The comforts of grace and godliness
(Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)
"The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:3
There are no comforts which can compare to the comforts of grace and godliness.
1. Worldly comfort is only external. It is but skin-deep, "In the midst of laughter, the heart is sorrowful." But the comfort which flows from godliness is an inward comfort, a spiritual joy; therefore it is called gladness of heart. "You have put gladness in my heart." Other joy smoothes the brow—but this fills the heart.
2. Worldly comfort is always mixed. The spring of worldly comfort is in the creature, in some earthly enjoyment; and, therefore, the comfort of worldly men must needs be mixed and muddy. "An unclean fountain cannot send forth pure water." But spiritual comfort has an upper spring. The comfort which accompanies godliness, flows from the manifestations of the love of God in Christ, from the workings of the blessed Spirit in the heart—who is first a Counselor, and then a Comforter. Therefore the comforts of the saints must needs be pure and unmixed comforts—for they flow from a pure spring.
3. Worldly comfort is very fading and transitory. "The triumphing of the wicked is but short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment." Solomon compares it to the "crackling of thorns under a pot," which is but a blaze—and soon out. So is the comfort of carnal hearts. But the comfort of godliness is a durable and abiding comfort, "your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man shall take from you." The comfort of godliness is lasting—yes everlasting; it abides by us in life, in death, and after death!