THE FAREWELL GIFT
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not
give to you as the world gives." John 14:27
No shadow of the figurative grove of Elim is more
grateful to the children of humanity than this. It is in Jesus alone, and in
His finished work, that the beautiful words of the Evangelical Prophet are
fulfilled in the case of every pilgrim to the true Canaan—"My people will
live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places
of rest" (Is. 32:18).
The circumstances in which the Savior uttered the words
of our motto-verse were interesting and peculiar, and give an intense
poignancy to His declaration. It was at a time, one would have thought, of
the deepest unrest and anxiety to His own soul; a time when the saying, "My
peace I give to you," would have seemed a strange and doubtful blessing: for
the shadows of the cross were gathering around Him. Some consolation, higher
than earth could afford, was needed, when the Shepherd was about to be
smitten and the sheep to be scattered. In the clouds of that dark, troubled
horizon, He set the bow of covenant Peace. His utterance was more
than a promise—it is expressed in the formula of a last Will—a Testamentary
deed. It is the dying legacy which the Prince of Peace bequeaths to His
Church and people in every age. Let us note some of its characteristics.
It is a purchased peace. That palm whispers
pre-eminently "the name of Jesus"—"Peace through the blood of His cross." In
no other way could it have been procured. By no other could it be bestowed.
No voice but the voice which exclaimed in dying accents, "It is finished,"
can say to the troubled tempest-tossed soul—"Peace, be still!" In the
familiar Bible narrative, we see the heathen sailors rowing hard to bring
the vessel to land, in whose hold was the fugitive prophet. It was in vain.
"The sea was getting rougher and rougher"—wave after wave baffled strength
of oar and muscle. What was their expedient? The sacrifice of the one life
was demanded and surrendered for the sake of the others!
So it was with the true Jonah. When He was taken
and cast into the deep, that deep was hushed into a calm, its fury stilled,
every tumultuous billow was rocked to rest—"The raging sea grew calm."
"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ." He has done all, and suffered all, and procured all for us—left
nothing to be supplemented by human merit. In the words of an old
theologian, "We who have believed do enter into rest, and that by ceasing
from our own works, as God did from His."
It is a perfect peace. It is no simulation—no
counterfeit. There is no flaw in these title-deeds. It is a peace founded on
everlasting truth and everlasting righteousness, securing alike the
vindication of the Divine law and the manifestation of the Divine glory. It
is a peace with God above, and peace with conscience
within—peace secured by the Redeemer on the Cross, and ratified by the
Kingly Intercessor on the Throne. Like the weary bird, after tracking its
way across leagues of vast ocean, the believer can enter the opened window
of the True Ark, and sing the song of an older heir of covenant blessings,
"Be at rest (Peace), O my soul."
It is a permanent peace. As such, it is "not as
the world gives." Many of the world's best blessings, those which are
considered to minister most effectually to outward happiness and inward
peace, ours today, may be gone tomorrow—we have no pledge or guarantee for
their continuation. They are fed from the low marshy grounds of earth,
dependent on fitful seasons and capricious showers. But the peace of Christ,
being from heaven, is a perennial stream; it is fed from surer supply than
glacier Alps, and it rolls on in undiminished fullness and volume, in
summer's drought and in winter's cold. It is irrespective and independent of
all outward accidents. It bears up and sustains in the midst of the
harassments of business, the crushing of poverty, the weariness of sickness,
the pangs of bereavement, the shadows of death. Well may the author of "The
Pilgrim's Progress" give the name of PEACE to the chamber in which Christian
lay, and whose window opened toward the sunrise!
It is said of Goethe, the great German, that in one of
those dark, unsatisfied hours in which his mighty intellect and soul groped
after the true Rest, he thus recorded his undefined longings for that which
he had failed to attain—
"Fairest among heaven's daughters,
Thou who stillest pain and woe,
Pourest Thy refreshing waters
On the thirsty here below:
Whither tends this restless striving?
Faint and tired, I long for rest.
Come and dwell within my breast!"
These words were found on a scrap of writing paper lying
on his writing table. A devoted friend of similar intellectual pursuits, but
one who had personally experienced the shade of the Elim grove and tasted
its perennial springs, and who therefore knew what alone could quench these
ungratified aspirations, wrote on the other side, "Peace I leave with
you, My peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be
PEACE—true peace. Intellect cannot bestow it;
wealth cannot purchase it. Men, in their quest of it, surround and fortify
themselves with creature comforts, and away from corroding care; invite the
angel of peace to come and over downy couches to sing the longed-for
lullaby! The lullaby is sung, "Peace, peace," but often it is only to awaken
the echo of dissatisfaction, "No peace."
Speed your flight, O weary wanderer, under the shelter of
this heavenly Palm. The bough on which your earthly nest was built may have
been felled by the axe or broken by the storm; but "He is our peace." And as
driven by the windy tempest your cry is, "O Lamb of God, who takes away the
sins of the world, grant me Your peace!" may it be yours to listen to the
glad response, "My peace I give unto you"—"Even while you sleep among the
campfires, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with
"We ask for peace, O Lord!
Thy children ask Thy peace:
Not what the world calls rest—
That toil and care should cease;
That through bright sunny hours
Calm life should haste away,
And tranquil night should fade
In smiling day—
It is not for such peace that we would pray.
"We ask Thy peace, O Lord!
Through storm, and fear, and strife,
To light and guide us on
Through a long struggling life;
To lean on Thee, entranced,
In calm and perfect rest—
Give us that peace, O Lord!
Divine and blest,
Thou keepest for those hearts that love Thee best."
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is
steadfast, because he trusts in You."