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anchor is of no use in the Bay of Biscay, nor is Mr. Winchester's hope of any use in the bottomless pit. “They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.”
The first thing that the awakened sinner hopes for, as before observed, is the revelation of Christ to his soul, and pardon and peace through him. The desire of all nations is to him the one thing needful; and he knows that, if he gets it not in this world, it cannot be gotten in hell, where • hope never comes that comes to all.' (Milton.) After this he seeks with his whole heart, and this is the earnest desire of his soul; nor can he ever rest till he has got it; and every let, disappointment, or hindrance, increases his misery, adds to the smart of a wounded spirit, and inflames the plague of his heart, which only knows its own bitterness. “ Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life.”
But, when Christ manifests himself to such a sinner, when he shines into his heart, and presents himself to his faith; when he removes the heavy burden of his sins, and chases them from his sight; when he purges his conscience, binds up the broken heart, speaks peace to the soul, silences all his accusers, casts out fear and torment, softens his hard spirit, and conquers his stubborn will; enlarges his soul with love, and rescues his troubled mind from the meditations of terror, and from the gloomy regions of the shadow of death; comforts him on every side, and fills him with joy and peace in believing; then the desire of all nations is come, the desire is accomplished, and it is sweet to the soul. This is a discovery and a manifestation of Christ, which ennobles the mind, and enriches the soul with all true riches and spiritual treasure. “ To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you the hope of glory.”
Now the door of hope is not only open, but the way of life is cast up and made plain. The dreadful receptacle of the damned is out of sight and out of mind; every gloomy thought has taken its flight, and not one chained down either to death or damnation. They are all brought into sweet captivity to the obedience of Christ. A divine ray shines on the celestial track, while hope pursues a risen Saviour to the unclouded regions of eternal day; while faith stands gazing at the heavenly sight, lays hold of and embraces the refuge, and is no less than the confidence of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen; while hope goes within the vail, anchors there, and hangs fast, attended with an assured and undoubted expectation of eternal glory. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
This blessed manifestation of Jesus so changes
the scene in the poor sinner's soul, that old things pass away, and leave for a while little more than the bare remembrance of them; and all things become new. Oh! blessed experience of a divine and unctuous change of heart! Faith credits, patience waits, and hope springs from what faith brings in. Faith worketh patience, patience experience, and experience hope, Rom. v. 4.
This hope is of God, and not of man. It is not a fruit of nature, but of grace. All hope in a human arm, a good heart, a form of godliness, in legal obedience, or in the law of commandments, always gives way, as soon as the law enters and sin revives; at which time the poor mariner is at his wit's end. A violent storm, and the anchor's broke! Such a poor, withered, condemned sinner, sees no more possibility of any genuine fruit being brought forth in him, to the glory of God, than Abraham could of his seed being as the stars of heaven, or as the sand on the sea shore, when he was an hundred years old and Sarah ninety. But where nature fails, grace prevails; where flesh and blood afford no hope, God does; and, when reason can discover no possible ground for either hope or expectation, faith leads us to One with whom all things are possible. “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.”
A divine arm is made bare, and an almighty power is put forth, in both these cases, Abraham's
faith must fly from withered nature to divine ability. “Being fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able to perform.” And Sarah's faith must lead her from all possibility in nature to the power and faithfulness of God; and she “was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” This difficult hope of theirs is set forth as a pattern to us. We are to look to the rock whence we were hewn; and to the hole of the pit whence we were digged; we must look to Abraham our father, and to Sarah that bare us; that under the same almighty agency and operation, our dry, barren, withered souls, both hopeless and helpless in ourselves, may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost, Rom. xv. 13.
The immutable and immoveable foundation of this good hope, through grace is the veracity of God in the everlasting gospel, the absolute and unconditional promises of eternal life, and all blessedness in Christ Jesus, in whom all is yea and amen, to the glory of God by us; that is, to the glory of God's free grace by the eternal salvation of our souls. “ Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.”
The anchorage of this hope is within the vail. It hangs in all the fulness of the Godhead, which dwells bodily within the vail of Christ's flesh; where it rests sure and stedfast; and, while we are in this militant state, and imprisoned in these
clay tabernacles, we must, in every storm, in every difficulty, in every time of trouble and danger, fly to, and take shelter in, this ever-blessed hiding place; under whose wings we must make our refuge, till every calamity be overpast. “Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope."
Faith views divine things as most certainly true; hope hangs on and expects all that God promises, and all that faith credits; while charity is enamoured, falls in love with, and embraces as supremely good, all that faith discovers and credits, and all that hope hangs on and expects; and casts out all fear, that springs from doubt or distrust about them. Thus these three sisters are all employed; they all hang together, and mutually assist each other. Faith toils for clearer views, and hope for a stronger hold, while charity labours for more enlargement, more heat, and more enjoyment. Faith works in the mysteries; hope, to bear with patience the crosses that lie in the way of her expected reward; and love labours to keep the world out of the heart, and Christ unmolested, unrivalled, and undisturbed, in full possession of it. This is the work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.“ And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Although hope, at its first rise in an awakened sinner, has to do with things hard and difficult; yet nothing is more certain than those things that a good hope through grace is exercised upon.