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These people are easily observed by four characteristics—-forwardness, impertinence, vanity and ignorance. Let chiist.ans be exhorted to pity the pride of nature, 'the foolishness of self-conceited professors, and never be provoked to arise from the valley of humility and prayer.
To open all the sources of false hopes would be impossible. Such as a relinquishment of some sins, a performance of some duties, a partial reformation, a restraint from some vices, the approbation of friends, the flattery of christians, the tender feelings of compassionate ministers, their attendance on ordinances, their never having a troubled d^y, nor a disturbed conscience, their sorrows, joys, repentance, Zee. He who can enumerate the stars, and count the sands that bank the ocean, let him retail the infinite variety of false and deceitful hopes.
The certain criterion of a false and true hope, is here laid in our text. A true hope is not of an extraneous nature, "It is "within a man.'' Its operations and effects are, it sanctifies the soul, subdues the corruptions, mortifies the lusts, conforms to Christ, and elevates the heart to God. "He that hath this hope "in him, purifieth himself, even as Christ is pure."
Thirdly, We are to consider its effects, advantages and benefits.—Trees are known and distinguished by their fruits. So every one may learn the nature of his hopes, whether they are of a' saving or delusive kind.
True hopes fasten upon the promises of the covenant of grace, and they who lay hold on the promises are pressing after holiness; hearken to the apostolic counsel. "Having therefore "these promises dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all "filthiness of the flesh and spirit."
When a person once hopes, he has obtained an interest in Christ, then his cry is, "What have I any more to do with idols?" His answer to every temptation is, " I am not mine own, “I am bought with a price.” If our hopes have not a purifying: and sanctifying influence upon our hearts and lives, we ought te be jealous of them, as dangerous and delusive. Can any one ra
tionally entertain expectations of heaven, and not study holise 2 ilo SS .
Gospel hopes awaken in the soul fervent breathings for communion and fellowship with God and the Saviour. Their earnest wish will often be, “Tell me O thou, whom my soul loveth, “ where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flocks to rest at “ noon.” The Psalmist after declaring God was his hope, immediately subjoins, “Early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth af“ter thee as the panting heart for the water brook.”
A genuine hope, when it loses sweet communion with Christ, will feel like weeping Mary and say, “They have taken away “any Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”
This hope raises in the soul to most exalted ideas of the deas Redeemer. “His beloved, is more than another's beloved; he “i: the chief among ten thousand. As the apple tree among the “trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.”
This hope is ever accompanied with humility. It places the christian, under a view of the glories presented to his expectation, in the deepest dust. Jacob when his hopes were strong, cries out, “That he was less than the least of all the creatures of God.” Hoping and humble Paul declares, “I am the chief of sinners, “less than the least of all saints.”
Another fruit of true hope, it causeth pleasure and delight in duty. Prayer and praise are the joy and comfort of his heart. His language is, “I will keep the commandments of my God. I “delight to do thy will, O my God.”
There would be no end of retailing the fruits, effects, blessings, snd advantages of this hope. An use or two tnust close the subject.
First, It affords an important use of gratitude and praise. The language of every heart, which enjoys this precious hope must be, " What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits?'' "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. *« 'Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases. «« Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who *' hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in «« Christ.''
Secondly, It affords a serious use of self examination. To be often trying ourselves by almost every doctrine, and every duty is, of great importance, in order to the knowledge of ourselves, for humiliation, reproof, repentance ; to awaken us to greater circumspection in life, and more engagedness in religion. Self application of truth and self examination are duties too much neglected by christians. And with regard to the nature of their hope, they are often afraid to examine it. Yet in respect to the operations of the human mind, few call for a more serious and accurate attention. All men have hope. They hope for better circumstances in this world, and for happiness in the next. The exceptions from this axiom are few, and rarities of wonder, detraction, lunacy and dispair.
Now seeing hope is universal, and few are possessed of it as a saving grace, for few shall be saved ; hence it becomes all to enter into their own hearts, and judge their exercises, experiences and conduct, especially ^the nature, grounds and reasons of their hope by the oracles of truth.
Our text is a certain criterion for distinguishing a false from X true hope. A false hope allows its possessor to proceed on in life in carelessness, hypocrisy, security and sin ; permits him to live in the neglect of prayer, the duties of religion, and in the indulgence of a multitude of vices. If his conscience reprove him for his wickedness, or inform him that he is not a good man, his false hopes comfort him, that he will repent, reform and become good, or that God is merciful, will not damn his creatures for trifling neglects, and little natural deviations from the rules of proprietyThus they are lulled on in the lap of folly to eternal ruin.
A true, genuine and gospel hope, a hope begotten by the spirit of God, is the perfect reverse of all the strange hopes that buoy up the human mind. It aims at the holiness of Christ, and to purify and conform to his example.—It disposes the happy possessor to deny every ungodly propensity, to cultivate every grace, to practise every gospel duty, to live in the love and fear of God, and to perform all righteousness, truth and charity towards menThis is a christian's hope, and by this we ought to try ourseleves. “Examine yourselves, try yourselves, know you not your own“selves how this hope is in you,” except you should be disapproved of God.
Let all who hope they have this hope, praise and bless the Lord, for the wonders of his grace and mercy. “Rejoice in hope of the “glory of God. Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your “heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” Bear in mind, O christian, your hope will soon be swallowed up in fruition.
What can be said to the many who are supported by hopes, which it seems nothing but death and eternity, and the invisible judgment can correct. However incorrigible these fatal flatteries and delusive hopes may be, my duty as a minister of Christ, is to leave with their judgments and consciences, the declarations of God. “The hope of the hypocrite shall perish. The eyes of the wicked “shall fail, their hope shall be as the giving up the ghost.” The last text I leave you is, and may divine grace impress it on every heart. “When a wicked man dieth his expectation shall perish, and the
ft hope of unjust men perisheth." O my brethren, let us try our. selves, before the heart searching God in respect to our hopes. And if in sincerity of soul, in faith and love, we are building all our hopes for glory, on Christ Jesus and him crucified, we have the most perfect assurance, they will not be disappointed.