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Thus our Lord encouraged his disciples : “You are grieving at my going away; but ‘I tell you the truth: it is expedient for you that I go away: for, if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but, if I depart, I will send him unto you.' And when he is come, he shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. He will guide you into all truth. I will not leave you comfortless : I will send my Holy Spirit: I will give you living water, a spring of living water."
This is Christ's Best Promise.
Brethren, an humble and patient believer, taking God at his word and resting on Christ's promise, rises where all haughty reasoners and speculators must sink. Not that it is an irrational thing for spirit to operate on spirit; but an humble and patient believer comes as a little child to receive God's gift and promise, as suited to his wants and necessities; and, in coming according to the command, and promise, and warrant of God, he finds that this living water does satisfy him; that the Spirit does convince him: that it does seal, and comfort, and sanctify him; that it gives him an earnest of the eternal inheritance; that it bears witness with his Spirit that he is a child of God; that it bears witness to the truth of the Gospel; that he has something to comfort his heart; that here is satisfaction, and no where else. “For," says he, “ I find that what Christ has promised, I have received ; and that it answers to his promise. I find that I am enabled not to thirst, as I formerly did: I do not now faint, as I used to do: I find that I do not now run about, crying, “Who will show me any good ? I do not now stoop to every broken cistern for good. I find that this is the real, the substantial good.
I speak now to some, who have known and experienced in religion, that they should learn to imitate Christ. Christ exercised patience toward a stupid, carnal, wicked world; and managed with people as
they could bear it. He ever kept the main object in view. While they endeavoured to draw him off with their dissensions, he directs them to the living waterthe spring that should rise for ever? Let us imitate him herein. When we would converse with men on the most important subjects, when we would impress their minds with some weighty truth, they will strive to turn the conversation to their disputings and contentions on some point, which, whether it be so or whether it be not so, it is not worth a straw to know.
3. Let us turn to what may be called THE WORLD's WORST ERROR :— If thou knewest the gift of God, thou wouldest have asked.'
The worst account that can be given of this world is, that, when Christ came into it it knew him not: when he came unto his own, his own received him not. And, every day, a thinking man must observe with pain, that, while the world boasts of its sciences, and its advances in illumination ; yet talk to men of the Light of the World, speak of the Bread of Life,tell them of the Treasure hid in the Field,
-or of this Living Water, which cures man, relieves him when fainting, and prevents him from fainting for ever-you bring strange things to their ears !?—“What notions have you taken up in your mind? Who has been misleading you ???—— Misleading me!-Is it then misleading a man, when he thinks that he has a soul to teach him what will become of it? Is it irrational to think of the gift of God? Is it strange that a dying man, when he finds that he must die and after death stand before God in judgment, is it strange that he should make provision against that day? It needs no words to show that such objectors must be infatuated to the last degree, or their common sense would pronounce these to be the most important questions that can be asked, the most important considerations that can possibly come before the mind.
If a man had to pass through a desert, and there
were but one spring of water in that desert, and if he and his whole family must perish should he pass that spring, would he travel on without consideration ? Would he say, that he hoped all would be very well? -he dare say he should do as well as others ?—there was no great need of hunting after this spring ? Every one would say,
He is mad." Yet there is no comparison between him, and the man who would pass by this Well of Life! Peace, Pardon, Eternal Life, all must come from Living Water; and yet men talk of it, as if it were of no value!
Should you meet a multitude of diseased people, hastening, in every possible method of travelling, to a spring in some part of this kingdom of reputed virtue in the complaints under which they laboured : and should you express surprise at this sight; would not each justly reply, “Is it not reasonable, that, if I cannot travel in such equipage as I would wish, I should go as I can? that, if I cannot ride, I should walk, in order to be healed ?”—They, indeed will seek a water, which may or may not heal them: and you
will applaud their exertions !-but, while Christ offers water that shall spring up to everlasting life, and that shall invigorate enfeebled men, until they sit down in glory with him, and with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and with all who have ever drank of that water: you fall, perhaps, into the error of this woman, Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Can you offer us any thing to be compared with such a possession ?"
Oye, who have hitherto been such persons as I now describe, Awake to righteousness, and sin not.? Know, that the greatest mistake you can make, or that Satan would introduce into your hearts, is, the neglect of this gift of God, this spring of living water.
'If our Gospel be hid, says St. Paul, “it is hid to them that are lost.' And who are they? In whom
gave us the
the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.'
My dear hearers, whenever it pleases God to open a man's eyes,
and to show him his character and condition, he sees this to be a common error, that men forsake the living waters and try to hew to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns which can hold no water.' And, whenever there comes any thing worthy to be called relief in the case of man: bringing him to himself, as the prodigal was said to be; and leading him in the way to eternal life: it is by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
4. The last thing to be considered is, THE SINNER'S STRONGEST ENCOURAGEMENT :-*If thou hadst known, thou wouldest have asked, and he would have given.'
This, Brethren, is our strongest encouragementnot that the creation about us is glorious in beauty, and rich in its bountiful produce-not merely that we have lived under a beneficent Providence, who has guarded our lives, fed and clothed us, and provided for us comfortable habitations; these gifts of God we should ever remember, and for these we should ever be thankful : but we should remember, too, that the world, in its best state, is but a barren wilderness. “My soul thirsteth for thee, O God,' says the Psalmist, 'in a dry and barren land where no water is !! We should remember that man, at his best estate, is altogether vanity :' whatever he possesses is departing, and he himself must soon depart too. Here, therefore, lies our encouragement: here is the one point of comfort: here is the rest of the heart of man:-not that creation may astonish us with its grandeur, or pour out its bounty into our lap-not, that, while here creeping on our earth, there is a Providence that shall keep us to the end of our lives :---but here lies our
hope—that, in the wilderness, there is a spring of living water to be found! living water, in a dying world! There is our encouragement.
Take away this living water, and a contemplative man will ask, “ What will you give me ? Make me as rich as ever man was: beap on honours and pleasures : surround me with every gratification that can be extracted from the creature :- What then? I must go, and be no more seen! The higher you lift me, the lower I shall fall! There is no hope in these for an eternal world! My mind stretches out into eternity! What must I do in the end thereof? What is to comfort my guilty conscience, on a dying bed? When God shall say, 'Thou fool! this night shall thy soul be required of thee,' where are my barns then ? and where shall I be ?"
In the midst, then, of ten thousand perplexities which must meet the mind of man, here is one grand and important truth, “If thou hadst known, thou wouldest have asked, and he would have given thee living water.' . If a man will not ask, he rejects the counsel of God: he tramples on his gifts : and, in so doing, he incurs aggravated guilt, and must suffer aggravated condemnation. Yet, still, the truth remains : - there is a spring of water in a dying world.
A man may, indeed, raise questions on this subject. It may be with him, as it was with Hagar in the wilderness: water was at hand, though she and her child were perishing for thirst: they knew it not till the Angel of the Lord directed them; yet, still, it was at hand. Many say, “ I know not what to do. I know not what course to take in religion. I know not which is the truth. I know not how to determine in matters debated by men of character.” Let them debate! Come you to the grand point. You are a perishing creature, and here is Living Water. and ye shall have: seek and ye shall find. Take with you words :' “ But I have not a heart to take words :"9