"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

"I am the door--by Me if any man enters in, he shall be saved." John 10:9

Where or what is the entrance-gate to these "peaceful habitations," these "quiet resting-places"? (Isa. 32:18)

To this question varied have been the answering voices echoed through the ages. Many--most of these are false, delusive, unsatisfactory--men, like the citizens of Sodom, "wearying themselves to find the door." Naaman's preference for his Syrian rivers--the streams murmuring amid the groves and gardens of Damascus, and his rejection of the waters of Israel--Jordan and the tributary brooks that fitfully fed it--is a just reflection and picture of the many gropings after the false rest, and the many evasions of the true rest. Some strive to enter through the gateway of ethical system and philosophic code and tenet. Others, through the gateway of human merit. Others through ceremonial observances--fasts and vigils, penances and pilgrimages, rites and ceremonies, creeds and dogmas, party badges and contrived shibboleths. These, and such as these, are alike spurious and unavailing.

Christ is the true and only true Door of entrance. "Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth;" and "neither is there salvation in any other." There was but one way for the Israelites of old to avert the sword of the destroying angel. They might have resorted to measures of their own devising. Massive blocks of stone, immense as those of the familiar pyramids, might have been piled in front of their dwellings--walled up, for that part, to heaven. They would avail nothing as a substitute for the blood-sprinkled lintels and door-posts.

Again--in the lofty poetry of the prophet, Lebanon might have been transformed into a high altar, its forests of oak and cedar converted into fuel, and the cattle roaming their glades laid thereon as a burnt-offering (Isa. 40:16). All would have been inadequate and worthless. As there was but one door to the ark, one gate to the cities of refuge, so there is, to every seeker and climber, only one entrance to the spiritual Hospice, with its challenge and rebuke to whatever is false and artificial--"This gate of the Lord into which the righteous shall enter." "Come unto ME," says the Divine Rest-Giver; "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."

"To whom, O Savior, shall we go?
We gaze around in vain.
Though pleasure's fairy lute be strung,
And mirth's enchanting lay be sung,
We dare not trust the strain.
You have the words of endless life;
You give victory in the strife–
In life, in death, alike we flee,
O Savior of the world, to Thee."

And gracious to every pilgrim is the assurance, that through this solitary entrance all are warranted and all are welcome; no moat or iron gateway to prevent reaching direct the open portal. Thousands have entered in and been saved, and yet there is room.

Other hospices of the world are restricted to privileged classes--the favored few. Not so here. "If ANY man." The sun and the light of heaven are not more free than the offer of salvation. The King has flung wide the gates to the most fainting and toil-worn. No flaming sword of cherubim bars the way. No adversary can obscure or erase the motto and superscription on its portico--"Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it."

O God, I come, weary and heavy laden, to this sheltering Refuge. If, until now, I have been a stranger to safety and peace, let me hear Your voice, and let faith accept the offer--"Come in, you blessed of the Lord, why do you stand outside?" "Enter in and be saved." The invitation and the promise have lost none of their divine efficacy and gracious music since they were first uttered. There is no other call so reliable; there is no other security so strong. There is no such "finality" in any other of earth's utterances. Time writes its wrinkles all around. What seems most enduring is subject to flux, vacillation, disintegration, decay. The globe itself, as in long past epochs, so even now, is subjected to geological and climatic variations--inappreciably, but none the less surely, to strange alternations of heat and cold. The apparently most stable things are not stable. "The world goes spinning down the ringing grooves of change." The old "hearts of oak," Britain's pride, have given way to iron-sheathed leviathans with their sleeping thunders. The mechanical agencies and triumphs of modern discovery may possibly, before a few decades elapse, have to abdicate in favor of other kingly forces and motive powers, some new dynamics hidden in nature's laboratory.

"Our little systems have their day–
They have their day, and cease to be."

But while other gates of brass may be broken, other bars of iron wrenched asunder, there can be no change in the portals of the Gospel Hospice. He who is Himself the Entrance Gate, and who stands holding it in His hand, who opens and no man shuts, whose unwearied invitation is "Knock, and it shall be opened," is "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever."

"Open to me the gates of righteousness--I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord!"

Take me to the fold, is the inarticulate cry of the wanderer of the flock. Take me to the ark, is the inarticulate longing of the dove, as, conscious of its homelessness, with weary wing and wailing cry it roams the wilderness of waters. Take me to the Hospice-gate, is the yearning of the belated traveler battling with blinding hurricane of hail or snow. Take me home, take me to my father, is the plaintive monotone of the child that has lost its way in the noisy thoroughfare, unheeded by the passers-by.

Humanity has ever borne attestation to this soul restlessness--that the world at its best, with its glittering prizes, glowing visions, and winged ambitions, cannot satisfy. But HE can satisfy; He does satisfy. "And He said unto them, Did you lack anything? And they answered, nothing" (Luke 22:35). How many can joyfully appropriate the words of Bunyan in his great allegory, "When I came at the gate that is at the head of the way, the Lord of that place did entertain me freely, and gave me such things that were necessary for my journey, and bid me hope to the end!"

Many refuges may prove too often refuges of lies, counterfeits, figures of the true. But shielded, guarded, shepherded by Christ, safe in His keeping--safe within the wicket-gate of the Fold and the portals of the Pilgrim-Hospice, may I be able in reposeful confidence to say– "My flesh and my heart fails--but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."

"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12

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