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needful to happiness, even as money is reckoned by many to be; but it could not be pronounced to be the one thing needful. Religion ought to make you happy without the aid of any thing else. You should enjoy it, though you had nothing else to enjoy. Habakkuk says, "Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." He regarded religion as able alone to make him happy. And are we not commanded to be happy in religion alone-to "rejoice in the Lord," and that "evermore ?" Should we be commanded to be happy in it, if it needed some assistance to make us happy?
Religion is both exactly adapted and entirely adequate to make its subjects happy. It supplies the soul with a portion; and what does the soul want to make it happy but a suitable and sufficient portion? This the religious man has. THE LORD is his portion. Is not that a portion to make him happy? Is it not good enough, and large enough? If the world can make one happy, as some suppose, cannot much more the Maker of all worlds, and the owner of the universe? This portion is infinite, so that it can never be exhausted; and it is eternal, so that it can never fail. And while religion gives Pr. Thoughts.
us a portion, what a protector, what a provider, what a comforter it affords us! The best of fathers, and the friend that is more constant than a brother! Then, what present good it yields, and what promises it makes of greater good to come! What a prospect it holds out! O what hopes it inspires! The Christian has all these to rejoice in-Christ Jesus, the exceeding great and precious promises," the first fruits of the Spirit, and the hope of glory. Can any one say what is wanting in religion to make one happy?
Religion has made many happy. Peter, in his first general epistle, within the compass of only three verses, speaks of Christians as not only rejoicing, but rejoicing" greatly," yea, " with joy unspeakable and full of glory." He speaks of it not as a duty, or as a privilege, but as a fact. They did so. And what they so rejoiced in was Jesus Christ, and the prospect of the incorruptible inheritance, both which Christians have the same warrant to rejoice in now. Now, if religion made these happy, why should it not make others happy? Why should one enjoy it, and another not enjoy it, if both possess it? It was intended to make all its subjects happy-very happy.
I ask then, does it make you happy? Do you enioy religion? Now, do not evade the question. What is to become of us, if religion does not make us happy? If we do not enjoy it here, how shall we enjoy it hereafter? Barely to possess it hereafter
would not satisfy, even if such a thing could be. How can a religion which does not make us happy on earth, make us happy in heaven? The religion of heaven is the same in kind with that of earth. The only difference is in degree. The religion of earth is communicated from heaven. It must be of the same nature with it.
Besides, if our religion does not make us happy, how do we do our duty? We are commanded to rejoice. It is a part of practical Christianity to be happy. It is obedience to a precept. It belongs to the character of the doer of the word. Moreover, how are we to have satisfactory evidence that we possess true religion, if we have not joy in it? Suppose we had not love, would we be Christians then? No, certainly; for without charity a man is nothing. But why can we not be Christians without love? Because it is the fruit of the Spirit. And is not joy also the fruit of the Spirit? If love is the first named of the nine, joy is the second. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, &c." Gal. 5:22, 23. And these are not said to be the fruits of the Spirit. It is not the plu ral form that is used. They are not distinct produc tions. They are all one cluster-"the fruit of the Spirit." Now, since we have not love, we conclude we have not the Spirit; why should we not conclude the same if we have not joy? I know it may be said that there are many things to interfere with Christian joy. But while these may and do dimi
nish it and interrupt it, they do not therefore annihilate it. There was much to interfere in the case of those to whom Peter wrote. They were "in heaviness through manifold temptations." Nevertheless they rejoiced "greatly."
You see now why I ask you if you enjoy religion. You perceive that it is no insignificant question. Many profess to have religion, but are conscious that they do not enjoy it. They hope they are religious, but know they are not happy. They trust that God is their portion, but they have no joy in him. Indeed some are astonished that we should speak of religion as a thing to be enjoyed. They regard it rather as a thing to be endured-as a sort of penance, a system of privation. And in so far as it is not suffering, it is toil-a something composed of penance and task. When they betake themselves to any thing of a religious nature, they feel that they must. A sort of dire necessity constrains them. Such a religion may prepare a person for hell, but how it is to qualify him for heaven, I see not. And a religion which does not qualify a person for hea ven, certainly does not answer the purpose.
Many persons lament that their religion does not make them happy, and they wonder why it is. I suspect it is because they depend no more upon it to make them happy. They look for enjoyment too much to other sources. Perhaps, however, the reason they have so little enjoyment in religion is that
they have so little religion to enjoy. Now those who appear to have so little, should seriously inquire if they have any.
But some may say, "Religion sometimes makes us happy." But why only sometimes-why not always? The command is, "Rejoice in the Lord always;" and the same reason exists for being happy in religion at all times, as at any time. If you rejoice in the world, no wonder if your joy is often interrupted; but if God is your God, and he is evermore the same, why should you not rejoice in him evermore? But does not the Lord sometimes call to sorrow? True, but even then he does not call from joy. Joy and sorrow are perfectly compatible. Were they not coincident in the experience of Paul? "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing," he says. If there exists causes of sorrow which operate, that does not annihilate the causes of joy. They should operate too. If you seem to have nothing else to rejoice in, yet there are your sorrows; rejoice in them; well may you, if they work for you "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Did not Paul "glory in tribulations also."
Let not the reader rest satisfied until he enjoys religion. How are we to die by a religion which we do not enjoy? What can one enjoy when the world is receding if he cannot enjoy God?