William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

Hope is a Glorious Grace

by John Owen

Christ in you the hope of gloryColossians 1:27
Hope is a glorious grace, whereunto blessed effects are ascribed in
the Scripture, and an effectual operation unto the supportment and
consolation of believers. By it are we purified, sanctified, saved.
And, to sum up the whole of its excellency and efficacy, it is a
principal way of the working of Christ as inhabiting in us: Christ
in you the hope of glory (Col 1:27). Where Christ evidenceth His
presence with us, He gives us an infallible hope of glory; He gives
us an assured pledge of it and worketh our souls into an expectation
of it. Hope in general is but an uncertain expectation of a future
good which we desire; but as it is a gospel grace, all uncertainty
is removed from it, which would hinder us of the advantage intended
in it. It is an earnest expectation, proceeding from faith, trust,
and confidence, accompanied with longing desires of enjoyment. From
a mistake of its nature, it is that few Christians labor after it,
exercise themselves unto it, or have the benefit of it; for to live
by hope, they suppose, infers a state not only beneath the life of
faith and all assurance in believing, but also exclusive of them.

They think to hope to be saved is a condition of men who have no
grounds of faith or assurance; but this is to turn a blessed fruit
of the Spirit into a common affection of nature. Gospel hope is a
fruit of faith, trust, and confidence; yea, the height of the
actings of all grace issues in a well-grounded hope, nor can it rise
any higher (Rom 5:2-5).

Now, the reason why men have no more use of, no more benefit by,
this excellent grace, is because they do not abide in thoughts and
contemplation of the things hoped for. The especial object of hope
is eternal glory (Col 1:27; Rom 5:2). The peculiar use of it is to
support, comfort, and refresh the soul in all trials, under all
weariness and despondencies, with a firm expectation of a speedy
entrance into that glory, with an earnest desire after it.

Wherefore, unless we acquaint ourselves by continual meditation with
the reality and nature of this glory, it is impossible it should be
the object of a vigorous, active hope, such as whereby the apostle
says we are saved. Without this we can neither have that evidence
of eternal things, nor that valuation of them, nor that preparedness
in our minds for them, as should keep us in the exercise of gracious
hope about them.

Suppose sundry persons engaged in a voyage unto a most remote
country, wherein all of them have an apprehension that there is a
place of rest and an inheritance provided for them. Under this
apprehension they all put themselves upon their voyage, to possess
what is so prepared. Howbeit some of them have only a general notion
of these things. They know nothing distinctly concerning them and
are so busied about other affairs that they have no leisure to
inquire into them; or do suppose that they cannot come unto any
satisfactory knowledge of them in particular, and so are content to
go on with general hopes and expectations. Others there are who by
all possible means acquaint themselves particularly with the nature
of the climate whither they are going, with the excellency of the
inheritance and provision that is made for them. Their voyage proves
long and wearisome, their difficulties many, and their dangers
great, and they have nothing to relieve and encourage themselves
with but the hope and expectation of the country whither they are
going. Those of the first sort will be very apt to despond and
faint; their general hopes will not be able to relieve them. But
those who have a distinct notion and apprehension of the state of
things whither they are going, and of their incomparable excellency,
have always in a readiness wherewith to cheer their minds and
support themselves.

In that journey or pilgrimage wherein we are engaged towards a
heavenly country, we are sure to meet with all kinds of dangers,
difficulties, and perils. It is not a general notion of blessedness
that will excite and work in us a spiritual, refreshing hope. But
when we think and meditate on future glory as we ought, that grace
which is neglected for the most part as unto its benefit, and dead
as unto its exercise, will of all others be most vigorous and
active, putting itself forth on all occasions. This, therefore, is
an inestimable benefit of the duty exhorted unto, and which they
find the advantage of who are really spiritually minded.
From The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded, John Owen, The
Works of John Owen, vol. 7, pp. 321-323, reprinted by Banner of


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