Imatges de pÓgina

price. This answered and exceeded his desires :

upon the discovery of this one, he rejoiced to forego all his former acquisitions, and to give up every other possession or purpose that he might obtain it.

(2.) I have spoken something concerning the wearisome exercise of a conscience burdened with guilt: but by coming to Jesus and believing in him, an end is put to this. When we are enabled to view our sins as laid upon Christ, that those who come are accepted in the Beloved, that there is no more condemnation, but pardon, reconciliation, and adoption, are the sure privileges of all who trust in him ; ( the sweet calm that immediately takes place in the soul! It is something more than deliverance. There is a pleasure more than answerable to the former pain, a comfort greater than all the trouble that went before it. Yea, the remembrance of the former bitterness greatly enhances the present pleasure. And the soul understands and experiences the meaning of those Scriptures, " When the Lord “ turned the captivity of Zion, then was our mouth “ filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing "In that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise “thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger “ is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold “God is my salvation : I will trust, and not be afraid; “ for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; “ he also is become my salvation t.”

(3.) There is likewise a rest from the power of sin. In vain is this sought from resolutions and endeavours in our own strength. Even after we are spiritually disposed, and begin to understand the Gospel salvation, it is usually for a season rather a fight than a rest. But

* Ps. cxxvi. 1, 2.

+ Isa. xii. 1, 2.

when we are brought nearer to Christ, and taught to live upon him as our sanctification, deriving all our strength and motives from him by faith, we obtain a comparative rest in this respect also. We find hard things become easy, and mountains sink into plains, by his power displayed in our behalf. Further,

(4.) There is a rest from our own works. The believer is quite delivered from the law as a covenant, and owes it no longer service in that view. His obedience is gracious, cheerful, the effect of love; and therefore he is freed from those fears and burdens which once disturbed him in the way of duty. At first there was a secret, though unallowed dependence on himself. When his frames were lively, he was strong, and thought he had something to trust to, but under a change, (and changes will happen,) he was at his wit's end. But there is a promised, and therefore an attainable rest in this respect; a liberty and power to repose on the finished work and unchangeable word of Christ; to follow him steadily through light and darkness; to glory in him only when our frames are brightest; and to trust in him assuredly when we are at our lowest ebb.

Such is the present rest; in different degrees according to the proportion of faith, and capable of increase even in those who have attained most, so long as we remain in this imperfect state.

But there is, 2dly, A future rest besides and beyond all that can be experienced here : “ There remaineth yet a rest for “ the people of God*.” Faint and imperfect are our most enlarged ideas of that glory which shall be revealed. “ It does not yet appear what we shall bet."

* Heb. iv. 9.

i John iii. 2.

Who can describe or conceive the happiness of heaven? The most we can clearly understand of it lies in negatives. It will be as unlike as possible to this wilderness of sin and sorrow where we are now confined.Here we are in a warfare, but then we shall enter into perfect rest.

(1.) A rest from all sin. There no unclean thing shall defile or disturb us for ever. We shall be free from sin in ourselves. This alone would be worth dying for. Indwelling sin is a burden under which even the redeemed of the Lord must groan whilst they sojourn in the body; and those who are most spiritual, are most deeply affected with shame, humiliation, and grief, on this account, because they have the clearest views of the holiness of God, the spirituality of the law, the love of Christ, and the deceitfulness of their own hearts. Therefore the apostle Paul, though perhaps in grace and talents, in zeal and usefulness, distinguished above all the children of Adam, accounted himself the chief of sinners*, less than the least of all saints†, and eried out under the disparity he felt between what he was, and what he would be, "O wretched man that I "am! who shall deliver me from the body of this

death?" But we shall not carry this burden beyond the grave. The hour of dissolution shall free us from the inbred enemies, (the inseparable concomitants of this frail perishing nature,) which now trouble us, and we shall see them no more for ever.

Again, we shall be free from all the displeasing effects of sin in others. Our hearts shall be no more pained, nor our ears wounded, nor our eyes filled with tears, by those evils which fill the earth. Now, like Lot in So

1 Tim. i. 15. † Eph. iii. 8.

Rom. vii. 24.

dom, we are grieved every day with the filthy conversation of the wicked*. Who that has any love to the Lord Jesus, any spark of true holiness, any sense of the worth of souls in his heart, can see what passes amongst us without trembling? How openly, daringly, almost universally, are the commandments of God broken, his Gospel despised, his patience abused, and his power defied. To be a silent spectator of these things is sufficiently grievous; but if, (as we are in duty bound,) we dare to stand as witnesses for God in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, we find the spirit of the first born. Cain instantly takes fire, and denounces war against all who should presume to say, that we ought to obey and fear God rather than men. Invectives and ill-treatment are the certain lot of all who openly and consistently appear on the Lord's side; and if they escape stripes and bonds, imprisonment and death, it is to be ascribed to the restraints of Divine Providence, and, (as a means in our happy land,) to the temper of the laws, and to the clemency of the powers under whom we live. These things often constrain the believer to say,

“ O that I had wings like a dove! for “ then would I flee away and be at rcstf.” Let us not be weary or faint in our minds; ere long this wish shall be answered. A glorious rest awaits you, where sin and sinners shall have no place, nor the alarms of war be any more heard.

(2.) A rest from all outward afflictions, which, though necessary, and, under the influence of divine grace, profitable, are grievous to bear; but then they will be necessary no more. Where there is no sin, there shall be no sorrow. Then, believers, God "shall wipe away all

2 Pet. ii. 7.

Ps. lv. 6.

"tears from your eyes; and there shall be no more "death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there "be any more pain: for the former things are passed "away*."

(3.) A rest from Satan's temptations. How busy is this adversary of God and man, what various arts, what surprising force, what constant assiduity does he employ to ensnare, distress, and terrify those who by grace have escaped from his servitude. He says, like Pharaoh of old, "I will pursue, I will overtake, I will destroyt." He follows them to the last stage of life, but he can follow them no further. The moment of their departure out of the body shall place them beyond his reach for ever.


(4.) A rest from unsatisfied desires. Here, the more we drink, the more we thirst: but there our highest wishes shall be crowned and exceeded; we shall rest in full communion with him whom we love; we shall no more complain of interruptions and imperfections, of an absent God, and a careless heart. Here, when we obtain a little glimpse of his presence, when he brings us into his banqueting-house, and spreads his banner of love over us, how gladly would we remain in such a desirable frame? How unwilling are we to come out of the mount? But these pleasing seasons are quickly ended, and often give place to some sudden unexpected trial, which robs us of all that sweetness in which we lately rejoiced. But when we ascend the holy hill of God above, we shall come down no more; we shall be for ever with the Lord, never offend him, never be se parated from him again. We shall likewise rest in fullt conformity to him. Here we find a mixture of evil in

*Rev. xxi. 4.

+ Exod. xv. 9.

Ps. xvii. 15.

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