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Now all this was to the Jews" a shadow of good things to come" it marked the ways and means of our redemption; the nature of that life of faith which we are to live, and the happy termination of our labours. And, that it was so understood by the more spiritual among them, is evident, as from many other passages, so particularly from that quoted both in the foregoing and following context: for if the rest promised by Moses had had no reference to any thing beyond the land of Canaan, David could never, after that rest had been enjoyed for five hundred years, have spoken of a rest yet future. Consequently, the typical nature of that whole dispensation was made known to them; and though obscurely, yet certainly, was the Gospel of Christ preached to them.]
To us is the same rest presented as an object of faith and hope
[We are to be delivered from a worse than Egyptian bondage, even from the bonds of sin and Satan, death and hell. And in the very same manner also are we to be delivered. "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us:" and by the sprinkling of his blood on our hearts and consciences are we to escape the wrath of God. "We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." The destroying angel has received his commission against all on whom this mark is not found: and he will execute it on all without partiality or reserve for, as "without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins," so it is by a believing application of that blood to our souls, and by that only, that we can ever obtain from Christ the benefits of his salvation.
Our preservation during the whole of our pilgrimage must also be secured in the same way. Whilst under the guidance and protection of our God, we must "live altogether by faith on the Son of God, who loved us, and gave himself for us." Our blessed Lord himself has told us, that HE is the bread of life that we must live from day to day upon him, even as the Israelites did upon the manna in the wilderness; and that, whereas they derived from it only the temporary support of their mortal bodies, we shall secure from him the eternal welfare of our souls. St. Paul also tells us, that the rock which poured forth its waters in the wilderness was Christ; that is, a type and figure of Christ: we learn therefore from this, that we are to look to Christ for daily supplies of his Spirit, to renew and sanctify us, and to refresh and comfort us throughout the whole of our weary pilgrimage. This is to be the one constant tenour of our way from first to last. Never till we
arrive in the promised land shall we cease to need these supplies, which are to be brought to us by the exercise of a lively faith. There is no substitute for them: the life of the Israelites in the wilderness is a perfect pattern of our life; and to theirs we are taught to conform our own.
To" the rest which remaineth for usd" we are taught to look forward with high expectations and assured confidence. There is a better country than Canaan, even heaven itself, which the patriarchs, to whom the land of Canaan was promised, themselves regarded as their destined home. And to that must we look as our inheritance. 'There, we shall rest from all our labours :" there, shall all tears be wiped away from our eyes. There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain: but, having his tabernacle with us, we shall dwell with him and he with us more intimately than we have now any conception of, we being his acknowledged people, and he our endeared God, for ever and ever.]
But as this Gospel has never yet produced what it was destined to accomplish, it will be proper to shew,
II. To what must be ascribed its inefficacy both in them and us
The Gospel itself is not destitute of power: it is "the rod of God's strength:" it is "quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword:" it is 'mighty through God to the pulling down of the strong-holds of sin and Satan:" it is the power of God unto salvation to all who truly believe it. Yet its operations have been very limited and partial. And whence arises this? I answer,
The Jews"mixed not faith with what they heard "
[Moses from the beginning told them of all the blessings which God had in reserve for them: yet from the beginning they were an unbelieving people. Though Moses had given them abundant evidence of his divine mission, they murmured against him, when they found their burthens augmented in consequence of his interpositions. When they had seen all the wonders wrought in their behalf in Egypt, they again complained, as soon as ever they saw the hosts of Pharaoh
d ver. 9.
f Rev. xxi. 3, 4.
e Heb. xi. 9, 10, 13—16.
pressing upon their rear, and ready, as they thought, to over-
We also are alike unbelieving in relation to the truths we hear
[The very necessity of redemption is denied by multitudes, or at least is acknowledged only in a speculative way, and without any due sense of its importance. The Jews under the pressure of their burthens cried mightily to God, so that their groans entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts. But when has he heard from us those sighs and groans by reason of the pressure of our sins? When has he heard those earnest cries for deliverance from the guilt we have contracted, and from the power of our in-dwelling corruptions? Alas! when urged on these subjects, we reply in our hearts, "Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians." If told, that "the whole world lieth in wickedness," and that we must flee from it, as Lot from Sodom, if we will escape its ruin, we despise the warning, like the sons-in-law of Lot, and regard our monitor as "one who only mocks us" with absurd and groundless alarms.
If brought to give a general assent to the truths we hear, we still do not approve of a life of faith as the means of our final preservation. Why must we subject ourselves to so many trials and difficulties? Why may we not go in an easier way to heaven? Why must our separation from the world be so entire? Why may we not still enjoy the leeks and onions of Egypt, instead of subsisting upon the light and tasteless food provided for us? Why must we be so dependent? Why be looking every day and hour to the pillar and cloud for
h Exod. xiv. 11, 12.
i Exod. xvii. 3, 4, 7.
1 Exod. xiv. 12.
direction, and never to follow my own way? Why am I to have nothing in myself, but all in Christ? Why should I be necessitated to seek such a measure of sanctification, as not to entertain a "thought that is not brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ?" We choose to have greater liberty, and an easier path. We choose to have a less humiliating way, where we may derive some supplies from a stock of our *own, and be able to ascribe some measure of credit to ourselves.
Nor are we by any means satisfied with the rest that is provided for us; we wish for some rest in earthly things; and murmur at the prohibition to seek it in them. Why must I have as the one object of my desire a portion that is invisible? Of the Israelites it is said, "they despised the pleasant land; they believed not God's wordm;" and the same may be said of us. We do not estimate aright the felicity of heaven: we do not despise every thing else in comparison of it: we do not follow after it with the ardour that we ought: we shew, in the whole of our life and conversation, that we do not think the prize worth the toil necessary to secure it. Were we duly impressed with the excellency of Canaan as "the glory of all lands," we should grudge no labours or sufferings that we may have to encounter in our way to it, nor any exertions that may be necessary for the attainment of it.
What I have here said is applicable to the great mass even of the Christian world: and the true reason of their being so little influenced by all that they hear, is, that they do not mix faith with it: they either account it a cunningly-devised fable, or else imagine that some way shall be found for the salvation of their souls besides that which is revealed in the written word. They believe not what God has spoken either of the way, or of the end; and therefore they fall short of that end, and perish in their unbelief]
To impress this subject the more deeply on our minds, I will endeavour to IMPROVE it,
1. In a way of solemn inquiry
[It surely is reasonable for all of us to inquire, What have we "profited by the Gospel?" If we have indeed been profited by it, we can tell, in some degree at least, what are the benefits which we have received from it. To imagine that we have been really benefited, and not to know wherein we have been benefited, and especially in a matter of such infinite importance, is palpable and wilful self-deception. I ask then, wherein have we been profited by the Gospel? What effect has it produced upon our minds in relation to the things before
m Ps. cvi. 24.
spoken of? What have we experienced of a spiritual redemp-
2. In a way of affectionate remonstrance
[It is clear and manifest, that the great mass of Christians do not mix faith with what they hear: for, if they did, they would obey it. Faith has the same respect to the proper objects of faith, as reason has to the proper objects of reason. From reason, we know that some things will be beneficial to the body, and other things injurious and in accordance with its dictates we act, unless we are violently impelled in opposition to them, by some more operative principle in our minds. So will faith act. If we be blinded and overpowered by sense, we are then under the influence of unbelief. And if this be the predominant principle in our minds, O! think how awful will be our state! Verily, if this be of all sins the least criminal in appearance, it is of all sins the most fatal in its tendency for whilst other sins render us obnoxious to God's
n 2 Cor. ii. 16.
• Luke x. 13-15.
9 Matt. xii. 32.