Isaiah 32:18
The figure in this verse is connected with the relief afforded by the destruction of Sennacherib's army, and consequent retirement of Sennacherib to Assyria. Before the invaders all persons living in the country had to flee to the shelter of the walled cities, abandoning the property which they could not readily carry with them. On the removal of the invaders, the sense of security would return, and such persons would go home and find "quiet resting-places." We see in this passage an on-looking to the times when the Holy Ghost should be given, and. he, ruling in hearts and lives, would make for all trustful souls "quiet resting-places." Treating the text meditatively, we dwell on times when, for us, this promise is realized.

I. THE QUIET RESTING OF EVENING-TIME. Such it is for wearied bodies and worn minds. Soothing is the calmness of natural evening, when the winds fail, the sun throws level yellow beams and long shadows, and the thousand noises of earth are subdued. Evening has a gracious influence on our spirits. It is the time for meditation, with Isaac. Very precious to Christian hearts are the quiet places for meditation, when holy feeling can be nourished.

II. THE QUIET RESTING OF THE SABBATH. Its first idea is "rest." We feel quiet; as if a spell had been breathed over us. The strain of life is relaxed. The world is away. We belong to the eternal world. Life-bustle is stilled. We can give room to other thoughts, and so we rest, body, mind, and soul.

III. THE QUIET RESTING OF TIMES OF AFFLICTION. Such times come into all lives. Times when we must be still. In illness, and in convalescence, there are many quiet, lonely hours. These are the scenes to which Christ invites us when he says, "Come ye into a desert place, and rest awhile."

IV. THE QUIET RESTING-PLACE OF DEATH. The grave is spoken of as the "place where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." And the place where there are memorials of the dead is often a most "quiet resting-place" for the living. This may be illustrated by the soothing, silencing, solemnizing influence exerted on us by a visit to Westminster Abbey. On earth there can hardly be found a more "quiet resting-place." Sometimes the chamber where we watch the dying of a saint of God is such a place. Beautiful to see the pain-worn face at last go into the repose of death. "When sinks the weary soul to rest." We may add that those who have found rest in God prove how graciously he gives restful moments in the very midst of the hurry and worry of life. - R.T.







My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation.
I. CONTEMPLATE THE COMING JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD.

II. CONSIDER THE BLESSED PROMISES MADE TO HIS SEEKING PEOPLE.

III. THE PERIOD WHEN THESE PROMISES SHALL HAVE THEIR FULFILMENT. Read the first verse of this chapter, and what is there stated is enough to answer all inquiries upon this head. "Behold, a king, &c." I expect this when the King of righteousness, the Lord Jesus Christ, reigns. The personal improvement of this subject consists —

1. In directing you to the safety of believers.

2. In considering the conduct becoming those who have so high a destiny. Watch and pray. Pray for yourselves, pray for your country. Be valiant for the truth, continue in persevering faith.

(J. Wilcox, M. A.)

I. I believe I shall not be doing justice to the prospective design of all Old Testament truth, if I do not represent to you all peace — all true moral peace — as founded in and on, not only THE ATONEMENT MADE BY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, but on the nature of that atonement. "The peaceable habitation," in which only we have "a sure dwelling," and "a quiet resting-place," is made of the wood of the Cross.

II. Having said this, I must say, that no doubt "the peaceable habitation" is found in MORAL DISPOSITIONS CREATED WITHIN BY DIVINE GRACE. There is, first, the chamber of holiness. Oh, the sweet tranquillity of a holy life! This is the deep centre of peace. There is a hallowed chamber in the same palace of holy dispositions — a "quiet habitation" — resignation to the Divine will. From these chambers we climb the stairs and rise higher. Trust in God's providence-this is the observatory; and like all observatories, it is high and clear. Other observatories boast that from them you may see the stars in the day-time; but from this, you may see the sun in the night-time! A quiet habitation indeed! Scripture speaks of a "peace which passeth all understanding." The grave is a hallowed cavern, a blessed hiding-place.

(Paxton Hood.)

George Herbert, thinking of his former ambitions in the court of James I., in contrast with his quiet life of prayer and song, could write: "I now look back upon my aspiring thoughts and think myself more happy than if I had attained what I then so ambitiously thirsted for."

Quiet resting-places
To speak of cessation from business, to urge retirement, will sound very strange and, perhaps, very ridiculous to some. "What," they exclaim, "sacrifice opportunities of getting money? To get what we can, and keep what we get, is our motto." But, has it ever occurred to you that you may so pursue business as to destroy the power of doing it? Besides, if thou be getting the chief good, is getting all? Is there to be no enjoyment of it? And no use of it? But, the gain on which thou hast set thine heart, and which thou thinkest it a great mistake and weakness to forego in any measure, will not last long. Does it accord with reason to let thy nature be neglected for the sake of temporary possessions?

I. LET US CONSIDER THOSE RETIREMENTS WHICH ARE INCUMBENT ON THE CHRISTIAN IN THE MIDST OF SECULAR LIFE.

1. I shall omit the compulsory, and confine myself to the voluntary; and shall treat of these in relation rather to their ends than to their seasons.(1) The first end is health. This I put on the ground of duty. If a man kill himself, or if he deprive himself of some bodily organ, we pronounce him a grave offender. Why? Because he has no right to do it. He is not his own proprietor. A man may kill himself by excessive toil and care, just as well as by poison or the knife. And if he who maims his body is a sinner, is not he who destroys the vigour and elasticity of his powers, physical or mental? There is no law more clear and indubitable than that rest is necessary to health. And if this ordinance be violated, it will tell somewhere.(2) Enjoyment is another end. We were made for happiness, for various kinds of pleasurable sensations and emotion. Benevolence must contemplate that end. Now, he who gives himself to unremitting toil cannot enjoy the gifts of providence, as it is meant he should. He may have much pleasure in the very exercise of his faculties; but there is a pleasure in the calm contemplation of the Divine bounty, in the unbending and relaxation of the soul, and in the gratification of its varied tastes by the means afforded by success, which is impossible to him. He feasts at God's table, but it is a hurried and an unquiet meal; he rests on God's pillow, but it is a dreamy and disturbed slumber. He lives wholly without, and not within. He is like one who labours only in the sun, and never seeks the calm cool shade. The bow is kept bent till its spring is lost. He obtains a portion, but does not "rejoice in it." He holds property, but does not possess it. He builds a house, but does not inhabit it. He has gorgeous apparel, but does not wear it. His connection with his lot is that of title and outward law, not of fresh and joyous interest.(3) The general cultivation of faculty is an end. Business requires and sharpens some faculties; and, in connection with other things, it may exercise a sanitary and invigorating influence upon many faculties. But when it is pursued, as it must be by him who does nothing else, it has but a limited influence for good, and a powerful influence for evil. It is well known, that the powers necessary to the greatest secular success are none of the highest, and that they may have but a small range. His only reading may be the "city article"; his only meditation, the state of the market; his only estimate, profit; his only aspiration, gain. He may have, in high perfection, the activity, the cunning, the quickness, the perseverance, which belong to many portions of the animal world, and be almost entirely destitute of the distinguishing endowments of a rational and moral being. Now, retirement from business should be sought in order that the mind be furnished and expanded with knowledge; that it be refined and elevated by literature; that noble affections be nourished by the study and contemplation of noble natures; that social sympathies be developed by intercourse; and that principles more lofty and disinterested than those which rule the world of commerce may be fed and fostered by thought and service.(4) Religion is an end of retirement. Devotional engagements have the same relation to active life that food has to exercise. The world is the place in which to exercise and apply spiritual principles, rather than the place in which to get or increase them. If exercise does strengthen, it cannot do so without truth and grace, to be obtained elsewhere. It is by the study of the book of life, by deep meditation on spiritual things, by intercourse with Christ, by earnest prayer, by severe self-examination, that we must minister to the principles and habits of holiness, that we must "exercise ourselves unto godliness."(5) Benevolent activity is an end of retirement. We may not stop at personal religion. Can it be doubted that the salvation of men would be largely promoted, if those Christians who give themselves wholly to secular life were to devote a portion of their time to good works, to intercourse with the sinful, to earnest endeavours to teach and warn them? Need I specify the family? By incessant work how is that defrauded! Need I mention the school; the neighbourhood; the Church, whose wants and spheres are neglected by the over-busy saint?

2. I must say a few words on the relations of retirement from business to business.(1) In retiring from business, do not take business with you.(2) Do not bring the spirit of business into your retirements.(3) Look at business from those points of view which are accessible only in retirement. We cannot properly estimate our pursuits, when actively engaged in them. It is often necessary to withdraw from an object in order to get a proper view of it; and we must come out of the world to see it clearly and fully.(4) Use your retirement, at least in part, with a view to your return to it. I do not mean that you should make your retirement a mere means of more effectually prosecuting worldly pursuits. I mean that you should seek for a counteracting influence to business. It may be that you have failed in the exercise of some moral virtue, that you have wronged some brother, that some particular sensibility is in danger of being injured, that some care is becoming engrossing and benumbing; then, let your retirement be, in part, directed to this matter.

II. I did intend to speak on another point, THAT RETIREMENT FROM BUSINESS WHICH CONSISTS IN A FINAL ABANDONMENT OF IT, IN A COMPLETE RESIGNATION OF ITS CONCERNS; not that which takes place at death, but that which takes place, though a voluntary act, in consequence of the obtainment of competency, on the growth of infirmities, or the influence of other circumstances.

1. This retirement may be a duty. It may be a duty in order that you may give place to others. It is a selfish thing for a man to go on getting as much as he can, simply because he can. But the duty becomes still plainer when considered in relation to a man's own well-being. If God has prospered secular diligence so that there is enough and to spare, it is a loud call to modes of activity and service that are impossible, to any great extent, in the heat and absorption of worldly pursuits.

2. When a Christian has retired from business, he should form some settled plan of life.

(A. J. Morris.)

I know that many find retirement a burden and a snare, and that many have returned to business after having left it, because they were oppressed by having nothing to do. But what a condemnation is this of their past life; what a rebuke of their treatment of the immortal mind! Nothing to do; and yet living in a world of mysteries! Nothing to do; and yet surrounded with the images and works of God! Nothing to do; and yet belonging to a race which has seen six thousand years, and to a system of redemption which has been a Divine gift and power for nearly two! Nothing to do; and yet the works of countless mighty dead extant, and full of glorious things and thoughts! Nothing to do; and yet possessing a nature which is the reflection of Deity, and the heir of immortality! Nothing to do; and yet the world in its sin and suffering calling for the utmost tenderness of human compassion, and the utmost activity of human energy. He who pleads that he has nothing to do after business is abandoned, what has he been doing in the long years devoted to its pursuits?

(A. J. Morris.)

It is impossible to doubt that the prophet, now and again, in describing those nearer scenes obtains and reveals glimpses of a higher glory, and refreshes his readers and himself with anticipations of Messiah's times. The closing verses of the chapter are full of the Gospel, penetrated with the very spirit of evangelical peace. "My people" seems to make the promise general, and to hold it out to us sealed with the "yea and amen" which is attached to every promise of God. "Shall dwell" seems to import some settled order of Divine procedure. If Solomon said in his day, "all things are full of labour," what would he say in ours? How fierce and keen are the conflicts of life! Where shall rest be found? Only in some of those quiet resting-places which God makes and keeps for His pilgrim people. They have soul-quietness for city strife.

I. THE EVENING. A sacred time even in Eden was "the cool of the day." Isaac went out into the field to meditate "at eventide." Jesus often left His disciples about sundown, and wandered up among the Syrian hills to find some sequestered spot where He might feel himself alone in the full presence of God. The breeze that fanned the leaves of Paradise will touch our cheek, and make coolness at the close of our day, if we will but cease from care and sin. We read in the Scriptures that day and night are the "ordinances" of God. Can anyone suppose that He has established them for only material ends? Surely a higher end is found in the trial, nurture, and purification of souls. To a devout soul the evening is like "the secret place of the Most High." It is "the shadow of the Almighty." It is a closet of which God builds the walls and shuts to the door. Think, then, as the evening comes round — for thought is the soul's rest — of the day that is gone with gratitude, for every hour of it has been overflowing with the goodness of God; with penitence, for you will easily discover that it has been a day of shortcomings and sins; with wisdom, aiming to understand it better than when you lived it; with tenderness and holy fear, as feeling how good and how grand a thing it is to be permitted to live on, and to hope to live better. Think of to-morrow which will come so soon, with its unknown and yet probable events — of the task that will await you then; of the persons who will be around you, of their words, their looks, their influence; of the peril you will have to brave; of the weakness you will feel; of the strength you will need; of the failure you fear, that by your thought and prayer it may be the less likely to come; and of the goodness which will certainly enrich and crown to-morrow as it has filled and now closes to-day. Think of the evening of life itself. Think any such thoughts with prayer and faith, and your soul must be lifted at least somewhat above the dust and drudgery of this vexing and down-dragging world.

II. THE SABBATH. In the beginning God rested from His work, and blessed and hallowed the day for all time, and never has there been a Sabbath on earth in which men have not been entering into the very rest of God.

III. THE PROVIDENTIAL CHANGE may be of such a character as to lead us at once into a "quiet resting-place." It may be a change of locality, or of occupation, or of condition. Any considerable providential change has something of the same character. An infant is born, and in his first sleep sheds through the house something of the solemnity of being. A child is "recovered of his sickness," in which the little pilgrim seemed to be wandering away from all your care and love. A son has gone out to a foreign land. A daughter has been married. Anything that breaks the continuity, that alters the relationships, that makes a pause in life — an open space in the forest of its toils and cares — anything of that kind is God's voice, saying, "Here is relief for you. Enter this quiet resting-place which My hand has made." Or, let the change, be from health to sickness, then the "quiet resting-place" is made in the retirement of the chamber, or the "stillness" of the bed.

IV. THE GRAVE. "There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master. There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest." It is not our mere human fancy that invests the burial-place of the Christian dead with such a sacred charm, that wraps it as in the peace and silence of God. It is Christ who thus hallows the grave. He has been a sleeper there; He has taken the harshness, the disquietude, the terror away.

V. HEAVEN is the quietest resting-place of all.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

In eastern countries, where the habit of hospitality is stronger than with us, the traveller is sometimes surprised and regaled by much-needed but unexpected wayside comforts. Yonder husbandman who is now a-field at his work was here in the early morning to leave by the wayside that pitcher of water that the passing traveller might drink. This clump of trees which makes a thick and welcome "shadow from the heat," was planted by one who expected neither fame nor money for his toil, and who now lies in a nameless grave. Hands now mouldering in dust scooped out this cool seat in the rock. Some "Father Jacob gave us this well after drinking thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle." Travellers from the west are much affected by such instances of pure humanity and unselfish kindness. And yet these are but feeble types, mere dim shadows of Divine thoughtfulness and care. The heavenly benefactor comes down in preventing loving-kindness upon the earthly pathway of His people.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

We need one great complemental truth — we do not find our true rest in places at all, but only in persons. The living soul must have a living portion. What were the fairest prospect if a man were condemned to behold it for ever alone? What even the higher things of this human life, the duties, and the interests, and the struggles, if there were not intermingled with them all a sense of the nearness of other human beings, and if there were not the continual reciprocal action of these affections and sympathies which make life so sacred and dear? But no human being, no assemblage of human beings, can meet the wants and fulfil the longings of even one human soul. Your heart is waiting, and aching while it waits, for an infinite sympathy, for an everlasting strength, for a grace that will cancel sin and restore purity, in one word, for the love of God; for the love of God in Christ.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

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