Sympathy And Song
“Rejoice with them who rejoice.”
SYMPATHY is a duty of manhood. We are all brethren sprung from the same stock and that which is a good to any man ought to be a joy to me. That any man should be sick or sorry should, in a measure, make me sad, but that any man should rejoice with a worthy joy–worthy of a creature made by God–should make other men thankful! But what is thus a natural duty is elevated into a yet higher duty and a more sacred privilege among the regenerate among the family of God, for over and above the ties of manhood in the first Adam, there are the ties of our new manhood in the Second Adam–and there are bonds which arise out of our being quickened by the same life! We have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” We are members of one body, having only one Head–and one life throbs through all the members of that body. Hence, for us to strive with one another in joy and in sorrow would be to act contrary to the sacred instincts which arise out of Christian unity! If, indeed, we are one with Christ, we are also one with each other, and we must participate in the common joys and common sorrows of all the elect family. This, again, gathers yet higher force when the joys in question shall be spiritual joys. I am bound as a Christian to be thankful when my Brother prospers in business, but I may not be quite sure that that will be a real blessing to him. But if I know that his soul prospers, then I may safely rejoice tothe very fullest, for that must be a blessing to him and will bring honor to God! If I hear that any community prospers, I am bound to be glad of it, yet I cannot be sure, if the prosperity deals with wealth, that it is, on the whole, the best thing in the world. But when I hear that a Church is growing, that its zeal abounds, that the Spirit of God is at work in it, that God is glorified there, then I am bound to rejoice, for this is a joy which no man takes away–a joy about which there can be no question–a joy which brings glory to God and, therefore, must bring happiness to all those who find happiness in God’s Glory!
Now I desire at this time to talk to you, beloved Friends at home, about a joy which God has recently given to us. If all those shall be present tonight who are to receive the right hand of fellowship, they will make up no less than 118 that God has added to our number! Some of them are friends who have joined us from other Churches. Some few are those who have long known the Savior–but the great majority are those who have lately been brought out of the world–lately been made to taste the new life! They have, we trust, washed their robes in the blood of Christ and are come here to say, “We belong to the people of God.” Now if this was not a joy to us, it ought to be! And my objective tonight is to make you merry–to make Believers' hearts merry with it–merry after the good old Gospel sort of which we read just now. “They began to be merry,” because the lost ones were found, the wanderers were restored. May God grant that a feeling of holy joy may go through the midst of this room! And if there are any in sorrow who cannot rejoice in their own joy, yet at least may their hearts be large enough to joy in other people’s joy! And if tonight they would be bowed down if they only looked within, may they rejoice in the prosperity of Zion and be glad in the glory which is brought to God! Keeping entirely to this one point, we shall begin by saying, “Rejoice with them who rejoice”–that is, rejoice with those who are the converts–who have themselves been brought to Jesus! If there are any persons in the world who must of necessity be happy, they are those who have newly found “peace through believing.” They may forget some of that happiness, by-and-by–all that arises from novelty will certainly depart–but now the love of their espousals is upon them, their heart rejoices in a new-found Savior! All their spirits are alive towards Him, their faith is in active exercise, their love is plain and, therefore, they are happy men and women! Find me those who have discovered Christ today, and I am certain I shall not find eyes full of tears, unless they are tears of joy! In looking back, I cannot remember any day in my whole life that was at all comparable to the day in which I looked to Him and was lightened. There have been joys since then–joys of all sorts have fallen to our lot, in a measure, but ah, that one day is still the great bright star in the skies, the red-letter day of all, the spiritual birthday, the day in which the soul came out of bondage and entered into its liberty! All those today, then, who are new converts and have come to cast in their lot among us–rejoice! And, my Brothers and Sisters, rejoice with them! You can enter into their joy, for you have tasted the same! Let the old memories be awakened, and the old love, and the old ardor. As you see them, think of the time when Jesus called you, and when you answered to His voice, sweetly compelled by His Divine Spirit. Let us now ponder together–
- THE REASONS FOR OUR SYMPATHIZING JOY.
In the case of some who will be added to us tonight, their joy is the greater, and ours with them, because their convictions of sin were painful. It was my lot in some cases to see them when the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them–when their sin haunted them day and night and they found no rest. And I thank God I had the privilege in some cases of speaking the word that God had ordained should turn their darkness into day–and I saw the change, the strange and marvelous change–which indicated itself upon their countenances when they said, “We understand it now. We trust the Savior, and our hearts are glad.” Oh, you that ever felt the shackles and fetters of sin and Satan, do you remember how you leaped when they fell to the ground? Oh, participate, then, in the joy of those who have gained deliverance from their cruel sin and from the bondage of their many fears!
In some cases, too, some of those converted to God have, since their conversion, been partakers of very remarkablepeace. I now have in my memory the stories of one or two of them of the exceeding joy they have felt. They have not lost it, I trust, but it was, indeed, a peace of God which passed all understanding which filled their hearts and minds! Now you who have drunk of that sweet cup may sip this honey dropping from the comb! You cannot but rejoice when you think that they should be so full of joy! There were some aged ones, and they thanked God that in the sere and yellow leaf they found Him–that though 50 and even 60 years had been spent in the service of sin and Satan, yet they were delivered from going down into the Pit! Rejoice with them! Some were young, very, very young–and I may say of some children to whom I spoke, their conversion and their testimony was as clear–indeed, it was more clear than the testimony ofmany who were in middle life! And what a blessing when the young heart is wedded to the Savior, when the dawn of the morning has the dew of Grace upon it–when the soul comes into the bosom of the Savior while yet it is a lamb! Oh, bless God for the young and for the old, that they have come to Jesus and are resting in Him!
Think, dear Friends, in the case of some whom God has converted here–and I may say in the case of some who will be added to us tonight–we joy when we remember what they were. I will not enlarge, but some here present could telltheir own story of what Grace has done. Sitting here tonight, but a few months ago the ale-bench would have suited them far better! Singing songs of Zion, now, but unchaste music once would have suited their lips far better! But they are washed! They are pardoned, sanctified and changed! And as they rejoice in the change they feel, we cannot but rejoice with them!
And then think of what they would have still been if Grace had not interposed, yes, and of what every one of uswould have been today, and will be, unless the Grace of God shall keep its hold upon us, as, glory be to God, we believe it will, for every soul that is saved by Grace, if it had not been for that salvation, would have been cast away forever from the Presence of God–another firebrand in the everlasting flame–another soul that would have gnawed its firetormented tongue in vain, and asked for a drop of water–but to receive no answer of mercy! O Sirs, if you do not praise God for souls snatched from the jaws of Hell and, by Divine Grace, taught to walk in the way of Heaven, what will you praise Him for? If Heaven itself is glad, you who hope to go to Heaven, will you not participate in the joy? Otherwise, indeed, you seem to be unfit for that hallowed place and not to have the capacity which is necessary to enter into the joy of your Lord. They are glad. I would like you to have heard some of them at the Church Meeting here–how they gladly told of what the Lord had done for them! If there were but one, I would be glad. When God gives us scores we will be glad, and glad, and yet glad again! I went home very weary one day with seeing so many. The second day there were still more and I was more weary! I would like to die with such weariness, for it is such blessed work–this work of bringing in souls that are of the Lord’s planting, and of the Lord’s ripening, to the garner of His Church. Rejoice, then! Rejoice again! Rejoice with the converts!
I hear here and there a faint voice saying, “Ah, I wish I could! I am glad they are converted, but I wish I were.” Oh, Soul, I am glad to hear you say that, for when a heart longs for Christ, it will soon have Him! If you desire Him, He is free to you! Oh, when you say, “I would I were His. I would bow my neck to His gentle yoke. Oh, that He would forgive me and have mercy on me”–come and welcome! Come and welcome! You have but to trust and the work is done! You are saved! God grant that you may do it tonight!
But now advancing a step tonight, dear Friends, we ought to rejoice with the friends of the converts, for when soulsare saved they do not have the joy all to themselves. There are others concerned in it. There are parents and, in some cases, they have brought up their children with much anxiety and godly fear–and they have trembled lest the son and daughter of their love should depart with an evil heart of unbelief from the living God! And there are cases here in which parents have seen all their children coming forward and saying, “We are on the Lord’s side.” I do not think any joy–there may be a greater joy, but I do not think any is sweeter than the joy of parents who see their children walking in the Truth of God! O you who have the same anxieties, enter into the joy of those whose anxieties are turned to confidence! In some cases it was not the parent, alone, but other friends–brothers and sisters–in some cases a husband–in more cases, still, a godly wife–in some a Christian nurse. Such have had anxieties and turned them into prayers and the prayers grew into an agony of soul–and they have seen the persons that they prayed for saved! They have heard those who once denied the Savior, confess Him. They have seen the proud sinew broken and the stout heart bowed down in repentance, and they are glad, very glad, tonight. Oh, let us sympathize with them, then, and enter into their joy! I think I hear one say, “So I would, but ah, it seems to send a pang into my soul to think I have not been saved.” Well, I will not forbid the pang–it is natural, it is gracious–but at the same time will you not be glad that another has that which you do so covet? Be not envious! You may be–it is natural you should–but prevent the envy by entering in holy sympathy into the joy. It may be that if you can rejoice with their parents and with all other friends, when you have so done, you will be driven with greater anxiety to the Savior and, in answer to a more earnest prayer, the benediction will come to your household, too! Oh, they are glad houses in London where husband and wife walk together in the faith! They are not always the rich. They are not always the healthy. But they are always the happy who unite themselves in the bands of the Covenant of Grace with each other to the Lord, and walk hand in hand so! We will rejoice tonight with those who rejoice!
I can only stay a minute where there is plenty of room to enlarge, and notice, in the next place, that we ought to rejoice with those who were the means of bringing those who are added to us to a knowledge of the Savior. I would not arrogate any honor to myself whatever. Still, I have a joy, a joy which no man takes from me, that there have been many, many, many souls who have been brought to see the Savior and put their trust in Him by a simple testimony of the Word. Sometimes I know, indeed, that I could reckon up more than ten thousand souls that profess to have found the Savior through the hearing of the Word of God. And the world may say what it will, men may condemn as they will, but while God will seal the Word, we will bate no jot nor tittle of it, but still preach as we have received commission from the Lord of Hosts. But I am very thankful to have to add that in the cases of all the conversions that are worked here, there is a very large number that are brought to Christ not through the ministry from the platform, but through the ministry of many of my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ who are here working for the Master with heart and soul! How rich has God made us–ah, some of our dear Brothers and Sisters especially–in the leading of young minds to the Savior. You will thank God for it who have brought hundreds to Christ! The Sabbath school has not been without a blessing. And in your tract distributing we have had cases of conversions! And from obscure and unknown individuals, occupying these pews tonight–from them there has been fruit! There are quiet, gracious women here who have brought in one or two to Jesus by their pious conversation. I am pleased when I hear such a story as this–“We never went to the House of God, Sir, but such-and-such a member of your Church became a servant-girl with us, and she was a quiet spirit and seemed so happy that we asked where she went–and we came, too–and we have come to join the Church of which she is a member, because of that.” That has happened again and again!
Yet, alas, there are other members of the Church whose conduct would not be the means of the conversion of anybody, but the very reverse! Yet I thank God for not a few whose lives and whose testimonies have, to my knowledge, brought many to the Savior. None know your names, Beloved! None can sound the trumpet before you, but you have been faithful servants in a few things! You will, in your turn, be made rulers over many things and you shall enter into the joy of your Lord! Oh, believe me, my heart is full when I think of sinners saved by simply telling the story of the Cross! This is a joy that the miser does not know of when he gloats over his treasure–a joy which the warrior knows not of, even when he rides in triumph through the streets–a joy which earth could not produce–from all her mines and all her fountains–the joy of bringing souls to Jesus Christ, their Savior! Rejoice, then, tonight with them that do rejoice.“ "Oh,” says one, “I would, but I never was the means of the conversion of a soul.” Do you remember our Brother’s prayer last night, that every member of this Church might, during the year, be the means of the salvation of one soul? As he said, it was not a very large prayer–but if it were answered, there would be 4,500 more souls called by your instrumentality in that way! I know I said, “Amen,” to it, and I do say, “Amen,” to it! And I do pray that there may not be one barren one among you, but that the Lord may grant Grace to everyone to bring at least one to the Savior in 12 months! God grant it, for His name’s sake! Well, if that is so, then you will be among those who will rejoice–and now you may rejoice in the anticipation of it! I am sure if you have not been useful, yourself, you cannot but be thankful to God that others have been–and you will rejoice with them that do rejoice!
Again, we must pass on, but this time our joy must take a higher range–our thought must take a higher sweep! We have spoken of those who are converted, and of their kinsfolk and acquaintances, and of those who were the instruments of their conversion–but there are others who are rejoicing besides those on earth. The angels rejoice. Did we not readjust now, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents”? Angels have more to do with us than we know of. They are next akin to us, and they have a holy sympathy with us. They watch us when we go astray and when they perceive us hearing the Word, I do not doubt they hover over us to observe, as best as they can, how far the Word operates upon our mind! We read in Scripture–and that is the reason why the woman’s head is covered, that she is to have a covering over her head because of the angels–but some read it because they observe the decorum and propriety of the assembly and even if we do not, they do. Angels, then, we believe, are in the midst of the congregations of the faithful, and when they see a sinner hearing the Word, I doubt not they watch with such anxiety as may be possible to spirits that cannot be unhappy! And when they follow home the Hearer, and they mark the expression, and they note the beginning of the prayer, I should not wonder but they whisper it as news in all the golden streets, “Behold, he prays!” And when they see the tear of repentance, that first ensign of the Grace of God, which, like the snowflake that comes in spring to be the prophet of the cooling summer–when they see this tear of penitence which foretells this change of heart and is the token of its having come–then they speed their way and tell their fellows up yonder and they strike their harps anew! There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents–
“And shall not we take up the strain?”
They who are not of our race rejoice when any of our race are saved–and shall we be so flinty-hearted as not to be glad? No! You spirits, though we see you not, we hear–and what is done above is done here below! Your joy is participated in tonight.
But now we must go much farther. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice.” There is one (His name be ever blessed!)–the Eternal Father and, therefore, though it is speaking after the manner of men, it is also speaking after the manner of the Man, Christ Jesus, and we cannot err! We find that the father, when the prodigal returned, was the chief in all the joy. He called others to rejoice with him, but it was thus, “Rejoice with me, for this, my son, which was dead, is alive again; he was lost, but he is found.” In all the festival of that glad day there was joy with the neighbors and joy in the poor penitent son! But the greatest joy of all was in the glowing heart of the father who had loved his son, when his son loved him not–had seen his son when his son was afar off, and had run to meet his son when he was returning. Have you ever thought, and will you think, tonight, of the joy of God over recovered sinners? The joy of God! He is ever blessed! Infinitely blessed, but still He condescends to allow us to describe Him as being in this respect of like passions with ourselves–a Father rejoicing over a returning son! Beloved, enter into Jehovah’s joy! Is God joyous–joyous over sinners saved? Let the sacred flame come on your soul. Have sympathy with your Father. Play not the part, the unworthy part, of the elder bother. As you yourselves were prodigals, and could not say, “These many years do I serve You,” rejoice with your Father, who, in pressing others to His bosom, is only doing in their case what He has done to you–
“With joy the Father does approve
The fruit of His eternal love.”
He always loved the soul that He saves–loved it before it was created, loved it in the purpose of predestination, loved it when it fell, loved it when He ordained it to eternal life and gave it to His Son–loved it when it hated Him. Is it not written, “His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins”? And that great love makes Him infinitely rejoice when He sees it recovered from its misery and danger and brought into a state of reconciliation and love to Himself. Share you, then, the Father’s joy!
But now forget not the joy of Another, never to be forgotten by us who are named by His name–the joy of the Shepherd who has found His sheep, that Great Shepherd of the sheep who laid down His life that He might save souls! Jesus is infinitely glad when a sinner repents! Measure, if you can, His joy. I have given you a task which you can never fulfill. I will give you two plumb lines, but they, like the deep you would measure, are themselves immeasurable! These two plumb lines are, first, the pangs He suffered for those souls and secondly, the love He bore and bears those souls. His joy in their salvation is proportionate, first, to the pangs He bore. So much the price, so much the value that He puts upon the purchase. By so much as the travail was bitter, by just so much the fruits of–that travail are sweet to Him. “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied”–only satisfied because He had the travail to obtain it, and He has obtained it. Had not the grief been deep, been Infinite, the joy had not been great enough to satisfy–to fill to the brim His soul with joy! I know Jesus was very sad when on earth, but yet I have sometimes thought that of all the men that ever lived, Jesus was the happiest Man, even in His sorrows, for it is not possible for a heart to be so full of love to others–to be so benevolent–and not to be happy! To love makes even suffering, in a certain sense, sweets for the object of loves. “The joy that was set before Him” made our Savior “endure the Cross,” but not with a common endurance. He so endured it that He “despised the shame” and though it was shame, and it broke His health, yet it was shame on which, in the majesty of His love, He trampled with a sacred joy. Now today–
“All His work and warfare done,
He into His Heaven is gone!
Now before His Father’s Throne,
There is pleading for His own.”
And as His own come to Him, one by one, and as they come sometimes in larger companies, the Savior does rejoice! Measure, I say, His joy by His pangs.
Measure it by His love, too, His great love, His boundless love, love which many waters could not quench and which the flood could not drown. Now I say to every godly heart, Can you refuse to be glad when Jesus is glad? If He rejoices over saved souls, will you not rejoice with Him? Is there not a sacred infection in that heavenly heart? Do you not catch light from those beaming eyes? If you see Him glad, you forget your little sorrows. You think them great, yet you forget them. I pray God you may know the meaning of that verse here, “Enter you into the joy of your Lord.” May you have His joy, Beloved, in you, so that your joy may be full, and so that you may rejoice with Christ who does rejoice. One other word–there is One other who rejoices–
“The Spirit takes delight to view
The holy soul He fires anew.”
Do we ever honor the Holy Spirit as we should? I fear we greatly grieve Him by our forgetfulness of Him. Think you a moment, Beloved. The Incarnation of Christ among the sons of men was a very, very great marvel of condescension! But I do not know whether the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in men is not, if possible, even a greater mystery of condescending love! Christ took on Him, flesh, but it was pure. No sin lives in His body. But the Holy Spirit dwells in sinful men. These bodies are His temples, but they are impure–and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is constantly made to see the depravity of our hearts! Now Jesus Christ walked among the sons of men and saw sin, it is true, and His holy soul was grieved, but in a certain sense He was separate from sinners. But here is the Holy Spirit, Infinitely pure, tender, jealous for holiness, and yet He comes to dwell in our spirits! In our spirits He dwells and, perhaps, by the week together we do not even recognize His presence! And every day we rebel against His government. He sees us unholy and He is grieved at it, for our sakes and for His holiness' sake. He works Divine Graces in us and then we permit Satan to come in and spoil those very Graces! He instructs us and then we forget it. He leads us and then we start aside–and all the while the dear faithful, gentle, dove-like Spirit does not leave us! He abides with us and in us continually! He hides Himself, sometimes, and withdraws His condescension, but God does not utterly take His Spirit from us.
Now in the case of every soul converted there have been strivings of the Holy Spirit. There have been resistances of the Holy Spirit. There have been grievings of the Holy Spirit. There have been sins against the Holy Spirit of many sorts and in many forms, but at last He has brought to bear Omnipotent persuasions upon the heart! At last He has put in His hand through the hole of the door and the soul has opened to the touch! At last He sees Jesus installed in the heart–Jesus, whom the Holy Spirit delights to honor, for it is His work and office to reveal Christ to the soul! And surely there is as much of joy in the Holy Spirit, Himself, as there is in the heart of Jesus, or in the heart of the Eternal Father when at last a soul is saved! The triune God is glad! He rests in His love! He rejoices over the converts with singing!
Come, Brothers and Sisters, let us, too, rejoice! Forget your own troubles a while! Forget, I pray, everything that might hamper and hinder, and let us come to the Table with our Brothers and Sisters, many of them who come here for the first time tonight! Let us feel that the fatted calf is killed and that the dancing and the music are with us, and let each be merry, rejoicing with the joy of our Lord, and with the joy which He has given to His saved ones! Oh, what joy it would be if all this congregation were saved! May we meet in Heaven, Beloved, every one of us!
Now suppose the preacher should receive a message tonight that every soul here would be saved except one, and suppose it were revealed to him who that one would be and he was expected, now, to point out that one! Oh, dreadful message! With what trembling would you all sit, each one afraid lest it should be yourself to be left unsaved. I have no such message, thank God! And yet, yet if I could hope that all here would be saved but one, I must confess my heart would be lighter than it is, for unless some of you repent, forsake your sins, and fly to Christ, the lost will not be one, but many! Dear Hearer, let it not be you! While Mercy, still with silken accents speaks and cries, “Return, return!” While Love with bleeding hands beckons and cries with the wounded side of Christ, “Oh, believe and come! Whoever believes on Him shall be saved, for he that believes and is baptized shall be saved. He that believes not shall be damned!” May God help you to trust in Christ and live! Amen.