Great Texts of the Bible
Life in God’s Presence
My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.—Exodus 33:14.
These are the words of God’s assurance, anticipating an almost agonizing supplication of Moses, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” The prayer was uttered on the edge of the great wilderness. Moses was about to loose his hold on his last familiar resting-place, and commit himself and his people to its unknown wilds. All the magnitude of his great undertaking was pressing on him at that moment. “Who is sufficient for these things?” he cried, like one who, after the lapse of ages—a pilgrim of Sinai, too—set his hand to the conversion of a world. The Divine guidance was absolutely a question of life or death. Thus far the ground over which the Israelites had passed was familiar marching-ground to their great leader Moreover, their march had been a triumphal exodus from bondage. Up to Sinai, Egypt was behind them, and they had the joyous sense that they were escaping from hated and tyrannous foes. From Sinai, Canaan was before them, and the grand difficulties and perils of their enterprise began. It was the great critical point of their course. They had need of a vision of a Divine leader, whose pillar of flame should shine, not on their march only, but in their hearts.
In the Wilderness
1. Moses was the man of Israel, the man in whom all the higher life and aim of the whole community expressed itself. We study Israel through him; and we shall get nearer to the heart of this great matter—the Lord’s guidance of the host—if we listen to his wrestling supplication, in which the intercessor was uttering the cry of a whole people, and catch the words of the answer of God, than if we were to study, as we might, the external form of the guiding angel, marvellous, miraculous, and richly symbolic as it unquestionably is. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them in the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” A grand, sublime symbol, amongst the greatest things in history. Think of it for a moment. Imagine that host winding through the dreary paths of the desert, lonely there as a people among peoples, as their Lord became lonely as a man among men; cut off utterly from all national associations and sympathies; the strongest people in the world behind them, animated by the most deadly hatred, and powerful nations in front, armed to receive them and to dispute with them every inch of the inheritance they were resolved to win; marching on along those solemn desert pathways, with the visible sign in the midst of them of the presence in person of the Lord God of the whole world. There, under the blazing rays of the burning noon, a soft cloud spread its cool shadow on the weary plain, and refreshed imagination—and what pure refreshment that is—with the picture of the shadowing love of the Lord God Almighty over the whole wearying pilgrimage and battle march of life! And then, as evening fell, and the glooms of night began to drop their awful shroud—for nightfall is awful in the lonely waste—over the weird forms and hues of those beetling cliffs, or the gaunt outlines of the desert palms, the cloud began to glow and lighten, till it cast a broad flood of living lustre, such as we see on earth only in dreams, on the whole scene of the desert encampment. It touched the spurs and peaks of the mountains, till they stood glowing like angel sentinels around the camp of God’s redeemed, and filled the night watchers with some vision of what might be seen, if the veils were lifted, and all the heavenly armies appeared attending the path of God’s host through battles and perils, through foaming seas and dreary deserts, to their glorious rest.
From life’s enchantments,
Desire of place,
From lust of getting
Turn thou away and set thy face
Toward the wilderness.
The tents of Jacob
As valleys spread,
As goodly cedars
Or fair lign aloes, white and red,
Shall share thy wilderness.
With awful judgments,
The law, the rod,
With soft allurements
And comfortable words, will God
Pass o’er the wilderness.
The bitter waters
Are healed and sweet;
The ample heavens
Pour angel’s bread about thy feet
Throughout the wilderness.
And Carmel’s glory
Thou thoughtest gone,
And Sharon’s roses,
The excellency of Lebanon
Delight thy wilderness.
Who passeth Jordan
Perfumed with myrrh,
With myrrh and incense?
Lo! on His arm Love leadeth her
Who trod the wilderness.1 [Note: Anna Bunston.]
But magnificent as was the sign, the thing signified transcended it. In vain would the Divine presence have been shown to them in that miraculous cloud and glory, if there had been no inner sense of the Divine presence in their hearts. It is in the communion between Moses and the Divine Leader of the host that we are admitted into the true sanctuary of that people’s strength. Just so far as their spirits went with Moses in this prayer, in this yearning for the inner presence and guidance of God, did they march joyously and triumphantly on their way; and when that failed, the visible cloud of splendour helped them no longer; they dropped like blighted fruit from the living tree, and their carcases fell in the wilderness.
2. The lot of Moses was an unenviable one. He was about to quit the familiar ground, the old home of his exile, the mountain region of Horeb. The path onward lay through unknown deserts, and would most surely be beset by daring and experienced foes. It was a prospect before which even a soul of such heroic mould might quail. Would God go with him, not in a pillar of cloud, as the national leader, but as friend, companion, comrade of his spirit? Let him have that promise, and he would go bravely on. God had cast the lonely lot of this man amongst a people utterly uninstructed and unintelligent, unable to understand, indisposed to reverence his thoughts, and ever breaking in on the meditations and communings on which the fate of unborn ages was hanging, with their sensuous outcries, “Hast thou brought out this whole nation into the wilderness, that it may perish with hunger?” Here was a man, moreover, who had deeper thoughts about the Divine nature and character than any other man of his day; to whom the meaning of life and the sacredness of duty were more plain. For had he not entered into the inner court of the Divine presence, and gazed on the glory which no eye but his had prevailed to look upon, and talked with God face to face, as a man talketh with his friend? And see him there, among a people who clung to the outer court, for it was less dreadful than the inner; who had no conception of the solemnity of a Divine command, except when it was enforced by plagues; and who assailed him, when he came forth from this Divine communion, with the very glory on his countenance, full of that “favour” which is the life of men and peoples, with scornful questions about graves! Never, perhaps, was man so lonely.
Supreme excellence is always lonely—the great ruler, statesman, warrior, all tread a solitary path, all alike have secrets which no other may or can share. In some degree this is true of every man. Each one travels on a solitary way. “What man knoweth the thoughts of a man?”—his hopes, his fears, his yearnings, his aspirations? God has given men their own lives to live;
And bade betwixt their shores to be
The unplumb’d, salt, estranging sea.
Many of our experiences are unique, unanticipated, incommunicable. “All alone we live,” and “all alone we die.” God’s presence means companionship, and in that companionship is safety and strength. He knows all the way from the beginning, and with Him there can be no loneliness, no surprise, no disaster. He gives strength to walk the most lonely and difficult path.1 [Note: J. Edwards.]
3. What are some of the lonely experiences of life which will be cheered by this wonderful Companionship?
(1) There is the loneliness of unshared sorrow.—Is there anything more solitary than sorrow that can find no friendly ear? Sorrow which has an audience can frequently find relief in telling and retelling its own story. How often the bereaved one can find a cordial for the pain in recalling the doings and prowess of the departed! It is a wise ministry, in visiting the bereaved, to give them abundant opportunity of speaking about the lost. The heart eases itself in such shared remembrance. Grief is saved from freezing, and the genial currents of the soul are kept in motion. But when sorrow has no companionable presence with which to commune, the grief becomes a withering and desolating ministry. “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old.” Ay, there is nothing ages people like the loneliness of unshared grief. And there are multitudes of people who know no friendly human ear into which they can pour the story of their woes. The outlet manward is denied them. What then? Is the desolation hopeless? “My presence shall go with thee.” The story can be whispered into the ear of the Highest, The Companionship is from above.
Said one lonely soul, who had been nursing his grief in secret, as the stricken doe seeks to hide the arrow that rankles in its breast, “I will pour out my soul unto the Lord,” and in the sympathy of that great Companionship his sorrow was lightened, and transfigured, like rain clouds in the sun.
In the dark and cloudy day,
When earth’s riches flee away,
And the last hope will not stay,
My Saviour, comfort me.
When the secret idol’s gone,
That my poor heart yearned upon,
Desolate, bereft, alone,
My Saviour, comfort me.
(2) There is the loneliness of unshared triumph.—Lonely triumph is as desolate as unshared grief. When I sin and falter, I feel I need a companion to whom I can tell the story of my defeat; but when I have some secret triumph I want a companion to share the glow and glory of the conquest, or the glow and glory will fade. Even when we conquer secret sin the heart calls for a Companion in the joy! And here He is! “My presence shall go with thee.” If you will turn to the Book of Psalms you will find how continually the ringing pæans sound from hearts that are just bursting with the desire to share their joy and triumph with the Lord. They are the communings of victory, the gladsome fellowship of radiant souls and their God. His Presence shall go with us, and He will destroy the loneliness of unshared joy.
My memory recalls with vivid clearness one of the boys in the school where I received my earliest training. He was an orphan, but more than that, he was perfectly friendless. Those who were nearest to him were all dead, and the entire interest of his guardian exhausted itself in paying the school-fees as they became due. When the holidays came, and we all bounded home, he remained at school, for he had nowhere else to go. I thought little or nothing about it. Certainly his position did not move me to pain, until one day his loneliness broke upon me with appalling reality, when in the class-lists he appeared as the premier boy in the school. His triumph was most distinguished and brilliant, but he had no one to share it! No father, no mother, no kinsman, no friend! I felt that in his success he was more desolate than in his defeats! His bereavement seemed to culminate in his triumphs.
I had a friend who in mature life published a book on which he had bestowed the hard labours of many years. Some time before its publication his wife died, and he was left alone. The book received an enthusiastic welcome, and now enjoys high eminence in its own department of learning. I spoke to my friend of his well-deserved reward, and of the triumph of his labours. His face immediately clouded, and he quietly said, “Ah, if only she were here to share it!” I say, his loneliness culminated there, and his sharpest pang was experienced in his sunniest hour.1 [Note: J. H. Jowett.]
(3) There is the loneliness of temptation.—Our friends can accompany us so far along the troubled way, and by God’s good grace they can partially minister to our progress by re-arranging our environment, and removing many of the snares and pitfalls from our path. But in this serious business of temptation it is little that friend can do for friend. The great battle is waged behind a door they cannot enter. But we need not be alone! One Presence can pass the door that leads to the secret place. “My presence shall go with thee,” not as an interested or applauding spectator, but as Fellow-worker, Fellow-fighter, Redeemer, and Friend. The loneliness of the wilderness is peopled by the ubiquitous presence of the Lord.
Every soul that has had any moral experience whatever must know that the best elements in his composition are those derived from passages in his life where no second could keep his soul company—where he must be alone; disappointments that he must suffer alone; reflections where he must look to his own soul and his God alone. Two conditions have affixed themselves to the history of moral reformers and heroes: they have first been overshadowed by the great ideas for the redemption of humanity which have filled their souls, in solitary thinking; and when they have gone out on their beneficent errands, they have had to work alone—confront apathy and opposition unsupported by the sympathies of any multitude.1 [Note: F. D. Huntington, Christian Believing and Living, 208.]
(4) And there is the loneliness of death.—It is pathetic, deeply pathetic, how we have to stand idly by at the last moment—doctor, nurse, husband, wife, child—all to stand idly by, when the lonely voyager launches forth into the unknown sea! “It is the loneliness of death that is so terrible. If we and those whom we love passed over simultaneously, we should think no more of it than changing our houses” from one place to another. But every voyager goes alone! Alone? Nay, there is a Fellow-voyager! “My presence shall go with thee.” The last, chill loneliness is warmed by the Resurrection Life. There is a winsome light in the valley, as of the dawning of grander days. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.”
He had of course his ups and downs during this time. He was in full practice, leading his life as before, but whenever we found ourselves alone together he was serious, and, though he did not again refer to his health, he never played the parts of the author, inflated or distressed, or did any of the other things which used to make my occasional Wednesday afternoon walks with him so delightful. One thing I do remember: during a walk home from the House he suddenly asked me what I took to be the most melancholy lines in English poetry. Being accustomed to such conundrums from him, I was not much surprised, and answered that, on the spur of the moment, I could think of none more melancholy, considering Swift’s genius for friendship, than those lines of his written in sickness in Ireland—
’Tis true—then why should I repine
To see my life so fast decline?
But why obscurely here alone
Where I am neither loved nor known?
My state of health none care to learn,
My life is here no soul’s concern,
And those with whom I now converse
Without a tear will tend my hearse.
I spouted these lines, melancholy though they are, light-heartedly enough, and was completely taken aback by the effect they produced upon my companion. He stopped in his walk, exclaiming several times with a strange emphasis, “Horrible! horrible! horrible!” and twice added, “I’m not like that.” I could only bite my lips and wish I had thought of some other lines.1 [Note: Augustine Birrell, Sir Frank Lockwood, 191.]
Whene’er goes forth Thy dread command,
And my last hour is nigh,
Lord, grant me in a Christian land,
As I was born, to die.
I pray not, Lord, that friends may be,
Or kindred, standing by,—
Choice blessing! which I leave to Thee
To grant me or deny.
But let my failing limbs beneath
My Mother’s smile recline;
And prayers sustain my labouring breath
From out her sacred shrine.
Thou, Lord, where’er we lie, canst aid;
But He, who taught His own
To live as one, will not upbraid
The dread to die alone.1 [Note: J. H. Newman.]
4. Interpreters in all times and of all shades of religious belief have agreed in finding in the wilderness a type of life. The type, however, covers only a partial aspect of life, and it is not on the wilderness aspect alone that we must dwell when we think of life in its fulness and continuity. The old spirit of Stoicism may enter unduly even in our day, to the spoiling of life as God gave it, although at the present time it is not so much a spirit of sternness as a spirit of indifference which finds in life nothing but a wilderness. To be an enthusiast is not fashionable. I cannot do this because I am bored, is too often the answer to the old heathen question, Is life worth living? But this is not the way in which we are to apply the type. The wilderness was only a passing phase in Israel’s life’s history, and even this was not without its spots of brightness. A prophet—perhaps one who had himself passed through the Exile—could sing, “The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.” It was hope that transformed the prophet’s wilderness, and it is hope that will transform ours. And if we ask, Whence does this hope come? surely we find the answer in the words spoken to Moses, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” It is God’s abiding presence with the soul which teaches it to know the dignity of a life lived in communion with Him, the continuity of which, begun here, can never be broken off through eternity. “In thy presence,” says the Psalmist, “is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
I shall give only one of Dr. Rainy’s stories, which I think has never been published. It concerned two saintly fathers of the Disruption—the dignified Dr. Gordon of the High Church and the quaint Dr. Bruce of St. Andrew’s Church. The two were conducting or had just conducted a joint service, which had been peculiarly inspiring and uplifting. Dr. Gordon, who had a manner almost majestically grave, in hushed solemn tones whispered to the other, “Is not this a foretaste of Paradise?” To which Dr. Bruce replied: “’Deed, I was jist nippin’ mysel’ tae mak’ sure I wasna oot o’ the body.”1 [Note: P. Carnegie Simpson, The Life of Principal Rainy, ii. 97.]
The Presence of God
“My presence shall go with thee.”
Moses was promised not only guidance, but personal friendship. “My presence” means literally “My Face.” He was to have always with him a personal Companionship. He was to hold converse face to face, eye to eye, with One who was strong enough to meet all his demands for guidance, succour, and strength. What he should enjoy should be no mere superintendence, as from a distant heaven. An everlasting Friend should travel with him along the desert, and sit with him in his tent, and accompany him to the council, and to the seat of justice, and amidst the rebellious concourse, and to the field of battle with heathen foes, giants, and others, when the time should come He should experience the infinite difference of being never alone, never without a personal Presence, perfectly sympathetic, and at the same time almighty.
How is the presence of God to be realized in the Christian life?
1. Think, first of all, what the presence of God is in the individual Christian’s life. How infinitely more it means to us than it could have meant to Moses. To him it meant a signal honour for his people, a separation from all nations by the fact that God was with them, that they were the Lord’s host and God their Captain, their earthly leader only His vicegerent. In the fact of the Incarnation we bow before a greater mystery, we receive a higher gift, than patriarch or prophet or Old Testament saint could dream of. In the finished work of God the Son, human life has been transformed. In baptism we are separated, far more than ever Israel was—separated not as a nation over-shadowed by God’s presence, but as those who by the grace of union have been united with God. No outward visible sign of cloud or fire, but the inward reality of a new life is ours. God and man are no longer separated as they were before Christ came. They are one in Him “in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead,” while yet He has taken our nature upon Him. And that Presence of God is ever renewed to us in the sacrament of love. When we dwell with Christ and Christ with us, we are one with Christ; while if so be that deadly sin has separated us from that supernatural Presence, Christ has Himself ordained and blessed the ministry of reconciliation whereby the penitent is restored to grace. The whole meaning and purpose of Christianity is to assure to man the Presence of God, removing that separating barrier which sin has raised, destroying sin for us by the Atonement, killing down sin in us by the power of Divine grace. Pardon and life are the two needs of man’s spiritual nature, the two gifts of God in Christ, whereby the Presence of God is secured to us.
2. But there is a danger in our day that this great gift of God should be lost to us almost without our knowing it. We have made a break with the past which synchronizes in the case of most of us with the first dawn of intellectual activity; we are learning to think for ourselves, and at the moment when we want the calmest judgment and the coolest head we feel for the first time, in their full strength, the special temptations of early manhood; we are surrounded by a life which ministers to self-indulgence, and is hostile to stern moral discipline. We have learnt perhaps the A B C of philosophy, and already feel ourselves competent to make for ourselves our religious creed. But religion is not made—it grows or dies. A made religion does not live. It is true, no doubt, that something of reconstruction must take place in the case of every one who thinks. The faith which we were taught as children, and unhesitatingly received, must become ours in a different sense if it is to go with us through life. It has to be brought into relation with the new truths of science, of philosophy, of criticism, which are flowing in upon us. We cannot keep it as the only part of our intellectual heritage which must not be examined, hidden away in some sacred place. But it is one thing to try to see the old truths in the light of the new knowledge; it is another, as it were, to sweep away the old and begin afresh. And this is what men so often do. And before long they discover that the Presence of God, which was with them in the old life, is not with them now. They thought they might drop the practice of religion till they had made a place for it in their new theory of life; and resume it when the reconstruction was complete. And they find they cannot; though there is still the longing for Him who made us for Himself, in whom alone our hearts can rest. It is in vain then that they attempt to fill the void with that God to whom the speculative reason, in abstraction from conscience, leads us. No one wants or cares for an abstract first cause. What the soul needs is a Living God, an invisible personality behind the veil of things we see, who can be to us both a Brother in sympathy and a sincere object of worship. “The only God,” it has been said, “whom Western Europeans, with a Christian ancestry of a thousand years behind them, can worship, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; or rather of St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Bernard, and of the innumerable blessed saints, canonized or not, who peopled the ages of faith.” And religion stands or falls with the belief in a personal God, and the possibility of communion with Him.
O thou that after toil and storm
Mayst seem to have reach’d a purer air,
Whose faith has centre everywhere,
Nor cares to fix itself to form,
Leave thou thy sister when she prays,
Her early Heaven, her happy views;
Nor thou with shadow’d hint confuse
A life that leads melodious days.
Her faith thro’ form is pure as thine,
Her hands are quicker unto good:
Oh, sacred be the flesh and blood
To which she links a truth divine!
See thou, that countest reason ripe
In holding by the law within,
Thou fail not in a world of sin,
And ev’n for want of such a type.1 [Note: Tennyson, In Memoriam.]
3. In the wider life of the Church we are called upon to face a similar difficulty. The promise of God’s Presence is what it has always been, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” But it is impossible to shut our eyes to the fact that the life of the Church is entering on a new phase. The old days of protection are going, if not gone, and men in their little faith think that religion is going too. A great wave of secularism seems to be passing over our land and beating against the temporal bulwarks of our national Christianity. And men, good men and true in their personal relations with God, men who have learned to see His Presence and His Hand in all the changes of their own lives, are getting anxious and doubtful or desponding as if God’s promise to His Church had failed. But in the controversies of the Church in every age, as in the struggles of our own individual lives, it is impatience that leads men from the truth. We are tempted to a reckless abandonment of eternal principles because in their traditional setting they do not fit the present need. But you cannot make a new religion. It is not by abandoning the Christian faith, but by being true to the faith we hold, that we shall reach the religion of the future. Amidst all the changes of the sixteenth century, when the Church was driven from the shade of the monastery to the broad daylight of the world, not one article of Christian faith was lost or left behind. And if we are to judge the future by the past, those whom God will choose to guide His Church through the crisis of the present age will be neither men who, panic-struck and despairing, shrink from change, nor those who recklessly abandon the ancient faith for some nineteenth-century nostrum; but real men, who, not being like children carried away with every “blast of vain doctrine,” have the strength to face the problem. It will be those who in all the changes and struggles of their own spiritual lives can trace the guiding hand of God, and therefore in the wider issues of the Church at large are strong enough to rest and wait, ready to face the grey and shivering dawn of a new era, yet true to the ancient Christian faith, and strong in the promised presence of their God.
“I will give thee rest.”
There are two possible sorts of rest. One is rest after toil, the lying down of the weary, at the end of the march, on the morrow of the battle, on the summit of the hill. The other is rest in toil, the internal and deep repose and liberty of a spirit which has found a hidden refuge and retreat, where feeling is calm and disengaged, while the march, the battle, the climb, are still in full course. This last was the promise to Moses. Another day, a distant day, was to come when he should taste the endless rest after toil, when he should sink down on Pisgah in the arms of the Lord, and (to quote the beautiful legendary phrase) should die—if death it could be called—by His kiss. But now he was to taste the wonderful rest in toil. He was to traverse that last long third of his vast and memorable life, thinking, ruling, guiding, bearing, under the Divine enabling condition of the inward rest of God, passing understanding.
Of course, the conscious presence of God with us is possible only on three conditions.
Firstly, we must walk in the light, as He is in the light; for He will have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, or turn aside to go with us on any crooked path of our own choosing.
Secondly, we must recognize that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son constantly cleanseth us from all sin; not only that which we judge and confess, but that also which is seen only by His pure and holy eyes.
Thirdly, we must claim the gracious aid of the Holy Spirit, to make real that presence, which is too subtle for the eye of man, unless it be specially enlightened.1 [Note: F. B. Meyer, Moses the Servant of God, 138.]
1. Rest in toil.—The longing of man’s spirit amid all the strifes, discords, and confusions of life is for rest. Nothing can eradicate man’s conviction that strife and discord have no right in the universe; that they are abnormal; that the normal condition of things and beings is harmony, and that harmony is the music of rest. God must rest—rest even in working; and all that is of God, and from God, has the longing and the tending to rest. Perhaps some dull notion that they will have more rest in the life of the world, that they will escape many cares and distractions, and, at any rate, be at peace in sin, lies at the bottom of many a backsliding to Egypt in human hearts. No man at first is content to let the question alone—to leave the riddle of life unread. Hence arises the long discord in him who has not found the principle of the Divine harmony: “The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit striveth against the flesh, and the two are contrary the one to the other.” We long to find some truth which shall release us from the agony, and make some kind of harmony in our lives. We find this battle of life inexplicable; it sometimes shakes our faith in the wisdom and goodness of our God. We shout into the Sibyl cave and listen for the responses; we take the whispers of sense for the answer, and then we go on our way. But the conflict again begins, the perplexities again return; again and again we cry, each time in a more frenzied mood, “Who will show us any good?” “Who will give us rest?” From the midst of the glow of glory which surrounds the throne, the word of the Son of God, the great Captain of the human host, comes down to every earnest, struggling spirit: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
Perhaps there are no words that appeal more to the human heart, or fall with a sweeter cadence on the human ear, into whatever language they may be translated, than the words of our Lord recorded by St. Matthew (Matthew 11:28-30): “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.” The whole secret of rest is there, not a rest of idleness, but a rest in bearing Christ’s yoke. And He adds, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
An aged, weary woman, carrying a heavy basket, got into the train with me the other day, and when she was seated she still kept the heavy burden upon her arm! “Lay your burden down, mum,” said the kindly voice of a working man. “Lay your burden down, mum; the train will carry both it and you.” Ay, that’s it! “Lay your burden down!” The Lord will carry both it and you! “I will give thee rest”: not by the absence of warfare, but by the happy assurance of victory: not by the absence of the hill, but by the absence of the spirit of fainting. “I will give thee rest.”1 [Note: J. H. Jowett.]
Rest is not quitting
The busy career;
Rest is the fitting
Of self to its sphere.
’Tis the brook’s motion,
Clear without strife,
Fleeing to ocean
After its life.
Nowhere hath knelt;
Heart never felt.
’Tis loving and serving
The highest and best!
’Tis onward! Unswerving—
And that is true rest.1 [Note: John Sullivan Dwight.]
2. Rest after toil.—Rest in toil carries with it the promise of a fuller and more perfect rest after toil. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
Art thou so weary then, poor thirsty soul?
Have patience, in due season thou shalt sleep.
Mount yet a little while, the path is steep:
Strain yet a little while to reach the goal:
Do battle with thyself, achieve, control:
Till night come down with blessed slumber deep
As love, and seal thine eyes no more to weep
Through long tired vigils while the planets roll.
Have patience, for thou too shalt sleep at length,
Lapt in the pleasant shade of Paradise.
My Hands that bled for thee shall close thine eyes,
My Heart that bled for thee shall be thy rest:
I will sustain with everlasting strength,
And thou, with John, shalt lie upon My breast.2 [Note: Christina G. Rossetti.]
Brown (J. B.), The Soul’s Exodus, 255.
Greenhough (J. G.), Christian Festivals and Anniversaries, 10.
Jowett (J. H.), The Silver Lining, 60.
M‘Kim (R. H.), The Gospel in the Christian Year, 61.
Meyer (F. B.), Moses the Servant of God, 134.
Moule (H. C. G.), Thoughts for the Sundays of the Year, 9.
Price (A. C.), Fifty Sermons, ix. 145.
Robarts (F. H.), Sunday Morning Talks, 6.
Vaughan (J.), Sermons (Brighton Pulpit), vii. No. 688.
Christian World Pulpit, lxiii. 317 (Fairbairn); lxv. 22 (Brown).
Contemporary Pulpit, 2nd Ser., iii. 129 (Moore).
Homiletic Review, xxxviii. 45 (Knox).
Preacher’s Magazine (1903), xiv. 32 (Edwards).