Jubilee Joy; or, Believers Joyful in Their King
“Let the children of Zion he joyful in their King.”— Psalm cxlix. 2.
YOUR streets will ring with joyous acclamations when the Queen and court pass through them to the Abbey; and well they may! The jubilee of a good and great Queen is an event to be celebrated with enthusiasm. Our hearts are fully in accord with those who bless and praise God for his goodness to this country in giving us fifty years of the peaceful reign of Victoria.
God save the Queen! None pronounce these words with a more emphatic meaning and fervour than we do this day. We not only do not grudge our fellow-countrymen all the joy they have in their Queen, but we share with them to the full their loyalty and gratitude. Had we known what some countries have known of tyranny, war, or anarchy, we should have a much more vivid sense of the benefits bestowed upon us through the long and happy reign of our well-beloved Sovereign. Let us take care to blend a holy gratitude to God with our fervent patriotism. Be it ours to praise and bless the God who has sent us these favours. Wishing boundless blessings upon our earthly Queen, we ascribe all her prosperity and ours to that higher King from whom all blessings flow. Religion must ever sanctify loyalty. It would be idolatrous to think of the human and forget the divine. “Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?”
But, brethren, let us learn from the citizens of an earthly kingdom to rejoice in our heavenly King. Let us elevate our fervour into the higher sphere. There is another King, one Jesus; and, as believers in him, we are more truly citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem than of any city or country upon earth. Our divine Lord has called out believers from among the sons of men to make them a peculiar people, a nation set apart unto himself. The text, under the term “children of Zion,” indicates all who fear God, put their trust in him, and yield joyful service to his crown. Are we “children of Zion”? Do we glory in the one living and true God? Are we loyal to his Anointed, whom he has set as King upon his holy hill of Zion? This is the question for each man’s heart and conscience. We must be “born again” before we can be the happy subjects of the King of kings; for he is King of a spiritual nation, and by nature men are not spiritual. The carnal mind is enmity against God; and to become his friends we must receive new hearts and right spirits. We must be born into his kingdom by a heavenly birth, by the work of the Holy Ghost upon us; and the token of this new birth is a child-like faith in the Lord Jesus. Let us ask ourselves whether we have kissed the sceptre of Jesus, the Anointed Son of God. Do we believe and trust in him, who is Prophet, Priest, and King to his people? Is he our bosom’s Lord, sole monarch of our hearts? If so, we are called upon by the words of the text to be joyful in our King.
There have been kings in whom nobody could be joyful; they have been tyrannical, cruel, selfish, and their rule has oppressed their people. England has no such burden to bear. Under God our forefathers delivered us from despotism, and our Queen has faithfully observed those covenants which harmonize monarchy with liberty. For this may God be praised! Looking, however, to the higher sphere, we are joyful that Zion’s King is of such a sort that his government is an unmingled blessing. There are gods many whom the nations have set up over themselves; but in none of them can their votaries rejoice. The worship of these false deities is one of dread and terror, and their adoration is more fitly paid in dirges than in songs. Our God is known as “the blessed God”; he would have his people happy, and by his grace he makes them so. We rejoice in our King, because our King makes us rejoice. He bids us “come before him with thanksgiving, and show ourselves glad in him with psalms”; and we willingly do so, because he is “our exceeding joy.” Blessed religion, in which happiness has become a duty! Such is the character of our God and King, that—
“His nature and his works unite
To make his praises our delight.”
I pray that the Holy Spirit may shed abroad the perfume of the “oil of joy” this morning. May the beauties and glories of our King charm us into delightful praise! Away with care and sorrow! Away with doubt and despondency! Let us praise the Lord upon the loud cymbals; let us praise him upon the high-sounding cymbals. I pray the Holy Spirit the Comforter to produce in us the fragrant spikenard of holy joy; and may that holy joy, like the precious ointment of the woman who loved much, be all poured upon the person of our Lord and King!
I. In order that we may carry out the exhortation of the text, LET US BEGIN BY FEELING THAT THE LORD JESUS IS OUR KING. Alas! many who should be of a better mind are forgetful of this truth; they are not joyful in their King, for they have not yet learned his sovereignty.
Brethren, Jesus must have the pre-eminence among men, since he is in person and character pre-eminent. Who among the sons of the mighty can be compared unto the Lord? When the princes of the earth are gathered in their glory, who among them can be named in the same day with the Prince of Peace? Jesus is the best, therefore is he the chief. His person and character wear about them a superlative majesty; let every hand present a crown to him. “He is the standard-bearer among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely.” Since the Lord Jesus has no equal nor even rival, he is a born King; and were not men most blind and foolish, they would all salute him with loyal homage. From every corner of the globe if men were unfallen, there would arise the cry,
“Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown him Lord of all.”
Our King not merely has the power but the right to reign: he is in himself royal. As Saul, the first King of Israel, was head and shoulders above all other Israelites, so is our Lord and King higher than all others in an infinitely nobler sense; for in dignity of nature and glory of character he surpasses all. Let us distinctly recognize that Christ is infinitely above all others even of the saintliest, and wisest, and noblest. He is not one among many great teachers; he is himself the truth. He is not one star in a constellation, but the one light from which all lights are kindled. As the sun at his appearing causes the stars to hide themselves for very shame, so doth all excellence and honour veil before the superior brightness of our Lord Jesus. He alone can claim universal sovereignty by right of indisputable pre-eminence.
When we have remembered that he is thus the best and noblest, let us recollect that to each believer he is a King to be obeyed. He said, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” It is easy to think of Christ as a Saviour, and yet to forget that he is Lord; but the thought is as evil as it is easy. The doctrine of justification by faith alone is a most important truth: it is the vital essence of the gospel; but it must never be dissociated from the fact that he who saves us must reign over us. When his blood cleanses us his love rules us. He saves us from our sins, thus recovering us from our rebellions and revoltings into a happy loyalty, which finds its delight in obedience to the divine will. Those who would have Jesus for their Redeemer must
“Know, nor of the terms complain,
Where Jesus comes, be comes to reign:
To reign, and with no partial sway,
Lusts must be slain that disobey.”
Do any of you accept the promises of our Lord and neglect his precepts? This is to sin against him in a grievous manner. You proclaim yourselves rebels, and yet wish to share in the pardon which he brings. Is not this to act the part of hypocrites? Is his cross precious to you? How can it be if you turn your back on his crown? For once I will reverse a time-honoured motto, and say, “No crown, no cross.” Jesus will not be your Saviour if you refuse to let him be your Sovereign. You cannot have half of your Lord. He must be to you Christ— the Anointed King, or he will not be Jesus the gracious Saviour. Do not attempt to divide your Lord’s offices. The robe of Christ is without seam; and if even the rough soldiers cried, “Let us not rend it,” we earnestly beg you not to tear it. Let us accept sanctification as well as justification, righteousness as well as peace, the cleansing water as well as the pardoning blood. If we have a special joy in Jesus in any one capacity more than another, let us be joyful in him as our King. It should be bliss to us to be subject to his holy rule. If there seems anything hard about his claim of absolute sovereignty over heart, and lip, and life, why then at the very outset we are disqualified from rejoicing in our King. Let us entreat his Spirit to bring us under the rule of grace, until we yield our members instruments of righteousness, and every thought is brought into captivity to Jesus’ love. O my brethren, it will be heaven to us when Jesus reigns over our entire nature as Lord of all.
Further, let us follow this thought into a region where it is much needed. Jesus is King in the midst of his church. How often is this truth over-looked! There are disputes about what ought to be believed and practised in the church, and those disputes are settled by a court of law, or by reference to the Book of Common Prayer. Nay, sirs, this is not according to the kingdom of heaven: we fear it reveals a sad disloyalty to King Jesus. Secular courts have no authority in the kingdom of Jesus. In his realm he is himself the supreme head, and the Bible alone is the one law-book. Certain Christians are fond of deciding questions by the practice of the early church: but we know no authority in the practice of any church when it quits the faith once for all delivered to the saints. The acts of the Lord Jesus and his apostles are precedents enough for us. Certain churches refer to the minutes of deceased leaders, or to the decisions of councils, or to the theological systems of eminent reformers: but all this is forgetfulness of the one supreme authority. We have no king in the church but Christ. The crown rights of Jesus must not so much as be questioned, or all loyal hearts are wounded. I wish that with sound of trumpet we could again proclaim our King to-day. There is but one head of the church, and that head is Jesus Christ. There is but one law-book in the church, and that is the Holy Scripture, inspired of the Spirit of God. There is but one supreme centre of unity in the church, and that is the living God, of whom, and by whom, and through whom, are all things. The divisions and schisms of this day are mainly due to those secondary authorities within the church which have to a sad degree obscured the supreme authority of our Lord. Would to God we could come back once more to “one Lord,” for then we should also come back to “one faith and one baptism”! There can be no unity in the church except in Jesus, and in obedience to his undivided rule. It is only under the Lord’s own King that the promise shall be fulfilled: “And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.”
The sovereignty of our Lord must be observed not only by the church as a whole, but by each individual member of the church. We must not go beyond our Lord’s commands. We are not legislators, but subjects. Officers of the church are administrators of Christ’s law under him, but they must not be makers of laws, nor creators of doctrines, nor inventors of ceremonies. We may not amend his statutes; nay, we may not cross a “t” nor dot an “i” apart from him. Let this be sounded everywhere as with a trumpet— Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and sole King in the midst of his people. Distinctly recognize this, or you cannot rejoice in your King.
Another truth is also too much overlooked, namely, that Jesus Christ is head over all things for his church. His kingdom ruleth over all. All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth. In truth, he is the blessed and only Potentate. The kings of the earth wear their crowns and sway their sceptres by license from his throne. Propose what they may, they shall only fulfil his secret purpose and will. Fear not because of the great ones of the earth, for you have as your friend One who is greater than all. You look at cabinets, and you are distracted; you think of emperors and princes, and you are bewildered as you observe the windings of their diplomatic devices. Be comforted. There is one whose counsel governs councils, and whose kingdom rules over kings. All things are committed unto him of his Father, and without him shall not a dog move his tongue. The Father hath given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as he hath given him. He hath put all things under his feet. Clothed with honour and majesty, he waits till his enemies shall be made his footstool. To this thought I call your minds once again, that you may be encouraged amid the conflicts of the hour: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” even as this day he gives it to his Son.
Jesus will be seen to be King in the day of his second advent. If you will listen, and your ears have been opened, you may hear this day the trumpet which announces his speedy arrival. “Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” is the voice of these latter days to a church that slumbers. Both wise and foolish virgins sleep. The midnight starts at this clarion note: “He comes! He comes!” “He shall reign in Mount Zion before his ancients gloriously.” Behold he comes as King to judge the earth in righteousness, and his people with equity. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” We are to look for this, and to pray for this, saying every day in our prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven; for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.”
O ye saints, at this hour set your Lord on his throne! You have seen him in his crimson vesture, bowing in the garden of his agony; you have seen him “despised and rejected of men”; you have seen him on the tree of doom. Dry your eyes. He is no more the “man of sorrows,” nor the “acquaintance of grief”; heaven adores him, he hath gone up to his throne again amid the hosannahs of the angels and the hallelujahs of the redeemed. Let us praise and adore him this day. We sang “Crown him, crown him,” but we thought not of any visible pageantry: we can make no gallant show for him! What if we could? What honour could our pomp confer on him? He, in himself alone, far transcendeth all the splendour that ever was devised of the intellect, or pictured by the imagination. But you can crown him in your hearts to-day as King. Salute him with the intense devotion of your souls. Render him those deep-throated praises of which we read in this psalm, if we note the margin— “Let the high praises of God be in their throats.” My soul adores the Lord Jesus, and blesses him with all her strength in fulness of delight. Let the children of Zion fully recognize their King, that they may be joyful in him.
II. Secondly, LET US GO ON TO STUDY HIS ROYAL CHARACTER, that we may be helped to be joyful in him. Was there ever such a Prince as our Emmanuel, if we think of his person, his pedigree, his descent, his nature? This King of ours is not only the flower and crown of manhood, but he is also very God of very God. He is God over all, blessed for ever: the Son of the Highest. What a wondrous nature is that of Jesus, our Lord! Perfect manhood is in itself wonderful; we have never seen it, and never shall see it till we are taken up to behold him as he is. Perfect humanity, as seen in the glorified Jesus, is the wonder of the skies. In the character of Jesus there is neither deficiency nor redundance: he is without spot, and without lack. In him is perfect humanity, steeped in love. His life is love. He is love. He lives as the head of the new Covenant, as the second Adam, the father of the new-born race. Think of him in that light, and then link his humanity in your minds with his Godhead, without confusion of idea. In Jesus we do not see humanized Godhead, nor deified manhood; but he is distinctly God and distinctly man, yet both of these are in one Person, and must neither be confounded nor severed. Was there ever such a King! Among the shining ones the brightest cannot be his comrade. “To which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee?” Though he be reckoned among men, and is thus said to be “anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows,” yet to whom else but him could it have been said, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” “When Jehovah bringeth in the firstbegotten unto the world he saith, Let all the angels of God worship him.” Think of your King in his Person, and rejoice in him. My words fail to express my inward joy in that divine Lord, who is not ashamed to call us brethren. I sit down at his dear pierced feet, now sandled with eternal light, and I feel a sweet content, yea, an overflowing joy. I see a world of wonders meeting in my Lord— heaven come down to earth, and earth raised up to heaven; and I am joyful in my King.
We further follow our Lord joyfully as we think of his deeds of love to us. Well may we be joyful in our King, since in his lovingkindness to us has exceeded all bounds. The true splendour of kings lies not in what their people do for them, but in what they do for their people: and herein our Lord excelleth all the princes that ever lived. He took our nature, and was born a babe in Bethlehem. He did more than that, he lived among us, and bore the brunt of poverty, hunger, homelessness, contempt, and treachery. He died for us. Having given up for us his last garment, for they stripped him at the cross, he then gave up himself. With tenderness we can each say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” How royal was his love when the cross was its throne! What a crown was that which was made of thorns! What a sceptre was that which was held in the pierced hand! I call this real kingship. All else is mere stage-play. O sovereign love! Incarnate in Jesus, thou art imperial! Behold your King! Not only does he bleed beneath the lash of man, but he also bows beneath the bruises of his Father’s justice, and cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I beseech you, O loyal hearts, by the bitterness of your King’s agony, be joyful in him! If he loved you so, can you refuse to rejoice in him? He has poured out his heart for his people, that he might redeem them unto himself; shall we not be glad in him? Our acclamations shall all be given to him who has proved his greatness and his goodness, not by a largess of gold, but by the gift of himself.
When he had given this supreme proof of love, he was not satisfied yet. Having slept in the grave a while, he awoke, and left his sepulchre; but he did not leave his love: he arose to meet his followers, and nerve them for future service. After a while, when he had manifested himself to them in most familiar ways, he rose to heaven, a cloud receiving him out of their sight; then he changed his place, but he did not change his love. Ah, no! he went into heaven bearing the pledges of his affection in his hands, and feet, and side. He entered glory to carry on his intercession within the veil. His royal life is now spent in pleading for transgressors. All his thoughts are of his people: all his power is for his people, all his glory is in his people. I pray you, think not of my Lord and King according to the measure of my faltering speech, but joy in him according to that love of his which passeth knowledge.
“Love which will not let him rest
Till his people all are blest:
Till they all for whom he died
Live rejoicing at his side.”
Let us think a moment further of the glorious achievements of our King, that we may the more fully be joyful in him. This King of ours has fought for us, and won great victories on our account. Our King met the battalions of our sins in conflict. He encountered Satan, that tremendous foe. He fought hand to hand with death itself. The shock of battle was terrible. The sun was darkened, the earth shook, even the dead arose from their sepulchres to behold the war. Our hero stood alone, “of the people there was none with him;” yet he trampled down all our enemies as the treader of grapes crushes the clusters in the winepress. Thus he made an end of sin, broke the head of the old dragon, and put death itself to death, and led our captivity captive. Behold he cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah, travelling in the greatness of his strength, mighty to save! Shall we not salute him with Hosannas? Will we not be joyful in him? Daughters of Jerusalem, will you not go forth to meet him, even as the maidens of old went forth to meet young David when he returned with Goliath’s head? Will you not also sing, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Remember how Miriam and the virgins sounded their timbrels at the Red Sea, and spake saying, “Sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously!” In like joyous manner sing unto the Lord your King, and magnify his name.
It should stir you to enthusiasm to think of the principles of his government; for they are fountains of peace and purity. Jesus founded his empire upon love, and his own self-sacrifice is the corner stone of that Imperial fabric. His action is always love, and his teaching is always love. As he loved us and gave himself for us, so his golden rule is that we do to others as we would that they should do to us. This is sadly forgotten even by some who call themselves Christians: but if this principle once took possession of men’s minds, we should have no schemes of the poor to rob the rich, and no greed on the part of the rich by which they grind down the poor. If our King were obeyed, man would no longer be man’s worst enemy, but the bands of brotherhood would unite mankind in a league of mutual sympathy. If we heard our Lord say, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another,” and if we practised that commandment, what a kingdom of heaven should we see upon the face of the earth! Let us trust and hope and pray that it may yet be so. Oh for the time when the Shepherd King shall judge the poor and needy, and break in pieces the oppressor! “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.” His blessed principles of truth and love should make his people joyful in him.
I think I might appeal to every Christian here, and say, you have personal reasons for being joyful in your King; you love him because he has first loved you. He hath been wondrously condescending to all his saints, and to us among them. Many a time hath he appeared unto us, and said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” He hath brought us into his banqueting-house, and his banner over us has been love. We ought to be joyful in him for his love to others; but if not, we should be worse than brute beasts if we did not rejoice in him for his love to ourselves. O my brethren, be joyful in him. What do you know about any other king compared with what you know of King Jesus? On his bosom you have leaned, and his secret is with you; he has kissed you with the kisses of his lips, and his love is better than wine to you. He is your husband; you are married unto him, and he calls you his Hephzibah, and says, “My delight is in her.” “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy wherefore in such a condescending King let the children of Zion rejoice.
III. I shall not detain you long while I touch upon a third point— LET US MARK THE BENEFITS OF HIS REIGN, which entitle him to our highest regard this day.
For, first, remember that the nation over which he reigns he has created. “Let Israel rejoice in him that made him.” There was no Israel till God made Israel Israel, and there was no church over which Christ could reign, till he made his own church. He is the Father of the age in which he is King, the Creator of his own empire. Most kings inherit what other swords have won, but Jesus himself with his own blood hath purchased a kingdom to himself. Each one of us must own for himself, and all of us together unitedly, that he hath made us, and not we ourselves; by his sovereign grace he has chosen, and redeemed, and called, and sanctified us, therefore will we be joyful in him.
Brethren, while our King has created his own kingdom, he has also sanctified and sustained that kingdom. That there is a church in the world at all is due to Jesus. We had gone back to chaos and old night if it had not been that his light is never dim. He whose sovereign word said, “Let there be light,” still bids the light abide in the church to lighten those who come into the world. Yes, we each of us live through him if we live unto God. He saith: “Because I live, ye shall live also.” The church as a corporate body would cease to be were he not its continual life and strength. Let the streams rejoice in the fountain, let the walls of the temple be joyful in the foundation.
We ought to rejoice to-day in our King, because it is he that has saved us and given us peace. In the days of Solomon Israel had such peace that every man sat under his own vine and fig-tree. But oh the peace our greater Solomon has given us! I was as restless once as those ever-flying birds which hover over the waters of the Golden Horn at Constantinople. They are never seen to rest, and hence men call them “lost souls.” Such was I! I found no place for the sole of my foot till I knew the Lord Jesus. My soul was a dread battle-field of conflicting thoughts, a very Esdrelon, trodden by innumerable hosts of doubts and fears; but when my King came, then the enemy fled, and I found rest and joy. He is our peace. Jesus has given us the true Sabbath. Crown him, then, as Prince of Peace, ye once weary spirits who now joyfully abide in him.
But, beloved, time fails me to speak of all the benefits our King has brought us. Is there anything that is needful which he has not given? Is there anything that is good that he has withheld? Have we any virtue? have we any praise? Then not unto us, not unto us, but unto his name be the glory. Nor is it alone in the past and in the present that we are debtors; we look forward to a future of obligations. He will keep us from all the power of the enemy. He will secure his Zion from invaders, and fill her with the finest of the wheat. For ever and ever will he preserve us, and be our guide even unto death. Again we say Hallelujah, as we think how he loves unto the end.
In due time he will remove our Zion and all its inhabitants to the land of cloudless day and unwithering flowers. A little while, and we shall be translated to the place where there is no more death, neither sorrow nor sighing. Our King has great things in store for his church. His best will be last, and his last will be best. Glory dwelleth in Emmanuel’s land. In him we possess earth and heaven, time and eternity. All things are ours in our King. All heaven lies at our feet. O ye chosen, lift up now your eyes to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south, all this land is yours in him who is your Lord and King. Know no bound to your expectation; for such a King to a people so beloved will give a heritage which shall be for ever, and the bliss thereof shall know no limit.
IV. Very briefly in the next place, LET US BE JOYFUL IN THE CONTINUANCE OF OUR REDEEMER’S REIGN. Fifty years is a long time for Her Majesty to have reigned. May her days yet be many! Fifty years as we measure life, is a long space; but fifty years in the measurement of human history is far less; and fifty years as compared with eternity is nothing. King Jesus has a kingdom of which there shall be no end. This is our joy, that the ages past have not taken away from the length of his reign. So much the less has any king to reign as he has already reigned; but it is not so with him, for still is the voice heard, even the same voice that made the Red Sea resound— “The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah.” Let us this day be right glad concerning our King, since he only hath immortality, and therefore he will live for ever. He communicates that immortality to all his people, and thus he is the undying King of an undying kingdom. True we shall pass through that river which is named Death; but it is a misnomer; like the Jordan when Israel passed into Canaan, the Lord hath rebuked it, and it is dried up. We shall pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and that is all; and thus we shall reach a higher stage of being, in which we shall be “for ever with the Lord.” Shall not those whom the King has made to live be joyful that their King lives and reigns world without end?
Brethren, the age of our King has not enfeebled him. John in vision saw him with his head and his hair “white like wool, as white as snow”; but to his well-beloved spouse he is not grey with age, for she sings of him, “his locks are bushy and black as a raven.” He is as youthful and vigorous as ever. His age is eternity, and eternity hath not the fretting tooth of time. He is the same Christ still, as mighty in power as when he routed the hosts of hell. Let us be joyful in our King.
As to his kingdom, there is no fear of its failing. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. His kingdom is one and indivisible, and his throne shall never be shaken. There is no dynasty to follow his dynasty; no successor to take up the crown of our Melchisedec. My immortal spirit rejoices in the hope of rendering endless homage to the eternal King. He liveth and reigneth, and we shall find it the bliss of our endless life to serve him day and night in his temple. In prospect of such bliss let us bestir ourselves to rejoice in our King with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
V. Once more, being joyful in our King LET US OBEY HIM WITH DELIGHT. Let us weave delights into our duties. When Moses’ mother made the ark in which she placed her darling boy, she wrought it in this holy fashion: she took a bulrush and a prayer, and plaited them together; every bulrush had a fervent prayer twisted with it; and so the ark was made of the prayers of a mother and the rushes of the Nile. How could the child be otherwise than safe? Let us take into our hands a duty and a thanksgiving, a precept and a praise. Let us make up our whole life of the intertwisting of duty and delight. Let us be holy and happy. Let us turn obedience into gladness. That which else were drudgery we will exalt to a priestly sacrificing as we serve the Lord with gladness and rejoice before him.
What a joy it would be to me if this midsummer morning some of you who have never owned this King should begin to do so! This is a high day and a day of glad tidings: the trumpets of jubilee load the air with music. Our king will forgive your former rebellions if now you turn to him. He proclaims to-day a general amnesty to all rebels. This day he grants a jail delivery to all prisoners of hope. You who have revolted may come back again; he will receive you graciously, and love you freely. He sits upon his holy hill in Zion, and he cries to you, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little; blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
It would be a joy to me, on this the day of my birth, if it might also be the birthday of many a precious soul among those who hear me. Why should it not be so? The King is among us, come and adore him. You never had such a Master as he will be to you I He will make you happy in his love. Trust him and live for ever. Oh, that some young friend would listen to this call!
Some of you have known Jesus many years, and have been professors for a long time. Perhaps you are getting into rather a dull state of mind. All elder brothers have not a pleasing character; do not become like to him in the parable who envied the returning prodigal. What a wretched temper he showed! He said, “Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.” “Oh,” say you, “we are not in that state of mind.” I am glad to hear it; but lest you should in future fall into that state, I would advise you often to make merry with your friends. If that elder brother had, every now and then, held a grand merry-making with his friends, he would never have been able to make such a wretched speech. He was such a steady old plodder that he always kept to his work, and never had a thought about rejoicing in his home and his father. Work without joy is not good for us. What the old proverb saith concerning “all work and no play,” is true of all service and no joy. I want the children of God to hold high festival at this time. Why should not we have our Jubilee as well as others? “Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of the saints.”
You have heard machinery at times complaining wretchedly: it has gone on with horrible gratings and creakings. It has set your teeth on edge! Fetch the oil-can! We must cure this jarring. Every now and then we need a few drops of the oil of gladness to make the wheels of our work move pleasantly. Men of the world teach us the value of joyous song. How readily the anchor rises when the sailors unite in cheery cries! Soldiers when weary on the march find their spirits revived when the band strikes up a stirring tune. Let it be so to-day. I would have you praise God with the sound of the trumpet. Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
“Ah, dear minister!” you say, “you do not know what state of mind we are in; you do not know all our troubles, worries, frets, and weaknesses.” Do I not know? I have been in that same oven. I know the secrets of your prison-house. Dear brothers and sisters, let us not rob our King of his revenue because all things are not quite to our mind. Are we going to blame our Lord for the chastisement which our own sins require? We are never right with God unless we feel at peace with him, nay happy in him. The rightest state of mind for a child is to be happy in his Father’s love. It was well with Israel when “whatsoever the King did pleased all the people.” It is well with us when we love Jesus so that he may even do whatever he pleases with us, and we will still exult in him. May you come to this delightful state! The streams of our misery flow from the fountains of unhumbled self. When Jesus is so loved that his will is our will, then life on earth becomes like life in heaven. Reign, O Lord, reign absolutely; for so we see our murmurings and complainings slain, and these are the worst adversaries of our peace.
It is time to finish, and therefore I would invite all that love my Lord to proclaim a Jubilee for their Lord and King. Keep it after the best fashion. Endeavour to enlighten the world. Put candles in your windows. Illuminate all your streets. Let no sinner die in the dark. Publish the love of God to men. Light up your houses, all of you, with a holy cheerfulness and a clear confession of Christ. Hang out your flags of joy! You have them lying by, and the moths are eating them. Bring them out. Give the streamers of your mirth to the breeze! Tell all around you what God has done for you. Do not be ashamed to own your indebtedness to the love of God in Christ Jesus. You very retiring people, may I invite you to come out of your shells? You that have been slothful and cold of late, I pray you shake yourselves from the dust. At this time, when the pulse of the world beats fast, let yours be quickened. Begin this day something new for Jesus. I wish the church of God would think that Christ’s Jubilee was indeed come, and so would kindle beacons upon every hill, till all the nations beheld the great light. Let the flame be seen across the sea! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come.” May the divine Spirit come upon all his people at this hour, and move them to show their joy in their King by special deeds of love!
Lastly, if our King were here, and I were to say to him, “How shall I close this sermon?” he would answer, “Tell them to honour me by showing their love to the poor and needy.” Our King is glorious in his gifts to men. I told you just now that the true splendour of a king lies in what he does for his people. I trust our Queen’s Jubilee will be memorable for some illustrious deed of generosity. A great-hearted action is more worthy of acclamation than all the glitter of state. Some special gift to the poor and needy of this crowded city, some truly royal mindfulness of the sick poor, would be seasonable and commendable. I trust there will be no failure on this point, or some of us will feel that the pageant of the twenty-first is a vain show. It will be the best of Jubilees if the poor are largely thought of. Let them be thought of by all of us to-day. Let us give largely to the hospitals for Christ’s sake. David, when he kept a high day, gave to every man a good piece of flesh and a flagon of wine, and thus sent them all home full and happy. If this cannot be done for all the poor, let it be abundantly done for the sick by our collection for the hospitals. Beds are empty from want of funds: shall they remain so? The sick poor are languishing: will you withhold your bounty? Children of Zion, honour your King by your generous gifts at this hour.