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CHAPTER 15

ATTRIBUTES OF HOLINESS—JOY

Joy forms an essential element of true holiness. As caloric pervades matter, so joy is interfused through every sanctified soul. It may be developed more on some occasions than on others but it is always there. Not that a saint of God is exempt from sorrows, but in the midst of sufferings he can say with the Apostle,

As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”—II Cor. 6:10.

Vessels floating on a river are driven up stream by the wind, but underneath, the current flows steadily on to the ocean. So the sad occurrences of life occasion grief to the saint, while down deep in the heart joy reigns undisturbed. This joy is not of earthly origin. It does not stand connected with temporal prosperity. Prosperity does not create it; adversity does not destroy it. The good opinion of our fellow-men does not set it in motion, nor their persecutions stop its steady flow. It does not spring from the consciousness of the possession of any gifts, natural or gracious. It is supernatural in its origin; pure and holy in its nature. It comes from God as directly as pardon comes from God. It is imparted to the soul by the direct power of the Spirit. Hence it is called the joy of the Holy Ghost. That is, the joy which the Holy Ghost imparts. It is a God-given happiness—happiness intensified. It is not levity. It is a solid joy.

There is a strong tendency to undervalue this joy. It is spoken of frequently by professed Christians in a contemptuous manner, as emotional, affecting only weak-minded persons, and short-lived in its continuance. That it is emotional, we admit. So is the compassion which leads us to relieve the suffering, without which, we are as

sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”—I Cor. 13:1.

And whoever reads his Bible will find that some very strong-minded persons have been affected with joy to an overpowering degree. David was a mighty man. But so great was his gladness when the ark of the Lord was brought up into his city, that “he danced before the Lord with all his might.” When his proud wife “saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.” (II Sam. 6:14, 16.) But God cursed her and blessed the king. As to its duration, holy joy is to last forever.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”—Isa. 35:10.

That this joy is an essential element of true holiness, we prove from the Scriptures.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.”—Acts 2:28

The way of life is a saving knowledge of God. A look of approbation from Him fills the soul with joy.

I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”—John 16:22.

The disciples were sad at the prospect that Jesus was about to leave them. He consoled them with the promise that He would manifest Himself to them spiritually—would be with them always, and this would afford them a joy that no man could deprive them of. This joy is just as free for the disciples of Jesus now as it was then. More than this, it is positively promised.

He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”—John 14:21

Every holy soul obeys Christ, and so Christ gives him a joy that man cannot take from him.

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”—Rom. 14:17

Here holiness is said to consist of three elements. We have just as much right to conclude that we have it when we are destitute of the righteousness as we have, when destitute of the joy. God has joined the three together. Let no man put them asunder.

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.”—Acts 13:52

This, too, was in the midst of a violent persecution.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.Gal. 5:22.

No one can have true holiness without having the Spirit of God. But wherever the Spirit of God is, it will bring forth its appropriate fruits,—not one, but all,—not in some favorite localities, merely,—but in all places—not occasionally, but constantly. Joy is just as really one of the fruits of the Spirit as love or peace. Whoever has the Spirit of God has joy.

In whom though now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”—I Peter 1:8

Whoever enjoys true holiness is a believer in Jesus. But all believers have joy unspeakable and full of glory.

How explicit are the Scriptures on this point. They show plainly that wherever holiness is, there is joy. We might go on at an indefinite length, for the Scriptures are as full, as they are plain; but if these passages which we have quoted do not carry conviction, no amount of proof will avail. The difficulty is beyond the reach of argument—it lies in the heart and not in the intellect.

But we are not alone in our opinion of the teaching of the Bible in this matter. John Wesley says, “True religion, or a heart right towards God and man, implies happiness as well as holiness. It is not only righteousness, but also peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Joy wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, by the ever blessed Spirit of God. This peace, joy, love—this change from glory to glory is what the wisdom of the world has voted to be madness, mere enthusiasm, utter distraction. But thou, O man of God, regard them not; be thou moved by none of those things. See that no man take thy crown.

“Joy in the Holy Ghost will far more effectually purify the soul, than the want of that joy; and the peace of God is the best means of refining the soul from the dross of earthly affections. Without doubt our joy in the Lord will increase as our love increases.”

President Edwards was a rigid Calvinist—a man of gigantic intellect, great learning and solid piety. He says, “The Scriptures speak of holy joy, as a great part of true religion. So it is represented.

“And as an important part of religion, exhorted to and pressed with great earnestness.

Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.’—Ps. 37:4Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous.’—Ps. 97:12. So, ‘Rejoice in the Lord, O, ye righteous.’—Ps. 33:1Rejoice and be exceeding glad.’—Matt. 5:12. ‘Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.’—Phil. 3:1Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice.’—Phil. 4:4. ‘Rejoice evermore.’—I Thess. 5:16Let Israel rejoice in him that made him; let the children of Zion be joyful in the King.’—Ps. 149:2

This is mentioned among the principal fruits of the Spirit of grace. (Gal. 5:22.) The Psalmist mentions his holy joy as an evidence of his sincerity.

I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies as much as in all riches.’—Ps. 119:14.

“He who has no religious affection, is in a state of spiritual death, and is wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving influences of the Spirit of God upon his heart.”

The hymns that are sung by all denominations present precisely the view of joy as forming an essential element of true holiness which we have here set forth. In many a church they sing with Watts,

The men of grace have found, Glory begun below.

If glory is not begun in your heart, there is a serious lack in your experience. In like manner, we sing with Charles Wesley,

How happy every child of grace, Who knows his sins forgiven.

But similar sentiments are found in every orthodox hymn book. If they are not true, why sing them? Is it right to sing lies? If they are true, why settle down in your religious experience without this joy, as though an essential element of holiness were of no consequence? Many not only do this, but even oppose and persecute those who are enabled, through grace, to

rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”—I Peter 1:8

Others who do not go so far, treat these rejoicing ones in a patronizing kind of way, as though they were to be tolerated and pitied. True holiness of itself will make its possessor happy and triumphant. His springs are in God, and they never run dry. He does not go to the world for pleasures, but is

abundantly satisfied with the fatness” of God’s house, and drinks “of the rivers of his pleasure.”—Ps. 36:8

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