Friday, February 01, 2008

Moderating temporal joys

Christopher Love has some helpful advice on this published at

Consider that religion does not extirpate or annihilate worldly rejoicing, but only regulates it. It is not like a weeding hook to pluck up your joy by the roots, but like a pruning hook to lop off the luxuriancy of it, and to keep your joy in its due decorum.

Beloved, religion does not annihilate, but regulates your joys; nay, being religious rather increases than in any way diminishes your joys.

Take this conclusion: the worldly joy of a godly man is oftentimes mingled with more inward gripes and grief of spirit than the worldly joy of a wicked man is. As in, "Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful" (Proverbs 14:13). In 2 Corinthians, the apostle there speaks of some who gloried in appearance, but not in heart (2 Corinthians 5:12). The joy of the wicked is but in appearance, not in reality. When they are in their greatest jollity and mirth, even then they have some inward gripes and anguish of conscience that galls and troubles them. A wicked man's joy is like a godly man's sorrow. The former's joy is but in appearance, not in truth. A godly man has something like sorrow, but it is not so indeed; they are but "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10). "The blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it" (Proverbs 10:22).

A smaller matter will interrupt the worldly joy of a wicked man than will interrupt the joy of a godly man, I mean, that outward worldly joy that he has here in this world, Ahab, though he had a whole kingdom, yet could take no contentment in it for want of Naboth's vineyard. A little thing diverts the joy of a wicked man, and therefore their joy is compared to the crackling of thorns under the pot (Ecclesiastes 7:6). They make a noise and blaze for a little while, but are soon put out. Belshazzar, when he was quaffing in his golden bowls, and in the midst of all his jollity, yet a hand writing upon the wall quickly dashed all his joys and made him hang down his head (Daniel 5).