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soul. And as in those of heaven, one shines by borrowed rays, hope derives all its warmth and radiance from faith. Faith is an assent to certain truths; hope personally applies them. Faith says,
Christ died to save sinners:' hope teaches the convinced transgressor to reply, ' and to save me, who am a sinner.' Faith says,
Faith says, “Christ shall come to judge the world, in his own glory, and in the glory of his father :' hope whispers to the christian, and when he shall appear, I shall be like him ; for I shall see him as he is.' The object of faith is truth; that of hope is enjoyment. Faith is the persuasion of the understanding; hope is more connected with the feelings of the heart. If these distinctions be just, we may remark, in passing, that faith may be strong, where yet hope is weak: and consequently that faith, and the comforts of hope, are not always necessarily connected. There are many true followers of Christ, who have received the gift of faith, who, nevertheless, often groan under the bondage of fear: many, who can say, Lord, I believe:
help thou mine unbelief;"* yet cannot proceed to the consequence,-“I am persuaded that neither “ death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor heighth, nor depth, nor any other creature, “shall be able to separate me from the love of God, ” which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”+
In illustrating, therefore, the hope of eternal life, as a ground of christian rejoicing, I propose to cail your attention, both to the objects of that hope, and to some reflections, by which the exercise of it may be encouraged.
f Rom. viii. 38, 39.
# Mark is. 24.
Of the objects of christian hope, the first which I shall mention is, complete deliverance from the power and the effects of sin.
The heaviest load which oppresses a believer is the yoke of sin: his most cruel bondage, the law in his members, which wars against the law of his mind. From the importunities of unhallowed passion, and the irregularities of even the best affections; from omissions of duty, and positive transgressions, the most sanctified are not, in this life, perfectly exempted. The less a christian is under the influence of grace, these will be the more in number, and the greater in enormity: and the more complete the
grace in his heart, they will be both the fewer, and the less flagarant. But, in the latter case, his sense of them will be keener, and his sorrow on their account will be proportionally more bitter. While, with others, he still feels himself, in some measure, subject to the power of sin, he deplores it more than they, from his clearer perception of its unreasonableness, and his deeper conviction of its ingratitude. Deliverance from it, and from the disquietude which attends it, is therefore a precious object of the christian's hope. He looks forward to an abode in the city of the living God, into which nothing that defileth shall in any wise enter: where he shall live, free from the dread of pollution, and from the sense of guilt. There his warfare is accomplished, his internal struggle ended, and victory is completely secured. Delightful prospect! there shall we no longer be tormented by the motions of sin, the consciousness of disobe dience, or the fear of falling. There shall reason be the rule of our conduct; and the impulses of
“ In sorrow,
the heart will co-operate with its determination. No jarrings shall vex us from within; no temptations shall assail us from without. There, at last, shall we be at perfect ease, the result of inward tranquillity, and of external peace.
But the effects, as well as the power of sin, oppress the christian. By sin came death into the world, and all our wo. In the renewing of the Holy Ghost, the power of sin is broken ; but its immediate effects are not removed. " and in the sweat of thy face, shalt thou eat bread, “ all the days of thy life,"* was a part of the curse pronounced on the first transgressor; and many are the ills to which, in consequence, flesh is heir. The christian inherits them, in common with others. To him, indeed, they are not appointed as a curse, but are intended to operate as refining fires. Still, however, the external pain attendant on them is not thus diminished; while his inward sensibility is perhaps increased. Who is able to tell the number, and to specify the varieties of woes, which chequer the scenes of human life? Yet what need is there to mention any of them? Each of us has his own, however prosperous our condition: for if we have not real, we create imaginary evils. If we be impatient, when without worldly enjoyments, we grow sick of them, when obtained. If we be in pain when hungry, we are uneasy when we eat to the full. If we think ourselves miserable when poor, we feel ourselves to be really so, when we become rich. Bitter is mixed with every sweet; and great felicity is frequently but the source of greater
But, christian, thy hope opens to thee
. Gen. iii. 17, 19.
the prospect of that land, where “ the inhabitant “shall not say, I am sick;"* and anticipates the period, when we “ shall hunger no more, neither
thirst any more; when God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more
death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall " there be any more pain: for the former things “ shall have passed away.”+ Blessed hope! thou sweet companion of the afflicted, to what happy regions dost thou point the way! Be thou my companion through the journey of life ; and, however rough the way, I will go on rejoicing, till united with the objects whose image thou art;, then shall my joy indeed be full.
A second object of christian hope is, an enlargement of understanding, and an increase of knowledge.
The happiness of the heavenly state is frequently represented in scripture by metaphors taken from sensible things, It is deseribed as a feast, a marriage, a garden, a paradise, and the like. These expressions, however, are only used in accommodation to the weakness of our capacities : for when it is described in less figurative language, it is represented as wholly consisting of pleasures that are pure, dignified, and intellectual: and of these, one great ingredient, as revealed by inspiration, is the enlargement of our understandings, and the perfection of our knowledge. How rich a source of rejoicing the hope of attaining that enlargement and perfection is, will be readily acknowledged by all who are justly sensible of their deficiencies. The eyes of mortals are covered by thick scales, or bewilder* Isaiah xxxiii. 24.
6 Rev. vii. 16. and xxi. 4.
ed by deceitful lights. All seems dark or uncertain around; a few rays of divine truth excepted, which sparkle amidst the gloom, to guide our steps, and cheer our souls. Even to those, who, by adding much labour and study, to a more than ordinary quickness of perception, have attained to superior knowledge, how few things are known, compared with those of which they are ignorant: and those few, how imperfectly do they know them! The secret of creation, the manner in which the laws of nature operate, the apparently unequal conduct of providence, and the mystery of God manifested in the flesh, exceed the comprehension of the wisest among men. We must frequently believe what we cannot fully understand ; and practise many duties, all the reasons of which it is not given us to know. How delightful the hope, that the veil shall one day be removed; that we shall see no longer as “through a glass, darkly; but shall know, even as we are known !"* The
The queen of the south congratulated the servants of Solomon, on the happiness of their situation, in having so many opportunities of hearing his wisdom : but it shall be the happiness of Solomon himself to stand continually in the presence of our God, and “ in his
light to see light.”+ “ Now abideth faith :"I and, in the exercise of faith, we believe, on divine authority, what, by reason of the narrowness of our capacities, or the limited degree of revelation'afforded to us, we can but imperfectly comprehend. Hope enjoys the period, when faith shall be exchanged for vision; and when that, which we now
† Psalm mavi. 9. * 1 Cor. xiii. 13.
* I Cor. xii, 12.