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

"Him that comes unto Me I will in no wise cast out." John 6:37

None are so weary or heavy laden as those oppressed with doubt as to the ability and willingness of Christ to receive and save them. As "the heart knows its own bitterness," so the soul knows the pressure of its own moral burdens and impediments--specially among these the burdening memory of some heinous and presumptuous transgressions--sins against light and love; sins in defiance, and forgetfulness of privilege and responsibility; sins, it may even be, involving the loss of self-respect, and entailing the shame of remorse. Many are ready enough to own that the door of that Hospice of Pardon has been opened to countless multitudes. But, can its gates, is the despairing thought of not a few thus saddened with humbling retrospects, be unlocked to us? What of the soul "once enlightened," made a temple of the Holy Spirit, but that temple, through temptation and unwatchfulness, desecrated and defiled, some foul scar on its pure alabaster pillars, known only to Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire--the infinitely Holy One?

Yes, if sin be unrepented of; if sin be persevered in, if blot be added knowingly to blot, and scar to scar, the reins recklessly surrendered to feeble, frail, faltering wills; if the prodigal be still groveling and content to grovel amid the husks and garbage of the far country--there can be little said to hush feverish unrest, and inspire with the hope of welcome and forgiveness. But the pivot on which the words of our present meditation seem to turn is, "Him that comes unto Me." In that coming is implied self-renunciation and sin-renunciation; sorrow for the past, and the promise and purpose of new obedience. Not, let it be imagined, that in such cases of heart-felt renewed consecration we claim future impeccability; that when a "conversion," in the true sense of that often-misused and travestied word, takes place, there can be no further coming short of lofty Christian ideals--no further failures, it may even be grievous woundings, in the spiritual battle. To say so would be not only, on no Bible authority, to minimize the real and persistent character of that warfare Paul again and again describes; but it would also in the case of many close the door of hope, and tend to put despondency into earnest and sensitive though frail and fallible natures.

Blessed be God for His own balm-word for all such--"Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand." But this we may with confidence aver, that if there be present, honest, prayerful resolves for the future, anxiety and misgiving may be set aside. Christ's word of welcome and heart-cheer is enough. No barrier is placed by Him at the approach to the Hospice. There is the offer of unqualified forgiveness. There is a perch for the feeblest, most ruffled wing on this mighty Cedar of God.

Weary ones, your pillow of thorns is made by Him a pillow of peace. He who touched the kneeling leper, and washed the traitor's feet, shows His unwillingness to quench the smoking flax. He stands with the ineffable love of eternity in His heart. He will "in no wise cast out." There is room on His shoulders for every wandering sheep. There is room in His heart for every prodigal child. There is room in His Hospice for every storm-beaten pilgrim. He could have uttered no stronger assurance of His love for sinners and His willingness to welcome and receive the weariest, the most outcast and lost. The sin which for us is "a burden too heavy for us to bear," is not too heavy for Him. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The Lord has laid on Him the iniquities of us all." "This man receives sinners" was His distinctive characteristic.

"Turn to the seventh chapter of Hebrews and twenty-fifth verse," said the blind girl to her spiritual adviser and friend. He did so. The words are--"Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost." "Lay my hand," she added, "on that verse--upon it I should like to die."

There may be sins in conscience and memory at the cognizance of which the best and kindest friends would "cast out" from Christ forever. Their crushing, despairing verdict would be--"He will by no means receive." But His ways are not as man's ways, nor His thoughts as man's thoughts. His thoughts toward us are "thoughts of peace and not of evil." He reveals Himself with the garnered treasures of redemption, ready to dispense them to the chief of sinners.

"Pardon my iniquity," cried one of old, who was no stranger to the pangs of an accusing conscience. And what was his plea? Was it, "Pardon my iniquity because of its triviality; because of inborn weakness, or fierce temptation, or some exceptionally extenuating circumstances"? No. It was the reverse. Conscious that he was in the hands of the All-Merciful--"Pardon my iniquity," he exclaims, "for it is great!" In the parable of the Prodigal Son, when the father "fell on his neck, and kissed him," the meaning in the original Greek is "kissed him much."

Lord, I am unworthy to come under Your roof! Lord, I am unworthy to gather up the crumbs from Your table! My sins at times confront me like the swords of avenging angels. But He who is All-worthy gives the free, full, gracious invitation.

At Your call I come! Blessed be Your name, let it be gladly repeated, that call is hampered with no conditions. "All you that labor and are heavy laden" takes in the wide circumference of humanity. In the freeness and sovereignty of Your redeeming grace, unbar to me the sheltering portal! And while in the sad, solemn memories of bygone apostasy I may be led at times to look with trembling apprehension to the future, let the thought of Your divine power and sympathy arm and strengthen me amid environing temptations. "Iniquities," was the wail of a stricken soul under the conscious sense of weakness, helplessness, unrest--"iniquities prevail against me," or, as that has been rendered, "are too strong for me." Here is God's gracious response and recipe--"Let him take hold of My STRENGTH, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me" (Ps. 65:3; Isa. 27:5).

"You know all our conflict, all the failing
Of flesh and spirit, lured by evil powers,
The sore temptations these poor hearts assailing
In our unguarded hours.

"But we shall fear no evil--living, dying,
Our souls are in Your care; You will defend
The faithful servants on Your word relying,
Even until the end."

"Lord, I believe--help my unbelief."

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

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