"We are saved by hope;" but hope is divine certainty, because it is connected with the purpose of God. All His own counsel is before God, and it shall stand. He has measured the difficulties in the way of its accomplishment by the resources of His own grace, His own wisdom, and His own strength. Neither the frailty of the creature, nor the power of the adversary, shall prevent the blessing of those who are "the called according to the purpose of God. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son." It is this result of the purpose of God which is the object of the hope of the Christian. It is not the hope of forgiveness of sins, neither the hope of righteousness, nor the hope of eternal life, properly; for the hope of which the apostle speaks is based on these wondrous blessings, which are already secured by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing short of these blessings can result from the work of the Holy Ghost, at one and the same time communicating life to the soul, and presenting Jesus to it as the object of faith. If there be uncertainty of hope, it is because the soul is not really reposing on Christ Himself and His perfect work. Whenever this is the case (and how common it is, alas! we too well know), the thing hoped for is the ascertainment of forgiveness of sins and righteousness, instead of pardon and righteousness being the groundwork of hope. But real, scriptural hope - being the expectation of that, in manifestation, which is already known in the consciousness of the soul by faith, yea, and enjoyed, too, by the Spirit - is necessarily connected with patience. "Hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." When Christ shall appear, not only will the saints appear with Him in glory, but their longings for the full enjoyment, without any hindrance, of that which is theirs already shall be fully realised.
But notwithstanding the certainty and blessedness of our hope, it has pleased our God, who knows the cravings of that life which is communicated by the Holy Ghost, and flows from union with our risen and glorified Head, to make provision for the sustainment and encouragement of our souls by giving to us the Holy Ghost as the earnest of the inheritance. He is not the earnest so much in the way of leading our souls from what we do taste now to what we may expect to taste when we are in glory; but it is rather in the way of the divine certainty of those things which God has prepared for them that love Him that He now gives the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. The light in which we regard the truth of the earnest of the Spirit will make a great difference as to the stability of our souls. This relation of the Holy Ghost to us is distinct from those spiritual instincts which He Himself has communicated. Being given as the earnest, in consequence of the certainty of the determinate counsel of God in bringing those whom He has called to glory, He is at once the Spirit of revelation to show to us the things which are freely given to us of God, and the Spirit of communion, so as to enjoy all that which He thus shows us; but at the same time He is Himself the earnest, which never could have been given, save as the witness of accomplished redemption, and because of the certainty of future glory. It is thus that so many blessings, which, as to actual manifestation and real unhindered enjoyment, are yet future, are spoken of most truly as present. This blessed truth might be largely illustrated. In one sense, we wait for our blessings; in another, we have them already. The manifestation of our sonship is yet future; but we wait not to be sons. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be [rather, what we shall be hath not yet been manifested]: but we know that, when He shall appear [be manifested], we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." But Christ has already manifested Himself to us, "although He be not manifested to the world. So again, He is gone to prepare mansions for us in the Father's house, and we expect that He will come again, and receive us unto Himself; that where He is, there we may be also." This is the characteristic hope of the Church; but mark "the earnest" resulting from this certain hope: "If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode [mansion] with him." Most blessed earnest: the Father and the Son, now in the unity of the Spirit, making their mansion with us! We are sons, waiting for the adoption. Strange language! yet how real. We wait for the adoption - to wit the redemption of the body - because to be in a glorified body, like Christ Himself, with Christ in heaven, is the proper suited place for the sons of God. But because of this, being born of God now, we are sons, and God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Observe, the Spirit is not given to make us sons, but because we are sons; and although not actually in our native home, yet God enables us to speak, and think, and act as His sons, although we are as unknown to the world as Jesus Christ Himself was while He was in the world.
We need faith, for "we walk by faith;" we need hope, "for we are saved by hope;" but we need also the Holy Ghost Himself as the present earnest of our inheritance, lest we faint and grow weary by the way. Grace and glory are two consecutive links in the golden chain of God; but, for the most part to us, there is practically an interval filled up by painful experience on our part, and yet such experience as causes us to learn grace now, "manifold grace," in a manner we could hardly learn it in glory, just as assuredly we shall learn it in glory, even "the riches of grace," after a manner inconceivable by us at present. The joyous triumphant song of Israel on the banks of the Red Sea, witnessing the grace and power of God in their deliverance from Egypt, stopt not short of their immediate introduction into Canaan. The Holy Ghost who indited that song could not celebrate the unbelief of Israel, but the grace, power, and faithfulness of God. "Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. The people shall hear and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed: the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away." There was no reason why deliverance out of Egypt should not have been introduction into Canaan; the grace and power which had effected the one was pledged for the accomplishment of the other, and could alone effect it. But how different is the actual experience of God's people, whether typically redeemed as Israel, or really as the Church, from the truth of God, which either may celebrate. Israel trembled before those whom they mentioned in their song as melting away before them. And the whole wilderness history intervenes between deliverance from Egypt and introduction into Canaan. And we ourselves also often tremble before already conquered enemies, triumphing by faith the moment we bring in God as manifested in Christ, but often dropping the notes of triumph for murmurs or fears, because the heart is not really occupied with the things freely given to us of God.
It is truly refreshing, in the sorrowful history of Israel in the wilderness, to find such a one as Caleb. He is not one of the great public actors as Moses, Aaron, or Joshua. One of the "heads of the children of Israel," of the honoured tribe of Judah, he was going the weary round of the wilderness with his brethren, but assuredly with lighter heart and firmer step than they; and in this respect he so blessedly illustrates what the earnest of the Spirit is, and at the same time is a type of that class of "unknown," "yet well known," Christians who, apart from murmuring and strife, are steadily wending their way to that rest, of which the Lord Himself has spoken to them. Historically, Caleb presents to us a feature which we find not in Moses himself. He had known Egypt for the first forty years of his life, he had trodden Canaan forty days, he had gone through the wilderness, and had passed over Jordan into the possession of Canaan, and was still full of manly vigour and courage. He was one of those who, through faith, had obtained promises, and was not satisfied till he was in actual possession.
"On the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt," Moses and Aaron number Israel in the wilderness of Sinai, "every male by their polls, from twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel." (Num. 1:1-4.) Again, "after the plague," in which twenty-four thousand perished in the matter of Baal-peor, Moses and Eleazer the priest number Israel in the plains of Moab, by Jordan, near Jericho; "but among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai For the Lord had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun." (Num. 26:1, 4, 64, 65.)
While this verified the word of God, we may still ask, What hindered Caleb and Joshua from being worn out by the trial of the wilderness, which had worn out all their generation? Let Caleb himself answer. "Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea. Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God. And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as He said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said." (Joshua 14:6-12.)
"I brought him word again as it was in mine heart." Caleb owned that it was a pleasant land which the Lord gave to the children of Israel, and his heart was set upon it. He could discern the difference between that land and Egypt; between the land which was cultivated with all the appliance of human skill, "watered with the foot," and "a land of hills and valleys, which drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year." His treasure was in the land, and there his heart was. Others esteemed Egypt preferable to the wilderness, when their hearts were discouraged from going up to possess Canaan, on account of the difficulties in the way; but Caleb esteemed Canaan, with all the difficulty of entering into it, as far more precious than Egypt with present ease, but with present bondage also. Canaan was in his heart all the time he traversed the wilderness. He had tasted the fruit of Canaan; his eyes had beholden it; and he had not the report of others as to the land, but his own "feet had trodden it." It was this which made him tread the wilderness with such elastic steps. Besides this, he had the sure word of the Lord's promise to support him. He knew the certain end unto which his wanderings, in company with others, must lead. As they encamped or broke up, at the commandment of the Lord, he could either "rest in his tent," or traverse the wilderness with the land in his heart, and say, after every weary march or lengthened encampment, The wilderness time is far spent; the day of again seeing the land is at hand. As his contemporaries wasted away, how solemn must have been the admonition to his soul against the sin of unbelief; how forcibly must the rapid passing away of that evil generation have brought these words to his remembrance - "Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted Me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked Me see it: but my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it." "God hath given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." This was the comfort, strength, and establishment of apostles, as well as of common Christians. Christ Himself, to whom the Spirit ever bears witness, is thus not only the object of faith, but the object of desire also. It is as the object of desire that He is known now in earnest by the Spirit. Experimentally, He is never known by the soul in all His own attractive loveliness until He be received as "all our salvation." The selfish heart of man cannot bear to contemplate such perfection, condemnatory of itself, until that lawful, selfish craving is answered, "What must I do to be saved" by, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved." We can only study Him by knowing Him as the Saviour. But when He is so known, what graciousness do we find in His own word - "I will not leave you comfortless I will come to you." He comes now into the heart by the Spirit: blessed earnest indeed of His coming for us, to be with Him where He is. It is thus, too, that the apostle speaks to us: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you," etc. Well indeed says another: "Whom not having seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." If the Spirit of God shows to us the things which are freely given to us of God, He shows them not as in the distant future, but being Himself the earnest of the inheritance, He now glorifies Jesus, taking of His things and showing them unto us, and showing them as ours now in Him, so that we can taste and handle our own blessings. We too are solemnly warned as to the evil of unbelief in finding many an object to which we have fondly clung passing away, so that bitter disappointment would ensue were it not that by the Spirit we more fully realised, and were led more deeply to taste, the unfailing blessings which are ours in Christ.
"Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God." It is no presumption in any of us to answer to the testimony of God to our own souls. So did Caleb; for the Lord said, "But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed Me fully." Caleb had searched the land, following the Lord his God there, when the Lord Himself was his guide and defence, and no enemy could set upon him. He had seen that the land "was exceeding good;" but he reckoned on the good pleasure of the Lord in His people. "If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us." The soul of Caleb rested entirely on the grace and power of God, which had caused them to triumph at the Red Sea, and had kept the spies in searching the land. The same grace and power could alone lead them into possession of the land. On this, and this alone, he reckoned. Only let his soul recognise where the Lord was, and he could see victory. But the very same principle of fully following the Lord, which made him encourage the people to go up, would hinder him from the attempt, after that the Lord had said, "Tomorrow turn again the way of the Red Sea;" for the Lord had no delight in the people. Where the Lord was there was both grace and power; and Caleb had to learn that grace and power for forty years in the wilderness on which he had so early reckoned, and which eventually put him in actual possession of the very part of the land which he had trodden with his feet. He fully followed the Lord through the wilderness, and knew Him there as his guardian and guide whom he had known as a mighty deliverer out of Egypt, and who had introduced him into Canaan, and enabled him to see and search the land and know its fruits.
The Spirit of God is presented to us in direct contrast with the spirit of the world. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." The spirit of the world is one of restless activity and enquiry, either to find out something new, or to invent some remedy against the multiform misery of man. It may take either a speculative or a practical turn, but it never discovers the satisfactory remedy. "Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?" The spirit of the world is ever advancing, but never reaching its end; leading ever to that which is corning, but never yet has come. The Spirit which is of God is the very opposite. The Holy Ghost produces in the saint "the spirit of a sound mind." He leads the soul backward to the past, and forward to the future. He steadies the soul by leading it to repose on the already accomplished work of Christ on the cross; and from thence He animates the soul, by leading it into the glorious prospect set before it - a prospect not of some yet undiscovered panacea for man's misery that is found in the past in the cross of Christ, neither of a vague and ignorant futurity, but that "hidden wisdom of God, concerning things which God' has prepared before the foundation of the world to our glory, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, but which God hath revealed to us by His Spirit." The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth, and can never have a higher subject of testimony than He has at present - the sufferings of Christ and the glory which is to follow. He cannot reveal to us higher blessings than He reveals at present; and He Himself is the present earnest in the heart of the believer, because those blessings are so certain, and already secured in Christ. If Caleb needed to have his heart occupied with Canaan to cheer his spirit in the wilderness, we not only need the earnest of the Spirit for the same purpose, but also to keep us from the seductive power of the spirit of the world. And this He does by showing to us the things freely given to us of God as so high and blessed that they have not even been conceived by the daring boldness of man's heart. As the earnest, He leads the soul to long to see Christ as He is, and to be like Him, and thus, too, leads in, the path of fully following the Lord. To be ever with the Lord is the blessing in prospect; but to have Him ever with us now is the consequent earnest. "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." How is this made good by the abiding presence of the Holy Ghost, the other Comforter. Oh that with purpose of heart we might cleave unto the Lord, and say in the midst of sorrowful experience, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage."
"And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as He said." The Holy Spirit, as the earnest, is the Spirit "of promise;" not only as being Himself the "promise of the Father," but substantiating promises to the soul. As Caleb saw his contemporaries die off day by day, how much he needed the encouragement of the specific promise of the Lord - "The Lord hath kept me alive, as He said." The Holy Ghost is the quickener, He is the earnest, and He is also the Holy Spirit of promise, thus giving special value to the Word, to the Scriptures, bringing it to remembrance, and applying a familiar text with unknown power, because such a promise or such a scripture exactly suits the circumstances of our need. "As He said." How important is this. Subjection of mind to the authority of Scripture no less distinguishes the guidance of the Holy Spirit from the spirit of the world than it distinguishes real spirituality from cloudy mysticism. The Scripture becomes of increasing value in proportion as the spirit of the age advances. As applied by the Spirit of truth, it gives the consciousness of certainty when the spirit of the world, in the freedom of enquiry, is leading into general scepticism. The result of these two conflicting spirits - the spirit of the world and the Spirit which is of God - is, that the one will lead to set the stability of created things against the promise of Christ coming; the other, to throw the soul more entirely on His promise. (2 Peter 3) But the soul needs now establishment and encouragement, and the Holy Ghost, as the earnest, gives such a reality to the promises of God in Scripture, that the soul is enabled to set, "As He says," against all appearances of things or opinions of men.
"As my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in." All the weary round of forty years of toil in the wilderness had not impaired the strength of Caleb. He had sung that wondrous note - "The Lord is my strength." He had acted on that strength when He searched the land, and was ready, at the prime of manhood, to go up and possess the land; and now, at fourscore and five years, he finds his strength the same. "The Lord was his strength. And what is the Holy Ghost to us in one aspect as the earnest but "the Spirit of power?" In the strictest sense, the power which acts towards us and in us is always the same. But it is only known by faith; even "the exceeding greatness of the power of God answering to that which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead." If we attempt the smallest difficulty without regard to this power, we are foiled; but if the greatest obstacle presents itself, through faith in the Lord our strength we prevail. Hence the word, "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
The Spirit witnesses to us of the triumph of Christ; but His indwelling in us is a fruit of that triumph. The Lord has triumphed for us, and He also triumphs in us. We celebrate already our victory. Through Him who loved us as more than conquerors God "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." But that power is now actually manifested in strengthening the saints with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness. The characteristic form of power now is endurance. It is by patient continuance in well-doing that we seek for glory, honour, and immortality. The spirit of the world is that of impatience with delay, and desire of grasping some supposed present blessing; but the Spirit which is of God, being Himself the earnest of a certain inheritance, becomes especially the Spirit of power in enabling us patiently to wait for what is ours already. It is thus that, although "the outer man may decay, the inner is renewed day by day." The Holy Ghost keeps the eye looking on invisible realities, making them, as it were, more palpable day by day.
Each day brought Caleb nearer to Canaan, which was "in his heart," Blessed indeed to see an aged disciple in whom the cravings of the mind for novelty have passed away, who has gone through, it may be, also the ordeal of worldly fascination, who has found his progress very chequered indeed, disappointment succeeding disappointment, desire dropping off after desire, yet all tending to one thing, to make him know the value of one blessed object, even Jesus. "I have written unto you, fathers," says the apostle, "because ye have known Him that was from the beginning." What conscious strength there is in thus having a single object, hardly ever practically attained, but through a process of unlearning. But that single object is the one object whom the Spirit of truth has been continually, witnessing to in our souls as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, the great end and centre of the eternal counsels of the Godhead. This is the strength of old age. In the never-ceasing conflict, when the buoyancy of natural powers ceases, the warfare is carried on by a deeper sense of the power that worketh in us. Faith lives when the natural faculties are impaired. The soul of the aged disciple is true to Jesus where the powers of memory and recognition fail. He that "has borne from the belly, and carried from the womb," says, "And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you." By the presence of the Holy Ghost the Father and Son abide now in the soul of the believer; by the presence of the Holy Ghost believers can say, "Our conversation is in heaven." And thus "those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to show that the Lord is upright." It is when the flesh is thoroughly crushed that we have strength with God and prevail. And thus, even as Caleb, the believer goes from strength to strength, mortifying the deeds of the body through the Spirit, at the same time that the abiding presence of the Spirit is the sure witness of the righteous judgment of God passed on the flesh in the cross of Christ, and the Spirit of revelation of heavenly and eternal realities, and of present communion with Him.
"If so be the Lord be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said." There is no doubt or uncertainty in this "if so be." It was only reckoning on the Lord's faithfulness to His promise, and on His ability to perform it, at the same time implying that this was his only ground of confidence. But with what confirmed confidence could he reckon on the Lord being with him, whose presence had been with him when he searched the land, and whose presence had been with him while traversing the wilderness. And is it not so with the believer now? Quickened by the Spirit when dead in trespasses and sins, he has known the same Spirit as revealing Jesus to his soul as the salvation of God. He knows the same Spirit as the abiding Comforter, glorifying Jesus, taking of His things and showing them unto the soul. He knows, by the presence of the same Comforter, that God hath called him unto His own kingdom and glory; and that same Spirit now shows to the soul what is the hope of God's calling, and what the riches of the, glory of His inheritance in the saints. Well may we use the words of one of old, and say, If there were any darkness or uncertainty as to the future, surely the Holy Ghost would not now "have showed us all these things, nor would He as at this time have told us such things as these."