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SERMON XVI.

HOPE OUR ANCHOR.

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HEBREWS vi, 19-20. “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and

stedfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither
the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus."
IFE is full of trials. One after another they

come ; at longer or shorter intervals ; of all shapes and all sizes; not at random, but sorted by Him Who sends them, as is suited best for those to whom they are sent. And the strange thing is that they are felt most by those who need them least. I do not mean that there are any who do not need them. They are the great means by which a man is trained and educated by the Holy Spirit for God's Kingdom. To be without trial is to be without discipline, and is, in fact, to be left by God to ourselves,—the worst of all states in which a man can be. But it is one thing to have a trial, and another thing to feel it as a trial. To feel it as it should be felt supposes quickness of sense, softness of heart, tenderness of conscience. And they who need trial most,—the worst men, the most thoughtless, the most careless, the most worldly, the most profligate,-are the most wanting in all these things. Their minds are blunted, dulled, deadened, hardened, by the life which they lead, and it is only the heaviest blows which they can feel,

Good men, on the other hand, are in a state which feels everything. Their whole nature is alive. The edge of their hearts is sensitively keen. They have been so chastened, and polished, and attuned, by the discipline of the Spirit, that they have become fine and delicate instruments, scarce rude and coarse enough for the rough ways of a hard world. Or they are like that harp which needs no finger of man to play it, but gives out its sighs and its complainings in answer to the whispering wind. They have been moulded in the gentle hands of the Holy Spirit, till they have been made soft, and tender, and delicate themselves. So that trial is our lot, our lot as men, but especially as Christian men, educated for Heaven by the Holy Ghost. And the better we become the more must we be tried; or at any rate—what comes to the same thing—the more must we expect to feel our trials.

But what a prospect is this. A life of storms! Storm after storm. Surely one storm were enough. But a life of storms; storm gathering upon storm, and each one, it may be, rising in intensity; one dark cloud dispelled, only to be followed by others still darker; a lull now and then between the blasts, and then a new blast loudere and more furious than all which had gone before, “the sea and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking on those things which are coming." To stand like some light-house, on a lonely rock, far out at sea, and be the playmate of the waves ; so that a man may say with the Psalmist, “All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me.” To sail in no Pacific Ocean, no sea of calms, but in a sea of storms. To be buffeted for ever by winds. To be beaten like a ball incessantly, from wave to wave. What a prospect!

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And yet we have no right to wonder, if so it should be. What said our Lord to his disciples? In the world ye shall have tribulation." What is the revealed description of all saints? “These are they that have come out of great tribulation." The garments of all saints are dyed in blood.

What then must we do? We must anchor. We must look, beyond this present state of storm and trouble, to state of rest and peace in which our ship may one day float, as in some quiet haven. We must run in for shelter, such as we can get now, and cast our anchor out into the deep, and wish for the day. Our anchor is hope. And we must send hope on before us into Heaven, behind the vail of outward things into that Holy of Holies where God for ever is. And by faith, faith in Christ, our forerunner, our ascended Lord, who has gone before us, storm-tossed

upon earth as we, but now in rest and glorious at the right hand of God in the highest place of the highest Heavens, we must hold securely on. And then, with hope for our anchor, and faith for our strong cable, mooring us safely to the deep and hidden mysteries of God's kingdom, we may outride the fiercest storm that ever came from out the caverns of earth or the abyss of hell.

This is what the Apostle teaches when he says, “ Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the vail ; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.” That is, in all your trials let comfort be found in Christ Jesus. He is gone before you, and where He is there

ye shall be. Nay, more; there ye are. He is in heaven within the vail, and ye are there in Him. Ye are there by hope now.

Ye shall be there in full peace for

fruition hereafter. Hope, therefore, now, for what ye see not, that hereafter ye may see the which ye hope.

Here, then, are three things. Heaven, the anchorage in which shelter must be sought now. Hope, the anchor by which we must secure our safety. And Jesus, the foundation of our hope, the ground in which hope may bury itself and hold continually on.

I. To take the last first, Christ is the ground of our hope. “ The forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.” The word here called forerunner has two meanings. Either it means one who goes before another to make preparation for his coming, like John the Baptist before our Lord Jesus Christ. In this sense our Lord has gone before us to heaven, as He says Himself, to prepare mansions for His people in His Father's house. He has gone beforehand to be our “advocate with the Father,” to make all things smooth between man and God, to assert His own merits as man, and to claim a place for us as His members, in right of Himself our perfect and exalted Head. Or else the word denotes the first ripe fruit, the fruit sent earliest forward to maturity, and which is taken as a specimen of the whole fruit, which will ripen later upon the tree. In this sense it would denote our Lord as the first-fruits of humanity, the first and choicest specimen of man ripened into the perfect fruit of a pure and holy life. He was the first-fruits of the tomb. By virtue of His own sinless perfection, He grew ripe upon the tree of man's nature, and was gathered by God as meet for Heaven. We also, after Him, not by our own power or merits, but by grace, may ripen and become mature, that so being like him we may go to be where He is.

Our Lord then suffers Himself to be named our forerunner. He is, if I may say so, the courier of His people, going on in front of them, the pioneer sent onward, to clear the way for the army of the Saints which is coming after. “The breaker is come up before them; they have broken up and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it; and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord at the head of them.” He is the first fruits of Himself, the living vine. He is the vine; we are the branches. He is the body ; we are the members. He is the shepherd; we are the sheep. He is the forerunner for us. Whatsoever He did He did on our behalf. For us He was born, that we might be born anew. For us He lived, that we might live as new creatures. For us He died, that he might bear our sins. For us He rose again, that we might rise. For us He ascended into Heaven, entering into the Holy place, that we might go there also. Heaven was his end. From Heaven he came. To Heaven he went back. He came the Son of God. He returned both Son of God and Son of man. He came possessing the glory of the only begotten of the Father as the Son of God. He went back and took with Him His human nature, to share in His brightness, and be seated on His Eternal throne.

This is our faith. We believe that He is one of us, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. “We are member's of His Body, of His Flesh, and of His Bones.” His interests are our interests. Our interests are His. He has no feeling in which we have not a part. He rejoices with those who rejoice. He weeps with those who weep. His people and He are not two but one. He joined Himself to us all, when He took upon

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