by John Bunyan
WHAT HOPE IS, AND HOW DISTINGUISHED FROM FAITH WITH ENCOURAGEMENTS FOR A HOPING PEOPLE
'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. '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. 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.
Table of Contents
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR
ISRAEL'S HOPE ENCOURAGED
FIRST. AN EXHORTATION
SECOND. THE REASON URGED TO ENFORCE THE EXHORTATION
THIRD. THE AMPLIFICATION OF THE REASON 'TO HOPE IN THE LORD
AMPLIFYING REASONS AS A CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE
THE APPLICATION OR USE OF THE WHOLE