Like water to the flame of joy

(John Angell James, "Spiritual Joy")

"I have spoken these things to you, so that My joy may
 be in you, and your joy may be full." John 15:11

One of the reasons why so little spiritual joy is experienced
by the majority of Christian professors, is because of SIN.
Sin weakens spiritual joy--and ought to do so! I do not now
mean immorality--for that extinguishes joy! I mean . . .
  the lesser workings of our corruption,
  the sins of the heart,
  the sins of the tongue,
  the sins of the character,
  sins known only to God and conscience,
  sins of omission,
  sins of defect.
I mean sins that do not unchristianize us, any more
than they excommunicate us from the church. Such
sins unopposed, unmortified--do, and must, prevent
or diminish our joy. They may not put out the light of
our piety altogether--but they surround it with an
impure atmosphere, a thick fog--which prevents its
light from shining upon the heart!

The religion of many is altogether too feeble. They are
too worldly, too lukewarm, live too far from God--to
derive much joy and peace from their piety. Spiritual
joy, is joy--in God, in Christ, in holiness, in heaven!
And when, therefore, the professor lives so little in
the closet, communes so little with his Bible, and
lives so far from God--it can be no wonder that his
religion does not make him happy!

My dear friends, let me now entreat you to avoid these
hindrances, and to seek after more of that heavenly,
holy, happy frame of mind. Pray for it, for it is a fruit
of the Spirit. Be much in converse with your Bibles, for
it comes in the way of understanding, believing, and
experiencing the truth. Find time for private, silent
meditation, for the truth will not be seen, so as to affect
the heart, by a hasty glance at Scripture. Seek to have
your faith strengthened, for your joy must ever be in
proportion to your faith.

Watch against sin, for sin is like water to the flame
of joy
. Cultivate all the branches of holiness; for holiness
is happiness. You must have eminent piety, if you would
have spiritual joy. Spiritual joy is the oil to the wheels of
obedience. It is this which braces up the soul for action,
and carries it forward through difficult and self-denying

How can we best vanquish the world, that ever present,
and every where present foe, which comes in so many
forms--and with such golden pleas? How, but by a heart
already well pleased with its own happiness in Christ.
Spiritual joy is the world's vanquisher! The heart by holy
joy rises above the world--sees it below, covered with
smoke and dust, and finds itself in a brighter, purer,
happier region, with the cloudless sun above, and all
around filled with glory. What has the world to offer
comparable to that which a rejoicing faith has found in
Christ? What has 'worldly ambition' to offer, which can
vie with this? He may spurn the favor of the crowned
prince, and put his crown aside as a bauble--who is
rejoicing in hope of an incorruptible crown of life and

"The joy of the Lord is your strength!" Nehemiah 8:10