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Hebrews iv. 10.
THERE REMAINETH THEREFORE A REST FOR THE PEOPLE
I shall not, at present, enter into a lengthened description of the different kinds of rest, of which the Apostle makes mention in this and the preceding chapter of his Epistle—but, with God's assistance, take the words in that plain and obvious sense, which has already, perhaps, suggested itself to every one who looks beyond this vain and transitory scene, to another and a better world-and, whether upon scriptural or delusive grounds, hopes at last to reach a state of unchangeable happiness—a serene and peaceful haven, when the soul shall have passed the waves of this troublesome and tempestuous world, and entered upon immortality.
To the due understanding, however, of the verse, as it is connected with the Apostle's
reasoning, and in the hope that I may you this day, to peruse either in your
families or in your closets, the first four chapters of this Epistle to the Hebrews—it may be useful to mention, that in order to excite the Jews to give more heed to that solemn question which occurs at the opening of the second chapter“How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ?” St. Paul reminds them that as their fathers had, through unbelief, provoked the displeasure of God, and been excluded from the promised land : even so, the posterity of those punished should beware lest they also should fall after the same example of unbelief—that there was still another and a better rest to be enjoyed by the faithful followers of a crucified Redeemer—a rest typified, indeed, by that fruitful land into which Joshua had conducted the Israelites ; typified also, by that weekly rest which God ordained when he ceased from his glorious work, and
saw that it was very good”*mbut as far superior to them both—as the concerns of eternity surpass in value and importance the wretched objects of this world. - There remaineth,” he concludes, “a rest for the people of God”—a heavenly, spiritual Canaan-pre
* Genesis i. 31,
pared not for the Hebrews only, but for the faithful of every age and nation; and earnest therefore, should be the endeavour, and great should be the fear of every professing Christian who is anxious about his soul, “lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest,” into the happy and glorious rest of God, “we should (even) seem to come short of it.” If God, says St. Paul in another place,* spared not the natural branches, let us take heed lest he also spare not us. He that despised Moses? law, died without mercy under two or three witnesses--of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who deliberately rejecting Christ as a Saviour, and no way affected by the mercy of God as it is revealed in his Son-in effect, treads under foot the Redeemer of the world-counts the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing—and does despite unto the Spirit of Grace? The mercy of the living God, as it flows upon mankind through Christ, is indeed inexhaustible, but it is a fearful thing to fall into his hands. I
To return to our subject. Perhaps the whole compass of our language does not contain a word more productive of sweet and
Rom. xi. 21.
+ Heb. x.
Heb. x. 31,
soothing associations than that of rest! In its most ordinary signification, it brings before my mind a weary traveller, at length arrived at the termination of his toilsome journey. -I think of a shipwrecked sailor escaping from the waves, and in the consciousness of safety sinking into a profound and tranquil sleep. I think of the placid repose of infancy. But give me the wider range of revelation, and say, what language except that which Scripture itself has used, shall express the ideas which are implied in it! The shipwrecked man quickly forgets the perils of the sea, and embarks again upon its treacherous surface—the traveller soon prepares himself for fresh fatigues——the toils of life, its corrupt pursuits, its anxious cares will quickly leave their furrows upon the infant's brow—but far different the rest which “remaineth for the people of God.” When this corruptible shall put on incorruption—when this mortal shall put on immortality, the faithful enter into that state, where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain ;* where they shall neither hunger nor thirst any more--where those who walked together in Christian fellowship until death divided them, shall meet again and dwell for ever, in sweet communion with each other and with God.* It is a state where all that is dark and mysterious shall be cleared up, and the soul shall behold with unclouded vision,t the celestial glories of the Sun of Righteousness, where all shall know even as they are known. It is the heavenly Jerusalem where those who overcome shall sit upon a throne with Christ,|| shall cast their crowns of glory before the Lamb, who hath redeemed them hy his blood, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever. | Comforted by this assurance which the text conveys, I can bow in resignation to the will of God, and praise his mercy, even though he strips me of friends and family, and leaves me alone in this world's wilderness. The heart will mourn at each bereavement, but why should the Christian continue to grieve for the departed. “I heard a voice from Heaven which said, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” They have been delivered from the bondage of corruption-from “the miseries of a sinful world”—“ they rest from their labours.” They have only set out a little earlier upon
* Rev. xxi. 4,