Wanderers Invited to Rest
James Smith, 1855
The soul can find no rest while it is under the dominion of sin — it is like the unclean spirit that went out of the man, seeking rest but finding none. All are restless. All pant for rest — only the believer finds it. Jesus calls poor restless sinners to him, and says, "Come, I will give you rest." In believing we find rest, for a time we enjoy rest — but when we backslide — we again become restless; like Israel of old, of whom it was said, "My people have wandered, and have forgotten their resting place." (Jeremiah 50:6) When thoroughly wearied out, they think of home, of former enjoyments, and, sighing for repose, they say, "Return unto your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you" (Psalm 116:7).
There is a rest for Christians now, for we who have believed do enter into rest; and there is a perfect rest which remains for the people of God.
NOW, we find rest in God's covenant; which is ordered in all things and sure, and contains all our salvation, and all that we can consistently desire.
Here we realize relationship to God, as a good, kind, and wealthy Father — who knows every child, provides for every want, and rests in his love to all who trust in his name.
Here is provision for all our needs, both spiritual and temporal.
Here are promises which are exceeding great and very precious, which cannot fail or be broken.
Here is certainty in reference to help, support, and safety, for God has pledged, the Savior has engaged, and the covenant cannot he broken.
Now we find rest in Jesus.
His work gives us rest from legal labor, presenting us with all that law or justice can demand at our hands.
His offices give us rest from our principal doubts, for as Mediator he makes our peace with God, and maintains the peace he makes.
As prophet he teaches us,
as priest he atones for us, and
as king he reigns in us and for us.
His Word gives us rest from our cares, for here God condescends to us, engages to supply us, and promises that he will never leave us.
But we are prone to WANDER from our rest. Who has not wandered? Who dares to say, I shall not wander? Every sinner is a wanderer, and while sin dwells within us — we shall always feel a disposition to wander. It is against our better judgment, our solemn profession, and our new nature; yet still there is the disposition to wander, and it is called into exercise by a variety of things:
A love of novelty — a desire to see, possess, or enjoy something new, will sometimes set us wandering.
The weakness of our graces, as faith, hope, and love, is at other times the occasion of it.
The power of corruption within us, which at times works with peculiar force and power, makes us restless.
The temptations of Satan, which beguile, bewilder, and captivate us, lead us from our resting-place also.
And so do the errors that abound and spread all around us.
False views, Satanic temptations, powerful corruptions, and the weakness of grace — are the principal things which lie at the root of our backslidings.
Have we wandered? We are invited to return. God says, "Return unto me, for I am married unto you." Let each one of us say, "Return unto your rest, O my soul." Once it was better with us than now. How much better was it to rest on a Savior's love, to rejoice in a Father's care, and to enjoy the Comforter's consoling communications — than to feel in this unsettled condition. It would now be better if we were resting on Jesus — for then our anxieties, cares, and fears would vanish.
Well, we may return — for the way is open. We might to return — for God invites us to do so. Let us return — for gratitude should induce us. "He has dealt bountifully with us." If he had been simply just — we would have been cut off. If he had dealt with us after our sins, or rewarded us according to our iniquities — miserable would have been our doom. Yes, if he had done as we sometimes expected he would — our punishment must have been great. But according to his gracious nature, the rich provision he has made, the kind words he has spoken, and the holy determination he has taken to do us good — he has spared us, and now invites us to his arms and his heart.
O Savior, bring us back from all our wanderings by your invincible grace, let us enjoy rest in your precious love, and keep us near your loving heart and bleeding side forever!
Reader, did you ever find rest in Jesus? Are you at peace with God through him now? Does God's peace rule and reign in your heart? Or, are you a restless wanderer? If so, let me invite you to Jesus. Let me entreat you to repair to him. You will find rest in Jesus — but nowhere else.
Backslider, you were peaceful and happy once. You enjoyed religion once. Return, return unto your first husband, for it was better with you once, when living in holy fellowship with him, than it is now. Go to him and confess your sins. Go to him and entreat his pardon. Go to him and prove the kindness of his heart. Go to him, and be happy once more in his grace and love.
Lord, in a wilderness I rove,
With foes and fears oppressed;
Grant me the presence of your love,
For that will give me rest.
Protect my soul from Satan's wiles,
And ease my troubled breast;
Refresh me with your cheering smiles,
For you can give me rest.
Cheerful I walk the desert through,
If with your presence blessed;
Nor fear what earth or Hell can do,
For you will give me rest.
When snares and dangers fill the way,
And I am sore distressed,
I'll fly to you, my strength and stay,
For you will give me rest.
The happy day is drawing near,
When I shall be released,
And rise to dwell with you on high,
In everlasting rest.