"The heart never rests until it finds rest in You."
Who, in their memories of Switzerland and Italy, can fail to recall the HOSPICES for storm-beaten travelers which stud the higher and more perilous passes? One specially dwells in recollection, possibly because it was the first seen--the familiar hospice in the Pennine Alps; bringing still before us, though half a century has elapsed, the experience of pitiless sleet and darkness outside; and of log-fires, shelter, and genial fellowship inside. Others of more primitive form are constructed of pine or blocks of rough-hewn granite; at times with a motto or word of welcome surmounting their porches.
Such are surely typical, with a singular significance, of gospel realities--GOSPEL HOSPICES; and peculiarly of One whose motto of golden lettering occupies the prominent place in the pages which follow. It is the monograph of inspired monographs--words which, amid the priceless sayings of Jesus, "the Church throughout all the world" most lovingly clings to, and would be the last to part with--a strain of heavenly music which seems only endeared by repetition, as if the rehearsal brought out ever new and hitherto slumbering harmonies. The heart of humanity throbs responsive to this solitary solution for unrest.
How often has this verse, in many forms and phases, been recognized as an inspired teacher! Its rhythmic syllables have been enshrined in Art, and Music, and Sacred Song.
Into how many millions of aching hearts this saying of Jesus has found entrance, and brought with it the olive-branch of peace? It has formed for six thousand years the response to the cry of weary, care-worn humanity--a cry embracing every nation and every climate, from the yearnings of heathendom to the longings and aspirations of the present hour. From the tumultuous sea of the world's unrest the cry has gone up like a dirge of baffled souls– "Oh, where can rest be found?"
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
This verse has been cherished by fevered toilers in life's weary struggle. Yet in that stern, diversified battle--it may be with the humbling memories, the unrest and agony of conscious sin--in the season of pain and suffering and bereavement, in the loneliness of the supreme hour of all--how often has that word turned the storm into a calm! the weary and heavy-laden, the tearful and the fearful, sobbing themselves to rest in the peace of Christ!
The traveler groping in tempest, with every star apparently swept from the sky, yet looking wistfully amid the blinding hail and drifting snows for some HOSPICE of shelter, is at last able to record his experience--"I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me--refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto You, O Lord--I said, You are my Refuge [Hospice] and my Portion in the land of the living" (Psalm 142:4-5).
As will be seen, the invitation, recorded alone by the first evangelist, is taken as the golden prop which supports many of those other restful words ("rest-texts''), which we owe to the lips of Him who spoke as never man spoke--"The words which I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." The Rock of Ages is one, but its clefts are many; each with its own silent answer to the quest, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest" (Ps. 55:6). The Sun of heaven is one, but encircled with many attendant stars and satellites. The Gospel Hospice, with its conspicuous motto of 'welcome', is one, but its chambers of repose and refuge are many. In accordance with the true plural rendering of the Hebrew in one of the most precious portions of the Psalter, we can say, as we enter the gracious Hospice for all pilgrims, "Return unto your Rests, O my soul!"
"And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:7.)