Monday, June 7, 2010

Rejoice, O Christian!

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Phil. 4.4.)

William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, Vol. 1, p. 489:

2. To believers. You who have entertained the message of the gospel, rejoice at the news. Glad ti­dings and sad hearts do not well together. When we see one heavy and sorrowful, we ask him, what ill news he hath heard. Christian, what ill news hath Christ brought from heaven with him, that makes thee walk with thy folded arms and pensive counte­nance? Ps. 132:16. To see a wicked man merry and jocund, or a Christian sad and dumpish, is alike uncomely. ‘A feast is made for laughter,’ saith Solomon, Ecc. 10:19. I am sure God intended his people’s joy in the feast of the gospel. Mourners are not to sit at God’s table, Deut. 26. Truly the saint’s heaviness reflects unkindly upon God himself. We do not com­mend his cheer, if it doth not cheer us. What saith the world? The Christian’s life is but a melancholy walk. Sure, thinks the carnal wretch, it is a dry feast they sit at, where so little wine of joy is drunk. And wilt thou confirm them in this their opinion, Christian? Shall they have an example to produce Christ and his word, which promise peace and joy to all that will come to this feast? O God forbid that thy conversation, wherein thou art to ‘hold forth the word of life’—to live in the eyes of the world—and which ought to be as a comment or gloss upon the word, to clear up the truth and reality of it to others—forbid that this should so disagree with the text, as to make the gladsome tidings spoken of in it, more disputed and questioned in the thoughts of the unbelieving world than before. It is an error, I confess, and that a gross one, which the Papists teach—that we cannot know the Scriptures to be the word of God, but by the testimony of the church; yet it is none to say, that a practical testimony from the saints’ lives hath great authority over the consciences of men, to convince them of the truth of the gospel. Now they will believe it is good news indeed the gospel brings, when they can read it in your cheerful lives. But when they ob­serve Christians sad with this cup of salvation in their hands, truly they suspect the wine in it is not so good as the preachers commend it to them for. Should men see all that trade to the Indies come home poorer than they went, it would be hard to persuade others to venture thither, for all the golden mountains said to be there. O Christians, let the world see that you are not losers in your joy since you have been acquainted with the gospel. Give not them cause to think by your uncomfortable walking, that when they return Christians, they must bid all joy farewell and resolve to spend their days in a house of mourning.

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