"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I
will give you rest."
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you--not as
the world gives, give I unto you." John 14:27
No diviner or more soothing music than this--the great
lullaby of lullabies.
What a Hospice the words must have been for those to whom
they were first addressed! The pilgrim apostles, laboring and heavy laden,
were about to be overtaken by whelming tempest. Thunder clouds they had
little anticipated were at the moment gathering ominously around them. In
that valley of the shadow of death they were entering there was no blue
opening, no rift in the sky. Their best Friend, as they had been forewarned,
was soon to be removed. The voice would soon no longer be heard which was
used to say in seasons of depression and sadness, "Come apart into a desert
place and rest awhile." They would be left alone to buffet the storm.
But, before the valley-gloom is encountered, the gracious
Rest-Giver, in a divine, spiritual sense, utters the conventional
greeting--so well known to all Orientals, and specially the Jews--Peace!
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you."
It was a true Hos-peace, "a House of Peace," whose gates
He was opening to them. He who came to give peace on earth welcomes the
weary ones in. The customary Jewish salutation conveyed little meaning. It
had degenerated into mere formal parlance--no more. "Mine," says Christ, "My
promised gift, is no mere verbal form of expression, but a reality."
And, though first spoken to the disciples, it was a
farewell promise--a parting legacy for all--for you and for me. Death-bed
sayings are always affecting and sacredly treasured. Here is a keepsake
intended for the Church and for believers of every age; all the more
precious because uttered within shadow of Gethsemane.
The walls of this Gospel Hospice are built of peace of
Christ's own procuring--"peace through the blood of His cross." The pilgrim
who reaches the threshold of "the chamber called peace, whose windows open
to the sunrising," is safe, restful, secure, happy.
"All my favorite passages in the Holy Scriptures," says
one of the greatest of our poets in the days of her simplest devotion (Mrs.
Barrett Browning), "are those which promise and express peace--such as, 'The
Lord of peace, Himself give you peace always and by all means;' 'My peace I
give unto you--not as the world gives give I;' and, 'He gives His beloved
sleep.' They strike upon the disturbed earth with such a foreignness of
heavenly music." The last of these she makes the refrain in the most
familiar of her verses–
"His dews drop mutely on the hill,
His cloud above it saileth still–
More softly than the dew is shed,
Or cloud is floated overhead,
He gives His beloved sleep."
"O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
grant me Your peace!" Your peace is "not as the world gives." The
world's rest, the rest of creature comforts and external blessings, is
fitful, uncertain, unstable--ours today, gone tomorrow. Often its greeting
is, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace."
And yet, if it be not an apparent paradox, "not as the
world gives" implies another, almost opposite characteristic; and the
thought ought to be one of comfort to many. Let none, in the pursuit of
peace, be downcast or discouraged by reason of harassment, mental and moral
discords and disharmonies. These are often preludes to truest cadence. If I
might venture to expand the thought and illustration of a gifted writer
(Professor Elmslie, "Memoir and Sermons," page 291), the world's peace is
often not worth the having, just because it takes the shape of an easy-going
quiescence--no more. It is alike artificial and superficial. The peace of
Christ, on the other hand, that which is best and noblest, frequently comes
after conflict and out of conflict. It is a peace which has its travail and
birth-pangs--a peace which at times has its pedigree in defeat, baffling
enigma, mysterious discipline, bewildering doubt, barely vanquished
temptation. Two of the small but beautiful lakes among the Allan hills, near
Rome, so peaceful and serene, with myrtle and olive trees mirrored in the
quiet waters, occupy the craters of extinct volcanoes. Their cradles of rest
were rocked by unrest. First, struggle, upheaval--forces of terror and
destruction, a seething caldron, then peace. First, wild convulsion
and paroxysm; this followed by nature's loveliest pictures and features of
repose--"quiet waters," the song of nightingales in the adjacent woods,
trails of vine, a cascade of wild roses, a golden canopy of moss and lichen
on the surrounding rocks.
"Not as the world gives," says the great Peace-Giver. "I
have chosen you in the furnace [the crater] of affliction." "After you
have suffered awhile, establish, strengthen, settle you." "These
are those who have come out of Great Tribulation."
Yet, true as this often is, it is equally true that when
once the boon of this unworldly peace is secured, how reliable and permanent
it is! "The peace of God which passes all understanding, shall keep [as in a
stronghold or Hospice] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." "Keep;"
it is the guarantee of security. The promised gift is alike present and
future--a peace which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot take
away; peace ringing its silver bells in unlikeliest places--in peasant hut
and lonely garret, and amid hum of busiest industry, yes, too, even amid
uncongenial and repelling environments; peace in joy, peace in sorrow; peace
in the varied vicissitudes of life; peace, above all, in the solemn hour
when the spirit is about to wing its arrowy flight to the Great Beyond.
Peace floods the death-chamber with its own mellowed celestial radiance. The
Hospice catches the earliest sunbeam, and is gilded with the last evening
"These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me you
might have peace."
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is
the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12