"Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil."—Heb_6:19
Let us consider, from this passage, the Nature, Characteristics, Importance, and Certainty of the Christian's Hope.
I. The Nature of Christian Hope.
Hope is the earnest desire of some future good.
1. The object is always really or imaginarily good.
What is evil is an object of fear, dislike, and dread. Object of the Christian's hope is the enjoyment of God, the true good The enjoyment of his favor, smiles, and blessings to the end of life. And the enjoyment of his presence forevermore.
2. The object of hope must be future good.
Hope can never be exercised in reference to the past; and what we now possess, why should we hope for it? It is its peculiar province to be expecting, to be looking forward. Christian hope looks forward for the enjoyment of what God has laid up for them who love him.
3. The object of hope must be attainable.
It may be connected with difficulties but there must still be a possibility of possessing it. The Christian's hope is built on a foundation that can never fail; "For God will withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly."
II. The Characteristics of this Hope.
"Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul." Here a seafaring figure is employed to set forth the peculiar characteristics of the Christian's hope. Hope may be considered as the anchor of the soul in several respects.
1. The anchor is essential to secure the vessel in time of storm and peril.
When the Christian is in temptation and distress, hope keeps the soul from throwing away its confidence, and making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. See Job riding out the storm, and singing: "I know that my Redeemer liveth," &c. Paul, waiting his martyrdom: "I know in whom I have believed," &c.; Job_19:25; 2Ti_1:12.
2. The anchor is only of service when connected with a good cable.
The cable is faith. As this is weak or strong, clear or dark, hope will be lively or depressed. Hope depends for its vigor on a sound and strong faith.
3. The anchor must be employed; otherwise it can be of no service.
Neither will hope yield us any advantage unless it be exercised. We must abound in hope, and hope to the end; Heb_3:6 vi. 11; 1Pe_1:13.
4. The anchor must be cast on good ground.
Neither the rock, nor loose yielding sand, will admit the firm, abiding grasp of the anchor. It must be firm ground, or the anchor will slip, and the vessel be driven before the wind. The Christian's anchor is cast into that within the veil; it rests on Christ's finished work; on his having offered up himself as the sacrifice, and sprinkled the mercy-seat with his own precious blood: and his ever appearing in the presence of God to make intercession for us.
III. The Importance of this Hope.
1. It is of importance to our Christian character.
It is as indispensable to the believing soul as the anchor is to the vessel. All God's children are begotten again to this lively hope, &c.
2. It is of importance to our labors.
All must be done in hope. We must sow in hope; pray and wrestle in hope. Hope brightens the eye, nerves the arms, strengthens the shoulders, &c.
3. It is of importance to our happiness.
It is the honey of life, and sweetens every bitter cup. It beguiles the tediousness of our journey. It anticipates future bliss, and brings from the eternal ocean streams of holy pleasure and delight.
"The thoughts of such amazing bliss
Should constant joys create."
IV. The Certainty of this Hope.
"Both sure and steadfast." This is the very opposite of the hypocrite's hope, which shall perish; and of the hope of the ungodly, which shall be cut off. The Christian's hope cannot fail, unless,
1. The divine veracity fails.
He has spoken who is the Truth, and who does not repent, and who cannot change. And this he has not only affirmed by his word, but ratified with his solemn oath; Jam_1:17; Heb_6:18.
The Christian's hope cannot fail, unless,
2. Christ's precious blood should lose its saving efficacy.
By the shedding of that blood he has accomplished our redemption, and secured our salvation. And its efficacy is not only adequate to the deepest stains of human guilt, but its virtue is coexistent with eternity itself; Heb_5:9.
The Christian's hope cannot fail, unless,
3. Christ's presence in heaven and intercession should be unavailing.
And when we reflect that he is exalted to the highest dignity there, in his public and official character, that he may see the "travail of his soul, and be satisfied;" therefore his believing people cannot perish, without Christ being refused his covenanted reward. The Christian's hope is "sure and steadfast," for it rests on Jehovah's word and oath to them, and his word and promise to his Son; and on the continued preciousness of that offering, which possesses infinite and eternal virtue and merit; Isa_53:10, &c.; Heb_1:1-13.
1. Let the believer increase in hope, rejoice in hope, until its enrapturing anticipations shall terminate in glorious fruition. 2. Let the hopeless come to the blessed Saviour, who will, by the gracious manifestation of himself, banish darkness from the mind, and despondency and sorrow from the heart. There is, in the gospel, ample ground of hope to all who receive the record God has given of his Son