An Excerpt From
The Cheerful Pilgrim
By William Jay, 1852
Whence Did David, And Whence Does Every Christian Derive This Joy?
I Answer, From The Scriptures!
“Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.” The discoveries and the promises of this blessed book are adapted to rejoice the pilgrim’s heart.
What are these discoveries? They tell him of the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul—they remind him continually of his country; they place it before him in every engaging form, and prove how far it surpasses every thing here—while it will infinitely indemnify him for all his losses, and reward him for all his difficulties.
They show him clearly and unerringly the way. Thus they give him the peace and satisfaction of certainty: he knows that he is not journeying at random—not a step is taken in vain—each brings him nearer home.
They assure him that he is not alone in his trials and exercises. They call upon him to observe way-marks thrown up by former pilgrims, where he began to think no pious foot had ever trod. “The same things,” say they, “happened to your brethren who were before you in the world.” “Be ye followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.’ ‘Take the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord: that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.’” How suitable, how animating, how blessed are such discoveries as these!
But promises are something more than discoveries; and with these the Scripture abounds. They are “exceeding great and precious.” And what can the pilgrim want or desire that is not insured by them!—A freedom of motion? This is insured. “Thou shalt walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.” An ability to hold on?– This is insured. The “righteous shall hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger.” Victory over enemies?—This is insured. “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot.” All needful supplies!—These are insured. “O fear the Lord, ye his saints; for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Is not all this sufficient to induce him to go on his way rejoicing?
We have been speaking of the experience of David, and of the experience of all the Lord’s people. Are you like-minded with them? There are only two sorts of people in the world. All are citizens of earth or of heaven. And naturally all are of the first class—but some are by divine grace obeying the command; “Arise ye and depart hence: for this is not your rest.”
Are you men of the world—do you feel yourselves at home—would you be satisfied to live here always—provided you could succeed according to your wishes? Are you looking only to those things that are seen and temporal? The man who takes up with this world as his portion is worse than a brute. He is unworthy of the soul he carries within him. He starves his mind. He makes no provision for the evil day. It matters not what he has—he is in a miserable condition —he has nothing that can either satisfy or save. A man going to execution is for the present very well off: he has a carriage to ride in; a guard to attend him; officers to accompany him, and a number of followers. But what would you think of the man if he deemed all this the token of his honour, rather than the forerunner of his punishment; and should only consider how he is accommodated, but never ask whither am I going? Alas! how many such fools are there! They only think how it is with them at present, but never inquire what will become of them hereafter. But “the end of these things is death.”
There are others who are delivered from the present evil world, and are heirs of the kingdom which God has promised to them that love him. As strangers and pilgrims, let me give you three admonitions, founded on the several parts of the discourse which you have heard.
First. Always regard your present condition as a state of pilgrimage—and never view it as any thing more. This will regulate your desires, and moderate your wishes after earthly things. This will keep you from being too much elated when you meet with prosperous scenes. Not that you will disparage the bounties of Providence—you will even be thankful for them, as conveniences by the way—but you will consider them only as accommodations; and not mistake them for the advantages and glories of home—you will not therefore sit down, but still press forward. This will enable you to endure with fortitude and resignation the hardships you may encounter. You will say, “As a traveller, I expect such things; they are only the inconveniences of a journey—it will soon be over — and I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’”
Second. Cherish a humble and a holy joy. Consider this not only as your privilege—but duty. Enforce it upon your minds by the authority of God, who commands you to rejoice always, and by a consideration of the importance of it to others. Nothing will honour and recommend your religion more than this. It will show those around you, that you have found what they are seeking after. Surely you do not, you cannot wish to travel to heaven alone—but habitually cheerful—singing as you go—you will be constantly inviting and alluring your relations, friends, neighbours, to join you. You will address them, as Moses addressed Hobab, the son of Raguel—“We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.”
Third. Love and study the Scriptures. He that avoids reading a portion of them daily forsakes his own mercy; and is so far regardless of his safety, welfare, and comfort. Therefore “bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp: and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”
Precious Bible! like thy blessed Author, our sun and our shield, thou giver of grace and glory, thou conductor through all this gloomy vale to our everlasting home, how many advantages have we already derived from thee! Thou hast often solved our doubts, and wiped away our tears. Thou been sweeter to our taste than honey and the honeycomb. Thou hast been better to us, in our distresses, than thousands of gold and silver. Unless thou hadst been our delight, we should have perished in our affliction.
No wonder Job “esteemed thee more than his necessary food.” No wonder David chose thee as his heritage for ever, and found thee to be the rejoicing of his heart. No wonder the noble army of martyrs parted with their estates and with their blood, rather than with thee. May we value thee as our richest jewel, may we love thee as our dearest good, may we consult thee as our surest counsellor, may we follow thee as our safest rule!
And oh! thou eternal Jehovah, “send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me: let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God, my exceeding joy; yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God, my God!”