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of the law. Then in the life to come, he will give them all complete rest who come to him : Heb. iv. 9, There remaineth, therefore, a rest for the people of God.” He will give their bodies rest in the grave, Isa. lvii. 2, and both soul and body rest in heaven hereafter; and that is a rest beyond expression.
If it should be inquired, Who is it that gives this rest? this is answered in our text; Christ says to such labouring and heavy-laden sinners, and he is able to make good his word, “ I will give you rest.” The gift of this rest is his prerogativo; they that obtain it must get it out of his hands.-For illustrating and confirming this, consider,
1. That all creatures cannot give rest to a restless soul. Not any thing in them, or the whole of what can be afforded from them, can give it : Eccl. i. 2, “ Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Men, the best of men, cannot do it. Ministers may be directed to speak a word in season, but the Lord himself can only make that word effectual, 2 Sam. xii. 13, compared with Psalm li. Nay, angels cannot do it, Exod. xxxiii. 2, compare ver. 15. It requires a creating power : Isa. lvii. 18, “ I have seen his ways, and I will heal him.”—Consider,
2. There can be no rest to the soul without returning to a reconciled God, for it is impossible the soul can find true rest elsewhere ; and there is no returning to God but by Christ: John xiv. 6, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” He is the only ladder by which the soul can ascend to heaven.
3. Christ is the great Lord Treasurer of heaven. The fulness of power is lodged in him : Matth. xxviii. 18, “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” There is nothing that any can get from heaven in the way of spiritual favour, but what comes through his hands : John v. 22, " The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” Jesus also hath the keys of hell and death, Rev. i. 18.
4. He is the store-house, where the treasure is laid up, aud out of which all needful supplies come: John i. 16, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”—Consider,
5. The glorious types illustrating this: Joseph, Gen. xli. 40–44; Joshua, that brought the people to the rest in Canaan.- Consider,
6. That high character which he sustains : Heb. xii, 2. He is the "author and finisher of our faith.”—Consider,
Lastly, It is reasonable it should be so, he hath purchased this rest with his blood : and therefore there is an high propriety that he should be the giver, the dispenser of this glorious blessing. In the
IV. And last place, it was proposed to make some practical improvement of the whole. To enlarge here, however, would be improper, as a practical improvement has been made of the several parts of the subject all along, as they have been considered. At the same time, your attention may be called to the following brief hints. From what has been observed, you have had set before you,
1. A melancholy picture of the miserable state of all mankind by nature;- they are “labouring and heavy laden,” they have various burdens lying on them, the burden of sin, the burden of the law, a burden often of fears, of terrors, arising from the former; and while thus heavy laden, they are labouring, striving to ease themselves of their burdens, struggling hard to get rid of them, while after all they are only labouring in vain in the fire, wearying themselves in the greatness of their way; are spending their “money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not,” instead of obtaining the least ease or quiet. Their situation is in this way rendered more and more grievous and distressing, their burdens become heavier than they can bear, and their labour is rendered quite intolerable.
2. We may learn a special ingredient in the misery of those that thus labour, and are heavy laden. They are under the law as a covenant of works, which requires the full tale of brick, withont affording the least straw with which to make them. They are under most grievous taskmasters, who are constantly saying, Give, give, while they are unable to work; and, what is still worse, they are without Christ, without God, and so without hope in the world. It is Jesus only that can help them; while afar from him, and enemies to him, they have no other prospect than that of perishing eternally. -But,
3. There is hence opened up a door of hope, even for such as are labouring and heavy laden, whatever their characters or conditions have been, or at present may be, though they may have long laboured in vain, and spent their strength for nought. However heavy, numerous, and continued these burdens may be, though in their view their condition may not only be distressing and deplorable, but even almost desperate, there is here a door of hope opened up to such. On Jesus is their help laid ; in and from him it is to be found. He is saying, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am God, and besides me there is no Saviour." “ Hearken ye stouthearted, and ye that are far from righteousness.” Nay, he speaks to such expressly by name; without excluding a single individual, whatever his present character or condition be, his gracious words are, “Come unto mo, all ye” the whole of you, and each of you
“that labour, and are heavy laden, and," in coming to me without peradventure, “ you shall have rest."
In the last place, there is pointed out to us what is the indispensable duty of all the hearers of the gospel. It is to come to Jesus; to comply with the gracious call and invitation here given. It is true, this in the text is addressed only to the labouring and heavy laden; but is not this a character common to all the hearers of the gospel ? Are not all more or less in this situation? A situation so far from being desirable, that it is exceedingly uncomfortable. If such, then, would consult their present or eternal welfare ; if they would hearken to the gracious call, the kind invitation which Christ gives them; if they would obey heaven's great command, it must be admitted, that it is their bounden duty to come to Jesus, that is, to believe on him ; for it is only in the exercise of faith as coming to him, and according as faith is in exercise, that any can be freed from their heavy burdens, or be released from that vain and irksome labour in which they are engaged.
Let all such, then, be exhorted to cease from the labour which satisfieth not; from these fruitless attempts which they are engaged in to rid themselves from these heavy burdens that they are weighed down under. Be exhorted to come to Jesus, cast all your burdens and your cares over upon him. He is able and willing to sustain both you and your burdens, whatever they are. Come to him, then, as you are, as labouring and heavy laden. There is the most cordial welcome afforded to all such; the greater your burdens, and the more pressing your necessities are, in the way of putting your case unreservedly in his hand, and under his management, you may in due time assuredly expect a comfortable issue. He hates putting away. Whosoever will may come, and him that cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out. " Come unto me” says he," all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
CHRIST, A REFRESHFUL SHADOW IN A WEARY LAND..
Isa. xxxii. 2,
This prophecy relates to Hezekiah, to his happy and pious government; but doubtless a greater than Hezekiah is here, and that is Jesus Christ, the king of saints. This world, before sin entered into it, had always a clear sky; there was not an air of pestilential wind to blow upon them that were travelling through it to Immanuel's land. But since sin entered, the case is quite altered; strong winds of trouble blow, tempests of heavy rain fall; there are inundations in the world, as the word is ; it is a dry place; in respect of comfort, it is a weary land; but though a weary land, it is not altogether without some comforting prospect. A shadow and shelter is prepared for the weary traveller; for it is promised in the text, “And a man shall be—as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." In which words, there is observable,
1. What the world is spiritually to Christ's subjects, the people of God, a “weary land;" that is, a thirsty land, a scorching country, a stormy place, with many inconveniences, which make travellers weary and faint. It is a wilderness, wherein there is no water, but a vehement heat, which makes people weary, and long for shelter and refreshment.-Observe,
2. What Christ is to them there, “as the shadow of a great rock.” How pleasant is a shelter in such a place to the weary traveller! Such is Christ to his people in the world. There are many shelters, there is even the shadow of created comforts; but, alas! they are unsubstantial shades; they are as the shade of a tree, through which the sun, wind, or rain beats. But Christ is as the shadow of a rock, which none of these can pierce ; and as a great rock, which gives a large shelter; so that there they have a perfect repose, blow what weather will.—The text affords us this
DOCTRINE, That Christ is a suitable shade, and a refreshing shelter, for those to whom the world is a weary land.
For illustrating this doctrine, it is proposed,
II. To inquire in what respects the world is a weary land to the saints.
• This and the following discourse, delivered August, 1715.
III. To point out in what respects Jesus Christ is a suitable and refreshful shade and shelter to them in a weary land.
IV. Conclude with a practical improvement.
1. That the world is not our dwelling-place, but the place through which we are travelling. This world is but a thoroughfare to another, where we come in at our birth, walk through in our life, and go out again at death. Many imagine but two fixed points in the universe, the higher and the lower, and that bodies are revolving in continual motion towards one or other of these, heaven and hell. The godly are going out of the world in affection, Song iv. 8; the wicked, in action, though not in affection ; none are abiding. It imports,
2. That there is no correcting of the ill air of the world; a shade and shelter may be had in it, but to reduce it to its first temperatare, that it may indeed be a pleasant land, is not promised, and therefore cannot be expected. The winds of trouble must blow in it while there are such treasures of sin in it to bring them forth. While our provocations against heaven gather into clouds, there will be tempestuous rains of calamities in it. The godly may lay their account with this : John xvi. 33, “ In the world ye shall have tribulation.” And the carnal world need not lay their account by it: Job. v. 7, “ Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upwards.”—It imports,
3. That, foul or fair weather, we must set out our heads, and through the weary land we must go; there is no other way but to take our share of what may be going on in it. He that would stop till the sky clear, may with as good reason sit down and wait till the water run out, that he may get through the river dry shod; the last may be sooner expected than the first.-It imports,
4. That the travelling through it will try our strength; take what way we will, we cannot miss sometimes to be entangled in the wilderness, and to be wearied in it, though the heart were so glued to it, as never to be wearied of it. The winds, the rains, and the storms, that blow there, will bear heavy on us, so as that we will need a resting, a refreshing place.--It imports,
5. That nothing less than the great rock will be a sufficient shelter in this weary land; no solid peace or repose out of Christ, more than there was out of the ark when the deluge came on. The winds and storms will blow down, or blow through, all other shades which men make to themselves in the weary land : I8.1. xxviii. 17, “And the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall