LECTURE 19.

THE REST OF FAITH. # 1


Text.--Heb. 3:19 & 4:1."So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. 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 following is the order in which I will direct your attention.

I. Inquire of whom the Apostle is speaking in this text, and into what it is said they could not enter.

II. Why they could not enter in.

III. Show that temporal Canaan was typical of the rest of faith.

IV. What is implied in this rest.

V. How we may seem to come short of it.

VI. How we may take possession of it.


I. I am to inquire of whom the Apostle is speaking and into what they could not enter.

In this connection the Apostle is speaking of the Jews; and that into which they could not enter was temporal Canaan, as is evident from the context.

II. Why they could not enter in.

It is asserted in the text, that they could not enter into Canaan, because of unbelief. The Jews had arrived upon the borders of the promised land. And Moses deputed a number of individuals as spies, and sent them to spy out the land. They went up and surveyed the land, and returned bringing some of the fruits of the land, and represented to the children of Israel, that it was an exceeding good land, but that it was impossible for them to take possession of it--that the towns and cities were walled up to heaven--that the country was inhabited by giants--and that therefore they were utterly unable to take possession of the land.

In this testimony all the spies agreed except Caleb and Joshua. This discouraged the people and produced a rebellion that prevented that generation from taking possession of Canaan. Their confidence in divine assistance was utterly shaken, and their unbelief prevented any such attempt to take possession of the land, as would otherwise have been made with complete success. The bringing up of the evil report, by those who were sent out to reconnoiter, and their failing to encourage and lead forward the people, were the means of that generation being turned back, and utterly wasted in the wilderness. God was so incensed against them for their want of confidence in his help, and of his ability, and willingness to give them possession, that he "swore in his wrath, that they should not enter into his rest."

III. Show that temporal Canaan was typical of the rest of faith.

It is plain from the context that the Apostle supposes the land of Canaan to have been typical of the rest of faith. The land of Canaan was to have been their rest after their perilous journey from Egypt. In this land they were to have been secure from the power of all their enemies round about. He concludes the third chapter of this epistle, by asserting that "they could not enter into this rest because of unbelief." And he begins the fourth chapter, by exhorting the Jews, to whom he was writing "to fear lest a promise being left them of entering into rest" [the rest of faith,] "any should seem to come short of it." And in the third verse he affirms, that "we who have believed do enter into rest."

IV. What is implied in this rest.

V. How we may seem to come short of it.

The word rendered seem here does not imply what is commonly meant by the English term seem, as if the coming short were only in appearance and not in fact. But from the manner in which it is rendered in other passages, it is manifest that it means to express the actual coming short, as if the Apostle had said, "lest any of you should be seen to come short of it."

Suppose a ship should be bestormed at sea, that all on board is confusion, dismay, and almost despair--the ship is driven by a fierce tempest upon a lee shore. Now suppose that in the midst of all the uncertainty, racking, and almost distracting anxiety of the passengers and crew, a voice should be heard from heaven, they knowing it to be the voice of the eternal God, assuring them that the ship should be safe--that not a hair of their heads should perish--and that they should ride out the storm in perfect safety. It is easy to see that the effect of this announcement upon different minds would be in precise proportion to their confidence in its truth. If they believed it, they would by no means throw up the helm, and give themselves up to indolence and let the ship drive before the waves, but standing, every man at his place, and managing the ship in the best manner possible, they would enjoy a quiet and composed mind in proportion to their confidence that all would be well. If any did not believe it, their anxiety and trouble would continue of course, and they might wonder at the calmness of those who did; and even reproach them for not being as anxious as themselves. You might see among them every degree of feeling from the despair and deep forebodings of utter unbelief, up to the full measure of the entire consolation of perfect faith. Now the design of this illustration is to show the nature of faith, and to demonstrate that entire confidence in God naturally hushes all the tumults of the mind, and settles it into a state of deep repose--that it does not beget inaction, presumption or spiritual indolence any more than the revelation of which I have spoken, would beget inattention to its management on board the ship.
VI. How we may take possession of it.

This rest is to be possessed at once by anchoring down in naked faith upon the promises of God. Take the illustration which I have already given, viz: the ship at sea. Suppose she were dashing upon the rocks, and a voice from heaven should cry out, "Let go your sheet anchor and all shall be safe." Suppose they believed that. With what confidence and composure would they let go the anchor, understanding it to be certain that it would bring them up and that they should ride out the storm. Now this composure of mind, any one may see, might and would be entered upon at once by an act of naked faith. Just so there are no circumstances in which men are ever placed, where they may not enter into rest at once by anchoring down in naked faith upon the promises of God. Let the first six verses of the 37 Psalm be an illustration of what I mean. "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity: For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday." Now suppose an individual to be borne down by the persecution of his enemies, or to be so situated in his temporal circumstances as not to know what he should do for bread. Let him take hold upon these promises, and peace and rest would flow in upon his mind, and light and joy would spring up like the sun breaking through an ocean of storm.

Take the promise in Isa. 42:16. Suppose the soul to be surrounded with darkness, perplexity, and doubt, with regard to the path of duty, or with regard to any other matter--borne down under a weight of ignorance, and crushed with a sense of responsibility, however deep his agony and his trials may be. Hark! Hear Jehovah saying, "I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them." Now who does not see that faith in this promise would make the soul in a moment as quiet as a weaned child. It would at once become as calm as an ocean of love.

Take Isa. 41:10-14. Suppose a soul to be under circumstances of great temptation from the world, the flesh and the devil, and ready to exclaim, "my feet are slipping, and I shall fall into the hand of my enemies, I have no might against this host. All my strength is weakness, and I shall dishonor my God." Hark again! Hear the word of the Lord. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded; they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel: I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. What is here but an ocean of consolation to a mind that has faith?

Now what wait ye for. Anchor right down upon these promises. They can give you instant rest. Nothing but faith is wanting to put you in possession of it. And nothing else than faith can do you any good. There is no need of going around, or waiting to come at this rest by degrees. It is to be entered upon at once. The land may be possessed now in the twinkling of an eye.

I designed to have added several remarks, but as I intend to pursue this subject at another time, I will defer them till then.