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CXXIV. cANAAN TYPICAL of THE BELIEVER’s
Heb. iv. 1. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
THE histories of the Old Testament are very instructive to us—
The divine interpositions, as well in a way of judgment as of mercy, shew us what to expect from God"— ,
The apostle has been recording the destruction of the Jews in the wilderness"— *
And from thence he takes occasion to urge us to holy fear and diligence—
I. What is that rest which God has promised us
1. A present rest in Christ [A soul ignorant of Christ, can have no rest— But “by believing in Christ it has peace with God”— This is that rest which our Saviour promises to troubled souls"—l 2. A future rest in heaven [The rest of the soul is never perfect in this life— Tribulations are the way through which we are all to |aSSp But in heaven our happiness will be complete— That therefore must be the rest in which our labours shall terminate"—l Of this rest God has left us a promise in his word [It is called his, because he has prepared it for us from the beginning— It is his also, inasmuch as it is the gift of his sovereign, grace—
a 1 Cor. X. 1 1. b Chap. iii. e Matt. xi. 28. * Rev. xiv. 13.
(124.) TYPICAL MEANING OF CANAAN, 87
It is his moreover, as enjoyed in and with him— Nor has he only revealed it as an object worthy our pursuit, but promised it to every penitent and believing sinner"—l
It becomes us then to enquire II. What effect the promise of this rest should have upon us * The news of any great and unexpected acquisition immediately produces strong emotions in our minds The prospect therefore of present and eternal rest should surely excite much solicitude respecting it [We should endeavour to ascertain our title to it— We should fear lest by any means we be deprived of it— Nor should we account any thing too much to do in order to obtain it— Our vigilance and zeal should be proportioned to its value—)
The danger of coming short of it should increase our diligence in the pursuit of it [Of six hundred thousand that came out of Egypt, only two entered into Canaan— The others “could not enter in by reason of their unbelief”— And how much unbelief is there in our hearts!— Yet, if we live under its power, we in vain hope for this TeSt— Nor will the numbers of those, who are so circumstanced, afford security to us, any more than it did to those who perished in the wilderness. Surely then we should “fear lest we perish after their example”— The misery of coming short of it should also stimulate
* Acts ii. 39. f 2 Thess. i. 8, 9. Rev. xiv. 10, 11.
We should seek to be “always triumphing in Christ”—
And at last to have “an abundant entrance into his king
2. To those who are filled with slavish fears [These are not fears which you ought to entertain— They are calculated to rob you of the heavenly rest rather than to bring you into it— w The fear, you should cultivate, is a jealous and watchful fear— To live under the influence of this, is to be truly blessed:— This well consists with even a present rest in the Lord €SUlSLay hold then on the promise which is left you in the gospel— - - And expect that “He who has promised will also perform”— They “who trust in the Lord shall never be confounded”—l
3. To those who maintain a godly fear and jealousy [Disputes about the doctrine of perseverance are unprofitable and vain— But to unite a jealousy over ourselves with a confidence in God, will guard us against mistakes on either hand— Go on then in this good way, in which there is no danger of error or excess— Thus will your soul be kept at an equal distance from presumption and despondency— And the attainment of your rest be perfectly secured—j
g Prov. xxviii. 14.
CXXV. secur ITY of THos F. W Ho FLEE To THE CITY
Heb. vi. 17, 18. God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us. \ o
THE multiplying of oaths is a dreadful snare to the conSciences of men; and a light method of administering and oftaking them is amongst the most heinous of our national sins. But they run to a contrary extreme who affirm all Oathstobe sinful: on many occasions they were prescribed to the Jews by God himself: the most eminent saints also, under the Christian dispensation, as well as under that of the Jews, have, on many occasions, appealed in the most Solemn manner unto God. In the passage before us God Sanctions the use of oaths in concerns which are of great moment, and which cannot be settled in any other way. We are even assured that God himself has condescended to adopt this very method of confirming and establishing the minds of his people. From the Apostle's account of this astonishing transaction, we shall be led to consider I. The description here given us of God’s people They are described 1. By their state [They once “were, like others, children of wrath;” but they have been regenerated by God's Spirit, and adopted into his family. “Being thus his sons they are also heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” The promises, temporal, spiritual, eternal, are their inheritance. Hence they are justly called, “the heirs of promise.” To this happy state they have been brought in consequence of God's eternal counsels." But they have nevertheless attained to it in the use of means."] 2. By their conduct [Eternal life has been set before them in the gospel; and Christ has been declared to be the only way in which that life on be found." This record they have believed; and, feeling their utter need of mercy, they have sought it in Christ. They
* Eph. ii. 3. b Rom. viii. 17. e 2 Tim. i. 9. * Ezek. xxxvi. 37. e i John v. 11, 12. f Gal. ii. 16. Vol. II. N
have regarded him as the city of refuge, in which the manslayer found protection from the avenger of blood; and have fled to him with holy earnestness as their only hope.* In this way they have “laid hold” of God's promised mercy; and have attained to that state in which they may assuredly expect it.]
That these are the most highly favoured of all people will appear, if we consider
II. The regard which God manifests towards them
He wills that they should enjoy “strong consolation” [He would not that they should be held in doubtful suspense, or be harrassed by fluctuations of hope and fear. He wishes rather that they should enjoy the privileges of their high station. Though they have in themselves much cause to fear, yet in HIM they have reason to exult and triumph. They should “know in whom they have believed, and that he is both able and willing to keep what they have committed to him.”]
In order to this he would have them persuaded of “the
immutability of his counsel.”
and irresistible control. If only they learn to refer everything
to his overruling agency or righteous permission, all cause for disquietude will cease. Do the dispensations of his providence appear dark? the soul will be satisfied when it can say, This hath God done. If events seem to contradict the promises, the reflection that God's ways are unsearchable will silence every murmur, and dispose us to trust God, till he shall be pleased to unfold his purposes to our view.” “Who shall separate me from the love of God?” is the triumphant challenge that will be given to all our enemies, as soon as ever we see God appointing every thing with immutable and unerring wisdom."]
For this purpose God confirms his promise with an oath [His promise could not be made more sure. But we are prone to unbelief. On this account he condescends to consult our weakness, and to swear by himself, that we may be the more firmly persuaded of his veracity. Even though God had not sworn, he never could have receded from his engagements, seeing “it is impossible for God to lie.” But his oath is calculated to satisfy the most fearful mind; and must convince us,
g Numb. xxxv. 11, 12. h 2 Tim. i. 12. i 1 Sam, iii. 18. k Heb. xi. 17–19. - 1. Rom. viii. 33.