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that he may have anything, do anything, see anything, or know anything good. Hope is the friend of man in every siage of life, though life be full of disappointment: but there are two kinds of hopenamely, hope for the present life, and hope for the future.
Now, though I am fully persuaded that no living man can find any earthly enjoyment permanent—that neither riches, honours, nor emoluments-neither fame, reputation, nor possessions can possibly satisfy his soul-yet God has implanted in his very nature, and confirmed it by His holy word, that he that plougheth should plough in hope, and he that soweth should do the same : but wide is the distinction between the hopes of one man and those of another, even in the affairs of this life. There are men, and by far the greater majority too, who say—" To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and buy, and sell, and get gain: whereas, they know not what shall be on the morrow: for what is their life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away" (James iv. 13, 14). I say there are such men who make all their hopes dependent upon their own wisdom, and whose calculations are fixed only upon their own opinions of things fit and proper for success: these men meet with dreadful disappointments, and scarcely know how to bear their lives when they fail in their speculations, but murmur and complain as if their wisdom had a right to success : “Whereas (says the Apostle James), these men ought to say, “If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that." This is the real foundation of true hope in the present or future lifethe will of God-the submission of the will of man
to that of his Maker: in short, that godliness which is profitable for the life that now is and for that which is to come. “ Where is now my hope?" exclaims the disappointed man whose prospects were confined to the attainment of some earthly thing, when he finds that it is fled that with all his calculation, all his ambitious hopes, his dreams of fortune, place, power, and station, he has got nothing. He is no more than he was and not a bit better off for all his exertions. “ Where is now my hope?" As for my hope, who shall see it? It is wind, and why? Because it was not what it ought to have beensubmission to the will of God. Had it been so, real humility would have been exalted; and, if disappointment had come, the hopeful man would have seen why it was, that he might learn wisdom.
O, let us learn from this language of the pious Job where to place our hopes with the least possible chance of being disappointed. We have seen this good man afflicted beyond what any of us could endure—at least, beyond what it may in the inscrutable wisdom of the Almighty seem fit that we should any of us endure. Houses, home, riches, children, flocks and herds, all swept away in a few short days; but more than this, Satan's hand is upon him, and his body is afflicted with such a hideous disease as to make him a sight abhorred in the eyes of his fellow-creatures, until he exclaims“ Mine eye is dim by reason of sorrow, members are as a shadow. My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart. They change the night into day ; the light is short by reason of darkness; if I wait, the grave is mine house ; I have made my bed in the darkness;, I have said to corruption, thou art my father to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister: and where is now my hope ? As for my hope, who shall see it?" This language is meant to convey to us this solemn truth--that all things here below, 'however fair in prospect and apparently stable in possession, are so liable to be afflicted by the change of time and condition that it is the utmost folly to place our hopes in them. This wisdom is so exemplified in the character of Job that men of the plainest common sense may see the very reason why his history has been preserved as the sacred record of divine wisdom-it: is on purpose that we may be wise unto salvation be ready to give up all things into the hand of God who gave us them, and never to hold them but as His talents to be devoted to His service, and to be gladly yielded when He sees fit to call us away. God had no pleasure in afflicting Job; but He suffered him to be so tried that all the world might see an example of suffering patience and learn to be contented. Where is now my hope? Let any man-aye, I
and all my
say, let every man of this assembly put the question of this text to his own heart—" Where is now my hope?” Where is now yours? and yours? and yours? How many young men are cut down in the prime of life and carried to their graves ? Alas! how soon do we all say to corruption, thou art my father : to the worm, thou art my sister and my mother. O let me beseech you to think where are your hopes! “If in this life only we have hope (says the apostle), we are of all men inost miserable:" for we are here as Christians, to know Christ, to take up His cross daily, not to be reconciled to a guilty world, but to be the followers of Him whose king
dom is not of this world. The form and fashion of this world passeth away. Job experienced this Christ came to declare it, and all the apostles, saints, and martyrs have proclaimed the same truth, that here we have no abiding place.
To what then should we attach our hopes? They should all be centred in God, or they will all meet with disappointment. “Where is now my hope?"
. I speak this of myself with regard for you: my hope is that as I sow the word of God around meas I speak, as I exhort, admonish, warn, and teach, that upon some honest and good hearts the word of God may fall so as to be productive of good fruits. The sinner's hope is that in Christ he may be forgiven : that hope can only be fixed upon this assurance, that “there is forgiveness with God in Christ.” In these days few really consider the sound effect of Christ's atonement made for sin : few survey that perfect sacrifice with such hope of its efficacy as to Jay it to their own souls as the satisfaction to God for the sins of the whole world. O sinner! let me ask upon what else can you rely for pardon? All our hope is in the atonement made to God for our sins by Him who offered Himself a willing sacrifice for sin that the hope of salvation inight come unto us. Tell me not of any other ground of hope for the sinner: we can have no sort of hope of heaven without this knowledge of Christ. Heaven is high-how shall we ever reach it except Christ lift us up thereto? By this atonement we are restored to the privilege of the sons of God.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God! Therefore, the world knoweth us pot, because it knew not Him. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is; and every man who hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure” (1 John iii. 1, 2.) Is then this hope in you? If not, where is now your hope ? O purify your souls by frequent meditations upon these things! Examine your own selves-prove your own selves; for hope that maketh not ashamed is fixed on heaven.
May the Lord God who inspires us with hope give us grace to see these things more clearly than we have done: may we none of us look lightly upon any sin, but abhor it in ourselves, reprove it in others, have pity and compassion on the ignorant, and try to lead them into virtue, honesty, and truth.
If we have hope in Christ, may we be able through God's grace and help to inspire others with the same;
the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound more and more in the Holy Ghost, working in you that peace which passeth all understanding, through Jesus Christ our Lord.-Amen.
Believe me, your affectionate friend,