How to Find Rest
James Smith, 1860
"This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the old paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said: We will not walk in it!" Jeremiah 6:16
Man is a restless creature.
Sin has made him so.
He is in the wrong path.
He is deceived by appearances.
He wanders on and becomes more and more wearied.
He sighs for rest — but cannot obtain it.
He groans for satisfaction — but he cannot find it.
He cries, "Who will show me any good?"
But the good he needs — he sees not. To souls in such a state, the language of the prophet is applicable, "This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the old paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."
THE DIRECTION. "Stand at the crossroads," which may represent the ordinances, or reading the word, hearing the gospel, and meeting with the Lord's people for prayer.
"And Look," observe what passes, notice what appears:
See WHO are there!
There are restless sinners like yourselves;
there are saints who have found and enjoy peace;
there is the Savior who invites the restless, troubled, burdened soul, and promises him peace.
See WHAT is there!
There is a fountain, which will cleanse you from all sin,
there is a robe of righteousness, which will secure you from all wrath;
and there is a refuge which will protect you from all foes.
See what is DONE there!
Sinners are pardoned, and find peace;
believers are instructed, and made happy;
the Savior is exalted, and made glorious.
"Ask for the old paths." The old in religion is the best. New paths are often dangerous, they are untried. Ask for the old paths which have been tried by patriarch, prophets, apostles, and martyrs; for sue are sure paths. Ask for the paths which have long been frequented, and frequented by the holiest and best of men. "Ask, which is the good way?" That is . . .
the safe way, to God and glory;
the shortest way, from sin and wrath;
the pleasantest way, in which the Lord's people praise him, being filled with joy.
When you have found it "walk therein." Enter it, through the strait gait, pass along it, in simple faith; and haste to the end of it, which is everlasting life!
THE PROMISE. "You shall find rest for your souls." You shall find soul rest, which shows, that the way leads to Christ — for it alone can give rest unto the soul. That just suits the case of the weary — and bring them to the enjoyment of the thing they long for. It is just the thing for the wandering — and will end their roving. It meets the case of the wanting — and supplies them with a they need. "You shall find rest." Millions have found rest — and so shall you.
Rest from slavish fears, which harass and distress you.
Rest from legal toil which exhausts and wearies you.
Rest with Christ, in the Father's love.
Rest with his sheep, in the green pastures.
Rest with his family, at his well-spread gospel table.
Rest in present peace, and in the hope of future glory.
What sweet, what blessed rest!
But this rest is only to be found in God's way.
Let us then, be found in the way — it is clearly marked out, and defined in God's word. Let us stand in the way, not sit down satisfied because we are in it — but stand looking out for, and anticipating the blessing. Let us use our eyes — see, and expect to find. Let us use our tongues — and ask for the old paths. Let us use our legs — and walk therein. Let us seek for rest — until we find it.
There is rest for weary souls. This rest Jesus gives. He is to be found in the way of his own appointment. The loving direction of the Lord is, that we take our stand in his ways, ask his servants for the old paths, and walk therein — and he gives us the assurance that we shall find rest for our souls. Holy Spirit, lead us into the old paths — lead us directly to Jesus, that so we may . . .
be relieved of our fears,
be delivered from our guilt,
obtain sweet peace of mind, and
rest in hope of everlasting glory!
Reader, have you peace with God? Is your soul at rest? If not, do you desire to find rest? Are you willing to obtain it in God's way? That way is short and simple. It is, that you . . .
go directly to Christ,
go just as you are, with all your sin and guilt,
go without hesitation or delay,
go and put yourself and your whole case into his hands,
go and take him for a perfect Savior —
do this, and he will give you rest. Rest . . .
sweeter than that of the wearied laborer;
sweeter than that of the tired out babe on its mother's bosom;
so sweet, that no pen can describe it — and therefore you must enjoy it to know it!
Restless professor, there is something wrong about your profession, if it were not so — you would enjoy rest, for Jesus gives rest to all who believe in him. Do you not remember the inquiry of the Spouse, "Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday." Mark his answer, how similar to the language of the prophet we have been considering; mark it and attend to it, and be at rest. "If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep and graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherds." Song of Songs 1:7-8
Come, all you souls by sin oppressed,
You restless wanderers after rest;
You poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind,
In Christ a hearty welcome find!