Page images

when we can participate in their pleasures : but in a day of adversity, when want and trouble come upon us, they are but too apt to lessen their regards, and to grow weary of our complaints. How different is the conduct of Jesus! He bids us “call upon him in the time of trouble,” and, instcad of turning a deaf ear to our complaints, promises to “give us rest.”

How suitable is this promise to those to whom it is made!

"(What do the weary and heavy-laden desire? If their trou. bles be of a temporal nature, they wish for something that shall soothe the anguish of their minds, and be a support unto their souls: and this Jesus administers by the aids of his grace, and the consolations of his Spirit.' Are their sorrows altogether spiritual? He speaks peace unto their conscience, saying unto them, “Be of good cheer, I am thy salvation :'! he discovers to them the sufficiency of his blood to cleanse them from sin, and the efficacy of his grace to subdue and mortify their lusts. He gives them that, which nothing else in the universe can supply, a firm and stable hope of pardon and peace, of holiness and glory. Whatever other blessings he should offer to the soul, they would be all despised in com. parison of this: it is bread to the hungry, drink to the thirsły, healing to the sick, and life to the dead.]

And can any thing be more precious to a heavy-laden soul?

[The term used in the text imports far more than an exemption from labour and trouble: it implies also that refreshment which a great and seasonable relief administers. And how sweet is that peace wbich he imparts to a believing penitent! it is a “ peace that passeth understanding," a “joy unspeakable and glorified.” Surely the consolations of his Spirit are not unfitly called “ an earnest of our inheritance," since they are indeed a beginning and foretaste of heaven in the soul. But we must extend our thoughts yet further, even to . 's the rest that remaineth for the people of God.” Doubtless that was most eminently in the view of our blessed Lord; nor shall any thing short of all the glory and felicity of heaven be the portion of those who come to him aright.]

That it is a true and faithful saying there can be no doubt

[Never did any come to our Lord without experiencing his truth and faithfulness. Many indeed there are who profess to follow him, while yet they are far from enjoying this promised blessing: but, instead of coming to him in faith and hope, and love, they are impelled only by terror; they listen

to the suggestions of despondency; and they live under the reigning power of unbelief. No wonder then that they find not the rest which they desire. But if any go to him aright, there is no guilt, however great, which is not removed from their conscience, no tumult of contending passions that is not moderated and restrained, nor any earthly trouble in which they are not enabled to rejoice and glory. If under any calamity whatever we go to him like the apostle, like him shall we receive such an answer as will turn our sorrow into joy, and make the very occasions of grief to be the sources of exultation and triumph.b] APPLICATION 1. To those who feel not the burthen of sin

[If we be exempt in a measure from earthly calamities, we have reason to rejoice. But to be unacquainted with spiritual troubles is no proper subject for self-congratulation. It is “the broken and contrite heart only, which God will not despise.” We may boast of our goodness, like the Pharisee, or the elder brother in the parable:e but, like them, we shall have no forgiveness with God, nor any part in that joy, which returning prodigals shall experience in their Father's house. We must “ sow in tears, if ever we would reap in joy;" we must be heavy-laden with a sense of sin, if ever we would experience the rest which Christ will give.f] 2. To those who are seeking rest

[It is indeed a mercy to have an awakened conscience: but you must now guard with earnest and equal care against self-righteous hopes and desponding fears. You may be ready to fear that your burthens are too heavy to be removed, and your sins too great to be forgiven: but the persons, whom Christ invites, are the heavy-laden, yea, all of them without exception, whatever be their burthens, and whatever be their sins. On the other hand, you may be tempted to seek rest in your duties or your frames: but it is Christ alone that ever can bestow it, and from him you must receive it as a free unmerited gift. Endeavour therefore to draw nigh to him in his appointed way; and be assured that he will draw nigh to you with his promised blessings.] 3. To those who have attained rest and peace

[A deliverance froin fear and trouble, instead of relaxing our obligation to watchfulness, binds us to tenfold diligence in the ways of God. When therefore our Lord invites us to come to him for rest, he adds, “ Take my yoke upon you;"

d 2 Cor. sii. 7-10,

Jer. ii. 55.

e Like xy. 28, 29, and xviii, 11, 14.

and then repeats the promise, in order to intimate, that a submission to his will is as necessary to our happiness, as an affiance in his name. Let this then be your If his yoke were ever so grievous, you could not reasonably hesitate to bear it, since the burthen of sin and misery, that he has removed from you, is infinitely heavier than any other can be. But “ his yoke is easy and his burthen is light;” and the bearing of it will conduce, no less to your present, than to your everlasting felicity.]

& Ver. 29.


Isaiah xlv. 22. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of

the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. MANY consider the scriptures merely as a history of past events, and imagine that the declarations contained in it are to be confined to those persons, for whose immediate use they were written—But such an idea reduces the sacred volume to a dead letter, calculated indeed to amuse the curious, but not to awaken the secure, or comfort the feeble-minded-But there are numberless passages which, though originally applied to individual persons, are quoted by the apostles as applicable to mankind in every age-Doubtless then, the invitation before us, though primarily addressed to idolaters, is intended to be sounded forth throughout all the world-Let us then consider 1. The invitation The

person, who is here speaking, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ; since the very words following the text are quoted by an inspired apostle as issuing from his mouthVHere

1. He directs us what means to use in order to salvation

[“ Looking to” Jesus is a figurative expression of the same

* Rom. xiv. 10, 11,

import with many others used in scripture, such as coming to him, fleeing to him, &c.—Its meaning is obvious, especially when connected with salvation as the end to be attained by it -One immediately perceives the state of the cripple's mind, of whom it is said, that he gave heed to Peter and John expecting to receive something of them;b nor can we be at any loss to ascertain the meaning of looking to Christ for salvation: it must import an humble sense of our lost estate, an ardent desire after his proferred mercy, and a persuasion that he is able to impart the blessings we stand in need of-Without such views, such desires, and such a faith, we should no more look to him for salvation than a person in health would go to a physician, or make use of his prescriptions—_If any thing can clearly exemplify the nature of this duty, it is the state of the wounded Israelites when they looked to the brazen serpent: they felt their wounds, they knew them to be incurable by human art, they were convinced that they must quickly perish if they did not use the appointed means, and they turned their eyes towards it in hope of experiencing the promised recovery-And exactly thus must we look to Christ, if we would be made partakers of his salvation-]

2. He promises that we shall not use those means in vain

[His words undoubtedly imply a promise, though they are not delivered in the form of one-They consider all as obnoxious to the wrath of God—They are not addressed to sin. ners of a peculiarly atrocious character, but to all the ends of the earth”—But while they thus insinuate that none can save themselves, they offer salvation to all without any distinction of character, provided they follow the direction given them-Such shall surely be saved from wrath: their sins, ' however great and manifold, shall be forgiven them—The infection that pervades their souls shall be healed-Yea, more, the favour of God, the beauty of holiness, and all the glory of heaven shall be imparted to them—The salvation here spoken of is justly called, " The salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory:” and in the name of Christ we can promise it to all who comply with the terms on which it is offered to them-]

Alluring as this invitation is, it derives additional importance from II. The arguments with which it is enforced


b Acts iii. 4, 5.
d Vumb. ssi. 7-9,

Mark ii, 17.
John iii. 14, 15,

That he may prevail on an ignorant and careless world, our blessed Lord reminds them of 1. His all-sufficiency to save them

[That Christ is God, is a truth on which our present and eternal happiness depend-Nor is there wanting all that evidence for it which the most scrupulous or doubtful mind can requirel-Indeed, if he were a mere creature, however exalted, we might well question his authority to issue such a command, or his ability to impart the promised blessing But his Godhead at once enforces both his direction and his promise -“Look unto me; for I am God," and enjoin you to do so at the peril of your souls. “ You shall be saved; for I am God,” and am therefore able to save you to the very uttermost -Were I a creature, you might be afraid to trust in me; but is not the blood of an incarnate God sufficient to make atonement for your sin? Is not the arm of God able to subdue your enemies before you? Or is there any vari. ableness or shadow of turning in me,” that you should question my fidelity? Am I not "the God that changeth not?” -Know then that while my Godhead is your warrant for looking to me, it is my pledge to you for the performance of my promise-My brethren, can you resist the force of such an argument?--] 2. The insufficiency of every other hope

[We are prone to look to every other being for help rather than to Christ-But he plainly warns us that "there is none else”-Could we obtain salvation by any other means, the force of his invitation would be enervated: however the way prescribed by him might deserve a preference, we should feel ourselves, as it were, at liberty to disregard it-But in vain will be our utmost exertions, if we endeavour to save ourselves by any methods of man's device-We are up unto the faith that is revealed”-We may as well attempt to create an üniverse as to atone for sin, or to fulfil the strict commands of God's law-There is no remedy but that proposed, of looking únto Jesus: “there is no other name given under heaven wereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ”Observe then the weight of this argument also: it is as though Jesus had said, “to whom will ye go? I, and I alone, have the words of eternal life:5 if you follow after righteousness in any other way, you will never attain unto it:h you have but one option to look unto me, or to perish for ever”—The Lord grant that, if we be not drawn by love, we may at least be impelled by necessity to accept his invitation!-]

u shut

f John i, 1. Rom. ix. 5.

6 John. vi. 68.

h Rom. ix, 31, 32.

« PreviousContinue »