JOHN FLAVEL on 1 Peter 1:8,
Didst thou ever see Christ with whom thy soul is so delighted? No, I have not seen him; yet my soul is transported with love to him, "whom having not seen, we love." But if thou never sawest him, how comes thy soul to be so delighted with him? Why, though I never saw him by the eye of sense, I do see him by the eye of faith; and by that sight my soul is flooded with spiritual joy: "Believing, we rejoice." But what manner of joy is it which you taste ? No tongue can express that, for it is joy unspeakable. But how are Christ and heaven turned into such joys to the soul? The Spirit of the Lord gives the believer a sight to discern not only the transcendent excellency of these spiritual objects, but his interest in them also. This is my Saviour, and this the glory prepared for me. Without appropriation, heaven itself cannot be turned into joy. My soul rejoices in God my Saviour. Luke 1 :47. We read of some who shall have a sight of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yet shall be without joy, Luke 13:28; a dreadful sight to such, for want of a joint interest with them in that glory. They shall see, and yet weep and gnash their teeth. But an interest sealed gives joy unspeakable.
As to the excellency of this joy, it will prove the pleasant light of the soul. Light and joy are synonymous terms in Scripture. Psa. 97:11. It is as the cheerful light of the morning, after a sad and dismal night. You who have sat in darkness and the shadow of death, who have sat mourning in the dark without one glimpse of a promise, who have conversed with nothing but dismal thoughts of hell and wrath—O,I shall be cast away for ever ; what will you say, when after all this darkness, the day-star shall arise in your hearts, and the joy of heaven shall beam upon your souls? Will not this be a glorious reward for all your self-denial for Christ, and fully recompense the frowns of ungodly relations for giving entertainment to Christ? This joy of the Lord, if there were no other heaven, is an abundant recompense. This joy of the Lord shall be your strength. Neh. 8: 10. Let God but give a person a little of this joy into his heart, and he shall presently feel himself strengthened by it, either to do or to suffer the will of God. Now he can pray with enlargement, hear with comfort, meditate with delight; and if God call him to suffer, this joy shall strengthen him to bear it. This it was that made the martyrs go singing to the stake. This therefore transcends all the joys of the world. There are sinful pleasures which men find in fulfilling their lusts; there are sensitive joys that men find in the good creatures of God, filling their hearts with food and gladness; there are also delusive joys, that hypocrites find in their ungrounded hopes of heaven. The joys of the sensualist are brutish, the joys of the hypocrite are ensnaring and vanishing; but the joys of the Holy Ghost are solid, sweet, and leading to the fullness of everlasting joy.
—JOHN FLAVEL, died 1691
And for the loss of your pleasures, by conversion to God, that is the thinnest and silliest pretense of all the rest: That is the same thing, as to imagine it is to a thirsty man's loss, to leave the puddle waters of a broken cistern, to enjoy the crystal streams of a flowing fountain; for the pleasures of an ale-house, playhouse, or whorehouse, to be sweeter than the light of God's countenance, the comforts of his pardon, or the lively hopes of glory with him in heaven; of which you read, 1 Pet. i. 8.