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from its dreadful sentence, in the righteousness of Christ. We find rest from the accusations of Satan and conscience in the witness of faith; and we rest from slavish fear, perplexing doubts, and legal bondage, in the love of God in Christ; and we rest from open war, rebellion, and all hostilities against God, by the enjoyment of peace and friendship with God through Christ. We rest secure in the purpose of God, and in his decree of election, which was made in Christ; and we rest satisfied, contented, and well pleased, with the eternal salvation of Christ. This is the saint's everlasting rest; nor can they find it any where else. And all letter preachers, who labour against these plain things, do but spoil these resting-places which God has appointed and provided for his
Lay not wait, () wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting-place: for a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” And sure I am that all who deny the godhead of our dear Lord, and those who set light by his great atonement, and those who deny the imputation of his everlasting righteousness, and those who enforce final apostacy from the grace of God, do all that in them lies to spoil the resting-place of the just. For they may fall into decays of spiritual life, and from their own stedfastness, and from their first love, and into extreme poverty, and into sins, through weakness, as Peter did, and into deep troubles; as it is written, “And they that understand
among the people shall instruct many; yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now, when they shall fall they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries,” · Dan. xi. 33, 34. And this little help promised will support them, and lift them up again too; and they will then get back again into their rest, as others have done who have fallen sadly and foully, but not finally. It is one thing to fall down, and another thing to fall away.
“The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.”
Many who feel their need of this rest seem to come short of it, or rest in legal attainments, outward reformation, or in an empty profession, being set down at ease by the ministry of the letter, in the hands of men unskilful in the word of righteousness. This stifles their convictions, benumbs their souls, and they rest in head notions, and in their moral conduct, and in the judgment and witness of men who pretend to feed them. we dare not,” says Paul, “make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” And I may say of such a rest as the prophet of old did, “ Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest; because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction,” Micah ii. 10. Hope or expectation the Lord often gives to the seeking sinner, to encourage him to diligent attention and watchfulness, and to exercise his patience; yet sure I am that there is no real and solid rest short of the remission of sins, and in a spiritual birth. And there is a glory in this rest. Every attribute of God harmonizes, conspires, and shines together to the honour and glory of God, when the soul comes to rest in the bosom of the chief Shepherd, and to take up its sweet repose in his dying love, which will never end, but be glorious to eternity. “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”
Thus have I showed my reader that unbelief, wherever it prevails, is a continual erring in the heart. I have also endeavoured to point out the ways of God, and the rest which the believer finds in those ways. And the very oath of God is against them who harden their hearts in unbelief against these things. “To-day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years, therefore, I was grieved with that generation, and, said It is a people that do alway’err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: so I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest.”
THE BEST OF FATHERS, AND HIS COMMAND;
THE MYSTIC MOTHER, AND HER LAW.
PROVERBS vi. 20-22.
“My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the
law of thy mother : bind them continually upon thine heart and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thec." :
The first thing that I have to treat on in this text is the character or title, which is that of a son; My son, &c. In the proverbs, says Paul, God speaks to us as to children; “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord; nor faint when thou art rebuked of him," &c. But, as there are various classes of sonship in scripture, I must distinguish this from others.
Angels are called sons, being so by creation. "The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”
In this sense all mankind are the sons of God. “ Have we not all one father; hath not one God created us?"
Israel was a son; but then it was only by na
tional adoption, and not in the best sense.
And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn. And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.”
Magistrates are called children of God; but then it appears to be in office only, as the words show. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men and fall like one of the princes.”
There is another rank of sons, which obtain this character by profession only. “ And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh."
There are sons who are pre-appointed to bear this character, and that from everlasting. “ Haying predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved,” Eph. i. 5, 6. And it is on this account that the poor Gentiles were called sons,