The Pleasantness of Religion
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice ever more.…

Religion is often regarded as a morose and melancholy duty, a duty abridging delight rather than a delight irradiating duty. And much of the character both of the precept and conduct of the Christian Church has been well calculated to betray the world into this erroneous supposition. Extremes meet. And the extreme Puritan view of religion combines with the extreme Papal view in identifying religion with austerity. These opposite yet kindred asceticisms has done much to misinterpret to the world the true nature of religion. For surely it is obvious that God has not created His world to be a gloomy conventicle or intended the chambers of human life to be cheerless as a monastery. He has made the earth surpassingly beautiful and pleasant, rich in fragrance, song, and joy. And is it to be supposed that birds and trees and fields may laugh and sing, but that man, the top and crown of creation, is doomed to pass through life a sad and mirthless pilgrim? Does not the page of inspiration proclaim that (Proverbs 3:17). Angel voices all around us echo again the first Easter question, Christian, why weepest thou? Rejoice, they say, "in the Lord always!" And again their message is, "Rejoice." No doubt the happiest religion has its yokes and crosses, its travails and its tears. Repentance and contrition are not things pleasant in themselves. The ascent up the hill of self-sacrifice is thorny, laborious, steep. But, like the brave mountaineer, the Christian enjoys the exhilaration of climbing, no less than he enjoys the serenity and largeness of the prospect from the summit. True pleasure is never the child of indolence. The intellectual giant, e.g., who now sports with gladsomeness among the deep questions of the mind, found the first steps of his training wearisome and painful. It is only after years of mental effort that he has attained the elevation of pure and full intellectual delight. Similarly the pleasures of religion are not sweetest at the commencement. Ideals of pleasure also differ. The clearer and nobler the soul becomes, the deeper will be its delights in the pleasantness of religion. And what nourishment for the mind is comparable to the studies of religion? What contemplation so matchless as the contemplation of God? What ideals so beautiful as those of Christ? What aspiration so glorious as to copy Him? What manliness so robust, yet so refined, as the manliness of the Son of God?...The joys of meditation upon God, the delights of adoring the Author of the mysteries and the majesty of existence, the happiness of touching the hem of Christ's garment, and leaning on His breast, and shedding the tears of devotion at His feet, make the latest years of the religious life a continuous jubilee.

(J. W. Diggle, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Rejoice evermore.

WEB: Rejoice always.

The Duty and the Privilege of Constant Joy
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