"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"O Israel, put your hope in the Lord." Psalm 130:7
Hope opens its bright vista-view through the Elim
palms—the morning dewdrops drenching their fronds and sparkling with diamond
luster in the rising sun!
"Hope!" Who is insensible to the music of that word?
What bosom has not kindled under its utterance? Poetry has sung of it, music
has warbled it, oratory has lavished on it its enchanting strains. Pagan
mythology, in her vain but beautiful dreams, said that when all other
divinities fled from the world, Hope, with her elastic step and
radiant countenance and lustrous attire, lingered behind. The weeping
Hebrews, in the day of their exile, did not unstring the harps of Zion or
break them to pieces. No; they hung them, tuneless indeed and mute, but
still undamaged, on the willowed banks of the streams of Babylon. Why?
because Hope cheered them with the thought that these silent melodies
would once more awake, when God, in His own good time, would "turn again
their captivity as streams in the south."
"Hope!" well may we personify you lighting up your
altar-fires in this dark world, and dropping a live coal into many a
desolate heart; gladdening the sick room with visions of returning
health; illuminating with rays brighter than the sunbeam the captive's
cell; crowding the broken slumbers of the soldier, by his campfire,
with pictures of his sunny home and his own joyous return.
"Hope!" drying the tear on the cheek of woe; as the
black clouds of sorrow break and fall to the earth, arching the descending
drops with your own beautiful rainbow! Yes, more, standing with your lamp in
hand by the gloomy realms of Hades, kindling your torch at Nature's funeral
pile, and opening views through the gates of glory! Beautifully says a
gifted writer of the sister country—
"Where'er my paths
On earth shall lead,
I'll keep a nesting bough
For Hope—the song-bird, and, with cheerful step,
Hold on my pilgrimage, remembering where
Flowers have no autumn-languor, Eden's gate
No flaming sword to guard the tree of life."
Yes, if hope, even with reference to present and
finite things, is an emotion so joyous; if uninspired poetry can sing so
sweetly of its delights, what must be the believer's hope, the hope
which has God for its object and heaven for its consummation? "I wait for
the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I HOPE." "Let Israel HOPE in
This lofty grace, indeed, at times, requires stern
discipline to develop its noble proportions. It is often the child of
tribulation. The apostle traces its pedigree, "Tribulation works
patience; and patience experience; and experience HOPE" (Rom. 5:3, 4).
It would appear as if (recurring to the figure already employed), like the
rainbow in the natural heavens, Hope specially loves to span the moral
firmament with its triumphal arch, in the cloud of tribulation.
But, heaven-born, it is heavenward, too, in its
aspiration. It is generally represented by the sculptor's chisel as a
beautiful female form, with wings ready to be extended in flight. The safety
of the timid bird is to be on the wing. If its haunt is near the ground—if
it flies low—it exposes itself to the fowler's net or snare. If we remain
groveling on the low ground of feeling and emotion, we shall
find ourselves entangled in a thousand meshes of doubt and despondency,
temptation and unbelief. "How useless to spread a net in full view of all
the birds!" (Prov. 1:17; marginal reading). "Those who wait (or hope)
in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings
as eagles" (Isa. 40:31). "I will hope continually," says David, "and
will yet praise You more and more" (Ps. 71:14).
Again using a similar emblem—the bird in the tempest
rushing for shelter under the mother's wing—"You have been my help,
therefore under the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice" (Ps. 63:7). The
Believer is a "prisoner," but a "prisoner of hope." The gospel is a "gospel
of hope." Its message is called "the good hope through grace." The "helmet
of salvation" is the helmet of hope. The "anchor of the soul" is the
anchor of hope. The believer "rejoices in hope." Christ is in
him "the hope of glory." Hope peoples to him the battlements
of heaven with sainted ones in the spirit-land. He "sorrows not as others,
who have no hope."
When death comes, Hope cheers the final hour—"Now,
Lord, what do I wait for? my hope is in You." Hope stands with her
torch over his grave, and in the prospect of the dust returning to its dust,
he says, "My flesh shall rest in hope." Hope is one of the three guardian
graces that conduct him to the heavenly gate. Now abides these three,
"Faith, Hope, and Love;" and if it be added, "the greatest of these
is Love," it is because Hope and her companion finish their mission at the
heavenly door! They proceed no further; they go back to the world, to the
wrestlers in the earthly conflict. Faith returns to her drooping
hearts, to undo heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free. Hope
goes to her dungeon vaults, her beds of sickness, her chambers of
bereavement and sorrow. To take Faith or Hope to heaven, would be to take
the physician to the well man, or to offer crutches to the strong, or to
help to light the meridian sun with a tiny candle. Faith is then
changed to sight, and Hope to full fruition. Love alone holds
onto her infinite mission. Faith and Hope are her two soaring
wings. She drops them as she enters the gates of glory. The watchman puts
out his beacon when the sun floods the ocean; the miner puts out his lamp
when he ascends to the earth. Hope's candle-light is unneeded in that
world where "the sun will never set again, and the moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end."
"I dwell here in content,
Thankful for tranquil days;
And yet my eyes grow dim,
As still I gaze and gaze
Upon a mountain pass
That leads—or so it seems—
To some far happier land
Beyond the world of dreams."
"On we haste, to home invited,
There with friends to be united
In a surer bond than here:
Meeting soon, and met forever!
Glorious HOPE! forsake us never,
For your glimmering light is dear.
"All the way is shining clearer,
As we journey ever nearer
To the everlasting Home.
Friends who there await our landing,
Comrades, round the throne now standing,
We salute you, and we come!"
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and
peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power
of the Holy Spirit."