“The Lord is close to those who have bruised their hearts” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

God is most high, yet near.

I will cry to God Most High. If He is most high, how can He hear your crying?

‘My confidence is born from experience,’ the psalmist replies, ‘because I am praying to God, who has dealt kindly with me. If He dealt kindly with me before I sought Him, will He not hear me now that I am crying out to Him?’

The Lord God dealt kindly with us by sending us our Savior Jesus Christ, to die for our misdeeds and rise for our justification. (Rom. 4:25)

And for what kind of people did God will His Son to die?

For the godless. The godless were not seeking God, but God sought them.

He is “most high” indeed, but in such a way that our wretchedness and our groans are not far from Him, for the Lord is close to those who have bruised their hearts.

I will cry to God Most High, to God who has dealt kindly with me.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Expositions of the Psalms 51–72, trans. Maria Boulding, ed. John E. Rotelle, vol. 17, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2001), 17: 108–109. Augustine is commenting on Psalm 57:2.

“Christ has invited you to His own table abounding in all good things” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Do you wish to be happy? If you wish, I shall show you how you may be happy.

Continue to read that passage: ‘How long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity and seek after lying? Know ye—.’ What?—‘that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful.’ (Psalm 4:3-5)

Christ came to our miseries. He was hungry and thirsty; He was weary and He slept; He worked wonders and He suffered evils; He was scourged, crowned with thorns, covered with spittle, beaten with cudgels, fixed to a cross, wounded with a lance, placed in a tomb.

But He rose again on the third day when His work was finished and death was dead. Lo, keep your eye fixed on His Resurrection, because ‘the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful’ to such a degree that He raised Him from the dead, and bestowed upon Him the honor of sitting at His right hand in heaven.

He showed you what you ought to attend to, if you wish to be happy, for here on earth you cannot be happy. In this life you cannot be happy; no one can.

You seek what is good, but earth is not the source of that which you seek. What are you seeking? A happy life. But it is not available here.

If you were looking for gold in a place where it did not exist, would not he who knew that it was not there say to you: ‘Why are you digging? Why are you plowing up the earth? You are digging a trench to descend into a place where you will find nothing.’ What are you going to answer the one who proffers you this advice? ‘I am looking for gold.’ And he answers: ‘I do not tell you that what you seek is of no importance, but I do say that it is not in the place where you are looking for it.’

Likewise, when you say: ‘I desire to be happy,’ [the answer may be given:] ‘You seek what is good, but it is not in this place.’

If Christ had happiness here, so also will you. But notice what He found in this land of your death. When He came from another region, what did He find here except what abounds here?

With you He ate what is plentiful in the cellar of your wretchedness. He drank vinegar here; He had gall, too. Behold, what He found in your cellar!

However, He has invited you to His own table abounding in all good things, the table of heaven, the table of the angels where He Himself is the bread.

Coming, then, and finding these unpalatable viands in your cellar, He did not disdain such a table as yours, but He promised you His own. And what does He say to us? ‘Believe, just believe that you will come to the good things of My table inasmuch as I did not scorn the poor things of your table.’

He accepted your evil; will He not give you His good? Certainly He will. He promised His life to us; but what He has done is more unbelievable.

He offered His own life to us, as if to say:

‘I invite you to My life where no one dies, where life is truly blessed, where food is not corrupted, where it refreshes and does not fail. Behold the place to which I invite you, to the abode of the angels, to the friendship of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, to the eternal banquet, to My companionship, finally, to Me Myself and to My life do I invite you. Do you not wish to believe that I will give you My life? Take My death as a pledge.’

Now, therefore, while we are living in this corruptible flesh, by changing our ways, let us die with Christ; by loving justice, let us live with Christ.

We shall not gain the happy life unless we shall have come to Him who came to us and unless we shall have begun to live with Him who died for us.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 231: On the Resurrection according to St. Mark,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 207-209.

“Till we seek our rest in Him, in vain we seek it elsewhere” by John Newton

“Until we are reconciled to God by the blood of Jesus, everything to which we look for satisfaction will surely disappoint us.

God formed us originally for Himself, and has therefore given the human mind such a vastness of desire, such a thirst for happiness as He alone can answer.

And therefore, till we seek our rest in Him, in vain we seek it elsewhere.

Neither the hurries of business, nor the allurements of pleasure, nor the accomplishment of our wishes, can fill up the mighty void that is felt within.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton, Ed. Josiah Bull (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1869/2002), 201-202.

“Without Christ there is no happiness in this world” by J.C. Ryle

“The plain truth is that without Christ there is no happiness in this world. He alone can give the Comforter who abideth for ever.

He is the sun; without Him men never feel warm.

He is the light; without Him men are always in the dark.

He is the bread; without Him men are always starving.

He is the living water; without Him men are always athirst.

Give them what you like,—place them where you please,—surround them with all the comforts you can imagine,—it makes no difference. Separate from Christ, the Prince of Peace, a man cannot be happy.”

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1878/2013), 236.

“To be truly happy” by J.C. Ryle

“To be truly happy a man must have sources of gladness which are not dependent on anything in this world.”

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1878/2013), 221.

“Humility, happiness, and holiness” by Charles Spurgeon

“There will be three effects of nearness to Jesus, all beginning with the letter hhumility, happiness, and holiness. May God give them to us!”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christ Manifesting Himself to His People,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons (vol. 1; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 1: 226.

“Christ Jesus loves us so much” by Jonathan Edwards

“In the gospel God is come down to us, and the person of God may receive communications of happiness from us. The man Christ Jesus loves us so much, that He is really the happier for our delight and happiness in Him.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “97 – Happiness,” in The “Miscellanies”: Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 13, Ed. Harry S. Stout (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 264.

“The terrible and tender God of love” by G.K. Chesterton

“Happiness is not to be found by dancing after any heathen god of love. Happiness is found by looking up to where a more terrible but a more tender God of love hangs, not on Olympus but on Calvary.”

–G.K. Chesterton, “Chaucer: The Garden of Romance,” in The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton (San Francisco: St. Ignatius Press, 1991), 18: 264.

“Almost incredible” by Jonathan Edwards

“When I think how great heaven’s happiness is, sometimes it is ready to seem almost incredible. But the death and sufferings of Christ make everything credible that belongs to this blessedness.

For if God would so contrive to show His love in the manner and means of procuring our happiness, nothing can be incredible in the degree of the happiness itself. If all that God doth about it be of a piece, He will also set infinite wisdom on work to make our happiness and glory great in the degree of it.

If God ‘spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ (Romans 8:32). Nothing could have been such a confirmation of our blessedness as this.

If nothing be too much to be given to man, and to be done for man in the means of procuring his happiness, nothing will be too much to be given to him as the end, no degree of happiness too great for him to enjoy.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Entry 576: Heaven’s Happiness” in The “Miscellanies”: Entry Nos. 501-832, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 18, Ed. Ava Chamberlain (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 114. This entry may be read here in its entirety.

“The godly man is a happy man” by Jonathan Edwards

“The godly man is happy in whatever circumstances he is placed because of the spiritual privileges and advantages, joys and satisfactions, he actually enjoys while in this life.

How great a happiness must it be to a man to have all his sins pardoned and to stand guilty of nothing in God’s presence; to be washed clean from all his pollutions; to have the great and eternal and almighty Jehovah, who rules and governs the whole universe, and doth whatsoever He pleases in the armies of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, reconciled to him and perfectly at peace with him.

How great a pleasure and satisfaction must it be to him to think of it, and not only that God is reconciled to him or has nothing against him, inasmuch as all is pardoned.

But also that this same almighty being who created him, who keeps him in being and who disposes of him and all other things every moment, loves him, and that with a great and transcendent love.

And that He has adopted him and taken him to be His child, and given Himself to him to be his Father and his portion, and that takes care of him as one that is very dear to Him, continually guides and directs him, and will lead him to the fountain of living waters.

And how joyful and gladsome must the thoughts of Jesus Christ be to him, to think with how great a love Christ has loved him, even to lay down His life and suffer the most bitter torments for his sake,

Who also now continually intercedes for him at the throne of grace; to consider that so great a person as the eternal Son of God, who also made the worlds, is his lord and master, and is not ashamed to call us brethren,

Who will come in and sup with him, and he with Him, and to see His arms expanded to embrace him and offering Himself to be embraced by him.

And beside, what a satisfaction and pleasure must it give to his mind to think that he is now sanctified and made holy, adorned and beautified with those lovely graces that make him lovely in the sight of God and excellent in the sight of saints and angels.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Christian Happiness,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10, Sermons and Discourses 1720-1723. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 299-300.