RESTS

James Smith, 1858
 

Toiling up a little hill this morning, as I was taking my early walk I found I was obliged to stop every now and then to rest and fetch breath. I cannot walk as far, or as quick as I once could. The years have begun to take a toll upon me. Well, thought I this is just how I find it in my Christian pilgrimage, I have often been obliged to halt and rest. And blessed be God, I have found some sweet and refreshing resting places. Infinite wisdom, and sovereign grace have provided rests for Jesus' pilgrims on the road to glory. Let me look back, and call to mind two or three of the sweet resting places I have enjoyed.

I never found true rest, until I found it at the cross of Christ. Golgotha is a blessed resting place for a poor, weary, exhausted sinner. I had been toiling to keep the law but I had toiled in vain. I had been striving to silence and satisfy my accusing conscience but I strove in vain. I wanted to be saved, and to know it, to be at peace with God, and enjoy it; for it I labored but I labored in vain. At length the Holy Spirit led me to Calvary, there I saw the sinner's substitute, and God's accepted sacrifice for sin. Something seemed to say, "Put your cause into his hands, commit your soul to him as your substitute, your sacrifice. Trust in his blood and obedience alone for pardon, peace and acceptance with God."

I consented. I felt confidence in Jesus. I cast myself upon him. I took him to be my perfect Savior. I said, "I will trust in no work but yours. I will plead no blood or name but yours. I will expect to be saved entirely and alone on account of what you have done and suffered." At that moment, peace flowed into my soul, love sprang up in my heart, tears flowed from my eyes, I sank down before the cross, and enjoyed rest. That was rest, sweet rest. Sweeter than the laborer's sleep, or the repose of returning health. Then I rested from all my legal toil; then I was relieved of every burden and every care. Then ceasing from my own work I entered into the rest of faith.

Since then, I have found some special manifestations of God's love, some peculiarly precious seasons in secret prayer, or in reading God's holy Word, or in the ordinances of the Lord's house, or Christian fellowship, as pleasant rests by the way. Here I have sat and sang one of those songs of Zion. Here I have enjoyed foretastes of the Heavenly Canaan. Here I have tasted the fruits of the promised land. The sparkling water from the riven rock, the pleasant manna from the skies; the grapes of Eshcol were not so sweet, so encouraging to Israel in the desert as these manifestations have been to me.

Yes, yes, when God sheds abroad his love in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit when the glories of Jesus are unveiled before the mind's eye when the Blessed Spirit bears his inward testimony that we are born of God when we realize that God is our Father and can look forward and feel confident that Heaven is our home we rest! No doubts, no fears, no misgivings now; Satan is as still as a stone; and the heart rejoices in the Lord.

But we have soon to strike our tents, pack up our baggage, and prepare to march again. We must make progress, endure hardness, suffer weariness, and limp as we travel on footsore and way-worn. Elim is not Canaan, nor are our sweet resting-places Heaven. Blessed be God, that we have such precious rests along the way.

The precious promises of the Bible are very often like resting places to the soul. Sometimes they seem suddenly to burst on our view, like some verdant spot in the desert, or some flowing spring in the thirsty wilderness. They never appeared so full, so suitable, so seasonable before. Now and then, they are brought home, and applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit, and then they are like Paradise itself. Our needs are met. Our fears are dispersed. Our prospects are cleared. Our faith is strengthened. Our hope is invigorated. Our love is inflamed. Our humility is deepened. Our penitence is influential. Our evidences are bright. And our joys are lively.

We bathe in the river of God's pleasure, and feel refreshed after our toils. We drink the wine of God's love, and soon forget our poverty and misery. We lie down and our sleep is sweet!

What rest I have enjoyed as I have exercised faith in that promise, "As your days so shall your strength be." How sweetly I have lost all sense of weariness, as the Lord has seemed to whisper, "So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!" And how have I sat down, and rejoiced in my God, as I have appropriated these precious words, "I will never leave you, I will never, no never, no never forsake you!"

These are some of my resting-places, where I have renewed my strength, lost my burdens, smiled at my fears, defied my foes, and sung praises to my God! And here I can rest now.

The cross is always before me, and will be until I enter Heaven. Occasional love visits, sweet manifestations, and special communications of grace I may expect until I enter the Jordan. And as to the promises they are ever with me, and on them I may rest, in them I may trust, and from them I may derive strength and encouragement, to run the race that is set before me.

There are yet hills to ascend, rivers to pass, deserts to cross, and foes to conquer before I enter my final, perfect, and eternal rest. I shall still need the promises; I shall find it necessary to "rest in the Lord," and I must cling to the cross, or I cannot overcome. We are not as yet come unto the rest and the inheritance, which the Lord our God has promised us but we are in the way to it, and are nearer today, than we ever were before. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God."

Reader, I have spoken to you of my rests what are yours? Have you ever found rest for your guilty, troubled conscience at the cross of Jesus? Have you ever rested in God's love to you as revealed in the Word, and shed abroad in the heart, by the Holy Spirit? Do you find, that God's great and gracious promises are sweet resting-places to your soul? Or, are you a poor, weary, heavy-laden sinner, seeking rest? If so, come to Jesus and you shall find it. Or, are you a restless one, wandering, fickle, and fluttering about like Noah's dove? If so, come to the ark, come to Jesus and you shall find sweet, settled, and everlasting rest to your soul!