You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
There are wants of the soul which no earthly good can satisfy. The happiness to meet these wants consists in a calm, cheerful, submissive, contented frame of mind.
I. This happiness is not only a privilege, it is A SACRED AND MOST IMPORTANT CHRISTIAN DUTY.
1. By far the greater part of the unhappiness which people complain of, is of their own procuring, and is to be set down as resulting, not from any unavoidable necessity, either in nature or circumstances, but from a perverted free agency, from violating some of the laws of our being, from voluntary indiscretions, errors, and sins. Remove the sources of unhappiness, and little comparatively would remain to embitter the cup of life, or make us unhappy. If the unhappiness is caused by ourselves, then it is our "duty" to cease from so profitless, so bad a work.
2. It is our duty to be happy, because it is our duty to be right — right in our feelings, principles, habits, and aims; and just so far as we are so, we must, and we shall be happy. The happiness of which I speak is in the state of the mind, and independent, in great measure, of outward circumstances.
3. God wishes us to be happy. This cannot be doubted by any who believe that God is a Being of infinite wisdom and goodness. True, in our present state, there are many things within and without, which tend to perplex and try us, and, in point of fact, do often greatly interrupt and disturb our happiness. These, we have seen, are partly our own procuring. So far as they come in the course of Divine Providence, they are means designed of our Father in heaven to promote our present and future happiness. They are among the "all things that work together for good."
4. Look at the constitution of man as made in the image of God, and formed to share, in his measure, in the happiness of God. A law pervades your whole mental constitution, making it certain that the right normal exercise of your powers and affections can result only in making you happy.
5. From the abundant means God has provided to render you happy. He who made you, and made you to be happy, has provided means adapted to gratify all your desires and aspirations, so far as they are right and proper. The means God has provided for our happiness do not stop in the things of earth and time.
II. THE METHOD OR WAY TO BE HAPPY.
1. We must leave off making ourselves unhappy. Turn out all those consumers of happiness which are so apt to find a home in the bosom. Their name is legion, and by many they are indulged and nursed to the overthrow of all internal peace and comfort.
2. Cultivate kind and benevolent affections — love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, goodness, truth. These virtues, in habitual exercise, as they are required to be, cannot fail to diffuse sunshine and pleasantness over the whole mind and life.
3. Note the Saviour's prescription for being happy, as contained in the opening of His Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are they, etc. What is the principle, the source, of the blessedness expressed in these different terms? Plainly it is internal; it springs from the affections.
III. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING HAPPY. It is not necessary to dwell on this. It is not, however, common for happiness to be inculcated as a duty. It is usually regarded as a matter which everyone must be left to dispose of as he chooses, without incurring any moral responsibility.
(J. Hawes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.