It is quite true that the Spirit of God produces sorrow, for one of his first effects upon the soul is holy grief. He enlightens us as to our lost condition, convincing us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and the first result upon our heart is astonishment and lamentation. Even when we look to Christ by the work of the Spirit one of the first fruits is sorrow: “They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, and be in bitterness for him as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.” But this sorrow is not the ultimate object of the Spirit’s work, it is a means to an end. Even as the travail of the mother leadeth up to the joy of birth, so do the pangs of repentance lead up to the joy of pardon and acceptance. The sorrow is, to use a scriptural figure, the blade, but the full corn in the ear is joy; sorrow helps on the fruit, but the fruit itself is joy. The tears of godly grief for sin are all meant to sparkle into the diamonds of joy in pardoning love.
The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 27 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1881), 73-74. Vol. 27, Sermon No. 1,582; Titled: The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy; Delivered on Lord’s Day morning, February 6th, 1881. Click here for a free PDF of this sermon.