THE VALUE OF THE EXPERIMENTAL HOPE By William Eldridge Hatchee, D. D., LL. D. "Experience worketh hope." — Rom. 5: 4.

WE are brought by these words into the shop of the Fazarene and allowed to watch him at his work. The machinery of grace is fully open to our view, and we can study it while running at full blast. We are conducted from point to point in the establishment, and are shown the several stages of salvation, from- its mysterious beginning to its thrilling end. We actually catch a glimpse of the various forces employed in the redemptive scheme. We look on the soul as it is brought in and put through those processes by which it is fitted for fellowship with the Father and with Jesus Christ, his Son. The text fixes our thoughts on a single point, and commands us to observe the perform-ances of one operative. Her name is Experience, and her business is to produce hope. "Experience worketh hope." It is my purpose in the interview of this hour to invite you to consider this aspect of the Christian life, and I will make my theme The Value of the Experimental Hope. You observe that the text embodies a doctrine, and when we deal with doctrine we have to go into definitions. That is always alarming, but it miay soothe you to know that the terms of the text -are few, and our definition will be derived from the context, and not from the dictionaries. I. This experience, which performs such a service in the salvation of men, is of high birth. It comes of roj^al ancestr}', and has its name in the records of heaven. Its mother is patienc*e, its grandmother is tribulation, and its father is the God of all grace. It seems strange that tribulation should be found in this family, for we think of her as a savage queen, roaming the earth at wiU, riding the winds, filling hearts with terror and despair, and strew-

ing her course with wreck and woe. But our King has enslaved her and put her to serve in the nurser}- of Ms household. Eough-mannered and severe she still is, but she works well with faith and does the Master's bidding. Her task is to produce in the souls of the saved the enduring power — a work at once difficult and fundamental. This is patience, the meek daughter of suffering, and herself the mother of this experience which begets hope. We must not be ashamed of ancestors so noble and great. While we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God our Father, we must gloTj in tribulation also. We must not only love patience, the sweet mother of our joj's, but we must honor our rugged old grandmother, tribulation. Likely enough, we have honored her. She has often pinched our ears and cut our backs, as if for her own pleasure; but we must give her reverence. It is the test of our being true members of the family that we glory in tribulation. We need to look well to the pedigree of this experience. Not every experience is of the right stock. There is an experience that has tribulation for its grandmother and unbelief for its mother. It is an experience which is not bom of patience, and it does not produce hope. He who fights the battles of earth alone and sees no God of battles above him has narrow scope for hope. Little victoria he may win and transient successes he may have, but he must all the time be depressed by the loneliness of the strife, his awn insufficiency, and the inevitable despair which awaits him at the end. Being without God, he is without hope. Xow, let us be just. I do not say that those who are without God are without all hope. They have their hop^. In some it

180 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. is the buoyancy of a mercurial temperament. It is sufficient to float themi while young and successful in their schemes. Others have the enthusiasm of youth — a hope unshocked by trial and

which sees nothing on the path except the flower and the light; but when the blood begins to cool and the bones to stiffen that hope will die. A scholarly friend said to me the other day that the early days of Greek philosophy liad a glow of freshness and ardor about themi, but that the frosts of later years turned it all to ashes and death. Unbelieving age is hostile to hope^, and death is the setting in of despair. It is absolutely pathetic to study the schedules adopted by the great men of earth for the regulation of their lives, who had not the light of the gospel to tell them what to do. It is the fashion of the times to sneer at the Epicurean of the older days. He was one of the subtlest thinkei's of his country, and his decision was that he could get more out of this world by lounging through the city gardens, eschewing all friction and toil, and giving free rein to his commonest desires. He had to make some scheme of life, and why not that? Out on his path stood a spectre. It grinned at his frailty and pointed to his doom. Only a fragment of time he had, and, with a desperate effort to hide his despair, he said : "Let us eat and be merry, for to-morrow we die." A brilliant writer of the day has said that the tone of human life is m'ournful. It would be nearer to the truth to say that the tone is noisy and gleeful, but the undertone is full of sorrow. "Let us eat and drink." That is merry, festive, and uproarious. "For to-morrow we die." Was there ever a sadder cadence than that? And this is life without God. It is a struggle to hide from the actual woes of our present state. A celebrated French essayist once defined happiness as consisting in a successful diversion of the mind from the actual sorrows of life. We must respect the men who without the support of a religious hope have done noble deeds. Their contempt for present ease, their patriotism, and their courage have been sublime. They had hopes, bom partly of native vigor, partly of devotion to their country, and in some measure of a belief in the triumphant power of right; but these hopes could not stand the shocks and blows of actual ex-

THE VALUE OF THE EXPERIMEN"TAL HOPE. 181

perience. Stoicism had no power to explain their failures, and no assurance as to final triumph. Cato loved his country, and was noble enough to die for its liberties; but when he saw the legions of Caesar marching unimpeded upon Eome his heart broke and he fell upon his own sword. That lofty Athenian, too, whose voice was Athens' music, and whose word was Athens' law, had his day of glory; but when he saw the fickleness and treachery of those he had loved and served he sought the poor relief of a self-inflicted death. It is enough to make a good man weep to see Socrates, scourged by the tribulations of life, standing at the gate of death, with no lamp in his hand and no friendly light ahead of him, trying to steady himself for that plunge into the night of death, which had no gleam of another day. But it is grateful to turn from this experience which brings no hope to that experimental hope which is the gift of the gospel. Such a hope is not merely a lamp which is to serve us at the grave, but it is a working force which is to guide us while we live. II. This experience is a thing not only of noble origin, but it is ripe and well developed. It is well for us to understand that there are two experiences, or at least, two strongly-worked phases of the same experience. 1. There is the initial experience of the Christian life. Every one who enters the Kingdom' of Christ has an experience. It is useless to talk about becoming a Christian without an experience. Conviction for sin is an experience; faith in the blood of Christ is an experience; love for him who loved us and gave himself for us is an experience; and our new-born love for the brethren is an experience ; and even our doubts are an experience. Surely no soul can ever forget the first tastes of eternal life which it took. " O, happy day, which fixed my choice On thee, my Savior and my God ; Well might this glowing heart rejoice And tell its raptures all abroad." Even while I speak my quickened soul takes wing and bears me away

to the weather-boarded meeting-house which stood upon the rocky crest of the hill beneath the silent old oaks of my native Bedford, in the mountains of Virginia. It was a summer night, a few

182 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. candles flickered on the walls, the plain mountaineers sang the choral songs, a white-locked, mellow-voiced man of God stood in the high pulpit, and I, a raw and foolish lad, sat out there thinking of my sins and crying; thinking of what would be my fate if God should refuse to be gracious ; thinking and yet afraid to think that Jesus died for me; thinking that I was not good like those whom Christ saved; thinking that if Christ would take me how I would rush to him in a flash; thinking of v.-hat he had said about it; thinking — no, I stopped thinking — and fell to believeing that he would save me. God of glory, what a moment that was to an untutored boy! What did I do? No explosive raptures and no ringing shouts, though I have been ashamed of myself ever since that I did not make the forests echo with the praises of my Saviour that night. But I did slip through the crowd, put my head on the breast of my old'er brother and did tell him my precious secret. That was an experience, an experience at the point where the waters first broke out, and so good that it can never be forgotten. But we must put that experience at its real worth. It was not the sum total of religion. There be some who count their initial sensations of their spiritual life as their stock in trade. They continually go back to them. This is as foolish as it would be if you should ask a man to givo you the history of his life, and he should simply reply by telling you how he felt at the time he was born — a thing which he does not well remember. This early experience is a good thing to start ^vith, but a sorry thing to stop with. It was fitful, unstable, and liable at any time to be obscured with doubt. He whose' experience was bigger at the beginning than ever afterwards should doubt whether he had the right sort at the beginning. Manifestly the experience of the text is different from the holy

excitement which marked our conversion. It has in it the elements of maturity and intelligence. It comes only to those who have been some time on the road. It is tho heritage only of those who have been long in the service of our King. Tribulation must meet us on the way and box and slash us at will. She must spread before ns things most charming and such as we clamor for, and yet things which are out of reach. She must make us limp with

THE VALUE OF THE EXPERIMENTAL HOPE. 183 nails in our slioeS;, and not only refuse to pull tliem out, but not even let us cry when it hurts. It takes time for us to have these experiences, and they come only to those who have the power to endTire. Here is the pivotal point in the spiritual conflict. It is in the enduring power of the child of God. It takes grace and grit to be strong under great strains. It is hard to fight, harder still to wait, and hardest of all to suiter and be wronged while we wait. It is only out of this battle that we can attain unto the experience named in the text. 2. But there is a more essential feature of this experience which distinguishes it from the inward exercises which marked the beginnings of grace in the soul. At our conversion our experiences were almost entirely objective. We saw things, saw the Saviour, saw the face of God, saw the gates of heaven open to us. The joy which thrilled us sprang from those sights. We rejoiced in the hope of the glory of God. But the experience of the way is different. It is inward and subjective. It is born of conflict and stamped upon us in the rude hieroglyphics of the dreadful struggle. The stigmas of the fight, the cuts and burns which we get in the fray constitute this experience. They become a part of us and stand as the self-wrought proofs of our spiritual character. They are the demonstrations of our sincerity and courage. They are the badges of honor won on the field of battle and furnish to our own consciousness the testimony in favor of our being heirs of heaven. When I see a young cadet strutting around with his

shining buttons and his golden lace, telling that he feels a mighty yearning for the fight, and that he has in himself the sense of his power for great achievements, I stand in doubt of him, and doubt whether he knows what he is talking about. But when I see a battered old warrior coming out of the wars, where for nearly forty years he has been a color-bearer, and he tells me: "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard my deposit against that day," I think that he has seen enough to justify his confident utterance. III. But we must consider the product of this experience. It

184 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. does things. It brings things to pass. It is an operative and generative force. It will repay ns richly to inspect its product. It works hope. As I have told you of two experiences, so now I must add that there are two hopes. N'ot, of course, that constitutionally there are two, but that the two phases of the hope are so marked that we can deal better with them by treating them as distinct. 1. There is the hope at the beginning. It is described as the hope of the glory of God. It is evidently one of the early fruits of faith, and points to the radiant future which opens before the convert. Let us look at it. As the soul is quickened by faith it is suddenly landed clear over into peace with God and finds standing-room in the realm of grace. It is overwhelmed with such surprising joys that it turns to ask where the thing will stop. It turns to the future and begins to reason that, if so much has already come, richer things will come hereafter., If already we have the love of God so powerfully revealed, may we not see his other attributes in the future? Are we not to see the King in his glory and share with him in his ultimate victories ? This is the hope of the glory of God. 2. But our business is with the second hope. This is the hope

which is the production of experience. Its description is m^odest and disappointing. All we get about it is that it maketh not ashamed. A flat and juiceless thing it seems to be to say of such a hope. But let us see. As for the hope itself, I must remind you that it is finely connected. Its mother is experience, its grandmother is patience, and its great-grandmother is tribulation. A hope like this is worth having. It is a tried hope, and its office is to guard us from the shame of disappointment. Having subjected our faith to such tests as proved its efficiency and power, we become confident. The student who has stood some of his toughest examinations successfully feels a sense of composure as to the rest. The soldier who has been under fire, has felt the shock of the charge and has scattered his foes, picks up courage, and is hopeful that lie will conquer to the

THE VALL'E OF THE EXPERIMEXTAL HOPE. 185 end. There was a world of hope in that fine,, old strain our fathers used to sing with such unction : " Through many a conflict, toil, and snare I have already come. *Twas grace that brought me safe thu.g far, And grace \rill lead me home." There is a profound difference between these two hopes. I saw an excursion ship start out to sea. Her captain walked the deck with exultant pride; and why not? For his ship was as new as the buds of springtime^ her flag flapped gayly in the summer breeze, her sails were new and clean, her keels had never known the crash of the storm. There she sat on the smooth sea, beneath the friendly sky, and looked as if she was the queen of all waters. All on her decks were radiant ^dth hope. They were going out to sail the seas, and ever}-thing was bright and hopeful. But that night a storm broke upon the little ship. It ripped its sails into

tatters and cracked the masts. The captain and his company grew sick with fright, and, after a night of terror, stole into port next morning a-shamed to tell the story of their fright. Several years ago I had the pleasure of witnessing an oc-ean gale, or perhaps you will think me more sincere if I say that I have the pleasure of remembering that I witnessed it. To the inexperienced the situation grew serious when all the hatches of the ship were closed up; when the sportive waves played leap-frog over the hurricane deck, and, after smashing the sky-lights, deluged the saloons; when the storm pressed the ship till the tips of the masts kissed the waves; when the lurching ship emptied the passengers on the floors and rolled them around like pla^-things; and when the ship turned her course lest she might be broken by the waves. Times were squally indeed. We had on board a Canadian Presbyterian, who was as cold as the Xorth Pole, and, so far as I know, fully as tall. For some reason, his Calvinistic creed would not act well when the wind was from the northeast, and he was frightened almost to death by the storm. He crouched about from place to place looking for comfort and finding none. At last he went to the captain and asked if there was any hope of saving the ship. A brave old seaman was our Commander Brown, and his reply

186 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. was worthy of him: "Forty years I have followed the seas, and more than two hundred times has my ship crossed the Atlantic. I have seen the ocean in her maddest moods, but we have always pulled through, and I advise you, my good friend,, to go to bed, and I promise you fair weather to-morrow." That was a hope begotten of experience, and it saved the old seaman from fear and shame. IV. We have, also, a hint as to the processes of grace — "Experience worketh hope." Our Lord is the head of a great establishment, and he has called into service forces of every character

and description. He is the soul of a vast cor]3oration, and he utilizes every force in the measureless domain of God for the accomplishment of his gracious purposes. Every angel in glory is his messenger, every force in nature is made subservient to his plans, and even the fiery wraths of hell are made to help on his gracious undertakings., He is a driving Master, and makes everything work when he comes along. It must give us an impressive view of the stupendous grandeur of salvation that every power in the universe is subject to Christ, and that he runs everything in the interest of his kingdom. We have here an example of the application of forces to the execution of the will of Christ. Tribulation, a savage and destructive queen, has been caught and put to work. Faitli was disposed to lie supinely on the rock of salvation, but the Lord commanded faith to arise and go to work. Even experience, though born in affliction and trial, has her job also. Her business is to hang lamps along the pilgrims^ path and keep them full of oil and burning at the top of their capacity. Her lamps burn with the light of hope. This experimental hope is the glory of the gospel. It is a hope which needs to be understood. It must not be confounded with a mere volatility of temperament, nor with an idle calculation of chances, nor with an idiotic dependence upon luck, nor a conceited trust in destiny, nor a stoical contempt for external conditions. It is an assurance that the future contains the highest good for us, and that assurance is based upon the promises of Godi as

THE VALUE OF THE EXPERIMENTAL HOPE. 187 f-Qlly exempliiiecl in our experience. It is a case of tasting and seeing that God is good. This is, after all, the true optimism. This completes the study of the text. The outcome of this investigation is that the experimental hope of the gospel is the suf-

ficient safeguard of the soul and the force by which it is adjusted to even' possible situation in the present life. It only remains for us to apply the doctrine to the existing conditions and show that it is true. 1. Mark the value of this hope as operating in every well-ordered spiritual life. By what process this soul is assured of its salvation is a question not to be considered here, but we may allow one remark. Trial is the test of power. A boy knows the strengih of his muscle by the weight which he can lift or by the distance he can throw. The vitality and force of our faith must be measured by actual performance. We get the most profound and satisfactory proof of our religious character in the impress made on us by the fierce wrestle which we have with the trials of the way. Abraham leading the son of the promise up to the altar of sacrifice on Mt. Moriah is a majestic fi^^ire. He towers as the hero of faith and is an example for mankind. But Abraham, descending the mountain after he has stood the test, is at once an object of wonder and of study. Who can ever know the sacred rapture which flooded his soul? He had caught himself doing a splendid deed and it thrilled him with unspeakable joy. Xot ihat he was vain over it, for the capacity to do high things will save us from ignoble elation. But the consciousness of such an achievement moist have been delightful indeed. I almost fancy that I can hear him talking to himself as he quits the mmmtain: *'Why, Abraham, is this you? Did you do that, old fellow? Well, if you stood this shock, you can do other things. There is stuff in you which earth never put there and can never take away." It was an experience which gave hope. It was a testimony in favor of his own character which must have been most inspiring. 2. Observe this hope as nerving us for our ministrations. We are strangely different in many things, but in having a ministry to fulfill and in having to go forth weeping to our task we are strangely alike. We weep that v;e are not fitter for our business;

188 THE america:n" baptist pulpit. weep that the task is so tremendously solemn; weep that we have so many hindrances and dela}^; weep that we see no fruit; weep that the Lord seems to forget us; weep that we are tormented by so many foes. But the experiences of service have inherent consolation. Our labors turn out better than we thought that they would. A hidden strength impels us on to victories that we did not foresee. In some gracious way we find compensating returns in our work, self-supporting joys, lights in our souls, which seem to spring out of the tough processes of service. What would the preacher do but for this source of cheer and refreshment? He would die of a broken heart but for the gleams of light which break out of his tribulations. He knows that experience worketh hope. 3. See how this hope touches the whole story of Christianity. There is something almost tragic in the history' of the gospel. It has had a curious, almost a disastrous, history. Think how things have gone; think of the churches which sprang up under the apostolic ministry and then utterly perished; think of the millions who for their faith were put to death; thinly of the countries once evangelized, but afterwards recaptured by the enemy of our King; think of the attacks on the Bible, its mistranslations, its misinterpretations, and its grievous perversions by its false friends; think of the jars, strifes, and schisms in the body of Christ; think of the apathy, infidelity, and impurity in the bestorganized forms of Christianity ; think of the defiance and blatancy of our Lord^s foes, and think how heavily the wheels of the King's chariot seem to move on to the conquest of the world. Truly our Lord is still a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs. There is ample material for creating a strong case of pessimism, and the opportunity is at hand for the croaker to get in his work. But the gospel need not blush at its history. No ill ever struck it which the Lord said would not come. It has done well. Millions of souls have been saved by the blood of the Lamb and are safely housed in heaven. The Bible has shown that it is superior to every hostile force that can be brought against it. The gospel has put its imprint on the laws, civilization, literature, and art

of the world in a way which can never be undone.. The wealth

THE VALUE OE THE EXPERIMENTAL HOPB. 189 and leaming of the world are fast coming to the feet of Christ. The friends of God were never so numerous, so united, or so aggressive as now. The enginery of earth is being gradually combined for the furtherance of the gospel. The experience of the gospel in the earth inspires cheerfulness. 4. Apply the doetrine to our modern movement for the evangelization of the world. We must confess that this undertaking has had a stormy career. I almost wonder if Carey and Thomas, those splendid harbingers of this enterprise, had they known into what sorrows they were leading their brethren when they started this movement, would not have taken Sister Carey's advice and staid in England. What conflicts we have had ! What obstacles in the field — legal complications, racial hostilities, linguistic bothers, social customs, false religions, and commercial entanglements! What troubles with our missionaries ! Some who said they would go, and did not ; some who went, saw, and quit; some whose health failed, and some who failed in other points; some who knew too little, and some who knew too much; some who went loose on doctrine, and some on money; some who fell out with each other, and some who fell out with the board. Well, you know the other things. What tribulations, too, about the converts — so fickle or so mercenary; so false in doctrine and sometimes in heurt; so hard to wean from their old ways. Troubles also with the churches — so periodic and unsteady, so grudging in their gifts, and so easily estranged from their work! And what fiery combats we have about the way the thing ought to be done — some brethren caring for this and others for that, until "the more part knew not wherefore they were come together!" You see, foreign missions is a large business and has its difficulties. But I uncover my head to the Baptists for the centennial of mis-

sions. It is an event of thrilling significance. It is the shout of the advancing host. It is the ringing out of the old century with the bells of hope. It is experience grasping the banner of Immanuel and waving us on to new conquest. Standing on the middle line of the century ending and the century just opening, our brethren everywhere catch inspiration from the heroic past, and spring out into the new century intent on greater things.

190 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. But grant me a few more worde and I will discharge you from an audience too extended. ( 1 ) It is easy, in the light of this doctrine, to account for the fits of despondency which sometimes appear among our people. It is not hard to interpret the complaints and criticisms which now and then miurmur along our lines. I refer not to courteous and discriminating discussion of our work, but to that fretful outcry against the work of our people which is heard ever and anon. It is only a case of tribulation without patience, ending in an experience without hope. The brother who has grown despondient about the slowness of results ought to give the gospel more time, for the Lord does his best work slowly. He who thinks the denominational machinery is not running well, and would like to pull it all to pieces and make it over again, hath need of patience. He who is bewildered by the obstacles in the road of prograss ought to glory in tribulation. The murmurers in the wilderness are a hoary-headed set and began business a long time ago. Their case is easily diagnosed; it is a case of tribulation with the patience omitted and of an experience which begets gloom and dissatisfaction. If in the name of our Redeemer we will suffer tribulation together, we will doubtless come again bringing our sheaves with us. (2) We see the exact light under which the host of God is to move — not as those who have a sure certainty, not under the soft enthusiasm which enjoys constant success, not alone under the light of the promises of God as something outside of us. We are

to do our work under the light of this experimental hope. Between the lines of the history of former toils and conflicts we read the secret of the Lord. It was our comfort in the day of struggle, and the memory of it is our present light. It was one of the highest honors of my life that I spent several weeks with George B. Taylor in Italy. One day, as we were climbing together one of the heights of the Apennines, I turned on him and asked: ''Brother George, how do you feel about the conversion of Italy?" "Well," he replied, "God has brought us here, and he is blessing us ; and while I know not the time or the

THE VALUE OF THE EXPERIMENTAL HOPE. 191 seasons of the Son of Man, I feel that we are here to do our part in preparing for his glorious coming/' That was trusting in a realized promise. That promise is dyed in our experience and written on our souls. Here is our safety. If we begin to peer out for the coming of the Son of Man, we are sure to get in trouble. We stop our work to watch for him. We grow weary because he delayeth his coming. We make out a schedule for his second appearing, and feel quite piqued if he does not come in on schedule time. We persuade ourselves that if we could only send a few brawny-armed miessengers to clang the gospel bells in every countiy, he would have to come. Look not this way nor that, brethren, for the Lord. Fix your eye on your work. Remember how he has been with you you in the past and keep driving at it. y. But let nothing that has been said be construed into a disparagement of the glories of the future. It is not the design of the experimental hope to abate our interest in the splendors of the world to come. It is only intended to enlarge and exalt us in such measure as to fit us to apprehend the things which are laid up for us. The experiences of earth are preparatory. It is noble to becom^e so absorbed in the King's business as to

forget awhile what the future holds for us. But, ! the future must be full of interest to the soul who has felt the powers of the world to come. There are burnings within us which drive us mad with expectation. We stand upon the shore and wonder what we shall see when the ship comes to take us over the sea. These longings are a part of our new being and are provided for in the gospel. There is our mighty yearning after the presence and fellowship of our King. That hope of his glory, kindled in us at the first, bums on with quenchless ardors, and we can hardly tarry till he comes. Why, we are only in the outer room, washing and Changing our garments and getting read|y to pass in to see him, whom' we love. Let us not rush half-dressed into his presence. When we have learned the fellowship of his sufferings we will then be ready for the fellowship of his glory and power. Then, too there is our solicitude concerning our character. We

192 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. droop SO far below the ideal of the gospel and so far below our own breathings aft^r perfection that we despond. The future of our character is safe. "Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one that hath this hope p\i4'ifieth himself, even as he is pure." There is the picture for you. The child of grace purifying himself and waiting for his Lord, and the Lord promising that we shall be satisfied when we awake in his likeness. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000

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