Habakkuk 3:17
Though the fig tree does not bud and no fruit is on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though the sheep are cut off from the fold and no cattle are in the stalls,
Sermons
God in HistoryS.D. Hillman Habakkuk 3:3-18
A Daring FaithJ. T. Woodhouse.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Cheerful SpiritsSir John Lubbock.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Christian RejoicingHandley C. G. Moule, M. A.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Constant JoyAmos B. Walls.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Faith Triumphant in the Day of CalamityT. Hannam.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Habakkuk's FaithW. O. Barrett.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Hard TimesJ. P. Gledstone.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Joy Amidst Earthly SorrowS. Summers.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Joy in Being in God's HandsHabakkuk 3:17-18
Joy in GodA. Ross, M. A.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Joy in the Face of AdversityA. Shanks.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Man Facing CalamityBishop Brownrigg.Habakkuk 3:17-18
On the Influence of Religion Under Privations and AfflictJ. Hewlett, B. D.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Rejoicing in GodMemoir of Rev. C. Garrett.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Rejoicing in GodHomilistHabakkuk 3:17-18
Religion the Secret of ContentmentCharles Foysey.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Religious Joy Surmounting Temporal AdversityJ. Sieveright, A. M.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Satisfied with the BestHabakkuk 3:17-18
Songs in the NightS.D. Hillman Habakkuk 3:17, 18
Spiritual JoyCaleb Morris.Habakkuk 3:17-18
The Great CalamityHomilistHabakkuk 3:17-18
The Possibilities in the Life of a Good ManHomilistHabakkuk 3:17-18
The Prophet's JoyHomilistHabakkuk 3:17-18
The Triumph of Piety Over AdversityS. Lowell.Habakkuk 3:17-18
United Prayer for Removal of Temporal AfflictionsG. G. Lawrence, M. A.Habakkuk 3:17-18
The Possibilities in the Life of a Good ManD. Thomas Habakkuk 3:17-19


The thought underlying these intensely human words is that of holy and triumphant joy manifesting itself on occasions when in the ordinary course of things the very opposite experience might naturally have been expected. The writer was under the elevating influence of sincere piety, and his rapturous outburst sets forth the truth that true religion excites within its recipients such thoughts, inspires within them such emotions, and imparts to them such confidence, as to enable them, even when all is adverse in their experience, to rejoice and shout aloud for joy. These songsters can break forth in song, not only in fair weather, when the sun is shining and the sky is clear and blue, and when all nature is full of exhilaration, but also when the sun is withdrawn, and when no rift can be traced in the dark clouds.

I. THE GOOD IN CIRCUMSTANCES OF EXTREMITY.

1. The language employed is figurative, and strikingly suggests to us circumstances of the deepest human need. The fruit of the fig tree was an extensive article both of food and commerce. The vine was diligently cultivated from the earliest times, and, with its rich clusters of grapes and its refreshing shade, became a very appropriate symbol of prosperity; whilst the olive, living from age to age, and yielding an abundant supply of oil, was also typical of abundance. Hence the failure of all these indicates the deepest affliction, the direst calamity (Psalm 105:33), and the picture of desolation is rendered still more complete when, in addition to these, the bread corn is represented as ceasing, and the flocks and herds as being cut off (ver. 17).

2. These adverse circumstances befell the nation, and, as the result of the Chaldean invasion, the direst woes had to be experienced.

3. The children of men still have to pass through such dark seasons. There is extremity arising from

(1) temporal want occasioned by reverses in circumstances;

(2) slander, charges having no foundation in truth, being made and resulting in mistrust and alienation;

(3) mental depression, the strong man being brought down to the weakness of the child, the sturdy oak becoming feebler than the bruised reed;

(4) bereavement, home being rendered "desolate as birds' nests, when the fledglings have all flown."

II. THE GOOD, CIRCUMSTANCED THUS, STAYING THEMSELVES UPON GOD, AND ON HIM AS WORKING IN ALL FOR THEIR SALVATION. "In God," "the God of my salvation" (ver. 18). The thought which appears specially to have been present to the mind of the prophet was that of adversity as being God's loving discipline to result in the perfecting of the tried, and resulting in their salvation: "the God of my salvation." A picture called "Cloudland," by a German painter, viewed at a distance appears a mass of gloom and cloud, but on closer inspection every cloud is an angel or an angel's wing; and so our sorrows, when interpreted in the light of this gracious design of our God, become changed into blessings. The thought that God is with us in our darkest experiences, working for our salvation and to secure to us the highest good, that the narrow path through which he, our Captain, causes us to fight our way will bring us to "the prize of our high calling," is indeed inspiring, and grasping it we may well press on, raising high our banners, and cheering the way and the conflict with music and song.

III. THE GOOD, THUS RESTING IN GOD AND APPREHENDING HIS GRACIOUS DESIGN, BEING RENDERED TRANQUIL AND TRIUMPHANT AND INSPIRED WITH HOLY JOY. "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy," etc. (ver. 18). The joy of the wicked ceases when the fig trees cease to blossom, and the vines to yield their fruit (Hosea 2:11, 12), for it lies upon the surface; but the joy of the holy lies deep in the soul, and is a settled and abiding possession, and triumphs under the darkest circumstances of life. Illustrations: David (Psalm 42:7-9); Asaph (Psalm 73:2, 24, 25); Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25). Resting in God and apprehending his loving working in our life experiences, he will prove himself our Strength and Song, and will become our Salvation. - S.D.H.







Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, etc.
We are called in a special manner to humble ourselves before God, on account of a great national calamity — an outbreak of cattle plague. So far as we can see, it comes directly from God. Some will say that the remedy is proper attention to the conditions of the disease, and not humiliation or prayer. But shall we admit the uselessness of prayer? Shall we say prayer must be confined to spiritual things? Surely we may ask what we need, "both for the body and the soul." We must not ask God to alter the laws of nature, or work miracles for our deliverance. God does not take away a plague, either from nations or from individuals, simply because they asked Him to do so. In relation to such a plague, human endeavour can find appropriate spheres, and yet room be left for prayer. Our praying, and humbling ourselves before God, is sure to do us good, if we engage in it with sincerity of heart.

(G. G. Lawrence, M. A.)

It is easy to understand how a soul should, in poverty and great straits, be induced to seek after God; indeed, the goad of want more frequently drives men to Him than the enjoyment of plenty draws them. There is no doubt that if, in times of want, either an individual or a nation desires to find Him, and secure His help, He will hear their prayer and deliver them. We shall never get forward until we see what Habakkuk saw — that God is our strength, and that He will uphold us through the trial by which we shall come into the possession of our purer blessings. No experience is so uniform among the people of God, as that they enjoyed more of the presence of God in their trouble than at any other time. But there is more than the experience of the nearness of God, more than a vision of His glory and grace. There is deliverance out of our straits.

(J. P. Gledstone.)

This passage sets down the entertainment which the prophet gave to a sad prediction. He entertains it with fear, and with faith and confidence. A sweet combination. These are the two blessed entertainments of any threatened judgment. A deep humiliation, and a steadfast faith and consolation.

1. The supposition. The strength and comfort of the creatures may fail us. In their production and breeding there is a great deal of uncertainty. And also in their use. And the very being and substance of these natural helps, carry with it this condition, that they are vanishing and fading. When scarcity and want come as a judgment from God, then it is extreme and extraordinary, and beyond the course of nature. God's displeasure oft breaks out in this kind of judgment. God sometimes vouch safes a special exemption to His Church and children: but the saints have their share and portion in these calamities upon divers reasons. The privileges of God's people are not temporal, but spiritual. The saints are members of those societies and people who are thus punished. The servants of God are often contributors to the common heap of sin that brings down judgments.

2. The resolution. "Although," forecasts the misery. "Yet," forelays the remedy. The piety of the prophet appears in two degrees. Here is the low degree of the affliction, and the high degree of the affection. He will suffer patiently and meekly. He will not only be content with it, he will be well pleased with his condition. He knows how even to rejoice in affliction.

(Bishop Brownrigg.)

Homilist.
I. THE GREATEST MATERIAL DESTITUTION is possible to a good man. It is possible for the fig-tree not to blossom, etc. Man lives by the fruits of the earth. They may fail from one of two reasons.(1) From human neglect. It is the eternal ordination of God, that what man wants from the earth for his existence he must get from it by labour — skilful, timely, persevering labour. They may fail(2) From Divine visitation. The mighty Maker can, and sometimes does wither the fruits of the earth, destroy the cattle of the fields.

II. The HIGHEST SPIRITUAL JOY is possible to a good man. "I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." "Spiritual joy," says Caleb Morris, "is a free, full, and overflowing stream, that takes its rise in the very depth of the Divine Essence, in the immutability, perfection, abundance, munificence of the Divine nature. While there is a God, and that God is happy, there is no necessity that there should be any unhappy Christians." What is it to "joy in God"?

1. It is the joy of the highest contemplation. The joys of contemplation are amongst the most pure and elevating which intelligent creatures can experience. These rise in the character according to their subjects. The highest subject is God, His attributes and works.

2. It is the joy of the most elevating friendship. The joys of friendship are amongst the chief joys of earth; but the joys of friendship depend upon the purity, depth, constancy, reciprocity of love; and friendship with God secures all this in the highest degree.

3. It is the joy of the sublimest admiration. Whatever the mind admires it enjoys, and enjoys in proportion to its admiration, whether it be a landscape or a painting. Moral admiration is enjoyment of the highest kind, and this in proportion to the grandness of the character. Admiration of Divine excellence is the sublimest joy. "I will joy in God."

III. The highest spiritual joy IN THE MIDST OF THE GREATEST MATERIAL DESTITUTION is possible to a good man. "Although" every material blessing is gone, "I will rejoice." Good men have always been enabled to do so. Like Paul they have "gloried in tribulation," etc. All things have been theirs. In material destitution they felt —

1. In God they had strength. "The Lord God is my strength." "As thy day, so shall thy strength be."

2. In God they had swiftness. "He will make my feet like hinds' feet." The reference is here perhaps to the swiftness with which God would enable him to flee from the dangers which were overtaking his country. It is, however, a universal truth, that God gives to a good man a holy alacrity in duty. Duty to him is not a clog or a burden, but a delight.

3. In God they had elevation. "He will make me to walk upon mine high places." "They that wait upon God shall renew their strength, and shall mount as on the wings of eagles," etc.

(Homilist.)

I. THE APPREHENSION OF GREAT SUFFERING ANY WANT. Our apprehensions concerning the future are of a totally different character to the prophet's. Ours are not national, but personal and relative afflictions.

II. THE EXPRESSION ON THE PROPHET'S CONFIDENCE AND JOY. Here is a very wonderful exhibition of a devout and holy character. This language of hope and joy is a striking contrast to three things —

1. The language and conduct of idolaters.

2. The low, dull, heavy feeling of the man who does not believe in the providential government of God.

3. The faint and feeble feelings of confidence in God which distinguish many real Christians.

(W. O. Barrett.)

ions: — We may learn that nothing should withdraw us from our trust in God and the consolations of His Divine Word.

I. CHERISH A PROPER SENSE OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND OUR OWN DEPENDENT STATE. Perfect and unbounded confidence in God, in the wisdom, power, and mercy of God, must be the ground of all our religious hope.

II. ADMIRE THE CHEERFUL HOMAGE OF THE PROPHET, AND CONSIDER SOME OF THE PRACTICAL USES OF ADVERSITY.

1. Consider it as opening to us a new field of virtue and of knowledge.

2. As effectually curing the insolence of pride and the follies of prosperity.

3. As proving the sincerity of some, and laying bare the treachery and baseness of others.

4. As teaching us to estimate, as we ought, the many blessings which the Divine love has showered upon us.

(J. Hewlett, B. D.)

Homilist.
I. THE DIVINE RULE IS TO MAKE AN ABUNDANT PROVISION FOR MAN'S PHYSICAL WANTS. The Great Creator gives him the fig tree, the vine, the olive, the fields, the flock, and the herd. Observe —

1. The vastness of God's wealth.

2. His supreme regard for man's comfort.

II. THE GOOD MAN RECOGNISES THE POSSIBILITY OF A TOTAL FAILURE IN THIS PROVISION. "Although the fig tree," etc. Such a failure is fearful to contemplate.

III. THAT IN THE VERY FACE OF THIS GREAT CALAMITY THE GOOD MAN TRIUMPHANTLY CONFIDES IN GOD. "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord." The wisdom of this conduct is seen in two things —

1. In the Divine immutability.

2. Great calamities afford scope for the development of great principles.Trials, if very heavy, kill little men, but make great ones. Just as an Altantic billow bears the reeling ship aloft, so does the mighty wave of trouble lift to notice a true son of God. Trials strengthen and develop love and faith.

IV. THAT THIS SUBLIME CONFIDENCE IS EXERCISED BY THE GOOD MAN BECAUSE HE HAS EXPERIENCED A GREAT DELIVERANCE. "I will joy in the God of my salvation."

1. This is a deliverance from the greatest evil.

2. This is a deliverance to the possession of the greatest good.This man has in him the elements of immortality. He is a King's son, and an heir of heaven. Heaven is his future residence, and the universe his estate.

(Homilist.)

I. A MOURNFUL SUPPOSITION. Every sentence in this verse is pitched in the minor key. Every symbol is fringed with mourning.

1. The prophet supposes a condition in which he is deprived of the common luxuries of life. The Jews were a favoured people. God had made special provision for their welfare. But the prophet foresaw that He who gave these possessions could take them away. All the agencies of nature and providence were in God's hand.

2. The prophet supposes a condition in which he will be deprived of the common necessaries of life. Some of the fruits of the earth are for enjoyment, and others for our support. We can do without the former, we cannot do without the latter. The prophet supposes a time when not only the luxuries but the necessaries of life might fail, when the tree should be without fruit, the fields without pasture, and the stalls without herd. It is foolish to brood over imaginary troubles, and to magnify the evils of life. Fear not only weakens our strength, but it intensifies our misery. But it is wise to consider how uncertain all material possessions are, and to fortify the heart against the probable calamities that may overtake us.

II. A CHEERFUL RESOLUTION. "I will rejoice in God." How could there be inward joy amidst so much outward sorrow?

1. This was a Divine joy. "Rejoice in God." There is a great difference between a human and a Divine joy. One arises from without, but the other from within; one comes from the creature, the other from the Creator. If our joy depended upon our wealth, it might fail; if upon our friends, it might change; if upon our health, it might be broken. But it depends upon God, and we know that "He will supply all our need according to His riches in glory, through Jesus Christ."

2. This was an experimental joy. It refers to the present, and includes forgiveness, fellowship, and expectation.

III. A DELIGHTFUL EXPECTATION. "The Lord God is my strength." That is experience. "He will make my feet like hinds' feet." That is expectancy. The Christian life is both a service and a hope; an experience and an expectation.

(J. T. Woodhouse.)

The text exhibits a season of peculiar distress, and the exercise of a gracious heart in the time of calamity.

I. A SEASON OF PECULIAR DISTRESS.

1. Such seasons are effected by the hand of God. He is not a mere spectator, He is the great agent in bringing these things to pass.

2. Such seasons are the consequence of man's sin. Sin introduced this and every other misery.

3. Such seasons are designed by Infinite Wisdom to answer some important end. To manifest His absolute right over all creatures and things. He claims them all as His own. And He makes it manifest that they are His own, by taking them away at His pleasure. To convince us of our entire dependence upon Him for all our temporal enjoyments. Without the Divine blessing, all men do is ineffectual. To prove to us that earthly comforts are uncertain and perishing. The design of God, in bestowing temporal benefits, is to help us through life, not to make us too much in love with it. To lead us to the exercise of gratitude, when temporal blessings abound, and for the exercise of Christian graces in the hearts of His people. Now is the trial of their faith, patience, and resignation.

II. THE EXERCISE OF A GRACIOUS HEART IN TIMES OF CALAMITY.

1. Gracious souls have a source of joy, when those of the ungodly are all dried up.

2. This rejoicing in God, in the midst of calamity, is the fruit of our Divine faith. If the promises were not believed, the soul would not rejoice.

3. It is a view of the gracious character of God, as a Saviour, that causes the sinner to rejoice in Him. Improvements —(1) God can as easily take away the whole of our possessions as part of them.(2) You will continue strangers to true happiness, while you remain strangers to the spirit of the prophet.(3) In such seasons beware now you endeavour to add to your own enjoyments at the expense of any others' comfort.(4) Let the oppressed poor remember to whom vengeance belongeth.(5) If you can rejoice in God, you shall soon be in a country where neither famine nor scarcity can ever be experienced.

(T. Hannam.)

Pleasure and pain are the alternate companions of every man through the journey of life. Surrounded by uncertainty, prudence would suggest the propriety of being prepared for calamities which cannot be avoided, so as to contemplate them without alarm, and to bear them with becoming fortitude. Religion proposes no exemption from sorrow, but promises that support under the troubles of life, which reconciles the mind to every event. The prophet's anticipation of evils proceeded not from a melancholy disposition, but was intimated to him by the sins of the People, — the complexion of the times, — and above all, by the Holy Spirit, which dwelt in him.

I. THE EXPOSITION OF THE TEXT. He supposes, in the first instance, the fig-tree to fail in its accustomed produce. The failure of the vines is the next calamity. Then the usual supply of the oil-olive trees is cut off. Then the "fields may yield no meat," and as a consequence, the "flocks may be cut off from the field." Merciful God! In the midst of distress like this, where shall the wretched flee? The prophet's ardent soul breathed the trustful language of our text.

II. REFLECTIONS SUGGESTED. The text reminds us of the uncertainty of temporal enjoyments, and of the peculiar felicity of a good man. The text reminds us of the insecurity of our temporal enjoyments, as it respects the produce of the earth. It is the privilege of good men not to be wholly dependent for happiness upon temporal things. Joy in God is the peculiar and the supreme delight of a pious mind. Let us learn that it is of unspeakable importance that we stand prepared for trials which cannot be avoided.

(S. Lowell.)

I. THE OBJECT OF OUR JOY. Our God in whom we rejoice. He is Lord. Jehovah is both His name and His description. He is "God of salvation." He is the God of my salvation. Our joy is spiritual joy; it comprehends in its object the characters and offices of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in the administration of redemption. The essence of this joy is complacency in its object. The joy is nourished and increased by the Spirit, with scriptural discoveries of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And joy in the Lord God of our salvation hath little in it which is vehement, but much that is operative and practical.

II. FORMING RESOLUTIONS TO ABOUND IN THIS JOY. Such resolutions have been formed. Such resolutions may be formed. Such resolutions should be formed. They are always formed under spiritual influence. Bold professions are founded on the revealed glory of God's faithfulness and all-sufficiency, He is the Almighty God, and His faithfulness is engaged to support the people of His love and care. These bold resolutions look out of countenance all the evils that would intimidate and shake the confidence of God's people. Of these bold resolutions we have some eminent and illustrious scriptural examples. Such resolutions are neither formed nor executed without a conflict. Then suffer the word of exhortation. Be not surprised that the word is, "Rejoice evermore." Nothing in the subject should hinder our joy. And the honour of our profession calleth us to rejoice. Attend to the following instructions —

1. Be well assured of the solidity of the foundation on which the joys of faith are built.

2. Seek to attain clearness concerning your interest in the God of salvation, through union with Christ in effectual calling.

3. Be followers of that which is good.

4. Look to the Lord in the administration of providence, and submit to His will manifested in it.

(A. Shanks.)

Mr. Garrett preached again in the afternoon. The text was Psalm 128:12. Again the preacher drew several lifelike pictures. He took his hearers to the mansion of the rich, to the study of the learned, and to the palace of royalty, in search of true happiness, but found it not. Then we were conducted to a little straw-thatched cottage, the lowly home of a humble Christian toiler, who had a sick wife and child and no work to do. As we approached it, the preacher paused and cried, "Hark! he is singing. What is it?" Just before we reached the cottage door, the preacher again cried, "Hark!" We listened, and heard the verse beginning, "I'll praise my Maker while I've breath." The effect was simply overpowering.

(Memoir of Rev. C. Garrett.)

Bishop Tucker, on the occasion of his recent visit to Tore, ordained a native of Uganda who has worked for five years on the edge of the great pigmy forest. "This remarkable man," says the bishop, "has been beaten, imprisoned, put in the chain gang, had his house-burnt down, and all his property destroyed; and yet he has borne it all with a smile upon his face and a song upon his lips!" Opalescent men: In ancient times, before men learned to cut the diamond, the opal was the most fashionable stone, most highly prized, and most costly. There are not lacking men in modern times who still hold to this ancient estimate of that beautiful stone. No jewel, in all the range of precious stones, displays a finer range of splendid colours — the brightest tints of the rainbow, softened as if seen through a silver haze. As you look at it from different angles, or as you turn the stone, there come glimpses of the richest azure, the deepest emerald, the most fiery ruby, yet all of them mellowed by the opal's own charm, and very different from the dazzling brilliancy of the diamond and sapphire. Whence comes this beautiful play of colour that takes its name from the opal, and is called "opalescence"? It is not in the stone. Hold the opal up to the light, and it has nothing but a yellowish tinge. Besides, the colours shift and vary, as the stone is changed in position. Let me tell you the secret of the opal s beauty. The stone is filled with fissures — minute rifts in its substance, too small to be seen by the eye, yet not too fine to be seen by the light. These fissures catch up the light, beat it back and forth between their sides, and break it up into its constituent colours, very much as a prism would do. And so the stone, out of what might seem to be a flaw or blemish, draws its wonderful crown of beauty. Have you ever seen opalescent men and women? They are all around you, shining with loveliness in many a Christian home. They are men and women whose lives are fissured with poverty, seamed with sickness, cleft with some deformity, shattered by blindness, or deafness, or ugliness; and yet these opalescent Christians make the very shattering of their body, and the flaws in their fortune, a trap for God's sunlight They catch in these clefts of misfortune the rays that come from heaven. They toss them back and forth and from side to side of their seamed and fissured lives, and lo! we see them glowing with a beauty far more wonderful than any opal of earth, or any rainbow of heaven.

(Amos B. Walls.)

"I was going down town in a car, one day," says a New York merchant, "when I heard somebody cry out, 'Hallo, Mr. Conductor, please stop your car a moment; I can't run very fast.' The car stopped, and presently there hobbled into it a little lame boy, about ten or twelve years old. His face told such a tale of suffering, and yet he was bright and cheerful. He put his crutch behind him, and placing his leg in an easier position, he began to look round. A happy smile played over his pale face, he had seemed to take notice of everything. Presently I got a seat next to him, and had a little talk with him. I found that he knew and loved the Saviour, and it was this which made him so contented and cheerful. He told me that the doctor said his leg would never be any better. 'Well, my dear boy, I said, how can you be so happy and cheerful?' His reply was, 'Jesus, my Saviour, has sent this trial for me to bear. Father tells me He would not have sent it, unless He knew it would be best for me. And don't you think, sir, that I ought to be satisfied with the best?' When I said good-bye to the boy, I thanked him for the lesson he had taught me, which I shall never forget."

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord
The prophet teaches us what advantage it is to the faithful assembly, seasonably to submit to God, and to entertain serious fear when He threatens them, and when He summonses them to judgment: and he shows that, though they may perish a hundred times, they yet would not perish, for the Lord would ever supply them with occasions of joy, and would also cherish this joy within, so as to enable them to rise above all their adversities. Though the land was threatened with famine, and though no food would be supplied to them, they would yet be able always to rejoice in the God of their salvation; for they would know Him to be their Father, though for a time He severely chastised them. We now perceive more clearly, that the sorrow produced by the sense of our guilt is recommended to us on account of its advantage: for nothing is worse than to provoke God's wrath to destroy us; and nothing is better than to anticipate it, so that the Lord Himself may comfort us. We shall not always escape, for He may apparently treat us with severity; but though we may not be exempt from punishment, He will give us reasons to rejoice; and then in His own time, He will mitigate His severity, and by the effects will show Himself propitious to us. During the time when want or famine, or any other affliction is to be borne, He will render us joyful with this one consolation, for relying on His promises, we shall look for Him as the God of our salvation. We may hence gather a most useful lesson, — That whenever signs of God's wrath meet us in outward things, this remedy remains to us, — to consider what God is to us inwardly; for the inward joy, which faith brings to us, can overcome all fears, terrors, sorrows, and anxieties.

( John Calvin.)

There is nothing here of the exuberance of Oriental imagination. It is absolute matter of fact, capable of being proved by countless witnesses. Various lessons are to be drawn from it, but the most valuable of all for these times is the overwhelming testimony borne by it to the religious nature of man, and to the high degree of probability of the existence of a God of love who can inspire such absolute trust in Himself under the most crushing temporal misfortune. It places the efforts to uproot all faith in God in the light of an inexpressible folly, not to say of a flagrant crime. Is it not folly to take away from any man the power by which he becomes able to behave in a more manly way than he could have done without it? Viewed even from atheistic ground, mankind at large are all the better for the calm and resigned behaviour of those who suffer adversity. We go further, and say, it verges closely on criminal blindness to the interests of humanity to proclaim an atheism which, if accepted, would leave the souls of the afflicted absolutely without anything to cling to, without consolation, without hope; worse still, to deprive them of that conviction by which all the nobler part of their nature is sustained and called into vigorous exercise. How shall we bear the storm of adversity when it breaks upon us? Shall we prove our sovereignty over things of time and sense, or shall we disclose our shame in exhibiting ourselves as their slaves? The alternative depends upon what is the ground of our daily hopes. Not in Stoicism is to be found the normal type of manliness under adversity. Contentment is a virtue of soul which, when healthy, exercises itself in various ways. A great deal of so-called contentment is nothing more than physical indifference or mental inactivity. Habit is the parent of such contentment, and where the habits have been always moderate and temperate, contentment with a small portion is easy and natural. But the virtue of contentment is something much higher than this. Virtue is always active; when it is passive it ceases to be virtue, and becomes only an admirable quality, or enviable habit. Contentment, to be virtuous, must spring from opposition to our wills and desires, can only exist in circumstances which are trying and painful. It is our task to show how certain virtues can best be attained by those who are deficient in them, to point out by what spiritual forces the native weakness of our nature may be justified, and what relation true religious faith bears to the necessities of our lot, and the exigencies of our moral character. I would show, if I could, whence the blessed springs of virtue can be drawn; to whom we may look for the light and warmth needful for its birth and fertility. If a discontented man would fain possess the virtue of contentment, he will never get it by altering the conditions of his lot, but by the elevation of his soul above them, by finding, in a will higher than his own, complete and boundless satisfaction. This virtue is largely begotten and cultured by faith in the living God. But what is this faith in the living God? It is not merely the assent of our intellect to certain propositions about God, though it must be such as the reason entirely endorses. First, it implies the possession of a soul which cannot be satisfied with earthly good or animal pleasure. He who believes in God hab a life of conscious existence, of hopes, and fears, and appetites, which find activity and satisfaction in a purely spiritual region of its own. To such a soul God is not less a reality than the earth on which the body treads, or the sun shining in the heavens. Out of this conscious communion with God grow two important constituents of faith — perfect acquiescence in the Divine will, and a supreme desire to obey its behests. The former of these is the essence of contentment. It differs by a whole heaven from the contentment of the fatalist. No supreme power has a right to demand the assent of man to wrongs and injuries which are the result of blind chance, or inflicted by caprice, still less to wrongs which will not issue in final good. But how different must be the feeling and conduct of man, when the power which seems to crush him is invested with all the attributes of justice and fatherly love. He promptly surrenders, because he knows, at least, that there is a higher wisdom than his own which guides the forces of pain and destruction; more perfect goodness than his own is the cause of misfortune, and best of all, that a love infinite in its benevolence, is the impulse from which every motion in the universe has sprung. This is faith; to see what is invisible to the senses, or to the immature mind. God does not wish us to bear a single sorrow that we can by righteous means avert; all He asks is that we will trust in His wisdom and greater love when trouble comes which we cannot prevent. And if faith consoles us, still more does it purify and refine us.

(Charles Foysey.)

Worldly men do not rejoice in God.

I. JOY IN GOD IS WELL GROUNDED.

1. Because it is a joy in God considered as the God of salvation. If a man were found joying in an absolute God, he might well be esteemed foolish; for he would be rejoicing in the contemplation of a strong and irresistible enemy. It is in the God of salvation that the believer greatly rejoices. There is the best of all reasons for holy satisfaction. He perceives in Him justice satisfied, and truth magnified; he discerns that, instead of fury, there is overflowing love, and mercy to pardon all his transgressions; he sees in Him omnipotent power, not armed for his perdition, but engaged to preserve his soul through faith unto salvation; he beholds eternal faithfulness to be to him a shield and buckler; he perceives also, that God is omniscient to see all the dangers which may threaten him, and all-powerful to protect in every case. Who is the God of salvation? The Triune God, the one God subsisting in three persons.

2. Joy in God is well grounded, because God is on the side of the believer. This was not always the case. Since he has been justified by the blood of Jesus, there is no longer any condemnation for him. If God acquits, who shall condemn? If God defends, who can injure?

3. Joy in God is well grounded, because of what God has done for the believer. Do we not delight in a deliverer? Here is an unspeakably great Deliverer; and has He been so at little expense? Following the great deliverance are many lesser deliverances; both temporal and spiritual.

4. Joy in God is well grounded, because of what God is now doing for the believer. Do we not rejoice in a healer?

5. Joy in God is well grounded, because of what God will yet do for His people. He will make all things work together for their good.

6. Joy is well grounded, on account of what God has provided for the believer, and on account of what He/8 to the believer. He has righteousness in Him, and also strength, counsel, provision, and promises. And He is the portion of the believer; a sure portion; an enduring portion; a never-falling portion; an unchangeable portion; and a satisfying portion.

II. TO POINT OUT SOME PROPERTIES OF JOY IN GOD.

1. It is a supernatural joy. It springs not from the world, but is derived from above.

2. It is a real joy. Earthly joys have no substance. They cause a momentary flow of spirits, but they only skim the surface of the heart, and do not take full possession of it. There are degrees in the Christian's joy.

3. It is a joy which this world can neither give nor take away.

4. It is a joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.

5. It is an everlasting joy. In consideration of the nature and grounds of joy in God, we invite believers to lift up the hands that hang down. Be not cast down on account of the trials of life.

(A. Ross, M. A.)

That the world is insufficient for our happiness, who does not confess, or, at least, who does not feel? The insufficiency of external objects to furnish the soul with rational fruition or exercise, is demonstrated in the disappointment of those who have made the acquisition of those objects the chief study of their lives. Were they ever content? Things earthly are too fluctuating to be built on with assurance. They want stability, and leave those who rely on them, in a little while, destitute and spoiled of peace. The Christian has something more solid and unchanging on which his soul reposes. Let none imagine that these sentiments were peculiar to Habakkuk, or may be entertained only by an eminent few among the saints; by prophets, apostles, or men favoured with special distinctions from above; for there is not a reconciled sinner at this day upon earth, who, in the exercise of faith, love, and hope, may not and will not cherish and express sentiments essentially similar. Ye on earth who have known the Lord, fail not to exercise your souls in the same way as the prophet.

(J. Sieveright, A. M.)

The sentiment is — That no extremity of earthly sorrow should prevent the Christian rejoicing in the God of his salvation.

1. There is implied in the adoption of this truth, a firm belief in the superintending providence of God. Could we set aside the doctrine of a particular providence, the circumstances of life would change their character. Affliction would double her sorrows, and prosperity lose half her joys.

2. There is also implied a well-founded hope of interest in the God of salvation.The doctrine of providence would be a poor substitute to perishing sinners for the grace of the Gospel. Why should the Christian rejoice in God under affliction? It is not necessary to rob the world of any of its beauty, or to disparage the happiness it is capable of communicating. But it is the nature of riches to take to them. solves wings and flee away.

1. Consider the sanctifying tendency of afflictions. Sometimes they are sent for the purposes of trial; to prove the integrity of our principles, and to bring into exercise our latent virtues. But for the most part afflictions are corrective, and not for purposes of discipline. They are either to preserve or to extricate you from danger.

2. Affliction does not injuriously affect our best interests. We live for a higher and nobler object than worldly wealth.

3. The Christian may rejoice because he knows his afflictions will have a happy issue. The transitory character of suffering is powerfully calculated to sustain the mind under it.

4. In every conceivable extremity of woe, God is an all-sufficient portion. The enjoyment of God will constitute the happiness of heaven.

5. The joy of the Christian in the season of affliction is the fruit of the Saviour's mediation. It was in the God of salvation that Habakkuk rejoiced. It is only in this character that He is an object of confidence and joy to us. The mediation of Christ is the ground of our hope towards God. But for His interposition, afflictions would have been unmixed evils. They would have possessed no ingredient of mercy, nor given any indication of kindness.

(S. Summers.)

Spiritual joy does not consist in mere placidity; it is not like the water, which in fertilising showers descends, and does not depend on our volition or agency; but it is like the water we draw from the well, there must be activity and labour. There can be no happiness without thought. Habakkuk thought of God, of His nature, His moral perfections, His covenant, His promise; he not only thought of God generally, but in the particular relation which He sustained to him. "I will joy in the God of my salvation." I understand Him in some measure, I feel an interest in Him and He in me. The mere fact of the existence or benevolence of God cannot make any creature happy; it is the conviction, the intelligent, deeply rooted, legitimate conclusion that He is our God, can produce joy. This was the case with Habakkuk, and must be so with every true believer.

I. TRUE RELIGION (i.e., ITS DOCTRINES, PROSPECTS, EMOTIONS) DOES IMPART JOY. Because —

1. True religion gives decision to the mind. Indecision or dubiousness is always painful, and painful in exact correspondence to the value of the object to which it refers.

2. True religion imparts true liberty to the mind. While bodily bondage is a great evil, spiritual bondage is greater; religion alone imparts to man the charter of freedom — the moment man receives true freedom he is happy, and not before.(1) Freedom from eternal punishment. When we are brought under the influence of religion, we are led first to perceive our liability to it, and then to accept of deliverance through Christ.(2) Freedom from the government of depravity. The moment a man feels that he is dependent for happiness upon God, he feels desirous to know, love, and please that Being.(3) Freedom from the evils of affliction. Afflictions in themselves are evil, they make a man morose, unkind, bitter, despairing,, devilish: it is only when applied by God that they become useful to the believer s mind.

3. True religion imparts exercise and expectation to the mind. In order to be happy, there must be a right end in view — the glory of God; proper rule to guide — the Bible; and right motives to actuate — love to God and love to men.

II. THE NATURE OF THIS JOY.

1. It is always pure. When does the soul experience it! Only when it is pure. This is a question not only of facts but of degrees; not only the pure mind can be happy, but it is happy in exact proportion to its purity. When is it enjoyed? When the soul is raised to contemplate holy objects.

2. It is personal and progressive. It is secret, "I will rejoice in the Lord"; and when seen, seen only in its effects.

(Caleb Morris.)

Homilist.
The language is that of faith, hope, patience, and fortitude.

I. THE NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN'S JOY.

1. It is spiritual. Arising from saving knowledge of God: from pardon: from adoption: from the habitual indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

2. It is satisfying. The Almighty is suited to our capacities; adequate to our necessity; durable as our existence.

II. THE OBJECT OF THE CHRISTIAN'S REJOICING.

1. In the perfection of His nature, we rejoice in God.

2. In His works of creation, providence, and grace.

3. In His Word.

4. In His ordinances.

III. THE PARTICULAR SEASONS WHEN A TRUE CHRISTIAN CAN REJOICE IN THE LORD.

1. In seasons of poverty.

2. In seasons of persecution.

3. In seasons of national commotion.

4. In the season of death.

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
1. The sombre background from which the joy of the prophet sprang.

2. The sublime height to which the joy of the prophet leaped. Habakkuk supposes the loss of all things, and yet he had unwavering faith in God, and supreme love to God.

(1)We may rejoice in the works of God's hand.

(2)In the bounties of His providence.

(3)In the amenities of society.But the highest joy we can know is to "joy in the Lord." His loving-kindness is better than life.

(Homilist.)

1. The conditions. "Yet." In spite of what verse 17 describes — apparent failure of our efforts for God, or apparent desolation of His cause around us. Deep reality of such trials. Success is to be sought and prayed for; we are not to ask for the discipline of failure. But it may come, and in one degree or another it will, in every deep Christian experience, whether as personal failure or as a sense of surrounding failure. On its external side the Lord Jesus Christ's work partook of the pain of failure.

2. The resolve. "I will rejoice in the Lord." The will is called up. Believers "will to do His will" only by His special grace preventing them; but they do really will, the act of willing is their own. We must not sit down passive, and wait for a sensible impulse. It will come through our own will when it comes. Let us, in this spirit, cultivate the habit of holy resolves, as well as holy desires. It is the joy of personal appropriation, of objective pardon and peace — "my salvation." Comp. Micah 7:7 for a rich parallel. The soul, outwardly tried and tired, goes to Him who is "my hiding-place," and there is "compassed about with songs of deliverance" (Psalm 32:7).

3. The result. Not selfish sloth. Some say personal enjoyment of present salvation is selfish." On the contrary, it is the spring of deepest sympathy with souls, and of love-animated efforts for them. Personal joy compels affectionate work.

(Handley C. G. Moule, M. A.)

A woman who had had many sorrows and heavy burdens to bear, but who was noted for her cheerful spirits, once said in explanation: "You know, I have had no money. I had nothing I could give but myself, and so I made the resolution that I would never sadden anyone else with my troubles. I have laughed and told jokes when I could have wept. I have always smiled in the face of every misfortune. I have tried never to let anyone go from my presence without a happy word or a bright thought to carry with them. And happiness makes happiness. I myself am happier than I would have been had I sat down and bemoaned my fate." Cheerfulness: — Cheerfulness is a duty we owe to others. There is an old tradition that a cup of gold is to be found wherever a rainbow touches the earth, and there are some people whose smile, the sound of whose voice, whose very presence, seems like a ray of sunshine, to turn everything they touch into gold. Men never break down as long as they can keep cheerful. "A merry heart is a continual feast to others besides itself." The shadow of Florence Nightingale cured more than her medicines; and if we share the burdens of others, we lighten our own.

(Sir John Lubbock.)

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