"With joy," says Isaiah, "shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation." Pure water is often employed by the sacred writers as the emblem of grace. The figure is used in several different senses. Water represents purity; and the washing with water, the purification of the soul. "In that day," says Zechariah, "shall a fountain be opened for sin and uncleanness." "Wash--and be clean," says Isaiah; and in the New Testament, we read of "the washing of regeneration," of being "born of water," and of having our "bodies washed with pure water." The ordinance of baptism evidently implies, among other things, this, as was said by Ananias to Paul, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins."
But as water is necessary to the comfort of life, yes, to its very existence, we find it often used as an emblem of life and refreshment. "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters." "On the last, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, If any man thirsts, let him come unto me and drink." And Christ said to the Samaritan woman whom he met at Jacob's well, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says, give me to drink, you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water." And again, "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." And in the book of Revelation we have one of the sweetest, richest texts on this subject: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Another use of certain waters among men is, for healing diseases. Medicinal springs are sought after and resorted to all over the world; but I do not find that, except in case of miraculous healing, any mention is made of water as medicinal in the Bible. The pool of Bethesda was famous, in the time of our Savior, for the healing virtue of its waters; but this, we are told, was owing to a miraculous cause: "An angel descended into the pool, at certain seasons, and troubled the water; and whoever first, after the troubling of the water, stepped in, was made whole of whatever disease he had." So, also, we read in the Old Testament, that Naaman the Syrian, by the direction of Elisha, was healed of an incurable leprosy by dipping himself seven times in the river Jordan. And the blind man whom our Savior healed by placing clay on his eyes, was directed to go and wash in the pool of Siloam; and "he went, and washed, and came seeing."
If there should be a miraculous fountain opened in some part of the world, which had the virtue of curing all sorts of bodily diseases, what an amazing rush would there be to reach it by the rich and the poor. The ways leading to it would be constantly crowded with pilgrims seeking a cure of their various diseases. The sick and decrepit, as when our Lord was on earth, would be borne by their friends and bathed in the fountain of life. The superstitious heathen travel hundreds and thousands of miles to visit some fountain supposed to possess a healing virtue; and in some popish countries, sacred wells are visited at certain seasons by a poor deluded people, who expect healing from waters which possess no healing quality, but what imagination gives them.
But when it is announced that a well of salvation is opened for the healing of the maladies of the soul, very little interest is felt by most in the tidings. Men are not sensible of their spiritual diseases, and therefore do not seek a cure. Yes, they are under such a direful delusion, that they are unwilling to be healed: they fondly cherish their mortal maladies, and are often offended when urged to come to the wells of salvation to be healed.
A few, however, are thirsting for salvation, and they rejoice to hear that a fountain is actually springing up in this wilderness, to which they are freely invited. Such come with joy to the wells of salvation. And oh, how sweet are the repeated draughts of the water of life which they drink in! Others are deeply affected with the conviction of their moral defilement. They ardently desire cleansing. To all such we bring glad tidings, when we announce that "a fountain is opened for sin and uncleanness." Do you ask where? In the gospel—in Christ, who is the center and substance of the gospel.