peace of God, the world can not take that from us. It can not give it; it can not destroy it. We have to get it from above the world; it is peace which Christ gives. "Great peace have they which love Thy law, and nothing shall offend them." Christ says "blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me." Now, if you will notice, wherever there is a Bible-taught Christian, one who has the Bible well marked, and daily feeds upon the Word by prayerful meditation, he will not be easily offended.
Such are the people who are growing and working all the while. But it is these people who never open their Bibles, these people who never study the Scriptures, who become offended, and are wondering why they are having such a hard time. They are the persons who tell you that Christianity is not what it has been recommended to them; that they have found it was not all that we claim it to be. The real trouble is, they have not done as the Lord has told them to do. They have neglected the Word of God. If they had been studying the Word of God, they would not be in that condition. If they had been studying the Word of God, they would not have wandered these years away from God, living on the husks of the world. But the trouble is, they have neglected to care for the new life; they haven't fed it, and the poor soul, being starved, sinks into weakness and decay, and is easily stumbled or offended.
I met a man who confessed his soul had fed on nothing for forty years. "Well," said I, "that is pretty hard for the soul -- giving it nothing to feed on!" And that man is but a type of thousands and tens of thousands to-day; their poor souls are starving. This body that we inhabit for a day, and then leave, we take good care of; we feed it three times a day, and we clothe it, and take care of it, and deck it, and by and by it is going into the grave to be eaten up by the worms; but the inner man, that is to live on and on, and on forever, is lean and starved.
In the 6th chapter of Numbers and 22d verse we read:
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, on this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them: The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."
I think these are about as sweet verses as we find in the Old Testament. I marked them years ago in my Bible, and many times I have turned over and read them. "The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." They remind us of the loving words of Jesus to his troubled disciples, "Peace, be still." The Jewish salutation used to be, as a man went into a house, "Peace be upon this house," and as he left the house the host would say, "Go in peace."
Then again, in the 14th chapter of John and the 27th verse, Jesus said: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." This is the precious legacy of Jesus to all His followers. Every man, every woman, every child, who believes in Him, may share in this portion. Christ has willed it to them, and His peace is theirs.
This then is our Lord's purpose and promise. My peace I give unto you. I give it, and I am not going to take it away again; I am going to leave it to you. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." But you know, when some men make their wills and deed away their property, there are some sharp, shrewd lawyers who will get hold of that will and break it all to pieces; they will go into court and break the will, and the jury will set the will aside, and the money goes into another channel. Now this will that Christ has made, neither devil nor man can break it. He has promised to give us peace, and there are thousands of witnesses who can say: "I have my part of that legacy. I have peace; I came to Him for peace, and I got it; I came to Him in darkness; I came to Him in trouble and sorrow; I was passing under a deep cloud of affliction, and I came to Him and He said, 'Peace, be still.' And from that hour peace reigned in my soul." Yes, many have proved the invitation true, "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." They found rest when they came. He is the author of rest, He is the author of peace, and no power can break that will; yea, unbelief may question it, but Jesus Christ rose to execute His own will, and it is in vain for man to contest it. Infidels and skeptics may tell us that it is all a myth, and that there isn't anything in it, and yet the glorious tidings is ever repeated, "Peace on earth, good will to man," and the poor and needy, the sad and sorrowful, are made partakers of it.
So, my reader, you need not wait for peace any longer. All you have to do is to enter into it to-day. You need not try to make peace. It is a false idea; you can not make it. Peace is already made by Jesus Christ, and is now declared unto you.
When France and England were at war, a French vessel had gone off on a long voyage, a whaling voyage; and when they came back, the crew were short of water, and being now near an English port, they wanted to get water; but they were afraid that they would be taken if they went into that port; and some people in the port saw them, saw their signal of distress, and sent word to them that they need not be afraid, that the war was over, and peace had been declared. But they couldn't make those sailors believe it, and they didn't dare to go into port, although they were out of water; but at last they made up their minds that they had better go in and surrender up their cargo and surrender up their lives to their enemies than to perish at sea without water; but when they got in, they found out that peace had been declared, and that what had been told them was true. So there are a great many people who don't believe the glad tidings that peace has been made. Jesus Christ made peace on the Cross. He satisfied the claims of the law; and this law which condemns you and me has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. He has made peace, and now He wants us just to enjoy it, just to believe it. Nor is there a thing to hinder us from doing it, if we will. We can enter into that blessing now, and have perfect peace. The promise is: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." Now, as long as our mind is stayed on our dear selves, we will never have peace. Some people think more of themselves than of all the rest of the world. It is self in the morning, self at noon, and self at night. It is self when they wake up, and self when they go to bed; and they are all the time looking at themselves and thinking about themselves, instead of "looking unto Jesus." Faith is an outward look. Faith does not look within; it looks without. It is not what I think, nor what I feel, nor what I have done, but it is what Jesus Christ is and has done, and so we should trust in Him who is our strength, and whose strength will never fail. After Christ rose from the grave, three times, John tells us, He met His disciples and said unto them, "Peace be unto you." There is peace for the conscience through His blood, and peace for the heart in His love.
SECRET OF JOY.
Remember, then, that love is power, and peace is power; but now I will call attention to another fruit of the Spirit, and this too is power -- the grace of JOY. It is the privilege, I believe, of every Christian to walk in the light, as God is in the light, and to have that peace which will be flowing unceasingly as we keep busy about His work. And it is our privilege to be full of the joy of the Lord. We read, that when Philip went down to Samaria and preached, there was great joy in the city. Why? Because they believed the glad tidings. And that is the natural order, joy in believing. When we believe the glad tidings, there comes a joy into our souls. Also we are told that our Lord sent the seventy out, and that they went forth preaching salvation in the name of Jesus Christ, and the result was that there were a great many who were blessed; and the seventy returned, it says, with great joy, and when they came back they said that the very devils were subject to them, through His name. The Lord seemed to just correct them in this one thing when He said, "Rejoice not that the devils are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." There is assurance for you. They had something to rejoice in now. God don't ask us to rejoice over nothing, but He gives us some ground for our joy. What would you think of a man or woman who seemed very happy to-day and full of joy, and couldn't tell you what made them so? Suppose I should meet a man on the street, and he was so full of joy that he should get hold of both my hands and say, "Bless the Lord, I am so full of joy!" "What makes you so full of joy?" "Well, I don't know." "You don't know?" "No, I don't; but I am so joyful that I just want to get out of the flesh." "What makes you feel so joyful?" "Well, I don't know." Would we not think such a person unreasonable? But there are a great many people who feel -- who want to feel -- that they are Christians before they are Christians; they want the Christian's experience before they become Christians; they want to have the joy of the Lord before they receive Jesus Christ. But this is not the Gospel order. He brings joy when He comes, and we can not have joy apart from Him; there is no joy away from Him; He is the author of it, and we find our joy in Him.
JOY IS UNSELFISH.
Now, there are three kinds of joy; there is the joy of one's own salvation. I thought, when I first tasted that, it was the most delicious joy I had ever known, and that I could never get beyond it. But I found, afterward, there was something more joyful than that, namely, the joy of the salvation of others. Oh, the privilege, the blessed privilege, to be used of God to win a soul to Christ, and to see a man or woman being led out of bondage by some act of ours toward them. To think that God should condescend to allow us to be co-workers with Him. It is the highest honor we can wear. It surpasses the joy of our own salvation, this joy of seeing others saved. And then John said, He had no greater joy than to see His disciples walking in the truth. Every man who has been the means of leading souls to Christ understands what that means. Young disciples, walk in the truth and you will have joy all the while.
I think there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is caused by things which happen around me, and circumstances will mar it, but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition; it flows right along, for it is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring which the world can't see and don't know anything about; but the Lord gives His people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to Him.
This joy is fed by the Divine Word. Jeremiah says in chapter xv, 16: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Thy name, O Lord."
He ate the words, and what was the result? He said they were the joy and rejoicing of his heart. Now people should look for joy in the Word, and not in the world; they should look for the joy which the Scriptures furnish, and then go work in the vineyard; because a joy that don't send me out to some one else, a joy that don't impel me to go and help the poor drunkard, a joy that don't prompt me to visit the widow and the fatherless, a joy that don't cause me to go into the Mission Sunday-school or other Christian work, is not worth having, and is not from above; a joy that does not constrain me to go and work for the Master, is purely sentiment and not real joy.
JOY IN PERSECUTION.
Then it says in Luke vi, 22: "Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets."
Christians do not receive their reward down here. We have to go right against the current of the world. We may be unpopular, and we may go right against many of our personal friends if we live godly in Christ Jesus; and at the same time, if we are persecuted for the Master's sake, We will have this joy bubbling up; it just comes right up in our hearts all the while -- a joy that is unceasing -- that flows right on. The world can not choke that fountain. If we have Christ in the heart, by and by the reward will come. The longer I live the more I am convinced that godly men and women are not appreciated in our day. But their work will live after them, and there will be a greater work done after they are gone, by the influence of their lives, than when they were living. Daniel is doing a thousand times more than when he was living in Babylon. Abraham is doing more to-day than he did on the plain with his tent and altar. All these centuries he has been living, and so we read, "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth; yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them." Let us set the streams running that shall flow on after we have gone. If we have to-day persecution and opposition, let us press forward, and our reward will be great by and by. Oh! think of this; the Lord Jesus, the Maker of heaven and earth, who created the world, says, "Great shall be thy reward." He calls it great. If some friend should say it is great, it might be very small; but when the Lord, the great and mighty God, says it is great, what must it be? Oh! the reward that is in store for those who serve Him! We have this joy, if we serve Him. A man or woman is not fit to work for God who is cast down, because they go about their work with a tell-tale face. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." What we need to-day is a joyful church. A joyful church will make inroads upon the works of Satan, and we will see the Gospel going down into dark lanes and dark alleys, and into dark garrets and cellars, and we will see the drunkards reached and the gamblers and the harlots come pressing into the kingdom of God. It is this carrying a sad countenance, with so many wrinkles on our brows, that retards Christianity. Oh may there come great joy upon believers everywhere, that we may shout for joy and rejoice in God day and night. A joyful church -- let us pray for that, that the Lord may make us joyful, and when we have joy, then we will have success; and if we don't have the reward we think we should have here, let us constantly remember the rewarding time will come hereafter.
Some one has said, if you had asked men in Abraham's day who their great man was, they would have said Enoch, and not Abraham. If you had asked in Moses' day who their great man was, they would not have said it was Moses; he was nothing, but it would have been Abraham. If you had asked in the days of Elijah or Daniel, it wouldn't have been Daniel or Elijah; they were nothing; but it would have been Moses. And in the days of Jesus Christ -- if you had asked in the days of Jesus Christ about John the Baptist or the apostles, you would hear they were mean and contemptible in the sight of the world, and were looked upon with scorn and reproach; but see how mighty they have become. And so we will not be appreciated in our day, but we are to toil on and work on, possessing this joy all the while. And if we lack it, let us cry: "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit; then will I teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee."
Again, the 15th chapter of John, and 11th verse, reads: "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." And in the 16th chapter and 22d verse: "And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you."
I am so thankful that I have a joy that the world can not rob me of; I have a treasure that the world can not take from me; I have something that it is not in the power of man or devil to deprive me of, and that is the joy of the Lord. "No man taketh it from you." In the second century, they brought a martyr before a king, and the king wanted him to recant and give up Christ and Christianity, but the man spurned the proposition. But the king said: "If you don't do it, I will banish you." The man smiled and answered: "You can't banish me from Christ, for He says He will never leave me nor forsake me." The king got angry, and said: "Well, I will confiscate your property and take it all from you." And the man replied: "My treasures are laid up on high; you can not get them." The king became still more angry, and said: "I will kill you." "Why," the man answered, "I have been dead forty years; I have been dead with Christ; dead to the world, and my life is hid with Christ in God, and you can not touch it." And so we can rejoice, because we are on resurrection ground, having risen with Christ. Let persecution and opposition come, we can rejoice continually, and remember that our reward is great, reserved for us unto the day when He who is our Life shall appear, and we shall appear with Him in glory.
"THE Spirit, oh, sinner,
Oh, child of the kingdom,
Defiled is the temple,
-- P. P. Bliss.