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hope, therefore, in God from past experience of his mercy.”
As to particular cases, we cannot even glance at the character of Omnipotence, without seeing that all cases to him are alike; that there is nothing great, nothing little, with God: nothing plain, nothing intricate: nothing hard, nothing easy! As Asa said, It is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power. God has but to speak, and it shall be done: to command only, and it shall stand fast; but to speak again, when it stands fast, and it shall be broken in pieces. With him are power and might: none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? Hope, therefore, in God, because he is Almighty, and he will supply all thy wants. Be then the case of a Christian what it may, let him hope in God: and let him add, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
I have endeavoured to point out to you then the DEEP DEPRESSIONS, encountered by the best of men—the DUTY OF SUCH MEN-and their ONLY INFALLIBLE RESOURCE, HOPE IN GOD.
Before I dismiss the congregation, I would speak a word to another sort of persons :-Men whom we may term HOPERS. They also hope; but it is their misery, that their confidence is ill placed. They hope; but it is not in God.
You ask, perhaps, “ Whom do you mean? To whom do you speak?”—I reply, Ask yourselves — “ Do I hope in God? Do I seek acquaintance with him in his own way? Do I carry my troubles to him? Have I formed any saving acquaintance with him in his word? Are not my hopes placed on something else, however mean, and base, and foolish ?” Ask yourselves, if you entertain any hope at all—and who is the man that is not kept alive by hope ?—ask on what thy hope is placed.
The most unthinking man talks of hope: the very hypocrite talks of hope ; but does not lay it to heart, that it is said, The hope of the hypocrite shall perish.
The most carnal man talks of hope ;-something that shall comfort him by and by, if not now. Did not Ahab hope to comfort himself in Naboth’s vineyard ? Did not Solomon hope that in his riches he should find satisfaction? Yet, after all, he found all but vanity and vexation of spirit. Did not Haman build high, because he was the favourite of the King ? did he not think,
“ The king is my friend :” and that he might bless his soul, and tell his family of his prosperity ?-and what became of Haman?
In the ancient sacrifices, it was the custom to crown the victim with garlands, and lead it to the altar with music. Behold the picture of all vain hopers ! They hope not in God: and the decree is gone forth, They that turn away from him, shall perish.
Before, then, you meet the fulfilment of this decree, the decree of him who has declared that the wicked shall be turned into hell, instead of calling on yourselves to hope, I pray you to ask, “Whý am I lifted up? Let me turn to God, and I cannot raise my hopes too high: I shall be blessed indeed. But my present hope will lead me down to the chambers of death.” I pray that the vain thoughts of thy heart may be forgiven thee; and that thou mayest thus awake in time, before thou sleepest the sleep of death.
But let us learn, Brethren!-I speak to my Fellow-Christians---let us learn never to cast away our confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. Never let Satan rob you of your precious jewel-Hope in God: for that has been the honour of the true servants of God, in all ages of the world. By whatever name they may have been called, their character is found here: Seeing, then, that we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. And, among other things for which we are too look to him, is this, that we may learn to run: and how did he run? Who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame. Consider him, therefore, says the Apostle, that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself.
I would, finally, leave a few CAUTIONS on
1. While you are hoping, and not casting away your confidence, you must OFTEN HOPE THROUGH AN INEXPLICABLE PROVIDENCE, AND DEPEND ON GOD IN THE ORDER OF HIS DISPENSATIONS.
He knows his own purposes, though you know them not. I turn to the right hand, says Job, and see him not; and to the left, but cannot perceive him: yet he knoweth the way that I take. We must not wish the wheels of providence to turn from their course; but must hope in that way.
2. EXERCISE HOPE IN THE PATH OF DUTY.
Turn not aside because the way is rough. Trust through the storm. Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not to thine own understanding: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
3. EXERCISE YOUR CONFIDENCE WITH RESPECT
TO YOUR BEST INTERESTS.
That is best for the man, which is best for his soul. God does not consult your ease, but your profit: as a wise schoolmaster consults not the ease of his scholars, but their advancement. The Christian must meet God in this way: he must have confidence in him, as promoting his best interests, and doing him good in his latter end. God hath confirmed his counsel by an oath, that, by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul. The waves may beat: storms will come: we must expect bad weather; but—the anchor ! —the anchor! which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.