« PreviousContinue »
If, in looking for eternal life, you are resting on anything in yourself, there is no hope. Take the pains to compare your trust with the word of God, the unerring rule for a matter of so much sacred interest. A close examination of that word shows that to rest on any goodness in ourselves as a ground of safety is contrary to the express design of the gospel ; it is deceiving ourselves; it is cherishing a fatal mistake: for if this were not a mistake, why should the Son of God have become incarnate ? Why should he have lived in sorrow, and died an accursed death? What meaning can there be in his appointing his messengers to preach forgiveness of sins by him to all the world? What need is there of the earnest invitations to accept salvation as THE GIFT of God? The entire strain of the Old and New Testament is clearly against üs, if we seek, or think we have found, any hope in ourselves.
Appealing to the only authority we have on such questions, look carefully at this truth. Examine what the Scriptures teach. Ask yourself, when alone and thoughtful, whether it would be wise to trust in your own heart. If you would only consider calmly what you really are at the best in the sight of Him who searches and knows your heart, you could not help seeing that there is much, very much, in that heart which is offensive to his purity, condemned by his righteousness, rebellious against his authority, utterly inconsistent with that love to him which ought to be supreme, and as utterly inconsistent with the possibility of obtaining his favour, and being happy in his presence.
You cannot satisfy yourself by looking to yourself; and if so, think what must be your prospects if you have no better hope than this ? Do you think you can satisfy God? But it has pleased him graciously to make himself known to you, if you give your mind to the study of his word, and if you draw nigh to him in prayer. That word has also told you that the hopes you cherish must be expressly warranted by his own truth. His truth does not warrant any hope which rests for justification on anything in your own state, or anything in your own thoughts, feelings, purposes, words, or deeds; because, as He judges you, your state is one of alienation from him, and all that passes in your mind is thereby vitiated. He cannot be satisfied with any hope which does not acknowledge that his law condemns you, which does not gratefully honour his exceeding grace in saving you, which does not look with joyful confidence to that work of our Lord Jesus Christ on which He looks with approval and delight, which does not spring up in your heart under the guidance and living power of his own Spirit, and which does not bring forth in you the fruits of humility, patience, watchfulness, diligence, charity, and a growing preparation for that world which is to be the home of all his children. It is for you, reader, to examine your hope in this light. If, when fairly tried, you are obliged to confess that it is not a hope approved by your heavenly Father, it is surely a hope which ought not to content you. If so, let it not beguile you. Be not your own tempter. Suffer not your best interests to' perish by leaning on a prop that will surely fail, and will pierce you with disappointment and sorrow when you come to your utmost need. You have heard of the Arabian traveller through the deserts, who is sometimes cheered by the prospect of what he believes to be a sheet of water, at which he hopes to quench his thirst, but which vanishes at his approach, because it is only the reflection of the sunbeams on the sand. Thus it is that men are cheated by their hopes. They take dreams for realities, fancies. for truths, and wander away from safety to the most fearful peril. Oh, search the ground and reason of your hope. Be honest to yourself, faithful to your own soul. Know that · your “ heart is deceitful,” that “the deceitfulness of sin" hardens the heart, and that the deceived and hardened heart is on
IS THERE NO HOPE FOR ME?
happiness to a false hope.--"Lean not unto thine own understanding.” “ He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” “ Happy is he whose hope is in the Lord his God.” “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” • “ Christ in you the hope of glory.” “ Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." Meditate on these golden sentences. See in them how you are taught to rely, not on anything in yourself, but on that which is in Christ; not on your merit, but on his grace. You are to seek salvation, not by works, but by faith ; not through your own strength, but by the Spirit of God. This hope, but none other, will guide you to fountains and palm trees in the desert. This hope will be to you as the light of the morning in your darkness, as the music of heaven to you in your hour of sorrow, the opening of the gates of life on the bed of death. Oh, that this hope may be yours! Then you will never put the troubled question which has torn so many hearts—Is there no hope for me?
The reader of this page may be one whose temptation is not to presumption, but to despondency. You think of your sins, your provocations, your perverted powers, your abused privileges, your wasted opportunities, your wilful abandonment of what you knew to be true, and right, and good, and happy. You shudder as you glance upon the past. The memory of the days which are fled is like a sting of death to you. You know the hardness of your heart; you dread the doom that awaits you. However true the declarations of the gospel may be concerning others, and whatever hope there may be for them, you are disposed to say, not with inquiry, but with the gloom of one who has made up his mind- Is there any hope for me?
Now, it is most true that there is no hope for you while you continue in such a state of mind as this. You are not believing ; --what hope can there be for an unbeliever? You do not repent;--what hope can there be for the unrepenting? But there are three questions suited to your case, two of which may be answered from the Scriptures ; the third you must answer for yourself.
One question is, Is there any guilt chargeable against you for which the blood of Christ cannot atone ? The scriptural answer to this question is plain and decisive. “By him all that believe are justified from all things.” “ The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." “ Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” “For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting," 1 Tim. i. 16. There is no sin of any man which is repented of and forsaken, that may not be pardoned, when mercy is sought in the name of Jesus Christ. He can “save to the uttermost.” He is “ the propitiation for our sins.” His blood is precious : his own language is, “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
The next question is, Is there any evil in your heart which the gracious power of the Holy Spirit cannot subdue ? To this question the answer of the gospel is equally simple and conclusive. He " is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." To men who had been sunk in the lowest depths of sin it is said, “but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God ;" and by the self-same Spirit the hearts of men who were dead in all manner of trespasses and sins have been quickened; they have become new creatures in Christ Jesus : “ old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new."
The final question is, Are you willing, as a repentant sinner, to lay hold of the hope set before you? If not let this be well pondered—there is no hope for you. As well might Naaman have hoped to be cleansed from his leprosy while he lingered far from Jordan, or the manslayer among the Hebrews to be safe without fleeing to the city of refuge. There is a refuge open to you: you are to flee to it. There is a " hope set before you :" you are urged by the voice of mercy to lay hold of it. Your most serious thoughts urge you to lay hold of it. The assurance of a solemn judgment, and the prospect of eternity, are urging you not to seek comfort in yourself, in your past doings, your present feelings, or your purposes for the future, but only and always to fee for refuge, to “ lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil: whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus,” Heb. vi. 18-20.
" HE BEGGED HARD FOR MERCY." It is often said by those who have attended the death-bed of a neighbour, “He begged hard for mercy before he died.” They think, and the departed person seemed to think, that God is a severe Judge, but that, by thus crying, his mind might be changed, and that he would thus be induced to become less severe.
Now this is an erroneous view, for God's mind does not want changing ; it is we, and only we ourselves, who want changing. We need not intreat of God that he will open some new and particular way of salvation for us; he has opened a way already; in that way we may even now be saved, but only in that way.
Let us refer to Scripture! “God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John iii. 16. Now here we are told, that God so loved the world, as to give Jesus Christ his dear Son, who was God as well as miin, to die for a guilty world. If God so loved the world; how does he, so to speak, need to be changed ? But, observe, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish.” God has given hiş