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Good Words 1860
Meditations on Heaven

No. I.

"There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."
—Heb. iv. 9.

"Chime on, ye bells! again begin
And ring the Sabbath morning in.
The labourer's week-day work is done,
The rest begun
Which Christ has for His people won!"

From the German.

How sweet the music of this heavenly chime floating across the waters of death from the towers of the new Jerusalem!

Pilgrim, faint under thy long and arduous pilgrimage, hear it! It is rest. Soldier, carrying still upon thee the blood and dust of battle, hear it! It is REST. Voyager, tossed on the waves of sin and sorrow, driven hither and thither on the world's heaving ocean of vicissitude, hear it! The haven is in sight; the very waves that are breaking on the shore seem to murmur—"So giveth He His beloved REST." It is the long-drawn sigh of existence at last answered. The toil and travail of earth's protracted week-day is at an end. The calm of its unbroken Sabbath is begun. Man, weary man, has found at last the long-sought-for rest in the bosom of his God!

This Heavenly Rest is a rest from sin.
Sin is the great disturber of the moral universe. The world—the soul—was once like an AEolian harp; every passing zephyr woke it into melody. Now it is tuneless, unstrung; its notes dissonant and harsh. Not till the Sabbatic morning of heaven dawn will the old harmonies be restored. Glorious anticipation ! perfect and entire emancipation, not only from all temptation without, but from all bias to evil within. No latent principle of corruption —no depressing consciousness of inherent sin—no germinating seeds or roots that can develop themselves into fruit—no languid frames—no guilty fears and apprehensions—no sorrowful estrangements from that Love whose smile is heaven;—a rest from Satan's deceitful wiles and insidious snares, these no longer either felt or feared. What more can be needed? A rest from sin, and a rest in God. As the needle in the compass, after many tremulous vibrations, at last settles in steady repose in the direction of its pole, so the redeemed spirit —all its tremblings, and faintings, and fitful aberrations at an end—shall remain, with its refined energies, its ennobled powers and purified aspirations, undeviatingly fixed and centred on Jehovah Himself. Its eternal motto will be—"This is my rest for ever."

Heaven will be a Rest from all doubt and error.
Here, how much there is of darkness and uncertainty! The volume of the Divine ways is a mysterious volume. As the breath dims the window-pane in looking out on the fairest landscape, so the breath on the windows of sense and sight often obscures the glory of the moral landscape, causing us to exclaim —''Now we see through a glass darkly!" The material world around us, and the spiritual world within us, are full of enigmas which we cannot solve: much more may we expect marvels and mysteries in the ways and dealings of God —"deep," great deep "judgments!"

But then all will be cleared. "In Thy light," O Lord, "shall we see light." The day will then break, and the looming murky shadows shall for ever flee away. Doctrinal difficulties will be explained, apparent inconsistencies removed, withering doubts for ever silenced. No more impeachments of the Divine veracity, or questionings of the Divine procedure. Looking down from the summit of the everlasting hills on the mazy windings of the earthly pilgrimage, every ransomed tongue will have the one confession—"He hath done all things well."

The Rest of Heaven will be a rest from sorrow and suffering.
This is a weeping world. Deny it who may; it has its smiles, but it has as often its tears.

Ye who have the cup of its joys fullest, be thankful while it is yours. But carry it with trembling. The head that is now planning its golden projects may to-morrow be laid on the pillow of sickness, with the dim night-lamp for weary months its companion. The joyous circle, now uninvaded by the King of Terrors, may to-morrow be speaking of their "loved and lost." The towering fabric of human happiness, which is now rapidly uprearing, may, in the twinkling of an eye, become a mass of ruins.

But if "weeping endure for the night," "joy cometh in the morning." Yet a little while, mourning believer! and you will shed your last tear, heave your last pang. Once enter that peaceful haven, and not one wave of trouble shall ever afterwards roll. The very fountain of your tears will be dried. Your remembrance of all the tribulations of the nether world will be like the visions of some unquiet dream of an earthly night, which the gladsome sunshine of morning has dispelled, the confused memories of which are all that remain. "And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Rev. xxi. 4.)

Here our trials are needed. The angel has to come down "to trouble the waters," in order to make us sensible of his presence. It is when the pool is disturbed we see most of our God. But in heaven, though the Great Angel will be ever present, there will be no more waters to trouble. It is "a sea of glass." The last ripple of the last murmuring billow will break upon the shores of Jordan, and THEN, "immediately, there will be a great calm."

The Rest of Heaven is a rest which "remaineth."
Nothing is permanent here. The best of earthly joys are evanescent. Like the bubble rising to the surface of the stream, which glitters for a moment in the sunshine in its rainbow hues, then it is gone, and the place thai knew it, knows it no more? But the rest above is eternal—no foe can invade it, no storms can disturb it. It is the rest of a final home, over the portals of which is written, "Ye shall go no more out."

Reader, pitch not your tabernacle here! Yours now is, or ought to be, a tent or nomad life. The Christian is an Arab in the present probation state. He has no fixed abode. His dwelling is constructed not of stones or enduring material. The rope, and the canvas, and the wooden pins, all indicate "the pilgrim and stranger on the earth." It is a wilderness rest. He must be content with wilderness provision. If you have many sources of earthly happiness, sit loosely to them. Let these rills draw you only nearer the fountain-head. Let these gifts only unite you closer to the Giver. " He gave them," says Richard Baxter, "to be refreshments in thy journey; and wouldst thou dwell in thy inn, and go no further?" Soon He Himself — your "exceeding joy"—will supersede them. The rill will be no longer needed when you have the fountain-head; the starlight when you have sunlight; creature comforts when you have the Infinite presence. "There remaineth a rest!" Listen to this, child of suffering and sorrow! Thou who art beaten about now with "a great fight of afflictions," thou wilt soon be at home, soon with God, and nothing then, evermore, to break the trance of thy bliss ! Every time the sounding line is let down, the response is, "Nearer shore!" Sainted ones in that spirit-world, like the birds which greet the earthly voyager as he approaches land, are hovering around thee, telling that thy Home is at hand— that soon thou shalt furl thy sails, and reach the desired haven. "My little bark," says one who has now realised her glowing anticipations, "is riding serenely through the storm, and soon I shall drop my anchor in the still waters of eternal rest and glory."  [Mrs Winslow's Life.]

The joys of the Heavenly Rest will be enhanced by contrast.
This is one beauteous element in the contemplation of future bliss, which angels know nothing of —the joy of contrast. These Blessed Beings never knew what it was to sin or to suffer. These glorious Vessels, launched on the "summer seas of eternity," never knew what it was to wrestle with the tempest, or, like the shipwrecked apostle, "to be nights and days on the deep" of trial.

The blind man exults in the boon of restored sight in a way which others cannot experience who have never known its loss. The sick man appreciates the return of vigorous health in a way which others can know nothing of who have never felt its privation. The labourer enjoys his nightly repose all the more by contrast with the hours of toil which preceded it. The soldier, after years of suffering and privation, appreciates the music of that word home as he never could have done unless he had undergone the terrible discipline of trench, and night-watch, and battle-field.

Will it not be the same with the believer in entering on his Best? Will not his former experience of suffering, and sin, and sorrow, enhance all his new-born joys? It is said of saints, that they will be "equal to the angels." In this respect they will be superior! The angel never knew what it was to have an eye dimmed with tears, or to be covered with the soil of conflict. He never can know the exquisite beauty of that Bible picture {none but the weeping pilgrim of earth can understand or experience it) where, as the climax or consummation of heavenly bliss, God is represented as '' wiping away all tears from their eyes!" Beautiful thought! The weary ones from the pilgrim-valley seated by the calm river of life, bathing their temples—laving their wounds—ungirding their armour;—the dust of battle for ever washed away;—and listening to the proclamation from the inner sanctuary—the soft strain stealing down from the Sabbath-bells of glory—"The days of your mourning are ended!"

Christian, has this glorious rest the place in your thoughts it ought to occupy? Are you delighting to have frequent Pisgah-glimpses of this Land of Promise ? Are you living as the inheritor and heir of such a blessed immortality, "declaring plainly" that "you seek a better country?"

How sad, how strange that the eye of faith should be dimmed to these glorious realities by the fugitive and passing things of sense. Grovellers that we are! with all this wealth of glory within reach—with these deathless spirits claiming to outlive all time—that we should suffer the seen and the temporal to eclipse the splendours of eternal day! "Reader, look to thyself, and resolve the question; ask conscience, and suffer it to tell thee truly that thou put thine eternal rest before thine eyes as the great business thou hast to do in this world. Hast thou watched and laboured with all thy might that no man take thy crown" [Baxter.]

Sit no longer cowering in darkness when light is streaming from your Lather's windows and inviting you upwards. A few more rolling suns—. a few more swings of Time's pendulum—and the world's curfew bell will toll, announcing the Sabbath of eternity has come. Seek rest in Christ now. Flee to the crevices of the Bock of Ages now, if you would nestle for ever in the golden eaves of the eternal temple. Be ever sitting on the edge of your nest, pluming yourself for flight—so that when death comes, "with wings like a dove" —the celestial plumage of faith, and hope, and love —you may soar upwards to the Sabbath of your God, and be at rest for ever!

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