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"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.'
1. Let us OPEN THE WORDS of this passage; and then,
2. Make a FEW GENERAL REMARKS upon them. 1. We are to EXPLAIN this passage of Scripture.
“You are inquiring," as if our Lord should say, “how it is that I have overcome the prejudices of my countrymen, and am become willing to have some dealings with one that is a Samaritan; but this is, comparatively, an insignificant affair. There is a matter of infinite importance before you : and that is, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his onlybegotten Son-his principal and inestimable gift, the chief act of his mercy and grace-- he gave his onlybegotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Now, if thou hadst known this gift of God; if thou hadst known who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink;' if, instead of mistaking me for some poor Jew, weary with his travels, that might accidentally sit upon this well, and ask you for a little water, had you known that I am the only-begotten Son of God, that I am come into the world to redeem and ransom perishing sinners, that I have life and that I give it abundantly; if thou hadst known that I am the chief gift, the chief token of God's grace; thou wouldst have asked of me: thou wouldst have come a petitioner to me."
As if he had said, “Such as know Christ and their own need, will consider him as the one thing needful ; and that better part, which they not only choose, but which shall never be taken away from them. If they knew the gift of God, who at this time speaks, they would find that they were in the presence
in whom all the riches of God are treasured up,
and through whom alone they are communicated to man:
they would know, that I contain all that they can possibly want, that I am equal to all their necessities, and can supply all their wants out of my fulness : and they would know also, that whosoever they may be, though they have lived in contempt of the gift, though their sins are as scarlet or as crimson, they are encouraged to come as weary and heavy laden sinners to me, and they should have rest."
If thou knewest the gift of God, thou wouldest have asked of me.' Our Lord shows us, in this expression, why the generality of men make no application for the gift of God : for, as the Psalmist speaks in the ninth Psalm, They, that know thy name, will put their trust in thee; for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. The Lord also will be a refuge
. for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.' “ Now,"
our Lord seems to say, “if thou hadst known who is speaking ; instead of, like the generality of men, cavilling about some trifling matter of dispute, about some schism between you and your neighbours, you would have seen the necessity of making immediate application to one who could heal all your maladies. If blind or lame, you would not be put away without a cure: if bid to hold your peace you would cry so much
Thou Son of David, have mercy on me! Help me now ! ·Help me at this time ! Thou mayest never pass this way again. It is not enough that you · know: you must put that knowledge in practice. “Thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee Living Water.'»
Living Water is a Hebraism for a spring ; in contradistinction to water which is put into a cistern, and which may be drawn out: it is therefore called living water, as constantly rising and flowing. Such springs, with healing virtues, are found in this country. The spring at Bath, for instance, has been rising beyond the records of history-for hundreds and thousands of years; and still rises a living water of health.
Our Lord points out, by this figure, the gracious in
fluences of his Holy Spirit; as you may see in the seventh chapter of this Evangelist. 'In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. We cannot mistake his meaning ; for the Evangelist adds, “This spake he of the Spirit
, which they that believe on him should receive.'
It is, therefore, as if our Lord had said to this woman, “If thou hadst known who it is that asked, thou wouldst have known that he is the Chief Gift of God: and that all other gifts are contained in this one. Thou wouldst have known that he gives his Spirit to them that ask him; which may be compared to a spring of water, springing up into everlasting life: and his gifts and grace are more necessary and refreshing to the thirsty soul, than water can be to the thirsty body. Thou wouldst have come to him, and he would have given thee living water."
II. Let us make, upon the words thus opened, a few general REMARKS.
Herein are set before us, 1. God's GREATEST GIFT : 2. CHRIST'S BEST PROMISE : 3. THE WORLD'S WORST ERROR : 4. THE SINNER'S STRONGEST ENCOURAGEMENT.
1. Let us attend to God's GREATEST GIFT—THE gift—the great--the greatest gift of God :-If thou hadst known the gift.
There is an infinite variety in the gifts of God :in creation, for instance. It is well for us to remark and admire these : but, while we are discoursing on these gifts, we must remember that these are not THE gift. For, if a man limit his time and his thoughts to the consideration of the beauties of creation, and attend not to the gift, the chief gift of God, it is like presenting to a wretched criminal, on his way to execution, a nosegay or a garland of flowers—something to amuse him-and, at the same time, withholding that
knowledge which alone could save him. But, ‘God so loved the world :-he so “loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' And, as St. Paul speaks, Rom. viii, 32, 'He, that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not, with him also, freely give us all things ?
Christ, the great Prophet and Priest of his Church, was continually turning his hearers to this one object. He compares
it to a treasure hid in a field'-to .a pearl of great price'—to the bread that cometh down from heaven'-and, here, to 'living water,'having water before him, and asking for some to drink; and hearing the woman begin to turn the conversation to some insignificant matter--to her disputes with her neighbours; he comes at once to the point, takes up the subject before him, and turns it into a text :“ There is water; water indeed, -water of life: and
whosoever drinketh of it shall never thirst-he shall not faint nor perish for ever: it shall cure him from thirsting for trifles : he shall have evidence that this is sufficient for him in time and in eternity."
It is worthy our observation, how our Lord purposely avoids controversy about circumstantials in religion. The Samaritan or Jewish prejudice hinted at by the woman, he does not so much as notice : not a word on the subject. “Some differences,” it has been well said, “are best healed by being slighted :"> it is giving them too much weight, and paying them too much respect, to waste our time or thoughts upon them.
But, while some differences are best healed by being slighted, still, in order to show a perishing creature the only hope that God sets before him, we must imitate our Lord in bringing forth to light the ignorance of men concerning this point, and the indispensable VOL. II.
necessity that there is for their knowing it, or perishing in eternity.
I would ask every man before me, Have you seen and felt this great act of God's grace and mercy, in sending his Son Christ Jesus to save perishing creatures, who are daily dropping into eternity, and it may be into hell? Do you see what an amazing discovery of mercy it is, that you are called to take hold of eternal life; and that you may thus advance into eternity, with a sure and certain hope of escaping all the miseries that sin has brought into the world? Christianity has its peculiarities, and it is not to be trifled with. There is one grand important thing set before us in it, which was pointed at by Prophets, preached by Christ, and testified by Apostles-that God has given but
name under heaven by which man may be saved.
2. Let us consider CHRIST'S Living Water.
Not as the world giveth,' he says, 'give I unto you." As if he had said, “Were I to place before you the perishing baubles of time, it would be at best but treating you as children, and mocking your expectation with things which perish in the using: but I will give a promise of a Comforter that shall abide with you, even the Spirit of Truth: he shall guide you into all truth. My best promise is this: the great promise which I make unto the Church is this : that if they come and ask of me, I will give them living
This is the same voice, which spake in the first chapter of Proverbs, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity ? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge ?"
How long will man act so like a fool and a madman, paying no regard to his state and condition? Hearken to me: Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit upon you :' I will give you ‘living water.?"