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THE BELIEVER’S REST.
“ The God of peace, that brought again from the dead, our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do his will, and enable us also at this time to do that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Christ Jesus, to whom be glory for ever and ever! Amen."
Since it has pleased the Almighty to call one of our dear friends by death, out of time into eternity ; we ought to regard it, as though a voice from the eternal world again called to us to prepare to folloro him speedily. We will, therefore, mutually lay this to heart; since many of our dear friends have assembled conjointly to devote an hour to the Lord, and to strengthen themselves in this truth. And although, for my own part, I feel myself at present entirely incapable of addressing you: yet the power of God may nevertheless manifest itself in my
weakFor this reason ought the hearts of all of us to be lifted up, with the eyes of faith, to hiin, from whom every good and perfect gift must descend. Let us then, first of all, humble ourselves before the Lord our God, adore him, and entreat his gracious presence and effectual blessing.
Amen, O thou thrice holy God! Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! to thee is the glory ascribed by many thousands of the heavenly hosts, who behold thy face. Let the glory be also ascribed to thee from thy poor creatures now assembled in this little corner of the earth below. Let all that is within us bow before thee and testify that thou art God, the refuge of the miserable in every age. Thou, O God, wast, before the world was formed; thou wast, before the sea and this earth were made; thou art God from everlasting. Thou alone hast immortality, and alone impartest immortal and eternal life and being to those who believe on thy name. Through thy grace, our hearts pay homage unto thee, and confess thee as the author of our being and our well-being. From thee have we derived and received our life and breath ; by thee and thy long suffering power has our life been preserved to this hour, and from thee, all our days and moments depend. One man dies and leaves this world, and another follows him. How soon and how quickly wilt thou, as our Judge, say also to us, “Return ye children of men, to the eternity, from whence you proceeded.” Othanks be to thine infinite goodness and love to man, thou lover of life, that thou hast still preserved to us the time of grace, and this our natural life, in the gracious intention, that we may become fitted for thy eternal life, which is to be found in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, thy dear Son! Thanks be to
thee for all thy loving-kindness unto man, by which thou didst think upon our souls, before we had a being, and didst labour for their good, by so many inward drawings of thy grace, and so many outward means of grace, of which the present occasion is a proof. Thanks be to thee, therefore, for this season of grace and salvation. 0 let us esteem it as highly important, and make it truly blessed and beneficial to our souls ! 0 Jesus! be thou present in our midst, as a God of life and grace. Give us most impressively to experience, in our hearts, the power of thy life to rouse us from all slothfulness and false security, to direct and instruct us effectually in all that is incumbent upon us to do or leave undone-to inflamé our hearts, which are cold in thy love-to implant in us a living faithand to give us a thorough knowledge as well of the importance of eternal things, as of the nothingness of temporal things, in order that we may walk circumspectly during our short passage to eternity, and may at length yield up our souls unto thee, in meek repose and resignation. Bless us all therefore, with à gracious view of thy countenance. Behold our poor hearts, and let them be precious in thy sight. Give us, on this occasion, some additional supply from the fulness of thy grace, that we may become truly acquainted with thee, our God! and consequently pursue our course to a long eternity so much the more courageously and resolutely, and eventually obtain an abundant entrance into thine heavenly kingdom. Forgive us all our negligences,
both with reference to time, and grace, as also to the means of grace, for the sake of the precious merits of our only High Priest, thine only begotten Son. Amen.
The words which we shall take for the subject of our consideration at present, stand written in
HEBREWS iv. 11.
“ Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest.”
From these words, we shall take occasion mutually to consider and reflect upon the following question :
How we may attain to our true and eternal rest of soul in this life, and how we may perfectly possess it when we come to die?
This consideration ought to appear to us so much the more important and necessary, the more customary it is, on the one hand, for people to say of one deceased, “He fell asleep in the Lord,' as well as what is wont to be inscribed on tombstones, . He rests in peace;' whilst alas ! there is, very frequently, ground for the strongest suspicion to the contrary. On the other hand, even those that are awakened and called to godliness, walk so slothfully, and are still as far from the promised rest of soul, as they are from the experience of it. Hence it is certainly worth the while to examine whence this arises, and what we must do, in order to find our
eternal rest of soul in this life, that we may eventually realize it perfectly at the hour of death.
There is an expression of St. Augustine, which is as remarkable, as it is profound and true. He says, “Our hearts were created for thee, O Lord ! and therefore they cannot rest, until they attain to thee again." Every individual thing can only rest and be satisfied in its own element; a fish in the water, a bird in the air, and our spirit when it lives in God. Every living creature is quiet and satisfied, when it has attained that object, that end and aim for which it was created. The object, end, and aim for which we are created, is not this world, nor any of those things, that are in the world, but solely and exclusively God in Christ Jesus. In short, the rest, the eternal repose of our souls is only to be found in the friendship and fellowship of God. For this friendship and fellowship of God, indeed was created; but by his melancholy fall, he has been wholly deprived of it again ; in consequence of which, man was not only outwardly driven out of paradise; but alas ! paradise, the rest in God, was also lost in his soul. The life of God was extinguished in him; the kingdom of heaven disap, peared from within him. His heart became mise. rable, wretched, restless, and dark; and man now, in the natural state, in which he is born, is a very restless creature. No animal, no worm that crawls the earth, which is trodden under our feet, is so wretched when it dies, as a man, who dies without God; and hence, being out of his element and