"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I
will give you rest."
"Him that comes unto Me I will in no wise cast out." John
None are so weary or heavy laden as those oppressed with
doubt as to the ability and willingness of Christ to receive and save them.
As "the heart knows its own bitterness," so the soul knows the pressure of
its own moral burdens and impediments--specially among these the burdening
memory of some heinous and presumptuous transgressions--sins against light
and love; sins in defiance, and forgetfulness of privilege and
responsibility; sins, it may even be, involving the loss of self-respect,
and entailing the shame of remorse. Many are ready enough to own that the
door of that Hospice of Pardon has been opened to countless multitudes. But,
can its gates, is the despairing thought of not a few thus saddened with
humbling retrospects, be unlocked to us? What of the soul "once
enlightened," made a temple of the Holy Spirit, but that temple, through
temptation and unwatchfulness, desecrated and defiled, some foul scar on its
pure alabaster pillars, known only to Him whose eyes are as a flame of
fire--the infinitely Holy One?
Yes, if sin be unrepented of; if sin be persevered in, if
blot be added knowingly to blot, and scar to scar, the reins recklessly
surrendered to feeble, frail, faltering wills; if the prodigal be still
groveling and content to grovel amid the husks and garbage of the far
country--there can be little said to hush feverish unrest, and inspire with
the hope of welcome and forgiveness. But the pivot on which the words of our
present meditation seem to turn is, "Him that comes unto Me." In that
coming is implied self-renunciation and sin-renunciation; sorrow for the
past, and the promise and purpose of new obedience. Not, let it be imagined,
that in such cases of heart-felt renewed consecration we claim future
impeccability; that when a "conversion," in the true sense of that
often-misused and travestied word, takes place, there can be no further
coming short of lofty Christian ideals--no further failures, it may even be
grievous woundings, in the spiritual battle. To say so would be not only, on
no Bible authority, to minimize the real and persistent character of that
warfare Paul again and again describes; but it would also in the case of
many close the door of hope, and tend to put despondency into earnest and
sensitive though frail and fallible natures.
Blessed be God for His own balm-word for all
such--"Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord
upholds him with His hand." But this we may with confidence aver, that if
there be present, honest, prayerful resolves for the future, anxiety and
misgiving may be set aside. Christ's word of welcome and heart-cheer is
enough. No barrier is placed by Him at the approach to the Hospice. There is
the offer of unqualified forgiveness. There is a perch for the feeblest,
most ruffled wing on this mighty Cedar of God.
Weary ones, your pillow of thorns is made by Him a pillow
of peace. He who touched the kneeling leper, and washed the traitor's feet,
shows His unwillingness to quench the smoking flax. He stands with the
ineffable love of eternity in His heart. He will "in no wise cast out."
There is room on His shoulders for every wandering sheep. There is room in
His heart for every prodigal child. There is room in His Hospice for every
storm-beaten pilgrim. He could have uttered no stronger assurance of His
love for sinners and His willingness to welcome and receive the weariest,
the most outcast and lost. The sin which for us is "a burden too heavy for
us to bear," is not too heavy for Him. "He was wounded for our
transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The Lord has laid on Him
the iniquities of us all." "This man receives sinners" was His distinctive
"Turn to the seventh chapter of Hebrews and twenty-fifth
verse," said the blind girl to her spiritual adviser and friend. He did so.
The words are--"Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost."
"Lay my hand," she added, "on that verse--upon it I should like to die."
There may be sins in conscience and memory at the
cognizance of which the best and kindest friends would "cast out" from
Christ forever. Their crushing, despairing verdict would be--"He will by no
means receive." But His ways are not as man's ways, nor His thoughts as
man's thoughts. His thoughts toward us are "thoughts of peace and not of
evil." He reveals Himself with the garnered treasures of redemption, ready
to dispense them to the chief of sinners.
"Pardon my iniquity," cried one of old, who was no
stranger to the pangs of an accusing conscience. And what was his plea? Was
it, "Pardon my iniquity because of its triviality; because of inborn
weakness, or fierce temptation, or some exceptionally extenuating
circumstances"? No. It was the reverse. Conscious that he was in the hands
of the All-Merciful--"Pardon my iniquity," he exclaims, "for it is
great!" In the parable of the Prodigal Son, when the father "fell on his
neck, and kissed him," the meaning in the original Greek is "kissed him
Lord, I am unworthy to come under Your roof! Lord, I am
unworthy to gather up the crumbs from Your table! My sins at times confront
me like the swords of avenging angels. But He who is All-worthy gives the
free, full, gracious invitation.
At Your call I come! Blessed be Your name, let it be
gladly repeated, that call is hampered with no conditions. "All you
that labor and are heavy laden" takes in the wide circumference of humanity.
In the freeness and sovereignty of Your redeeming grace, unbar to me the
sheltering portal! And while in the sad, solemn memories of bygone apostasy
I may be led at times to look with trembling apprehension to the future, let
the thought of Your divine power and sympathy arm and strengthen me amid
environing temptations. "Iniquities," was the wail of a stricken soul under
the conscious sense of weakness, helplessness, unrest--"iniquities prevail
against me," or, as that has been rendered, "are too strong for me." Here is
God's gracious response and recipe--"Let him take hold of My STRENGTH, that
he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me" (Ps.
65:3; Isa. 27:5).
"You know all our conflict, all the failing
Of flesh and spirit, lured by evil powers,
The sore temptations these poor hearts assailing
In our unguarded hours.
"But we shall fear no evil--living, dying,
Our souls are in Your care; You will defend
The faithful servants on Your word relying,
Even until the end."
"Lord, I believe--help my unbelief."
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is
the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12