« VorigeDoorgaan »
other system in the world. If it could die, then one thing is absolutely certain, every other system would die with it, for it has no rival. But what a poor thing a system is, however excellent, for a needy heart to lean upon. Its very excellence by contrast only adds poignancy to its wounds. a difference between casting ourselves upon a system, and upon a throbbing bosom! What a difference between feeling around us the beautiful principles of a Divine system, and the almighty arms of a tender, gracious, loving Saviour. What a difference, especially in the hour of helplessness and sorrow! Yes, sweet as is the Word to our taste, sweeter far the Man Christ Jesus. It is Jesus and Jesus only who gives every line of that Word its inexpressible fragrance.
Let us take care how we read His Word. never read it aright unless we read it as a mere channel-a Divine channel, it is true, but yet only a channel to get at Christ. Nor this only. Christ is the believer's food. But though we get at Christ through the Word, yet will He be food to our souls only as we read it in communion with God. all remember what was Israel's food in the desert. It was manna. This manna came down from heaven. But not only so; it came down in a vessel of heaven's own providing-the dew. The dew made it, and kept it for a time, fresh and savoury for the palate. But if it were not eaten with
the dew upon it, the freshness, the sweetness, the real strength of the food was gone. The sun's heat and other external influences soon dried it up. So with the Word. Christ must be sought in it, or we had better never read it. But more than this. If Christ, the living manna, be not sought in communion with God-with the dew of the Holy Spirit on our souls-we shall never be fed. The intellect may be enlightened, but the soul will be starved, and the measure of its starvation will be the clearness of perception in the understanding. Without this dew there will be no food, no savour, no nutriment, no imparted strength. While we are instructing the intellect we are starving the soul. God forbid that we should read the Word in this way! God forbid we should ever read it at all!
But having said this, let us look at the Word itself as conveyed in these precious utterances of the Lord Jesus. While we examine them may the dew of heaven be on the soul of writer and reader!
Like all the words of the Man Christ Jesus some of its chief beauties lie beneath the surface. There is much on the surface; but it is like a Divine finger beckoning us within the inner shrine, or like the gems on the mine's surface telling us of depths lying beneath.
Notice first the passages with which these words stand connected. "At that time Jesus answered
and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father; and no man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." Mark here the absolute sovereignty of God. Nowhere in the Word of God is it set forth in a stronger light. Yet side by side with this is proclaimed the full, free, and loving invitation "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." It is as if the Saviour would have no word of His that should deter one soul from coming to Him or that should even seem to draw a shade over the free and open door for every sinner on earth to enter in. And this is ever the way in which the truth is set before us in His Word-the full and free invitation always side by side with the declaration of God's sovereignty. Never the one without the other. Does He say, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me?" He says also in the same breath, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." Here is no harsh and unbending system, no frigid theory or reiterated dogma scaring the soul by its clear, bright light but unloving warmth and partial welcome, and offered with hesitating speech and bated breath,
lest the heart should speak too earnestly and lovingly and broadly out. Oh, may we each learn God's way of meeting the weary and heavy laden soul, bowed down, it may be, by burdens no human eye has ever seen, no human thought has ever conceived! May we meet the soul as Jesus met it, with a loving voice, a heaving bosom, a tearful eye, and a welcome that would, if it could, embrace every soul in this world, and ten thousand times ten thousand worlds like it and give them room in the Father's kingdom!
Let us notice in the next place the invited. They are described under two classes, the "labouring" and 'heavy laden." Under these two classes the whole of mankind may be included. Both are sufferers. But the one, the "labouring," are the active; the other, the “heavy laden," are the passive sufferers. We are all under either active or passive discipline. One toils with his hands, "going forth to his work and to his labour till the evening," toiling in the very sweat of his brow to maintain a young family on the world's rough sea. Another toils with his mind, creating thought and suggesting thought to others. Another toils with his affections. He has noble principles, high aspirations, and holy sym. pathies in his bosom struggling with the inworkings of a corrupt heart and unholy nature. These are a few of the "labourers" of life, and these latter are frequently the hardest labourers of all. Oh, what struggle can be compared to that of the new nature
struggling with the old; the spirit in conflict with the flesh; the life of God with the powers of darkness within and around? This is a bitter conflict, a deadly warfare. Deem not such labour light. You know not what you say. Rightly does St. Luke translate this word "labour" by the still more expressive word "travail." Such labour is indeed the breaking forth of a new nature. It is indeed the agony of the birth-throe, and none know what it is but those who have experienced it. These are
the labourers of life.
The other class, and one equally large, to whom the invitation is addressed, are the passive sufferers -the "heavy laden." They are bowed down under the weight of heavy burdens often unseen and unnoticed. Some are bowed down under the weight of oppression, injustice, and wrong; some again under the pressure of incessant bodily pain. Long and weary years have worn out the elasticity of the spirit. They have become familiar on their beds of suffering with every niche and every crack in the walls of their chamber. They cry in the morning, "Would God it were evening," and in the evening," Would God it were morning." Some, though with health and strength, are yet stooping from day to day and from year to year under the weight of a sorrow which no smile can cheer and no human arm can lighten. It wakes with the morning and goes not down with the night.