An Exhortation to Spiritual Rest
and depart; for this is not your rest.” Micah 2:10.
“One of the old divines, in his pastoral admonitions to his people, exhorts
them not to look for that in the law which can only be found in the gospel—not
to look for that in themselves which is only to be found in Christ—not to look
for that in the creature which is only to be found in the Creator—and not to
look for that on earth which is only to be found in heaven.
“The present is not our rest. It was not designed to be
our rest. It is not fit
to be our rest. And if we are Christians, we have relinquished it
as our rest, and have chosen another.
“Yet who does not need this exhortation? Our souls naturally cleave unto the
dust. Many, like Reuben and Gad, prefer an inheritance on this side of Jordan.
And even the godly themselves, who have not their portion in this life, but
have said, As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be
satisfied when I awake with thy likeness, even these need to have their pure
minds stirred up by way of remembrance. ‘My people,’ says God, ‘have forgotten
“He therefore who takes pleasure in the prosperity of his servants, sends them
this message, ‘Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest.’ And there are
five messengers by which he sends it.
“The first is his word. And we should read it and hear it for this very
purpose. It meets us in our complaint and inquiry, ‘Who will show us any good?’
and says, ‘Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at
peace; thereby good will come unto thee.’ It forbids us to lay up treasures on
earth. It commands us to seek those things that are above. It denounces the
curse and misery of making flesh our arm. It proclaims the grandeur of the
soul, and sets before us what alone is worthy of its ardor. It leads us into
all truth, and places us at the foot of the Cross by which the world is
crucified unto us, and we unto the world.
“The second is affliction. God speaks by the rod as well as by the word. While
he chastens us with his hand, he teaches us out of his law. Has he not by
events plainly addressed us, ‘Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain; turn
ye, and take your journey?’ Has he not, by repeated frustrations of our hope,
plainly said to us, ‘Let it suffice thee: speak no more to me of this matter?’
Perhaps our purposes have been broken off, even the thoughts of our hearts.
Perhaps we have been made to possess months of vanity by sickness. Perhaps by
death lover and friend has been removed far from us. And amidst the wreck of
every thing dear to us, a voice, though we knew not at first that it came from
heaven, said, ‘What hast thou here? And what dost thou here?’ And if we are
much attached to the world, with all our losses and distresses, what should we
have been without them? If the pilgrim be ever seduced from his way, it is by
flowers and prospects; if ever he sits down and sings himself asleep, it is in
a pleasant scene, and in fine weather, not when the sky is dark and stormy, and
the road is rough and miry, for then, by contrast, the thought of home becomes
dearer, and he feels an incitement to quicken his pace.
“The third is worldly success. This, in some respects, may convince us more of
the insufficiency and emptiness of every thing here than even our deprivations.
When a man is unable to attain his object, he may still imagine that there is happiness in
what he misses, and that he is miserable because he misses it. But when he has
gained the prize, he is convinced that the dissatisfaction he feels arises from
the nature of the thing itself. We long for certain acquisitions with all the
fondness of hope, and feel not apprehension unless on the side of failure. We
cannot believe, from the acknowledgments of others, that these things will
belie expectation and still leave a void within; but only when we have made the
trial ourselves—when we have formed the connection, filled the office, gained
the fortune we desired; and in the midst of our sufficiency we are in straits,
sigh over our indulgences themselves, and enjoyment as well as affliction
cries, All is vanity and vexation of spirit.
“The fourth is the earnests and foretastes of a better world. And such
Christians are favored with in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, in accesses to
the throne of grace, in the power and glory of God which they see in the
sanctuary, and in those sacred moments of divine communion alone, when they can
such a scene of sacred joys
Our raptured eyes and
Here we could sit and
A long and everlasting
not only call, but allure and win the heart away. When the clusters of grapes
were brought to the Israel of God in the wilderness, they said in very
intelligible language, What does your present condition supply like this? See
what grows in the land that is before you. Taste; and go up and possess it.
“The last is death. Every apprehension and approach of this cries, ‘It is high
time to awake out of sleep; for now is your salvation nearer than when you
believed.’ But this orders us to depart really as well as morally. God sends by
it not only to
his people, but for
them. And it seems surprising that they should ever be ready to turn away from
the messenger. A child at school welcomes every messenger from home to him, but he
desires most the messenger that comes for him. Joseph
sends to Jacob and for him at once; and his father not only heard his words,
but saw his wagons. ‘Oh, these are really to carry me to him. I shall soon see
my son and die in peace.’
“Such a messenger, Christian, is death to you. Come says God; you have toiled
long enough; you have feared long enough; you have groaned long enough; your
warfare is accomplished; enter the rest which the Lord your God giveth you.
Come, for all things are now ready.
“Yes; you will soon hear the voice saying, O Israel, you must this day go over
Jordan. And why should you be unwilling to exchange the desert for the land
flowing with milk and honey? Is not this the purpose of your travels; the end
of your desires; the completion of your hopes?
“’But the swelling river rolls between.’ Fear not; the ark of the covenant will
go before you and divide the waves, and you shall pass over dry-shod. And then
let the streams reunite, and continue to flow on; you will not wish them to
reopen for your return. What is misery to others is joy to you. ‘I shall go the
way whence I shall not return.’”
Exercises for Every Day in the Year, by Reverend William Jay (1769-1852);
(Harrisonburg, Virginia; SPRINKLE PUBLICATIONS; 1998)