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He came to arrest the evil and deadly workings of sin, to comfort the afflicted, and to lead his followers to glory. But we can only be partakers of these privileges by feeling our absolute need of them; “he, that is whole, needeth not a physician, but he who is sick;" and, as a man with some bodily distemper requires an antidote and proper medicine for his infirmity, so we, who are sick at heart and depraved at soul, require assistance from that heavenly Physician, who alone can give help and life to those, who call upon him. But we must first of all feel, that we require him; and then we must have hope in the applications, that he uses. Faith only in his skill, in his merits, in the means, that he uses, can secure the soul's restoration to health and its final salvation.
But let us briefly and simply define this hope. When we speak of hope, we mean not that worldly hope, that terminates in empty and vanishing things, and that is gilded over with the thin appearance of good. This hope is always
is always uncertain. Man's power is so weak, that the means
used to obtain human desires can only produce a doubtful success. But we allude to Christian hope, which is a firm expectation of all things, that God has promised, and especially of eternal salvation; and this hope is founded upon the work, that Jesus Christ hath accomplished, and is the result of the influence of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. Divine hope is distinguished from worldly hope by the certainty of the expectation, and the solid rock, upon which it is founded. And this hope daily increases-small, indeed, is it at first ; but, like the grain of mustard seed, it becomes exceedingly large ;-yea, it bursts out into perfect faith; it influences the thoughts, the words, and works of those, who possess it; and to the possessor is offered the gift of eternal life.
And this brings us to our last point : “ Turn you unto the strong-hold, ye prisoners of hope : even to-day, do I declare, that I will render double unto thee.” The exhortation contains a promise of infinite magnitude : “I will render double unto thee." You shall receive amends for the
trouble you have endured; for the miseries of this world are not worthy to be compared to the glory, that shall be revealed
The passage is analogous to one in Isaiah : “For your
shall have double,” says the prophet, “and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double : everlasting joy shall be unto them.” The words are strikingly illustrated in the forty-second chapter of Job at the tenth verse : “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends : also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” But the literal meaning may perhaps thus be simply stated. Man is naturally sinful, degraded, and lost in principle; but, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, he is able to turn to the strong-hold: and, if he obey the Divine call, the Lord has promised to render double unto him. The fall of Adam was great—the redemption by Jesus Christ was infinite, his mercy unlimited, his willingness to save far beyond our understanding. His promises will stand fast for ever; the earth may pass away, the heavens may be wrapped together as a scroll, but the word of the Lord shall imperishably endure. The extent of sin, however, may be particularly considered by the largeness and the value of the sacrifice, that it required to atone for it; even the human life of the Son of God was poured out amid the tortures and agonies of the cross. But there can be no proportion between human depravity and Divine grace. If one be great, the other was infinitely greater ; “I will render double unto thee,” is the expression ; and this conveys considerably more, than the mere words
“ Turn you unto the stronghold,” or unto Jesus Christ, “ye prisoners of hope,” or ye sinners still with the hope of the promises before you,
66 and I will render double unto you,” or I will give unto you everlasting life.
everlasting life. That this is the correct meaning of our text, there appears to be no reason for us to doubt. At all events, Scripture fully assures us, that, if we turn unto God, God will turn unto us. Thus we read in the book of Deuteronomy:
“When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God ;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers, which he swore unto them.” Thus again, in the prophet Joel :
" therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” But too numerous for quotation are
encouragements in the Bible. Suffice it to observe, that they are generally accompanied by a promise. Indeed every inducement is given to sinners to turn unto the Lord. The very fact of Jesus Christ coming into the world to save sinners, and that fact being established upon the strongest of all testimony, is enough to induce men to turn unto the Lord and live. But