You Were Made to Be Happy

by Aug 8, 2011

Most people think of the Puritans as joyless legalists, but English Puritan John Flavel wrote this 350 years ago:

Ecstasy and delight are essential to the believer’s soul and they promote sanctification. We were not meant to live without spiritual exhilaration, and the Christian who goes for a long time without the experience of heart-warming will soon find himself tempted to have his emotions satisfied from earthly things and not, as he ought, from the Spirit of God.

The soul is so constituted that it craves fulfillment from things outside itself and will embrace earthly joys for satisfaction when it cannot reach spiritual ones. The believer is in spiritual danger if he allows himself to go for any length of time without tasting the love of Christ and savoring the felt comforts of a Savior’s presence.

When Christ ceases to fill the heart with satisfaction, our souls will go in silent search of other lovers. By the enjoyment of the love of Christ in the heart of a believer, we mean an experience of the “love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Because the Lord has made himself accessible to us in the means of grace, it is our duty and privilege to seek this experience from Him in these means till we are made the joyful partakers of it. (via)

In other words, Jesus wants to give you unmatchable joy. And if you’re not really finding “ecstasy and delight” in Christ right now, there are “means of grace” God has established to help you experience it.

So what are the “means of grace?”

Another English Puritan named Richard Rogers answered that question 100 years before Flavel. He divided the means of grace into two categories: public (things we do together as a community of believers) and private (things we do as individuals or families):

The public (such as are used in our open assemblies ordinarily) are these three:

  • The ministry of the Word read, preached, and heard.
  • The administration of the holy sacraments [baptism and communion].
  • The exercise of prayer, with thanksgiving and singing of Psalms.

But because the public cannot be daily had and enjoyed, (and yet we need daily relief and help) neither although they could, were they sufficient to enable us, to honor God as it becomes us, therefore God hath commanded us to use private exercises:

  • Watchfulness
  • Meditation
  • The armor of a Christian
  • Prayer
  • Reading