58. ON THE LIVING WATER
How beautifully instructive is our Savior's conversation with the woman of
Samaria, while sitting, wearied with his journey, on Jacob's well! What an
example to his followers does the benevolent Redeemer exhibit, of
condescension to ignorance, and of affectionate improvement of trivial
occurrences to the spiritual good of all around us! The human mind, until
taught of God, is equally blind, whether clothed in the imposing vestment of
a Jewish doctor, or in the simple attire of a Samaritan female. Nicodemus
was as ignorant respecting the nature of the new birth, as this poor woman
was of the living water.
Human learning, though called theological, can never make us savingly
acquainted with the first principles of the Gospel of Christ. Many an
unlettered peasant may be a scribe well instructed in the mysteries of the
kingdom; while the learned doctor, filling the professor's chair, may be a
very babe in the things of Christ. This view is humiliating to the pride of
man, and should teach us to call no man master upon earth; but in child-like
simplicity to sit at the feet of Jesus, and drink of that living water,
which alone can purify and refresh our souls.
How delightful is the thought, that Jesus, the Savior and friend of sinners,
is the giver of this spiritual blessing! "If you knew the gift of God, and
who it is that says unto you, Give me to drink, you would have asked of him,
and he would have given you living water." How consoling the truth, that
this living water shall be in all his believing people as a well of water,
not drying up as earthly springs too frequently do when most needed; but
daily rising higher and higher, until it issue into everlasting life.
"Jesus answered and said unto her, whoever drinks of this water (the well of
Jacob) shall thirst again; but 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."
The joys of earth are only top springs. Many are delighted with these
bubbling waters in seasons of outward prosperity. But in adverse times, when
comfort is most needed, they become wells without water. Where, then, must
the poor worldling go to quench his thirst? He must go to Jesus. "If any man
thirst, let him come unto me and drink." "Whoever will, let him take of the
water of life freely."
The Holy Spirit is this living water, whose sacred streams can satisfy the
most thirsty soul with joys which strengthen and purify the heart. He who
drinks of this fountain, shall thirst no more as once he did. His thirst
shall now be after righteousness; after the enjoyment of God himself.
Blessed thirst! Oh! that I could feel this thirst increasing every hour; and
every hour betake myself to this spring.
But what says the Savior? It shall be in you a well of water springing up
into everlasting life. Happy experience, when sensibly enjoyed! Have I this
precious internal spring? Have I the Spirit of Christ? This forms the grand
indisputable evidence of being a child of God, an heir of glory. Were the
whole world my own, I could find no real happiness separate from Jesus
Christ. There are indeed many counterfeits which bear the image and
superscription of happiness, but all shall finally be detected, and leave
their possessors miserably poor.
"Man who is born of a woman is of few years and full of trouble." Such is
the portrait which Job draws of human life. But man was created happy, and
would have remained so, had not Satan beguiled him into sin. Yet being "full
of trouble," he naturally desires rest. Hence all men are in quest of
happiness, and every one expects to find it. Many fancy that they have
obtained it, and wrap themselves up in this fond conceit, until death hurls
them headlong down the precipice into the burning gulf below!
While we view the many millions of mankind in search of some imaginary good,
and greatly thirsting after it, how gracious, how condescending is the
invitation of mercy, to the only fountain of true felicity; "Ho, every one
that thirsts, come to the waters; and he that has no money, come you, buy
and eat; yes come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." A
world thirsting after happiness, but mistaking its true nature and source,
is here most lovingly, most freely invited to accept of the inestimable
blessing. "Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your
labor for that which satisfies not?" is the powerful appeal to the hearts
and consciences of sinners.
Much labor and expense are bestowed towards obtaining some supposed good;
but being altogether of an earthly nature, it cannot nourish the soul, or
satisfy its enlarged desires. Hence follows this gracious declaration;
"hearken diligently unto me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul
delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come unto me, hear and your
soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you; even the
sure mercies of David."
Oh! what rich display of grace is here. Well may the Almighty say, "my
thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways my ways." But it does
not stop here. The voice of mercy still cries, "seek the Lord while he may
be found; call you upon him while he is near;" evidently implying that a
time is coming when he will not be found; an hour is approaching, when he
will not hear. He is now waiting to be gracious, and may be found in Christ
upon a mercy-seat, to bless every returning penitent. But if the day of
grace be once ended; if death find the sinner still impenitent and
unbelieving, the Lord will he found indeed, but found seated on a throne of
judgment; and the wretched criminal will be driven far from his presence,
never more to heat the sweet call of slighted mercy.
In this beautiful invitation to a world of sinners, grace reigns through
righteousness; for it is added, "let the wicked forsake his way, and the
unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will
have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." A sweet
assurance of joy and peace is given to every sinner, who thus, through
grace, turns unto the Lord with a true penitent heart and living faith; "he
shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the
hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the
field shall clap their hands."
Here is nothing but joy and rejoicing!—Oh! what a precious salvation! The
ransomed soul shall be filled with joy and peace through believing. "There
is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repents."
The ministers of Christ ardently long after and rejoice in the conversion of
sinners. "My heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might
be saved." "God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the
affections of Jesus Christ." "I have no greater joy than to hear that my
children walk in truth." Such were the feelings of Paul and John.
The whole church rejoices to behold the wandering sheep brought safe into
the fold; and heartily welcomes the chief of sinners, when he becomes the
loving disciple of her beloved Lord. "All they knew was that people were
saying, 'The one who used to persecute us now preaches the very faith he
tried to destroy!' And they gave glory to God because of me." Galatians
1:23-24. So wrote Paul to the church in Galatia, respecting his reception by
the apostles at Jerusalem.
The Almighty himself thus addresses his beloved people, redeemed through the
blood of Jesus; "The Lord your God in the midst of you is mighty; he will
save, he will rejoice over you with joy; he will rest in his love; he will
rejoice over you with singing." Thus the Lord will bless the righteous, and
with favor will he compass him as with a shield. The certainty of all this
blessedness is declared; "My word that goes out of my mouth, it shall not
return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it
shall prosper in the thing. whereunto I sent it."
The glory of God is also secured; "Where once there were thorns, cypress
trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle
will bring great honor to the Lord's name; it will be an everlasting sign of
his power and love." Isaiah 55:13. This glorious change from sin to
holiness, which is figuratively expressed by the thorns and briars, the
cypress and the myrtle, shall be for a sign, an everlasting sign of the
divine origin of the Gospel of Christ, and for a perpetual memorial of the
converting grace of God.
Oh my soul! after what object are you thirsting? After what are your desires
tending? Look around you, and see if any created good can satisfy those
desires? Be assured that nothing can make you truly happy, but an interest
in the blood of Jesus; nothing but a union to him by faith; nothing but a
sweet experience of his pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace; nothing but
an entire and unreserved dedication of yourself to him who gave himself for
you. Oh! then, cast yourself now at the feet of a loving Savior. He will not
spurn you from him, though you deserve to be cast into the nethermost hell!
Oh! may I daily thirst for these blessings. I would now draw near to the
fountain of living water. May I freely take of you, Oh Spirit of
consolation. By your sacred influence may I feel my soul refreshed and
strengthened, while journeying to the land of which sovereign grace has
said, I will give it you.
Blessed Jesus, I am not worthy to approach you. But here is my
encouragement; that those only are invited, who have "no money;" no merit of
their own; and I have none. Your righteousness is my only boast and plea.
You came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. How gracious,
then, is this Gospel call to a world of perishing sinners! "Ho every one
that thirsts come to the waters." Oh! that all may hear and embrace the
Hasten the glorious period, when all shall come with singing unto you; when
the church shall lengthen her cords, and strengthen her stakes; yes, when
the whole, earth shall be filled with your glory. Come, Lord Jesus; come
You fountain of eternal life,
Whose streams forever flow,
Spring up within my waiting heart,
And all your bliss bestow.
Refresh my soul with living streams,
Until holy fruits abound;
A chosen tree of righteousness,
On Zion's sacred ground.
Come, Holy Spirit, your grace impart;
Put forth your quickening power;
Vain is the hope of bliss below,
The pageant of an hour.
Like tender flowers, we open the bud,
And greet the morning ray;
But before it is noon we droop and fade,
The creatures of a day.
Yet on this little day of life
What mighty things depend;
Eternal torments, or the joy,
That knows nor bound nor end.
Then haste, blest Spirit, to my breast,
Renew my guilty soul;
Speak peace, you blessed Comforter,
And make the wounded—whole.