There are no words to describe how sweet this joy is

One of my favourite books is Religious Affectations, by Jonathan Edwards and I am thoroughly enjoying re-reading it at the moment.  He begins, of course, by quoting from 1 Peter 1:8, describing the state of mind of his Christian readers, who are undergoing tough persecution.  Peter writes “Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory”.

It’s a terrific verse about the love we, Christians, have for Jesus, even though we can’t see him, and the joy we have in Jesus, even though that joy is, in some sense, inexpressible.  And so, Edwards argues that true religion consists of love to Christ and joy in Christ, even under intense persecution.  There’s nothing clever about Edwards’ argument, he’s simply stating the content of the verse.  But, there’s certainly something in the way he explains this verse that makes this love for Christ and joy in Christ grow in me as I read.

Just read how he describes the nature of the joy we have in Christ.

The nature of this joy; “unspeakable and full of glory.” “Unspeakable” in the kind of it; very different from worldly joys, and carnal delights; of a vastly more pure, sublime and heavenly nature, being something supernatural, and truly divine, and so ineffably excellent; the sublimity, and exquisite sweetness of which, there were no words to set forth. Unspeakable also in degree; it pleasing God to give ’em this holy joy, with a liberal hand, and in large measure, in their state of persecution.

Their joy was “full of glory”: although the joy was unspeakable, and no words were sufficient to describe it; yet something might be said of it, and no words more fit to represent its excellency, than these, that it was “full of glory”; or, as it is in the original, “glorified joy.” In rejoicing with this joy, their minds were filled, as it were, with a glorious brightness, and their natures exalted and perfected: it was a most worthy, noble rejoicing, that did not corrupt and debase the mind, as many carnal joys do; but did greatly beautify and dignify it: it was a prelibation of the joy of heaven, that raised their minds to a degree of heavenly blessedness: it filled their minds with the light of God’s glory, and made ’em themselves to shine with some communication of that glory.

There are no words to set forth the exquisite sweetness of the joy we have in Christ.  You can enjoy the rest of the chapter and the whole book here.

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