By Dwight L. Moody
Some years ago a gentleman came to me and asked me which I thought was the most precious promise of all those that Christ left. I took some time to look them over, but I gave it up. I found that I could not answer the question. It is like a man with a large family of children, he cannot tell which he likes best; he loves them all. But if not the best, this is one of the sweetest promises of all: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
There are a good many people who think the promises are not going to be fulfilled. There are some that you do see fulfilled, and you cannot help but believe they are true. Now remember that all the promises are not given without conditions. Some are given with, and others without, conditions attached to them. For instance, it says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Now, I need not pray as long as I am cherishing some known sin. He will not hear me, much less answer me. The Lord says in the eighty fourth Psalm, "No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." If I am not walking uprightly I have no claims under the promise. Again, some of the promises were made to certain individuals or nations. For instance, God said that He would make Abraham's seed to multiply as the stars of heaven: but that is not a promise for you or me. Some promises were made to the Jews, and do not apply to the Gentiles.
Then there are promises without conditions. He promised Adam and Eve that the world should have a Savior, and there was no power in earth or perdition that could keep Christ from coming at the appointed time. When Christ left the world, He said He would send us the Holy Ghost. He had only been gone ten days when the Holy Ghost came. And so you can run right through the Scriptures, and you will find that some of the promises are with, and some without, conditions; and if we don't comply with the conditions we cannot expect them to be fulfilled.
I believe it will be the experience of every man and woman on the face of the earth, I believe that everyone will be obliged to testify in the evening of life, that if they have complied with the condition, the Lord has fulfilled His word to the letter. Joshua, the old Hebrew hero, was an illustration. After having tested God forty years in the Egyptian brick-kilns, forty years in the desert, and thirty years in the Promised Land, his dying testimony was: "Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord promised." I believe you could heave the ocean easier than break one of God's promises. So when we come to a promise like the one we have before us now, I want you to bear in mind that there is no discount upon it. "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Perhaps you say: "I hope Mr. Moody is not going to preach on this old text." Yes: I am. When I take up an album, it does not interest me if all the photographs are new; but if I know any of the faces. I stop at once. So with these old, well-known texts. They have quenched our thirst before, but the water is still bubbling up--we cannot drink it dry.
If you probe the human heart, you will find a want, and that want is rest. The cry of the world to day is, "Where can rest be found?" Why are theaters and places of amusement crowded at night? What is the secret of Sunday driving, of the saloons and brothels? Some think they are going to get it in pleasure, others think they are going to get it in wealth, and others in literature. They are seeking and finding no rest.
Where Can Rest be Found?
If I wanted to find a person who had rest I would not go among the very wealthy. The man that we read of in the twelfth chapter of Luke, thought he was going to get rest by multiplying his goods, but he was disappointed. "Soul, take thine ease." I venture to say that there is not a person in this wide world who has tried to find rest in that way and found it.
Money cannot buy it. Many a millionaire would gladly give millions if he could purchase it as he does his stocks and shares. God has made the soul a little too large for this world. Roll the whole world in, and still there is room. There is care in getting wealth, and more care in keeping it.
Nor would I go among the pleasure seekers. They have a few hours' enjoyment, but the next day there is enough sorrow to counterbalance it. They may drink the cup of pleasure to-day, but the cup of pain comes on to-morrow.
To find rest I would never go among the politicians, or among the so-called great. Congress is the last place on earth that I would go. In the Lower House they want to go to the Senate; in the Senate they want to go to the Cabinet; and then they want to go to the White House; and rest has never been found there. Nor would I go among the halls of learning. "Much study is a weariness to the flesh." I would not go among the upper ten, the "bon-ton," for they are constantly chasing after fashion. Have you not noticed their troubled faces on our streets? And the face is index to the soul. They have no hopeful look. Their worship of pleasure is slavery. Solomon tried pleasure, and found bitter disappointment, and down the ages has come the bitter cry, "All is vanity."
Now, there is no rest in sin. The wicked know nothing about it. The Scriptures tell us the wicked "are like the troubled sea that cannot rest." You have, perhaps been on the sea when there is a calm, when the water is as clear as crystal, and it seemed as if the sea were at rest. But if you looked you would see that the waves came in, and that the calm was only on the surface. Man, like the sea, has no rest. He has had no rest since Adam fell, and there is none for him until he returns to God again, and the light of Christ shines into his heart.
Rest cannot be found in the world, and thank God the world cannot take it from the believing heart! Sin is the cause of all this unrest. It brought toil and labor and misery into the world.
Now for something positive. I would go successfully to someone who has heard the sweet voice of Jesus, and has laid his burden down at the cross. There is rest, sweet rest. Thousands could certify to this blessed fact. They could say, and truthfully:
I heard the voice of Jesus say, "Come unto me and rest. Lay down, thou weary one, lay down, Thy head upon my breast." I came to Jesus as I was, Weary and worn and sad. I found in Him a resting-place, And He hath made me glad.
Among all his writings St. Augustine has nothing sweeter than this: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our heart is restless till it rests in Thee."
Do you know that for four thousand years no prophet or priest or patriarch ever stood up and uttered a text like this? It would be blasphemy for Moses to have uttered a text like it. Do you think he had rest when he was teasing the Lord to let him go into the Promised Land? Do you think Elijah could have uttered such a text as this, when, under the juniper-tree, he prayed that he might die? And this is one of the strongest proofs that Jesus Christ was not only man, but God. He was God-Man, and this is Heaven's proclamation, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest". He brought it down from heaven with Him.
Now, if this text was not true, don't you think it would have been found out by this time? I believe it as much as I believe in my existence. Why? Because I not only find it in the Book, but in my own experience. The "I wills" of Christ have never been broken, and never can be.
I thank God for the word "give" in that passage. He doesn't sell it. Some of us are so poor that we could not buy it if it was for sale. Thank God, we can get it for nothing.
I like to have a text like this, because it takes us all in. "Come unto me all ye that labor." That doesn't mean a select few--refined ladies and cultured men. It doesn't mean good people only. It applies to saint and sinner. Hospitals are for the sick, not for healthy people. Do you think that Christ would shut the door in anyone's face, and say, "I did not mean all; I only meant certain ones"? If you cannot come as a saint, come as a sinner. Only come!
A lady told me once that she was so hard-hearted she couldn't come.
"Well," I said, "my good woman, it doesn't say all ye soft-hearted people come. Black hearts, vile hearts, hard hearts, soft hearts, all hearts come. Who can soften your hard heart but Himself?"
The harder the heart, the more need you have to come. If my watch stops I don't take it to a drug store or to a blacksmith's shop, but to the watchmaker's, to have it repaired. So if the heart gets out of order take it to its keeper, Christ, to have it set right. If you can prove that you are a sinner, you are entitled to the promise. Get all the benefit you can out of it.
Now, there are a good many believers who think this text applies only to sinners; It is just the thing for them too. What do we see to-day? The Church, Christian people, all loaded down with cares and troubles. "Come unto me all ye that labor." All! I believe that includes the Christian whose heart is burdened with some great sorrow. The Lord wants you to come.
Christ the Burden-Bearer.
It says in another place, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you." We would have a victorious Church if we could get Christian people to realize that. But they have never made the discovery. They agree that Christ is the sin-bearer, but they do not realize that He is also the burden-bearer. "Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." It is the privilege of every child of God to walk in unclouded sunlight.
Some people go back into the past and rake up all the troubles they ever had, and then they look into the future and anticipate that they will have still more trouble, and they go reeling and staggering all through life. They give you the cold chills every time they meet you. They put on a whining voice, and tell you what "a hard time they have had." I believe they embalm them, and bring out the mummy on every opportunity. The Lord says, "Cast all your care on Me. I want to carry your burdens and your troubles." What we want is a joyful Church, and we are not going to convert the world until we have it. We want to get this long-faced Christianity off the face of the earth.
Take these people that have some great burden, and let them come into a meeting. If you can get their attention upon the singing or preaching, they will say, "Oh, wasn't it grand! I forgot all my cares." And they just drop their bundle at the end of the pew. But the moment the benediction is pronounced they grab the bundle again. You laugh, but you do it yourself. Cast your care on Him.
Sometimes they go into their closet and close their door, and they get so carried away and lifted up that they forget their trouble; but they just take it up again the moment they get off their knees. Leave your sorrow now; cast all your care upon Him. If you cannot come to Christ as a saint, come as a sinner. But if you are a saint with some trouble or care, bring it to Him. Saint and sinner, come! He wants you all. Don't let Satan deceive you into believing that you cannot come if you will. Christ says, "Ye will not come unto Me." With the command comes the power.
A man in one of our meetings in Europe said he would like to come, but he was chained, and couldn't come.
A Scotchman said to him, "Ay, man, why don't you come chain and all?"
He said, "I never thought of that."
Are you cross and peevish, and do you make things unpleasant at home? My friend, come to Christ and ask Him to help you. Whatever the sin is, bring it to Him.
What Does it Mean to Come?
Perhaps you say, "Mr. Moody, I wish you would tell us what it is to come." I have given up trying to explain it. I always feel like the colored minister who said he was going to confound, instead of expound, the chapter.
The best definition is just--come. The more you try to explain it, the more you are mystified. About the first thing a mother teaches her child is to look. She takes the baby to the window, and says, "Look, baby, papa is coming!" Then she teaches the child to come. She props it up against a chair, and says, "Come!" and by and by the little thing pushes the chair along towards mamma. That's coming. You don't need to go to college to learn how. You don't need any minister to tell you what it is. Now will you come to Christ? He said, "Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out."
When we have such a promise as this, let us cling to it, and never give it up. Christ is not mocking us. He wants us to come with all our sins and backslidings, and throw ourselves upon His bosom. It is our sins God wants, not our tears only. They alone do no good. And we cannot come through resolutions. Action is necessary. How many times at church have we said, "I will turn over a new leaf," but the Monday leaf is worse than the Saturday leaf.
The way to heaven is straight as a rule, but it is the way of the cross. Don't try to get around it. Shall I tell you what the "yoke" referred to in the text is? It is the cross which Christians must bear. The only way by which you can find rest in this dark world is by taking up the yoke of Christ. I do not know what it may include in your case, beyond taking up your Christian duties, acknowledging Christ and acting as becomes one of His disciples. Perhaps it may be to erect a gamily altar; or to tell a godless husband that you have made up your mind to serve God; or to tell your parents that you want to be a Christian. Follow the will of God, and happiness and peace and rest will come. The way of obedience is always the way of blessing.
I was preaching in Chicago to a hall full of women one Sunday afternoon, and after the meeting was over a lady came to me and said she wanted to talk to me. She said she would accept Christ, and after some conversation she went home. I looked for her for a whole week, but didn't see her until the following Sunday afternoon. She came and sat down right in front of me, and her face had such a sad expression. She seemed to have entered into the misery, instead of the joy, of the Lord.
After the meeting was over I went to her and asked her what the trouble was.
She said: "Oh, Mr. Moody, this has been the most miserable week of my life."
I asked her if there was anyone with whom she had had trouble and whom she could not forgive.
She said: "No, not that I know of."
"Well, did you tell your friends about having found the Savior?"
"Indeed I didn't, I have been all the week trying to keep it from them."
"Well," I said, "that is the reason why you have no peace."
She wanted to take the crown, but did not want the cross. My friends, you must go by the way of Calvary. If you ever get rest, you must get it at the foot of the cross.
"Why," she said, "if I should go home and tell my infidel husband that I had found Christ I don't know what he would do. I think he would turn me out."
"Well," I said, "go out."
She went away, promising that she would tell him, timid and pale, but she did not want another wretched week. She was bound to have peace.
The next night I gave a lecture to men only, and in the hall there were eight thousand men and one solitary woman. When I got through and went into the inquiry meeting, I found this lady with her husband. She introduced him to me (he was a doctor, and a very influential man) and said:
"He wants to become a Christian."
I took my Bible and told him all about Christ, and he accepted Him. I said to her after it was all over:
"It turned out quite differently from what you expected, didn't it?"
"Yes," she replied, "I was never so scared in my life. I expected he would do something dreadful, but it has turned out so well."
She took God's way, and got rest.
I want to say to young ladies, perhaps you have a godless father or mother, a sceptical brother, who is going down through drink, and perhaps there is no one who can reach them but you. How many times a godly, pure young lady has taken the light into some darkened home! Many a home might be lit up with the Gospel if the mothers and daughters would only speak the word.
The last time Mr. Sankey and myself were in Edinburgh, there were a father, two sisters and a brother, who used every morning to take the morning paper and pick my sermon to pieces. They were indignant to think that the Edinburgh people should be carried away with such preaching. One day one of the sisters was going by the hall, and she thought she would drop in and see what class of people went there. She happened to take a seat by a godly lady, who said to her:
"I hope you are interested in this work."
She tossed her head and said: "Indeed I am not. I am disgusted with everything I have seen and heard."
"Well," said the lady, "perhaps you came prejudiced."
"Yes, and the meeting has not removed any of it, but has rather increased it."
"I have received a great deal of good from them."
"There is nothing here for me. I don't see how an intellectual person can be interested."
To make a long story short, she got the lady to promise to come back. When the meeting broke up, just a little of the prejudice had worn away. She promised to come back again the next day, and then she attended three or four more meetings, and became quite interested. She said nothing to her family, until finally the burden became too heavy, and she told them. They laughed at her, and made her the butt of their ridicule.
One day the two sisters were together, and the other said: "Now what have you got at those meetings that you didn't have in the first place?"
"I have a peace that I never knew of before. I am at peace with God, myself and all the world." Did you ever have a little war of your own with your neighbors, in your own family? And she said: "I have self-control. You know, sister, if you had said half the mean things before I was converted that you have said since, I would have been angry and answered back, but if you remember correctly, I haven't answered once since I have been converted."
The sister said: "You certainly have something that I have not." The other told her it was for her too, and she brought the sister to the meetings, where she found peace.
Like Martha and Mary, they had a brother, but he was a member of the University of Edinburgh. He be converted? He go to these meetings? It might do for women, but not for him. One night they came home and told him that a chum of his own, a member of the University, had stood up and confessed Christ, and when he sat down his brother got up and confessed; and so with the third one.
When the young man heard it, he said: "Do you mean to tell me that he has been converted?"
"Well," he said, "there must be something in it."
He put on his hat, and coat, and went to see his friend Black. Black got him down to the meetings, and he was converted.
We went through to Glasgow, and had not been there six weeks when news came that that young man had been stricken down and died. When he was dying he called his father to his bedside and said:
"Wasn't it a good thing that my sisters went to those meetings? Won't you meet me in heaven, father?"
"Yes, my son, I am so glad you are a Christian; that is the only comfort that I have in losing you. I will become a Christian, and will meet you again."
I tell this to encourage some sister to go home and carry the message of salvation. It may be that your brother may be taken away in a few months. My dear friends, are we not living in solemn days? Isn't it time for us to get our friends into the Kingdom of God? Come, wife, won't you tell your husband? Come, sister, won't you tell your brother? Won't you take up your cross now? The blessing of God will rest on your soul if you will.
I was in Wales once, and a lady told me this little story: An English friend of hers, a mother, had a child that was sick. At first they considered there was no danger, until one day the doctor came in and said that the symptoms were very unfavorable. He took the mother out of the room, and told her that the child could not live. It came like a thunderbolt. After the doctor had gone the mother went into the room where the child lay and began to talk to the child and tried to divert its mind.
"Darling, do you know you will soon hear the music of heaven? You will hear a sweeter song than you have ever heard on earth. You will hear them sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. You are very fond of music. Won't it be sweet, darling?"
And the little tired, sick child turned its head away, and said, "Oh mamma, I am so tired and so sick that I think it would make me worse to hear all that music."
"Well," the mother said, "you will soon see Jesus, You will see the seraphim and cherubim and the streets all paved with gold"; and she went on picturing heaven as it is described in Revelation.
The little tired child again turned its head away, and said, "Oh mamma, I am so tired that I think it would make me worse to see all those beautiful things!"
At last the mother took the child up in her arms, and pressed her to her loving heart. And the little sick one whispered:
"Oh mamma, that is what I want. If Jesus will only take me in His arms and let me rest!"
Dear friend, are you not tired and weary of sin? Are you not weary of the turmoil of life? You can end rest on the bosom of the Son of God.