The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" Let the one who hears say, "Come!" And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely.
I. THE GIFT OFFERED. "The water of life." It is the constant symbol of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. That grace which:
1. As water, cleanses. It is a river of water of life; no mere circumscribed shallow pool or tiny rill, but a river, full, flowing, in which a man may "wash and be clean." Now, the putting away of our sin, our spiritual defilement, is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. "We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins."
2. As water, revives and strengthens. In hot Eastern lands, where water was so much more precious than with us, because they had so little whilst we have so much, this emblem of water had more force of meaning than it has to us. The wearied traveller, faint and ready to perish, "drank of the brook by the way," and "lifted up his head" (cf. Hagar and Ishmael). And the meaning, therefore, of this word is that Christ's grace, as water revives, strengthens the soul.
3. And, as a river of living water, abides. A pool, a shallow stream, dries up, but a river goes on forever. The permanence, therefore, of the grace of Christ is thus set forth.
4. And this gift is the very one man needs. A gift may be ever so valuable, but if I do not want it I do not feel the love which offers it. But if I do need it, if it be the very gift of all others which I need, then he who comes to me with just that does show his good will. And thus is it with this gift. It is no mere temporary and temporal gift, but one eternal and spiritual, suited to me as an immortal being destined to dwell in the presence of God. Seeing what a shred of my entire existence is my life here, would it have been a token of real love for me if, instead of that which is given, I had been granted all manner of mere earthly good? But "God commendeth his love towards us," not only in the gift he offers, but in -
II. THE MANNER OF THE OFFERING. For:
1. The invitation is repeatedly given. The Spirit, the bride, and every one who hears, is to say, "Come." An immense significance lies in the manner of an invitation. One can learn much as to the sincerity of him who gives it by noting how he gives it. It, then, he repeat it; again and again, as this invitation is repeated, I cannot doubt as to the real desire that it should be accepted. And this is seen:
2. In the messengers who are entrusted to give this invitation. They are so well qualified to give it effectually.
(1) The Spirit. He is in full sympathy with the Giver of it. He is the Holy Spirit of God. A messenger may nullify the effect of a message if he have no sympathy with him who sends it; but if he have such sympathy, is, as the giver, deeply desirous that it should be accepted, then with what force will he urge it! And so it is here. Does he not urge it on us, plead with us to accept it? We know he does. And he has skill and tact to urge it wisely and effectually. Ah! what clumsy messengers we often are who have to give this message! What mistakes we make! How faultily and imperfectly we do our work! But he, the blessed Spirit of God, makes no such mistake. He knows when, where, and how to best urge on us this message of God's great love. And he has, too, knowledge of our character and circumstances. He will not address one character in a way suited only to another, as we often do. lie will not come at a most unfit time, but will choose the best time. And he has constant access to us. When the doors of the church are closed, the Sunday over, and the sacred services have come to an end; when the preacher and those to whom he speaks have separated - he shut off from them and they from him; then the Spirit of God can come to us, does come oftentimes, in the silence of the night, in the intervals of business, in lonely, quiet hours when none but he can come. Thus qualified is one of these messengers who are sent. Does not the sending of such a messenger prove the sincerity of him who sends the message? Then:
(2) The bride. She also is to say, "Come." And who is the bride, but the company of Christ's redeemed, they who know by actual experience the preciousness and the power of this "water of life "? He who hath taken of this water knows its life giving power. They can tell what Christ has done for them. It was the healed ones who, when our Lord was here on earth, sent multitudes more to him. And they are bidden do the like now. They are to say to the yet unhealed, "Come." And they are prompted to do this by mighty motives - gratitude, compassion, desire for Christ's approval, which depends upon their fidelity to this commission.
(3) And him that heareth is to repeat the message. If this direction had but been obeyed, heathendom would not now be so vast as it is, nor will it long continue so if we now will but obey this word. What more could he, whose message it is, have done to secure its promulgation and its acceptance?
3. The form of the message. It is "Come," not "Go" It means that they who deliver it are first to go themselves, and then bid others come likewise. Many are perpetually saying to others, "Go;" but if they do not come themselves, those others are not likely to heed their word. The Scotch mother, in the well known engraving, wanting her child to cross the brawling stream, goes first herself, and shows her where to put her trembling feet, now on this stone and now on that and that, and so the timid little one, seeing her mother go first, comes after her. Parents, so must it be with you and your children if you want them to be brought to Christ. You must go first, and say, "Come," and then they will follow.
III. THE WAY IN WHICH HINDRANCES TO ITS BEING ACCEPTED ARE MET AND PROVIDED AGAINST. Such hindrances are:
1. Doubts as to who are invited. But such doubts are met by "Whosoever will." None can shut themselves out of that "whosoever." But it is added, "and let him that is athirst." Such are very often the last to believe that the water of life is for them. Their very need and longing make them think such an offer as this is "too good to be true." And by this special reference to them this doubt is tact; cf. the angel's word on Easter Day, "Go tell his disciples and Peter," He was the one who most of all needed and longed to know that he had not lost utterly his Lord's love; and the Lord knew that, and so sent a special message to him. And so it is here; the "athirst" are specially called.
2. Requirement of qualifications. Were such demanded, many could not come, but everybody can take a gift. Hence it is said, let him take "freely."
3. Doubt as to motives. How many distress themselves by scrutinizing the motives which lead them to desire the Lord's grace! "Have I repented enough, prayed enough, felt the evil of sin enough," etc.? But no question will be asked as to motives. It is "whosoever will." No matter how you came to will, to desire, the water of life, whether it were hope or fear, or you know not what, all that is needed is that you should desire it, and there it is for you.
1. Does not God by all this commend his love to us?
2. Shall we not come at once?
3. If we never come, whose fault will it be? - S. C.
The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come.
I. THE INVOCATION, OR THE COMING OF CHRIST TO THE WORLD. Christ has come, Christ will come. These are the two great facts from which, as from two golden hooks, the whole chain of human history hangs in a mighty curve. Memory should feed upon the one, hope should leap up to grasp the other. Christ "comes," though He is always present in human history, comes to our apprehensions in eras of rapid change, in revolutionary times when some ancient iniquity is smitten down, and some new fair form emerges from the chaos. The electricity is long in gathering during the fervid summer heat, in the slow-moving and changing clouds, but when it is gathered there comes the flash. The snow is long in collecting on the precipitous face of the Alp, but when the weight has become sufficient down it rushes, the white death of the avalanche. For fifty-nine (silent) minutes and fifty-nine (silent) seconds the hand moves round the dial, and at the sixtieth it strikes. So, at long intervals in the history of nations, a crash comes, and men say: "Behold the Lord! He cometh to judge the world." Surely, surely it needs no words to enforce the thought that all who love Him, and all who love truth and righteousness, which are His, and all who desire that the world's sorrows should be alleviated and the world's evils should be chastised and smitten, must lift up the old, old cry: "Even so! Come! Lord Jesus."
II. THE INVITATION, OR THE COMING OF MEN TO CHRIST. What is it to come? Listen to His own explanation: "He that cometh unto Me shall never hunger," etc. Then "coming," and "taking," and "drinking," are all but various forms of representing the one act of believing in Him. We come to Him when we trust Him. To come to Christ is faith. Who is it that are asked to come? "He that thirsteth" and "he that willeth." The one phrase expresses the universal condition, the other only the limitation necessary in the very nature of things. "He that thirsteth." Who does not? Your heart is parched for love; your mind, whether you know it or not, is restless and athirst for truth that you can cleave to in all circumstances. Your will longs for a loving authority that shall subdue and tame it. Your conscience is calling out for cleansing, for pacifying, for purity. Your whole being is one great want and emptiness. "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God," it is only He that can slake the thirst, that can satisfy the hunger. "Whosoever will." A wish is enough, but a wish is indispensable. How strange, and yet how common it is, that the thirsty man is not the willing man. Further, what is offered? "The water of life." What is that? Not a thing, but a person — Christ Himself; even as He said: "If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink." And what are the conditions?" "Let Him take the water of life for nothing;" as the word might have been ten. dered, "For nothing." He says to us, "I will not sell it to you, I will give it to you." And too many of us say to Him, "We had rather buy it, or at any rate pay something towards it." No effort, no righteousness, no sacrifice, no anything is wanted. "Without money and without price." You have only got to give up yourselves.
III. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THESE TWO COMINGS. There is a twofold connection that I would point out to you. Christ does not yet come in order that men may come to Him. He delays His drawing near, in His longsuffering mercy, in order that over all the earth the glad news may flash, and to every spirit the invitation may come. Christ tarries that you may hear, and repent, and come to Him. That is the first phase of the connection between these two things. The other is — because Christ will come to the world, therefore let us come to Him now. Joyful as the spring after the winter, and as the sunshine after the darkness, as that coming of His ought to be to all; and though it be the object or desire to all hearts that love Him and the healing for the miseries and sorrows of the world, do not forget it has a very solemn and a very terrible side. He comes, when He does come, to judge. He comes, not as of old, in lowliness, to heal and to succour and to save, but He comes to heal and to succour and to save all them that love His appearing, and them only, and He comes to judge all men whether they love His appearing or no.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)I. Our text begins with THE HEAVENWARD CRY OF PRAYER. Surely the sense requires us to regard this cry of "come" as addressed to our Lord Jesus, who in a previous verse had been saying, "Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me."
1. The matter of this cry — it is the coming of Christ. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." This is and always has been the universal cry of the Church of Jesus Christ.
2. Next observe the persons crying. The Spirit is first mentioned — "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." And why does the Holy Ghost desire the coming of the Lord Jesus? At present the Spirit is, so to speak, the vicegerent of this dispensation upon earth. How much He is provoked all the world over it is not possible for us to know! The ungodly vex Him, they reject His testimony, and resist His operations. And, alas, the saints grieve Him too; and so He desireth the end of this evil estate, and saith to our Lord Jesus, "Come." Beside, the Spirit's great desire is to glorify Christ. Now, as the coming of Christ will be the full manifestation of the Redeemer's glory, the Spirit therefore desireth that He may come and take to Himself His great power, and reign. Our text next tells us that, "the bride saith, Come." Now, a bride is one whose marriage is near, either as having just happened or as close at hand. So is the Church very nearly arrived at the grand hour, when it shall be said "the marriage of the Lamb is come and His bride hath made herself ready"; and because of that she is full of joy at the prospect of hearing the cry, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh." Who marvelleth that it is so? The next clause of the text indicates that each separate believer should breathe the same desire, "Let him that heareth say, Come." This will be the index of your belonging to the bride, the token of your sharing in the one Spirit, if you unite with the Spirit and the bride in saying, "Come." For no ungodly man truly desireth Christ's coming; but on the contrary he desireth to get away from Him, and forget His very existence. To delight in drawing near unto the Lord Jesus Christ; to long to see Him manifested in fulness of glory is the ensign of a true soldier of the Cross. Do you feel this?
3. Now a word upon the tense in which the cry is put. It is in the present tease. The Spirit and the bride are anxious that Christ should come at once, and he that knoweth Christ and loveth Him desireth also that He should not tarry. Is it not time as far as our poor judgments go that Jesus should come?
II. THE EARTHWARD CRY OF INVITATION TO MEN. I cannot quite tell you how it is that the sense in my text glides away from the coming of Christ to the earth into the coming of. sinners to Christ, but it does. Like colours which blend, or strains of music which melt into each other, so the first sense slides into the second. This almost insensible transition seems to me to have been occasioned by the memory of the fact that the coming of Christ is not desirable to all mankind. He lets the prayer flow towards Himself, but yet directs its flow towards poor sinners also. He Himself seems to say, "Ye bid Me come, but I, as the Saviour of men, look at your brothers and your sisters who are yet in the far country, the other sheep which are not yet of the fold, whom also I must bring in, and in answer to your cry to Me to come I speak to those wandering ones, and say, 'Let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.'" Is not that the way in which the sense glides from its first direction? Now,- from whom does this cry arise?
1. It first comes from Jesus. It is He who says, "Let Him that is athirst come."
2. But next, it is the call of the Spirit of God. The Spirit says, "Come." This Book which He has written, on every page says to men, "Come! Come to Jesus." And those secret motions of power upon the conscience, those times when the heart grows calm even amid dissipation, and thought is forced upon the mind, those are the movements of the Spirit of God by which He is showing man His danger and revealing to him his refuge, and so is saying, "Come."
3. And this is the speech of the Church too in conjunction with the Spirit, for the Spirit speaks with the bride and the bride speaks by the Spirit. The Church is always saying "Come."
4. The next giver of the invitation is spoken of as "him that heareth." If you have had an ear to hear, and have heard the gospel to your own salvation, the very next thing you have to do is to say to those around you, "Come." Give your Master's invitation, distribute the testimony of His loving will, and bid poor sinners come to Jesus.
III. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THESE TWO COMINGS.
1. There is this relation, first, they are both suggested in this passage by the closing of the scriptural canon. It is because the Book was about to receive its finis that the Spirit and the bride unitedly cried to the sinners to come at once. No fresh gospel is to be expected, therefore let them come at once
2. I think I perceive another connection, namely, that those people who in very truth love Christ enough to cry to Him continually to come are sure to love sinners also, and to say to them also, "Come."
3. There is this connection also, that before Christ comes a certain number of His elect must be ingathered. Oh, then, it is ours to labour that the wanderers may come home, for so we are, as far as lieth in us, hastening the time when our Beloved Himself shall come.
4. Once more, there is a sort of coming of Christ which, though it be not the first meaning here, may be included in it, for it touches the centre of the sinner's coming to Christ. Because when we cry, "Come, Lord Jesus," if He shall answer us by giving us of His Spirit more fully, so that He comes to us spiritually, then penitent souls will assuredly be brought to His feet.
IV. Well, then, lastly, WHAT ARE THE RESPONSES? We sent up a cry to heaven, and said, "Come." The response is, "Behold, I come quickly." That is eminently satisfactory. Christ will descend to earth as surely as He ascended to heaven, and when He cometh there will be victory to the right and to the true, and His saints shall reign with Him. And now concerning this other cry of "Come." We ask sinners to come. We have asked them in a fourfold voice: Jesus, the Spirit, the bride, and him that heareth, they have all said, "Come." Will they come?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. First, then, let us consider, THE TWOFOLD MINISTRY.
1. There is in the text a cry for the coming of the Lord. Let every one that hears the prophecy of our Lord's assured coming join in the prayer, "Thy kingdom come."
2. But there is a second ministry of the Church, which is the cry for the coming of sinners to Christ. In this respect "the Spirit and the Bride say, Come." The world should ring with "Come to Jesus!"
3. This, then, is the double ministry, and I want you to notice that the first call is not opposed to the second. The fact that Christ is coming ought never to make us any the less diligent in pressing sinners to come to Christ.
4. Again, take heed that the second call never obscures the first. Be taken up with evangelical work; let it fill your heart; but, at the same time, watch for that sudden appearing which, to many, will be as unwelcome as a thief in the night.
5. Let the two "comes" leap at the same moment from your heart, for they are linked together. Christ will not come until He hath gathered unto Himself an elect company; therefore, when you and I go forth and say to sinners, "Come," and God blesses us to the bringing of them in, we are doing the best we can to hasten the advent of the Son of man.
II. THIS TWOFOLD MINISTRY IS SECURED. According to our text, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." They always do say it, and always will say it till Jesus comes.
1. The Spirit says it. What a cry must this be which comes up from the Spirit of God Himself! Given at Pentecost, He has never returned or left the Church, but He dwells in chosen hearts, as in a temple, even to this day. He is always moving men to pray that Christ may come, and moving men to come to Christ.
2. This also is certainly fulfilled by the Church wherever she is a true Church.
III. THE WAY IN WHICH THIS TWOFOLD MINISTRY IS INCREASED. "Let him that heareth say, Come." The hearing man is to say, "Come," but the unconverted man is not bidden so to do. No, he cannot say "Come" till he has first come for himself. You that are not saved cannot invite others. How can you? Yet all of you who have really heard the gospel with opened ear, and received the truth of God by faith into your souls, are called upon to cry, "Come."
1. See how this perpetuates the cry. As in the old Greek games the athletes ran with torches, and one handed the light to another, and thus it passed along the line, so is it with us. Each man runneth his race, but he passeth the torch on to another that the light may never go out from generation to generation. Let the fathers teach the children, and the children their children, and so while the sun and the moon endure let the voice that crieth, "Come" to Christ, go up to heaven, and let the voice that crieth, "Come" to sinners, be heard in the chief places of concourse.
2. This precept secures the swelling of the volume of the cry; for if every man that hears the gospel is to cry, "Come," then there will be more voices, and yet more.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS INVITATION? And what is comprehended in coming to Him? Simply obeying His word! Even now the chief of sinners is invited to return to God, with the promise of free forgiveness, and the prospect of everlasting felicity held out to him.
II. Such is the invitation before us. Is it, in what it requires us to do, aught else than WHAT OUR OWN CONSCIENCES HAVE OFTEN AND AGAIN URGED US TO DO? Has the still small voice within us never told us that while we are at a distance from God, we never can be happy? But we have also to remember that the calls to return to God, which have been addressed to us through the instrumentality of conscience, were in reality the dictates of that Spirit of all grace and goodness, who is represented in the text as inviting us to a Saviour. Though we cannot explain His operations, nor distinguish them usually from what we call those of our own minds, yet we know that the Spirit of God suggests and excites to all good, that it is He who restrains us from utter reprobation. But we have also to observe, that the invitations of the Spirit are addressed to us in the written word of God; and oh, how frequently are the entreaties, the warnings, and the calls of that word read, without the slightest remembrance that it actually is the Word of God to the reader! Surely it is not a question to be dismissed without concern, whether your Maker has called on you to return to His service and favour, and you are exposed to the fearful penalty of shutting your ears to His call, and despising His reproof. The Bride saith, "Come!" The Church of Christ is meant by this expression. That Church consists not only of those Christians who are now on earth, but of those also who have gone before us, on the path Which leads to God, and now live in His presence in heaven. We are not only, through the mercy of the Almighty, called on to consider the things which belong to our peace, through the instrumentality of Christian institutions around us, but we should also remember that they too call upon us, who now enjoy the reward of their toils and have entered on their rest, to follow in their footsteps and emulate their example. The affections of nature add their entreaty to the command of Divine authority; and every holy example of departed saints, in the record of your own memory, or in that of Scripture, as well as all the invitations addressed to you through the instituted means of grace, form but, as it were, the united voice of the Church in heaven and the Church on earth — "Come!" Come to participate in the privileges of those who were the truly honourable of the earth, and to an eternal reunion with the great and good, in unmingled happiness and perfection. One observation on the words, "Let him that heareth say, Come" — him who has already heard and obeyed the call. We are bound, as far as in us lies, to make known the gospel of our hopes to others, and endeavour to induce them to believe and obey; and, may we not add, that this should be felt by Christians as the impulse of affection, not merely as the obligation of duty. "Let him that heareth say, Come." Opportunities, both public and private, are abundant, for this joint exercise of Christian love and Christian obedience. And are there not abundant motives to it? It is to be a fellow-worker with Christ. It is to be an honoured means in God's hand of accomplishing greater good than lies within the attainment of earthly power or wisdom.
III. WHO ARE THEY TO WHOM THE INVITATION IS SO ESPECIALLY ADDRESSED, under the descriptions, "Him that is athirst," and "Whosoever will"? The metaphor employed in our text directs us intelligibly in pointing out the first of the classes referred to. Let him that is athirst take of the water of life freely. That is, him who thirsts for that water! Come to Christ, and take of the water of life freely; intrust yourself unreservedly into His hands, and to His disposal, as your Teacher, your Master, and your Saviour; and while you do this you will experience that the more your knowledge of Him increases, the more your peace and your hope will increase also. It is, in truth, the inquirer's unwillingness to submit himself to Christ in all his offices, which usually stands in the way of his own peace. We believe there are exceptions, but not so numerous as to disprove the general assertion. A sense of sin leads us to distrust the Redeemer, or a love of some sin renders us indisposed to renounce it. To meet these obstacles the gospel is, on the one hand, abundant in its assurances that none ever did or shall trust in God in vain; and, on the other, most peremptory in its demands that all sin shall be renounced in coming unto Christ. "And whosoever will!" Whosoever is sincerely desirous to partake in the benefits of salvation, whether his feelings are characterized or not by the excitement of those just referred to, let him too come! The description is just made more general in these words for the purpose of displaying more forcibly and persuasively the Divine goodwill towards all; nor can we conceive a limitation to the comprehensiveness of this description, which would authorise us in refusing to any the hopes and invitations of the gospel.
Homilist.I. IN THE PROVISION HE HAS MADE FOR IT.
1. The provision is exquisitely suitable.
2. The provision is absolutely free.
II. IN THE PRESSING INVITATION TO THE PROVISION.
1. The Divine Spirit says "Come."
2. The Christian Church says "Come."
3. The mere hearer, is commanded to say "Come."
(Homilist.)I. THE CRY FOR CHRIST'S ADVENT. It is this advent that is the great theme of the Apocalypse, and the central objects of its scenes. It opens with, "Behold, He cometh"; it goes on with, "Behold, I come as a thief"; and it ends with, "Behold, I come quickly." All the predictions throughout the book bear upon this event, and carry forward the Church's hopes to this great goal. But there are three parties here represented as uttering this prayer.
1. The Spirit. He cries, "Come." What so interests the Spirit in the advent?(1) Christ will then be fully glorified, and it is the Spirit's office to glorify Christ.(2) Then the whole earth will be converted, and the Spirit will get full scope to all His longings and yearnings over men.
2. The Bride — the Lamb's wife, the whole Church as a body, as a virgin betrothed, looking for the marriage day.
3. He that heareth. "Blessed is he that heareth." Not as if the hearer was not part of the Bride; but the word thus singles out each one on whose ears the message is falling. The moment you hear it, you should cry, "Come, Come, Lord Jesus!" For then our sins and sorrows are ended; then our victory is won; then this vile body is changed; then we meet and unite forever with the loved and lost; then shall the ransomed of the Lord return, and come to Zion with songs.
II. THE INVITATION TO THE SINNER.
1. The inviter — Christ Himself; the same who said, "Come unto Me." He invited once on earth: He now invites from heaven with the same urgency and love.
2. The persons invited. Do you want to be happy? Joy is here for you, whoever and whatever you are.
3. The blessings invited to — the water of life. "Water," that which will thoroughly refresh you and quench your thirst; "water of life," living and life-giving; a quickening well; a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. Not a shower, nor a stream, but a well — a fountain (Revelation 21:6).
4. The price — Freely! Free to each one as He is; though the chief of sinners, the emptiest, wickedest, thirstiest of the sons of men.
5. The time — the invitation comes forth at the close of that book which sums up all revelation. It contains Christ's last words, meant specially for the last days of a weary, thirsty world; when men, having tried every pleasure, vanity, lust, folly, and found nothing, having exhausted every cup and broken every cistern, will be found more thoroughly weary and thirsty than before.
(H. Bonar, D. D.)I. THAT WHEN THE CHURCH CRIES MOST EARNESTLY FOR THE MASTER, SHE WILL STRIVE MOST EARNESTLY FOR THE WORLD. Her prayer to Christ, and her invitation to the perishing, will go forth from the self-same lips, and at the self-same time. Her advent song will have a good gospel refrain. There are times when it can hardly be said that the Church does long for the nearer and fuller manifestation of her Lord — when she has settled down into a state of apathy and indifference. And it is just at these times that she grows lax in her evangelistic work, and becomes careless about the world which lieth in wickedness. On the other hand, there are times when the Church is stirred to her deepest, inmost heart for a fuller and nearer manifestation of her Master's presence. And it is just at these times that she pleads most earnestly and powerfully with sinners, and that her invitations to the world go forth most freely. Calling earnestly for the Lord, she calls most beseechingly to the world. She finds the banquet so rich and full that she cannot but invite the perishing to partake of it.
II. IF THE CHURCH WOULD HEAR THE LORD'S VOICE AND ENJOY THE LORD'S PRESENCE, SHE MUST MAKE HIS VOICE HEARD BY THE UNCONVERTED. "Let him that heareth say, Come." That is — let him that hearkeneth, that hath his ears open for the Master's voice, and wishes to enjoy the Master's presence, let him make known the Master's promises and the Master's invitations to the unbelieving world. Or to put it in one brief, simple sentence. The highest Christian life can only be enjoyed by those who are wrestling with the world, and calling the unbelieving to the Saviour's feet. The higher Christian life is not possible to those who coddle and nurse their own souls, and spend all their strength in hunting for spiritual joy and securing their own salvation. Just in proportion to our anxiety about the salvation of others will complete salvation be attained by ourselves. Christ will speak most graciously to our souls when our mouths are open to declare His word. You have heard of the old mystics, the Christian mystics of the middle ages. They were men who thought that Christ would appear to them in some material form — or at least some visible form — if they watched and waited for Him long and patiently enough. And they shut themselves in their lonely cells, far away from the world, its cares, and sorrows. But the vision came not. The weird creations of their own mad dreams came to mock their endeavours — nothing more. No face of Christ appeared; there was no realisation of the Divine presence. These men were seeking to save their own souls, and only that, and Christ would not answer them. There is something akin to this old mysticism in the present day. Men who have no desire for evangelisation work, no concern for the sinning, dying world, are expecting to receive of Christ all the power and joy of faith. They are sitting down with open ear but closed lips at the Master's feet; they would gain all for themselves and nothing for the world; and Christ withholds the vision now as He did in days of old. You shall not have the fulness of power, He says, unless you will use it in the work of conversion. I will not show you the glory of My face unless you will make known that glory to others. "Let him that heareth say, Come."
III. THOSE WHO LONG FOR THE MASTER'S PRESENCE HAVE MOST FAITH IN THE MASTER'S POWER. It is this longing and expectant bride who is praying for the second advent — panting, groaning for her Lord's presence. It is this bride who utters the closing invitations of our text. It is because she has felt His power — felt it throbbing through all her being — that she longs for more of it. It is because she has tasted the water of life, and knows its sweetness, and its gladness, and its healing virtues, that she prays for a fuller draught. Ah, she has great faith in her Master and in the provisions of His love. The first and last and always present sign of an apathetic and listless Church is a loss of faith in the power of the gospel. The Church which has enjoyed little of Christ is still generally audacious and unbelieving enough to think that it has enjoyed all. It thinks it has received all, or nearly all, that He can give, and proved the sum total of His power. But to a Church which rejoices in Christ, which has drunk largely of His Spirit, and is crying day and night for more of it, the gospel is all the power and sweetness of God to every one that it touches.
(J. G. Greenhough, M. A.)I. WHAT IS IMPLIED THE THIRSTING HERE SPOKEN OF.
1. Do any make the things of this world the chief object of their thirst? Our Lord tells them how they should regulate their desires, and which way they ought to turn them (Psalm 4:6).
2. If any thirst after righteousness — either the righteousness of justification or sanctification — they must apply to Jesus Christ in order to obtain the necessary mercies (1 Corinthians 1:30).
3. If any thirst after Jesus Christ and His grace; such are called in the text. This thirst is a fruit of spiritual life: for how can a soul thirst after Jesus unless the soul knows Him, and, in some measure, the need it stands in of an interest in Him; and His suitableness to the wants of the soul?
4. If any thirst after happiness — though this thirsting may be found where there is nothing but common convictions, no desire after holiness, but only a desire to be saved from misery, not from sin — yet Jesus calls such to come to Him for that happiness which they desire. Would you be happy hereafter? Then you must begin with Christ now; He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.(1) Spiritual thirst proceeds from a sense of the soul's wants: either grace and holiness, or the increase of these mercies.(2) Souls spiritually athirst are pained and uneasy in their minds till they obtain the very mercy desired.(3) Spiritual thirst centres in Christ; souls spiritually athirst have their chief inquiries and desires after Him and His benefits as the Water of Life; and Himself as the Fountain of all grace and blessedness.(4) Spiritual thirst after Jesus Christ, His grace, righteousness, and holiness is laborious; it is willing to be at any pains, in God's way, to gain satisfaction, or have its desires answered.
II. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST INVITES EVERY THIRSTY SOUL TO COME TO HIM.
1. What this coming is. It is believing in Jesus Christ (John 6:35). Not an act of the body, but of the soul. The consent of the will. Receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation. We first come to Christ by faith, and then to God by Him.
2. To whom convinced sinners should come for relief. To Jesus Christ. He is very God; and, as Mediator between God and man, He has an all-fulness in Him.
3. Who are the persons that Jesus calls to come to Him.
III. HOW ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND THE EXPRESSION "WHOSOEVER WILL."
IV. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WILL ABUNDANTLY SATISFY EVERY THIRSTY SOUL THAT COMES TO HIM. This is evident —
1. By the frequent repetition of His calls and invitations to sinners to return and come to Him for His benefits.
2. From the many instances of those that came to Jesus Christ, in the days of His ministry upon earth, for some bodily favour, either for themselves or friends or relations.
3. By the experience of every true believer.
V. WHAT DO NEEDY SOULS FIND IN JESUS CHRIST UPON THEIR COMING TO HIM?
1. He that has natural thirst is willing to be at any reasonable cost for something to satisfy his thirst: for he knows that if he has not timely relief he is in danger of his life. So the soul that thirsts after Jesus Christ and His grace is willing to part with all for Him; for he knows that Christ has enough in Him to satisfy all his spiritual desires.
3. If the soul is truly athirst after Jesus Christ and His grace, nothing short of Christ will satisfy it.
4. A thirsty man will be glad of, and thankful for, seasonable relief.
6. A thirsty man will be willing to take any pains to obtain his desires. Such will come to the fountain, and sit at the pool, and wait at the posts of wisdom's gates; they will honour the ordinances of Jesus Christ by a careful attendance on them, or rather on God in them, in order to obtain the mercies that their souls want. To such as have experienced this thirsting after Jesus Christ and His benefits, and have been made willing to come to Him, and look for salvation from Him upon His own terms. Be very thankful to God for what He has discovered to you, and wrought in and for you. Give thanks to God for the fulness of Jesus Christ as Mediator, prepared for the supply of needy souls; and then for His showing you, by the gospel, the fulness of grace that is in Christ. Give thanks to God for drawing you. Take care to exert and lay out for the honour and glory of God and for the exaltation of Jesus Christ, for the service of His kingdom and the good of souls whatsoever you have received from Him. Oh let Him have the honour of His grace.
I. THERE IS A "WATER OF LIFE." Man is utterly ruined and undone. He is lost in a wild waste wilderness. The skin bottle of his righteousness is all dried up, and there is not so much as a drop of water in it. Must he perish? He looks aloft, beneath, around, and he discovers no means of escape. Must thirst devour him? No; for the text declares there is a fountain of life. Ordained in old eternity by God in solemn covenant, this fountain, this Divine well, takes its spring from the deep foundations of God's decrees. This sacred fountain, established according to God's good will and pleasure in the covenant, opened by Christ when He died upon the Cross, floweth this day to give life and health and joy and peace to poor sinners dead in sin and ruined by the fall. There is a "water of life." By this water of life is intended God's free grace, God's love for men, so that if you come and drink, you shall find this to be life indeed to your soul, for in drinking of God's grace you inherit God's love, you are reconciled to God, God stands in a fatherly relation to you, He loves you, and His great infinite heart yearns towards you. Again, it is living water not simply because it is love, and that is life, but it saves from impending death. Come hither then, ye sin-doomed; this water can wash away your sins, and when your sins are washed away, then shall ye live; for the innocent must not be punished. Here is water that can make you whiter than driven snow. "But," saith the poor convicted soul, "this is not all I want, for if all the sins I have ever committed were blotted out, in one ten minutes I should commit many more. If I were now completely pardoned, it would not be many seconds before I should destroy my soul and sink helplessly again." Ay! but see here, this is living water, it can quench thy thirst of sin; entering into thy soul it shall overcome and cover with its floods thy propensities to evil. This is life indeed, for here is favour, here is pardon, here is sanctity, the renewing of the soul by the washing of water through the Word. "But," saith one, "I have a longing within me which I cannot satisfy. I feel sure that if I be pardoned yet there is something which I want — which nothing I have ever heard of, or have ever seen or handled, can satisfy. I have within me an aching void which the world can never fill." But hearken! thou that art wretched and miserable, here is living water that can quench thy thirst. Come hither and drink, and thou shalt be satisfied; for he that is a believer in Christ finds enough for him in Christ now, and enough for ever. You shall never thirst again, except it be that you shall long for deeper draughts of this living fountain. And, moreover, he who drinketh of this living water shall never die. His body shall see corruption for a little while, but his soul, mounting aloft, shall dwell with Jesus. Yea! and his very body, when it has passed through the purifying process, shall rise again more glorious than when it was sown in weakness. It shall rise in glory, in honour, in power, in majesty, and united with the soul, it shall everlastingly inherit the joys which Christ has prepared for them that love Him.
II. THE INVITATION IS VERY WIDE — "WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY.'' The one question I have to ask is, art thou willing? if so, Christ bids thee take the water of life. Art thou willing? if so, be pardoned, be sanctified, be made whole. For if thou art willing Christ is willing too, and thou art freely invited to come and welcome to the fountain of life and grace. Now mark, the question has to do with the will. "Oh," says one, "I am so foolish I cannot understand the plan of salvation, therefore I may not come and drink." But my question has nothing to do with your understanding, it has to do with your will. You may be as big a fool as you will, but if you are willing to come to Christ you are freely invited. "Oh," says one, "I can understand the plan of salvation, but I cannot repent as I would. Sir, my heart is so hard I cannot bring the tear to my eye. I cannot feel my sins as I would desire." Ay, but this text has nothing to do with your heart; it is with your will. Are you willing? Then be your heart hard as the nether millstone, if thou art willing to be saved I am bidden to invite thee. "Whosoever will," not "whosoever feels," but "whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." "Yes," says one, "I can honestly say I am willing, but my heart will not soften. I wish that grace would change me. I can say I wish that Christ would soften my heart. I am willing." Well, then, the text is for thee, "Whosoever will, let him come." If thou art willing thou art freely invited to Christ. "No," saith one, "but I am such a great sinner. I have been a drunkard; I have been a lascivious man; I have gone far astray from the paths of rectitude. I would not have all my sins known to my fellow creatures. How can God accept of such a wretch as I am, such a foul creature as I have been?" Mark thee, man! There is no reference made here to thy past life. It simply says, "whosoever will." Art thou willing? "Ah!" saith one, "God knows I am willing, but still I do not think I am worthy." No, I know you are not, but what is that to do with it? It is not, "whosoever is worthy," but "whosoever will, let him come." "Well," says one, "I believe that whosoever will may come, but not me, for I am the vilest sinner out of hell." But hark thee, sinner, it says, "whosoever." What a big word that is! Whosoever! There is no standard-height here. It is of any height and any size.
III. HOW CLEAR THE PATH IS, "WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." That word "let" is a very curious word, because it signifies two opposite things. "Let" is an old-fashioned word which sometimes signifies "hinder." "He that letteth shall be taken away" — that is, "He that hindereth." But here, in our text, it means the removing of all hindrance. "Let him come" — methinks I hear Jehovah speaking this. Here is the fountain of love and mercy. But you are too unworthy, you are too vile. Hear Jehovah! He cries, "Let him come, he is willing. Stand back! doubts and fears; away with you, let him come; make a straight road; let him come if he be but willing." Then the devil himself comes forward, and striding across the way, he says to the poor trembling soul, "I will spill thy blood; thou shalt never have mercy. I defy thee; thou shalt never believe in Christ, and never be saved." But Christ says, "Let him come"; and Satan, strong though he be, quails beneath Jehovah's voice, and Jesus drives him away, and the path stands clear, nor can sin, nor death, nor hell, block up the way when Jehovah Jesus says, "Let him come." Standing one day in the court-house, some witness was required, I forget his name; it may have been Brown, for instance, in one moment the name was announced, "Brown, Samuel Brown"; by and by twenty others take up the cry, "Samuel Brown, Samuel Brown." There was seen a man pushing his way through; "Make room," said he, "make room, his honour calls me," and though there were many in his path they gave way, because his being called was a sufficient command to them, not to hinder him, but to let him come. And now, soul, if thou be a willing sinner, though thy name is not mentioned — if thou be a willing sinner, thou art as truly called as though thou wert called by name, and therefore, push through thy fears. Make elbow room, and come; they that would stop thee are craven cowards. He has said, "Let him come," and they cannot keep you back; Jehovah has said, "Let him come," and it is yours now to say, "I will come.
IV. THE CONDITION WHICH IS THE DEATH OF ALL CONDITIONS — LET HIM TAKE IT FREELY. Methinks I see one here who is saying, "I would be saved and I will do what I can to be worthy of it." The fountain is free, and he comes with his halfpenny in his hand, and that a bad one, and he says, "Here, sir, give me a cup of this living water to drink; I am well worthy of it, for see the price is in my hand." Why, man, if thou could'st bring the wealth of Potosi, or all the diamonds of Galconda, and all the pearls of Ormuz, you could not buy this most costly thing. Put up your money, you could not have it for gold or silver. The man brings his merit: but heaven is not to be sold to meritmongers. Or perhaps you say, "I will go to church regularly, I will give to the poor, I will attend my meeting-house, I will take a sitting, I will be baptized, I will do this and the other, and then no doubt I shall have the water of life." Back, miserable herd, bring not your rags and rubbish to God, He wants them not. Stand back, you insult the Almighty when you tender anything as payment. Back with ye; He invites not such as you to come. He says come freely. He wants nothing to recommend you. He needs no recommendation. You want no good works. Do not bring any. But you have no good feelings. Nevertheless you are willing, therefore come. He wants no good feelings of you. You have no belief and no repentance, yet nevertheless you are willing. Do not try to get them yourself — come to Him, and He will give them to you. Come just as you are; it is "freely," "without money and without price." "Whosoever will, let him come." Let him bring nothing to recommend him. Let him not imagine he can give any payment to God, or any ransom for his soul; for the one condition that excludes all conditions is, "Let him come and take the water of life freely." There is a man of God here who has drank of the river of the water of life many times; but he says, " I want to know more of Christ, I want to have nearer fellowship with Him; I want to enter more closely into the mystery of His sacrifice; I want to understand more and more of the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be made conformable unto His death." Well, believer, drink freely. You have filled your bowl of faith once, and you drank the draught off; fill it again, drink again, and keep on drinking. Put your mouth to the fountain if you will drink right on. As good Rutherford says in one of his letters, "I have been sinking my bucket down into the well full often, but now my thirst after Christ has become so insatiable that I long to put the well itself to my lips and drain it all, and drink right on." Well, take it freely as much as ever you can.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Let him that heareth say, Come
I. THE DANGER OF THE SOUL CALLS FOR THE ALARM CRY OF EACH. If the flames of a burning city call to each to give alarm, how much more the flames that throw their glare upon the living soul? We need not cross the borders of this world, nor travel out of the circle of personal acquaintance, to find consuming men, burning with a heat that stirs the pity which they treat with scorn. Think of the pitiful crowds of women out of whose being all trace of mother-love is burned, all tender affections gone — sweetness, kindness, virtue — the very ashes of all nobleness blown away, and the bestial fires still glowing in their souls; yet they were fair, favoured, honoured as any till the torch was applied, the conflagration started, and no soul sought to quench it. There is no soul in all the world to which the fiery torch of sin has not been placed. The peril of each is imminent. The watchman passes by but does not see the smouldering passion, the heated imagination. The inflamed soul is careless of others. But there are those who have been dashed with the waters of life and see and know the increasing danger; there are those who have themselves been plucked as brands from the burning. They note the first puff that indicates in their friend, in a passer-by, the kindled fire; they see the glare in the eye, on the cheek, in the spirit; that detects the glow that heralds the blazing city of the soul; honour, honesty, obedience to God, regard for human rights, child-love, wife-love, even self-love, are wrapped in smoke and flame, and yet the cry of alarm is withheld. Seize the child with blazing garments and wrap her in a rug, no matter who she is, no matter where she stands; it shall save a life. Raise the cry for instant help. Summon the ambulance. This is the voice of humanity. How much louder then should be the call, how much more vigorous the effort to relieve the endangered soul! Begin in your own home to-day where the danger is truly personal. Is it enough that you talk of all matters but the soul's escape from sin? Is it enough that the preacher cries out in trumpet-tones, "Let him that heareth say, Come?" Assail each ear with the cry that God has put upon your lips.
II. THE PROVISION FOR SAVING THE SOUL CALLS FOR INDIVIDUAL PROCLAMATION. If the sea-side watchers, failing to inform the famine land of plenty, deserve the detestation of mankind, what is the righteous judgment on him who fails to inform of the spiritual supply for endangered and perishing souls? "Let him that heareth say, Come." It is not the results of his own investigations that man is sent to proclaim. It is of the glorious provision of God. Not the subtleties of abstruse metaphysical reasoning, nor the teachings of learned scientists, but pardon for the guilty, a Saviour for the lost, he is to shout and whisper into every ear, that the dying may hear it and never die, that the living may catch its meaning and live for ever. 'Tis not a call for the investigation of provision, but for its distribution. Its summons is not to the trained scholars of the land alone, to the skilful reasoners, to the eloquent lips, but to hearers of every class. The sacred privilege, the solemn duty, opens before every one who hears to proclaim the mercy and the grace of God toward men to give hope to the hopeless, courage to the faint, a Saviour to all. The commission bears no time limitation. Not once a week, when Sabbath bells ring, but every day and every time a needy soul is met may the word be spoken, "Come to the open fountain! Come to the bread of life!" I have read that during a heavy storm off the coast of Spain a dismantled merchantman was observed by a British frigate drifting before the gale. Every eye and glass were on her, and a canvas shelter on the deck almost level with the sea suggested the idea that there yet might be life on board. Instantly the order sounded to put the ship about, and a boat puts off with instructions to bear down upon the wreck and rescue life if aught remained. Away after that drifting hulk go the gallant men, risking their own lives on the mountain billows of the roaring sea. Reaching it they cry aloud, and from the canvas screen creeps out what proved to be the body of a man so shrivelled and wasted as to be easily lifted on board. In tender pity the rough men rub the chilled and wasted body. About to pull away, the saved man moves and moans and whispers, and as they listen they can catch the muttered words, "There is another man." The saved would save his friend, though almost in the hands of death. It is the lesson for us all. While another man treads the globe unsaved by the blood of Christ, he, brethren to the rescue! Not in the feebleness of your own strength, but in obedience to Him who sends the thrilling message to all whose ears have been touched with the heavenly music, saying, "Let him that heareth say, Come."
(S. H. Virgin, D. D.)1. Notice the party addressed: "Him that heareth." There is no reference here to age, or position, or gifts, or learning.
2. Observe the terms in which this duty is prescribed. He that heareth is to "say, Come." The terms here used are very general, and in many respects indefinite. If you cannot "say, Come," in the church, you can say it in the shop, or at the fireside, or on the roads. The Sabbath, for example, is a most suitable time to say, "Come," when the minds of men are less occupied with worldly cares and business; or a time of affliction, when the heart is likely to be somewhat softened.
I. SHOW HOW THE TRUTH OF THE TEXT IS CONFIRMED AND EXEMPLIFIED BY OTHER PASSAGES IN THE WORD OF GOD (Psalm 66:16; Isaiah 2:3; Zechariah 8:21; John 1:41, 45, 46; John 4:29, etc.). It is no new commandment, but one which has been from the beginning, that they who have accepted the invitation of the gospel should straightway invite others to the feast.
II. THE MOTIVES THAT SHOULD STIMULATE US TO CARRY OUT THIS EXHORTATION.
1. For Christ's sake we ought to say, Come. How then can we pretend to love Christ if we are habitually neglecting to say, Come? Does it not evince base ingratitude if we are not working for Him who did and suffered so much for us?
2. The condition of Christless souls may well excite our pity, and prompt us to active exertion on their behalf.
3. For our own sake we ought to say, Come. However difficult a duty is, it is never for our interest to neglect it. And think what a noble service this is! It makes us partakers with Christ in His work. Christian activity, like mercy, is twice blessed. In watering others our own souls are also watered. "A traveller was crossing mountain heights alone over almost untrodden snows. Warning had been given him that if slumber pressed down his weary eyelids they would inevitably be sealed in death. For a time he went bravely along his dreary path. But with the deepening shade and freezing blast of night there fell a weight upon his brain and eyes which seemed to be irresistible. In vain he tried to reason with himself; in vain he strained his utmost energies to shake off that fatal heaviness. At this crisis of his fate his foot struck against a heap that lay across his path. No stone was that, although no stone could be colder or more lifeless. He stooped to touch it, and found a human body half buried beneath a fresh drift of snow. The next moment the traveller had taken a brother in his arms, and was chafing his chest, and hands, and brow, breathing upon the stiff, cold lips the warm breath of his living soul, pressing the silent heart to the beating pulses of his own generous bosom. The effort to save another had brought back to himself life, warmth, and energy. He saved his brother and was saved himself. Go thou and do likewise." Earnest efforts for the salvation of others will save us many a bitter regret.
III. DIRECTIONS as to how you are "to say, Come."
1. Humbly. Beware of cherishing high thoughts of yourselves, as if through any merit or efforts of your own you had attained your present position. Beware of despising any to whom you say Come, as if you had all your lives been immensely superior to them.
2. Earnestly. Such awful realities as the soul, sin, Christ, death, judgment, eternity, are not matters to be lightly or coldly spoken of.
3. Believingly and prayerfully. Have confidence in the power of God's truth when it is accompanied with the demonstration of the Spirit. And, having this faith, let your prayer ascend to God on behalf of your unconverted friends, and on your own behalf, that you may be rightly guided in saying Come to them.
4. Perseveringly. Be not discouraged by even many rebuffs and refusals. Give none up in despair. Remember how long-suffering the Lord was to you, and be you as long-suffering towards others.
(J. G. Dalgliesh.)
1. First, because we owe to them immeasurable benefits. I throw in without estimate all that missions have done for the cause of science, though there is scarcely one single science that does not owe to them an immense advance. I throw in without estimate all they have done to the cause of civilisation, though no less a witness than Charles Darwin said that the lesson of the missionary was the enchanter's wand. I throw in without estimate all that they have done for the diminution of human misery, the suppression of war, the spread of commerce, the abolition of execrable cruelties. "It is Christ," says Chunder Sen — and you could have no more unprejudiced witness — "it is Christ, and not the British Government, that rules India." "Our hearts," he says, speaking for his countrymen, "our hearts have been conquered, not by armies, not by your gleaming bayonets, and your fiery cannon, but by a higher and different power, and that power is Christ," and "it is for Jesus," he adds, "and for Jesus only, that we will give up the precious diadem of India." Without missions the sagacity of Lawrence and the heroic courage of Havelock would have been in vain.
2. Because to us of this British race God has undoubtedly assigned the whole future of the world. Before a century is over the English-speaking people will be one-third of the whole human race. From this little island have sprung the millions of America, of Australasia, of colonies which are empires on which the sun never sets. Why is it that God has thus enlarged Japhet? Was it for the benefit of brewers and gin distillers? Was it that the coffers of our merchants might burst with their accumulated hoards?
3. Because, if our numbers have increased fivefold, our wealth at the same time has increased sevenfold. For what cause did God pour this river of gold into the coffers of our people? Was it that we should settle on our lees and live in ease on the earth? Or was it rather that we should send forth that great angel who has the everlasting gospel in his hands?
4. Because we have taken with us all over the world a ruinous and a clinging curse, the curse of drink. It is not the only wrong we have done by any means. The diseases we have inflicted have been bad enough, but our drink is worst of all; and as yet the conscience of this nation is as hard as the nether millstone to the fact of our guilt. Let the shameful truth be spoken, that mainly because of drink our footsteps amongst savage races have again and again been footsteps dyed in blood. We have cursed all India. with our drink and our drunkenness; and at this moment, after so short an occupation, we are cursing Egypt with it too. We have poured upon these nations the vials of this plague of ours — are we not bound to give them the antidote?
5. I might dwell on many more reasons, above all the truly apostolical succession of heroic personalities inspired by the immediate Spirit of God whom missions have called forth, of men who, even in this nineteenth century, have won the purple crown of martyrdom, and shown us that there may be something higher and more heroic in religion than the quotidian arguing of our religious squabbles and our ceremonial routine. But this only I will add, whenever a cause is noble, and is necessary, and calls for self-denial, it always evokes a mushroom crop of stale epigrams expressing the wit of prudential selfishness and the excuse of closefisted greed. Do not, then, be misled by the plausible devil's plea that we have too much heathenism at home to trouble ourselves with heathenism abroad. We have heathenism enough at home, God knows, but when long ago a member of the Massachusetts legislature said, "We have not religion enough at home, and cannot afford to send any abroad," a wiser and sincerer man than he answered, "The religion of Christ is such that the more you send abroad the more you have at home."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
And let him that is athirst come. —I. Now, first let me suggest THE QUESTION — TO WHOM CHRIST FROM THE THRONE THUS CALLS? The persons addressed are designated by two descriptions: they that are "athirst," and those that "will." In one aspect of the former designation it is universal; in another aspect it is by no means so. There are many men that thirst; and, strange as it seems, will not to be satisfied. The first qualification is need, and the sense of need. These two things, alas! do not go together. There is s universal need stamped upon men, by the very make of their spirits, which declares that they must have something or some one external to themselves, on whom they can rest, and from whom they can be satisfied. The heart yearns for another's love; the mind is restless till it grasps reality and truth. No man is at rest unless he is living in conscious amity with, and in possession of, the Father's heart and the Father's strength. But half of you do not know what ails you. You recognise the gnawing discontent. There is such a thing as misinterpreting the cry of the Spirit, and that misinterpretation is the crime and the misery of millions of men. That they shall stifle their true need under a pile of worldly things, that they shall direct their longings to what can never satisfy them, is indeed the state and the misery of many of us. Perverted tastes are by no means confined to certain forms of disease of the body. There is the same perversion of taste in regard of higher things. You and I are made to feed upon God, and we feed upon ourselves, and one another, and the world, and all the trash, in comparison to our immortal desires and capacities, which we find around us. Do you interpret aright the immortal thirst of your soul? Now, I daresay there are many of my hearers who are not aware of this thirst of the soul. No I you have crushed it out, and for a time you are quite satisfied with worldly success, or with the various objects on which you have set your hearts. It will not last! So far as the sense of need goes this text may not appeal to you. So far as the reality of the need goes it certainly does. Then, look at the other designation of the persons to whom Christ's merciful summons comes: "Whosoever will let him take." There is nothing sadder, there is nothing more certain, than that we poor little creatures can assert our will in the presence of the Divine lovingkindness, and can thwart, so far as we are concerned, the counsel of God against ourselves. "How often would I have gathered," etc. I do not enter now upon the various reasons or excuses which men offer for this disinclination to accept the Divine mercy, but I do venture to say that unwillingness to be saved upon Christ's conditions underlies a vast deal — not all, but a vast deal — of the supposed intellectual difficulties of men in regard to the gospel. The will bribes the understanding in a great many regions. But for the most of you who stand apart from Jesus Christ this is the truth, that your attitude is a merely negative one. It is not that you will not to have Him but that you do not will to have Him. You know the old proverb: One man can take a horse to the water, ten cannot make him drink. We can bring you to the water, or the water to you, but neither Christ nor His servants can put the refreshing, life-giving liquid into your mouth if you lock your lips so tight that a bristle could not go in between them. Wishing is one thing; willing is quite another. Wishing to be delivered from the gnawing restlessness of a hungry heart, and to be satisfied, is one thing; willing to accept the satisfaction which Christ gives on the terms which Christ lays down is, alas! quite another.
II. That brings me, secondly, to say a word about WHAT CHRIST FROM HEAVEN THUS OFFERS TO US ALL. The water of life is not merely living water, in the sense that it flashes and sparkles and flows; but it is water which communicates life. "Life" here is to be taken in that deep, pregnant, comprehensive sense in which the Apostle John uses it in all his writings. The first thought that emerges from this "water of life," considered as being the sum of all that Christ communicates to humanity is — then, where it does not run or is not received, there is death. Ah, the true death is separation from God, and the true separation from God is not brought about because He is in heaven, and we are upon earth; or because He is infinite and incomprehensible, and we are poor creatures of an hour, but because we depart from Him in heart and mind, and, as another apostle says, are dead in trespasses and sins. Death in life, a living death, is far more dreadful than when the poor body is laid quiet upon the bed, and the spirit has left the pale cheeks. And that death is upon us, unless it has been banished from us by a draught of the water of life. But, then, besides all these thoughts, there come others, on which I need not dwell, that in that great emblem of the water that gives life is included the satisfaction of all desires, meeting and over-answering all expectations, filling up every empty place in the heart, in the hopes, in the whole inward nature of man, and lavishing upon him all the blessings which go to make up true gladness, true nobleness, and dignity. Nor does the eternal life cease when physical death comes. The river — if I might somewhat modify the figure with which I am dealing, and regard the man himself in his Christian experience as the river — flows through a narrow, dark gorge, like one of the canons on American streams, and down to its profoundest depths no sunlight can travel.
III. Lastly, WHAT CHRIST FROM HEAVEN CALLS US TO DO. "He that is athirst let him come; and whosoever will let him take!" The two things, coming and taking, as it seems to me, cover substantially the same ground. So let us put away the metaphors of "coming" and "taking" and lay hold of the Christ-given interpretation of them, and say the one thing that Christ asks me to do is to trust my poor, sinful self wholly and confidently and constantly and obediently to Him. That is all. Ah! All! And that is just where the pinch comes. "My father! my father!" remonstrated Naaman's servants, when he was in a towering passion because he was told to go wash in the Jordan; "if the prophet had bidden thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather then when he saith to thee, wash and be clean." I do believe that great multitudes of people would rather, like the Hindoos, stick hooks in the muscles of their backs, and swing at the end of a rope if that would get heaven for them, than simply be content to come in forma pauperis, and owe everything to Christ's grace, and nothing to their own works. "Let him take." Well, that being translated, too, is but the exercise of lowly trust in Him. Faith is the hand that, being put out, grasps this great gift. You must make the universal blessing your own. Are you athirst? I know you are. Do you know it? Are you willing to take Christ's salvation on Christ's terms, and to live by faith in Him, communion with, and obedience to Him? If you are, then earth may yield or deny you its waters, but you will not be dependent on them. When all the land is parched and baked, and every surface well run dry, you will have a spring that fails not, and the water that Christ "will give you will be in you a fountain of water leaping up into everlasting life."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely
(L. Abbott, D. D.)I. THE GREATNESS OF THE BLESSING OFFERED.
II. THE SIMPLICITY OF THE TERMS ON WHICH THE OFFER IS MADE. We have but to come and take. We are at a distance naturally, and alienated by wicked works; therefore we must turn and "come."
III. THE CHARACTER OF THOSE TO WHOM THE BLESSING IS OFFERED.
IV. THE UNANIMITY OF THOSE WHO OFFER THE BLESSING. There are four voices; and none of them are discordant, or "without significance." Four witnesses to the greatness and freeness of the gospel; four who call us away to the Water of Life.
(Alex. Warrack.)I. THE BLESSINGS OFFERED. These are represented to us under the image of "water."
1. Water is an element absolutely necessary, in the present constitution of things, to the preservation and continuance of life.
2. Water is an element productive of purity.
3. Water is an element which refreshes the weary, and invigorates the weak.
II. THE PERSONS TO WHOM THESE BLESSINGS ARE OFFERED.
III. THE TERMS UPON WHICH THESE BLESSINGS ARE OFFERED. Why are they free?
1. One reason is, that they are above all price, and though they had been much less worth than they are, we had nothing to give. We must have them freely or not at all. The best of God's temporal gifts are free, the air that we breathe is free, the light of heaven is free, the sun descends upon the just and the unjust.
2. But, again, these blessings are offered freely to us, because the price of them has already been paid by another.
(James Clason.)I. "THE SPIRIT SAITH COME, AND TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." To the Holy Spirit in an especial manner, are to be ascribed, from first to last, the conversion, the regeneration, the sanctification, and the ultimate salvation, of every sinner. But even if you do not belong to the number of those to whom the invitation of the text has been brought home with saving power, yet it is no less certain that the Spirit of God is in many different ways still addressing you with the invitation to come and take of the water of life freely. You cannot deny that, in the course of Divine Providence, you have had the Bible, which the Spirit dictated concerning Christ, put into your hands in a language which you could both read and understand; that you have been familiar, even from your youth up, with the great truths which it proclaims of your own lost condition by nature, and of the method of recovery through a Saviour; and that these truths have been pressed home upon your attention so often and in so many ways as to leave you without excuse, if still careless or unmindful of them. Nay, is it not possible for you to recollect certain seasons in your past history, when Divine things were more peculiarly brought home to your hearts; a season of affliction perhaps, when you were clearly taught the unsatisfactory nature of present enjoyments; a season of personal danger or family bereavement, when the thought of death and eternity overawed your soul; a season of conviction, when such views of your own character as sinners, and such impressions of your own danger as rebels before God, were awakened, as almost forced you to cry out in terror, What must I do to be saved? You must be constrained to admit that every such event was sent by Him for the purposes of your spiritual awakening and conversion. They were so many distinct demands upon you on His part to consider your ways, and to repent and be saved.
II. "THE BRIDE SAITH, COME, AND TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." If we view the Church generally, as a community of believers separated from the world around them by the possession of the peculiar faith and privileges and hopes of Christ, or if we view the Church more especially in reference to the office-bearers whom Christ has appointed, and the ordinances He has established in the midst of it; in either case it must be apparent that one of its grand purposes is to hold forth a witness in behalf of the gospel among men, and to make provision for the pressing of its invitations and its claims upon all. The very fact of the continued existence for eighteen hundred years of a visible community of saints, divided from the rest of mankind, and united together by the belief and practice of the gospel, notwithstanding of the enmity and persecution of a hostile world, is the strongest of all historical testimonies to the Divine and saving power of that faith which they profess. Every saint within that Church has been a witness on behalf of the truth to the men of the age and the place where he lived. His faith, his hope, his holy life, his triumphant death, have each been a testimony to others that was neither silent nor unseen. And when we consider the provision that has been made in the ordinance of a stated ministry, and of the administration of the sacraments, for the preservation and furtherance of the gospel in the world, we cannot fail to perceive the force and propriety of the statement of the text, that "the Bride," or the Church, joins with the Spirit of God in the invitation to sinners to take of the water of life freely.
III. "LET HIM THAT HEARETH SAY, COME, AND TAKE OF THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." There is no man, of whatever character, that either lives or dies for himself alone (Romans 14:7); he must be the means of spreading either a salutary or a pernicious influence around him. If a man is still under the bondage of sin, and cherishes in his bosom a principle of ungodliness, he will become the centre, so far as his influence extends, whence moral evil is diffused about him. If, on the contrary, he has been himself converted, and regenerated, his life and character will bear testimony to the truths which he has believed; and he must, from the very nature of the thing, become a witness for God and the gospel in the sight of all with whom he associates. And how much more will this be the case, when the Christian sees in the common ruin in which all men are by nature involved, the equal necessity which all have for some method of recovery and salvation; and when he recognises in the gospel, which he himself has believed, a provision made for reaching the case and ministering to the wants of all. Having tasted of the waters of salvation himself, he will be anxious to unseal the living fountain to his fellowmen. And even did he bear no testimony to the Saviour, but that which his faith and holiness and heavenly peace and joy afforded, yet these alone would speak in a language which could not be misunderstood, and would proclaim to all the grace and blessedness of the gospel. It is thus that not only the Church in its collective character, but every individual believer that is gathered within its pale, becomes a missionary of the faith to press its claims and its importance upon the attention and the consciences of his fellowmen; and while the Spirit is striving with the hearts of sinners in secret, and the Bride is openly proclaiming the tidings of salvation to all, the man whose ears have been opened to hear and receive the truth, will find in that fact both the warrant and the will to join in the united invitation to others to "come, and take of the waters of life freely."
IV. "LET HIM THAT IS ATHIRST COME; AND WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." The expression, "whosoever will," is evidently applicable to the case of every human being without exception; and is plainly demonstrative of the freeness with which the gospel invitation is addressed to all, without reference to character, or circumstance, or condition. The expression, "he that is athirst," is no less universally applicable to all mankind, inasmuch as it is descriptive of the condition of every human being who is not in possession of happiness up to the full measure of his desires, and who still longs after the experience of a peace and blessedness which may be permanent and satisfying. Every son of man who feels in his heart one unsatisfied desire, one disappointed hope, one bereaved affection, one yearning after happiness which he does not yet enjoy; in short, any human being that knows the existence of human feeling within his bosom, comes under the description of "he that is athirst." The two expressions, then, are virtually the same; they embrace essentially the same description of persons; and they prove that the invitation of the text is not confined to any particular class or character of individuals, but is equally and unreservedly addressed to all. Have you never felt the hopelessness of those efforts by which you have sought to work out a justifying righteousness for yourselves, and earn, as it were your own acceptance with God? Then unto you is this salvation offered, freely and without price.
(James Bannerman, D. D.)I. WHAT IS A WILL? It is that faculty of the soul which is governed by the understanding, but which is itself the governor of the actions.
II. WHAT CAN THE WILL OF THE NATURAL MAN PERFORM? Anything consistent with the strength of body and mind which the person may possess; for instance, a man may have a will to walk forty miles in a day, and yet his strength may only be sufficient for half that distance; he may have a will to be a great scholar, and his mind be incapable of containing what he desires to know — it may perform any external act, may cause him to take medicine, but cannot insure health; may make him a good husband, attend to all relative duties, and even external acts of religion, but nothing whatever of a spiritual nature.
III. HOW DO ANY POSSESS THE WILL MENTIONED IN MY TEXT? Not by compulsion — the will cannot be forced, for then it would cease to be a will; but by being changed by the supernatural power and agency of the Holy Ghost, as the terms conversion and regeneration used to mark this change plainly prove.
(A. Hewlett, M. A.)
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