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ISRAEL'S HOPE ENCOURAGED;
or,
What Hope is, and How distinguished from faith:
With Encouragements for a Hoping people.

[ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR]

'Auspicious hope! in thy sweet garden grow
Wreaths for each toil, a charm for every woe.'

Christian hope is a firm expectation of all promised good, but especially of eternal salvation and happiness in heaven, where we shall be like the Son of God. This hope is founded on the grace, blood, righteousness, and intercession of Christ-the earnest of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and the unchangeable truths and enlightening power of God.[1] 'Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as God is pure' (1 John 3:3). Blessed hope! (Titus 2:13). Well might the apostle pray for the believing Romans, 'That ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost' (15:13). 'Which is Christ in you the hope of glory' (Col 1:27). This is the sacred, the solemn, the all-important subject which Bunyan in his ripe age makes the theme of his meditations and of his deeply impressive exhortations.

When drawing near the end of his pilgrimage-while in the fullest fruition of his mental powers-he gives the result of his long and hallowed experience to comfort and cherish his fellow pilgrims in their dangerous heaven-ward journey. One of his last labours was to prepare this treatise for the press, from which it issued three years after his decease, under the care of his pious friend Charles Doe.

Here, as drawn from the holy oracles of God, we contemplate Hope, the helmet of salvation, without which our mental powers are exposed to be led captive into despair at the will of Satan. Our venerable author pictures most vividly the Christian's weakness and the power of his enemies; 'Should you see a man that could not go from door to door but he must be clad in a coat of mail, a helmet of brass upon his head, and for his lifeguard a thousand men, would you not say, surely this man has store of enemies at hand?' This is the case, enemies lie in wait for Israel in every hole, he can neither eat, drink, wake, sleep, work, sit still, talk, be silent-worship his God in public or private, but he is in danger. Poor, lame, infirm, helpless man, cannot live without tender-great-rich-manifold-abounding mercies. 'No faith, no hope,' 'to hope without faith is to see without eyes, or expect without reason.' Faith is the anchor which enters within the vail; Christ in us the hope of glory is the mighty cable which keeps us fast to that anchor. 'Faith lays hold of that end of the promise that is nearest to us, to wit, in the Bible-Hope lays hold of that end that is fastened to the mercy-seat.' Thus the soul is kept by the mighty power of God. They who have no hope, enter Doubting Castle of their own free will-they place themselves under the tyranny of Giant Despair-that he may put out their eyes, and send them to stumble among the tombs, and leave their bones in his castle-yard, a trophy to his victories, and a terror to any poor pilgrim caught by him trespassing on Bye-path Meadow.[2] Hope is as a guardian angel-it enables us to come boldly to a throne of grace 'in a goodly sort.' The subject is full of consolation. Are we profanely apt to judge of God harshly, as of one that would gather where he had not strawn? Hope leads us to form a holy and just conception of the God of love. 'Kind brings forth its kind, know the tree by his fruit, and God BY HIS MERCY IN CHRIST. What has God been doing for and to his church from the beginning of the world, but extending to and exercising loving-kindness and mercy for them? Therefore he laid a foundation for this in mercy from everlasting.' 'There is no single flowers in God's gospel garden, they are all double and treble; there is a wheel within a wheel, a blessing within a blessing in all the mercies of God; they are manifold, a man cannot receive one but he receives many, many folded up one within another.' Bless the Lord, O my soul!!

Reader, my deep anxiety is that you should receive from this treatise the benefits which its glorified author intended it to produce. It is accurately printed from the first edition. My notes are intended to explain obsolete words or customs or to commend the author's sentiments. May the Divine blessing abundantly replenish our earthen vessels with this heavenly hope.

GEO. OFFOR.

FOOTNOTES:

1. Cruden.

2. Pilgrim's Progress.

Israel's Hope Encouraged;

'Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.'-Psalms 130:7

This Psalm is said to be one of 'the Psalms of Degrees,' which some say, if I be not mistaken, the priests and Levites used to sing when they went up the steps into the temple.[1] But to let that pass, it is a psalm that gives us a relation of the penman's praying frame, and of an exhortation to Israel to hope in God.

Verse 1. 'Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord'; that is, out of deep or great afflictions, and said, 'Lord, hear my voice, let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.' The latter words explain the former; as who should say, By voice I mean the meaning and spirit of my prayer. There are words in prayer, and spirit in prayer, and by the spirit that is in prayer, is discerned whether the words be dead, lifeless, feigned, or warm, fervent, earnest; and God who searcheth the heart, knoweth the meaning of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Rom 8:27). Verse 3. 'If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?' Here he confesseth, that all men by the law must fall before God for ever; for that they have broken it, but cannot make amends for the transgression thereof. But, he quickly bethinking himself of the mercy of God in Christ, he saith, verse 4, 'But there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared.' Then he returns, saying, verse 5, 'I wait for the Lord,' that is, in all his appointments; yea, he doubleth it, saying, 'My soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.' By which repetition he insinuates, that many are content to give their bodily presence to God in his appointments, while their hearts were roving to the ends of the earth; but for his part he did not so. Verse 6. 'My soul waiteth for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morning, I say, more than they that watch for the morning.' As who should say, even as it is with those that are tired with the night, either by reason of dark or wearisome journies, or because of tedious sickness, to whom the night is most doleful and uncomfortable, waiting for spring of day; so wait I for the Lord, that his presence might be with my soul. So and more too I say, 'More than they that wait for the morning.' Then he comes to the words which I have chosen for my text, saying, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.'

In which words we have, FIRST, AN EXHORTATION; SECOND, A REASON OF THAT EXHORTATION; and THIRD, AN AMPLIFICATION OF THAT REASON. 'Let Israel hope in the Lord'; there is the exhortation; 'For with the Lord there is mercy'; there is the reason of it; 'And with him is plenteous redemption'; there is the amplification of that reason.

[FIRST. AN EXHORTATION.]

In the exhortation there are three things to be inquired into. FIRST, The matter contained in it; SECOND, The manner by which it is expressed; THIRD, The inferences that do naturally flow therefrom.

[FIRST. The matter contained in the exhortation.]

We will speak first to the matter contained in the text, and that presenteth itself unto us under three heads. First, A duty. Second, A direction for the well management of that duty. Third, The persons that are so to manage it.

First, Then, to speak to the duty, and that is HOPE; 'Let Israel HOPE.' By which word there is something pre-admitted, and something of great concern insinuated.

That which is pre-admitted is faith; for when we speak properly of hope, and put others distinctly to the duty of hoping, we conclude that such have faith already; for no faith, no hope. To hope without faith, is to see without eyes, or to expect without a ground: for 'Faith is the substance of things hoped for,' as well with respect to the grace, as to the doctrine of faith (Heb 11:1). Doth such a one believe? No. Doth he hope? Yes. If the first is true, the second is a lie; he that never believed, did never hope in the Lord. Wherefore, when he saith, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord,' he pre-supposeth faith, and signifieth that he speaketh to believers.

That which is of great concern insinuated, is, that hope has in it an excellent quality to support Israel in all its troubles. Faith has its excellency in this, hope in that, and love in another thing. Faith will do that which hope cannot do. Hope can do that which faith doth not do, and love can do things distinct from both their doings. Faith goes in the van, hope in the body, and love brings up the rear: and thus 'now abideth faith, hope,' and 'charity' (1 Cor 13:13). Faith is the mother-grace, for hope is born of her, but charity floweth from them both.

But a little, now we are upon faith and hope distinctly, to let you see a little.

    1. Faith comes by hearing (Rom 10:17), hope by experience (Rom 5:3,4).

    2. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, hope by the credit that faith hath given to it (Rom 4:18).

    3. Faith believeth the truth of the Word, hope waits for the fulfilling of it.

    4. Faith lays hold of that end of the promise that is next to us, to wit, as it is in the Bible; hope lays hold of that end of the promise that is fastened to the mercy-seat; for the promise is like a mighty cable, that is fastened by one end to a ship, and by the other to the anchor: the soul is the ship where faith is, and to which the hither[2] end of this cable is fastened; but hope is the anchor that is at the other end of this cable, and which entereth into that within the vail. Thus faith and hope getting hold of both ends of the promise, they carry it safely all away.

    5. Faith looketh to Christ, as dead, buried, and ascended; and hope to his second coming (1 Cor 15:1-4). Faith looks to him for justification, hope for glory (Rom 4:1-8).

    6. Faith fights for doctrine, hope for a reward (Acts 26:6,7). Faith for what is in the bible, hope for what is in heaven (Col 1:3-5).

    7. Faith purifies the heart from bad principles (1 John 5:4,5). Hope from bad manners (2 Peter 3:11,14; Eph 5:8; 1 John 3:3).

    8. Faith sets hope on work, hope sets patience on work (Acts 28:20, 9:9). Faith says to hope, look for what is promised; hope says to faith, So I do, and will wait for it too.

    9. Faith looks through the word to God in Christ; hope looks through faith beyond the world to glory (Gal 5:5).

Thus faith saves, and thus hope saves. Faith saves by laying hold of God by Christ (1 Peter 1:5). Hope saves by prevailing with the soul to suffer all troubles, afflictions, and adversities that it meets with betwixt this and the world to come, for the sake thereof (Rom 8:24). Take the matter in this plain similitude. There was a king that adopted such a one to be his child, and clothed him with the attire of the children of the king, and promised him, that if he would fight his father's battles, and walk in his father's ways, he should at last share in his father's kingdoms. He has received the adoption, and the king's robe, but not yet his part in the kingdom; but now, hope of a share in that will make him fight the king's battles, and also tread the king's paths. Yea, and though he should meet with many things that have a tendency to deter him from so doing, yet thoughts of the interest promised in the kingdom, and hopes to enjoy it, will make him out his way through those difficulties, and so save him from the ruin that those destructions would bring upon him, and will, in conclusion, usher him into a personal possession and enjoyment of that inheritance. Hope has a thick skin, and will endure many a blow; it will put on patience as a vestment, it will wade through a sea of blood, it will endure all things, if it be of the right kind, for the joy that is set before it. Hence patience is called, 'Patience of hope,' because it is hope that makes the soul exercise patience and long-suffering under the cross, until the time comes to enjoy the crown (1 Thess 1:3). The Psalmist, therefore, by this exhortation, persuadeth them that have believed the truth, to wait for the accomplishment of it, as by his own example he did himself- 'I wait for the Lord,' 'my soul waiteth,' 'and in his word do I hope.' It is for want of hope that so many brisk professors that have so boasted and made brags of their faith, have not been able to endure the drum[3] in the day of alarm and affliction. Their hope in Christ has been such as has extended itself no further than to this life, and therefore they are of all men the most miserable.

The Psalmist therefore, by exhorting us unto this duty, doth put us in mind of four things. I. That the best things are yet behind, and in reversion for the saints. II. That those that have believed, will yet meet with difficulties before they come at them. III. The grace of hope well exercised, is the only way to overcome these difficulties. IV. They therefore that have hope, and do exercise it as they should, shall assuredly at last enjoy that hope that is laid up for them in heaven.

I. For the first of these, that the best things are yet behind, and in reversion for believers; this is manifest by the natural exercise of this grace. For 'hope that is seen, is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it' (Rom 8:24,25). Hope lives not by sight, as faith doth; but hope trusteth faith, as faith trusts the Word, and so bears up the soul in a patient expectation at last to enjoy what God has promised. But I say, the very natural work of this grace proveth, that the believer's best things are behind in reversion.

You may ask me, what those things are? and I may tell you, first, in general, they are heavenly things, they are eternal things, they are the things that are where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God (John 3:12; 2 Cor 4:18; Col 3:1). Do you know them now? They are things that 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor that have entered into the heart of man to conceive of' (Isa 64:4; 1 Cor 2:9). Do you know them now? They are things that are referred to the next world, for the saints when they come into the next world; talked of they may be now, the real being of them may be believed now, and by hope we may, and it will be our wisdom to wait for them now; but to know what they are in the nature of them, or in the enjoyment of them, otherwise than by faith, he is deceived that saith it. They are things too big as yet to enter into our hearts, and things too big, if they were there to come out, or to be expressed by our mouths.

There is heaven itself, the imperial heaven; does any body know what that is? There is the mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the innumerable company of angels; doth any body know what all they are? There is immortality and eternal life: and who knows what they are? There are rewards for services, and labour of love showed to God's name here; and who knows what they will be? There are mansion-houses, beds of glory, and places to walk in among the angels; and who knows what they are? There will be badges of honour, harps to make merry with, and heavenly songs of triumph; doth any here know what they are? There will be then a knowing, an enjoying and a solacing of ourselves with prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and all saints; but in what glorious manner we all are ignorant of. There we shall see and know, and be with for ever, all our relations, as wife, husband, child, father, mother, brother, or sister that have died in the faith; but how gloriously they will look when we shall see them, and how gloriously we shall love when we are with them, it is not for us in this world to know (1 Thess 4:16,17). There are thoughts, and words, and ways for us, which we never dreamed on in this world. The law was but the shadow, the gospel the image; but what will be the substance that comes to us next, or that rather we shall go unto, who can understand? (Heb 10:1). If we never saw God nor Christ as glorified, nor the Spirit of the Lord, nor the bottom of the Bible, nor yet so much as one of the days of eternity,, and yet all these things we shall see and have them, how can it be that the things laid up for us, that should be the object of our hope, should by us be understood in this world? Yet there are intimations given us of the goodness and greatness of them.[4]

1. Of their goodness, and that, (1.) In that the Holy Ghost scorns that things that are here should once be compared with them; hence all things here are called vanities, nothings, less than nothings (Isa 40:15-17). Now, if the things, all the things that are here, are so contemptuously considered, when compared with the things that are to be hereafter, and yet these things so great in the carnal man's esteem, as that he is willing to venture life and soul, and all to have them, what are the things that God has prepared for them that wait, that is, that hope for him? (2.) Their goodness also appears in this, that whoever has had that understanding of them, as is revealed in the Word, whether king or beggar, wise mean or fool, he has willingly cast this world behind him in contempt and scorn, for the hope of that (Psa 73:25; Heb 11:24-26, 37-40). (3.) The goodness of them has even testimony in the very consciences of them that hate them. Take the vilest man in the country, the man who is so wedded to his lusts, that he will rather run the hazard of a thousand hells than leave them; and ask this man his judgment of the things of the next world, and he will shake his head, and say, They are good, they are best of all. (4.) But the saints have the best apprehension of their goodness, for that the Lord doth sometimes drop some of the juice of them out of the Word, into their hungry souls.

2. But as they are good, so they are great: 'O how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast wrought for them that trust,' that hope, 'in thee before the sons of men!' (Psa 31:19). (1.) Their greatness appears, in that they go beyond the Word; yea, beyond the word of the Holy Ghost; it doth not yet appear to us by the Word of God to the full, the greatness of what is prepared for God's people. 'Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be' (1 John 3:2). It doth not appear in the Word; there is a greatness in the things that we are to hope for, that could never be expressed: they are beyond word, beyond thought, beyond conceiving of! Paul, when he was come down again from out of paradise, into which he was caught up, could not speak a word about the words he heard, and the things that there he saw. They were things and words which he saw and heard, 'which it is not possible[5] for a man to utter.' (2.) Their greatness is intimated by the word Eternal; he that knows the bottom of that word, shall know what things they are. 'The things which are not seen are eternal' (2 Cor 4:18). They are 'incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,' reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4). (3.) Their greatness is showed in that one right thought of them will fill the heart so full, that both it and the eyes will run over together; yea, so full, that the creature shall not be able to stand up under the weight of glory that by it is laid upon the soul. Alas! all the things in this world will not fill one heart; and yet one thought that is right, of the things that God has prepared, and laid up in heaven for us, will, yea, and over fill it too. (4.) The greatness of the things of the next world appears, in that when one of the least of them are showed to us, we are not able, without support from thence, to abide the sight thereof. I count that the angels are of those things that are least in that world; and yet the sight of one of them, when the sight of them was in use, what work would it make in the hearts and minds of mortal men, the scripture plainly enough declares (John 13:22).[6] (5.) Their greatness is intimated, in that we must be as it were new made again, before we can be capable of enjoying them, as we must enjoy them with comfort (Luke 20:36). And herein will be a great part of our happiness, that we shall not only see them, but be made like unto them, like unto their King. For 'when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is' (1 John 3:2). We shall see him, and therefore must be like him, for else the sight of him would overcome us and destroy us; but because we are to see him with comfort and everlasting joy, therefore we must be like him in body and mind (Rev 1:17; Phil 3:20,21).

II. But to come to the second thing, namely, That those that have believed, there are such things as these, will meet with difficulties before they come at them. This is so grand a truth, that nothing can be said against it. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; and we must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of heaven (Acts 14:22). The cause from whence these afflictions arise is known to be,

1. From ourselves; for sin having got such hold in our flesh, makes that opposition against our soul and the welfare of that, that puts us continually to trouble. Fleshly lusts work against the soul, and so do worldly lusts too (1 Peter 2:11); yea, they quench our graces, and make them that would live, 'ready to die' (Rev 3:2). Yea, by reason of these, such darkness, such guilt, such fear, such mistrust, ariseth in us, that it is common for us, if we live any while, to make a thousand conclusions, twice told, that we shall never arrive with comfort at the gates of the kingdom of heaven. The natural tendency of every struggle of the least lust against grace is, if we judge according to carnal reason, to make us question the truth of a work of grace in us, and our right to the world to come. This it was that made Paul cry out, 'O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me!' (Rom 7:24). Only he had more wisdom than to follow the natural conclusions that carnal reason was apt to make thereupon, and so hoisted up his soul to hope.

2. Sin, by its working in us, doth not only bring darkness, guilt, fear, mistrust, and the like; but it doth oft-times as it were hamstring us, and disable us from going to God by faith and prayer for pardon. It makes the heart hard, senseless, careless, lifeless, spiritless as to feeling, in all Christian duty; and this is a grievous thing to a gracious soul. The other things will create a doubt, and drive it up to the head into the soul; but these will go on the other side and clench it.[7] Now all these things make hoping difficult.

3. For by these things the judgment is not only clouded, and the understanding greatly darkened, but all the powers of the soul made to fight against itself, conceiving, imagining, apprehending, and concluding things that have a direct tendency to extirpate and extinguish, if possible, the graces of God that are planted in the soul; yea, to the making of it cry out, 'I am cut off from before thine eyes!' (Psa 31:22).

4. Add to these, the hidings of the face of God from the soul; a thing to it more bitter than death; yet nothing more common among them that hope in the Lord. He 'hideth his face from the house of Jacob!' (Isa 8:17). Nor is this done only in fatherly displeasure, but by this means some graces are kept alive; faith is kept alive by the word, patience by hope, and hope by faith; but oft-times a spirit of prayer, by the rod, chastisement, and the hiding of God's face (Hosea 5:14,15; Isa 26:16; Cant 5:6). But I say, this hiding of this sweet face is bitter to the soul, and oft-times puts both faith and hope to a sad and most fearful plunge. For at such a day, it is with the soul as with the ship at sea, that is benighted and without light; to wit, like a man bewildered upon the land; only the text saith, for the help and succour of such, 'Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God' (Isa 50:10). Yet as it is with children, so it is with saints; we are a great deal more subject to fears in the night than in the day. That, therefore, that tendeth to the help of some graces, if there be not great care taken, will prove an hindrance to others.

5. Nor is the ruler of the darkness of this world wanting to apply himself and his engines, so as, if possible, to make use of all these things for the overthrowing of faith, and for the removing of our hope from the Lord, as a tree is removed from rooting in the ground (Job 19:10). Behold! he can expound all things, so as that they shall fall directly in the way of our believing. As thus, we have sin, therefore we have no grace; sin struggleth in us, therefore we fear not God; something in us sideth with sin, therefore we are wholly unregenerate; sin is in our best performances, therefore wherefore should I hope? Thus I say, he can afflict us in our pilgrimage, and make hope difficult to us. Besides the hiding of God's face, he can make not only a cause of sorrow, for that indeed it should, but a ground of despair, and as desperately concluding he will never come again. How many good souls has he driven to these conclusions, who afterwards have been made to unsay all again?

6. And though spiritual desertions, darkness of soul, and guilt of sin, are the burdens most intolerable, yet they are not all; for there is to be added to all these, that common evil of persecution, another device invented to make void our hope. In this, I say, we are sure to be concerned; that is, if we be godly. For though the apostle doth not say, 'All that will live in Christ,' that is, in the common profession of him, shall suffer persecution; yet he saith, 'All that will live godly in him shall' (2 Tim 3:12). Now this in itself is a terror to flesh and blood, and hath a direct tendency in it to make hope difficult (1 Peter 3:6,14). Hence men of a persecuting spirit, because of their greatness, and of their teeth (the laws), are said to be a terror, and to carry amazement in their doings; and God's people are apt to be afraid of them though they should die, and to forget God their Maker; and this makes hoping hard work (Isa 51:12,13).[8]

7. For besides that grimness that appears in the face of persecutors, Satan can tell how to lessen, and make to dwindle in our apprehensions, those truths unto which our hearts have joined themselves afore, and to which Christ our Lord has commanded us to stand. So that they shall now appear but little, small, inconsiderable things; things not worth engaging for; things not worth running those hazards for, that in the hour of trial may lie staring us in the face. Moreover, we shall not want false friends in every hole, such as will continually be boring our ears with that saying, Master, do good to thyself. At such times also, 'stars' do use to 'fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken'; and so every thing tends to weaken, or at least to lay stumbling-blocks in their way, who are commanded to hope in the Lord (Matt 24).

8. Again, as Satan can make use of his subtilty, thus to afflict and weaken the hands and hearts of those that hope in God, so he can add to these the dismalness of a suffering state. He can make the loss of goods, in our imagination, ten times bigger than it is in itself; he can make an informer a frightful creature, and a jail look like hell itself; he can make banishment and death utterly intolerable, and things that must be shunned with the hazard of our salvation. Thus he can greaten and lessen, lessen and greaten, for the troubling of our hearts, for the hindering of our hope.[9]

9. Add to all these, that the things that we suffer for were never seen by us, but are quite beyond our sight: things that indeed are said to be great and good; but we have only the word and the Bible for it. And be sure if he that laboureth night and day to devour us, can help it, our faith shall be molested and perplexed at such a time, that it may, if possible, be hard to do the commandment that here the text enjoins us to the practice of; that is, to hope in the Lord. And this brings me to the third particular.

III. That the grace of hope well exercised, is the only way to overcome those difficulties.-Abraham had never laughed for joy, had he not hoped when the angel brought him tidings of a son; yea, had he not hoped against all things that could have been said to discourage (Gen 17:17). Hence it is said, that 'against hope' he 'believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, so shall thy seed be' (Rom 4:18). There is hope against hope; hope grounded on faith, against hope grounded on reason. Hope grounded on reason, would have made Abraham expect that the promise should surely have been ineffectual, because of the deadness of Abraham's body, and of the barrenness of Sarah's womb. But he hoped against the difficulty, by hope that sprang from faith, which confided in the promise and power of God, and so overcame the difficulty, and indeed obtained the promise. Hope, therefore, well exercised, is the only way to overcome. Hence Peter bids those that are in a suffering condition, 'Be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ' (1 Peter 1:13). And therefore it is, as you heard before, that we are said to be 'saved by hope' (Rom 8:24).

Hope is excellent, 1. Against those discouragements that arise up out of our bowels. 2. It is excellent to embolden a man in the cause of God. 3. It is excellent at helping one over the difficulties that men, by frights and terrors may lay in our way.

1. It is excellent to help us against those discouragements that arise out of our own bowels (Rom 4). This is clear in the instance last mentioned about Abraham, who had nothing but discouragements arising from himself; but he had hope, and as well he exercised it; wherefore, after a little patient enduring, he overcame the difficulty, and obtained the promise (Heb 6:13-18). The reason is, for that it is the nature of true hope to turn away its ear from opposing difficulties, to the word and mouth of faith; and perceiving that faith has got hold of the promise, hope, notwithstanding difficulties that do or may attempt to intercept, will expect, and so wait for the accomplishment thereof.

2. Hope is excellent at emboldening a man in the cause of God. Hence the apostle saith, 'Hope maketh not ashamed'; for not to be ashamed there, is to be emboldened (Rom 5:5). So again, when Paul speaks of the troubles he met with for the profession of the gospel, he saith, that they should turn to his salvation. 'According,' saith he, 'to my earnest expectation, and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death' (Phil 1:19,20). See here, a man at the foot of the ladder, now ready in will and mind, to die for his profession; but how will he carry it now? Why, with all brave and innocent boldness! But how will he do that? O! By the hope of the gospel that is in him; for by that he is fully persuaded that the cause he suffereth for will bear him up in the day of God, and that he shall then be well rewarded for it.[10]

3. It is also excellent at helping one over those difficulties that men, by frights and terrors, may lay in our way. Hence when David was almost killed with the reproach and oppression of his enemies, and his soul full sorely bowed down to the ground therewith; that he might revive and get up again, he calls to his soul to put in exercise the grace of hope, saying, 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God' (Psa 42:11). So again saith he in the next Psalm after, as afore he had complained of the oppression of the enemy, 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God' (Psa 43:5). Hope, therefore, is a soul-encouraging grace, a soul-emboldening grace, and a soul-preserving grace. Hence it is called our helmet or head-piece, the helmet of salvation (Eph 6:17; 1 Thess 5:8). This is one piece of the armour with which the Son of God was clothed, when he came into the world; and it is that against which nothing can prevail (Isa 49:17). For as long as I can hope for salvation, what can hurt me! This word spoken in the blessed exercise of grace, I HOPE FOR SALVATION, drives down all before it. The truth of God is that man's 'shield and buckler' that hath made the Lord his hope (Psa 91:4).

[Encouragements to exercise this grace.]-And now to encourage thee, good man, to the exercise of this blessed grace of hope as the text bids, let me present thee with that which followeth. 1. God, to show how well he takes hoping in him at our hands, has called himself 'the God of hope' (Rom 15:13), that is, not only the author of hope, but the God that takes pleasure in them that exercise it, 'The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy' (Psa 147:11). 2. He will be a shield, a defence to them that hope in him. 'Thou art my hiding-place and my shield,' saith David, 'I hope in thy word'; that is, he knew he would be so; for he hoped in his word (Psa 119:114). 3. He has promised us the life we hope for, to encourage us still to hope, and to endure all things to enjoy it (Titus 1:2). 'That he that ploweth should plow in hope, and that he that thresheth in hope, should be partaker of his hope' (1 Cor 9:10).

Quest. But you may say, What is it to exercise this grace aright?

Answ. 1. You must look well to your faith, that that may prosper, for as your faith is, such your hope will be. Hope is never ill when faith is well; nor strong if faith be weak. Wherefore Paul prays that the Romans might be filled 'with all joy and peace in believing,' that they might 'abound in hope' (Rom 15:13). When a man by faith believes to joy and peace, then hope grows strong, and with an assurance looketh for a share in the world to come. Wherefore look to your faith, and pray heartily that the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace in believing. 2. Learn of Abraham not to faint, stumble, or doubt, at the sight of your own weakness; for if you do, hope will stay below, and creak in the wheels as it goes, because it will want the oil of faith. But say to thy soul, when thou beginnest to faint and sink at the sight of these, as David did to his, in the places made mention of before. 3. Be much in calling to mind what God has done for thee in former times. Keep thy experience as a choice thing (Rom 5:4). 'Remember all the way the Lord led thee these forty years in the wilderness' (Deut 8:2). 'O my God,' saith David, 'my soul is cast down within me, therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites from the hill Mizar' (Psa 42:6). 4. Be much in looking at the end of things, or rather to the end of this, and to the beginning of the next world. What we enjoy of God in this world, may be an earnest of hope, or a token that the thing hoped for is to be ours at last; but the object of hope is in general the next world (Heb 11:1). We must therefore put a difference betwixt the mother of hope, Faith; the means of hope, the Word; the earnest of hope, Christ in us; and the proper object of hope, to wit, the world to come, and the goodness thereof (Psa 119:49; Col 1:27).

If Christians have not much here, their hope, as I may so say, lies idle, and as a grace out of its exercise. For as faith cannot feed upon patience, but upon Christ, and as the grace of hungering and thirsting cannot live upon self-fulness, but upon the riches of the promise; so hope cannot make what is enjoyed its object: 'for what a man seeth why doth he yet hope for?' (Rom 8:24). But the proper object of hope is, that we see not. Let faith then be exercised upon Christ crucified for my justification, and hope upon the next world for my glorification; and let love show the truth of faith in Christ, by acts of kindness to Christ and his people; and patience, the truth of hope, by a quiet bearing and enduring that which may now be laid upon me for my sincere profession's sake, until the hope that is laid up for us in heaven shall come to us, or we be gathered to that, and then hope is in some measure in good order, and exercised well. But,

IV. We now come to the last thing propounded to be spoken to, which is, they that have hope and exercise it well, shall assuredly at last enjoy that hope that is laid up for them in heaven; that is, they that do regularly exercise the grace of hope shall at last enjoy the object of it, or the thing hoped for. This must of necessity be concluded, else we overthrow the whole truth of God at once, and the expectation of the best of men; yea, if this be not concluded, what follows, but that Atheism, unbelief, and irreligion, are the most right, and profane and debauched persons are in the rights way?

1. But to proceed, this must be, as is evident; for that the things hoped for are put under the very name of the grace that lives in the expectation of them. They are called HOPE; 'looking for that blessed hope'; 'for the hope that is laid up for them in heaven' (Titus 2:13; Col 1:5). God has set that character upon them, to signify that they belong to hope, and shall be the reward of hope. God doth in this, as your great traders do with the goods that their chapmen have either bought or spoke for; to wit, he sets their name or mark upon them, and then saith, This belongs to this grace, and this belongs to that; but the kingdom of heaven belongs to HOPE, for his name is set upon it. This therefore is one thing, to prove that the thing hoped for shall be thine; God has marked it for thee: nor can it be given to those that do not hope. That is, to the same purpose that you read of, 'That ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer' (2 Thess 1:5). Suffering flows from hope; he that hopes not for an house in heaven, will not for it choose to suffer the loss of the pleasures and friendships of this world. But they that suffer for it, and that all do, one way or other, in whom is placed this grace of hope, they God counteth worthy of it, and therefore, hath marked it with their mark, HOPE; for that it belongs to hope, and shall be given to those that hope. That is the first.

2. They that do, as afore is said, exercise this grace of hope, shall assuredly enjoy the hope that is laid up for them in heaven, as is evident also from this; because, as God has marked and set it apart for them, so what he has done to and with our Lord and Head, since his death, he hath done it to this very end; that is, to beget and maintain our hope in him as touching this thing. He 'hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ form the dead' (1 Peter 1:3). The meaning is, Christ is our undertaker, and suffered death for us, that we might enjoy happiness and glory: and God, to show how wiling he was that we should have this glory, raised up Christ again, and delivered him from their sorrows of death. Wherefore, considering this, Paul said, 'He rejoiced in hope of the glory of God'; to wit, of that glory, that sin, had he not had Jesus for his undertaker, would have caused that he should certainly have come short of (Rom 3:23, 5:2). But, again, God 'raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory,' too, and that to this very end, 'that your faith and hope might be in God' (1 Peter 1:21). I say, he did it to this very end, that he might beget in you this good opinion of him, as to hope in him, that he would give you that good thing hoped for-to wit, eternal life. He 'gave him glory,' and put it into his hand for you who is your head and Saviour, that you might see how willing God is to give you the hope you look for, 'that your faith and hope might be in God.'

3. That we that have hope and rightly exercise it, might assuredly enjoy that hope that is laid up for us in heaven: God has promised it, and that to our Saviour for us. Had he promised it to us, we might yet have feared, for that with our faults we give a cause of continual provocation to him. But since he hath promised it to Christ, it must assuredly come to us by him, because Christ, to whom it is promised, never gave occasion of provocation to him to take it back. And that it was promised to Christ, it is evident, because it was promised before the world began: 'In hope of eternal life,' saith Paul, 'which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began' (Titus 1:2). And this is, that we might hope. Men that use to hope to enjoy that money or estate, that by those that are faithful is promised to them, and put into the hands of trusty persons for them; why this is the case, God that cannot lie, has promised it to the hopers, and has put it into the hand of the trusty Jesus for us, therefore let us hope that in his times we shall both see and enjoy the same we hope for.

4. Yea, that all ground of doubt and scruple as to this might be removed out of the way, when Christ, who as to what was last said, is our hope (1 Tim 1:1), shall come, he shall bring that grace and mercy with him that shall even from before his judgment-seat remove all those things that might have any tendency in them to deprive us of our hope, or of the thing hoped for by us. Hence Peter bids us, 'Be sober and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ' (1 Peter 1:13). Also as to this, Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, joins with him, saying, 'Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life' (Jude 21). Here then you see that there is grace and mercy still for us in reversion; grace and mercy to be brought unto us at the revelation, or second coming of Jesus Christ. How then can we be hindered of our hope? For transporting mercy will then be busy for them that indeed have here the hope of eternal life. 'And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him' (Mal 3:17). None knows the mystery of God's will in all things revealed in his Word. Therefore many texts are looked over, or laid by, as those whose key doth go too hard; nor will I boast of any singular knowledge in any particular thing.[11] Yet methinks since grace and mercy was not only brought by Christ when he came into the world, but shall be brought again with him when he comes in his Father's glory, it signifies, that as the first brought the beginning of eternal life to us while we were enemies, this second will bring the full enjoyment of it to us while we are saints, attended with many imperfections. And that as by the first grace of all unworthiness was pardoned and passed by; so by this second grace, the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ, all shortness in duties, and failings in performances, shall be spared also; and we made possessors by virtue of this grace and mercy of the blessings hoped for, to wit, the blessings of eternal life. But thus much for the duty contained in the exhortation, to wit, of hoping.

[Second. A direction to the well managing of the duty of hope.]

I shall therefore come, in the next place, to treat of the well managing of this duty with reference to this primary object, which is the Lord himself. 'Let Israel hope in the Lord.' There is a general object of hope, and there is a particular object; there is a common object, and there is a special one. Of the general and common object, to wit, of heaven and happiness, I have said something already; wherefore it remains that now we come and treat of this particular and special object of our hope: 'Let Israel hope in the Lord.' The Lord, therefore, is to be the particular and special object of our hope: 'Let Israel hope in the Lord.' Now in that there is not only a duty here exhorted to, but a direction for the better management of that duty, to the particular and special object upon which this duty should be exercised, it suggesteth, how apt good men are, especially in times of trouble, the case of Israel now, to fix their hopes in other things than on the Lord. We have seen a great deal of this in our days; our days indeed have been days of trouble, especially since the discovery of the Popish plot, for then we began to fear cutting of throats, of being burned in our beds, and of seeing our children dashed in pieces before our faces. But looking about us, we found we had a gracious king, brave parliaments, a stout city, good lord-mayors, honest sheriffs, substantial laws against them, and these we made the object of our hope, quite forgetting the direction in this exhortation, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord.' For indeed the Lord ought to be our hope in temporals, as well as in spirituals and eternals. Wherefore Israel of old were checked, under a supposition of placing their hope for temporals in men; 'It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in princes' (Psa 118:8,9). And again, 'Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help' (Psa 146:3). This implieth that there is in us an incidency to forget God our hope, and to put confidence in something else. And to be sure we shall find it the more difficult to make the Lord our hope only, when things that are here, though deceitfully, proffer us their help.[12] But my design is not to treat of the object of hope but with reference to the next world. And as to that we must take heed that we set our hope in God, in God in the first place, and in nothing below or besides himself. To this end it is that he has given us his word, and appointed a law to Israel.

I. Because of his own grace he is become the special object of hope, designating himself in the most special sense to be the portion of his people (Psa 78:5-7)- 'The Lord is my portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him' (Lam 2:24). Wherefore this we must look well to, and take heed that we miss not of this object (Psa 146:5). This is the special object, the ultimate object, the object that we cannot be without; and that, short of which, we cannot be happy as, God willing, shall be showed more anon (Jer 50:7). God is not only happiness in himself, but the life of the soul, and he that puts goodness into every thing in the next world, in which goodness shall be found (Jer 17:13). And this our Lord Jesus Christ himself affirmeth, when he saith, 'I am the way,' to wit, the way to life and happiness. And yet he saith, 'I am the way to the Father,' for that it is HE that is the fountain and ocean of happiness and bliss.

So then, that we might in the next world be heirs of the highest good, God has made us heirs of his own good self; 'Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ'; heirs of God through Christ (Rom 18:17; Gal 4:7). This God, this eternal God, therefore, is of necessity to be the object of our hope, because he is, of grace, become our hope. The church in heaven, called the body and temple of God, is to be an habitation for himself, when it is finished, to dwell in for ever and ever. This then we hope for, to wit, to be possessed at that day with eternal life; eternal glory (1 Tim 6:12,19). Now this eternal life and eternal glory is through God the hope of his people (1 Peter 5:10; 1 John 5:20). And for this end, and to this bliss, are we called and regenerate in this world, 'That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life' (Titus 3:7). Nor can it be, that heaven and happiness should ever be the portion of them that make not God their hope, any more than such a lady should hope to enjoy the estate of such a lord, who first makes not the lord himself her husband.[13] Heaven, heaven is the talk of the ignorant, while the God of heaven they cannot abide. But shall such ever come to glory? But,

II. God must be the special object of our hope, and him in special that must be enjoyed by us in the next world, or nothing can make us happy. We will suppose now, for the illustrating of this matter, that which is not to be supposed. As,

1. Suppose a man, when he dieth, should go to heaven, that golden place, what good would this do him, if he was not possessed of the God of it? It would be, as to sweetness, but a thing unsavoury; as to durableness, but a thing uncertain; as to society, as a thing forlorn; and as to life, but a place of death. All this is made to appear by the angels that fell; for when fallen, what was heaven to them? Suppose they staid but one quarter of an hour there after their fall, before they were cast out, what sweetness found they there, but guilt? What stay, but a continual fall of heart and mind? What society, but to be abandoned of all? And what life, but death in its perfection? Yea, if it be true that some think, that for the promoting of grace, they are admitted yet to enter that place to accuse the saints on earth, yet what do they find there but what is grievous to them? It is the presence of God that makes heaven Heaven in all its beauteousness. Hence David, when he speaks of heaven, says, 'Whom have I in heaven but thee?' (Psa 73:25). As who should say, What would heaven yield to me for delights, if I was there without my God? It is the presence of God that will make heaven sweet to those who are his. And as it is that that makes the place, so it is interest in him that makes the company, and the deeds that are done there, pleasant to the soul. What solace can he that is without God, though he were in heaven, have with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the prophets and angels? How could he join in their thanks, and praises, and blessings of him for ever and ever, in whose favour, mercy, and grace, they are not concerned?

2. Suppose a man, when he dieth, should be made to live for ever, but without the enjoyment of God, what good would his life do him? Why, it would be filled full of horror, darkness, desolation, sorrow, and all things that would tend to make it bitter to the soul. Witness they that live in hell; if it be proper to say they live in hell? It is no more possible for a man to live happily, were he possessed of all that heaven and life could afford him, suppose him to be without interest in God, than it is for a man that hath all the enjoyments of this world, if the sun was taken from him out of the firmament. As all things, whether it be heaven, angels, heavenly pleasures and delights, have had their being of him, so their being is continued by him, and made sweet of him.

Now, for the well managing of our hope, with reference to this special object of it, there are these things to be considered. And now I speak to all. We must know him right, we must come to him right. (1.) We must know him right. It is essential to happiness, and so to the making of the God of heaven our hope, to know him rightly (John 17:1-3). It is not every fancy, or every imagination of God, that thou mayst have, that will prove that therefore thou knowest God aright. In him there 'is no variableness, neither shadow of turning' (James 1:17). He only is what he is, what imaginations soever we have of him. We may set up idols and images of him, as much in our minds as some do in their houses and in their temples, and be as great, though not so gross idolaters as they.[14] Now if thou wouldst know him, thou must diligently feel for him in his works, in his Word, and in his ways, if perhaps thou mayst find the knowledge of him (Prov 2:1-5; Acts 17:27). (2.) Beware, when thou hast found him, that thou go to him by his Son, whom he has sanctified and sent into the world, to be the way for sinners to go to God; and see that thou keepest in this path always, for out of him he is found intolerable, and a consuming-fire. (3.) Busy thyself with all thy might to make an interest in his Son, and he will willingly be thy Saviour, for he must become thine before his Father can be the object of thy hope (John 3:36). He that hath the Son, hath the Father, but contrariwise, he that hath not him has neither (2 John 9). (4.) Stay not in some transient comforts, but abide restless till thou seest an union betwixt thee and this Blessed One; to wit, that he is a root, and thou a branch; that he is head, and thou a member. And then shalt thou know that the case is so between thee and him, when grace and his Spirit has made thee to lay the whole stress of thy justification upon him and has subdued thy heart and mind to be 'one spirit' with him (Rom 4:4,5; 1 Cor 6:17). (5.) This done, hope thou in God, for he is become thy hope, that is, the object of it. And for thy encouragement so to do, consider that he is able to bear up thy heart, and has said he will do it, as to this very thing, to all those that thus hope in him. 'Be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart,' all ye that hope in the Lord (Psa 31:24). It is manifest, as was said before, that many difficulties lie in the way of hoping; but God will make those difficulties easy, by strengthening the heart of him that hopeth, to hope. He has a way to do that, which no creature can hinder, by the blessed work of his Holy Spirit. He can show us he loves us, that he may encourage our hope. And as he can work in us for our encouragement, so he can and will, as was said before, himself, in his time, answer our hope, by becoming our hope himself. 'The Lord shall be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel' (Joel 3:16).

His faithfulness also is a great encouragement to his, to hope for the accomplishment of all that he hath promised unto his people. 'Hath he said it, and shall he not make it good?' When he promised to bring Israel into the land of Canaan, he accomplished it to a tittle. 'There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass' (Josh 21:45, 23:14). Also what he with his mouth had promised to David, with his hand he fulfilled to Solomon in the view of all the thousands of Israel (1 Kings 8:22-24; 2 Chron 6:7-10).

[Third. The persons who are concerned in the management of this duty of hope.]

I will omit making mention again of the encouragements spoken of before, and shall now come to the third thing specified in this part of the text, to wit, to show more distinctly, who, and what particular persons they are, who are concerned in this exhortation to hope.

They are put, as you see, under this general term Israel; 'Let Israel hope in the Lord.' And, 'He shall save Israel from all his troubles.' Israel is to be taken three ways, in the Scripture. 1. For such that are Israel after the flesh. 2. For such as are such neither after the flesh nor the Spirit; but in their own fancies and carnal imaginations only. 3. For such as are Israel after God, or the Spirit.

1. Israel is to be taken for those that are such after the flesh; that is, for those that sprang from the loins of Jacob, and are called, 'Israel after the flesh, the children of the flesh.' Now these, as such, are not the persons interested in this exhortation, for by the flesh comes no true spiritual and eternal grace (Rom 9:6-8; 2 Cor 1:10-18). Men are not within the bounds of the promise of eternal life, as they are the children of the flesh, either in the more gross or more refined sense (Phil 3:4-6). Jacob was as spiritual a father as any HE, I suppose that now professeth the gospel; but his spiritualness could not convey down to this children, that were such only after the flesh, that spirit and grace that causeth sound conversion, and salvation by Jesus Christ. Hence Paul counts it a carnal thing to glory in this; and tells us plainly, If he had heretofore known Christ thus, that is, to have been his brother or kinsman, according to the flesh, or after that, he would henceforth know him, that is, so, 'no more' (2 Cor 5:16-18). For though the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet not that multitude, but the remnant that the Lord hath chosen and shall call, shall be saved (Rom 9:27; Joel 2:32). This, therefore, is as an arrow against the face of that false doctrine that the Jews leaned upon, to wit, that they were in the state of grace, and everlasting favour of God, because the children and offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But,

2. Israel may be taken for such as are neither so after the flesh, nor the Spirit, but in their own fancy and imagination only. And such I take to be all those that you read of in Revelation 2:9 which said 'they were Jews, and were not,' 'but did lie' (3:9).

These I take to be those carnal gospellers,[15] that from among the Gentiles pretended themselves to be Jews inwardly, whose circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, when they were such only in their own fancies and conceits, and made their profession out as a lie (Rom 2:28,29). Abundance of these there are at this day in the world; men who know neither the Father, nor the Son, nor anything of the way of the Spirit, in the work of regeneration; and yet presume to say, 'They are Jews'; that is, truly and spiritually the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 'For' now, 'he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, - whose praise is not of men, but of God.' And although it may please some now to say, as they of old said to them of the captivity, 'We seek your God as ye do' (Ezra 4:2); yet at last it will be found, that as they, such have 'no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem' (Neh 2:20). And I would from hence caution all to take heed of presuming to count themselves Jews, unless they have a substantial ground so to do. For to do this without a good bottom, makes all our profession a lie; and not only so, but it hindereth us of a sight of a want of an interest in Jesus Christ, without which we cannot be saved; yea, such an one is the great self-deceiver, and so the worst deceiver of all: for he that deceives his own self, his own heart, is a deceiver in the worst sense; nor can any disappointment be like unto that which casts away soul and body at once (James 1:22,26). O slender thread! that a man should think, that because he fancieth himself 'an Israelite indeed,' that therefore he shall go for such an one in the day of judgment; or that he shall be able to cheat God with a pitiful say-so!

3. But the Israel under consideration in the text, is Israel after God, or the Spirit; hence they are called 'the Israel of God,' because they are made so of him, not by generation, nor by fancy, but by Divine power (Can 6:16). And thus was the first of this name made so, 'Thy name shall be called no more Jacob but Israel' (Gen 32:28). This then is the man concerned in the text, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord'; to wit, Israel that is so of God's making, and of God's allowance: for men are not debarred from calling themselves after this most godly name, provided they are so indeed; all that is dangerous is, when men shall think this privilege comes by carnal generation, or that their fancying of themselves to be such will bear them out in the day of judgment. Otherwise, if men become the true servants of God by Christ, they have, as I said, an allowance so to subscribe themselves. 'One shall say, I am the Lord's and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel' (Isa 44:5). But then, for the further describing of such, they must be men of circumcised and tender hearts; they must be such 'which worship God in the spirit, and that rejoice in Christ Jesus, and that have no confidence in the flesh' (Phil 3:3), for these are the Nathaniels, the Israelites indeed in whom there is no guile (John 1:47), and these are they that are intended in the exhortation, when he saith, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord.'

For these are formed for that very end, that they might hope in the Lord; yea, the word and testament are given to them for this purpose (Psa 78:5-7). These are prisoners of hope all the time they are in the state of nature, even as the whole creation is subjected under hope, all the time of its bondage, by the sin and villainy of man; and unto them it shall be said, in the dispensation of the fullness of time, 'Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope' (Zech 9:12); as certainly as that which is called the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8:18-21). Only here, as I said before, let all men have a care in this thing: this is the pinnacle, the point; he that is right here, is right in all that is necessary to salvation; but he that misses here, can by no means be right anywhere to his soul's advantage in the other world.

[Improvement.] If I should a little improve the text where this title is first given to man, and show the posture he was in when it was said to him, 'Thy name shall be called Israel'; and should also debate upon the cause or ground of that, 'An Israelite indeed,' thou mightest not repent it who shall read it; and therefore a few words to each.

1. When Jacob received the name of Israel, he was found wrestling with the angel; yea, and so resolved a wrestler was he, that he purposed, now he had begun, not to give out without a blessing, 'I will not let thee go,' said he, 'except thou bless me' (Gen 32:26). Discouragements he had while he wrestled with him, to have left off, before he obtained his desire; for the angel bid him leave off; 'let me go,' said he. He had wrestled all night, and had not prevailed; and now the day brake upon him, and consequently his discouragement was like to be the greater, for that now the majesty and terribleness of him with whom he wrestled would be seen more apparently; but this did not discourage him: besides, he lost the use of a limb as he wrestled with him; yet all would not put this Israel out. Pray he did, and pray he would, and nothing should make him leave off prayer, until he had obtained, and therefore he was called 'Israel.' 'For as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed' (Gen 32:28,30). A wrestling spirit of prayer is a demonstration of an Israel of God; this Jacob had, this he made use of, and by this he obtained the name of 'Israel.' A wrestling spirit of prayer in straits, difficulties, and distresses; a wrestling spirit of prayer when alone in private, in the night, when none eye seeth but God's then to be at it, then to lay hold of God, then to wrestle, to hold fast, and not to give over until the blessing is obtained, is a sign of one that is an Israel of God.

2. 'Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile' (John 1:47). This was the testimony of the Lord Jesus concerning Nathaniel (v 46). Nathaniel was persuaded by Philip to come to Jesus, and as he was coming, Jesus saith to the rest of the disciples concerning him, 'Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.' Then said Nathaniel to Jesus, 'Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee' (v 15). Nathaniel, as Jacob, was at prayer, at prayer alone under the fig-tree, wrestling in prayer, for what no man can certainly tell, but probably for the Messias, or for the revelation of him: for the seeing Jews were convinced that the time of the promise was out; and all men were in expectation concerning John, whether he might not be he (Luke 3:15). But Nathaniel was under the fig-tree, alone with God, to inquire of him, and that with great earnestness and sincerity; else the Lord Jesus would not thus have excused him of hypocrisy, and justified his action as he did, concluding from what he did there that he was a true son of Jacob; and ought, as he, to have his name changed from what his parents gave him, to this given him of Christ, 'An Israelite indeed.' Wherefore, from both these places, it is apparent, that a wrestling spirit of prayer, in private, is one of the best signs that this or that man or woman is of Israel; and, consequently, such who are within the compass of the exhortation here, saying, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord.' I say, it is this wrestling spirit of prayer with God alone; for as for that of public prayer, though I will not condemn it, it gives not ground for this character, notwithstanding all the flourishes and excellencies that may therein appear. I am not insensible what pride, what hypocrisy, what pretences, what self-seekings of commendations and applause, may be countenanced by those concerned in, or that make public prayers; and how little thought or savour of God may be in all so said; but this closet, night, or alone prayer, is of another stamp, and attended, at least so I judge, with that sense, those desires, that simplicity, and those strugglings, wherewith that in public is not.[16] Nay, I think verily a man cannot addict himself to these most solemn retirements, without some of Jacob's and Nathaniel's sense and sincerity, wrestlings and restlessness for mercy; wherefore, laying aside all other, I shall abide by this, That the man that is as I have here described, is not an Israelite of the flesh, nor one so only in his fancy or imagination, but one made so of God; one that is called a child of promise, and one to whom this exhortation doth belong: 'Let Israel hope in the Lord'; to wit, they that serve God by prayer day and night (Luke 2:37; Acts 26:5-7). These, I say, are Israel, the Israel of God, and let these hope in the Lord, from now, 'henceforth, and for ever' (Psa 131:3).

[SECOND. The manner by which the exhortation is expressed.]

Having thus briefly touched upon those three things that are contained in the matter of the exhortation, I now come to speak a word to the manner of praises by which the exhortation is presented to us, 'Let Israel hope'; he doth not say, Israel hath hoped; Israel did hope; or Israel can hope, but 'let Israel hope in the Lord.' 'Let' is a word very copious, and sometimes signifies this, and sometimes that, even according as the nature or reason of the thing under debate, or to be expressed, will with truth and advantage bear. Let him hope,

First. Sometimes 'let' is equivalent to a command; 'Let every soul be subject to the higher powers,' this is a command. 'Let all things be done decently and in order,' this also is a command. So here, 'Let Israel hope,' this also is a command; and so enjoins a duty upon Israel; for why, since they seek for mercy, should they not have it; now a command lays a very strong obligation upon a man to do this or another duty. 'He commandeth all men every where to repent'; but Israel only to hope in his mercy. Now take the exhortation and convert it into a commandment, and it showeth us, (1.) in what good earnest God offers his mercy to his Israel; he commands them to hope in him, as he is and will be so to them. (2.) It supposes an impediment in Israel, as to the faculty of receiving or hoping in God for mercy; we that would have God be merciful, we that cry and pray to him to show us mercy, have yet that weakness and impediment in our faith, which greatly hindereth us from a steadfast hoping in the Lord for mercy. (3.) It suggesteth also, that Israel SINS, if he hopeth not in God, God would not that all should attempt to hope, because they have no faith; for he is for having of them first believe, knowing that it is in vain to think of hoping, until they have believed; but Israel has believed, and therefore God has commanded them to hope, and they sin if they obey him not in this, as in all other duties. He commands thee, I say, since thou hast believed in his Son, to hope, that is, to expect to see his face in the next world with joy and comfort; this is hoping, this is thy duty, this God commands thee.

Second. As this word 'let' is sometimes equivalent to a command, so it is expressed sometimes also to show a grant, leave, or license, to do a thing: such are these that follow, 'Let us come boldly to the throne of grace' (Heb 4:6). 'Let us draw near with a true heart' (ch 10). 'Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering' (vv 22,23). Here also this manner of expressing the thing may be taken in the same sense, to wit, to show that Israel has a grant, a leave, a license, to trust in the Lord. And O! what a privilege is this, but who believes it? And yet as truly as God has granted to Jacob, to Israel, repentance unto life, and by that means has made him fly for refuge, to lay hold of Christ set before him as a justifier; so has he granted him leave and license to trust in him for ever, and to hope for his favour in the next world.

And if you take the word in this sense, to wit, for a grant, leave, or license, to hope in God; then (1.) This shows how liberal God is of himself, and things, to Israel. Let Israel hope in me, trust to me, expect good things at my hand; I give him leave and license to do it. Let him live in a full expectation of being with me, and with my Son in glory; I give him leave to do so; he has license from me to do so. (2.) Understand the word thus, and it shows us with what boldness and confidence God would have us hope in him. They that have leave and license to do a thing, may do it with confidence and boldness, without misgivings and reluctance of mind; this is our privilege; we may live in a full assurance of hope unto the end, we may hope perfectly to the end, we have leave, license, and a grant to do it. (3.) Understand the word thus, and it also shows you how muddy, how dark those of Israel are, and how little they are acquainted with the goodness of their God, who stand shrinking at his door like beggars, and dare not in a godly sort be bold, with his mercy. Wherefore standest thou thus with thy Ifs and thy O-buts, O thou poor benighted Israelite. Wherefore puttest thou thy hand in thy bosom, as being afraid to touch the hem of the garment of the Lord? Thou hast a leave, a grant, a license, to hope for good to come, thy Lord himself has given it to thee, saying, 'LET Israel hope in the Lord.'

Third. This word 'let' is also sometimes used by way of rebuke and snub; 'Let her alone, for her soul is vexed' (2 Kings 4:27). 'Let her alone, why trouble ye her?' (Mark 14:6). 'Refrain from these men, and let them alone' (Acts 5:38). And it may also so be taken here. But if so, then it implies, that God in this exhortation rebuketh those evil instruments, those fallen angels, with all others that attempt to hinder us in the exercise of this duty. As Boaz said to his servants, when Ruth was to glean in his field, 'let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not' (Ruth 2:15,16). We have indeed those that continually endeavour to hinder us of living in the full assurance of hope, as to being with God and with Christ in glory: but here is a rebuke for such, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord.' And it shows us, 1. That what suggestions come from Satan to make us that are Israelites to doubt, come not for that end, by virtue of any commission that he hath from God. God has rebuked him in the text, and you may see it also elsewhere. These temptations, therefore, are rather forged of malice, and of despite to our faith and hope; and so should be accounted by us (Zech 1:1-3). 2. This shows us also that we should take heed of crediting of that which comes unto us to hinder our hope in the Lord; lest we take part with Satan, while God rebuketh him, and countenanceth that which fights against the grace of God in us. 3. It shows us also that as faith, so hope, cannot be maintained with great difficulty, and that we should endeavour to maintain it, and hope through every difficulty.

Fourth. This word 'LET' is sometimes used by way of request or intreaty. 'I pray thee, LET Tamar my sister come' (2 Sam 13:6). 'LET it be granted to the Jews to do,' &c. (Esth 9:13). And if it be so to be taken here, or if in the best sense this interpretation of it may here be admitted, the consideration thereof is amazing; for then it is all one as if God by the mouth of his servant, the penman of this psalm, did intreat us to hope in him. And why this may not be implied here, as well as expressed elsewhere, I know not. 'God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God' (2 Cor 5:20). Why should God beseech us to reconcile to him, but that we might hope in him? and if it be thus taken here, it shows, 1. The great condescension of God, in that he doth not only hold out to us the advantages of hoping in God, but desires that we should hope, that we might indeed be partakers of those advantages. 2. It teaches us also humility, and that always in the acts of faith and hope we should mix blushing, and shame, with our joy and rejoicing. Kiss the ground, sinner; put 'thy mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope' (Lam 3:29).

Fifth. And lastly, This word is used sometimes by way of caution. 'Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall' (1 Cor 10:12). 'Let us therefore fear lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it' (Heb 4:1), and if it should be so taken here, then, 1. This shows us the evil of despair, and that we at times are incident to it; our daily weaknesses, our fresh guilt, our often decays, our aptness to forget the goodness of God, are direct tendencies unto this evil, of which we should be aware; for it robs God of his glory, and us of our comfort, and gratifies none but the devil and unbelief. 2. It showeth us that despair is a fall, a falling down from our liberty; our liberty is to hope; it is our portion from God; for he hath said that himself will be the hope of his people. To do the contrary, is therefore a falling from God, a departing from God through an evil heart of unbelief. It is the greatest folly in the world for an Israelite to despair; 'Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel. My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon,' that is, hope in, 'the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint' (Isa 40:27-31).

[THIRD. Inferences from the exhortation.]

Now we come to those inferences that do naturally flow from this exhortation, and they are in number four.

First. That hope and the exercise of it, is as necessary in its place, as faith, and the exercise of it. All will grant that there is need of a daily exercise of faith; and we are bid to hope unto the end, because hope is the grace that relieveth the soul when dark and weary. Hope is as the bottle to the faint and sinking spirit. Hope calls upon the soul not to forget how far it is arrived in its progress towards heaven. Hope will point and show it the gate afar off; and therefore it is called the hope of salvation. Hope exerciseth itself upon God.

1. By those mistakes that the soul hath formerly been guilty of, with reference to the judgment that it hath made of God, and of his dealings with it. And this is an excellent virtue. 'I said,' once says the church, that 'my hope is perished from the Lord,' but I was deceived; 'this I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope'; that is, why, if I give way to such distrusting thoughts, may I not be wrong again? (Lam 3:18-21). Therefore will I hope! This virtue is that which belongs to this grace only; for this and this only is it that can turn unbelief and doubts to advantage. 'I said in my haste,' said David, 'I am cut off from before thine eyes'; nevertheless I was mistaken; 'thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee' (Psa 31:22). And what use doth he make of this? Why, an exhortation to all good men to hope, and to take advantage to hope from the same mistakes. I think I am cast off from God, says the soul; so thou thoughtest afore, says memory, but thou wast mistaken then, and why not the like again? and therefore will I hope. When I had concluded that God would never come near me more, yet after that he came to me again, and as I was then, so I am now; therefore will I hope.

2. True hope, in the right exercise of it upon God, makes no stick at weakness or darkness; but rather worketh up the soul to some stay, by these. Thus Abraham's hope wrought by his weakness (Rom 4). And so Paul, when I am weak, then I am strong; I will most gladly therefore rejoice in mine infirmities (2 Cor 12). But this cannot be done where there is no hope, nor but by hope: for it is hope, and the exercise of it, that can say, Now I expect that God should bring good out of all this. And as for the dark, it is its element to act in that: 'But hope that is seen is not hope' (Rom 8:24). But we must hope for that we see not. So David, 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul? hope thou in God.' Christians have no reason to mistrust the goodness of God, because of their weakness, &c. 'I had fainted unless I had believed to see' (Psa 27:13). By believing there, he means hoping to see, as the exhortation drawn from thence doth import.

3. Hope will make use of our calling, to support the soul, and to help it, by that, to exercise itself in a way of expectation of good from God. Hence the apostle prays for the Ephesians, that they may be made to see what is 'the hope of their calling'; that is, what good that is which by their calling they have ground to hope is laid up in heaven, and to be brought unto them at the appearance of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:17,18). For thus the soul by this grace of hope will reason about this matter: God has called me; surely it is to a feast. God has called me to the fellowship of his Son, surely it is that I may be with him in the next world. God has given me the spirit of faith and prayer; surely it is that I might hope for what I believe is, and wait for what I pray for. God his given me some tastes already; surely it is to encourage me to hope that he purposeth to bring me into the rich fruition of the whole.

4. Hope will exercise itself upon God by those breakings wherewith he breaketh his people for their sins. 'The valley of Achor' must be given 'for a door of hope' (Hosea 2:15). The valley of Achor; what is that? Why, the place where Achan was stoned for his wickedness, and the place where all Israel was afflicted for the same (Josh 7). I say, hope can gather by this, that God has a love to the soul; for when God hateth a man he chastiseth him not for his trespasses.[17] 'If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons' (Heb 12:8). Hence Moses tells Israel, that when the hand of God was upon them for their sins, they should consider in their heart, 'that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee' (Deut 8:5). And why thus consider, but that a door might be opened for hope to exercise itself upon God by this? This is that also that is intended in Paul to the Corinthians, 'When we are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world' (1 Cor 11:32). Is not here a door of hope? And why a door of hope, but that by it, God's people, when afflicted, should go out by it from despair by hope?

[Second.] But it is to be inferred, secondly, That the exercise of hope upon God is very delightful to him: else he would not have commanded and granted us a liberty to hope, and have snibbed those that would hinder. 'Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him; upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine' (Psa 33:18,19). That God is much delighted in the exercise of this grace, is evident, because of the preparation that he has made for this grace, wherewith to exercise itself. 'For whatsoever things were writ aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope' (Rom 15:4). Mark, the whole history of the Bible, with the relation of the wonderful works of God with his people from the beginning of the world, are written for this very purpose, that we, by considering and comparing, by patience and comfort of them, might have hope. The Bible is the scaffold or stage that God has builded for hope to play his part upon in this world. It is therefore a thing very delightful to God to see hope rightly given its colour before him; hence he is said, 'to laugh at the trial of the innocent' (Job 9:23). Why at his trial? Because his trial puts him upon the exercise of hope: for then indeed there is work for hope, when trials are sharp upon us. But why is God so delighted in the exercise of this grace of hope?

1. Because hope is a head-grace and governing. There are several lusts in the soul that cannot be mastered, if hope be not in exercise; especially if the soul be in great and sore trials. There is peevishness and impatience, there is fear and despair, there is doubting and misconstruing of God's present hand; and all these become masters, if hope be not stirring; nor can any grace besides put a stop to their tumultuous raging in the soul. But now hope in God makes them all hush, takes away the occasion of their working, and lays the soul at the foot of God. 'Surely,' saith the Psalmist, 'I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother, my soul is even as a weaned child.' But how came he to bring his soul into so good a temper? Why, that is gathered by the exhortation following, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever' (Psa 131:2,3). It was by hoping in the Lord that he quieted his soul, and all its unruly sinful passions.

2. As hope quasheth and quieteth sinful passions, so it putteth into order some graces that cannot be put into order without it: as patience, meekness, silence, and long-suffering, and the like. These are all in a day of trial out of place, order, and exercise, where hope forbeareth to work. I never saw a distrusting man, a patient man, a quiet man, a silent man, and a meek man, under the hand of God, except he was 'dead in sin' at the time. But we are not now talking of such. But now let a man hope in the Lord, and he presently concludes this affliction is for my good, a sign God loves me, and that which will work out for me a far more and exceeding and eternal weight of glory; and so it puts the graces of the soul into order (Luke 21:19). Wherefore patience, by which a man is bid to possess or keep his soul under the cross, is called 'the patience of hope' (1 Thess 1:3). So in another place, when he would have the church patient in tribulation, and continue instant in prayer, he bids them 'rejoice in hope,' knowing that the other could not be done without it (Rom 12:12).

3. God takes much delight in the exercise of hope, because it construeth all God's dispensations, at present, towards it, for the best: 'When he hath tried me I shall come forth like gold' (Job 23:10). This is the language of hope. God, saith the soul, is doing of me good, making of me better, refining of my inward man. Take a professor that is without hope, and either he suffereth affliction of pride and ostentation, or else he picks a quarrel with God and throws up all. For he thinks that God is about to undo him; but hope construeth all to the best, and admits no such unruly passions to carry the man away.

4. Therefore hope makes the man, be the trials what they will, to keep still close to the way and path of God. 'My foot,' said hoping Job, 'hath held his steps, his way have I kept and not declined, neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips' (Job 23:11,12). And again, 'Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way: though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death' (Psa 44:18,19). But how came they thus patiently to endure? Why, they by hope put patience and prayer into exercise. They knew that their God was as it were but asleep, and that in his time he would arise for their help; and when he did arise he would certainly deliver. Thus is this psalm applied by Paul (Rom 8).

[Third.] There is also inferred from this exhortation, that the hope of those that are not Israelites is not esteemed of God. 'Let Israel hope.' The words are exclusive, shutting out the rest. He doth not say, Let Amalek hope, let Babylon, or the Babylonians hope; but even in and by this exhortation shutteth out both the rest and their hope from his acceptance. This being concluded, it follows, that some may hope and not be the better for their hope. 'The hypocrite's hope shall perish' (Job 8:13); their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost (11:20). 'For what is the hope of the hypocrite?' (27:8). Again, 'The hope of unjust men perisheth' (Prov 11:7). There is a hope that perisheth, both it and he that hoped with it together. The reasons are,

1. Because it floweth not from faith and experience, but rather from conceit and presumption. Hope, as I have told you, if it be right, cometh of faith, and is brought forth by experience: but the hope now under consideration is alone, and has no right original, and therefore not regarded. It is not the hope of God, but the hope of man; that is, it is not the hope of God's working, but the hope that standeth in natural abilities. 'Thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth, and thou destroyest the hope of man' (Job 14:19). Whatsoever in religious matters is but of a carnal and earthly existence, must be washed away, when the overflowing scourge shall at the end pass over the world (Isa 28:17-19).

2. Because the Lord's mercy is not the object of it. The worldly man makes gold, or an arm of flesh his hope; that is, the object of it, and so he despiseth God (Job 31:24; Jer 3:23). Or if he be a religious hypocrite, his hope terminates in his own doings: he trusteth, or hopeth, in himself, that he is righteous (Luke 18:9). All these things are abhorred of God, nor can he, with honour to his name, or in a compliance with his own eternal designs, give any countenance to such a hope as this.

3. This hope has no good effect on the heart and mind of him that hath it. It purifieth not the soul, it only holds fast a lie, and keeps a man in a circuit, at an infinite distance from waiting upon God.

4. This hope busieth all the powers of the soul about things that are of the world, or about those false objects on which it is pitched; even as the spider diligently worketh in her web-unto which also this hope is compared-in vain. This hope will bring that man that has it, and exercises it, to heaven, when leviathan is pulled out of the sea with a hook; or when his jaw is bored through with a thorn: but as he that thinks to do this, hopeth in vain; so, even so, will the hope of the other be as unsuccessful; 'So are the paths of all that forget God, and the hypocrite's hope shall perish; whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand; he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure' (Job 8:13-15, 41:1-9). This is the hope that is not esteemed of God, nor the persons that have it, preferred by him a whit before their own dung (Job 20:4-8).

[Fourth.] There is also inferred from these words, That Israel himself is subject to swerve in his soul about the object of hope. For this text is to him as a command and grant, so an instruction by which he is to be informed, how and upon whom to set his hope. That Israel is apt to swerve as to the object of his hope, is evident, for that so much ado is made by the prophets to keep him upon his God; in that so many laws and statutes are made to direct him to set his hope in God: and also by his own confession (Psa 78:7; Jer 3:23-25; Lam 4:17). The fears also and the murmurings and the faintings that attend the godly in this life, do put the truth of this inference out of doubt. It is true, the apostle said, that he had the sentence of death in himself, that he might not trust or hope in himself, but in God that raiseth the dead. But this was an high pitch; Israel is not always here; there are many things that hinder. (1.) The imperfection of our graces. There is no grace perfected in the godly. Now it is incident to things defective, to be wanting in their course. Faith is not perfect; and hence the sensible Christian feels what follows: love is not perfect, and we see what follows; and so of hope and every other grace; their imperfection makes them stagger. 2. Israel is not yet beyond temptations. There is a deal to attend him with temptations, and he has a soul so disabled by sin, that at all times he cannot fix on God that made him, but is apt to be turned aside to lying vanities: the very thing that Jonah was ensnared with (2:8).

3. The promising helps that seem to be in other things, are great hindrances to a steady fixing, by hope, on God; there are good frames of heart, enlargements in duties, with other the like, that have through the darkness, and the legality of our spirits been great hindrances to Israel. Not that their natural tendency is to turn us aside; but our corrupt reason getting the upper hand, and bearing the stroke in judgment, converts our minds and consciences to the making of wrong conclusions upon them. 4. Besides, as the mind and conscience, by reason, is oft deluded to draw these wrong conclusions upon our good frames of heart, to the removing of our hope from the right object unto them; so by like reason, are we turned by unwholesome doctrines, and a carnal understanding of the Word, to the very same thing: 'cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water,' Israel, even God's people, are apt to make unto themselves to the forsaking of their God (Jer 2:11-13).

Thus have I gone through the first part of the text, which consists of an exhortation to hope in the Lord. And have showed you, 1. The matter contained therein. 2. Something of the reason of the manner of the phrase. 3. And have drawn, as you see, some inferences from it.

[SECOND. THE REASON URGED TO ENFORCE THE EXHORTATION.]

I now come to the second part of the text, which is a reason urged to enforce the exhortation, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord.' Why? 'For with the Lord there is mercy.' There is the reason, let him hope, for there is mercy; let him hope in the Lord, for with him there is mercy. The reason is full and suitable. For what is the ground of despair, but a conceit that sin has shut the soul out of all interest in happiness? and what is the reason of that, but a persuasion that there is no help for him in God? Besides, could God do all but show mercy, yet the belief of that ability would not be a reason sufficient to encourage the soul to hope in God. For the block SIN, which cannot be removed but by mercy, still lies in the way. The reason therefore is full and suitable, having naturally an enforcement in it, to the exhortation. And,

First. To touch upon the reason in a way general, and then [Second] to come to it more particularly. 'Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy,' mercy to be bestowed, mercy designed to be bestowed.

1. Mercy to be bestowed. This must be the meaning. What if a man has never so much gold or silver, or food, or raiment: yet if he has none to communicate, what is the distressed, or those in want, the better? What if there be mercy with God, yet if he has none to bestow, what force is there in the exhortation, or what shall Israel, if he hopeth, be the better. But God has mercy to bestow, to give. 'He saith on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David' (Acts 13:34). And again, 'The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus' (2 Tim 1:16). Now then, here lies the encouragement. The Lord has mercy to give; he has not given away ALL his mercy; his mercy is not clean gone for ever (Psa 77:8). He has mercy yet to give away, yet to bestow upon his Israel. 'Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy.'

2. As there is with God mercy to be bestowed, so there is mercy designed to be bestowed or given to Israel. Some men lay by what they mean to give away, and put that in a bag by itself, saying, This I design to give away, this I purpose to bestow upon the poor. Thus God; he designeth mercy for his people (Dan 9:4). Hence the mercy that God's Israel are said to be partakers of, is a mercy kept for them. And 'thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor,' and laid up for them (Psa 68:10). This is excellent and is true, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord, for there is with him mercy,' kept, prepared, and laid up for them! (Psa 61:7). When God designs the bestowing of mercy, we may well hope to be partakers (Psa 31:19). The poor will go merrily to weddings and funerals, and hope for an alms all the way they go, when they come to understand that there is so much kept, prepared, and laid up for them by the bridegroom, &c.[18] But 'He keepeth mercy for thousands!' (Exo 34:7).

3. As God has mercies to bestow, and as he has designed to bestow them, so those mercies are no fragments or the leavings of others: but mercies that are full and complete to do for thee, what thou wantest, wouldst have, or canst desire. As I may so say, God has his bags that were never yet untied, never yet broken up, but laid by him through a thousand generations, for those that he commands to hope in his mercy. As Samuel kept the shoulder for Saul, and as God brake up that decreed place for the sea, so hath he set apart, and will break up his mercy for his people: mercy and grace that he gave us before we had a being, is the mercy designed for Israel (2 Tim 1:9). Whole mercies are allotted to us; however, mercy sufficient (1 Sam 9:23-24; Job 38:10). But to be a little more distinct.

[Second, particularly.] I find that the goodness of God to his people is diversely expressed in his word: sometimes by the word grace; sometimes by the word love; and sometimes by the word mercy; even as our badness against him is called iniquity, transgression, and sin. When it is expressed by that word 'grace,' then it is to show that what he doth is of his princely will, his royal bounty, and sovereign pleasure. When it is expressed by that word 'love,' then it is to show us that his affection was and is in what he doth, and that he doth what he doth for us, with complacency and delight. But when it is set forth to us under the notion of 'mercy,' then it bespeaks us to be in a state both wretched and miserable, and that his bowels and compassions yearn over us in this our fearful plight. Now, the Holy Ghost chooseth-as it should seem-in this place, to present us with that goodness that is in God's heart towards us, rather under the term of mercy; for that, as I said before, it so presenteth us with our misery, and his pity and compassion; and because it best pleaseth us when we apprehend God in Christ as one that has the love of compassion and pity for us. Hence we are often presented with God's goodness to us to cause us to hope, under the name of pity and compassion. 'In his pity he redeemed them,' and 'like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him' (Isa 63:9; Psa 103:13). 'The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy,' he also is gracious and 'full of compassion' (James 5:11; Psa 78:38). 'Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion,' and thy 'compassions fail not' (Psa 86:15, 111:4; Lam 3:22).

The words being thus briefly touched upon, I shall come to treat of two things. FIRST, more distinctly, I shall show you what kind of mercy is with the Lord, as a reason to encourage Israel to hope. SECONDLY, And then shall show what is to be inferred from this reason, 'Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy.'

[FIRST, The kind of mercy that Israel is to hope for.]

First, 'With him there is TENDER MERCY, and therefore let Israel hope' (Psa 25:6, 103:4, 119:156). Tender mercy is mercy in mercy, and that which Israel of old had in high estimation, cried much for, and chose that God would deal with their souls by that. 'Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me,' said David, and 'according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions' (Psa 40:11, 51:1). And again, 'Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live' (Psa 119:77). Now of this sort of mercies God has a great many, a multitude to bestow upon his people. And they are thus mentioned by the word, to cause us to hope in him. And is not this alluring, is not this enticing to the Israel of God to hope, when the object of their hope is a God 'very pitiful, and of tender mercy?' Yea, a God whose tender mercies are great and many. There are two things that this word tender mercy importeth. 1. The first is, that sin will put a believer, if he giveth way thereto, into a very miserable condition. 2. That God would have them hope, that though sin may have brought any of them into this condition, the Lord will restore them with much pity and compassion. 'Let Israel hope in the Lord,' for with the Lord there is mercy, tender mercy.

1. For the first of these, That sin will put a believer, if he gives way thereto, into a very miserable condition, and that upon a double account. (1.) For that it will bring him into fears of damnation. (2.) In that it will make his soul to be much pained under those fears.

We will wave the first, and come to the second of these. The pains that guilt will make, when it wounds the conscience, none knows but those to whom sin is applied by the Spirit of God, in the law. Yet all may read of it in the experience of the godly; where this pain is compared to a wound in the flesh, to fire in the bones, to the putting of bones out of joint, and the breaking of them asunder (Psa 38:3,5,7,8, 102:3, 22:14; Lam 1:13, 3:4). He that knows what wounds and broken bones are, knows them to be painful things. And he that knows what misery sin will bring the soul into with its guilt, will conclude the one comes no whit short of the other. But now he that hath these wounds, and also these broken bones, the very thoughts of a man that can cure, and of a bonesetter, will make him afraid, yea, quake for fear; especially if he knows that though he has skill, he has a hard heart, and fingers that are like iron. He that handleth a wound, had need have fingers like feathers or down; to be sure the patient wisheth they were! Tenderness is a thing of great worth to such; and such men are much inquired after by such; yea, their tenderness is an invitation to such to seek after them. And the thing is true in spirituals (Isa 42:3). Wherefore David cried, as I said before, 'Have mercy upon me, O God! according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions' (Psa 51:1). O handle me tenderly, Lord, handle me tenderly, cried David. O cure me, I beseech thee, and do it with thy tender mercy.

Now, answerable to this, the Lord is set forth to Israel, as one with whom is mercy, consequently tender mercy. Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is tender mercy. God therefore would have the wounded and bruised, and those whose pains may be compared to the pains and pangs of broken bones, to hope that he will restore them with much pity and compassion, or as you have it before, in pity and tender mercy. See how he promiseth to do it by the prophet. 'A bruised reed shall he not break; and the smoking flax shall he not quench' (Isa 42:3). See how tender he is in the action. 'When he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him' (Luke 10:33-35). Every circumstance is full of tenderness and compassion. See also how angry he maketh himself with those of his servants that handle the wounded or diseased without this tenderness; and how he catcheth them out of their hand, with a purpose to deal more gently with them himself. 'The diseased,' saith he, 'have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick; neither have ye bound up that which was broken; neither have ye brought again that which was driven away; neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them; therefore, ye shepherds, hear the words of the Lord: I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick' (Eze 34:4,7,15,16). Here is encouragement to hope, even according to the reason urged: 'Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy,' tender mercy.

Second. As with him is mercy tender, so there is with him mercy that is GREAT, for with him is great mercy. 'The Lord is long-suffering, and of great mercy' (Num 14:18). When tenderness accompanies want of skill, the defect is great; but when tenderness and great skill meet together, such a surgeon is a brave accomplished man. Besides, some are more plagued with the sense of the greatness of their sins than others are; the devil having placed or fixed the great sting there. These are driven by the greatness of sin into despairing thoughts, hotter than fire: these have the greatness of their sin betwixt God and them, like a great mountain; yea, they are like a cloud that darkeneth the sun and air.[19] This man stands under Cain's gibbet, and has the halter of Judas, to his own thinking, fastened about his neck.

And now, cries, he, 'GREAT mercy or NO mercy; for little mercy will do me no good'; such a poor creature thus expostulateth the case with God, 'Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee?' (Psa 88:10). Lord, I have destroyed myself, can I live? My sins are more than the sands, can I live? Lord, every one of them are sins of the first rate, of the biggest size, of the blackest line, can I live? I never read that expression but once in all the whole Bible; 'For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great' (Psa 25:11). Not that there was but one man in Israel that had committed great iniquities, but because men that have so done, have rather inclined to despair, than to an argument so against the wind. If he had said, Pardon, for they are little, his reason had carried reason in it; but when he saith, Pardon, for they are great, he seems to stand like a man alone. This is the common language, 'if our transgressions be upon us, and we pine away in them, How should we then live?' (Eze 33:10). Or thus, 'Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost, and we are cut off for our parts' (Eze 37:11). Wherefore to such as these, good wishes, tender fingers, and compassion, without GREAT mercy, can do nothing. But behold, O thou man of Israel, thou talkest of great sins; answerable to this, the Scripture speaks of great mercy; and thy great sins are but the sins of a man, but these great mercies are the mercies of a God; yea, and thou art exhorted, even because there is mercy with him, therefore to trust thy soul with him, 'let Israel trust in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy,' great mercy. This therefore is a truth of singular consolation, that mercy is with the Lord, that tender mercy is with him, that great mercy is with him, both TENDER and GREAT. What would man have more? But,

Third. As great mercy is with the Lord to encourage us to hope, so this mercy that is great, is RICH. 'God is rich in mercy' (Eph 2:4). There is riches of goodness and riches of grace with him (Rom 2:4; Eph 1:7). Things may be great in quantity, and little of value; but the mercy of God is not so. We use to prize small things when great worth is in them; even a diamond as little as a pea, is preferred before a pebble, though as big as a camel. Why, here is rich mercy, sinner; here is mercy that is rich and full of virtue! a drop of it will cure a kingdom. 'Ah! but how much is there of it?' says the sinner. O, abundance, abundance! for so saith the text-'Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, for his' rich 'mercies are great' (2 Sam 24:14). Some things are so rich, and of such virtue, that if they do but touch a man, if they do but come nigh a man, if a man doth but look upon them, they have a present operation upon him; but the very mentioning of mercy, yea, a very thought of it, has sometimes had that virtue in it as to cure a sin-sick soul. Here is virtuous mercy!

Indeed mercy, the best of mercies, are little worth to a self-righteous man, or a sinner fast asleep; we must not, therefore, make our esteems of mercy according to the judgment of the secure and heedless man, but according to the verdict of the Word; nay, though the awakened sinner, he that roareth for mercy all day long, by reason of the disquietness of his heart is the likeliest among sinful flesh, or as likely as another, to set a suitable estimate upon mercy; yet his verdict is not always to pass in this matter. None can know the riches of mercy to the full, but he that perfectly knoweth the evil of sin, the justice of God, all the errors of man, the torments of hell, and the sorrows that the Lord Jesus underwent, when mercy made him a reconciler of sinners to God. But this can be known by none but the God whose mercy it is. This is the pearl of great price.

The richness of mercy is seen in several things. It can save from sin, from great sin, from all sin (Titus 3:5; Matt 15:22,28). It can save a soul from the devil, from all devils (Matt 17:15,18). It can save a soul from hell, from all hells (Psa 116:3,5,6). It can hold us up in the midst of all weaknesses (Psa 94:18). It can deliver from eternal judgment (Rom 9:23). Yea, what is it that we have, or shall need, that this virtuous mercy cannot do for us: 'Let Israel hope in the Lord: for which the Lord is RICH mercy,' mercy full of virtue, and that can do great things.

Fourth. As the mercies that are with the Lord are tender, great, and rich, so there is a MULTITUDE of them, and they are called 'manifold,' there is a multitude of these rich and virtuous mercies (Psa 69:13; Rev 9:19). By multitude, I understand mercies of every sort or kind; mercies for this, and mercies for the other malady; mercies for every sickness, a salve for every sore. Some things that are rich and very full of virtue, have yet their excellency extending itself but to one, or two, or three things for help; and this is their leanness in the midst of their excellencies. But it is not thus with the mercy of God. Some things that are rich and virtuous, are yet so only but at certain seasons; for there are times in which they can do nothing. But it is not so with this tender, great, and rich mercy of God. There are some things, though rich, that are sparingly made use of. But it is not so with this mercy of God. There is a multitude of them; so if one will not another will. There is a multitude of them; so one or other of them is always in their season. There is a multitude of them; and therefore it must not be supposed that God is niggardly as to the communicating of them.

As they are called a multitude, so they are called mercies manifold. There is no single flower in God's gospel-garden, they are all double and treble; there is a wheel within a wheel, a blessing within a blessing, in all the mercies of God. Manifold; a man cannot receive one, but he receives many, many folded up, one within another. For instance,

1. If a man receiveth Christ, who is called God's tender mercy; why, he shall find in him all the promises, pardons, justifications, righteousnesses, and redemptions, that are requisite to make him stand clear before the justice of the law, in the sight of God, from sin (Luke 1:76-79; 1 Cor 1:30; Eph 4:32; 2 Cor 1:20).

2. If a man receive the Spirit, he shall have as folded up in that, for this is the first unfolding itself, many, very many mercies (Ezra 1:4). He shall have the graces, the teachings, the sanctifications, the comforts, and the supports of the Spirit: When he saith in one place, 'He will give the Spirit,' he calleth that in another place, 'the good things' of God (Luke 11:13; Matt 7:11).

3. If a man receive the mercy of the resurrection of the body, and God's people shall assuredly receive that in its time, what a bundle of mercies will be received, as wrapt up in that? He will receive perfection, immortality, heaven, and glory; and what is folded up in these things, who can tell?

I name but these three, for many more might be added, to show you the plenteousness, as well as the virtuousness of the tender, great, and rich mercy of God. A multitude! There is converting mercy, there is preserving mercy, there is glorifying mercy: and how many mercies are folded up in every one of these mercies, none but God can tell. A multitude! There are mercies for the faithful followers of Christ, for those of his that backslide from him, and also for those that suffer for him; and what mercies will by these be found folded up in their mercies, they will better know when they come to heaven. A multitude of preventing mercies in afflictions, in disappointments, in cross providences, there are with God: and what mercies are folded up in these afflicting mercies, in these disappointing mercies, and in these merciful cross providences, must rest in the bosom of him to be revealed, who only is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working. A multitude of common mercies; of every day's mercies, of every night's mercies, of mercies in relations, of mercies in food and raiment, and of mercies in what of these things there is; and who can number them? David said, He daily was loaded with God's benefits. And I believe, if, as we are bound, we should at all times return God thanks for all particular mercies, particularly, it would be a burden intolerable, and would kill us out of hand! (Psa 68:19). And all this is written, that Israel might hope in the Lord: 'Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy.'

Fifth. As the mercies that are with the Lord are tender, great, rich, a multitude, and manifold; so they are mercies that DIMINISH NOT in the using, but that rather increase in the exercising of them. Hence it is said, grace aboundeth, and hath abounded unto many; and that God is able to make all grace abound towards us (Rom 5:15; 2 Cor 9:8; Eph 1:7,8). The grace of forgiveness I mean, wherein he hath abounded towards us. Now, to abound, is to flow, to multiply, to increase, to greaten, to be more and more; and of this nature is the mercy that is with the Lord; mercy that will abound and increase in the using. Hence he is said to pardon abundantly, to pardon and multiply to pardon: and, again, to exercise loving-kindness; to exercise it, that is, to draw it out to the length; to make the best advantage and improvement of every grain and quality of it (Isa 55:7; Jer 9;24). 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth' (Exo 34:6).

Mercy to a man under guilt, and fear of hell-fire, seems as a little, shrunk-up, or shrivelled thing; there appears no quantity in it. There is mercy, said Cain, but there is not enough; and he died under that conceit (Gen 4:13). Nor is it as to judgment and thought many times much better with the Israel of God. But behold when God sets mercy to work, it is like the cloud that at first was but like a man's hand, it increaseth until it hath covered the face of heaven. Many have found it thus, yea they have found it thus in their distress (1 Kings 18:41-44). Paul has this expression, 'The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant,' that is, increased towards me exceedingly (1 Tim 1:13-15). And this is the cause of that change of thoughts that is wrought at last in the hearts of the tempted; at first they doubt, at last they hope; at first they despair, at last they rejoice; at first they quake, while they imagine how great their sins are, and how little the grace of God is; but at last they see such a greatness, such a largeness, such an abundance of increase, in this multiplying mercy of God, that with gladness of heart, for their first thoughts, they call themselves fools, and venture their souls, the next world, and their interest in it, upon this mercy of God.

I tell you, Sirs, you must not trust your own apprehensions nor judgments with the mercy of God; you do not know how he can cause it to abound; that which seems to be short and shrunk up to you, he can draw out, and cause to abound exceedingly. There is a breadth, and length, and depth, and height therein, when God will please to open it; that for the infiniteness can swallow up not only all thy sins, but all thy thoughts and imaginations, and that can also drown thee at last. 'Now unto him that is able,' 'as to mercy,' 'to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen!' (Eph 3:20,21). This, therefore, is a wonderful thing, and shall be wondered at to all eternity; that that river of mercy, that at first did seem to be but ankle deep, should so rise, and rise, and rise, that at last it became 'waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over!' (Eze 47:3-5). Now all this is written, that Israel might hope. 'Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy.'

Sixth. As there are with God mercies, tender, great, rich, a multitude, and mercy that abounds; so to encourage us to trust in him, there is mercy to COMPASS US ROUND ABOUT. 'Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about' (Psa 32:10). This is, therefore, the lot of the Israel of God, that they shall, they trusting in their God, be compassed with mercy round about. This is mercy to do for us in this world, that we may arrive safely in that world which is to come. Another text saith, 'For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield' (Psa 5:12). As with a shield. This compassing of them, therefore, is, to the end they may be defended and guarded from them that seek their hurt. When Elisha was in danger, by reason of the army of the Syrians, 'behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire, round about him,' to deliver him (2 Kings 6:15-17). Round about on every side; or as David hath it, 'Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side' (Psa 71:21). 'I will encamp about mine house,' saith God, 'because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and him that returneth' (Zech 9:1).

This, therefore, is the reason why, notwithstanding all our weaknesses, and also the rage of Satan, we are kept and preserved in a wicked world; we are compassed round about. Hence, when God asked Satan concerning holy Job, he answered, 'Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?' (Job 1:10). I cannot come at him; thou compassest him, and keepest me out. By this, then, is that scripture opened, 'Thou art my hiding-place, thou shalt preserve me from trouble, thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance' (Psa 32:7). And, indeed, it would be comely, if we, instead of doubting and despairing, did sing in the ways of the Lord: have we not cause thus to do, when the Lord is round about us with sword and shield, watching for us against the enemy, that he may deliver us from their hand? (Jer 31:12).

This also is the reason why nothing can come at us, but that it may do us good. If the mercy of God is round about us, about us on every side; then no evil thing can by any means come at us, but it must come through this mercy, and so must be seasoned with it, and must have its deadly poison, by it, taken away. Hence Paul, understanding this, saith, 'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God' (Rom 8:28). But how can that be, did they not come to us through the very sides of mercy? and how could they come to us so, since Sata