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11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
When John, in Patmos, was permitted to see it in vision, for the benefit of all the servants of God, he heard the redeemed of the Lord come with singing to Zion. It was no ordinary singing. He could only compare it to a tempest-a roar of many waters, and the sound of mighty thunderings, mixed with music, vocal and instrumental. Such a performance can only mean gladness of the intensist nature.
People sing when they are happy, and the strength of the song is in the ratio of the joy. When the gladness is very great, it can only express itself in rapturous shrieks, or in uncontrollable tears. But here is a gladness expressed with the stately measures of a regulated tempest of melody.
Consider its cause, and you will see that it contains the opened fountains of every conceivable joy.
"He hath judged the great whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hands."
To the common run of people, this may seem no cause of joy whatever. To the highest discernments among men, it means the vastest reformation of human life that is possible. Religion-the noblest, the grandest, the purest, the happiest concern of man-has become the ugliest, the foulest, and most abhorrent thing on earth: it has been made to stink in the nostrils of intelligence in all countries through association with the drivelling inanities of a presumptuous and unscriptural priestcraft, whose hands are historically dyed with the blood of the best of men, and who would shed blood in streams to-day if they had the power.
When Christ has torn up this system by the roots and tossed it, in destroying anger, into the abyss, no wonder that the welkin will ring with the glad shouts of righteous men. What gladness for Christ to take to himself his great power and to reign. What a different place the world will be where he is head and master and lord and shepherd of all. How fitting that such a change should be celebrated in one loud, long pæan of joy.
"The Kingdom" means blessedness for all people when the wicked are overthrown. They are unblessed now, as we painfully know. The knowledge is often a distress: but here is gladness. The evils we deplore, which all kinds of men and movements are vainly trying to mend, will all disappear when they have served their purpose in this preparatory phase of the world's history. The present darkness in all departments of human life will flee away before the bright morning that will come with Christ. Therefore, as it is written,
"Let us be glad and rejoice, for the marriage of the Lamb is come(ing)."
The bride and bridegroom, when they enter into possession of the earth-portion the Father has given them, will occupy and administer for the glory of God and the good of all mankind.
We go one step higher, and the case for gladness is complete. If the Kingdom will be good for the world as subjects, what will it be for us if we are permitted to reign? It is to this we are called. It is this that Christ promises. It is no flight of poetic imagination when we try to realise what it means for us when the promise is fulfilled. Are you now weak and burdened? You will then be strong and light of heart and foot. Are you now harrassed with anxieties and difficulties in the way of providing necessary food, not to speak of the impossibility of doing for others what you would wish? There will be no end to the opulences of all things that will be under your hand for the great work of reigning with Christ. Are you small and despised-perhaps persecuted, perhaps oppressed by those about you?
You will be an object of deference and worship among the happy people over whom Christ will set you to rule. Are you pining for true friendship-the sweetness of loving and being loved? You will be dear to a multitude of the glorified saints whom you will often see, and will find a constant feast in your recollection of them all.
Are you oppressed with a conscious deficiency of knowledge and faculty and capacity, in various things, such as language, music, &c.? All this deficiency will disappear under a change of nature that will cause you to know as you are known, and to possess in their fulness the gifts of the spirit which the apostles tasted, and which they described as "the powers of the world to come."
You will be able to commune with the highest of the saints on matters on which perhaps at present you would not be at home, and to take part with any of them as an effective executant in their joyful feasts of song.
In a word, whereas you are now weak and low, mortal and insignificant, inconsiderable and unsatisfied, you will, if God be pleased with your faith and obedience, become strong and immortal, efficient and glad, important and joyful among a multitude similarly privileged.
You do not feel like it now. Remember it does not depend upon you at all except that conformity with the Father's will on which all ultimately depends. You are invited freely to partake of a feast of God's spreading. He is able to provide it. It is just as easy for Him to give all the good things He has promised, as to continue us in present lowly being. The elements of His power are all around. They merely require combining in the new shape He purposes. Take Him at his word and be glad.
"Be glad in the Lord, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye upright in heart."
"He will beautify the meek with salvation."
He will fill the earth with joy and praise. His word cannot fail.
"Thou yet shall find it true to thee."
Open your heart to all these things. You are, as it were, cheating yourself if you are not glad. We have to pull through the time. It is better we should do it in joy than in grief. There are causes of sadness, and sadness in its place is essential to the work of God, yet we may have too much for want of thinking. The gladness overtops all the sadness, and is so stupendous and so founded in the truth that only the dimness of our mental perceptions and the feebleness of our physical powers of endurance prevents us from being in a state of ecstacy all the day long.
Let us try and improve our attainments in this respect. Let us give God pleasure by our manifest gladness at knowing Him and the purpose that He has purposed to show unto us, the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus-not only in ages that have no flaw, but that will never end.
Exhort 280 TC 10/1896