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Joy and Power
by [?]

Christ never asks us to give up merely for the sake of giving up, but always in order to win something better. He comes not to destroy, but to fulfil,–to fill full,–to replenish life with true, inward, lasting riches. His gospel is a message of satisfaction, of attainment, of felicity. Its voice is not a sigh, but a song. Its final word is a benediction, a good-saying. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

If we accept His teaching we must believe that men are not wrong in wishing for happiness, but wrong in their way of seeking it. Earthly happiness,–pleasure that belongs to the senses and perishes with them,–earthly happiness is a dream and a delusion. But happiness on earth,–spiritual joy and peace, blossoming here, fruiting hereafter,–immortal happiness, is the keynote of life in Christ.

And if we come to Him, He tells us four great secrets in regard to it.

i. It is inward, and, not outward; and so it does not depend on what we have, but on what we are.

ii. It cannot be found by direct seeking, but by setting our faces toward the things from which it flows; and so we must climb the mount if we would see the vision, we must tune the instrument if we would hear the music.

iii. It is not solitary, but social; and so we can never have it without sharing it with others.

iv. It is the result of God’s will for us, and not of our will for ourselves; and so we can only find it by giving our lives up, in submission and obedience, to the control of God.

For this is peace,–to lose the lonely note
Of self in love’s celestial ordered strain:
And this is joy,–to find one’s self again
In Him whose harmonies forever float
Through all the spheres of song, below, above,–
For God is music, even as God is love.

This is the divine doctrine of happiness as Christ taught it by His life and with His lips. If we want to put it into a single phrase, I know not where we shall find a more perfect utterance than in the words which have been taught us in childhood,–words so strong, so noble, so cheerful, that they summon the heart of manhood like marching-music: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

Let us accept without reserve this teaching of our Divine Lord and Master in regard to the possibility and the duty of happiness. It is an essential element of His gospel. The atmosphere of the New Testament is not gloom, but gladness; not despondency, but hope. The man who is not glad to be a Christian is not the right kind of a Christian.

The first thing that commended the Church of Jesus to the weary and disheartened world in the early years of her triumph, was her power to make her children happy,–happy in the midst of afflictions, happy in the release from the burden of guilt, happy in the sense of Divine Fatherhood and human brotherhood, happy in Christ’s victory over sin and death, happy in the assurance of an endless life. At midnight in the prison, Paul and Silas sang praises, and the prisoners heard them. The lateral force of joy,–that was the power of the Church.

“‘Poor world,’ she cried, ‘so deep accurst,
Thou runn’st from pole to pole
To seek a draught to slake thy thirst,–
Go seek it in thy soul.’

* * * * *

Tears washed the trouble from her face!
She changed into a child!
‘Mid weeds and wrecks she stood,–a place
Of ruin,–but she smiled!”

Much has the Church lost of that pristine and powerful joy. The furnace of civilization has withered and hardened her. She has become anxious and troubled about many things. She has sought earthly honours, earthly powers. Richer she is than ever before, and probably better organized, and perhaps more intelligent, more learned,–but not more happy. The one note that is most often missing in Christian life, in Christian service, is the note of spontaneous joy.