Hope, or an expectation of future good,* is of so extensive an influence, that whether true or false, well or ill founded, it is one of the principal springs that keep mankind in motion. It is vigorous, bold, and enterprising. It causes men to encounter dangers, endure hardships, and surmount difficulties innumerable, in order to accomplish the desired end. In religion it is of no less consequence. It is claimed by almost all ranks and parties of men. It makes a considerable part of the religion of those that truly fear God; for though in all true religion there is and must be a love to God and Divine things for their own excellency, yet God, who knows our frame, and draws us with the cords of a man, condescends also to excite us with the promise of gracious reward, and to allure us with the prospect of a crown of glory.
We wish you, brethren, seeing God has given you everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, to consider well the goodness or excellency of that Divine gift. On this account it excels every other hope as much as a pearl excels a pebble. A great part of its excellency consists in its being so well-founded. Though our hope should aspire to the highest heavens, and could grasp in all the bliss of an eternal world! alas! what would it avail us if ill-founded? The hope that is ill-founded is said to make ashamed, and so terminates in disappointment. It is to be feared that many (oh that there may be none of us!) who are now towering high in expectation, will one day be “ashamed and confounded” because they thus had hoped.
The grand foundation of all good hope is the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s revealed Mediator, embraced by faith. On this rock the people of God in all ages have built their hope, whatever other foundations sinners have devised. Of old God laid this in Zion. This was the subject of apostolic ministrations; they held forth none other than him “whom God had set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.”
That the mediation of Christ is the primary ground of all good hope will appear evident, if we do but recollect (and O let us never forget!) the hopeless condition in which sin involved us. By our breach of covenant with God, the very idea of future good for us was totally annihilated. Nothing but eternal tribulation and anguish, as the reward of evil-doers, was now to be expected. The image of God being totally effaced in us, his favour towards us was absolutely forfeited. Hence the least idea of hope from any other ground than the mediation of Christ, is not only declarative of opposition to God’s way of salvation, but is altogether a wild chimera. By the state of the fallen angels we may learn what ground is left for hope where no mediation is provided; and what must have been our state had we been left in their condition. These, void of all hope whatever, “are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”
We are not unacquainted with the many false grounds on which sinners rest their hopes, but we as well know who has said, “Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” We doubt not, brethren, but you have perceived the vanity of a multitude of those things which buoy up the hopes of a great part of mankind. Yourselves, it may be, were once the subjects of those delusory dreams whereof we trust ye are now ashamed. It yields us great pain to see such numbers of our fellow sinners standing on such slippery places! The mere mercy of God, to the exclusion of Christ’s mediation—not being so bad as some others—common honesty and civility between man and man—descent from pious parents—a place and a name among the godly—suffering much affliction in this life—legal convictions—superior knowledge—superstitious zeal—these are some of the dangerous foundations on which vast numbers of deluded mortals build their eternal all! But ye, brethren, have not so learned Christ. Be it your and our resolution, with holy Paul, to “know nothing” in this matter “but Christ and him crucified!”
Excerpt from: “The Excellence and Utility of Hope,” a letter written in 1782 in Circular Letters.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Expositions—Miscellaneous. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 3, pp. 308–309). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.