Exodus 33:14--"I will give you rest."
True rest is only found in the presence, the favor, and
the love of God. Apart from Him, the soul is like the troubled sea--it is
driven to and fro with perplexing doubts and fears. Only in the
consciousness of His "presence" is there security, peace, rest. So Moses
knew and felt. The "Shechinah," the visible symbol of the Divine presence,
had been withdrawn--there was no longer the assurance of guidance and
protection. But, along with the promise of His "presence," God also given
the promise of "rest."
Thus was the leader of Israel strengthened and
encouraged--He trusted God, and verily he was not put to confusion. In the
depths of his soul, there was always a consciousness that God was with
him--that he had a Friend ever near--a Companion in the journey of life--a
Counselor, in whom in every difficulty he could confide, and to whom he
could reveal every anxiety, and doubt, and fear. And, when he reached the
end of his pilgrimage, the promise was fully realized. When near the borders
of the promised land, he received the Divine mandate, to ascend and survey,
from Pisgah's summit, the earthly inheritance of Israel. Obedient to the
summons, this aged servant of the Lord commenced his last earthly journey.
With quiet, unshaken confidence in the God who had led him hitherto, he
prepared to resign his spirit into His hands.
Reader! mark the fulfillment of the promise, "I will give
you rest." See the venerable patriarch, "whose eye was not dim, and whose
natural force was not abated," beholding with admiring eye, "the land of
Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh,
and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea," with the blue waters of the
Mediterranean, glittering in the distant sunbeams, "and the south, and the
plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm-trees, unto Zoar." He
meditates, and then exclaims, "Your presence, O God, has indeed gone with
me. Your promise has been fulfilled. You are true and faithful. Here, then,
is the land where my fathers sojourned--the land, for the gaining of which,
I led the people across the waters of the Red Sea--when Jehovah made bright
the shining of His glorious arm--the land, of which He told me it was a good
land and large, flowing with milk and honey, full of fertility and
beauty--the land, where the hosts whom I have conducted, are destined to
dwell in magnificence and might, beneath the banner of the Lord." And, oh!
what peace, what rest of soul he enjoys in the prospect of the future--how
his eye kindles, as the thought of the glorious Antitype--the heavenly
Canaan--rises within him, and he feels that he shall shortly and assuredly
be there! And how peacefully he bows his head and dies!
Believer, the promise of "rest" is also yours--rest, in
the assurance of God's favor here, and rest in the full enjoyment of heaven
hereafter. Do not think, because toil and trial, danger and difficulty are
before you, that the promise will fail. Remember, amid outward ills there
may be inward quiet. When the surface of the lake is ruffled by the rough
wind, far down in its depths there is perfect calm. Even so in your spirit,
when on its surface there is a tossing to and fro, deep down in its secret
chambers there is the "peace" of God--the rest of a forgiven soul--the quiet
of a beloved, confiding child.
Judge not, that all are at rest who meet you with
gleaming eye, and joyous countenance, and merry laugh. Ah? no, their soul
"knows its own bitterness." Could you read the pages of their hearts, you
would find the record of many woes--secret, painful, agonizing griefs, known
only to themselves--unforgiven sins, distracting fears, perplexing doubts,
which ever and anon, amid the ceaseless whirl of gaiety, send an arrow
through the soul. The "rest" which is found in the "presence" of God, alone
can be said to have any reality. Then, amid the sorest trials and heaviest
bereavements--amid pain and sickness--amid the wildest, the fiercest gusts
of outward fortune--it is no strange thing, to mark the continuance of a
holy, of an almost unearthly peace. On the cheek wasted by disease, or on
the pale and pain-contracted brow, or on the Christian pilgrim, just
standing on the brink of Jordan's stream, has not seldom been witnessed the
calmness of a heavenly "rest;" and, from lips quivering with anguish--yes,
convulsed in the throes of death, have fallen words of meek resignation, and
even joyful hope, that told, how the peace of the spirit can triumph over
all outward pain.
"No smile is like the smile of death,
When, all good musings past,
Rise, wafted with the parting breath,
The sweetest thought, the last."
And, O believer! think of the future fulfillment of this
sweet promise--when the battle of life will be ended, the conflict over, the
stormy ocean crossed, the haven of eternal repose at last entered--"there
remains a rest for the people of God." Yes! there is a "rest" in
heaven--not the rest of inactivity--not the indolence of a Pagan elysium, or
a carnal Mohammedan paradise; but the quiet of a soul reposing on its God,
and delighting ever in His service. Labor is rest to the loving
spirit--congenial work is not toil; and in heaven, though the redeemed "rest
not day nor night," yet theirs is a peaceful, congenial activity. The work,
which on earth gave rise to the feeling of effort, then passes into
pleasure; and the soul's repose is in goodness--a goodness, which has become
a very necessity, and in which, holy thoughts and works are as devoid of
effort as song to a bird, or fragrance to the summer flower. There is
endless repose, yet endless activity--unwearied, yet delightful employment
in the service of God. No more shall the redeemed grieve and mourn--no more
shall tears of sorrow and disappointment fall, or the heart be surcharged
with affliction and distress. The anxious troubles and the bitter cares of
life are never felt in the realms of glory; for there, no seductive pleasure
misleads--no ambition unduly excites--no carking thoughts fetter and cramp
Then will you enjoy a peace and tranquillity--a heavenly
"rest," which even an angel's voice could not describe, and be with Him, who
has been the source of all your earthly happiness--Him, by whose sorrow you
were made to rejoice--Him, by whose grace your nature was renewed--Him, who
was your Advocate when you offended--who blessed you all your life long--who
communicated to you His Holy Spirit--who showed towards you a patience which
nothing could exhaust, a love which passes understanding--who, though you
outraged, and dishonored, and forgot, and turned away from Him, would never
turn away from you, until He had conducted you in safety to His everlasting
Believer! fear not the passage to that "rest." The
apostle was willing to brave the swellings of Jordan, because of the beauty
of the land that lies beyond it. "I have a desire," he says, "to depart and
to be with Christ, which is far better." He was ready to pass through the
fiery ordeal, because conscious of the truth, that the skirts of his garment
only should be injured, while the soul, safe as in the citadel of God,
should only shine with greater luster, rising on imperishable pinions, and
resting not, until it should soar and sing with the seraphim beside the
Journey on, then, child of God, grasping firmly the
promise, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest."
Be calm in the contemplation of your departure; leave
every future step of your earthly pilgrimage in the hands of Him who will
lead you by "the right way." Seek to have more of the mind of Christ. Be
earnest in prayer. Let the Word of God be your daily study--"a light to your
feet, and a lamp to your path." Live ever to the glory of God--and, by the
faithful, conscientious discharge of the duties of your calling, be "an
example to the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit,
in faith, in purity." Thus advance onward in the "Pathway of Promise;" and,
when the close of the journey is reached, the voice of Him "whom having not
seen, you love," will then whisper these encouraging words, "Do not be
afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When
you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk
through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will
not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your
Savior." Isaiah 43:1-3
"Rise, my soul, and stretch your wing,
Your better portion trace;
Rise from transitory things
Towards heaven, your native place."
"God of all grace, by whose good hand upon me I have
hitherto been guided in my pilgrimage, hold me up, and so I shall be safe.
Allow me no more to wander from Your ways, or to grow weary in keeping Your
commandments. Make me watchful against temptation, strong in faith, diligent
in duty, patient in trial, and fervent in prayer. And, in Your own good
time, may I be permitted to enter into that rest which remains for the
people of God."
"Only, O Lord, in Your dear love,
Fit us for perfect rest above;
And help us, this and every day,
To live more nearly as we pray."
"'Spirit, leave your house of clay;
Lingering dust, resign your breath;
Spirit, cast your chains away;
Dust; be you dissolved in death!'
Thus the Almighty Savior speaks,
While the faithful Christian dies–
Thus the bonds of life He breaks,
And the ransomed captive flies.
"'Prisoner, long detained below;
Prisoner, now with freedom blest–
Welcome, from a world of woe;
Welcome, to a land of rest!'
Thus the choir of angels sing,
As they bear the soul on high;
While, with hallelujahs ring
All the region of the sky.
"Grave, the guardian of our dust;
Grave, the treasury of the skies;
Every atom of your dust
Rests in hope again to rise.
Hark! the judgment-trumpet calls–
'Soul, rebuild your house of clay,
Immortality your walls,
And eternity, your day.'"
"One sweetly solemn thought
Comes to me o'er and o'er;
I'm nearer my home today
Than I've ever been before!
Nearer my Father's house,
Where the many mansions be;
Nearer the great white throne,
Nearer the jasper sea!
Nearer the bound of life,
Where I lay my burden down;
Nearer leaving my cross!
Nearer wearing my crown!"