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God's rest is before us; and the exhortation is, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest.' And be it remembered, that, if the pressure of the last days makes us sigh for our rest and deliverance, it is God's rest that He is bringing us into. It is but to lower its character, if we think of it only as the saint's rest.
There is something wonderful in the thought that this rest of God, this final purpose of his heart, has been kept in reserve—unentered through all the ages of the past; a joy to be tasted by His people when the Jubilee of redemption is come. It could not, indeed, be entered before, for Christ, the new man and second Adam, must bring us into it, and be the ground and centre of this rest of God.
The sabbath was the great type of this rest; and accordingly, in Genesis ii. 3, it is said, “ On the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made."
Creation is here the sphere of this rest; but it is creation before sin had disturbed the order and beauty of God's works, or had cast a cloud of sorrow over that bright scene, in the contemplation of which it is said, 6 God rested and was refreshed.”
As to man, this rest comes in only at the close (if I may so speak) of long ages of labour. Not that this was necessary to prepare the rest itself; for “the works were finished from the foundation of the world;" though in reality, through man's sin, the rest was broken however the type of it, in gracious promise, might remain. God could not rest where sin was producing moral disorder and misery and death, and hence the force of our Lord's expression, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."
It is necessary that sin and all its consequences should be excluded from God's rest; and hence the necessity of redemption, in order to bring any into the enjoyment of it. Rest of conscience, through the blood of Christ, God now gives to a poor sinner, as a preparation for His lioly presence; but the rest of God itself is in the
wide scene of God's completed works, when redemption shall bring alike the heirs and the inheritance into participation in that rest. It stands necessarily in redemption, because sin is to leave no stain on that which God pronounces perfect; and because sinners are to be associated with Him in this rest. " For this
purpose the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” He must unweave the mighty web of mischief which Satan, since the fall, has cast around man and his lost inheritance, ere the saint can have rest, or God can rest in the completion of His work.
One may, indeed, through grace, enjoy communion with God here, and maintain by the same power of grace the conflict with Satan and all evil, but this is conflict and trial, and not rest. It was in the review of God's finished works in creation that He is first presented to us as having rest; and that rest of God which is future, will be in redemption's completed work, when both the heirs and the inheritance will be in the full power of that redemption which is by Christ.
Nothing in man, nothing in the saint, could procure this rest, nor give title or fitness to enter it. It is emphatically God's rest; and it will bear the stamp of that perfectness which is impressed upon all the works of God.
Nor is this a slight and unimportant circumstance connected with this rest. For all His works are perfect; and thus stand eternally in contrast with the works of man. This is seen in all God's works, whether, in the order and glory of the great frame-work of creation, or in the transient beauty of the flowers of the field. A lily, for example, is invested by the hand of God, prodigal of its infinite resources, with a splendour of attire that man's proudest efforts can never reach.
66 Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
So in His ways of love and grace, there is an absolute contrast to all the principles and the ways of man.
There is no parallel to His love. The way He has taken to bring our souls acquainted with Himself is a demonstration of this. He is God in His love, as He is in the supremacy of His power and glory; and the rest which He has prepared for His saints will only be the fruit of the fully accomplished counsels of His love.
In a sense it may be said, that God Himself has foregone His own rest, until He can enjoy it with us His poor weary pilgrims, who are yet on our journey towards it.
In His rest in creation, there is no intimnation of any being associated with Him in the enjoyment of it. It is only declared that God rested from all His works. But His counsel from the beginning was to bring, through the second Adam, His redeemed into this blessedness. Hence, when sin disturbed His sabbath in creation, He goes on to work anew; as has been already quoted, “My Father worketh hitherto."
And hence also the renewal of the institution of the sabbath, or seventh day's rest under the law. It still held forth as a type the hope of rest, after all the toil and labour which sin had introduced: though an entrance upon it can only be secured by association with Him who brings in by death and resurrection a new order of things in redemption, of which not the seventh but the first day of the week is our constant memorial.
The seventh, or sabbatical year, in Israel's constitutions, presented another re-duplication of the type of a final sabbatic rest. The jubilee also, at the end of every hebdomad of sabbatical years, with all its joyousness, and thrilling sounds of liberty and recovered inheritances, kept up the type and this blessed hope of final rest.
But as to enjoyment, whether in Israel or the church of God, we are taught that the antitype is yet entirely future, save, as to the work of Christ, by which it will be all brought in.
“ There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God." God's rest is that to which we are now journeying, when He will again keep sabbath amidst the glorious scenes of redemption's wonders, and not merely amidst the works of creation. At creation's rest " the morning stars sang together;" but when God's rest in redemption is entered upon, “every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth," as well as angels and the redeemed shall unite in saying, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for eyer and ever!”
And their notes of heavenly joy will not be exchanged as upon earth for sighs and sorrow, nor will they ever die away again, as now. For redemption will stamp an eternal character upon the rest, and open an eternal spring of joy.
FRAGMENT. There are two great aspects of the Lord's coming, one as to blessing to the church, the other as to judgment on the ungodly; this, in principle, answers to the resurrection—the saints are led to a thing of hope to them, not the alarm of judgment. The Lord is coming to gather the saints—and this in the first resurrection. He is also coming to judge the quick and the deadthis is alarming; this is not the hope of the saint ; this is distinct; the quick will be judged consequent on the revelation of the man of sin; this settles for the saint's relief. He will first be with the gathered ones ; the dead will be judged consequent on the 1000 years; this then he is not looking for. When the virgins went out, it was to get blessing; it was to meet the bridegroom—this was their hope ; nothing is said as to coming judgment as to immediate expectation; the church will see the Lord in glory, and be with Him, they know not when; the world will be judged, it knows not when–because it has 110 knowledge as to the man of sin, which would be its intelligence that the day could not be until his revelation, for the world will be deceived by him. This appears to be the character of teaching in 2 Thess. ii. “We beseech you, brethren, by the coming (Trapovolas) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together untó Him (this the great hope of the church), that ye be not soon shaken (atro tou voos), from this mind (i.e., from the immediate hope of positive blessing) or be troubled .... as that the day of Christ is present;" that is, neither be shaken from the hope of being gathered, or be troubled, as to the judgment of the day; because there must be the apostasy before the judgment of the day. Thus, as it would hinder the hope, and trouble the saints, to have confused notions of the resurrection, so would it as to the Lord's coming. The Lord will not be revealed in judgment until the revelation of the man of sin. The mystery of this is working now; but the revelation is hindered by å hindering thing, to be taken out of the way in the Lord's time. When this is taken out of the way, then the man of sin will be revealed ; and when he has run his course, then the Lord will come and judge him ; therefore, let no one trouble you as to the day of the Lord being present now; it cannot be, because this apostasy has not been exhibited, but let no one shake you
from the presence of the Lord, and our gathering together unto Him. Hold, and look for this : thus they would be wrong to disconnect (Taxews) the notions of that time with their gathering together; or to introduce immediate expectation (EVEOTYKEV) with reference to manifestation for judgment.—From the MSS. of T. T. Ed.
2 CORINTHIANS XII.
THERE is a remarkable contrast between the beginning and ending of this chapter; that is, between Paul, caught up into the third heaven, and the Christians at Corinth; between what a Christian should be and what a Christian may be.
A great privilege is here proposed to us, and it is well for us to consider it. Paul speaks of himself as a man in Christ (ver. 2), and this is the true character of every Christian, and of the Church at large. It was not in the character of an apostle that Paul was caught up, but in that of 66 a man in Christ." Whosoever is Christ is a new creature, and each of us has His share in this character. So that Paul puts himself on a level with the rest of the Church. We have, through the Spirit, our participation in the same privilege, though the degree of participation is very different. We are quickened together with Christ, raised up together with Christ, and seated together with Christ in heavenly places : there is no place into which faith cannot enter.
Paul did not receive in the third heaven a revelation which he could communicate to others; on the contrary, the mysteries which he there saw, were such as could not be revealed. It was " the man in Christ” that went thither, and not the apostle as such.
When the eye of faith penetrates thus far, we get strength to walk before God in every circumstance; therein is communion of the soul with God—a spring of strength, but not a revelation to tell of. It is not Christ's glory at his return, but a communion with God, in which the body can have no part, or to which it becomes, at any rate, insensible, " whether in the body I know not.” The principle of this communion may be applied to the Church, although the measure will not be