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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 hea. viness through manifold temptations.” Nevertheless they rejoiced " greatly." You see now why I ask you
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 re. ligion. 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?
40. Lovest Thon Met
We make a profession of Christianity, and go along from day to day, and perhaps from year to year, supposing that we are Christians, and that all is well with us; that we are equipped for the en. counter of death, and prepared to meet our Judge, and take our place in heaven, when it may are not able to answer till after long consideration, and then with not a little doubt and misgiving, so simple a question in Christian experience, as "Lovest thou me?" Peradventure the utmost we dare say, after all our reflection and self-research, is, " I really do not know how it is. I hope I love him.” This will never do. The question, “ Lovest thou me,” is one which every person, making any pretensions to Christianity, ought to be able to answer affirmatively at once. Indeed we ought not to give our Savior any occasion to ask the question. It is very much to our discredit-it should make us blush and be ashamed -that our manifestations of love to him are of so equivocal a character as to leave the very existence of the affection doubtful, and to render it necessary for him to interrogate us in reference to it. There are many less lovely beings than Christ that have not to ask us if we love them. We act in such a manner towards them that they cannot for a moment doubt the fact of their being dear and precious to us. They do not want our words to assure them. They
have our uniform conduct and deportment making the silent yet most forcible declaration. Has your parent to ask you if you love him, child ? Have husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and friends, to ask this question of each other? O nonone but Christ has to ask us if we love him! And he has not only to ask the question, but to wait, sometimes a long while, for an answer. We have to consider and go into an examination, and call up our conduct to the bar of judgment, and dissect our very hearts, before we can venture an answer. This is strange. It is not so in other cases. If a relative or a friend, more for the gratification of a renewed expression of our love, than from any doubt of its existence, ask us if we love him, do we keep him waiting for an answer? Do we say, “Well, I must consider. I must examine myself. I hope I do” No, indeed. We are ready with our affirmative. Nor is it a cold yes we return; but we express our surprise at the question. Love you!" And we assure the person in the most emphatic and ardent language that we love him, and all our manner shows him that we speak out of the abundance of the heart. But we do not express surprise that our Savior should ask us if we love him. We do not wonder at the question from him. We know too well how much reason we give him to doubt our affection.
Why should there be such a difference in favor of the earthly objects of our love? Is not Christ as lovely
as those other beings—as deserving of affection attractive of love? He is altogether lovely. Are they? He possesses infinite loveliness. Nor does that ex
all. He is essential Love. Nor love at rest, but in motion; nor far off, but near; exerting infinite energy in action, exercising infinite fortitude in suffering ; earth the scene, and man the object. It is he who asks, “Lovest thou me ?'' And he of whom he asks it is this man, the intelligent spectator of all this love; aye, its chosen and cherished object.
If Christ was not nearly related to us, as those other beings are, that might be the reason of the difference in their favor. But who is so closely related to us, so intimately joined to us, as Christ? He formed us, and in him we live, move, and have our being. Does not that imply nearness? Is he divine, while we are human? He is human as well as divineone of the brotherhood of flesh and blood. He came down to earth to take our nature on him, nor went up to heaven again without it. There it is our humanity allied to divinity, divinity radiant through it, on the throne. Is he not related to us? He says of every one who does the will of his Father, “the same is my brother, and sister and mother.” That alone relates us to him more than all human ties. But that is not all. Christ is the husband of the church. He is one with it. If we are his disciples, he is the vine and we the branches
he the head