The Full Joy of Christian Fellowship
1 John 1:4
And these things write we to you, that your joy may be full.

1. The joy which believers have for the present in this fellowship is a full joy, it being true of this joy, and no other, that it is a full joy.

(1) There are two adjuncts peculiar to this joy which demonstrate its fulness, to wit, the sincerity and the permanency of it. This joy is a sincere, cordial joy. A full shower of rain is that which doth not only wet the surface, but sink into the ground, bedew the branches, but go down to the root. That is a full joy which doth not only fill the face with laughter but the heart with comfort, and such, yea, such alone is joy. The joy of religion is not a light joy, which only swimmeth at the top, but weighty, and sinks down to the bottom of the heart, so that it exhilarateth the inmost parts. This joy is a permanent, lasting joy. That is most truly said to be full which doth not fail, and such only is this Divine joy. Other joys are such as, before they come, we make great account of, but when they are come we cannot keep, nay, we quickly grow weary of, and as the flower often sheds before the leaf fade, so the joy vanisheth while yet the thing remaineth. In this respect we may say of worldly joy it is satiating but not satisfying, glutting and yet not filling; but Christian joy is that which we can never have enough of.

(2) Not only the adjuncts, but the effects commend this joy, it being deservedly called a full because a strong joy, able to sustain the spirit under, and bear it up against affliction. Other joys at best carry in them only a partial emolument, and therefore it is the joy of wealth is no antidote against sickness, nor can the joy of health cure the sorrow of poverty, but this joy is the universal medicine, the catholic remedy against all sorts of miseries. It maketh a prison sweet and pain easy, it maketh a man cheerful in want and comfortable in losses, it turneth a wilderness into a garden, and finally, it supports in life, yea, it comforts in death.

(3) The fulness of this joy chiefly depends on the ground and object whereabout it is conversant. It is an undoubted maxim that the object of all joy is good, and therefore such as is the good such is the joy. If the good be only so in appearance the joy must needs be false and empty, but if it be a real, full good, the joy must needs be both true and full. Now, as for worldly joy, it is only in vain, empty things (Ecclesiastes 1:2), whereas this joy is fixed on God our Creator, Christ our Redeemer, and so is a true and solid icy.

2. Though this joy we have for the present be a full joy in opposition to carnal and worldly joy, yet in comparison of that celestial joy it is but empty, and rather filling than full; and therefore some conceive joy here to be, by a metonymy of the effect for the cause, put for blessedness, because then alone it is that we shall have full and perfect joy.

(N. Hardy, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

WEB: And we write these things to you, that our joy may be fulfilled.

Religion a Joy
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