Page images

without his object, he must rove about eternally destitute of rest.

But God be eternally praised, who has again had mercy upon us in Christ, from free love and unme. rited grace, and intends that we should again partake of an eternal rest; having promised immediately after the fall, the Messiah, who was to bring fallen man once more to rest. To this end, God hallowed the seventh day, as a day of rest, in order that faith might regard it and learn from it, that a believing soul, after her days of work and labour, has finally also to expect a day of rest. But the most obvious and important type, by which the promised rest in Christ to poor and penitent sinners, is represented, is that of the bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt, and their introduction into the land of Canaan, which was given by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their seed, for their outward and bodily resting place. Paul refers to this, both in the verses preceding, as well as in the words of our text, in order thereby to place before our eyes

the real and true rest of soul promised us in Christ, of which the outward rest in the land of Canaan, into which Joshua led the people of Israel, was only a type, but not the true rest itself, which is promised and accomplished for us in Christ, as the antitype of Joshua. He means to say, that Joshua indeed introduced the people into the outward and bodily rest, but not into the promised rest of soul. This takes place solely through Christ. “Let us labour therefore, to enter into that rest."

Ah! are

Let us look at the thing a little more closely. The children of Israel lived in Egyptian bondage, where they were obliged to perform the hardest tasks assigned them, under much anxiety and oppression. Now this is a perfect description of the very miserable state of an unconverted character. not the days of such a one, like the days of a hireling, full of disturbance and weariness? The hireling longs indeed for the evening, when he may rest from his labour. But how very short is his repose ! He must return again to his work, and never comes to the end of his labour. Thus it is also with wretched men, as long as they live in their state of nature, and are consequently deprived of the fellowship and friendship of God. For when the individual imagines that he occasionally enjoys some repose, it is not of long duration : he always begins to feel his restlessness anew, But God sent a deliverer to the people of Israel, in the person of Moses, who was commissioned to call them forth out of Egypt, to deliver them from their grievous bondage, and to bring them into the land of Canaan, the promised rest, that being delivered from all such oppressions, they might be enabled to serve the Lord their God, unhindered, and with all freedom. If the people of Israel had not been called, by the mercy of God, out of Egypt, they would never have entered the land of Canaan. This is another striking description, of all that must take place with and in us, if we are willing to be led forth out of the Egypt of this world, and our corrupt natural state,

before us.

find the promised eternal rest in this life, and perfectly enter into it at death. For a call must go forth to us, to depart out of the slavery of sin, the devil, the world and its vanities. This call, lowever, does not take place, by means of any loud and audible voice from heaven, but by the preaching of the Divine Word, by its knocking at our hearts, and by the conviction of our consciences, by a variety of benefits, by chastisements and judgments, as well as by many a good example, which the Lord places

But what would it have availed the children of Israel, if they had only heard the call of God, but had not obeyed it ? Would they have been redeemed, and have entered into rest ? Thus it is also with us, on our departure out of spiritual Egypt. We must not only listen to the convincing voice of Divine grace, which calls unto us; but we must also follow and obey it, if we are desirous of being delivered and brought out of the tyranny of sin and Satan, to God, and to rest in God. Hence Paul says in the 2nd verse, “ It was preached unto us, as well as unto them, but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." Hence he also calls unto us from the 95th Psalm, “ To day, if ye will hear his voice, barden not your hearts.” But in order to attain to this rest in the present life, and at length enjoy it perfectly at death, the following things are required:

I. That we not only listen to the voice of God, which calls to us, but also follow it.

II. That we diligently observe, whether our conversion is of the right kind.

III. ‘That we build our faith solely on the grace of God in Christ.

IV. That we deny every thing of an earthly nature.

V. That we deny, not only outward things, but ourselves also.

VI. That we entirely resign ourselves to the di: vine providence and guidance, and depend upon it alone.

VII. That we exercise ourselves diligently in prayer.

First. In order that we may find the true and promised rest of soul in this life, and fully attain to it afterwards at death, we must not only hear the voice of God, which calls us out of the Egypt of this world, and out of our corrupt state of nature, but also obey and follow it. How would the children of Israel have ever entered into the land of Canaan, if they had not been obedient to the voice of God, speaking by Moses, and obeyed it? This is a true representation of the calling and convincing voice of grace, which makes itself heard at the commencement of our conversion. We cannot attain to the promised rest, otherwise, than by giving ear to the voice of divine grace, which calls unto us, and by letting ourselves be led forth from sin's house of bondage into a true repentance and conversion, and into a painful feeling of our sinfulness, by which we

are driven to Christ, that through him, and his abundant merits, we may re-attain to friendship and fellowship with God. When Moses came into Egypt, and announced the call of God to the children of Israel, and they began to receive this call, the heaviest burdens were laid upon the people; the labour, suffering, and oppression was doubled. Thus it happens also to us, with respect to the grace of God, when first it calls, knocks at our hearts, and brings conviction to us. Sin then becomes truly sinful in us; and grace begins to reveal to us the hostile and remote condition of our souls with reference to God. Then follows weeping and lamenting, sorrow and sighing in the soul; so that it appears that this first conviction, instead of bringing the individual to rest, rather occasions him fresh disturb

It only discovers, however, the hidden agilation, which was already in the heart of the individual who is separated from God. But if the man be obedient to the voice of God, if be suffer himself to be led forth out of the Egypt of sin, and, by the feeling of it, to be driven to Christ, he finds, by this very means, the first entrance into the promised rest of his soul.

Hence it is in vain for a man to seek to attain peace of heart and conscience, by faith in Christ Jesus in this life, without true repentance, without a thorough change of heart, and without seriously departing from the Egypt of this world. It is a vain, nay, a shameful abuse of the grace of God, and the merits of Christ, for a man to suppose, by an imagi


« PreviousContinue »