1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice ever more.…
1. This is a rule to which one would think all men should be forward to conform. Who would not embrace a duty the observance whereof is pleasure itself? May it not be a plausible objection against it that it is superfluous since all men aim at nothing else but joy. Alas! When we consult experience we find the precept very ill obeyed. Who is not, at times, full of doleful complaints? It is quite true that men are very eager in the pursuit of joy, and beat every bush of nature for ii; but they find only transitory flashes of pleasure, which depend on contingent and mutable causes, residing in a frail temper, and consist in slight touches on the organs of sense, their short enjoyment being tempered with regret; so that men's usual delights are such that we should not if we could, and could not if we would, constantly entertain them: such "rejoicing evermore" being unreasonable and impossible.
2. It is a calumny on religion to say that it bars delight; on the contrary, it alone is the never failing source of true, steady joy, and not only doth allow us, but obliges as to be joyful. Such is the goodness of God that He makes our delight to be our duty, our sorrow to be our sin, adapting His holy will to our principle instinct; that He would have us resemble Him, as in all perfections, so in a constant state of happiness; that as He hath provided heaven hereafter, He would have us enjoy paradise here. For what is the gospel but "good tidings," etc.! and in what doth the kingdom consist but "righteousness, peace, and joy"? What is there belonging to a Christian whence grief can naturally spring? From God, "our exceeding joy"; from heaven, the region of bliss; from Divine truth, which rejoiceth the heart?" To exercise piety, and to rejoice are the same thing. We should evermore rejoice —
I. IN THE EXERCISE OF FAITH.
1. In God's truth, there being no article of faith which doth not involve some great advantage, so that we cannot but "receive the word with joy."
(1) The rich bounty of God in creation.
(2) God's vigilant care in providence.
(3) The great redemptive events and transactions of our Lord's earthly and heavenly life.
2. In the application of those verities wherein God opens His arms to embrace us. His invitations and soul remedies. Is it not, indeed, comfortable to believe that we have a physician at hand to cure our distempers, powerful succour to relieve, our infirmities, an abundant supply of grace?
3. In the real accomplishment of the "exceeding great and precious promises." How can the firm persuasion of heaven's glory be void of pleasure? or confidence in God's fatherly care, on which we can cast our burdens, and from which we receive full supplies?
II. IN THE PRACTICE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE. "The hope of the righteous shall be gladness," "rejoice in hope." All hope, in proportion to the worth of its object and the solidity of its ground, is comfortable — much more when reposed in and on God. If it please men much to be heirs to a great inheritance, or to expect promotion or wealth, although death, and other accidents may interfere, how much more shall that "lively hope of our inheritance, incorruptible," etc., which can never be defeated, breed a most cheerful disposition.
III. IN PERFORMING THE DUTY OF CHARITY. Love is the sweetest of all passions, and when conducted in a rational way towards a worthy object, it cannot bat fill the heart with delight.
1. Such an object is God. He infinitely, beyond all else, deserves our affections, and may most easily be attained; for whereas men are crossed in their affections, and their love is embittered, concerning God it is quite otherwise.
(1) He is most ready to impart Himself, and loved us before we could love Him.
(2) He encourages our love by sweetest influences and kindest expressions. Wherefore "they that love Thy name shall be joyful in Thee."
2. Who can enumerate or express the pleasures which wait on every kind and each act of charity towards men.
(1) In giving.
(2) In forgiving.
(3) In sympathy and help.In these we gratify our best inclinations, oblige and endear ourselves to our brethren, most resemble the Divine goodness, and attract the Divine favour.
(I. Barrow, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Rejoice evermore.
WEB: Rejoice always.