Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:…
I. Our hope, we are here told, is "As AN ANCHOR OF THE SOUL" To the imagination of the writer, life is a sea, the soul is a ship, and hope is the anchor of the soul. It was not the first time that this emblem had been thus poetically applied. He had seen it in the Hebrew Writings which he had read at the feet of Gamaliel; in the course of his Greek studies, he had possibly met with the sayings of Socrates — "To ground hope on a false supposition is like trusting to a weak anchor." "A ship ought not to trust to one anchor, nor life to one hope." He had heard the Romans, in proverbial phrase, call a man's last desperate hope, Anchors sacra. Finding this metaphor in the service of common life, he baptized it, quickened it with a new meaning, and pressed it into the service of God, employing it to show the superiority of the Christian's hope to the hope of any other man.
II. Our hope, it is further said, ENTERETH INTO THAT WITHIN THE VEIL." The idea appears to be this: — h ship shattered with" the battle and the breeze," at length gets near the port; but owing to the shallow waters, or the sweeping tempest, or the temporary prohibition of the authorities on shore, she is not permitted at once to enter the harbour. The sailors then heave out the sheet-anchor, and by means of the boat it is carried within the royal ,lock; and though the ship cannot herself get in, she is thus prevented from being drifted away into the deep sea. To enter into that within the veil, is to enter within the harbour of eternal repose — this may not at present be permitted, bat we may cast our anchor there, and meanwhile wait in safety here. To convey the whole of the idea which the apostle has in view, two images are combined. Let us forget the nautical allusion, and think only on the image which is borrowed from the Temple. "The veil" is that which divides earth and heaven; and our anchor "entereth into that which is within the veil."
1. The words "within the veil" suggest the mysteriousness of heaven to the inhabitants of earth. It is natural that those who are on their way to the heavenly country should make it the frequent theme of conjectural thought. But, after all, heaven will be a secret us until we die. "My chief conception of heaven," said Robert Hall to Wilberforce, "is rest." "Mine," replied Wilberforce, "is love." Perhaps both conceptions are true, and union of perfect love wits perfect rest conveys our best idea of heaven, considered simply as a state. But what is the manner of existence there, and what is the true physical theory of another life? How shall we see without these eyes, hear without these ears, act without this material instrument of being? What are the visions, the emotions, the specific employments of heaven? Where and what is the region itself? Is it a star? Is it a sun? These questions are unanswered and unanswerable. The gospel is sent to show the way to glory, and not what that glory is. "The Holy Spirit teacheth how we may reach heaven, and not how heaven moves." In answer to all our questions respecting its nature, the Saviour replies, "What is that to thee? follow thou Me."
2. The nearness of heaven is suggested by the epithet "veil." Christians, there is only a veil between us and heaven! A veil is the thinnest and frailest of all conceivable partitions The veil that conceals heaven is only our embodied existence, and though fearfully and wonderfully made, it is only wrought out of our frail mortality. So slight is it, that the puncture of a thorn, the touch of an insect's sting, the breath of an infected atmosphere, may make it shake and fall.
3. The glory of heaven is suggested by the expression " within the veil." What was within the veil of the Hebrew Temple? Not the ark, not the censer, not the rod that budded, not one of these things apart, nor all combined, made the glory of the place, but its true glory was the mystic light that shone above the mercy-seat, and symbolised the presence of " the Great King." In like manner, the manifested presence of God, and that alone, is the true glory of heaven.
4. The holiness of heaven is here suggested. Within the inner veil was the "Holiest of all." All the Temple was holy, but this was "the Holy of Holies." It was a perpetual memorial of the fact that heaven is a place of exquisite and awful purity.
III. Our hope, entering within the veil, depends on the life of Jesus there. "WHITHER THE FORERUNNER IS FOR US ENTERED, EVENJJESUS." The forerunner of the ancient ship was the Anchorarius, the man who had charge of the anchor, and who carried it within the harbour, when there was not yet water sufficient to float the ship into it. In a spiritual sense, the forerunner of the worshipping Israelites was the high priest, who, taking with him the symbols of sacrifice, entered within the veil on their behalf. The forerunner of a band of pilgrims is one who precedes them to the place of destination, to give notice of their approach, to take possession in their name, and to prepare for their arrival.
1. The sense in which Christ sustains the office of forerunner in relation to the millions who are hastening to the world of light within the veil. He is the Sovereign Proprietor of heaven; He is the very glory of the place; yet He is thee leading "not a life of glory only, but a life of office." His perpetual presence there is the perpetual argument for our salvation. He is There to complete the removal of every impediment to the entrance of His followers; there as the sublime guarantee that we shall be there.
2. You are also taught by these metaphors to see how entirely your hope is identified with faith. Many a person will tell you that he hopes, only because he does not venture to say that he believes. Hope is thought to be something less decisive than faith; to imply a lower grade of Christian attainment, a weaker tone of spiritual life, or perhaps an uncertainty as to whether we feel even the first stirs and the faintest indications of that life. But hope, instead of involving less grace than faith, does, in reality, involve more. Faith — healthy faith — faith with a keen eye, a strong hand, and an unfaltering voice; faith that can say, "I know whom I have believed, and who has the charge of my anchor"; such faith as this must be in existence before you can have "a hope that maketh not ashamed."
IV. Our hope is an anchor of the soul which has peculiar recommendations. It is "BOTH SURE AND STEADFAST.''
1. The term "sure" seems to refer to the reliable nature of the anchor itself. It is not constructed of doubtful materials; its cable will not snap in the tempest; no stress or strain upon it, and no resisting force will drag it from its anchorage. The term "steadfast" seems to refer to the use of the anchor. An anchor is that which keeps the ship steadfast. While waiting on this fluctuating sea of life, a hope in Christ will keep you safe amidst all peril, and fixed amidst all change.
2. You will be steadfast in the calms of life. Amidst all brightness here, hope for something brighter there; amidst all earthly good, hope for a better and enduring substance; "set your affections on things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God"; and through the powers of the world to come, earth will be disenchanted, the spirit will be kept upon its guard, and your faith will be "steadfast" to the end.
3. You will be steadfast amidst the storms of life. There are storms of carp, storms of conscience, storms of temptation; and all thoughtful natures know that the wildest storms that ever rage are those which are felt within, to which there are no human witnesses, and which sometimes spend their fury when all without seems placid and delightful. What deep Christian thinker has not sometime been nearly overwhelmed in waves of mental perplexity? What lonely wrestler in prayer is there who has not sometimes cried, "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy waterspouts: all Thy waves and billows are gone over me? " But if in such hours of dark tempest we can retain the conviction, however faint, that He who presides amidst the glories of heaven is our own Redeemer, that He still holds us with His mighty power and will not let us go, we shall survive the crisis; our ship, shattered though it be, will never founder; in the very rush and agony of waters we shall patiently hope on.
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: