Godefridus Udemans (c. 1581–1649) on hope


Godefridus Udemans (c. 1581–1649) was one of the most influential Dutch Nadere Reformatie divines of his generation. With the exception of Willem Teellinck (1579–1629), no 17th century theologian from the Zeeland province exerted greater influence upon his contemporaries than Udemans, the preacher from Zierikzee. in his book The Practice of Faith, Hope, and Love (Practycke), the first of his works to be translated into English (by the Dutch Reformed Translation Society), was originally published in 1612. In this book, Udemans, as a Reformed pietist,  presents faith, hope, and love as experientially active Christian virtues. Justification, which establishes the believer’s union with Christ, is presented as the experiential commencement of sanctification, and therefore faith itself cannot but produce good works. Here is an excerpt from chapter 1, p. 25-26:

“The word hope also has several meanings. Sometimes the word refers to faith, as in 1 Peter 3:15. Other times it refers to the foundation of faith, as in 1 Timothy 1:1. It may also refer to the things hoped for, such as eternal life (Col. 1:5). And sometimes it refers to the instrument with which we expect the promises, as in 1 John 3:3. Let us concentrate on this fourth meaning to offer the following description: Hope is the fruit of the Spirit whereby we look forward with patience and endurance to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Let us look at the Author of hope, the nature of hope, and the foundation of hope.

1. The Author of hope. The Author of hope is the Holy Spirit. Hope is a fruit of the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit not only seals God’s promises in our hearts (Eph. 1:13), but also sheds God’s love within our hearts so that we may rejoice in oppression and hope in God’s greatness (Rom. 5:5). The Spirit also gives us hope in the midst of our infirmities (Rom. 8:26).
2. The nature of hope. The nature of hope is patient and steadfast expectation. Romans 8:25 tells us, ‘But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.’ James declares: ‘Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh’ (5:7–8). After Abraham patiently endured years of waiting for a promised son, he finally obtained the promise (Heb. 6:15). By contrast, the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness constantly put God to the test by doubting His promises (Ps. 78:41). The result was that they did not enter the Promised Land.
3. The foundation of hope. The foundation of hope is God’s promises alone. Titus 1:2 says, ‘In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.’ Abraham believed in God’s promises ‘against hope,’ says Romans 4:18, for he did not doubt God’s promises.”


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