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and a high destiny in heaven, even as his that said, "Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus;"1 and, in the clear foresight of his departure, when the toil and the cross were well nigh ended, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day."2
16 Sept 1966
CHRIST OUR ONLY REST.
ST. MATTHEW Xi. 28-30.
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
WITH these gracious promises our blessed Lord drew to Him the people who were toiling and struggling with the burdens of this saddened and sinful world. He saw not only the evil, but many a good man wearying himself in vain.
Among those to whom He spoke, he saw, besides those that were heavy laden with their own sins, many who were burdened with evil traditions and unmeaning customs; who were fainting under the yoke which had been laid upon them as a schoolmaster to bring them unto Christ. He promised them rest, if they would come, and learn, and take on them His yoke, i. e. if they would obey and follow Him, if they would believe and be like Him. Many there were, as Andrew and Levi, who gave
up their former ways, and all that they had, and made the trial, and found the promise true. They found rest in forgiveness and a quiet mind, in a heart chastened into a holy calm, and in the hope of their Master's kingdom. Now what He promised them when He was seen of men on earth, He has both promised and fulfilled ever since from heaven. He has ever been in the world by His unseen Spirit-pleading, drawing, persuading men to take His easy yoke. This He has done by His Church in the world. Among all nations He has gone, offering rest to every weary soul. Man cannot tell what has ever been the ineffable yearning of the heathen world; what tumultuous cries of spiritual sorrow have been heard in the ears of God. There has ever been the voice of conscience, and the sting of guilt, and the fears of defenceless purity, and the remorse of conscious sin. Without a doubt, among the myriads of eternal beings who thronged the face of the earth at Christ's coming, there were tens of thousands who felt higher and purer aspirations, who sighed and strove for light and truth in the dark and stifling bondage of heathenism. And to these, in due season, Christ in His Church went preaching, as "to spirits in prison," bringing the balm of meekness, and the peace of a lowly heart. When they heard Him, they were drawn to Him by an irresistible persuasion. They had found what
they darkly longed for- and all the wants and miseries of their being clung to His healing touch. They were "refreshed with the multitude of peace."
And not only so, but within the Church itself, and to this day, Christ ever calls, in these soft, persuasive words, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden." It is not only among the unregenerate spirits of men, but among those also who have been born again by His gracious working, that He finds toiling and burdened hearts. As He stands in the midst of His Church, and beholds our daily life, and all the hurrying to and fro of weary and restless spirits, He sees and pities our blind infirmities: for many are His by baptism, who have never learnt of Him; many know Him in word, who have never borne His yoke; many have seemed to draw nigh, who have found no rest unto their souls.
For instance, He sees among us the very same kinds of men as among the Jews-sinners" laden with sins"-men conscious of guilt, hating the sin for its after-agonies, but yielding to its momentary bait. The throes and torments of Christian men are worse even than the terrors of the heathen or the Jew. For Christians know of life and immortality: to them Tophet and Gehenna are no parables, but well-known and horrible realities. The tongue of man cannot tell the scourge, and fear, and suffo
cating burden of guilt seen in the light of an illuminated conscience. And this is all around us, among baptised men. It is the cause of their stubbornness in sin, because it is the root of their despair.
But, besides these, there are men of a worldly heart, who weary themselves day and night in the round of gain or selfishness, "lading themselves with thick clay;" early and late full of care-with furrowed brows and withered hearts; wearing a false cheerfulness, being sick in their inmost soul. This world fairly frets such a man's heart through and through; to him the world is overgrown, and all its cares are swollen, to an unnatural greatness. He has no sight of the world unseen, to check and balance the visible world; and therefore this world is all things to him. Hence foolish choices, and inordinate cravings, and bitter disappointments. I am not speaking of men who are so greedy of gold as to pass into a proverb; but of a common sample of men, whose aim in life is to gain no more than an ordinary measure of wealth, or to rise, as they say, to becoming places of dignity and power. If you could read the inner life of such men, you would find their minds wound up to an incessant and unrelieved stretch, which is ever at the highest pitch. At last it makes them weary of themselves, and they break down in bitterness or imbecility. There