“[i]t it is a vile and groundless slander upon religion, to say or insinuate that it deprives men of the comfort and joy of life. The devil, in design to discourage men from the ways of God, puts a frightful mask upon the beautiful face of religion, pretending there is no pleasure or joy to be expected therein; but this is abundantly confuted and refelled in the text, ” I will come in to him, and sup with him” [ed. Revelation 3:20]. Solomon tells us, Eccl. x. 19. “A feast is made for laughter.” I am sure that soul that sits with Christ at such a feast as has been described above, has the best reason of any man in the world to be merry. Religion indeed denies us all sinful pleasure, but it abounds with all spiritual pleasure. No rational, solid mirth can come before Christ: the unsanctified rejoice in things of nought, and their joy will be soon ended; they are hastening to that place where they will find that to be verified of the wages of sin, which they now falsely impute to the wages of holiness; they shall never rejoice more, never be merry more. But believers shall find that scripture attested by their daily experience, Prov. iii. 17. ” Her way are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” And that there are such pleasures in the ways of God, as they never experienced in the ways of sin; for is it a solid ground of comfort to a man to be out of debt and all fears of arrests, and is it not much greater to have our debts paid to God by Christ our surety? Matth. ix. 2. ” Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Is it matter of joy to have a sufficiency of all things for the supply of every want? He that is in Christ hath so. 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. ” All are yours, and ye are Christ’s.” Is it a joyful life to be a borderer upon heaven, to confine upon blessedness itself? Then it is a joyful life to be in Christ; for they that are so may rejoice in the hopes of glory, Rom. v. 2. Is it matter of all joy to have the Comforter himself, who is the Spirit of all consolation, taking up his residence in thy heart, cheering, comforting, and refreshing it with such cordials as are unknown things in all the unbelieving world? Then, certainly, the life of a Christian and the ways of holiness must be most pleasant and comfortable. And therefore let none that are looking towards Christ be discouraged in their way by the slanderous reproaches designedly cast upon religion for that end. Christ and comforts dwell together.”
1. Flavel, John. The Works of John Flavel, Volume 4. “England’s Duty,” Sermon X. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1997, pages 226-227.