OF all things in the world to be dreaded despair is the chief. Let a man be abandoned to despair, and he is ready for all sorts of sins. When fear unnerves him action is dangerous; but when despair has loosed his joints and paralyzed his conscience, the vultures hover round him waiting for their prey. As long as a man has hope for himself you may have hope of him; but Satan’s object is to drive out the last idea of hope from men, that then they may give themselves up to be his slaves for ever. Let me just say to those who are in trouble — and I hope every faithful Christian will repeat what I say again and again — THERE IS HOPE. There is hope about your pecuniary difficulties, about your sickness, about your present affliction. God can help you through it. Do not sit down with your elbows on your knees and cry all day. That will not get you through it. Call upon God who sent the trouble. He has a great design in it. It may be that He has sent it as a shepherd sends his black dog to fetch the wandering sheep to him. It may be He has a design in making you lose temporal things that you may gain eternal things. Many a mother’s soul had not been saved if it had not been for that dear infant which was taken from her bosom; not till it was taken to the skies did God give the attractive influence which drew her heart to pursue the path to heaven. Do not say there is no hope; other people have been as badly off as you are; and even if it should seem as if it had come to straitness of bread, yet still there is hope.
Go and try again on Monday morning. God’s providence has a thousand ways of helping us if we have but the heart to pray. Are you in despair about your character? It may be that there is somewhere here a woman who says, “I have fallen; my character is gone; there is no hope for me.”
My sister, there is lifting up; some who have fallen as terribly as you have done have been restored by sovereign grace. And there may be one here who has been a drunkard, or about to become a thief — no one knows it, perhaps, but he is conscious of great degradation, and he says, “I shall never be able to look my fellow men in the face.” Ah, my dear friend, you do not know what Christ can do for you if you but rest and trust in Him.
Supposing you should be made into a new creature, would not that alter the matter? “Oh!” say you, “but that can never be.” Nay, say I, but that shall be, for Christ saith, “Behold, I make all things new.” “If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature.” There was an old fable about a spring at which old men washed their faces, and then grew young. Now there is a spring which welled up from the heart of the Lord Jesus, and if an old sinner wash therein, not only his face, but his whole spirit, shall become like unto a little child, and shall be clean even in the sight of God. There is hope still. “Ah!” says one, “but you do not know my case.” No, my dear friend, and I do not particularly desire to know it, because this sweeping truth can meet it be it what it may. “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.” “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”
Noah’s ark was not made to hold a few mites, but the elephant went in, and the lion went in, and the hugest beasts of prey went in, and there was found room for each of them.
So my Master, who is the great ark of salvation, did not come into this world to save a few who are little sinners, but “He is able to save unto the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him.” See Him yonder, see Him on the cross, in agonies extreme, bearing griefs and torments numberless, and sweating in agony, all for love of you who were His enemies. Trust him; trust Him, for there is hope; there is lifting up. However bowed down you may be, there is in the gospel hope even for you. I seem as if I were walking along a corridor, and I see a number of condemned cells. As I listen at the key-hole I can hear those inside weeping in doleful, dolorous dirges. “There is no hope, no hope, no hope!” And I can see the warder at the other end smiling calmly to himself, as he knows that none of the prisoners can come out as long as they say there is no hope. It is a sign that their manacles are not broken, and that the bolts of their cells are not removed. But oh! if I could look in! Methinks I can, methinks I can open the little wicket gate, and cry, “There is hope!” He who said there is no hope is a liar and a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lies: there is hope since Jesus died; there is hope anywhere except in the infernal lake. There is hope in the hospital, where a man has sickened, and is within the last hour of his departure. There is hope, though men have sinned themselves beyond the pale of society; hope for the convict, though he has had to smart under the lash; hope for the man who has cast himself away.
Able to save is Jesus still. “No hope” is not to be said by any one of the mariners’ life brigade while He sights the crew of the sinking vessel. “No hope” is not to be said by any one of the fire brigade while; he knows there are living men in the burning pile. “No hope” is not to be said by any one of the valiant brigade of the Christian church while the soul is still within reach of the sound of mercy. “No hope” is a cry which no human tongue should utter, which no human heart should heed. Oh, may God grant us grace whenever we get an opportunity to go and tell all we meet with that are bowed down, “There is lifting up.” And tell them where it is likewise.
Tell them it is only at the cross. Tell them it is through the precious blood.
Tell them it is to be had for nothing, through simply trusting Christ. Tell them it is of free grace, that no merits of theirs are wanted, that no good things are they to bring, but that they may come just as they are, and find lifting up in Christ.
Still nothing will avail unless there be much payer. We had need pray that God may give efficacy to the counsels he has given us, and reward our obedience to them with abundant fruit. Oh, brethren! prayer is the grand thing after all for us who have no might of ourselves. It is wonderful what prayer can do or any of us. A dear friend said the other day, “Look at Jacob. In the early part of his life there was much that was unseemly in his character, and very much that was unhappy in his circumstances. Crafty himself, he was often the victim of craft, reaping the fruit of his own ways.
But one night in prayer — what a change it did make in him! Why it raised him from the deep poverty of a cunning supplanter to the noble peerage of a prince in Israel!” Bethel itself is hardly more memorable in his history than Peniel. And what might one night spent in prayer do for some of us?
Supposing we were to try it instead of the soft bed! We need not go to the brook; enough that, like Jacob, we were left alone in some place where sighs and cries would be heard by none but God. One night spent thus in solitary prayer might put the spurs on some of you, and make you spiritual knights in God’s army, able to do great exploits. Oh! yes; may all other gracious exercises be started in prayer, crowned with prayer, and perfected by much prayer.