“I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”—Luke 15:10
What a precious information is this which the Son of God hath given of heaven’s joy over every individual instance of the recovery of our poor fallen nature! Surely if angels of light thus participate in the triumphs of our Jesus; well may sinners rejoice over sinners, whenever a single one is awakened from darkness to light, and converted from the power of sin and Satan unto God. Think, ye ministers of my God, what motives arise out of this thought to stir up your most earnest exertions in labouring in the word and doctrine! Ought it not to be the first and most importunate petition at the mercy-seat whenever entering upon your labours, that, by the Lord’s blessing upon you, new causes might arise to call forth this joy in heaven? Nay, ought it not to be the fervent prayer and hope of faith, at the close of those labours, and especially every Lord’s day, that some souls may have been awakened, and angels may have rejoiced through your instrumentality? Can there be a prayer more interesting upon earth, than when the servant of Jesus saith, ‘Lord, crown my labours this day with success?’ And can there be a subject to call forth more animated praise than when at the close of a sabbath, you look up and say, ‘Lord, have angels rejoiced this day over the conversion of any poor sinner in this congregation?’ And no less, ye parents and guardians of the rising generation, should the same hope prompt you to wrestle in prayer with God for the sanctification of your household. Go on, and hope that answers are coming down to your earnest requests. Perhaps the next joy in heaven may be over one for whom you have now prayed! Precious Jesus, it is enough. I bless thee, Lord, for this, among a thousand other proofs of thy care over us, that the salvation of poor sinners adds new joy to the felicity of heaven, and that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."