In treating the preceding portions of the chapter, we have had frequent occasion to note, how one prominent thought or idea leads to an expansion of the same; how one strain in the Song suggests a prolonged note. It is again so here. "Waiting for the adoption," formed the central theme in the former verse. That grace of "Waiting" is to be farther dwelt upon and developed. It is described by an equivalent word; a word which, in itself, represents one of the mightiest and most stimulating of spiritual forces, that word is HOPE.

(V. 24, 25) "For we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."

We may venture in this passage to personify HOPE, and regard it as a beautiful Incarnation. Not an old Sybil (an ancient Greek prophetess) scattering the leaves, or weaving the web of destiny--but the Inspirer of all good thoughts--animating, strengthening, energizing.

Looking even to its every-day and material aspect, what would this world of ours have been, or be, without Hope? Milton sings of,
"White-handed Hope,
A hovering angel girt with golden wings."

Or a later minstrel,
"Through the sunset of Hope.
Like the shapes of a dream,
What Paradise Islands of glory gleam?"

A hundred illustrations will readily occur. The author of "The Pleasures of Hope" has so far written before us. The mother bending over the cradle of her infant--her heart palpitating with new joy--has no eye for anything but a bright and gracious future. Hope admits of no cloud in her horizon. The same mother, in after years, follows her boy amid winter storms--"in cradle of the crude imperious surge." But Hope will allow her to see no stormy bird heralding tempest and disaster--but rather pictures the wilderness of waters as one vast "Pacific,"--the vessel borne on by propitious breezes, and "many ports exulting in the gleam of her mast."

Hope--the same guardian-angel, watches by the soldier at his camp fire; and in his broken dreams throws prismatic rainbows athwart coming battlefields and stormed stronghold. Hope is the true warder in the captive's cell, which opens iron doors, and restores to the sweets of liberty. Hope is the invisible companion that walks side by side with the Alpine climber, and keeps before his mental vision the lodging looming amid the blinding storm, whose opened gates he may never be destined to reach. Hope is the strength and inspiration of the ingenuous youth, as well as the spectacle of manhood in encountering life's sterner battles. Hope is the cheerer of old age; which puts bars of amber and gold in the sunset sky.

"Hope whispers over the cradled child
Fast locked in peaceful sleep,
Before its pure soul is sin-beguiled,
Before sorrow bids it weep.
'Tis heard in manhood's risen day,
And nerves the soul to might,
When life shines forth with fullest ray
Forewarning least of night.
It falls upon the aged ear,
Though deaf to human voice,
And when man's evening closes drear,
It bids him still rejoice."

But the HOPE the Apostle here speaks of is not the apotheosis of the secular poet. But "the Hope of the Gospel,"--"the Hope full of immortality"--"the Hope laid up for us in heaven." "The Hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised before the world began."

His train of thought seems to be this (if we may venture on a paraphrase)--"I have recently spoken of the sufferings of the present time. These are mysterious--often utterly baffling to sight and sense--beyond our 'why and wherefore.' But be not discouraged. I have recently adverted to your rank in the heavenly hierarchy and household, as sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ. Sufferings, prolonged and severe, may seem to you strangely inconsistent with these exalted titles and so magnificent a heritage. But be not discouraged. I have just brought before your thoughts 'the first fruits of the Spirit.' Have these pledges failed to assure you? Can you, under these gloomy skies and battering storms of suffering, see no pledge of the promised golden harvest? Be not discouraged. No, rather, hope against hope. Seek to submit with calm acquiescence to the divine will. 'Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday.' We may be unable to see the needs be; 'but if we hope for what we see not, then (knowing the faithful promise and the Faithful Promiser) do we with patience wait for it.'"

Hope has well been defined by Tholuck as "Faith in its prospective attitude." Faith and Hope, in the Spiritual Temple, are twin pillars; they cannot be dissevered. Hence they are so frequently grouped together by the inspired writers. "Now faith is the confidence (or assurance) of things hoped for" (Heb. 11;1). They are spoken of elsewhere by Paul as the two wings which bear Love to the gate of heaven. They accompany her no farther; they are no longer needed, where faith is lost in sight, and hope in fruition (1 Cor. 13;13).

When Columbus was approaching his yet undiscovered "Treasure Trove"--the mighty continent he was destined in due time to claim as his own--stray branches, or fragments of branches with berries which here and there floated on the waves, and the land birds circling round his vessel, formed the earliest indications of unknown shores. These may be regarded as appeals to his faith. Hope--the Apostle's impersonation, had a different evidence to substantiate these expectations. She, seated as it were at the vessel's prow, could see nothing. "Hope that is seen is not hope." But she "hoped for that she saw not," and "with patience waited." She strained her eyes along the blue troughs of the ocean, for the evidence of things not seen, until, at last, faintly in the far distance was discerned the streak of shore, studded with dwarf-palm, and heard the music of the breakers. Faith and Hope could then sing together in concert their "eureka." "The shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country" (Acts 27;27).

So with the believer. In his case also, "Hope that is seen is not hope." The hope of the Christian deals with an unseen Lord and an invisible future. "He walks by faith, not by sight." That muffled future is nevertheless a verity. Despite of the haze and the darkness, he knows that the morning comes. The star of Hope is hovering over the eastern horizon. He has implicit reliance in the Bible chart, and steers with confidence through blinding fog and buffeting waves. He claims a heritage in his Lord's beatitude--"Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed."

That same Hope, under a new and familiar symbol, is described as "an Anchor sure and steadfast--entering into that within the veil," and imparting "strong consolation to lay hold on the hope set before us." The anchor (I speak of the earthly emblem) is unseen by the mariner. It grasps the rock or shingle far down out of view. But he knows how safe he is. While other ships--unmoored--may be plunging and heaving around him, he has no thought of danger. His vessel is as secure as if it were sleeping on its shadow in summer seas. That anchor, in the divinely spiritual sense, cast into the Rock of Ages will ride out all storms.

Thus then, as the Apostle here expresses it--"We are saved by hope." "Saved;"--that word must not be misleading. It has been preferably rendered by "kept," "preserved," "sustained" (Barnes). "Saved "--Salvation, in the true and only Gospel sense of the term, we have seen traced to a very different procuring cause, unfolded in the previous context, specially at the opening of the chapter. Let Peter testify in his words of simple grandeur--"Neither is there SALVATION in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4;12). No other Oracle but one can give us the response for which the soul craves. We might go to the Angel of Hope, as the weeping women did of old to the Angels of the Sepulcher, but like them we would be left weeping; until, like them too, we meet our risen Lord and get His benediction--the blissful assurance of a completed salvation, in His atoning work and sacrifice. In Him we have "everlasting consolation and good hope through grace."

Perhaps some who trace these words may be unable to realize the strength and certainty and consolation of this hope. The anchor, "sure and steadfast," may not appear to be holding them. Theirs at least may be fitful alternations of doubt and despondency, with the agonizing quest, "Where is now my God?" This is exactly what we have previously seen the Apostle recognizing in the composite dual nature. It is exactly what he implies in our present verses, when he speaks of the need of "patience" and the need of "waiting." The people of God have, in every age, been subject to seasons of hopelessness and depression. We have dolorous strains mingling amid the strong and victorious accents of the ancient Patriarch of Uz. We hear the plaintive cry on the lips of the great Elijah as he lay feeble and panic-stricken in the desert. We hear David wailing out his dirge, now in the ascent of Olivet, now amid the glens of Gilead, now under the cedar-roof of his Zion palace. We hear tremulous accents from the lips of the faithful Baptist within the walls of Machaerus prison, when his lips seemed mysteriously and prematurely silenced, and hope extinguished. We have heard Paul himself uttering a piteous miserere--as a "wretched man"--with the body of sin and death hampering and impeding his spiritual progress. And thousands since his age, and these, too, not Little Faiths, but Great Hearts, have had similar experience. The eagle eye of faith gets filmed, and the drooping wings refuse to soar. "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disturbed within me?" There is but one answer--"Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God" (Ps. 42;11 ).

"And as in sparkling majesty a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud,
Brightening the half-veiled face of heaven afar;
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet HOPE! celestial influence, round me shed,
Waving your silver pinions over my head."

Reader, should you now be undergoing a doleful experience--should the music and ripple of spiritual life for the time be gone--the haze of the skies blurring the splendors of the Great Sun--doubt and unbelief projecting their evil shadow--it may even be, materialistic views taking the prismatic colors out of Hope's rainbow; accept as the surest and best of antidotes, a more habitual, realizing view of Christ as a personal, all-sufficient Savior--"Christ in you, the hope of glory." The slabs taken from the Roman catacombs, seen in the Museum of the Vatican, show unmistakably what kept alive drooping faith in the hearts of the early Christians--"Hope in Christ-God".

"There, behold how radiantly
Beams the Star of Hope divine,
Yesterday it shone for thee,
And today it still shall shine;
Ask no aid the world can give,

What are the hopes of the world compared with this? transient, illusory; beacons often changed into balefires; bubbles on life's ocean sparkling their little moment--then vanishing forever! Even Wordsworth, who seldom indulges in the minor strain, thus takes up the parable on worldly hopes--
"Hopes, what are they? beads of morning
Strung on tender blades of grass;
Or a spider's web adorning."

Let it not be so with you. Having access into this grace wherein we stand, rejoice in hope of the glory of God--making Paul's motto and watch-word your own--"We look not at the things which are seen; but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." May that good and gracious Spirit who gives pledges and first fruits of the coming heavenly inheritance renew and quicken you with fresh ardor; enabling you to catch up, like the Isthmian runners in the night-race, the torch of hope which other beloved hands have dropped. Be it yours to say in the words of one of the sweetest singers of the far west--
"Wherever my path
On earth may lead; I'll keep a nesting-bough
For Hope the song-bird, and with cheerful step
Hold on my pilgrimage."

There are many such nesting-boughs if we would only soar to them and make them our perch. The future, aye, even the future of the world, is replete with hope. Let others take a pessimistic view of things coming on the earth, there is much too to brighten and gladden. There is hope for the future of humanity--the deliverance of a groaning creation. He has hopes, too, nobler, better, more enduring, far-reaching. There is a description well-known to all, of Hope "lighting her torch at Nature's funeral pile," and shedding her beams through the eternal ages. The Valley of Achor, the valley of the shadow of death, thus becomes "a door of hope." Through faith in death's great Conqueror, "mortality is swallowed up of life." Then there is the hope--the delighted confidence, which we were led to refer to in the previous meditation, of meeting the departed--reunion with "the beloved long since and lost awhile." Add to this the culmination of all--the hope of assimilation to the divine image; the hope, amid present faults and defeats and failures, of complete holiness--the realization of another Apostle's dearest wish and exhortation--"And let every one that lath this hope in Him purify himself even as He is pure" (1 John 3;3).

Thus does the Bell of Hope, in varying cadence, ring Paul's chime--"With patience wait for it." Weeping, in another similar beautiful personation, is represented by the Psalmist as a tearful angel-watcher. "Weeping may tarry for the night; but joy comes in the morning" (Ps. 30;5).

Lord! I shall seek, in calm expectancy, to tarry for that blessed hope and blessed day-dawn! I shall take down my harp from the willows and sing the midnight melody, "I wait for God, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope" (Ps. 130;5); listening to our Apostle's double prayer and benediction; "Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work" (2 Thess. 2;16, 17). "Now 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" (Rom. 15;13).

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