"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." Romans 15:13

From a meditation upon God as the God of love, we pass, by an easy transition of thought, to a meditation upon God as the God of Hope. These two titles are beautifully harmonious. Where there is divine love to man, there is divine hope for man. God's love assures me that I may hope in Him for everything that love can give, for all that belongs to Him is mine. Once assured that I have a home in His heart, I feel that I may repose in every perfection of His nature. What good may we not expect from Him who is love, and who has demonstrated that love in the transcendently great and precious gift of his son? If He has so loved us, what else will not such love bestow of present blessing, and of future good? We have but to know, by the witness of the Spirit, our present standing in Christ, thus to be brought into the experience of present peace, joy, and hope; and to be equally assured that, far away beyond the region of sin and sorrow, there awaits us a heaven where faith is turned into sight, hope is lost in fruition, and love bathes the soul in its boundless sea of bliss.

The present title of God, the "God of hope," is peculiarly expressive and endearing to the believing mind. His title as the God of love, has especially to do with our present. His title, as the "God of hope," has to do with our future life. The first, assures us of a salvation now- a present pardon, a present acceptance, a present adoption; the other, leads our thoughts onward and upward, and paints its rainbow-tints upon our solemn and eternal future, assuring us of a certain and full salvation to come. As the God of love, I dwell forever in His heart; as the God of hope, I shall dwell forever in His heaven. Let us proceed to examine the import of this remarkable title of God, and then the blessings flowing therefrom, as invoked by the prayer of the apostle; "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."

God is the God of essential hope- that is, hope in Him is an inherent element, a part of His essence. He is Hope itself. Of no other being can this be affirmed. The hope that springs up in the soul of all other intelligences, human or angelic, is a communicated thing, a passion extraneous from themselves. It is a beam flowing from God, as a ray of light from the sun, as a jet of water from the fountain. But hope in God, is as part of His nature-it is God Himself; He would not be God were He not the "God of hope." Hope, in Him, is a duality which no vicissitude can change, no cloud shade, no object eclipse. Thus, from God all intelligent beings receive the inspiration of their hope. A few particulars will illustrate this.

God is the Author of NATURAL hope. He has mercifully constituted man the creature of hope. What a wise provision, what a beneficent bestowment is this! What sustains man amid the toils, the troubles, and disappointments of the present life? It is hope. What quickens his intellectual powers, makes in him the spirit of enterprise, impels him onward in the accomplishment of great purposes, sustaining him amid toils the most exhausting, soothing him in trials the most severe, and bearing him up beneath reverses and disappointments the most crushing and bitter?

It is hope. The pole-star of hope fixing his eye, what labor will he not undergo, what sufferings will he not endure, to what privations will he not submit? Extinguish hope in the human heart, and you have enthroned grim despair, like a demon of darkness, upon the soul. Life has lost its sweetness, the creature its attraction, the world its charm, and all the future of the soul is shrouded in midnight gloom.

Hope, in man has been variously defined. Divines have discoursed of its nature, orators have declaimed of its influence, poets have chanted its pleasures, and even artists have symbolized its beauty. It has been described as the oxygen of the soul, as the last ray the cloud obscures, as the lighthouse pouring its golden beams over life's ocean, as the firstborn offspring of reason. It is at once man's kindest friend and his greatest foe. It keeps him from sinking in the bosom of the waves, and yet often allures him on to depths in which there is no standing, and to rocks from which there is no rescue; and so, by its promises and its flattery, plunges its too confiding victim into irremediable ruin and despair.

And yet, natural hope is God's kind and beneficent gift to man. It sits perched on the warrior's crest, it illumines the captive's cell, it lightens the slave's chain, it sustains the spirit of the exile, it strengthens the couch of languor, soothes the bed of suffering, and lulls to balmy repose the subject of mental disquietude and bodily disease. The hope of success in toil, of deliverance in difficulty, of return from exile, of recovery from sickness; in a word, the hope of realizing some future good, imparts its inspiration to man, feeds the lamp that cheers him onward, tints with prophetic ray the clouds and shadows that drape life's tomorrow.

"What is hope? The beauteous sun
Which colors all it shines upon.
The beacon of life's dreary sea,
The star of immortality.
Fountain of feeling, young and warm;
A day-beam bursting through the storm.
A tone of melody, whose lute
Is, oh! too sweet for earth!
A blossom of that radiant tree,
Whose fruit the angels only see.
A beauty and a charm, whose power
Is seen, enjoyed, confessed each hour.
A portion of the world to come,
When earth and ocean meet-
the last overwhelming doom."

And yet how insensible is the unrenewed man of his obligation to God, even for the natural hope with which He has inspired him! In the folly of his atheistic outcry, "there is no God," he pauses not to reflect upon the misery into which he would instantly plunge were God to extinguish this merciful inspiration within his heart. "Oh that man would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men."

My reader, are your circumstances trying? are your resources lessening? are clouds gathering? and do you find yourself tempted to succumb to despondency and despair? There is hope for you in God! All other sources and gleams of hope may have expired, but God is the "God of hope," and in His power and love, in His word and faithfulness, you may hope, even against hope. Take heart, then, and look up. Never yield to despair while there is hope in God. If things look discouraging, and prospects are gloomy, there is one Being to whose providence you may always turn with the full assurance of hope, that in His divine love and infinite resources, you will find compassion, support, and help.

Job reminds us that, "men see not the bright light that is in the cloud;" seeing it not, they succumb to despair. There is no pure, unmixed evil in our history. God's judgments are tempered with mercy. There is always, through His goodness and love, a precious pearl in sorrow's cup; and when that cup has been drank, and its bitterness is past, we shall find it undissolved, all the purer and more precious by the sanctified dealings of Him who, as a refiner and purifier of silver, purifies His people as gold and silver are purified, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Thus there are always some softening, mitigating circumstances in our deepest, sorest trials, something that tells of God's love and speaks of future hope. Oh, it is not all night with those who love God, nor even with those who do not love Him. When the sun sets, the moon rises; and when the moon is hidden, the stars shine out; so that, if earth is dark, heaven is light, and the night is all the more glorious for the very splendor which the darkness reveals.

Thus far we have spoken chiefly of natural hope in man, for which he is indebted to the power and goodness of God. But God is the Author of a higher, more spiritual, and immortal hope than this– the good hope, through grace, of eternal life, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and made known to us by His gospel. It is in this sense the apostle, in the passage upon which this chapter is based, speaks of God as the God of hope. We can know nothing of God as the God of hope but as He is made known to us in Christ. Out of Christ, there is no hope of salvation for man in God. Man lost all hope in himself when he sinned, and all hope in God when, for that sin, he was driven out of paradise, to he henceforth a fugitive and wanderer on the face of the earth, dark despair enthroned upon his brow. But, even before his expulsion from Eden, hope- the hope of salvation- trembled upon the dark cloud which shrouded that paradise of purity and bliss, in gloom. "From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." Here the first promise of a Savior, the first dawn of hope for sinners. This promise Goal fulfilled, and this hope mall realized when "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

When the Lord Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, made His advent into our world, the sun of hope rose with Him. The hope of salvation which faintly dawned in paradise, which shone brighter and brighter through the Mosaic, Patriarchal, and Prophetic dispensations, now burst upon mankind in meridian splendor. Christ had come, the long-promised Savior, and now, upon those who had sat in the region and shadow of death, a great light had risen– the light of life, the hope of salvation, the glory of God's forgiving love, in the face of Jesus Christ. Thus, there is not one ray of hope in God for a lost sinner outside of Christ.

He is, indeed, the God of hope, an infinite ocean of hope, boundless, fathomless, but it flows to the sinner only through one channel, it darts its beams only through one medium- Jesus the Savior, Christ the crucified One. Not a ray of hope emanates from His mercy, or from His goodness, or from His love, or from His power, but as it shines through the darkness and the suffering of the cross, in upon the soul prostrate in penitence and faith at its foot. With what fullness and glory does the atoning work of Christ appear, when seen in this light, as revealing the God of hope to sinners, who, tremblingly expected, and justly deserved, nothing but eternal despair. Let us now show more explicitly in what sense God is the God of hope to those who truly and humbly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is the hope of JUSTIFICATION in God through Christ. The Scriptures of truth set forth the obedience of Christ to the law, as constituting the righteousness of God unto all and upon all those who believe. Thus, "by the obedience of One many were made righteous." "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes" -mark, the end of the law." He traveled in His obedience to the end of all its precepts, to the end of all its commands, and to the end of all its curse. As a condemning law, as a justifying law, as a life-giving law, Christ, by His personal and full obedience, traveling to its utmost limit of requirement, made an end of it; as such, He abolished it; and he who believes in Christ; accepting in faith, Christ's righteousness as his justification before God, fully answers the end for which the law was given.

Thus, the meaning of the apostle evidently is, that Christ was the termination of the law, its scope, its fulfilling and accomplishment, "for righteousness to every one that believes." And now there is the hope of justification with God through Christ the Lord, our righteousness. Christ's obedience to the law has made it righteous on the part of God to justify the ungodly. It is now His supreme delight, as it is His sole prerogative, legally and justly, without any violence to His government, or shadow upon His character, to acquit, no, to justify the sinner who believes in Jesus.

Christ has made it so honorable, yes, righteous, on the part of God to reveal Himself as the God of hope to the guilty and condemned, that it is written, as with a sunbeam, upon the inspired page, "It is God who justifies!" What a glorious hope then, is this! The hope of a righteous and full acquittal from present and eternal condemnation, through the imputed righteousness of Christ. This hope have all the saints; for all who believe in Him are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.

My reader, this hope may be yours. If, seeing you renounce the worthlessness of your own righteousness, you are led to enfold yourself by faith in the all-justifying righteousness of the Savior, then you pass from the dreary region of condemnation into the sunshine of a present, free, and changeless justification before God. With the advent of this hope of acceptance in your soul; will be a "peace passing all understanding," and a "joy unspeakable and full of glory." Rest not lentil you attain it. One believing look at Christ, and the shadows of guilt and condemnation which drape your soul, will dissolve into the bright dawn of a hope that Christ has espoused your cause, has become your Surety, has paid your debt, and that you pass out of the court of God's justice not only acquitted, but justified; not merely without blame, but "unblameable and unreproveable in His sight." Oh, how divine, perfect, and glorious must be the righteousness of Christ, which can thus so fully and freely justify such vile, guilty sinners, as we! "Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us."

There is also the FORGIVENESS OF SIN in God through Christ. The forgiveness of sin is one of the divinest and most kingly prerogatives of God. To pardon with perfect satisfaction to divine justice; to forgive sins of the greatest number, and guilt of the grossest turpitude, without a stain upon the holiness of His character, or a shadow upon the glory of His name, was a problem in the administration of His moral government, the solution of which He alone was able to supply.

The gift of His co-equal and co-eternal Son, to die an atoning death, to offer Himself as a sacrificial victim to divine justice, fully met the otherwise insurmountable difficulties of the case. What in this matter was impossible with man, was possible with God. The entire scheme of human redemption is, in every part, impressed with the finger of God. If any expedient ever bore the visible and exclusive stamp of God's mind, it is this. Who but Jehovah could have devised a plan of salvation that would involve not the slightest compromise of the Divine glory? The more a spiritual, reflecting mind studies the whole economy of redemption, the more profound will be the conviction that a Divine heart alone could have conceived, and a Divine mind alone could have planned, and a Divine power alone could have executed, the scheme that saves fallen man. But how precious is the hope of pardon of which God in Christ is the Author and the Giver! No truth illumines the pages of inspiration with greater brightness than this– "There is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared." "Who is a God like You, that pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgressions of the remnant of His heritage?" "You are a God ready to pardon."

Since Jesus has shed His most precious blood, it is now glorious on the part of God to dart a ray of the hope of pardoned sin into the darkest, vilest heart that ever wept, and sobbed, and confessed at His feet. Approach, O sin-distressed, guilt-burdened one! there is the hope of forgiveness for you in God. He delights in mercy. And since He can forgive all your transgressions for Christ's sake, and be glorious in the eyes of angels and of saints in so doing, do you think that he will spurn you from His throne of grace, if you but acknowledge your transgressions, with the hand of faith resting upon the head of Christ, the sin-atoning lamb of God?

How real and effectual, then, must be the sacrificial work of Jesus, thus to have unsealed a spring of Hope in God for guilty men! Who will question the vicarious nature of His sufferings, the atoning design of His death, contemplating it in this convincing light? In no other way can the holy Lord God, consistently with His righteousness, reveal Himself to sinners as the God of hope. All other hope is a fallacy. All hope in the abstract mercy of God, or in the fancied meritoriousness of man, is a false and vain hope, which must inevitably and irretrievably plunge its subject into shame and everlasting contempt. Your hope, then, my reader, lies in your taking hold of Christ the eternal life of your soul. Not a ray gleams forth from any other source but the cross of Christ. Here there is hope for the vilest wretch, the chief of sinners, but only here! The dark shadow of despair is lost amid the effulgence of hope which bathes in unclouded sunshine the cross of Calvary. All who stand beneath the divine bow which spans this sacred hill, may uplift their eyes to God as their reconciled Father, and to heaven as their future and eternal home, with a full-orbed and unclouded hope. This suggests another thought.

God is the divine author of THE HOPE THAT IS IN THE SAINTS, and thus emphatically He is the "God of hope." We are told by the apostle, in that magnificent and precious schedule of spiritual blessings, the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, to be "saved by hope." Each believer has "Christ in him, the hope of glory." And the indwelling of the Spirit is the pledge and earnest of its certain and full realization. Oh, what a mercy to have within us, "a good hope through grace" of eternal life! A hope well grounded, firmly fixed, immovably anchored on Christ. It is the hope of a penitent sinner, who sees nothing to hope in within himself but a fallen nature, a soul smitten with the leprosy of sin, a heart deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. But more than this.

It is the hope of a believing sinner that sees in the person of Christ a Divine, gracious, all-sufficient Savior, and in the work of Christ a salvation finished, full, and free; having come to Christ in child-like belief, nothing questioning, nothing demurring, by a personal act of faith in a personal Savior. How real and precious is now the hope of glory in the soul, which, like the sun in its orbit, is fixed there, the center and the fount of life, light, and joy.

Beloved reader, if you are the possessor of this hope; if your soul rejoices in its purifying, elevating, heart-soothing influence; render all praise, thanksgiving, and obedience to Him who, as the God of hope, has planted this blessed hope within your soul as a sun that will never set.

Now the apostle breathes a prayer on behalf of those who have Christ in them, the hope of glory; "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit."

The first blessing is "all joy"- that is, all true joy. There is a species of religious joy that is spurious; and there are carnal joys which are but the prelude and the preface to endless sorrow. "The joy of the hypocrite shall perish;" "The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment." Solemn words, heart-searching declaration! The joy that springs from the mere excitement of a stirring appeal, or a glowing picture of heaven, or impassioned description of religious experience, the flights of fancy, or the delusions of a morbidly-distempered mind, is but as the crackling of thorns under a pot– blazing noisily for a moment, and then expiring in midnight darkness. But the apostle prays that the saints may be filled with the "joy of the Lord, which is their strength." The joy of pardoned sin, the joy that springs from Christ, the joy of reconciliation with God, the joy the Holy Spirit imparts, and which, like living water, springs up in the soul into eternal life. "All joy,"– that is, all filial, believing, sanctifying, hopeful joy– joy even in tribulation and sorrow, in suffering and loss, for Christ's sake.

"Peace in believing," is another blessing which flows from the God of hope, and for which the apostle prays. Peace, divine peace, assured peace, peace which passes all understanding, is a Christian attainment of the highest order, and within the experience of all believers. It flows from friendship with God, is the fruit of acceptance in Christ, is the result of the application to the conscience of the peace-procuring, peace-speaking blood of Christ. This peace flows not through the channel of doing, or enduring, or meriting, but is emphatically "peace in believing." These two features belong to it; it comes from Christ, and through faith. "He is our peace." And as faith, pure, simple faith, travels empty-handed to Christ's blood for pardon, to Christ's righteousness for acceptance, to Christ's Spirit for sanctification, to Christ's heart for sympathy, to Christ's fullness for supplies of grace, strength, and comfort; peace, in silvery streams and flowing like a river, will diffuse a divine serenity and repose throughout the whole soul.

The last blessing flowing from the God of hope is, our "ABOUNDING IN HOPE through the power of the Holy Spirit." The infinite fullness of hope in God, and manifested through Christ Jesus, justifies and encourages the believer's enlarged measure of this faith. The hope of too many Christians is but limited, beclouded, and uncertain. They hope in God through Christ, it is true; but they have not the full assurance of hope. Now, it is our precious privilege to live in the constant and free exercise of this grace and although there may be much in us to question and becloud it, though our iniquities prevail, and our backslidings abound, and our infirmities and trials are many. Yet, trusting in the all-sufficiency of our God, and in the infinite fullness of Christ, our hope of present good and of future bliss may much more abound, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

So divine and holy a grace is the grace of hope- by no human power kindled, and by no human power kept alive- there is no limit to its experience. A thousand times over it had perished, had man inspired and dad man guarded it. Hope, in the Christian, is a divine grace, and divinity keeps it; it is heavenly, and its nourishment comes from heaven, And that self-same Spirit who quickened us into spiritual life, who enkindled in the saint the first spark of hope, now enables us to abound in this grace to our own comfort and peace, and to the praise and glory of His divine name. Oh, then, let us not be satisfied with a little measure of this grace, content with a bare hope that we are saved; but let us beseech the Holy Spirit to cause this grace of hope to abound in us, and that our souls may abound in it,
to the "full assurance of hope to the end," unshaded by a doubt, unruffled by a fear.

God is an infinite sea of hope; the finished work of Jesus lays the basis of the strongest hope; and the Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart, is the pledge and first-fruits of a hope that shall grow large and shine brighter as it nears its full and eternal consummation. If we desire to "abound in hope," we must abound in faith. Just in the same proportion to our believing, looking to Christ, our growing in a knowledge of Christ, living upon the fullness of Christ, will be the measure and luster of our hope in Him. If, for example, we look down into a dark well, we see the image of the sun but dimly reflected from its shaded surface; but uplifting our eyes to the blue heavens, we see the sun as it is, in its full-orbed glory, and we exclaim, "Surely the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun."

Thus, if we look down into the deep, dark recesses of our own hearts, we see the image of Christ but imperfectly reflected, if reflected at all, from our partially renewed and sanctified nature, and doubts and fears assail us; but if we look out of, and off from, our sinful selves, directly to Christ, we shall have such an unclouded view of His glory and fullness, His sufficiency and love to receive and save us just as we are, as will fill us with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and thus our souls will abound in hope, through the Holy Spirit taking of the things of Christ and showing them unto us.

So important is this view of our subject, I venture to repeat the thought that, the measure of our simple, direct faith in Christ, will be the measure of our abounding in hope of eternal life. Not a ray of hope springs from within or from without ourselves, in anything that we are, or in anything that we do, or endure. The toil of a slave, the obedience of a serf, or the death of a martyr, would avail us nothing as to the reality of the hope that we were saved. But, one believing direct look at Jesus will neutralize every doubt, dissipate every cloud, and quell every fear concerning the fact of our salvation; and the blessed hope of being forever with the Lord will shed its sunshine through our whole being. Oh, then, earnestly, importunately pray for this abounding in hope, and rest not until you have attained to its richest experience.

To this I would add, for the encouragement and comfort of any of my readers, be thankful to God for the least measure of hope in your soul. It is not the degree, but the reality, not the vividness, but the existence of hope within you, that constitutes your assurance and comfort. One grain of real gold, is of more worth than thousands of the counterfeit and the false. One ray of a good hope through grace, beaming down from the cross of Christ into your heart, is worth more than world on world, and infinitely outweighs the value, and outshines the splendor, of the most costly religion and the most gorgeous ritual man ever devised. Despise not, then, your humble hope in Christ. Has your heart caught a beam? Hold it fast, cherish it, nourish it, guard it, by living constantly upon the Savior, from where that sunbeam came. "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope in His mercy." "Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you that hope in the Lord."

Abandon not, then, your feeble, humble hope in Christ, for millions of worlds. Hold it fast, though, like the tide, it may ebb and flow, and, like the sun, be sometimes hidden behind a passing cloud. That hope in Christ, faint and fluctuating though it may be, will never expire. The sun shall cease to shine, and the moon shall withdraw her light; the heavens shall pass away, and all things created shall be dissolved, but the hope enkindled in your regenerate soul by the "God of hope," and resting upon Christ, who is our hope, and kept alive by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, though it be like a spark, tossed amid the ocean, shall never die; but, guarded by the power of God, the intercession of Christ, the grace of the indwelling Spirit, and bound up with the immutable promise of Jehovah, it will be lost only in the full fruition of eternal glory.

The hope of the believer in Christ is a SANCTIFYING hope. It must necessarily be so. The fountain of it is the holy God of hope, the foundation of it is a holy Savior, and the author of it is the Holy Spirit. Thus the apostle argues- "Every man that has this hope purifies himself, even as He is pure." Just as the beams of the sun travel to a stagnant stream, not to partake of its exhalations, but to cleanse its impurities, so the hope that shines from God in Christ into the soul, blends not with its moral corruptions, but exerts a purifying, sanctifying influence, molding the heart into its own divine beauty and holy nature. Oh, then, if we have this hope in us, however humble and faint it may be, let us aim after purity of heart and holiness of life, that before long we may "see God" in glory!

Strong is the consolation in circumstances of difficulty, trial, and hopelessness which flows from faith in God as the God of hope. Our condition, at times and under some circumstances, may appear entirely hopeless to our view. Not one ray of hope may illumine the darkness, or cheer the desolateness of our position. Nevertheless, there is hope in God. When all other hope, and hope in all other sources fails us- we may turn to God in prayer, and faith, and hope, and find in Him all that we need. "Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me?- hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

Never give up hope in God! Everything may look dark, and threatening, and hopeless; needs may press, and difficulties may interpose, and impossibilities may present themselves in your case; nevertheless, cling in prayer, and faith, and hope, to the "God of hope,'' and your hope in Him, through Christ, however slender and dim, shall not make you ashamed. Hope on, like Abraham, "who against hope believed in hope," and who "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God," and you shall be brought, like him, safely and triumphantly through all your trials, difficulties, and needs. Oh for more faith in God as the God of hope! With Him nothing is too hard; with Him all things are possible. In Him all resources of wisdom and power, of riches and love, dwell.

And in order to bring you into a closer and more experimental acquaintance and communion with His character as the "God of hope," He may write the sentence of death and despair upon everything, and upon every being but Himself. How solemn the exhortation bearing upon this; "Don't put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When their breathing stops, they return to the earth, and in a moment all their plans come to an end. But happy are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God."

The subject is a heart-searching one. It supplies a motive to close self-examination. There is nothing in which self-deception is more involved, no grace which may be more easily or is more universally counterfeited, than hope. No marvel that David so fervently prayed, "Let me not be ashamed of my hope." No wonder that many religious professors, when they approach the hour of death, are led to exclaim, in all the terrors of despair, "Where is now my hope?" Let us, then, look well to the foundation and character of our hope. If it is only the hope of the worldling, or the hope of the formalist, or the hope of the hypocrite, or the hope of the professor, it is a vain and spurious hope, and the sooner we abandon it and fly to Christ, and take hold of Him, the Hope of eternal life, the better will it prove for our everlasting well-being.

Oh, let your hope be only in God, revealed to you in the Son of His love; and built on nothing else but Christ crucified. Accept no authentication of its genuineness, save the witness of the Spirit with your spirit. If you feel the plague of sin in your heart, and see the worthlessness of your own righteousness, and run unto Christ, hide in Him as in a cleft of the Rock, then lift up your head with joy, and "hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

We must not forget the HOPE OF THE COVENANT, which our God of hope has graciously given us. This hope has, in all ages of the Church and experiences of the Christian, been as a sheet-anchor to the soul. When times have been trying, and providences have been dark, and the truth has been assailed, and men of God have trembled for the ark tossing amid the waves, what a cable of strength, what an anchor of hope, has the covenant of grace been to the believing mind! David found it so. "It is my family God has chosen! Yes, he has made an everlasting covenant with me. His agreement is eternal, final, sealed. He will constantly look after my safety and success. This covenant of grace stands by us amid the vicissitudes and changes of this ever-changing scene. When creature props break, on which we too confidingly leaned; when human hopes fade, which we too warmly cherished; when earthly friends depart, to whom we too fondly clung; when the sky is lowering, and the morn is dark, and the shadow of death, and the damps of the grave drape our poor, smitten, lonely hearts, oh then, this well-ordered and most sure covenant throws its bright rainbow upon the clouds, smiling down upon us in its many-tinted hues of peace, joy, and hope, bidding us trust in the faithfulness and love of our covenant God.

There are times when the most matured saint of God may pass through A MOMENTARY OBSCURATION OF HIS HOPE. Bodily disease may induce mental despondency, this, in its turn, may cause spiritual darkness, and this, again, give rise to soul-conflict; and thus the "good hope through grace," which "God, who cannot lie," has given to all His children, may for the moment be obscured. Be it so. Does this imply that your hope is forever lost? By no means. Is the anchor of the vessel lost, or the sun in the heavens extinguished, because it is invisible? Neither is the hope of the believer lost when some intervening object, such as guilt on the conscience, unbelief in the heart, or despondency of mind, throws it, for a moment, in partial, or even total, eclipse. Desponding saint of God, your interest in Christ, and your hope of heaven, are not lost because the sensible realization, and the happy enjoyment of it, are for a while suspended! The anchor may not be visible, but it still holds the vessel, and she will ride peacefully and safely through the storm, fastened to that anchor. You have nothing to fear; your soul is in Christ's keeping, not yours; your hope is not fastened on things below, but on things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.

How calculated is this subject to soothe the grief, and to mitigate the bitterness, of parting in death with those for whom we "sorrow not as others who have no hope!" Oh yes! we have hope in their death. They lived in hope- they departed in hope- their flesh rests in hope of a glorious resurrection; and we sorrow not over a hopeless grave. They are with Christ. Absent from the body, they are present with the Lord. Their faith may have been feeble, their joy, limited, their hope humble- nevertheless, looking only to Jesus, resting solely on Christ, it is our comfort to know that it was not the strength of their faith, nor the depth of their joy, nor the vividness of their hope, that saved them– but, "Jesus only." And now they are with Him. Oh, how holy, how blissful, how glorious! They conflict no more with sin, are assailed no more by temptations, are beclouded no more with doubt and fear– they sorrow, mourn, and weep no more! And soon we shall be with them, and all of us forever with the Lord.