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to him as the great Bridegroom of the church, whoever are the instruments of promoting so happy a work. Would to God that in this sense all the Lord's people were even as the greatest of the prophets, or as the very chief of the apostles! (Numb. xi. 29.)
But if indeed they were so, yet, like those brightest luminaries of the church, they must in time have their change and their wane. If God does not darken their glories by a sudden eclipse, yet they who are now, like the Baptist, burning and shining lights, must like him gradually decrease, while others are increasing about them; as they, in their turns, grew up amidst the decays of the former generation. Let us know how to set as well as to rise; and let it comfort our declining days to trace in those that are likely to succeed us in our work the openings of yet greater usefulness. So shall we grow in our meetness for that world where all the righteous shall shine forth together, as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father, in a bright resemblance of him with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning.
As the surest means of guiding us to that happy world, let us make it our great care, by receiving the testimony of Christ, to set our seal to the truth of God, engaged in his cause.-With how much pleasure should we do it, and with what joy should we reflect that the Father so loveth the Son that he has not only given him the rich and unmeasureable communications of the Spirit, but has committed also into his hand the reins of government! Let his faithful servants remember it with joy, and cheerfully commit their concerns to him who is made head over all things for the benefit of his church. (Ephes. i. 22.)
And to conclude; let it engage us to see the sincerity of our faith in him and subjection to him; since it is not a light matter, but our life, even the very life of our souls. May God awaken those on whom his wrath now abideth to a sense of their danger; and may he strengthen in each of our souls that faith which is the pledge of a happy immortality!
JOHN IV. 1-26.
WHEN therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called
Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh 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 woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what:
we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee, am he.
Condescending and compassionate Redeemer! who would thus graciously converse with a Samaritan, with a woman of an infamous reputation too, from whom, on various accounts, a haughty Pharisee would have turned away in proud disdain! and could forget his thirst, pressing as that appetite is, that he might instruct and lead her to the waters of life!
Gracious gift of God to the children of men! how noble and how lasting a delight does it administer ! Let it be our language, Lord, evermore give us this living water! Oh, pour out this enlivening spirit on us, which alone can allay the thirst of our souls, and give us that lasting satisfaction which we in vain would seek from these broken cisterns, from these precarious streams; till at length the fountain springs up in Paradise, and flows on to life everlasting!
May this good spirit anticipate those immortal delights to our souls by leading us into that spirituality of worship which the nature of God demands, and which the gospel dispensation is so eminently calculated to promote! Let it be inscribed on our hearts that God is a Spirit; and let it teach us to worship him in spirit and in truth. Such worshippers the Father seeks; such may he ever find in us!
May all intemperate zeal for matters of doubtful disputation, all sentiments of bigotry and severity against our brethren, be happily swallowed up in this infinitely greater concern and while others contend about places and forms of worship, may we pour out our hearts before him, and feel the love of God and man shed abroad in them by his Spirit given unto us! (Rom. v. 5.)
AND upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her water-pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: Is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields: for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Let us behold with pleasure the glorious example of our
blessed Redeemer, and learn to imitate his zeal. It was his meat and drink to pursue his Father's work, to glorify God, and to do good to souls: and ought it not to be ours? Let us bless God for every opportunity of applying to it and every field of service, which Providence opens to us.
Let gospel ministers especially be thankful for all that hath been done to introduce their services, not only by the ministration of the prophets under the Old Testament, but the apostles also under the New, and by succeeding servants of Christ in every age of the church. In this sense, with regard to us, is that proverb true, One soweth and another reapeth. We have entered into the labours of others: may others in time enter into ours! May the work be delivered over from one faithful hand to another and be carried on by each with growing zeal and success! Blessed time, when all the workmen shall meet and join their songs; and each of the souls gathered into eternal life shall be, to all concerned in their conversion or edification, an ornament of glory and a source of pleasure!
Surely, if we know Christ ourselves, we shall, like this woman of Samaria, be solicitous to communicate the knowledge to others, and shall sometimes forget our little worldly interests to attend to this vast superior care. May we believe in him, not merely on the report and testimony of others, but on our own experience; that having tasted that the Lord is gracious, we may bear a more lively and effectual testimony to him!
Let us watchfully observe the leadings of Providence, and whatever our own schemes may have been, let us still adjust our conduct by the intimations of present duty; and especially where we have reason to believe that God is by his Spirit beginning to work on men's hearts, let us be ambitious of being workers together with him. A word spoken in such a season is remarkably good, and it is a great part of Christian and ministerial prudence to observe and improve those tender times.
JOHN IV. 43-54.
Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.—Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto