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to Him and tell Him all our wants. And can a Father's heart be steeled against the entreaties of His children who cry to Him from the depths of such afflictions ! Tell us not He governs the world by general laws and cannot listen to the prayers of individuals. And shall a Father's laws imprison the outgoings of a Father's heart? Who would ever dream that the more perfectly an earthly parent administers the government of his household and manages its affairs by wise rules and systematic arrangements, the less likely He would be to hear the requests of His children? And why should God be prevented by the laws which He Himself administers from answering the prayers of His children? Of what avail is it that He is our Father and we His children if we cannot make bold to come into His presence, to cling to His knees and ask His paternal benediction? Let men of science sneer as they may at the fancied inefficacy and absurdity of prayer, God is our Father, and we can pray to Him, and He will hear our voice. “Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." He gave His Son to die for us; how shall He not, with Him, also freely give us all things
But what, above all, gives us assurance of the efficacy of our prayers is the fact that the procedures of providence are instituted and the laws of the world are administered by One who is at once a Savior, a Brother, and a Friend. “The Father," said the Lord Jesus, in His parting words to His diciples, “the Father hath given all things into My hands." All things are put in subjection under His feet, and nothing is excepted from His sway, but He who did put all things under Him. The hands that were pierced with the
nails of Calvary wield the sceptre of limitless dominion. The head that was lacerated and dishonored with the crown of thorns is graced with many crowns and blazes with diadems that symbolize a manifold and universal rule. There is not an element of nature, not a force of nature, not a living being of nature, which Jesus does not hold in His power and use at His will. He purchased the control of the world in the name of His people by the price of His blood. Nor does His empire stop here. It is established above the throne of death and sweeps away, parallel with the future destiny of men, across the dread borders of time and eternity into the invisible realm of disembodied spirits. "I am He,” He triumphantly exclaims, “that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore. Amen. And have the keys of hell and of death.” And let it be remembered, as a source of unspeakable consolation to us, that this administration of providence, this control of the laws by which the world is governed, is committed to the hands of the Lord Jesus for the benefit and salvation of His people. “All things,” says the great apostle, addressing believers, “all things are yours; whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” And can we believe that the laws of nature which Christ Himself administers and through which He displays His power shall ever be barriers betwixt His heart and the prayers of His people? No, my brethren, the Savior who died for us, the Brother who passed through the flaming furnace of affliction that He might know how to sympathize with us, will tolerate no impediment to the communication of His love to His people, or the passage of His people's prayers to Him.
THE REST OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD
Hebrews iv:9. “There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God.”
The first part of this epistle is occupied in showing that the advantages accruing to the Hebrews from their profession of Christianity were superior to those which they would have enjoyed had they continued their adherence to Judaism. In an elaborate comparison which the apostle institutes between Christ and the ministries of the old dispensation, he proves the infinite superiority of the Savior to the prophets, to the angels through whose hands the law was dispensed, to Moses, and to the Aaronic priesthood. And in the argument in which the text occurs he evinces the pre-eminence of Jesus over Joshua as a leader, and of the rest into which he introduces the people of God over that into which Israel was conducted by their illustrious captain. In the prosecution of this branch of the comparison the apostle mentions several kinds of rest, in order to show what was not and what is that rest which remaineth for the people of God. In the first place, he adverts to the rest into which God entered when he ceased from the works of creation, of which the Sabbath was originally designed to be a reminder and a monument. Had man remained in His primitive integrity he would have enjoyed a rest in God of which
NOTD.—The purpose of this sermon was evidently to comfort those whose hearts were sore. A note says: “Delivered in the Second Presbyterian Church, Charleston, in the summer of 1865—the year when the war closed—to a great congregation from all the dismantled Presbyterian churches of the city."
the perpetual recurrence of the Sabbath was a beautiful type. But, as he sinned, that natural institute was suited at once to remind him of the rest which he had lost, and to convince him of his need of another. Neither, therefore, the rest into which God as Creator entered, nor the Sabbath which was its sign, could be that which now remains to the people of God. Nor, argues the apostle, can the temporal rest into which Israel was led by Joshua be that which still exists for us. For long after the occupation of the promised land and the enjoyment of the blessings it contained, the Holy Spirit through David made mention of another day of rest. If Joshua had given them rest, then would not God have spoken of another day. When, then, the apostle expresses it as his conclusion that there remaineth a rest to the people of God, he does not mean to intimate that there is no present rest which it is possible to attain, and that the future alone can disclose it, but that, over and above those other sorts of rest which he had mentioned, there remains another which is to be discriminated from them. The last kind of rest to which he alludes is that which is brought to our notice in his declaration, that "he that is entered into his rest he also hath ceased from his own works as God did from His." I am unable to understand these words, unless the reference be to Christ. The argument appears to be that as God, as Creator, finished His works and entered into rest, so Christ, as Mediator and Redeemer, has closed His labors and entered into His rest. And as the Sabbath originally was designed to be a sign of rest from the works of creation, the Lord's day is intended to represent to us the rest which succeeded the labors of redemption. Now, as Jesus acted in the capacity of a public person—as a federal head
and leader of His people in accomplishing His mediatorial functions, in the same character He entered into rest. He has secured for them a rest into which they are exhorted to enter by faith. To believe is to enter into that rest, to disbelieve is to be excluded from it. He who believes enters now into it. For, declares the apostle, we which have believed do enter into rest. The rest, therefore, into which Christ introducs His people by means of their faith in His atoning labors is that which remaineth for the people of God, the only, the true Sabbatism of the soul. Though in its own nature perfect, it is in the present life, in consequence of the corruptions which exist in believers, partial and incomplete in the extent of its realization. The day will come when, concurrently with the perfect sanctification of the soul, it will be consummate in degree as well as in nature. The heavenly rest is but the complement of that which the believer now enjoys in Christ. He who now rests by faith in his Redeemer will ultimately rest in heaven. But in each case He who confers the rest is Christ.
The question now occurs, what is the nature of that rest which remaineth for the people of God, and into which Jesus as their leader conducts them? The term rest is a correlative one. It stands related both to labor and to pain. He who ceases from wearisome and exhausting toil is said to rest, and so with him who is relieved from torturing pain. The soldier, who in a parched climate and under a burning sun has been exhausted by a day's march, knows the sweetness of rest, when at evening he stretches his wearied limbs on some leafy bed, and composes himself to slumber. The sick man, who for long days and nights has tossed on his couch, scorched by fever or racked by pain, is prepared