Sermon 1322. Rest For The Laboring
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, OCTOBER 22, 1876,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I willgiveyou rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; forI am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30.
[The Tabernacle was on this night thrown open to strangers, all the regular congregation kindly vacating their seats.]
Our Lord had just been declaring the Doctrine of Election, thanking the heavenly Father that He had chosen babes, though Hehad passed by the wise and prudent. It is very instructive that, close upon the heels of that mysterious doctrine, shouldcome the gracious invitation of my text-as much as if the Lord Jesus would say to His disciples, "Let no views of predestinationever keep you back from proclaiming fully My Gospel to every creature." And as if He would say to the unconverted, "Do notbe discouraged by the Doctrine of Election. Never let it be a stumbling block in your way, for when My lips have said, 'Ithank You, O Father, that You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes,' I also proceedto speak to you in the deepest sincerity of heart and say, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I willgive you rest."
I shall notice at the outset who it is that makes so large a promise and gives so free an invitation. There are many quackdoctors in the world and each one of these cries up his own medicine. Who is this Man who calls us so earnestly and promisesrest so confidently? Is He an impostor, too? Will He play us false? Does He boast beyond His ability? Ah, it cannot be thoughtso, for this Man, this marvelous Man who promises rest to those who come to Him, is also God! He is the Son of the Highestas well as the son of Mary! He is Son of the Eternal as well as Son of Man and He has power, because of His Divine Nature,to accomplish whatever He promises to perform!
As a Man, the Lord Jesus was noted for His truthfulness. From His lips there never fell an equivocation. He never boastedbeyond His ability or led men to expect from Him what He could not render. Why should He deceive? He had no selfish end toserve or ambition to gratify. Did He not come to tell men the Truths of God? It was His errand and He did it thoroughly. BelieveHim, then! As you are persuaded of the truthfulness of His Character, accept His teaching. And as you believe in His Deity-ifyou do believe, and I trust you do-believe in His ability to save and at once trust your soul in His hands! If He is a merepretender, do not come to Him. But if, indeed, you believe my Lord and Master to be faithful and true, I beseech you attend,at once, to His call!
Where is He now? He is not here, for He is risen. But since He spoke these words, He has lost no power to save, but in a certainsense has gained in ability-for since He uttered those words He has died the death of the Cross by which He obtained powerto put away the sins of men! He has also risen from the grave, no more to die, and He has gone up into Glory with all powergiven unto Him in Heaven and in earth. He is King of kings and Lord of lords! And it is in His name and by His authority thatwe proclaim to you the Gospel of Christ, according to His Words, recorded by the evangelist Mark-"All power is given untoMe in Heaven and in earth: go you, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Sonand of the Holy Spirit."
It is an enthroned Redeemer who tonight invites you! See that you refuse not Him that speaks. He is able to save them to theuttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them. Therefore doubt not His power tosave you, but come to Him at once and find rest unto your souls. Jesus being the speaker, and His authority and ability beingboth clear, we shall now come to dissect the words and may God grant that as we do so, the Spirit of God may use every syllableand press His Truth home upon our hearts!
And, first, I notice here a character which, dear Friends, I think describes you as the laboring and the heavy laden. Secondly,I notice a blessing which invites you-"I will give you rest." Thirdly, I notice a direction which will guide you-"Come untoMe: take My yoke upon you: learn of Me." And, fourthly, I notice an argument which I trust may persuade you-"I am meek andlowly in heart. My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
I. First, then, here is a character which, no doubt, describes a considerable number of those here assembled-"ALL YOU THATLABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN." The words look as if there were a great many such persons-"all you," and, indeed, so there are,for laboring and burden-bearing are the common lot of the sons of Adam. Laborers and loaded ones constitute the great massof mankind-and the Lord Jesus invites them all without exception-high or low, learned or illiterate, moral or depraved, oldor young-"all that labor and are heavy laden" are comprehended in His
Some have ventured to say that this describes a certain spiritual character, but I fail to see any words to mark the spiritualityof the persons. Certainly I see not a syllable to limit the text to that sense. Brothers and Sisters, it is not our righteither to add to or to take from the Word of God knowingly, and as there is no indication, here, that these words are to belimited in their meaning, we shall not dare to invent a limit! Where God puts no bolt or bar, woe unto those who shall setup barriers of their own. We shall read our text in the broadest conceivable sense, for it is most like the spirit of theGospel to do so. It says-"all you that labor," and if you labor, it includes you! It says-"all you that are heavy laden,"and if you are heavy laden it includes you, and God forbid that we should shut you out!
No, God be thanked that no man can shut you out if you are willing and obedient, and come to Christ accepting His invitationand obeying His command. To you, then, do we speak, "all you that labor." You who work so hard to earn a crust that your limbsare weary with your daily toil-come to Jesus! And if He gives you no rest for your bodies, yet to your souls He will! Yes,even for your physical toil, He is your best hope, for His righteous and loving teaching will yet alter the constitution ofthe body politic, till the day shall come when no man shall need to toil excessively to earn his share of the common foodwhich the great Father gives for all His creatures!
If ever rest from oppression and from excessive labor shall become the joyful lot of mankind, it will be found when the Sonof David shall reign from pole to pole and from the river even to the ends of the earth! And come, you that labor with mentallabor-you that are straining your minds and exhausting your spirits-you who pine and pant after repose for your souls, butfind it not! Perhaps you are laboring to enter into rest by formal religion-trying to save yourselves by rites and ceremonies-byattendance on this service and on that, making your life a pious slavery that you may find salvation by the outward ordinancesof worship. There is no salvation there! You weary yourselves with searching for a shadow! You seek for the living among thedead!
Why do you spend your labor for that which satisfies not? Turn your thoughts another way! If you come to Christ you shallcease from the bondage of an external and formal religion! You shall find a finished righteousness and a complete salvationready to your hand! O you that are trying, by your good works, to save yourselves and doing no good works all the while-forhow can that be good which you do with the sole view of benefiting yourselves? That selfish virtue which only seeks its own-isthat virtue? Can that commend itself to God? I know how you wear your fingers to the bone to spin a garment of your own righteousness,which, if it were spun, would be no more substantial than a spider's web and no more lasting than the fading autumn leaves!
Why do you not cease from this fruitless toil? O you that hope for salvation by the works of the Law, it is to you that Jesusspeaks! And He says, "Come to Me, and I will give you rest." And He can do it, too! He can, at once, give you a spotless righteousness!He can array you from head to foot with the garments of salvation! On the spot He can give you both of these, and so giveyou rest, you laboring ones! Some of you are laboring after happiness. You think to find it in gain-hoarding up your penceand your pounds and seeking for rest in the abundance of your beloved wealth. Ah, you will never have enough till you getChrist! And when you have Him, you will be full to the brim!
Contentment is the peculiar jewel of the beloved of the Lord Jesus. All the Indies could not fill a human heart-the soul isinsatiable till it finds the Savior-and then it leans on His bosom and enters into perfect peace. Perhaps, young man, youare laboring after fame. You despise gold, but you pant to obtain a great name! Alas, ambition's ways are very weary and hewho climbs the loftiest peak of honor finds that it is a slippery place where rest is quite unknown. Young brother, take afriend's advice and care no longer for man's praise, for it is mere wind. If you would rise to a great name,
become a Christian, for the name of Christ is the name above every name and it is bliss to be hidden beneath it, and overshadowedby it!
Christ will not make you great among men, but He will make you so little in your own esteem that the lowest place at His tablewill more than satisfy you! He will give you rest from that delirious dream of ambition and yet fire you with a higher ambitionthan ever! What is it you are laboring for? Is it after knowledge? I commend you. It is a good possession and a choice treasure.Search for it as for silver. But all the knowledge that is to be had from the zenith to the center of the earth will neversatisfy your understanding till you know Christ and are found in Him! He can give rest to your soul in that respect by givingyou the knowledge of God and a sense of His love. Whatever it is you labor after, come to Jesus, and He will give you rest.
But the text speaks of some as, "heavy laden." They are not merely struggling and striving, but they are burdened. They havea load to carry and it is to these that Jesus says, "I will give you rest." Some carry a load of sin. I mean not all of you.Some of you think, perhaps, that you have no sin. But there are others who know that they have sinned. In the memory of thepast they are full of fear and looking, in the present, to their own condition and position. They feel uneasy and unhappy.Their grief has nothing to do with the house or with the barn-it is with their own selves that their burden begins and ends."I have sinned," they say, "and how can I be forgiven?" This is the load they carry.
Some carry a load of sorrow on the back of this load of sin-a daily fretting, worrying sorrow from which they cannot escape-tosuch Jesus beckons and He says, "I will take your sins from you, forgive you, and make you whiter than snow. I will take yoursorrows from you, too, or, if the sorrow abides with you, I will make you so content to bear it that you shall thank God forthe cross that you carry and glory in your infirmity because the power of Christ does rest upon you." Loaded, then, with sinor sorrow, come to Jesus and He will give you rest!
Or, possibly, the load may be that of daily care. You are continually crying, "What shall I eat? What shall I drink? Withwhat shall I be clothed?" Oh what heavy hearts tread our streets! How many are scantily fed and scarcely clothed! What myriadsgo down Cheapside unhappy because they can see no provision for their most common needs! Even to these, Jesus says, "Cometo Me, and I will give you rest." He teaches the sweet art of casting our cares on Him who cares for us. He shows us that,"man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God shall man live." He has a wayof making us content with little, till a dinner of herbs, with His Grace to season them, becomes a greater dainty than thestalled ox of the rich man! Come to Him, you poverty-stricken, and He will teach you the science of joying and rejoicing underall circumstances! Even in a cottage with scanty comfort, He will give you rest and true riches.
Or, the burden may happen to be one of doubt. You, perhaps, feel as if you can believe nothing and are uncertain about everything.This, also, is a crushing load to a thoughtful spirit. I, too, know what that means, for I have seen the firm mountains ofmy youth moved from their foundations and cast into a sea of questioning. I, too, have been loaded down with difficultiesand skepticisms. From that burden I am delivered, for in that day in which I believed on Jesus- the Man, the God-and castmyself at His dear feet to be His servant and believe His Words and trust in Him, then did the reeling earth stand still andHeaven no longer fled away! I saw Jesus and in Him I found the pole of faith, the basis of belief! Believe in Jesus and youwill meet with a blessed rest of mind and thought such as earth cannot afford elsewhere- a rest that shall be the preludeto the everlasting rest in Heaven where they know even as they are known!
So Jesus cries aloud tonight, to you who labor and to you who are loaded down with mighty burdens! He cries, and I beseechyou have regard to the cry! Are you weary of life, young man? Christ will give you a new life and teach you how to rejoicein Him always! Are you disappointed? Has the world given you a slap in the face where you looked for a kiss? Come to my Lord!He will give new hopes that shall never be disappointed, for he that believes in Him shall not be ashamed, world without end!Are you vexed with everybody and most of all with yourself? Jesus can teach you love and put you at your ease again. Doessomeone fret and tease you from day to day? Come to my Master and the vexations of the world shall gall you no longer. Youshall reckon that these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are not worthy to be compared with the Glory whichshall be revealed in you!
Do you despair? Are you ready to fling yourself away? Do you wish that there was no hereafter? And if you were sure thereis none, would you speedily make your own quietus? Would you afford short shrift to your soul and end this mortal
life at once? Ah, do not do it! There are brighter days before you, since Jesus has met you and new life will begin if youwill come to my Master and sit at His feet! I will give you a hymn to sing, which shall grow sweeter every day you live-
"Happy day, happy day, When Jesus washed my sins away! He taught me how to watch and pray, And live rejoicing every day, Happyday, happy day, When Jesus washed my sins away!" I have spoken enough upon the character, which, I think, comprehends manyhere-"All you that labor and are heavy laden." I know how well it suited me once upon a time and how glad I was to answerto the call of the text.
II. Now, secondly, the text speaks of A BLESSING WHICH INVITES YOU. "Come unto Me," says Jesus, "and I will give you rest.""Rest! Rest! Rest!" I could keep on ringing that silver bell all the evening-"Rest! Rest! REST!" "You gentlemen of Englandwho live at home at ease," you scarcely know the music of that word! The sons of toil, the mariners tossed upon the sea, thewarriors in the battle, the men who labor deep in the mines-these know, as you do not, how sweet this music sounds!
Rest! Rest! Rest! Rest for the weary body is the outward emblem of that inward blessing which Jesus Christ holds up, tonight,before the eyes of all laboring and heavy-laden souls. Rest-rest which He will give, which He will give at once-rest to theconscience. The conscience, tossed to and fro under a sense of sin, has no peace. But when Jesus is revealed as bleeding andsuffering in the sinner's place, and making full atonement for human guilt, then the conscience grows quiet. As Noah's dovelighted upon the ark, so conscience lights on Christ and rests there forever! No sin of yours shall trouble you when you haveseen how it troubled Christ-how He took it on His shoulders and bore it up to the Cross-and then flung it into the depthsof the sea, never to be mentioned against you anymore forever!
Jesus gives rest to the mind as well as to the conscience. As I have said, the mind wanders to and fro, lost in endless mazes.It must believe something, but it knows not what. He who is the greatest unbeliever, generally believes the most- only hebelieves a lie. Incredulity and credulity are strangely near of kin, for he that believes not in God generally believes inhimself, or believes in whatever his own dreams may shape. But he that takes Christ and rests upon Him, finds his mind nomore disturbed-his thoughts rest, his judgment becomes satisfied, his brain is quiet. Rest to the heart, too, is given byJesus. Oh, there are choice and tender spirits in this world that need, above all things, something to love! These too oftenchoose an earthly object and lean on that reed till it breaks or turns into a piercing spear.
O hearts that pine for love, here is a Beloved for you whom you may love as much as you will or can-and yet never be guiltyof idolatry, nor ever meet with treachery! O broken heart, He will heal you! O tender heart, He will delight you! The loveof Jesus is the wine of Heaven and he that drinks it is filled with bliss! Jesus can give rest to the palpitating heart. Yousons of desolation, hasten here! Daughters of despondency, gather to this call! He can give rest, too, to your energies. Oyou whose unabated strength seeks a worthy field of labor, do you enquire, "What shall we pursue?" You want to be up and doing,but you have not found an object worthy of you. Oh, but if you follow after Jesus and, in the love of God and in the loveof man, cast aside selfishness, desiring only to be obedient to the great Father's will and to bring your fellow men intoa gracious state, then shall you find a noble and restful life! If you are willing to give up life, itself, for God's Gloryas Jesus did-for you cannot well be His disciple if you do not-then shall you find perfect rest unto your souls.
As for your fears and forecasts which now are troubled-He will turn them into hopes of endless glory! Dark forebodings ofa future, you know not what-the sound of an awful sea whose surf beats upon an invisible shore, and whose billows resoundwith sound of storm and everlasting tempest-from all this you shall be delivered! Jesus will give you rest from every fear.If you will come to Jesus you shall obtain rest in all ways-the rest of your entire manhood, rest such as shall unload youof your burdens and ease you of your labors-this is the rest which Jesus promises you!
"Alas," cries one, "I wish I could attain rest. That is the one thing necessary to me. I should then become strong and happy.My mind would become clear and I should be able to fight the battle of life if I could but obtain rest." Yes, but you cannothave it unless you come to Christ. Not Heaven, itself, could give you peace apart from Christ, nor can the grave's deep slumbersrest you unless you sleep in Him! Rest! Neither Heaven nor earth, nor sea and Hades-none of
them can afford you any trace of it until you come to the Incarnate God, Christ Jesus, and bow at His feet. Then you shallfind rest to your souls, but not till then!
III. This brings me, next, to say that the text presents A DIRECTION TO GUIDE EVERY LABORING AND
HEAVY-LADEN SOUL IN THE PURSUIT OF REST. I shall be sure to have your very deep attention to the directions which Jesus gives,for you all need to find rest. Oh, may the Divine Spirit now lead you into the way of peace! If you follow our Lord's directionsand do not find rest, then His Word is not true. But His Word is true! I invite you to try it and urge you, at once, to acceptHis guidance and leadership.
The first direction is, "Come unto Me." "Come unto Me," He said, "and I will give you rest." Mark, it is not coming to a sacrament.It is not coming to a Church, or coming to a doctrine. It is coming to a Person which is set before you- "Come unto Me." Youare to come to God in human flesh, the Deity, Himself, dwelling among us, and taking our nature upon Himself. You are to cometo Him. He does not bid you do anything or bring anything! He does not command you to prepare yourself, or advise you to wait.He bids you come-come as you are-come now-come alone-come to Him and to Him, only!
Nobody here needs me to say that we cannot go to Christ, as to bodily going, for in His own actual Person He is in Heavenand we are here below. The coming to Him is mental and spiritual. Just as we may come in spirit to some great poet whom wenever saw, or approach some renowned teacher whose voice we have never heard, so may we come in thought, in meditation, toJesus, whom our eyes have never beheld! We are to come to Him in some such fashion as the following words describe-I believewhat God has revealed concerning You, O You wondrous Person. I believe that You are God and Man. I believe that You have diedfor human sin. I believe that You are able to save, and I think of You and meditate upon You daily. "I believe You to be theSavior, and I trust You to save me. I am troubled and You say, 'I will give you rest.' I trust You to give me peace and Imean to follow Your directions till I find it. I ask You to give me Your Spirit that I may enter into Your rest. As much aslies in me I come to You! Oh, draw me while I come! Lord, I believe! Help You my unbelief!"
Now, mark, it is not merely to His teaching, or to His Commandments, or to His Church that you are to approach-it is to HIMthat you are to come! Not merely to reading the Scriptures or to offering prayer, for if you put your trust in reading theBible, or in a prayer, you have stopped short of the true basis of salvation. It is to HIM-a real Person-a Man and yet God-Onewho died and yet ever lives that you must draw near. You are to trust Him! The more you know of Him by the reading of HisWord, the better you will be able to come. But, still, it is neither Bible reading, nor praying, nor Chapel attendance, norChurch attendance, nor anything else that you can do that will save you, unless you come to HIM! This you can do if you areon the sea where the Sabbath bell never sounds. This you can do in a desert where there are no meetings of God's people. Thisyou can do on the sick bed when you cannot stir a limb. You can go to Jesus by the help of His blessed Spirit and you cansay, "Lord, I believe in You." That is the first thing, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."
The next command is, "Take My yoke upon you." "Come," and then, "take." That is to say, no man is saved by merely trustinghimself with Christ, unless that trusting is of a living and practical kind. I sometimes explain this to my people as I willexplain it to you. A celebrated doctor visits you, when you are very ill, and he says to you, "Do you trust me?" You reply,"Yes, Sir, wholly." "Well," he says, "if you trust me completely and give your case over into my hands, I believe that I shallsee you through this sickness." You assure him of your implicit faith in him and then he begins to question you. "What doyou eat?" He lifts up his hands in horror and he exclaims, "Why, my good man, you eat the very thing which feeds your sickness-youmust not touch that anymore, however much you like it-you must have simpler food and a more harmless diet." "Then," he says,"I will send you a little medicine which you will take every three hours, according to the prescription. You are sure youtrust me?" "Yes." "Then all will be well."
He comes back in a few days and he says. "You seem worse, my Friend. I fear that your disease has taken a stronger hold uponyou than before. I do not understand how matters have taken this turn. Are you trusting me?" "Yes, doctor, trusting you entirely.""Well, what have you been eating?" And then you tell him that you have been eating just what you used to eat and you havebroken all his rules as to food. "Now," he says, "I see why you are worse. You are not trusting me. Have you regularly takenmy medicine?" He looks at the bottle upon the table. "Why, you have not taken a single dose!" "No, Sir, I tasted it and Idid not like it, and so I left it alone." "How is this?" says the doctor, very much
grieved. "My Friend, you said that you trusted me implicitly." "Yes, Sir, so I do." "But I say you do not," he says, "andI will leave you. I insist upon it that I will not be responsible for your health if you mock me with such a pretended faith!If you believed me, you would have done as I told you."
Now, Jesus Christ never sent me or any other minister to preach to you and say, "Only believe, and you may live as you like,and yet be saved." Such preaching would be a lie! It is true that we say, "Only believe," but that, "Only believe" must besuch a believing that you do what Jesus bids you! Jesus has not promised to save you in your sins, but from your sins, justas a physician does not pretend to heal a man while he feeds his disease and refuses the remedy-he only promises that he willbenefit him if the faith which he expects him to exercise shows itself to be a practical and real faith. Beware of a liar'sfaith! And that is a liar's faith which you pretend to get at revival meetings if you then go and live just as you did before-
"Faith must obey her Maker's will As well as trust His Grace. A gracious God is jealous still, For His own holiness."
So Christ says, "Take My yoke." That is, "If you will be saved by Me I must be your Master and you must be My servant. Youcannot have Me for a Savior if you do not accept Me for a Lawgiver and Commander. If you will not do as I bid you, neithershall you find rest for your souls." Then there is a third direction and I pray you notice each one of these words, for failureabout any one of them may cause you to miss peace. I remember when I was seeking the Lord, that before I came to peace, Iwas made willing to be or to do anything the Lord Jesus chose to bid me do or be. Are you in such a state? Then listen, forJesus says, "Learn of Me." That is to say, at first you do not know all His will and, perhaps, you will do wrong-but thenthat will be in ignorance-and He will graciously wink at your fault.
But He says, "Be My disciple. Be My scholar. Come and learn at My feet." Christ will not be your Savior if He is not to beyour Teacher. He will teach you very much, at first, and a great deal more as you go on. And it is essential to your salvationthat you have a teachable spirit even as a little child. You must be willing to drink in what Christ pours out for you. Thepromise is to those who are willing to become learners. This is the Gospel, but it is not often preached as it should be-"Goyou into all the world, and disciple all nations," or, "make disciples of all nations." Now, what are disciples but learners?You must be willing to be a learner and say, "As I learn I will do, and as I am taught I will practice, trusting You, O Jesus,to save me all the while. Not trusting to my doing or my learning, but trusting alone to You. Yes, both doing and learningbecause I trust You. Because You are all my hope, therefore will I do as You bid me, if you, O Lord, will help me."
Come, young men, I am glad to see so many of you present here, this evening. It is a good thing that you bear Christ's yokein your youth. You must have some master, you know, and you will either be your own master-and you cannot have a worse-oryou will get the devil for your master, or you will get the world for a master, and either of these will make dreadful drudgesof you! But if you take Christ for your Master, oh, then it is that you will find Him to be your Savior, and you shall enterat once into rest! And that rest will grow, for, if you notice, my text first says, "I will give you rest," and then it says,"you shall find rest." That is to say, you shall find for yourselves a deeper and more profound enjoyment of life as you understandmore fully the Divine will and obtain more Grace to put it into practice. This is the sum and substance of the Gospel.
Yield, Sinner! Yield! Yield to Jesus! O you proud Sinners, come and bow before my Lord! Down with your weapons of rebellion!Lower the crest of your pride! Unbuckle the harness of your self-glorying and say, "Jesus, Master, only save me from the guiltand power of sin and I will bless You forever and ever, and rejoice to obey You as long as I live." Now, what I have saidis no fiction of mine! I have not altered my Master's conditions, or imported anything into the text that is not there. Thereit stands. "Come unto Me: take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me."
IV. Now the last thing-and I will not detain you much longer, is THE ARGUMENT TO PERSUADE YOU TO
DO SO. And that argument is this-First, the Master you are to serve is "meek and lowly in heart." I confess there are somemen whom I could not serve. They are proud, austere, domineering. One might sooner eat his flesh from the bone than servesuch tyrants. There have been despots in the world whom to serve was degradation. But when you look at Jesus Christ, whosewhole Being is love, gentleness, meekness, lowliness-oh, there are some of us who feel that His shoe laces we are not worthyto unloose!
We would count it Heaven to be permitted to kiss His feet, or wash them with our tears, for He is such a glorious One thatHis beauty attracts us to Him. He holds us spellbound by His wondrous Character and we count it not slavery, but perfect liberty,to wear His yoke and carry His Cross! Have you never heard how He has been served by His disciples? Why, they have gladlygiven up their lives for Him! Let Bonner's Coalhole and the Lollards' Tower and the stakes that stood at Smithfield tell howmen have loved Him! They so loved Him that they sang in the dark dungeon and made it light with their joys! They clapped theirhands in the fires, glad to be consumed that they might bear testimony for Him!
Have you never heard of old Polycarp, when they bid him deny his Master, saying, "Eighty and six years have I served Him andHe never did me a displeasure! How can I, now, blaspheme my King that saved me?" Oh, He has bred such enthusiasm in His followersthat neither the gridiron of St. Lawrence nor the wild bulls of Blandina have been able to prevent the saints from gloryingin His name! They would have gone through Hell, itself, to serve Him, if it had been possible! His love has had such powerover them-whatever we have to suffer for Him, He suffers with us! Alexander was a great master of men and one of the reasonswhy all his soldiers loved him so enthusiastically was that, if they were upon a long march, Alexander did not ride, but marchedalong in the heat and dust with the common soldiers. And when the day was hot and they brought His Majesty water, he put itaside, and said, "The sick soldiers need it more than I. I will not drink till every soldier has a draught."
So is it with Christ! In all our afflictions, He is afflicted and He will not have joy until He gives joy to His people! Yes,He has done more than Alexander, for He emptied Himself of all His glories and gave Himself to die upon the Cross and consummatedthe redemption of His people by His own agonies. Who would not follow One whose footprints show that He was crucified forHis followers? Who would not rally to His banner, when you see that His hand which upholds it was pierced with nails thatHe might redeem us from Hell? On which of His disciples has He ever looked unkindly? Which of His redeemed has He ever castaway? To which of those that love Him has He ever been unjust or ungenerous? Therefore I charge you all-and all His saintsspeak in me while I speak-take His yoke upon you and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart.
In the last place, that which Jesus Christ asks you to do is no hard thing. As He is not severe, Himself, so His commandsare not hard, for He says, "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." True, there are some things which you now delight inof which Christ will say, "Have no more to do with them," but He will only forbid you those things which injure you, and Hewill put something better in their place. He may call you to duties which will try you, but, then, He will give you such consolationsthat they will cease to be trials. In fact, the difficulties of following Christ are delightful to His hearty followers! Theylove difficulties that they may show the sincerity of their confidence in their Leader.
Oh, my beloved Friends, the service of the Lord Jesus Christ is no bondage! There are no chains to wear! There are no prisonsto lie in, or, if there are any, they are not of His making but are the devices of His enemies. Christ's ways are ways ofpleasantness and all His paths are peace. He calls you to that which is right, true, honest, loving, tender, heavenly. Whowould not be willing to be called to this? He asks you only to give up that which is evil and displeasing in His sight, degradingto your own mind, and which stops the channels of peace and happiness to your soul. Above all, it is no hard thing, surely,to believe in Him.
"Oh," says one, "that is just the point. Sometimes I cannot feel that Christ could forgive me." No, and do you know why? Itis because you do not think enough of HIM and think too much of yourself. If you sit down and think of your sin, you willsoon feel as if pardon were impossible but, when you turn and think of Him, you will see, at once, how readily He is ableto forgive! There is an homely illustration which I often use, and I cannot think of a better, I must use it now. If you wereto go, tomorrow, up and down London, right along from end to end, there would be quite a journey for you. Twelve, 14, 15,perhaps 20 miles you could go and scarcely see a break in the houses. I would have you traverse the main roads and then godown the cross streets, lanes, alleys, and courts.
After you had had a day of it you would say, "Dear, dear me, what a mass of people! How do they live?" And if you were nervous,you might very soon come to feel, "I am afraid, one of these days, London will be starved. Here are nearly four millions ofpeople! Lebanon would not be sufficient to find them cattle, nor Carmel and Sharon to supply them with sheep for a singleweek! They will certainly be starved." I can imagine your becoming seriously apprehensive of a famine. Well, then, next Mondaymorning we will have a fast horse and we will go up to Copenhagen Fields and see the live cat-
tle. And then we will drive to Smithfield, and see the carcasses. And next we will go round to the markets and see where thefish and the vegetables are sold.
And when we have finished our tour of observation-which will take us at least two or three hours early in the morning-as youget out of the Hansom Cab, I know what you will say to me. You will change your tone and say, "I am no longer afraid of thepeople's starving, but I am more afraid of the meat being wasted! I cannot think where all the people come from to eat allthis! I am astonished to see such a mass of food! I should not wonder if tons of it should be spoiled. There cannot be peopleenough to eat it all." Your mind has suffered that sudden change because you have changed your point of consideration!
So now, if you think of sin, sin will seem a monstrous thing that never can be put away. And when you have reached that point,it is time to think of the blood which cleanses us from it. Think of sin till it bows you down, but do not think of it soas to despair! Turn your eyes to Calvary's bloody tree and see, there, the Son of God in agonies of body and soul, pouringout His life for sinners! May the Holy Spirit give you a quick eye for the sufferings of Jesus. Oh, I have sometimes lookedat Christ in that way till I have said, "The sin of a world might readily be put away! Yes, Master, and if every star thatdecks the heavens were a world, and every world were as full of sinners as this earth is, yet, surely, no grander redemptionfor them all would be needed than your august Sacrifice, O mighty Son of God!"
John Hyatt, when he lay dying, was asked by one of his friends, "Mr. Hyatt, can you trust Jesus with your soul now?" And thegood man answered, "Trust Him with one soul? I could trust Him with a million souls, if I had them!" That is how I feel whenI think of the death of my Lord Jesus, and it is what I want you who are troubled in spirit to feel. As you see Him wounded,bleeding, dying on the cursed tree, Sinners, may you find your hearts believing that He suffered thus for you. And, as youdo believe it, you will find rest unto your souls. May God give that rest to every one of you tonight, for Christ's sake.Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Matthew 11:15-30.