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to be true for all that. In the endeavour to prove this point,
I. My first remark is, that a large portion of experimental religion, and of the divine life within a man, may be considered under the form of hope. Religious experience is a strong and well-grounded expectation that the promises which God has made to us will not be broken. Such expectation will triumph over the delusion of our senses, over the bitter accusations of our consciences, and the apparently stern decrees of God's providence. “We are saved by hope.” “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our God unto eternal life. “The full assurance of hope unto the end” is the highest type of spiritual experience; Christ condescends to call Himself “our hope.” We are “ the house,” that is, the dwelling-place, the family of God, “if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." We look for “ that blessed hope, the glorious appearing” or, presence “of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Our heavenly Father leads us on from one step to another of our earthly life by the power of hope. He filled our youthful heart with hopes which beguiled the tedium of our way. He encouraged us to expect in manhood and maturer life higher and nobler joys. Sometimes these hopes were ill-regulated and even delusive, but they taught us true and blessed lessons. They were not realized as we fondly desired, but they were a heavenly discipline,
and we have secured more than they ever foreshadowed to us in the deep experience they gave us, in the self-conquest that we achieved under their inspiration, in the work they enabled us to do.
In our maturer life we hope still, we have our daydreams yet : wiser than those of our infancy they are, but scarcely less vivid. Our knowledge of life has taught us to moderate our expectations and restrain our desires, but still we live to a large extent in the future even of this earthly life, and we are cheered amid our difficulties by the sight of our distant home, and nerved for our conflict with evil by the power that our Father has given us of hoping for nobler things. These remarks are peculiarly true in reference to the Divine Life. The feeblest Christian says, “I would not give up my hope for all the world. I hope to be saved.” The bravest and noblest of Christ's servants, when he had been pondering and expounding all the mysteries of salvation, exclaimed to his fellow disciples, “ We through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” “ Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” This hope is the link which con
. nects our faith and love together, and throughout the period of our discipline and trial “hope abideth."
A young Christian begins by hoping for salvation, and the earnest worker hopes for his reward. God's
servant bears His precious seed and casts it into the furrows, but he could not do so without the hope that he should “come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” All the strongest intuitions of faith are of the nature of hope. We are "prisoners of hope” so long as we are pent up in this “durance vile” of flesh and death. The essence of faith is to “turn to the stronghold," and look for the changeless life beyond the reach of our present turmoil, temptations, and disappointment. Verily, we Christians “ look for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” So long as we live on the earth it is ours to cherish “the hope of salvation," “ to endure to the end,” “not to be moved away from the hope of the gospel.” Many persons refuse the consolation of the gospel, and put it from them with “haughty suicidal hand,” because they cannot persuade themselves that the hope does in a measure contain all that it is possible to compass here now. They forget that it is “to those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory,” that God gives “honour, immortality, and eternal life.” They forget that this eternal life is a hope, a divine, abounding, purifying hope, which holds all heaven in its
The same principle holds good to the last; for when we draw near the end of this earthly pilgrimage, when our feet touch the dark waters, and the world recedes from our gaze, when the friends who surround our dying bed seem further and further removed from us, when all earthly joys fade, and flesh and heart shall fail, the last thing of which we shall be conscious will be our undying hope. When we take the last plunge into the seeming darkness, nothing will cheer our spirit but the hope of that darkness bursting into the light of more than day. The first moment of heaven, too, will be a grand majestic hope that will bear us on into the dateless circle of eternity—“a hope full of immortality.” It is my belief, that with all the purified and ennobled capacities of heaven itself, we shall still have much to hope for; we shall never attain the full maturity of our powers, nor ever apprehend all the mysteries of God.
There is nothing more truly sublime than the hope of the old Hebrews. It was the salt which preserved them from corruption. It was the substance” that was in the sacred tree, “even when it had cast its leaves." The strong conviction that in them all the nations of the world should be blessed; the imperishable hope that the daughter of Judah, though captive and dishonoured, was pregnant still with the world's destiny; the persuasion that God's promises could not be broken ; that He would arise and have mercy upon Zion; that He would not cast off for ever; that the stock of David might be blasted and cut down even to its roots, yet that the branch of the Lord should be glorious; and the quenchless hope that on the lowly, and despised throne of Judah a King should sit, whose goings forth were of old and from everlasting, that constituted the life of the holy seed. This wonderful hope was the eternal fire on those mysterious altars, and it is this which gives such unique interest to that peculiar people. Other nations lived upon the past, they upon the future. The great thinkers of other lands rested upon dogmas, they leaned upon promises. The patriarch whose bosom was the synonym of their paradise, “against hope believed in hope ;” and it is this hope of theirs which makes much of their religious experience to be the counterpart of ours.
It is the hope of Israel which enables us to take up the harp of David now, and find its strings vibrating with divinest melodies.
II. There are certain characteristics of hope expressed in this Psalm, which we can at once transfer to our own experience.
(1) It is a divine hope, “hope in the Lord;" hope thou in God;" “truly my soul waiteth upon God.” The confidence of Israel in their own destiny and deliverance, sprang not from their strange history, not from their own mental power, not from their value in their own esteem, not from their deserts, but from the Lord Jehovah. The root of their being was the eternal, ever-living, holy, faithful, covenant-keeping God. He could not be untrue, and He had promised. This was “the rock of their strength and their refuge." It is just in proportion
our hope fastens on God's promise that it is strong and life-giving. If we substitute anything,