A Transportation of Joy

From “Christ’s Easy Yoke” (1648)

All that is of hardship in the Christian’s life, all that is unacceptable even to flesh and blood, the instant of putting on the yoke, of entering into the traces, of harnessing for the future race, as the Greek in the Acts reads it, “the child-birth pangs” (Acts 2:24) of dying to sin, of mortifying the affections that are so fastened on the earth… the concussion or flesh-quake that follows the sudden stop in the vehement course, the vertigo that the forcible turn in the rapid motion begets, the smart that the passing through the purgative fire costs us; and the fear of this one sharp minute is that this betrays us to all the drudgery and torments in the world, that which makes us so shy of piety, so afraid of all spiritual conceptions; as, you know, that one terror of dying, parting of such ancient mates, makes some good men not over-willing to be with Christ, though they acknowledge it never so much a more valuable state.

Whereas could we but arm ourselves for this one act of spiritual daring, the pain of ascending the mount Tabor, and being transfigured with Christ, we should soon resolve of the “it is good for us to be here” (Matt. 17:4) and set presently to build us tabernacles, never to return to our old shapes or tents again. Could we but resolve to set out on this voyage, encounter this one giant, son of Anak, the breaking off from our old customs, there were then nothing but Canaan behind, that fountain of milk and hive of honey, all the bees and hornets driven out of it, a succession of uninterrupted felicities streaming through it.

Could we but repel the fancy, or support the pangs of one short travail, in contemplation of the joy which the man-child will within a few minutes bring into the world with him, I am confident Christ would be once more not only, in Jacob s prophecy, the “expectation of the Gentiles” (Gen. 49:11), not only the expectation, but withal the joy, the sensuality the very Gentiles, that which flesh and blood, man in every of his most inferior capacities, the rational, the moral, yea, and the carnal man would thirst with more joy, taste with more ravishment, devour with less satiety than aught which his present confections of luxury did ever yield him, and thence break out into the Virgin Mother’s Magnificat, a transportation of joy for the approach of the birth of so much blessedness; or into old Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis, desire no more joy in this life, than that which infallibly attends the taking a Savior into his arms, those intimate embraces of Christ in the regenerate heart.

Henry Hammond (1605-1660) was an English Anglican priest and theologian, commonly reckoned as one of the Caroline Divines. During the bitter controversies at the time of the English Civil War, he offered articulate defenses of the Church of England’s historic doctrine, liturgy, and church governance.



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