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fail, if it were not replenished by Christ. He keeps alive this heavenly principle; he supplies his people with all needful grace : hence they are supported under every temptation and affliction, and hold out to the end. “My grace,” said he to Paul, “ is sufficient for thee.” “ The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
2. It is an abiding principle ; "it shall be in him.” The lively exercise of grace may be lost, but the principle itself cannot; because it is from Christ at first, and is maintained by him till it shall issue in gloryOur Lord assures us, John X. 28. that he gives to his sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish. He hath not committed their safe keeping into their own hands ; but he himself is engaged to keep them by his power, through faith unto salvation.
There are seasons when the divine life seems to be almost extinct ; when holy exercises of love, hope, joy, &c. are languid. Then doubts arise, and the person is ready to cast away his confi. dence. Such a condition is, in common, the effect of backsliding, or an unbecoming conduct; against which Christians ought to watch and pray. Such was the sad state of David, Peter, and others : but how melancholy their situation, on such occasions ! They wound the cause of Christ; and when they are brought back, it is with brokenness of heart : still the Lord will heal their backslidings. “We are confident of this very thing," says Paul, “ that he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
I remark here, that when Christians fall into this state of backsliding, they neither have evi,
dence themselves, nor give evidence to others, that they are real Christians ; and we cannot judge but according to evidence. “ By their fruit," said Christ, “ye shall know them.” It follows, then, that such persons, though they may be real Christians, do not enjoy the comforts of religion, but are in a state of uncertainty as to themselves, and are unfruitful in the Christian course.
The perseverance of the saints is secured by the promises of Christ; by the ample provision he hath made in the plan of salvation ; by all the perfections of God-his love, power, and wisdom. “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee
IV. I shall now attend to the next idea in the text, which is, that the water that Christ gives, is a vigorous and active principle, and always tends to heaven : “springing up into everlasting life.”
The activity of this principle is seen and felt in the following particulars :
1. In fying to Christ, in the first act of believe ing. The sinner leaves every thing behind, and flies to Christ; and finds it to be the happiest moment he ever knew. He looks to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.
2. It springs up in supreme love to God and Christ. The mind is impressed with the beauty of the divine character, and loves it. He views Christ as the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person; hence he appears altogether lovely, and the chief among ten thousands.
3. Hope too is of this kind : it rises, and enters into that within the vail. Hope looks up in
every hour of trial. It is as an anchor to the soul, both sure and stedfast
4. This principle may be said to spring up in prayer, in every time of need; whether the believer be in the closet, the family, the church, or in the common walks of life. Is he in any trial? In a moment does he look up to God to direct and keep him. In all times of affliction and distress he thinks of the Lord, and seeks help from him only. Is he in darkness of mind ? He flies to the oracles of God, and to the throne of grace. Is he burdened with the body of sin ? He looks to Jesus, as the fountain opened to wash in for sin and uncleanness. Is he longing for holiness? He flies to Jesus, that he may be made unto him wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. The believer's life of faith is described in a beautiful manner by Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews, by “ looking to Jesus.”
5. This divine principle springs up in desires after the glory of God, the salvation of sinners, and in love to the brethren, or to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth; in love to all the ordinances and institutions of Christ, and in general to the whole of the divine law.
In a word-There is a tendency of heart to God, in all to whom Christ gives this water of life. It came from him, and it tends to him. It is divine in its nature, and heavenly in its tendency. It is, as a principle in the heart, glory begun here, to be consummated in heaven. Even in the hours of darkness and lukewarmness it springs up, because it can find nothing in the universe to satisfy the soul, but God. It ascends
in groans, and cries, and tears, when God is absent, or hath hid his face from the Christian. Return, says he, return, O God of love, and grant to me thy life-giving presence.
In the hour of death, on the dying pillow, the believer looks up to God, saying, To whom can I flee for succour, but to thee ? Like the protomartyr, looking up stedfastly into heaven, he cries, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
V. We come now to our last particular, which was, to show the final issue of this heavenly principle, which is “everlasting life.”
Everlasting life, my brethren! What an expression! How full of meaning! how full of comfort! It comprehends all the happiness that the godly shall enjoy forever, in the immediate presence of God and of the Lamb. presence,” says David, “ is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Compare the text with the following words of the psalmist, and you will find they perfectly agree—“The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
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1. How invaluable is this living water, which Christ gives ? What an astonishing change is effected by it, in the depraved heart? There is something communicated at the time of
regeneration, that is entirely new: hence Paul says, any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” The soul thirsts no more for the pleasures of sin, but is all swallowed up in God.
2. Let us examine ourselves, whether we have any evidence that we have received this water of life. This may be principally determined by the effects which it is said to produce. “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.”
Do we thirst after the riches, honours, or pleasures of this world, as we once did ? Do we feel a keener and more ardent relish for the empty enjoyments of time, than for the substantial enjoyments of religion? Do we look more for our happiness to things which are temporal and seen, than to those which are unseen and eternal ? Can any thing satisfy us, while God withholds his love? If our hearts at once put a negative upon these questions, we have reason to hope that Christ has given us of this living water.
3. If this principle springs up to everlasting life, it follows, that all the unregenerate are under the influence of a principle entirely distinct from this, even disaffection to things of a divine nature. Instead of having holy desires springing up to God, they do not like to retain him in their thoughts. They are of the earth, earthy. Instead of having their affections placed on the things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, they are all placed on things on the earth. They are, of course, strangers to that sweet peace there is in believing, to that happiness and contentment which results from drink. ing freely of the water of life.
4. How awful is your condition, sinners, who remain in unbelief. You who remain secure, are to this moment hardening your hearts against the Saviour. You now hear of the water of life with the utmost indifference: but remember, sinners,