Puritanical joy

Taken from the intimation sheet: 2 November 2014

I finished last Sunday morning’s sermon by making a controversial claim – the Puritans were far from miserable, and we ought to read more of their work for the good of our souls!

I’ve heard it said that the Puritans used to lie awake at night troubled that someone, somewhere, might be happy. ‘Puritanical’ is still defined in my dictionary as ‘marked by stern morality’.

Not so.

There’s no doubt the puritans viewed many of the sources of entertainment in their day with some cynicism – but not because they were miserable, rather because they wanted people to find true joy in Jesus. This deep satisfaction in Christ will help to save us from turning to lesser Lords to find what only He can truly offer.

The puritan John Flavel expresses that desire powerfully in the following quote:

“Ecstasy and delight are essential to the believer’s soul and they promote sanctification. We were not meant to live without spiritual exhilaration, and the Christian who goes for a long time without the experience of heart-warming will soon find himself tempted to have his emotions satisfied from earthly things and not, as he ought, from the Spirit of God.

The soul is so constituted that it craves fulfilment from things outside itself and will embrace earthly joys for satisfaction when it cannot reach spiritual ones. The believer is in spiritual danger if he allows himself to go for any length of time without tasting the love of Christ and savouring the felt comforts of a Saviour’s presence. When Christ ceases to fill the heart with satisfaction, our souls will go in silent search of other lovers. By the enjoyment of the love of Christ in the heart of a believer, we mean an experience of the “love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

Because the Lord has made himself accessible to us in the means of grace, it is our duty and privilege to seek this experience from Him in these means till we are made the joyful partakers of it.”

We are not enslaved to our feelings, but make no mistake there is joy to be found in Jesus! The Lord has made himself available to us in the means of grace (Scripture, Prayer, Church ordinances). Lay hold of them, asking God to bless you with his joy for his glory.

Yours in His service