"Chime on, you bells! again begin,
And ring the Sabbath morning in.
The laborer's week-day work is done,
The rest begun
Which Christ has for His people won."
"There remains therefore a REST to the people of God."—Heb.
How sweet the music of this first heavenly chime floating
across the waters of death from the towers of the new Jerusalem!
Pilgrim, faint under your long and arduous
pilgrimage, hear it! It is REST. Soldier, carrying still upon you the
blood and dust of battle, hear it! It is REST. Voyager, tossed on the
waves of sin and sorrow, driven here and there on the world's heaving ocean
of vicissitude, hear it! The haven is in sight! The very waves that are
breaking on the shore seem to murmur—"So gives He His beloved REST."
It is the long-drawn sigh of existence at last answered. The toil and
travail of earth's protracted week is at an end. The calm of its unbroken
Sabbath is begun. Man, weary man, has found at last the long-sought-for
rest in the bosom of his God!
This Heavenly Rest will be a rest from SIN.
Sin is the great disturber of the moral universe. The
world—the soul—was once like an Aeolian harp; every passing zephyr woke it
into melody. Now it is tuneless, unstrung; its notes dissonant and harsh.
Not until the Sabbatic morning of heaven dawns, will the old harmonies be
restored. Joyful anticipation! perfect and entire emancipation, not only
from all temptation without, but from all bias to evil within.
No latent principle of corruption—no depressing consciousness of inherent
sin—no germinating seeds or roots that can develop themselves into fruit—no
languid frames—no guilty fears and apprehensions—no sorrowful estrangements
from that Love whose smile is heaven—a rest from Satan's deceitful wiles and
insidious snares—these no longer felt or feared. What more can be needed? A
rest from sin, and a rest in God. As the needle in the
compass, after many tremulous vibrations, at last settles in steady repose
in the direction of its pole, so the redeemed spirit—all its tremblings, and
faintings, and fitful aberrations at an end—shall remain, with its refined
energies, its ennobled powers, and purified aspirations undeviatingly fixed
and centered on Jehovah Himself. Its eternal motto will be—"This is my
Heaven will be a Rest from all DOUBT and ERROR.
Here on earth, how much there is of darkness and
uncertainty! The volume of the Divine ways is a mysterious volume. As the
breath dims the window-pane in looking out on the fairest landscape, so the
breath on the windows of sense and sight often obscures the glory of the
moral landscape, causing us to exclaim—"Now we see through a glass
darkly!" The material world around us, and the spiritual world within
us, are full of enigmas which we cannot solve; much more may we expect
marvels and mysteries in the ways and dealings of God—"deep," great deep
But then all will be cleared up. "In Your light
shall we see light." The day will then break, and the looming murky
shadows shall forever flee away. Doctrinal difficulties will be explained,
apparent inconsistencies removed, withering doubts forever silenced. No more
impeachments of the Divine veracity, or questionings of the Divine
procedure. Looking down from the summit of the everlasting hills on the mazy
windings of the earthly pilgrimage, every ransomed tongue will have the one
confession—"He has done all things well."
The Rest of Heaven will be a rest from SORROW and
This is a weeping world. Deny it who may; it has its
smiles, but it has as often its tears. You who have the cup of its joys
fullest, be thankful while it is yours; but carry it with a trembling hand.
The head that is now planning its golden projects may tomorrow be laid on
the pillow of sickness, with the dim night-lamp for weary months its
companion. The joyous circle, now uninvaded by the King of Terrors, may
tomorrow be speaking of their "loved and lost." The towering fabric of human
happiness, which is now rapidly being built, may, in the twinkling of an
eye, become a mass of ruins.
But if "weeping endures for the night," "joy comes in the
morning." Yet a little while, mourning believer! and you will shed your last
tear, heave your last pang. Once enter that peaceful haven, and not one wave
of trouble shall ever afterwards roll. The very fountain of your tears will
be dried. Your remembrance of all the tribulations of the nether world will
be like the visions of some unquiet dream of an earthly night, which the
gladsome sunshine of morning has dispelled, the confused memories of which
are all that remain. "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," (Rev. 21:4.)
Here on earth, our trials are needed. The angel
has to come down "to trouble the waters," in order to make us
sensible of his presence. It is when the pool is disturbed we see
most of our God. But in heaven, though the Great Angel will be ever
present, there will be no more waters to trouble. It is "a sea of glass."
The last ripple of the last murmuring billow will break upon the shores
of Jordan, and "immediately" there will be "a great calm."
The Rest of Heaven is a rest which REMAINS.
Nothing is permanent here. The best of earthly joys are
evanescent—like the bubble rising to the surface of the stream, which
glitters for a moment in the sunshine in its rainbow-hues, and then is
gone, the place that knew it knowing it no more! But the rest above is
eternal—no foe can invade it, no storms can disturb it. It is the
rest of a final home, over the portals of which is written, "You shall go
out no more."
Reader, do not pitch your tabernacle here on earth! Yours
now is, or ought to be, a tent or nomad life. The Christian is an
Arab in the present probation state. He has no fixed abode. His dwelling
is constructed not of stones or enduring material. The rope, and the canvas,
and the wooden pins, all indicate "the pilgrim and stranger on the earth."
It is a wilderness rest. He must be content with
wilderness provision. If you have many sources of earthly happiness, sit
loosely to them. Let these rills only draw you nearer the Fountain-head—let
these gifts only unite you closer to the Giver. "He gave them," says Richard
Baxter, "to be refreshments in your journey; and would you dwell in your
inn, and go no further?" Soon He Himself—your "exceeding joy"—will supersede
them. The rill will be no longer needed when you have the Great Source; the
starlight when you have Sunlight; creature-comforts when you have the
"There remains a rest!" Listen to this, child of
suffering and sorrow! You who are beaten about now with "a great fight of
afflictions," you will soon be at home—soon with God—and
nothing then, evermore, to break the trance of your bliss! Every time the
sounding line is let down, the response is, "Nearer shore!" Sainted
ones in that spirit-world, like the birds which greet the earthly voyager as
he approaches land, are hovering around you, telling that your Home is at
hand—that soon you shall furl your sails, and reach the desired haven. "My
little bark," says one who has now realized her glowing anticipations, "is
riding serenely through the storm, and soon I shall drop my anchor in the
still waters of eternal rest and glory." (Mary Winslow.)
The joys of the Heavenly Rest will be ENHANCED BY
This is one beauteous element in the contemplation of
future bliss, which angels know nothing of—the joy of contrast. These
Blessed Beings never knew what it was to sin or to suffer. These glorious
Vessels, launched on the "summer seas of eternity," never knew what it was
to wrestle with the tempest, or, like the shipwrecked apostle, to be "nights
and days in the depths" of trial.
The blind man exults in the blessing of restored
sight, in a way which others who have never known its loss cannot
experience. The sick man appreciates the return of vigorous health,
in a way which others can know nothing of who have never felt its privation.
The laborer enjoys his nightly repose all the more by contrast with
the hours of toil which preceded it. The soldier, after years of
suffering and privation, appreciates the music of that word "home,"
as he never could have done unless he had undergone the terrible discipline
of trench, and night-watch, and battlefield.
Will it not be the same with the believer in entering on
his Rest? Will not his former experience of suffering, and sin, and
sorrow, enhance all his new-born joys? It is said of saints, that they
will be "equal to the angels." But in this respect they will be
superior! The angel never knew what it was to have an eye dimmed with
tears, or to be covered with the soil of conflict. He never can know the
exquisite beauty of that Bible picture (none but the weeping pilgrim of
earth can understand or experience it) where, as the climax of heavenly
bliss, God is represented as "wiping away all tears from their eyes!"
Beautiful thought! The weary ones from the pilgrim-valley seated by the calm
river of life, bathing their temples—laving their wounds—ungirding their
armor—the dust of battle forever washed away—and listening to the
proclamation from the inner sanctuary—the soft strain stealing down from the
Sabbath-bells of glory—"The days of your mourning are ended!" (Isa.
Christian, has this glorious rest the place in your
thoughts it ought to occupy? Are you delighting to have frequent
Pisgah-glimpses of this Land of Promise? Are you living as the inheritor and
heir of such a blessed immortality, "declaring plainly" that you "seek a
How sad, how strange, that the eye of faith should
be dimmed to these glorious realities by the ephemeral and passing things of
sense. Grovelers that we are! with all this wealth of glory within
reach—with these deathless spirits claiming to outlive all time—that we
should allow the seen and the temporal to eclipse the splendors of eternal
day! "Reader, look to yourself, and resolve the question; ask conscience,
and allow it to tell you truly that you put your eternal rest before your
eyes as the great business you have to do in this world. Have you watched
and labored with all your might that no man take your crown?" (Baxter.)
Sit no longer cowering in darkness when light is
streaming from your Father's windows and inviting you upwards. A few more
rolling suns—a few more swings of Time's pendulum—and the world's
curfew-bell will toll, announcing the Sabbath of eternity has come. Seek
rest in Christ now. Flee to the crevices of the Rock of Ages now, if you
would nestle forever in the golden eaves of the eternal Temple. Be ever
sitting on the edge of your nest, pluming yourself for flight—so that when
death comes, "with wings like a dove"—the celestial plumage of faith, and
hope, and love—you may soar upwards to the Sabbath of your God, and be at