Fullness of Joy

From Rejoice Evermore, Sermon CXXXI (ca. 1615-1630).

The command is we must rejoice evermore… rejoice when God gives you the good things of this world… rejoice that God has placed you in so fruitful a land… rejoice that God has afforded you peace to till the land… rejoice that God gives good seasons that the earth may give her increase… rejoice that God gives you friendship  Sorrow for sin and this joy consist together very well… St Augustine advises, “let him who has sinned always lament,” but then he tells us too, “let him always rejoice that God has opened to him a way to mercy by sorrow”… Sorrow is our seed-bed from whence we are transplanted into a larger orchard… Augustine offers a musical comparison: when the strings of an instrument are plucked, the sound is the clearer if the sinew is stretched…In this world we give laborers meat and drink… God affords us refreshing here, but joy hereafter…

Heaven is called by many precious names: life; simply and absolutely there is no life but that. And also kingdom come; simply and absolutely there is no kingdom that is not subordinate to that. And “a sabbath flowing into a sabbath; that is, a perpetual sabbath.  But the name that should enamor us most is fullness of joy.  This is a fullness that needs no addition, a fullness that admits no leak.  Consider too, blessedness in vision, in the sight of God.  Yet the first thing that this sight of God shall produce in us is the reformation of the image of God in us and it shall produce our glorifying of God… seeing God shall produce in us joy… This is the inheritance which his son, our Savior Christ Jesus has purchased for us with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood.

John Donne (1572-1631) was an English cleric, poet, and scholar, acclaimed as one of the finest preachers of his day. He is widely considered the preeminent metaphysical poet, prized for his inventiveness in the use of metaphor and his dramatic, vigorous style. He was ordained after a political and military career, serving as chaplain at Lincoln’s Inn, and for the last ten years of his life, as dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral. He also held the post of vicar of St. Dunstan’s in the West in London from 1624. He preached this undated sermon there. Donne is commemorated on the liturgical calendar of several Anglican churches on March 31. 


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