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BY ALEXA DER MACLARE
Thou hast been a Stronghold to the poor, a Stronghold to the needy in his distress, a Refuge from, the storm, a Shadow from the heat. — IsA. xxv. 4. writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews describes the Refuge as " the hope set before us." ow ! by "hope" there, he obviously means, not the emotion, but the Object upon which it is fixed. For it is something "set before" him — that is to say, external to him, and on which, when it is set before him, he can lay an appropriating hand, so that by the hope here is meant the thing hoped for. That, of course, is a very common usage, in v/hich we transfer the name of a feeling to the thing that excites it. So here it is the thing that Christians have laid hold of which is called "the hope set before us." That thing set before men as the object of hope is the great and faithful promise of God, confirmed by His oath long ago to the ancient patriarchs, the promise of Divine blessings and of a future inheritance. And, says the writer, away down here, in the very latest ages, we have the very same solid substance to grasp and cling to that Abraham of old had. For God said to him, " Blessing, I will bless thee," and He says it to us ; and that is a "Refuge." God said to him, "Thou shalt have a land for an inheritance," and He says it to us ; and that is a Refuge. The presence of God, and the promise of a blessed inheritance, are the elements of the hope of which the writer is speaking. Then, in his rapid way, he crowds figure upon figure, and, not content with two, the asylum and the strong stay, he adds a third, and likens this hope to the anchor of the soul, giving steadfastness and fixity to the man who clings, being in itself "sure" so that it will not break, and "steadfast" so that it will not drag. He goes on to say that this object of hope enters "into that within the veil." But notice that in the very next verse he speaks of some one else that entered within the veil — viz. , Jesus Christ. So, as in a dissolving view, you have, first, the figure of Hope, as the poets have painted her, calm and radiant and smiling ; and then that form melts away, and there stands instead of the abstraction Hope, the Person Jesus Christ. Which, being translated into plain words, is just this, the Refuge is Christ. Jesus Christ is our Hope — and Refuge, because He is our Priest. Ah, dear brother, all other enemies and ills are tolerable, and a man may make shift to bear them all without God, though he will bear them very imperfectly ; but the deepest need of all, the most threatening enemy of all, can only be dealt with and overcome by the Gospel which proclaims the Priest whose death is the abolition of Death, whose sacrifice is the removal of sin. How utterly different all the inevitable ills and sorrows of this mortal
life become when we lay hold on Him, and find shelter there ! "A man shall be a refuge from the storm and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. " We can bear sickness and sorrows and disappointments and failures and partings and all griefs, and the arrow-heads are blunted, or, at all events, the poison is wiped off the barbs when we have Christ for our Refuge and our Friend.
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