This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
COME UNTO ME, ALL YE THAT LABOR, AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST." MATTHEW, XI. 28.
Each man is so absorbed in his own work, so pressed with his own burden, that he seldom has time to take a survey of the race.
But when he does look about him, what a sight does the whole world present to him !
Everywhere are men and women and little children bearing burdens and engaged in toils. It begins so early. It lasts so long. It seems so wearisome.
In very early life children begin their labors and yoke-bearing. We who are older forget how it was with us in the beginning of life, so that now the troubles and work of childhood seem to us so trivial that we lose our sympathy for the sorrows of the little people. But when we come to think how little strength they have and how narrow their horizon we perceive that
their troubles and disappointments are as hard for them to bear, their labor as hard for them to perform, as ours is for us. They are put off for older people, they are crowded into corners, they are laughed at for their blunders and corrected for their mistakes, and made to run the errands of their seniors ; and little pains are usually taken to save them from disappointments ; and often they are compelled to do for others what others should do for them.
I declare to you, brethren, that there are few more pathetic sights in this great city to me than boys and girls of least size and most tender years, often poorly clad, engaged in little peddling processes, and sometimes sitting on the sidewalks counting the pennies in their dirty palms, — little creatures whose brains should not be bothered with so much as " two and two make four," calculating the gains of their labor, embryo, precocious, premature merchants and bankers.
And so it goes through life. The school, the college, the farm, the shop, all employing our boys and young men. Hand work and brain
work are begun with so little prospect of ever ending ; for, even when wealth might seem able to purchase exemption, the habit of working is a harness whose buckles have rusted and we cannot get it off.
The sea has its toilers and the land. Old men bow their white hairs over the work in which striplings are also engaged. All are laden. The rich as well as the poor, the healthy as well as the sick, the learned as well as the illiterate, parent and child, master and servant, king and subject, are all heavy laden, — laden in hands and brain and heart and back ; in the yoke, in the harness, taxed for burden or for draught. Oh ! what a working, toiling, moiling, sweat-stained, weary world is this !
Jesus looks over it all, sees every beaten nerve, every fatigued muscle, every fainting heart. Over the roar of machinery and the calls of the workmen to one another, and the rush and bustle of the throbbing crowds, we hear His most musical invitation, "Come unto Me, all ye that
labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
How authoritative this promise. It is the voice of One who knows the weight of each burden, and the pain condensed into each sigh, and the spot made sore by each yoke ; of One who feels that in Himself are such divine resources that He can lift every burden, heal every sore, and rest every heart.
How comprehensive is this invitation. It takes the whole world in ; for at some period of every man's life he is laboring, at some period he is heavily laden. Is he ever not the one or the other ?
How sweet are the invitation and the promise ! Come to Me. I will give you rest. Rest ! That is what we need and desire and pray for. Rest! Rest of brain and heart especially we need. Some person must be able to give that. A bed of senseless down can rest our weary muscles, but our minds need a mind and our hearts need a heart for rest. Other human brains, even the healthiest and the most friendly,
sometimes fail us. Other human hearts, even the sweetest, seem to fail to satisfy us. Jesus says, " Come to ME ! I will give you rest."
And, dear brethren, He does not allow us to be ignorant of His manner of giving us rest. " Take my yoke upon you, and ye shall find rest
for your souls." Is there, then, no relief from yokes and burdens ? None. Even this very sweet invitation talks of a " yoke," but of a yoke that will give rest.
Then, perhaps, we have been altogether mistaken in our notions of rest? We certainly have, if we have supposed that it meant a ces-
sation of the activity of our faculties, a relapse into merely conscious inertness, a total pause in the exertion of our influence on the world outside of us and in the culture of the world inside of us. Rest is simply the absence of a sense of pain, or disagreeableness, in our work ; it is not the absence of work.
Now Jesus proposes to impart just that blessing to us, and He teaches us that we are to gain it by learning of Him, by taking His yoke, by working according to the law which He gives. The weariness comes not from working but from working in a wrong manner ; not from the drudgeries and difficulties of this present life, but from our taking those drudgeries and difficulties by the wrong handle. It is not the burden ; it is the method of carrying it. It is not the load ; but it is the way we try to drag it. The yoke for the ox and the collar for the horse are heavy perhaps and unpleasant perhaps, but they could not draw their loads without some yoke and some collar. The right thing is not to throw all yokes away, but to find the yoke that is easy, and the contrivance which is light. Jesus says the faith in Him, obedience to Him, learning of
Him, is the great secret of such easy working of the hands and brain and heart, that such working may be called rest.
Let us look at some of the classes of the weary ones to whom this invitation and this promise come most refreshingly.
First. There are the weary with overwork.
Work itself is not a curse. It is a blessing rather. It is the condition of satisfaction and happiness. Our active faculties must have activity, or else we shall be quite unhappy. We were not made for dead inertness, like the lifeless stones. Adam worked in innocency, with no sense of fatigue and pain, with just such change of muscular condition as made it a greater pleasure to pause while his body was changing its electric condition. Jesus describes the existence of God thus : "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Up to one's capabilities work is good and pleasant and profitable. It has not yet become toil and labor. There is no lack of dignity in work, while labor and toil are undignified, because they are attempt-
ing to accomplish what is beyond our powers.
Whatever may seem to be a gain from overwork of muscle or brain, will be found in the end to be in reality a loss. We can do just so much in life — no more. The moment we pass that boundary we injure our constitution.
The difference between a machine and a man is this : a machine cannot be overworked, an animal may be. As soon as you overload your machine it stops, or breaks down, or bursts. Your man may work on and not perceive the harm he is doing to himself There is an elasticity in animal life which is not in dead matter, so that even a beast may overexert itself In man there is the dominant will which pushes him further and further. He is not killed by what he is doing, and therefore feels as if he could do a little more, and a little more, and a little more, until he takes on himself that proverbial " last straw that breaks the camel's back."
The overwork of men, especially in this gen-
eration, comes of three things.
1. There is an overestimate of our wants. In any age and clime the real wants of man are very simple and very few; so few and simple that after a long use of our civilization it becomes really a difficult task to separate, even in thought, our real from our factitious wants. Luxuries, after a long course of use, come to be regarded as necessaries. This is due, in cities especially, and everywhere in some measure, to the rivalry of society. We must dress and eat and live as others. Our real happiness is not increased. The majority of all the rich people in New York have been poor, and the fathers of nearly all the rest were. The majority of the people who ride in carriages used to walk. If they would be honest with you, they would tell you that before there was a house built above Fourteenth Street, they used to live over their stores down town, the wife watching the shop through the little glass in the back door, while the husband went out to buy the dinner, and that really they were quite as happy then, when they walked their children on the Battery, as they are now, rolling through Central Park: for
while their means have increased so have their wants.
When the want is made it must be destroyed or be satisfied. You and I generally choose to satisfy it, and it wears us nearly to death to procure the m.eans.
2. There is an overestimate of our powers. Hard work n-;ver yet has killed us; we think
it never will. Jur friends warn us, but we have a vague idea of resting by-and-by, and think we can endure the strain a little longer. Men's
constitutions differ very much as the threads of
thermometer tubes. You have two thermometers with the same size of bulb and the same bulk of mercury : the one has a very fine thread and the other a very coarse ; httle increase of heat will send up the mercury rapidly in the former, while you can scarcely detect any rise in the latter. Some men can almost instantly tell when they have gone far enough. Others do not know until it is too late, until the touch of paralysis shakes them or the softening of the brain makes them -helpless. The air of a crowded and busy city is exciting. It stimulates us to over-exertion ; and, whatever may be the largeness of our desires and the force of our wills, none of us are made of wrought iron and steel springs.
3. Our modern civilization has a tendency to overwork us.
We hear of labor-saving machines. There are none. You cannot make one. You may make "product-multiplying" machines. You may produce in ten minutes what would have cost you an hour ; but you will give your other fifty minutes to five other different things. We
can travel ten times as fast as when we were boys. Do we spend only one-tenth as much time in travel ? Not at all : we go ten times as far, and then a little farther. The fact is, that railroads and telegraphs and steam-presses give one man the ability to do what it required more than half-a-dozen men to do. And we undertake it. And the more we do the more we strive to do. And we are growing breathless. We are laboring. We are heavy laden.
What shall we do ? Shall we befool ourselves with saying that we have no time to be religious because of the press of our business ? A man might just as well refuse to take the train to Philadelphia because he is in too great a hurry to stop and enter the car. No. That is just what we must do. We must take Christ's yoke. No one needs it more than you who are carrying the burdens of large commercial affairs. Your comfort in your work depends upon it.
Do your work for Jesus, not for Mammon. Do not strive to be rich simply that you may have the reputation of riches, that your children may dress gaily and you may indulge the lust of the
eye and the pride of life. Some of you never take time for worship with your family, almost never go to a meeting for Christian intercourse and prayer, nor give an evening to soothe the sick, nor an hour to visit the prisoner, nor any attention to the great Christian societies. You are the pack-horses of business. Mammon's
fags are you. And this is pressing you down. Now^ try managing your railroads and banks and warehouses and shops and professional work for Christ, and see how quickly this consecration will rest you.
Second. There is another class of heavyladen : those who are wearied with life's drudgeries.
They live in a routine. They are employed in the trivialities of life. They feel that it would not be so mortal tiresome if they could be in the midst of a work of huge proportions, and seemingly were improving and more befitting an immortal spirit.
Women are great sufferers in this department, especially if they think. This going through the rounds of housewifery, brushing, dusting, cleaning, looking after meals, darning stockings, putting on buttons, day in and day out, how it wears them ! They are laden with loads of little things ! Even if wealth put them beyond these, there are so many women whose time is crowded with -visiting and receiving visits, vapid ceremonials of fashionable life that are a real labor. You know that some of you come home in utter weariness, drag yourselves to your parlors or boudoirs and fling yourselves down, panting and tired more than your carriage horses.
And there are men in positions which promise no advance, the hum-drum labor of a hidden place, where the work done do-day is just that which was done ten years ago, and will be precisely the same to be done twenty years to come, if the man live so long and keep the place. They are weary with drudgery.
And yet some one must do drudgery. Some
one must sew, cook, make, mend, tend, or we cannot get along. All men cannot be at the front. There must be unknown typesetters and unappreciated proof-readers as well as writers of far-sounding songs and high-sounding orations and deep-sounding treatises.
If the routine drudgery of life be wrought for ourselves it is intolerable. But if done for Christ it may be beautiful. This kind of labor may come to be the sweet undertone of life's grand psalms.
There is a pastor's wife of whom such impossible things are expected. She must visit and receive visits, and make her own dresses and the clothes of the children, and perhaps some of her own garments and perhaps of her husband's, and the whole family must be kept as nice on some hundreds of dollars as the children of parishioners whose income is as many thousands. And
her husband does not help her much, as the parish keeps him closely worked. And she compares herself with her husband, and says, " If he labor and is heavy laden, he is doing some good and gets his reward as he goes along. He is engaged in thoughts on loftiest themes and sees the fruit of his labor. My life is frittered away in trifles or worn with drudgery." Let such a woman stop and think that but for all the unseen things she does, things that are absolutely necessary to keep the domestic machinery lubricated, her husband and her sons could never do half as'much for the world. If done for Christ, all is grand, the work of spade, or needle, or pen, or sceptre. Let those who are weary of life's low, unshining duties recall the lines of holy George Herbert :
" Nothing can be so mean, Which when enacted for Thy sake,
Will not grow bright and clean. A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine ; Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and the action fine."
And let it be remembered that God has given his leaders just such training, that He has never allowed a man to take a conspicuous place in any department of human society until that man has spent years in unknown, weary, wasting drudgery. In professional, mercantile, social, scientitic, political, and military life He has trained in gloom and labor and burden-bearing and routine drudgery the men who were to lead the world. So, in the back side of the solitarydesert. He trained Moses ; so, behind the plough and among the sheep and in the fishing boats, he reared Elisha and David and tliL- Disciples. " He that is faithful over a few things shall be made ruler over many," is a principle in his kingdom.
What if no eye sees us, what if no voice praises ?
At night, when the dull, unappreciated work is over, we can go to Jesus and meet the glad recognition of his eye and lay our heads on his shoulder and fall asleep listening to his sweet murmuring applause of ' ' Well done ! well done ! well done !" While we work in alleys and wharves, with drays and carts, in back shops over saw or needle or pen, or in some school of hard, dull children. He is waiting for us, and as we close the door behind us and move weary and heavy laden to our homes, He opens His arms and says, " Come to me, come and find rest."
Third. There is the class who are weary with the difficulties of life.
It seems impossible to avoid these. No
wealth, no tact, no goodness, no amiability can save us. Exert what skill you will and do just as well as you can, and difficulties will come. But who can always be perfectly just and merciful and wise and good ? If he were, there are those who are not.
Have you not noticed occasionally in socitey, a man who seemed high-principled and magnanimous and bland and sweet-mannered, who nevertheless had difficulties wherever he went, although he was manifestly willing to sacrifice anything but duty to avoid difficulty ?
Sometimes you must have noticed also this other marvel : difficulties springing up between two good men. There is a controversy. Each man's friends believe him to be the soul of honor. Both have thousands of acquaintances who believe them to be good Christians ; and yet they have a difficulty. It is a misunderstanding. You are misunderstood by him and others. He is misunderstood by you and others. O, I do think it is one of the hardest things in life to be misunderstood by a good man, when I know my motives to be so good, while my position is such that I cannot make that good man understand it all.
And then, there are business difficulties, perplexities in buying and selling and getting gain. The clash of interests is so hard, the compe-
tition is so keen ! You cannot look after your neighbor's interests and your own. You must care for the latter. Without doing him a particle of wrong, you gain and he loses, or he gains and you lose. Do you not know how hard it is to lose and not suspect the gainer of cheating ? And, who that fails has any sympathy ? And, if you want to make a man hate you, indorse for him to the amount of thousands, and let him fail, and do you pay it ; by-and-by you may forgive him, but he will never forgive you. Is not all this wearisome? Is not business a heavy load?
But heavier is the load of domestic perplexities. That presses so on a man's brain and heart. Misunderstandings among the children, the suspension of perfect accord between man and wife, disagreements between parents and children — I can imagine nothing more burdensome than to bear these through long months and years.
Even where love reigns unbroken we have domestic perplexities in deciding what is right and best for each member of the family. How many a poor man is all the more perplexed because of
his love for all his family ! How many a widow is heavy laden with cares for her fatherless !
How are we in these cases to have rest ? They caniiot be avoided. They must somehow be transmuted into blessings.
Jesus knows it all. He knows our honor, our right-mindedness, our trials and difificulties and perplexities. He says, " Come unto me with your misunderstandings, your business difficulties, your domestic perplexities, and find rest for your souls. Learn of me. Do all for me. Put my yoke on, and then you will be able to draw your load." It is the lack of Christ's help which makes life so hard on us. "In all thy ways ac-
knowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths." Let us simply go just as far as He wants us to go, and do just as much as He desires, and we shall find rest, for at the end we can cast all our burdens on the Lord.
Fourth. There is the class of those who are weary with the fight of life.
" There is no release from this war." We are on the wrong side or the right side. If the former, our weariness is increased by the feeling that we have no sustaining strength except the fitful fever of passion, and that we must succumb at last. If on the right side, how long it seems before the final triumph is to come, — " if it ever ,do come," whispers our faithless heart. The right side is not always victorious, not always in the ascendant. It is defeated often, depressed often, sometimes for long years under the cloud and under the ban and under the heel, as Christianity was, which, being "the right cause," has several times been '' the lost cause," and in some countries even now is. Men who fight for the right cheer themselves with Mr. Bryant's verses :
" Truth crushed to earth will rise again The eternal years of God are hers;"
but it is so tiresome to wait for the eternal years to vindicate the truth.
And, then, there is the rebellion in our own souls to conquer, the desperate fight within, the conflict between our conviction of duty and our inclination to ease or to wrong-doing, the resolute work of bringing ourselves into obedience to the law. When a man has maintained this conflict for years, " fightings without and foes within," how weary he feels, how heavy laden with the armor which seems to grow heavier, how he longs for the quiet of scenes where no enemy breaks in on the night with a whoop, and makes the day one of perpetual wakefulness or strife !
O, weary brethren of the march and the battlefield, remind yourselves that all the good have had this conflict, and that all the good have been brought off more than conquerors. We can have
quiet of soul only as we come to Jesus, If this conflict be undertaken in our own strength, or for our own ends, we shall be in perpetual alarm and under a perpetual strain, because we may fail at last. But if it be for Jesus, we can never fail. We may die, but we shall conquer. We shall have the repose of faith in our final victory, and that is rest for our souls.
Remember, dear brethren, that Jesus is the " captain of our salvation." He is the commander-in-chief. He has the whole responsibility of the conduct of the warfare — He plans the whole campaign. You and I do not have to determine our marches and encampments and engagements. We have only to follow Jesus. He will often lead us into the thick of the fight, but He will always bring us through. But whenever we undertake to be captains and assume the load of responsibility, we put off Christ's yoke and put on the yoke of selfishness. We fail and fall under the load.
Remember also, dear brethren, what He has said to us : — " Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world." He is the certainty of rest at
last. He will help us to overcome.
Fifth. There is time tospeakof only one other class of those who are weary — namely, those who are laboring under the burden of sin.
As I have passed along the line of those weary with overwork, with drudgeries, with difficulties, and with the fight of life, perhaps some man here has been saying to himself, " All these are mere nothings compared with the load that is breaking my breast !"
Ah ! my dear brother, I know with what you are so heavily laden. It is your sins; it is the burden which lay heavy on the back of Christian as he fled from the City of .Destruction. The longer you carry it, the heavier it grows. It is invisible to the eyes of your friends, but it is such a fearful reality to you ! Sometimes you grow so weary of it that you cannot take a long breath. Sometimes it wakes you in the night, like a great rock pressing on you. Sometimes you have become dizzy and blind, staggering under it. If you could be rid of it, you would be willing to be poor, embarrassed, persecuted.
Yes, it is the heaviest load that human souls can bear. To him that has that burden on his heart business is a weariness, thought is darkness, and love is an embittered sweet. You want rest.
You can never rest tvitk your sins. Be sure of that. You must be rid of them.
Jesus looks at you struggling forward or falling and panting. How He pities you ! " Come to me," He says, " and I will give you rest." O
if you could be sure that the Heavenly Father had forgiven you. O, if you could have faith in His love for you. O, if you could love Him. O, if you had hope of resting in heaven at last.
These are the sighs and groans of your soul. None but Jesus can give you all these so greatly desired things.
Until you come to Jesus there is no ground of hope of forgiveness, there is nothing in the universe to give you any reason to believe that God will forgive your sins. Everything out of Jesus seems to assert that there is never forgiveness of sins. That is the reason why Jesus says, "Come to Me," because He knows that there is no other to whom a sinner can go who can assure him that God is just and yet the justifier of the ungodly. Jesus is God's revelation of that fact. There is no sign of such a thought in Natural Religion.
When you come to Jesus and rest in Him you discover how God loves you, not because He made you, not with a love which depends upon your goodness, but with the everlasting love of a Father, a love so great and wise that He would not if He could make your sins be less a burden to your souls, but would increase that burden that you might be driven to be rid of your sins.
And, when you come to Him and find how He loves you and takes the burden from your soul, you will love Him. That is what you want. Your sins are greatly aggravated by the stony hardness of your hearts toward God. Jesus takes it all away. Your mind has the repose of faith, your conscience the repose of forgiveness, your hearts the repose of love.
Come to Jesus, just now, just as you are, just as He asks you to come. You can never find
rest elsewhere. You are a " restless wanderer after rest."
Are you frightened away from Jesus because He speaks of His burden and His yoke ? O think how heavy other burdens are, how much heavier than His ! Think what Mammon lays on us, and Satan. Their yokes do not help us to draw the draughts of life, but are an additional burden. The burdens Jesus puts on us are wings that add to our weight but help us to fly.
There is no rest out of Him. All who have reposed on Him have found rest for their souls. Why will not you come ? He stands with such compassion in His eyes, eyes moist with pitying tearfulness, and sees the long and weary procession of the world's burden-bearers staggering forward, heated and worn and sweating and panting, going from toil to trouble and from trouble to toil, and He stretches out His loving hands and says, " Come ! Come to Me ! Come all, all who labor, all who are heavy laden, come ! and I will give you rest; you shall findi rest to your souls ; my yoke shall heal the sores which the galling yokes of the World and the Devil have made ; Come ! Come !"
Will you not ?
If you will not come to Jesus, where do you intend to go, and to whom ?
Or, will you bear your burdens forever ?
Without Jesus Heaven is no rest for the weary. You may have youth and health and
wealth and genius, and all the harps and crowns and thrones in earth and heaven, but until you come to Jesus you will be tossed in unrest. Come now, and lay your throbbing head on the bosom of Infinite Love.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.