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been in the Old Testament; for as those whom he was now exhorting acknowledged the authority of no other portion of the revealed will of God so cordially, it is most likely he would confine himself to the part they received, even should it be admitted that the New Testament, with the same or a similar promise, were now open before him.
The ground upon which he appears to conclude that the ancient promise belonged to them as well as to those who originally received it, was their being identified with them, and the circumstance of its having been given to believers; which character, he assumed, belonged to those whom he now addressed: hence he adds, “ For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest:" and then, having referred to the exclusion of the ancient Jews from this rest as a warning to others, he cites the words in which the threatening is contained: “ As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest."*
That this rest could not mean the rest of the sabbath any more than Canaan, he shows from the fact that the sacred day had been kept long before, and was parallel with the creation itself; and then refers to one place where it is spoken of as distinct from the rest of Canaan : “ Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God
* Heb. iv. 2, 3.
did rest the seventh day from all his works.” He then shows further, that this rest being prepared, it followed as a matter of course that some must enter into it; and as those to whom it was first offered had never taken possession, it still remained at the very time he was writing: “ Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief." **
As the rest of God above referred to could not be that of Canaan when inhabited by the patriarchs, neither was it to be confounded with that country as possessed by the Jews after the days of Moses; for this same rest had been spoken of by David a considerable time after the Israelites had been put in possession by Joshua; and therefore, if the promise looked no further than what that great leader enabled them to realize, there would then have been no occasion for any after-mention of it; but as it was still spoken of, there could be no fair conclusion drawn but that there was still remaining a certain glorified state which God called by the name of rest; not simply because Canaan was so denominated, but on account of its being what that typified, and included in the promise by which it was conveyed: “For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." +
Dr. Owen was of opinion that the rest referred to was the gospel state of the church ;1 • Heb. iv. 6.
+ Heb. iv. 8, 9. See Owen on Hebrews.
but notwithstanding the great respect due to such an authority, that this cannot be the case is pretty clear, because the season limited for entering into it was one that remained to the people of God at the time the Epistle to the Hebrews was written; and the persons to whom it is addressed are exhorted to labour to enter into that rest, which would be very proper as applied to heaven, the rest which remained for the people of God, but would scarcely be consistent in regard to the gospel state which was at that time so extensively introduced. Canaan may be regarded, then, as a type of heaven. It was so in three respects,
1. As a rest.
So it was spoken of in the first instance by Moses: “ Until the Lord have given rest unto your brethren as well as unto you, and until they also possess the land which the Lord your God hath given them beyond Jordan: and then shall ye return every man unto his possession which I have given you."* This rest God calls his own: “Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest:”} which words are again referred to: “ The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it.”. And it is thus designated by the Almighty, because it was provided by him ; the state of his people in it would bear a strict resemblance to his own mind, when he had finished the work of creation ; it was the place in which he expected to possess the peculiar service and honour of his worship on earth ; * Deut. iii. 20. † Psa. xcv. 11. I Psa. cxxxii. 13, 14. and on account of its being, both in itself, and the manner in which it was to be possessed, a representation of that blessed repose which he now enjoys in the heavenly world, where all who believe shall be endowed with eternal felicity, when the great and glorious works of redemption and providence shall be completed. Canaan was a rest,
1. On account of the cessation from all the deprivations, trials, and sufferings by which the possession of it was obtained by the Israelites.
These were occasioned in some measure necessarily by their situation in the wilderness ; partly by the express design of God in his providence, in order to try them, for which purpose he allowed their enemies to distress them; and not a few did they bring on themselves by their own perverseness, that often provoked the displeasure of Heaven. These, however, not only all ceased as their journeyings ended, but they tended to endear to them that state by which their trials were succeeded.
And are we not taught that the Christian's life is one of opposition, endurance, deprivation, and suffering ? He has to resist the world in its smiles or in its frowns; to contend with and overcome his own corruptions; to deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Christ. He meets with various things to test his principles, and is the subject of many ardent desires which are not gratified in the present state. He sees much to convince him that this is not his rest, and is continually reminded that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution*- that we must through much tribulation
* 2 Tim. iii. 12.
enter into the kingdom of God.* Nor is it against flesh and blood that he wrestles, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.† No sooner, however, does he cross the Jordan of death than all his sorrows terminate, and he enters that state in which the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary be at rest; I where the inhabitants shall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.8 " They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more ; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe all tears from their eyes."|| Moreover, this rest, like Canaan, shall be the more prized in proportion to the weight and number of the sufferings of the present life: “ For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
“There on a green and flowery mount
Our weary souls shall sit,
The labours of our feet.”
2. On account of the satisfaction and delight which it yielded. * Acts xiv. 22.
† Eph. vi. 12. I Job iii. 17. $ Isa. xxxiii. 24.
|| Rev. vii. 16, 17. I 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18.