The Glorious Hope!

The Glorious Hope!

“The hope which is laid up for you in Heaven.” Colossians 1:5

Hope only has reference to the future — it has nothing to do with the past and the present. Faith looks backward as well as forward — but hope fixes its glance exclusively upon things to come. And the objects with which it deals are “good things to come,” or things which are supposed to possess such a character.

We say supposed, for many objects for which men have hoped, and which they have anxiously longed for, have turned out, when possessed, to be far less valuable and attractive than they once appeared to be. Distance, in innumerable instances, lends enchantment to the view.

It is so frequently with natural objects; much of the fascination with which they seem to be invested when remotely viewed, disappear when they are more closely examined. “To all those who are conversant,” it has been strikingly observed, “in the scenery of external nature, it is evident that an object to be seen to the greatest advantage, must be placed at a certain distance from the eye of the observer. The poor man’s hut, though all within is raggedness and disorder, and all around it is full of the most disgusting spectacles — yet, if seen at a sufficient distance, may appear to be an enchanting cottage. The field where the thistle grows, and the face of which is deformed by the wild exuberance of pernicious weeds — may delight the eye of a distant spectator by the loveliness of its verdure. That lake whose waters are corrupted, and whose banks poison the air by their marshy exhalations — may charm the eye of an enthusiast who views it from an adjoining eminence, and dwells with rapture on the quietness of its surface and on the beauty of its outline, its sweet border fringed with the mirthful coloring of nature, and on which Spring lavishes its finest ornaments.

Yet all is the effect of distance — it softens the harsh and disgusting features of every object. What is detestable and ordinary — it can dress in the most romantic attractions. Distance can transform the country hamlet into a paradise of beauty, in spite of the abominations that are at every door, and the angry brawlings of the men and women who occupy it! You see the smoke rising in fantastic wreaths through the pure air, and the village spire peeping from among the thick verdure of the trees which embosom it. The imagination of our sentimentalist swells with pleasure, and completes the harmony of the picture.”

Now it is cheering to know that to the Christian’s hope, such reflections are altogether inapplicable. Although its object is distant, in a “land that is very far off,” yet what is enchanting in the distance will not lose its enchantment when its borders are reached, and its blessedness is actually realized. The feelings of the saints in Heaven will, doubtless, be very similar to those of the Eastern Queen on her visit to the most magnificent of Israel’s monarchs. Accustomed as she was, to the most pompous and imposing scenes — yet what she then saw, cast all the splendor with which she had been previously familiar, into the shadows; and with befitting candor she acknowledged that the scepticism with which she had listened to the accounts which had been brought to her, was not only removed — but that the descriptions had fallen far short of the reality, “When the queen of Sheba realized how very wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built, she was overwhelmed. She was also amazed at the food on his tables, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cup-bearers, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the Temple of the Lord. She exclaimed to the king: Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true! I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes! In fact, I had not heard the half of it! Your wisdom and prosperity are far beyond what I was told!” 1 Kings 10:4-7

An ancient emperor, when he had attained certain conquests which had been for years the summit of his ambition, might cry out, “Is this all?” But never will the Christian conqueror, after having been overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of His testimony, when admitted into the everlasting kingdom to receive that recompense of reward, in prospect of which he bore the toils of combat and the labor of the way — never will he be tempted to join in such an exclamation. As God more than fulfills the wishes of His people here, doing for them exceeding abundantly above all they ask or think — so will he immeasurably and inconceivably transcend their loftiest expectations hereafter!  John MacDuff.

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