John iv. 1 — 42. In our last lecture on the life of Christ, we heard him declaring to icodemus the most interesting truths. This ruler of the Jews appears to have been deeply affected by this interview, since from this time he became a disciple of Jesus, defended him in the great council of which he was a member, and with Joseph of Arimathea, paid him the honours of a funeral, when all his bosom friends deserted him. We are now to contemplate the Saviour conversing with a different character, with a woman who was a Samaritan, and whose life was immoral. Though the haughty Pharisees taught that she was beyond the reach of pardon; that the covenant made no provision for her ; that she was undone without resource ; yet the compassionate Saviour, who came >- to seek and to save that which was lost," spoke to her in different accents. Instead of confirming her

LIFE OF CHRIST. 161 in guilt, or sinking her in despair, by such merciless doctrines, he taught her that the streams of grace could cleanse even her polluted soul ; that God was ready to receive her on repentance, and faith in the Messiah, and to forgive her iniquities, however numerous and aggravated they had been. Jesus, having announced the gospel at Jerusalem, and confirmed it by many miracles during the feast of the passover, went into other parts of Judea to proclaim these glad tidings. The number of his

disciples increasing daily, the pharisees were offended, and began to plot the destruction of a teacher who so clearly exposed their corrupt glosses of the law, and so boldly censured their vices and hypocrisy. The predestined time for his death not being come, he left Judea to avoid their fury. When the interest of God or of truth required it, he never shrunk from danger or persecution : but he prudently retires when his duty does not urge him to expose himself to sufferings. He departs then for Galilee, between which and Judea lay the provinceof Samaria, through which he was therefore obliged to pass. The first city at which he stopped was Sichar, the same as Sichem, so frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, as the metropolis of the tribe of Ephraim. It was situated at the foot of Mount Gerizim ; and though it had been destroyed by Abimelech, had been rebuilt by Jeroboam, and made by him the capital of the kingdom of Israel. In its vicinity was a well, called Jacob's well, probably because this patriarch had caused it to be dug. There Jesus arrived about the sixth hour, fatigued with the toils of the day, and seated himself while his disciples went into the city to purchase food. He could easily have relieved his wants by miracle : but his miracles vol. II. 21

I 62 SLKMO. Xi.J. he employed only for the relief of others. To himself he reserved only the painful but glorious privilege of serving as a perfect model of patience and resignation. While he was there alone, a woman, who was a Samaritan both bj birth and religion, approached. She came only to procure water, but she found the

treasures of grace and the way to eternal life. She came to Jacob's well, and she found there the illustrious Shiloh, whom Jacob foretold. Jesus, oppressed with thirst, said to her, " Give me to drink." Supposing from his language or his habit that he was a Jew, and knowing the aversion that the Jews had for the Samaritans, she expressed to him her surprise that he should ask water from her to drink ; " for," says the Evangelist, " the Jews have no dealings," no intercourse of friendship, " with the Samaritans." According to the Jewish teachers, a person of their nation was polluted, not only by eating and drinking with Samaritans, but even by touching them. It was indeed permitted to buy from them, as well as from the heathens, things necessary for the support of life, but to accept any thing from them as a present, was declared a heinous crime. But the mind of Jesus knew nothing of this narrow bigotry, this odious ilJUberality, which differences of religion and diversity of opinions had excited among the Jews. His object was to benefit all, and he therefore freely conversed with all. He therefore replied unto her, " If thou knewest the gift of God," if thou wert sensible what an opportunity the good providence of God now confers on thee, of receiving the greatest blessing that was offered thee, " and who it is that saith unto thee, give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given fhec living water :"

LIFE OF CHRIST. 163 meaning by this expression, that grace which at once cleanses the soul, and quenches its thirst for felicity. The Saviour, as you must have frequently remarked, often seizes upon passing incidents and objects before the eyes of his hearers, to shadow forth spiritual truths. Thus, when he saw a multitude of people following him, because they had been miraculously

fed in the desert by the multiplication of the loaves, he spoke of himself as " the bread which cometh down from heaven and giveth eternal life." In like manner, being at Jerusalem, at the feast of tabernacles, when the people in crowds drew water from the pool of Siloam, he cried out with a loud voice, M If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." Thus also, seeing the Samaritan woman solely occupied with the water which she was drawing, he takes occasion from it to elevate her thoughts to heaven. Still supposing, however, that Jesus referred to common water, she objects to him that he has no mode of obtaining this water of w r hich he spoke, since he had nothing by which he could draw it from Jacob's well : and since to suppose that he could elsewhere find better water, would imply that he was greater than Jacob, who esteemed this the best in all the territory of Sichem. Jesus, pitying her ignorance, and bearing with her weakness, began more fully to explain the properties of that water of which he spoke : " Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again ; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst ; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up into eternal life." Let us pause a moment, to meditate on tljisjusj

164 SERMO XLI. and impressive representation of the nature and effects of the grace of God. 1. It is like water cleansing the soul and the life from their pollution and defilement. Before we are

renewed by it, we present to the eye of God and of all holy intelligences the most loathsome spectacle : but when these living waters, which flow from the fountain of grace and holiness, the Spirit of God, pass through it, this pollution vanishes. The guilt of sin which blackened it, is washed away : the dominion of sin which corrupted it, is destroyed. Instead of the unholy principles which formerly governed it, its inclinations are pure and holy, its delights high and heavenly; and (to use the scripture expression) it " is glorious within." It shines with a splendour far exceeding that of the high priest's robe and breastplate, adorned as they were with precious stones, The rays of the Sun of Righteousness, which now beam upon it, eclipse the lustre of the natural sun when shining in his greatest strength. Grace not only thus cleanses the soul, but also the whole man. " ot my feet only," cried Peter ignorantly, " but also my hands and my head." With greater propriety does the soul that has been purified by this living water, cry out, " ot my heart, not my head only, but my hands and my feet, make me wholly and entirely pure." Grace is like water, as it quenches that raging thirst for felicity which is implanted in the human soul. Panting after happiness, we rove from object to object, still disappointed, but still hoping to be hereafter more fortunate. Grace leads us to the streams which flow from the throne of God ; we find there the well-spring of joy ; we find where all fulness dwells ; and lose that relish for created and finite

LIFE OP CHRIST. 105 objects which tormented us and filled us with disquiet.

2. Grace is a well of water springing up in the soul. It is not like water poured upon our bodies, which washes them and runs off; it is a cleansing principle within the soul itself. The drop from God becomes a fountain in man ; religion is not altogether outward ; it must take its origin from this abiding principle in the soul itself. 3. Grace is heavenly in its tendency. This well of water springs up unto eternal life. Give to the soul that has this divine principle all that the world can afford, still it cannot fix, or settle, or rest there. It seeks still a higher good ; it rests satisfied with nothing but heaven. I know that the soul may for some time be clogged in its flight, but it will at last shake off these clogs ; I know that the streamings of this fountain may be dammed, but it will burst these restraints, and will still spring upward, until in heaven it mingle itself with the ocean of love and holiness. Why should we not more assiduously seek this grace ? While the men of the world are pursuing with such avidity those enjoyments which cannot satisfy, shall we be inattentive to the invitations of Christ ? " Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." We return to our history. The woman still taking the words in a natural sense, was disposed to turn them into ridicule, and she begged the Saviour by all means to give her some of that excellent w r ater, which by preventing her from ever thirsting again, would render it unnecessary for her to come so far again to draw water. • ; She saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I


thirst not, neither come hither to draw." To check her impertinence, Jesus shows that he was perfectly acquainted with her character, for he bade her call her husband ; and when she replied that she had none, he told her that she had had five husbands, and was then living in adultery with a man who was not hers, but another's husband. What wisdom, what prudence, what charity, in the mode that the Saviour adopts to restrain her impertinence, and lead her to confess, and forsake her sin ! " I have no husband," said she. This was true ; but in acknowledging a part of the truth, she adroitly concealed the rest. Could she confess to a stranger, whom she did not know, the irregularities of her life ? But, on the other hand, could she conceal them from Him to whom the darkness is as the light ? Thus the Lord, profiting by her answer, teaches her that he was not ignorant of the most secret transactions of her life. He does this, not to load her with reproaches, and cover her with confusion, but to lead her to repentance. This reproof, openly given by a stranger, a Jew, and therefore apparently an enemy, would have irritated many sinners. Some would have replied by abusive language. Others would have denied the charge, especially as it did not appear probable that this unknown person could convict them. But the Samaritan has different sentiments, and serves as a commentary on that declaration of our Lord, that the publicans and sinners were nearer the kingdom of heaven than the pharisees, who were so devout in their external appearance. There are specious vices on which remonstrances have little effect, whilst those that are attended by shame, yield and are humbled under the voice of reproof. The most

LIFE OF CHRIST. 167 just reproaches, the most merited censures, only offended the pharisees: whilst the Samaritan woman, covered with confusion, at the view of her irregularities, which the Lord presents to her, humbles herself before him ; and full of esteem, and veneration for him, concludes that he certainly had intercourse with heaven. " Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." Happy to find a person of this character, she proposes to him the principal question in dispute between the two nations. This was, whether Mount Gerizim, or Jerusalem was the place appointed for worship and sacrifice. The Samaritans declared for Gerizim because it was in their country, and because Abraham and Jacob, whom they called their fathers, had built altars upon it. The Jews, resting on the express decision of the sacred volume, declared for Jerusalem. Jesus decides the question in favour of the Jews ; but at the same time informs her, that a dispensation of religion was now beginning, under which all languages, countries^ and places, being sanctified, men were to worship God. not in Jerusalem, but in Spirit ; by offering the sacrifice, not of beasts, but of themselves, to love and obey him in all things, which is the truth of worship, the thing signified by every sacrifice and service enjoined in the law ; and what alone was acceptable to the Father, even under the legal dispensation. "The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth : for the Father seeketh such to worship him." The Saviour proceeds, " God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.''* Being the Supreme Intelligence, who by one act, *ers the thoughts of all other intelligence-, he mus<

.168 SERMO XLI. be served, not merely with sacrifices and external rites, but with the sentiments of the heart, with faith, and with love. The woman, on hearing these instructions, without disputing with Jesus, but also without entirely acquiescing in what he had said, refers to the coming of the Messiah the entire decision of the question she had proposed to Jesus as a prophet. " I know that Messiah cometh; when he is come he will teach us all things." Jesus, seeing the dispositions of her heart, knowing that she was ready to renounce her sins, and believe in him, replied, " I that speak unto thee am he." At this time the disciples returned, and interrupted the conversation. Though full of Jewish prejudices, they were astonished to see him familiarly talking with a Samaritan woman, and instructing her; yet none of them presumed to find fault with his conduct. The woman, in the mean time, on hear^ ing Jesus call himself the Messiah, went immediately into the city to inform the inhabitants of the circumstances which had just taken place. Full of wonder and curiosity, they in crowds accompanied her to see Jesus. While these events were passing, the disciples set before him the food they had brought. But exhausted as he was, he did not regard it. His mind was fixed on other and more important objects ; and referring; to the satisfaction he was about to receive from the conversion of the Samaritans, he said, '• I have meat to eat that ye know not of." When hi^ disciples, understanding him in a natural sense, asked one another whether any one had brought him food during their absence, he replied, " My meat is

fo do the will of Him that sent me. and to finish hh

LIFE OF CHRIST. 169 work." How beautiful, and how just a representation of the character of Jesus ! The work assigned him as Mediator was, to reveal the will of God, and to save mankind by his own obedience unto death. Did he not show that it was his meat to do this will, by engaging in it with fervent affection, with indefatigable diligence, with undaunted courage ? With affection. othing could exceed the delight with which he undertook this task ; nothing the zeal with which he accomplished it. Whether we view his private addresses to God, or his public ministrations among men, we shall see that in him was that prophecy accomplished, " The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." With diligence. From the commencement of his ministry to the end of it, not a day was unemployed. Frequently after having laboured all the day, he spent the night in prayer, and resumed his labours with the returning light. Like the sun in the firmament, he proceeded in one steady course, nor ever ceased from his work till he could sa} r , " It is finished." With resolution. What continual opposition did he endure ! From the very first discourse that he uttered till the hour of his crucifixion, his enemies never ceased to seek his life. Yet did he persevere in the face of every danger, and at last complete his obedience, by surrendering up his life upon the cross. Behold your model, Christians. We have also a work to do for God. It is great: but oh ! how difFerent from that which was committed to our Lord ! We have not to satisfy the demands of justice, or to endure the wrath due for sin. Blessed be God ! that was the Redeemer's work, and it has been finished

by him on our behalf. The work that we have to do is to believe in Christ, and from a sense of his love. vol. ii. 22

170 SERMO XLL to devote ourselves unreservedly to his service, Let it become our meat to do it. Let us engage in it heartily; a lukewarm service is unacceptable, nay, hateful to God. Let us be fervent in spirit, while we serve the Lord. Uniformly. It is not an occasional act of zeal that will please God, but a steady, conscientious, uniform discharge of our duty. Courageously. We may perhaps meet with reproach, if we set out in earnest to seek the Lord ; but wo to us, if we draw back through the fear of man. Let us take up our cross daily, after Christ's example, and suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together. Whilst Jesus thus spoke to his disciples, the Samaritans, who had been struck with the representation of the woman, were approaching. Jesus, seeing them disposed to believe, pointed to them and said, " Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest ? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest." That is, do not now use the proverbial expression employed at the time of sowing. Do not suppose that in spiritual matters, a long time must always intervene before the harvest. The seed was sown but a few hours ago : behold a multitude ready for harvest, disposed to believe.



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