Hope, yet no hope. No hope, yet hope
‘And they said, there is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.’ Jeremiah 18:12
Suggested Further Reading: Job 8:11–9:2
Most men must have a secret hope somewhere of a false kind; for, look at the way in which they are employing themselves. Surely those men must have some fictitious hope somewhere, or they would not act as they do. We see many busy about their persons, decorating themselves when their soul is in ruin; like a man painting the front door when the house is in flames. Surely they must harbour some baseless hope which makes them thus insensible. We see men who do not quail and tremble, though they profess to believe the Bible which tells them that God is angry with them every day. Surely their quietness of heart must arise from some secret hope lurking in their spirits. The rope of mercy is cast to the sinner, and he will not lay hold of it. Surely he cannot be such a fool as to love to die; he must have some hope somewhere that he can swim by his own exertions, and it is this hopefulness of the man in himself that is his ruin and destruction. Until you are completely separate from all consciousness of hope in yourself, there is no hope that the gospel will ever be any power to you; but when you shall throw up your hands like a drowning man, feeling, ‘It is all over with me: I am lost, unless a stronger than I shall interpose,’ then there is hope for you. If we can once get you to say, ‘One thing I know, I cannot save myself. One thing I feel, I must have a stronger arm than mine to rescue me from ruin,’ when you have come to this, we will begin to rejoice over you, and may God grant that our rejoicing may not be in vain.
For meditation: Christians may sometimes imagine that God has deserted them (Psalm 10:1), but he will not disappoint them (Psalm 10:14,17). Unbelievers are the ones to be pitied; despite ignoring God, they delude themselves that all is well (Psalm 10:4,6,11,13).
Sermon no. 684
8 April (1866)