J. C. Ryle 1816 – 1900
‘Good hope through grace.’ – 2 Thessalonians 2:16
‘I hope,’ is a very common expression. Everybody can say, I hope.’ On no subject is the expression used so commonly as it is about religion. Nothing is more frequent than to hear men turn off some home-thrust at conscience by this convenient form of words, ‘I hope.’ ‘I hope it will be all right at last.’ ‘I hope I shall be a better man some day.’ ‘I hope we shall all get to heaven.’
But why do people hope? On what is their hope built? Too often they cannot tell you! Too often it is a mere excuse for avoiding a disagreeable subject. ‘Hoping,’ they live on. ‘Hoping,’ they grow old. ‘Hoping,’ they die at last – and find too often that they are not in heaven, but lost for ever in that world which lies beyond the grave.
I invite the serious attention of every reader of these pages. It is a subject of the deepest importance. ‘We are saved by hope’ (Rom. 8:24). Let us, then, make sure that our hope is sound. Have you a hope that your sins are pardoned, your heart renewed, and your soul at peace with God? Then see to it that your hope is ‘good’ and ‘lively,’ and one that ‘maketh not ashamed’ (2 Thess. 2:16; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 5:5). Consider your ways. Shrink not from honest, searching inquiry into the condition of your soul. If your hope is good, examination will do it no harm. If your hope is bad, it is high time to know it, and seek a better.
There are five marks of a ‘good hope.’ I desire to place them before my readers in order. Ask yourself what you know of them: prove your own state by them. Happy is he who can say of each of these marks – ‘I know it by experience. This is my hope about my soul.’
1. In the first place, a ‘good hope’ is a hope that a man can explain. What saith the Scripture? ‘Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you’ (1 Pet. 3:15).
If your hope is sound you must be able to give some account of it. You must be able to show why, and wherefore, and on what grounds, and for what reason, you expect to go to heaven when you die. Now can you do this?
Let no one misunderstand my meaning. I do not say that deep learning and great knowledge are needful to salvation. A man may know twenty languages, and have the whole body of divinity at his fingers’ ends, and yet be lost. A man may be unable to read, and have a very weak understanding, and yet be saved. But I do say that a man must know what his hope is, and be able to tell us its nature. I cannot believe that a man has got a thing if he knows nothing about it.
Once more, let no one misunderstand my meaning. I do not say that a power of talking well is necessary to salvation. There may be many fine words on a man’s lips, and not a whit of grace in his heart. There may be few and stammering words, and yet deep feeling within, planted there by the Holy Ghost. There are some who cannot speak many words for Christ, and yet would die for Him. But for all this, I do say that the man who has a good hope ought to be able to tell us why. If he can tell us no more than this, that ‘he feels himself a sinner, and has no hope but in Christ,’ it is something. But if he can tell us nothing at all, I must suspect that he has no real hope.
I know that the opinion just expressed displeases many. Thousands can see no necessity for that clear knowledge which I believe to be essential to a saving hope. ‘Knowledge,’ they tell us, ‘may be very well for clergymen and professors of theology, but it is too much to require it of common men.’
My answer to all such people is short and simple. Where in the whole New Testament shall we find that men were called Christians, unless they knew something of Christianity? Will anyone try to persuade me that a Corinthian Christian, or a Colossian, or Thessalonian, or Philippian, or Ephesian, could not have told us what was his hope about his soul? Let those believe it who will; I, for one, cannot. I believe that in requiring a man to know the ground of his hope I am only setting up the standard of the New Testament. Ignorance may suit a Roman Catholic well enough. He belongs to what he believes is ‘the true Church.’ He does as his priest tells him. He asks no more. But ignorance ought never to be the characteristic of a Protestant Christian. He ought to know what he believes, and if he does not know he is in a bad way.
Search your heart, and see how the matter stands with your soul. Can you tell us nothing more than this, that ‘you hope to be saved?’ Can you give no explanation of the grounds of your confidence? Can you show us nothing more satisfactory than your own vague expectations? If this
be the case, you are in imminent peril of being lost for ever.
I lay down this principle as a starting point, and I ask you to consider it well. I know that there are different degrees of grace among true Christians. I do not forget that there are many whose faith is very weak and whose hope is very small, in the family of God. But I believe confidently, that the standard of requirement I have set up is not a whit too high. I believe that the man who has a good hope will always be able to give some account of it.
2. In the second place, a good hope is a hope that is drawn from Scripture. What says David? ‘I hope in thy word.’ ‘Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.’ What says St. Paul? ‘Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope’ (Psa. 119:81, 49; Rom. 15:4).
If our hope is sound we ought to be able to turn to some text, or fact or doctrine of God’s Word, as the source of it. Our confidence must arise from something that God has said in His Bible, and that our heart has
received and believed.
It is not enough to have good feelings about the state of our souls. We may flatter ourselves that all is right, and that we are going to heaven when we die, and yet have nothing to show for a reason but mere fancy and imagination. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things.’ ‘He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool’ (Jer. 17:9; Prov. 28:26). I have frequently heard dying people say that ‘they felt quite happy and ready to go.’ I have heard them say that ‘they felt as if they craved nothing in this world.’ And all this time I have remarked that they were profoundly ignorant of Scripture, and seemed unable to lay firm hold on a single truth of the Gospel. I never can feel comfort about such people. I am persuaded that there is something wrong in their condition. Good feelings without Scripture do not make up a ‘good hope.’
It is not enough to have the good opinion of others about the state of our souls. We may be told by others on our death-beds to ‘keep up our spirits,’ and ‘don’t be afraid.’ We may be reminded that we have lived good lives, and had a good heart, and done nobody any harm, and not been so bad as many. And all this time our friends may not bring forward a word of Scripture, and may be feeding us on poison. Such friends are miserable comforters. However well meaning, they are downright enemies to our souls. The good opinion of others, without the warrant of God’s Word, will never make up a good hope.
I entreat every reader of these pages to beware of a hope not drawn from Scripture. It is a false hope, and so many will find out at their cost That glorious and perfect book, the Bible, however men despise it, is the only fountain out of which man’s soul can derive peace. Many sneer at the old book while living, who find their need of it when dying. The
in king in his palace and the pauper in the workhouse, the philosopher in his study and the child in the cottage – must all be content to seek living water from the Bible, if they are to have hope at all. Honour your Bible, read your Bible, stick to your Bible. There is not on earth a scrap of solid hope for the other side of the grave which is not drawn out of the Word.
3. In the third place, a good hope is a hope that rests entirely on Jesus Christ. What does St. Paul say to Timothy? He says that Jesus Christ ‘is our hope.’ What does he say to the Colossians? He speaks of ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (1 Tim. 1:1; Col. 1:27).
Let us beware of supposing that any hope is good which is not founded on Christ. All other hopes are built on sand. They may look well in the summertime of health and prosperity, but will fail in the day of sickness and the hour of death. ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor. 3:11).
Church-membership is no foundation of hope. We may belong to the best churches, and yet never belong to Christ. We may fill our pew regularly every Sunday, and hear the sermons of orthodox, ordained clergymen, and yet never hear the voice of Jesus, or follow Him. If we have nothing better than church membership to rest upon we are in a poor plight. We have nothing solid beneath our feet.
Reception of the sacraments is no foundation of hope. We may be washed in the waters of baptism, and yet know nothing of the water of life. We may go to the Lord’s table every Sunday of our lives, and yet never eat Christ’s body and drink Christ’s blood by faith. Miserable indeed is our condition if we can say nothing more than this. We possess nothing but the outside of Christianity. We are leaning on a reed.
Christ Himself is the only true foundation of a good hope. He is the rock – His work is perfect. He is the stone – the sure stone, the tried corner-stone. He is able to bear all the weight that we can lay upon Him. He that buildeth on Him shall not be confounded (1 Pet. 2:6).
This is the point on which all true saints in every age have been entirely agreed. Differing on other matters, they have been of one mind upon this. Unable to see alike about church government, and discipline, and liturgies, they have ever seen alike about the foundation of hope. Not one of them has ever left the world trusting in his own righteousness. Christ has been all their confidence: they have hoped in Him, and not been ashamed.
Would you know what kind of deathbeds a minister of the Gospel finds comfort in attending? Would you know what closing scenes are cheering to us, and leave favourable impressions on our minds? We like to see dying people making much of Christ. So long as they can only talk of ‘the Almighty,’ and ‘providence,’ and ‘God,’ and ‘mercy,’ we must stand doubt. Dying in this state, they give no satisfactory sign.
Give us the men and women who feel their sins deeply, and cling to Jesus – who think much of His dying love – who like to hear of His atoning blood – who return again and again to the story of His cross These are the deathbeds that leave good evidence behind them. For my
part I had rather hear the name of Jesus come heartily from a dying relative’s lips, than see him die without a word about Christ, and then by told by an angel that he was saved.
4. In the fourth place, a good hope is a hope that is felt inwardly in the heart. What says St. Paul? He speaks of ‘hope that maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.’ He speaks of ‘rejoicing in hope’ (Rom. 5:5; 12:12).
The man who has a good hope is conscious of it. He feels within him something that another man does not. He is conscious of possessing a well-grounded expectation of good things to come. That consciousness may vary exceedingly in different persons. In one it is strong and well defined; in another it is feeble and indistinct. It may vary exceedingly in different stages of the same person’s experience. At one time he may be full of ‘joy and peace in believing’; at another he may be depressed and cast down. But in all persons who have a good hope, in a greater or less degree, this consciousness does exist.
I know well that this truth is one which has been fearfully abused and perverted. It has been brought into great disrepute by the fanaticism enthusiasm, and extravagance of some professing Christians. Men creature excitement has been mistaken for the work of the Holy Ghost The over-wrought feelings of weak and nervous people have been hastily supposed to be the result of grace. And then has come in the devil! Contempt has then been poured on religious feelings of every description. Their very existence has been denied and scoffed at by a sneering world, and the result is that the very name of ‘feelings’ in religion is in many quarters dreaded and disliked.
But the abuse and perversion of a truth must never be allowed to rot us of the use of it. When all has been said that can be said against fanaticism and enthusiasm, it is still undeniable that religious feelings are plainly described in Scripture. The Word of God tells us that the true Christian has peace, and rest, and joy, and confidence. It tells us of some who have the ‘witness of the Spirit,’ of some who ‘fear no evil,’ of some who enjoy ‘assurance,’ of some who ‘know whom they have believed, of some who ‘are persuaded that they shall never be separated from the love of God in Christ.’ These are the feelings for which I contend. This is that sober, inward experience in which I see nothing extravagant enthusiastic, or fanatical. Of such feelings I say boldly, no man need be ashamed. I go further, and say that no man has a good hope who does
not know something of these feelings in his own heart. I go further still
and say that to hold any other doctrine is to cast dishonour on the whole work of the Holy Ghost.
Will any one tell us that God ever intended a true Christian to have no inward consciousness of his own Christianity? Will any one say that the Bible teaches that people can ‘pass from death to life,’ be pardoned, renewed, and sanctified, and yet feel nothing of this mighty change within? Let those think it who will; I can hold no such doctrine. I would as soon believe that Lazarus did not know that he was raised from the grave, or Bartimaeus that he was restored to sight, as believe that a man cannot feel within him the Spirit of God.
Can a weary man lie down in bed and not feel rested? Can the parched traveller in an African desert drink water and not feel refreshed? Can the starved sailor, in arctic regions, draw near to the fire and not feel warmed? Can the half-naked, hungry, homeless wanderer in our streets be clothed, fed, and housed, and not feel comforted? Can the fainting sick man receive the healing cordial and not feel revived? I cannot believe it. I believe that in each case something will be felt. Just so I cannot believe that a man can be a true Christian if he does not feel something within. A new birth, a pardon of sins, a conscience sprinkled with Christ’s blood, and indwelling of the Holy Ghost, are not small matters as men seem to suppose. He that knows anything of them will feel them even when he does not understand them. There will be a real, distinct witness in his inward man.
Beware of a hope that is not felt, and a Christianity that is destitute of inward experience. They are idols of the present day, and idols before which thousands are bowing down. Thousands are trying to persuade themselves that people may be born again, and have the Spirit, and yet not be sensible of it.
5. In the last place, a good hope is a hope that is manifested outwardly in the life. Once more, what saith the Scripture? ‘Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure’ (1 John 3:3).
The man that has a good hope will show it in all his ways. It will influence his life, his character, and his daily conduct. It will make him strive to be a holy, godly, conscientious, spiritual man. He will feel under a constant obligation to serve and please Him from whom his hope comes. He will say to himself, ‘What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits toward me?’ He will feel, ‘I am bought with a price: let me glorify God with body and spirit, which are his.’ ‘Let me show forth the praises of him who hath called me out of darkness into his marvellous light. Let me prove that I am Christ’s friend, by keeping his commandments’ (Psa. 116:12; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 2:9; John 15:14).
This is a point of infinite importance in every age. It is a truth which is always assailed by Satan, and needs guarding with jealous care. Let us grasp it firmly, and make it a settled principle in our religion. If there
is light in a house it will shine through the windows. If there is any real hope in a man’s soul it will be seen in his ways. Show me your hope in your life. Where is it? Wherein does it appear? If you cannot show it you may be sure it is nothing better than a delusion and a snare.
The times demand a very distinct testimony from all ministers on this
subject. The truth on this point requires very plain speaking. Settle it in your mind deeply, and beware of letting it go. Let no man deceive you with vain words. ‘He that doeth righteousness is righteous.’ ‘He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked’ (1 John 3:7; 2:6). The hope that does not make a man honest honourable, truthful, sober, meek, kind, and faithful in all the relations of life, is not from above; it is only ‘the talk of the lips [which] tendeth only to penury.’ ‘Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift, is like clouds and wind without rain’ (Prov. 14:23; 25:14).
There are some in the present day who flatter themselves they have a good hope because they possess religious knowledge. They are acquainted with the letter of their Bibles. They can argue and dispute about points of doctrine. They can quote texts by the score in defence of their own theological opinions. They are perfect Benjamites in controversy – they can sling stones to a hair-breadth, and not miss. And yet they have no fruit of the Spirit, no charity, no meekness, no gentleness, no humility, nothing of the mind that was in Christ. And have these people a hope? Let those believe it who will, I dare not say so. I hold with St. Paul, ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; … and have not charity, I am nothing. Yes: hope without charity is no hope at all (1 Cor. 13:1-2).
There are some again who presume to think they have a good hope because of God’s everlasting election. They persuade themselves that they were once called and chosen of God to salvation. They take it for granted that there was once a real work of the Spirit on their hearts, and that all therefore must be well. They look down upon others, who are afraid of professing as much as they do. They seem to think, ‘we are the people of God, we are the temple of the Lord, we are the favoured servants of the Most High – we are they that shall reign in heaven, and none beside.’ And yet these very people can lie, and cheat, and swindle and be dishonourable! Some of them can even get drunk in private, and secretly commit sins of which it is a shame to speak. And have they a good hope? Let those believe it who will; I cannot. God forbid that should say so! The election which is not unto sanctification is not of God, but of the devil. The hope that does not make a man holy is no hope at all.
There are some in this day who fancy they have a good hope because they like hearing the Gospel. They are fond of hearing good sermons
They will go miles to listen to some favourite preacher. They will even weep and be much affected by his words. To see them in church one would think, ‘Surely these are the disciples of Christ; surely these are excellent Christians!’ And yet these very people can plunge into every folly and gaiety of the world. Night after night they can go with their whole heart to the opera, the theatre, or the ball. They are to be seen on the racecourse. They are forward in every worldly revel. Their voice on Sunday is the voice of Jacob; but their hands on week days are the hands of Esau. And have these people a good hope? I dare not say so. ‘The friendship of the world is enmity with God’; and the hope that does not prevent conformity to the world, is no hope at all. ‘Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world’ (1 John 5:4).
Beware of any hope that does not exercise a sanctifying influence over your heart, life, tastes, conduct and conversation. It is a hope that never-came down from heaven. It is mere base metal, and counterfeit coin. It needs the mint stamp of the Holy Ghost, and will never pass current in heaven. The man that has a real hope, no doubt, may be overtaken by a fault. He may stumble occasionally in his practice, and be drawn aside from the right path for a while. But the man that can allow himself in any wilful and habitual breach of God’s law is rotten at the heart. He may talk of his hope as much as he pleases, but he has none in reality. His religion is a joy to the devil, a stumbling block to the world, a sorrow to true Christians, and an offence to God. Oh, that men would consider these things! Oh, that many would use some such prayer as this, ‘From antinomianism and hypocrisy, good Lord, deliver me!’
I have now done what I proposed to do. I have shown the five leading marks of a sound, good hope. 1. It is a hope that a man can explain. 2. It is a hope that is drawn from Scripture. 3. It is a hope that is founded on Christ. 4. It is a hope that is felt within the heart. 5. It is a hope that is manifested outwardly in the life. Such, I firmly believe, is the hope of all true Christians, of every name, and church, and denomination, and people, and tongue. Such is the hope that we must have, if we mean to go to heaven. Such is the hope without which, I believe, no man can be saved. Such is ‘the good hope through grace.’
Suffer me now to apply the whole subject to the conscience of all who read these pages in a practical way. What shall it profit you and me to know truths unless we use them? What shall it avail you to see the real nature of ‘a good hope’ unless the matter be brought home to your own soul? This is what I now propose to do, if God permit, in the remainder of these pages. May the Spirit of God apply my words to your heart with mighty power. Man may speak, and preach, and write, but God alone can convert.
1. My first word of application shall be a question. I offer it to all who read these pages, and I entreat each one to give it an answer. That
question is, ‘What is your own hope about your soul?’
I do not ask this out of idle curiosity. I ask it as an ambassador for Christ, and a friend to your best interests. I ask it in order to stir up self inquiry, and promote your spiritual welfare. I ask, ‘What is your hope about your soul?’
I do not want to know whether you go to church or chapel; there will be no account of these differences in heaven. I do not want to know whether you approve of the Gospel, and think it very right and proper that people should have their religion, and say their prayers. All this is beside the mark: it is not the point. The point I want you to look at is this, ‘What is your own hope about your soul?’
It matters nothing what your relatives think. It matters nothing what the rest of the parish or town approve. The account of God will not be taken by towns, or by parishes, or by families. Each must stand forth separately and answer for himself. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God’ (Rom. 14:12). And what is the defence you mean to set up? What is to be your plea? ‘What is your hope about your soul?’
Time is short, and is passing quickly away. Yet a few years, and we shall all be dead and gone. The trees perhaps are cut down out of which our coffins will be made. The spades perhaps are made that will dig our graves. Eternity draws near. There ought to be no trifling. What, what is your hope about your soul?
Another world will soon begin. Trade, politics, money, land, cottages palaces, eating, drinking, dressing, reading, hunting, shooting, drawing working, dancing, feasting, will soon be at an end for ever. There will remain nothing but a heaven for some, and a hell for others. What, what is your hope about your soul?
I have asked my question. And now, What is your reply?
Many would say, I believe, if they spoke the truth, ‘I don’t know anything about it. I suppose I am not what I ought to be. I dare say I ought to have more religion than I have. I trust I shall have more some day. But as to any hope at present, I really don’t know.’
Look at that man who goes to the Bank of England on a dividend day and asks to be paid a large sum of money. Is his name down among the list of people to be paid? No! Has he any title or right to claim payment’;
No; he has none! He only knows that other people are receiving money and that he would like to receive some too. You know well that you would call the man out of his mind; you would say he was nothing better than a madman. But stop! Take care what you are saying! You are the real madman, if you mean to claim heaven at last, when you have no title, no warrant, no ground of hope to show. Once more I say, may God open your eyes!
But many, I believe, would reply to my question that ‘they have hope.’ They would say, ‘I am not as bad as some, at any rate. I am no heathen. I am no infidel. I have some hope about my soul.’
If this be your case, I entreat you to consider calmly what your hope really is. I entreat you not to be content with saying, like the parrot, ‘I hope, I hope, I hope’; but to examine seriously the nature of your confidence, and to make sure that it is well founded. Is it a hope you can explain? Is it scriptural? Is it built on Christ? Is it felt in your heart? Is it sanctifying to your life? All is not gold that glitters. I have warned you already that there is a false hope as well as a true. I offer the warning again. I beseech you to take heed that you be not deceived. Beware of mistakes.
There are ships lying quietly in Liverpool and London docks, about to sail for every part of the globe. They all look equally trustworthy, so long as they are in harbour. They have all equally good names, and are equally well-rigged, and painted; but they are not all equally safe. Once let them put to sea, and meet with rough weather, and the difference between the sound and unsound ships will soon appear. Many a ship that looked well in dock has proved unseaworthy when she got into deep water, and has gone down at last with all hands on board. Just so it is with many a false hope. It has failed completely when most wanted. It has broken down at last, and ruined its possessor’s soul. You are safe in dock now, and moored quietly in still water; but you will soon have to put to sea. I say again, beware of mistakes.
I leave my question here. I earnestly pray that God may apply it to the hearts of all who read these pages. I am sure it is much needed. I believe there never was a time when there was so much counterfeit religion current, and so many ‘false hopes’ passing off for true. There never was a time when there was so much high profession, and so little spiritual practice; so much loud talk about preachers, and parties, and churches, and so little close walking with God, and real work of the Spirit. There is no lack of blossoms in Christendom, but there is a terrible scarcity of ripe fruit. There is an abundance of controversial theology, but a dearth of practical holiness. There are myriads who have a name to live, but few whose hearts are really in the work of Christ – few whose affections are really set on things above. There will be still more awful disclosures at the last day. There are many hopes now-a-days, which are utterly destitute of foundation. I say, for the last time, beware of mistakes.
2. My second word of application shall be a request. I make it to all readers of these pages who feel they have no good hope, and desire to have one. It is a short, simple request. I entreat them to seek a good hope while it can be found.
A good hope is within the reach of any man, if he is only willing to seek it. It is called emphatically in Scripture, a ‘good hope through grace.’ It is freely offered, even as it was freely purchased. It may be freely obtained, ‘without money and without price.’ Our past lives do not make it impossible to obtain it, however bad they may have been.
Our present weakness and infirmity do not shut us out, however great they may be. The same grace which provided mankind with a hope makes a free, full, and unlimited invitation: ‘Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’; ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find'(Rev. 22:17; Matt. 7:7).
The Lord Jesus Christ is able and willing to give ‘a good hope’ to all who really want it. He is sealed and appointed by God the Father to give the bread of life to all that hunger, and the water of life to all that thirst ‘It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell’ (Col. 1:19) In Him there is pardon and peace with God, bought by the precious blood which He shed upon the cross. In Him there is joy and peace for any believer, and a solid, well-grounded expectation of good things to come. In Him there is rest for the weary, refuge for the fearful, a fountain for the unclean, medicine for the sick, healing for the brokenhearted, and hope for the lost. Whosoever feels labouring and heavy laden with sin, whosoever feels anxious and distressed about his soul whosoever feels afraid of death and unfit to die – whosoever he is, Iet him go to Christ. This is the thing to be done: this is the way to follow Whosoever wants hope, let him go to Christ.
If you really want to enjoy a good hope seek it from the Lord Jesus Christ. There is every encouragement to do so. The Thessalonians in old time were, like the Ephesians, dead in trespasses and sins, having no hope, and without God in the world. But when St. Paul preached Jesus
to them, they rose from their miserable state and became new men: God gave them a ‘good hope through grace.’ The door through which Manasseh and Magdalene entered, is still open. The fountain in which Zacchaeus and Matthew were washed, is still unsealed. Seek hope from Christ, and you shall find it.
Seek it honestly, and with no secret reserve. The ruin of many is that they are not fair and straightforward. They say that they ‘try as much as
they can,’ and that they really ‘want to be saved,’ and that they really ‘look to Christ.’ And yet in the chamber of their own heart there lies
some darling sin, to which they privately cling, and are resolved not to give it up. They are like Augustine, who said, ‘Lord, convert me: but not now.’ Seek honestly, if you wish to find a good hope.
Seek it in humble prayer. Pour out your heart before the Lord Jesus and tell Him all the wants of your soul. Do as you would have done had you lived in Galilee about nineteen hundred years ago, and had a leprosy: go directly to Christ, and lay before Him your cares. Tell Him that you are a poor, sinful creature, but that you have heard He is a gracious Saviour, and that you come to Him for hope for your soul. Tell Him that you have nothing to say for yourself – no excuse to make nothing of your own to plead – but that you have heard that He ‘receives sinners,’ and as such you come to Him.
Seek it at once without delay. Halt no more between two opinions. DO
not linger another day. Cast away the remnants of pride which are still keeping you back. Draw nigh to Jesus as a heavy-laden sinner, and lay hold upon the hope set before you. This is the point to which all must come at last if they mean to be saved. Sooner or later they must knock at the door of grace and ask to be admitted. Why not do it at once? Why stand still looking at the bread of life? Why not come forward and eat it? Why remain outside the city of refuge? Why not enter in and be safe? Why not seek hope at once, and never rest till you find it? Never did one soul seek honestly in the way marked out, and fail to find!
I lay my request before you. I know it deserves attention. I pray God that it may not be in vain.
3. My last word of application shall be counsel. I offer it to all who have really obtained ‘good hope through grace.’ I offer it to all who are really leaning on Christ, walking in the narrow way, and led by the Spirit of God. I ask them to accept advice from one who hopes that he is ‘their brother and companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ