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Yes, brethren, the inducements to sell the the truth are as numerous as the sands on the sea-shore, and a thousand times more deceitful. On
every side of us, there are men and there are devils who are constantly persuading us to barter the treasures of eternity for the conveniences, the emoluments, and the greatness of time. Our own deceitful hearts, true to their natural carnality, and false to their real interests, are ever suggesting some plausible pretext for selling the truth, in its various phases, and more especially the "truth as it is in Jesus.” But what return can the world make for this priceless pearl ? Glory, riches, and popular applause, are all it can offer, and we cannot carry them beyond the grave. What can the unchecked indulgence of our own caprices bring us, but dissatisfaction in themselves, and ruin in their results ? And, finally, what return will hell, acting, as it does behind all these influences, make for the truth which we sold to its temptations ? Let us remember, too, that in the present day, when, instead of having to fight, as our forefathers did before us, for the truth, it comes to us freely as the breath of heaven, and that the difficulty is not so much in the buying as in the keeping. We need not now sail shrough troubled seas to win the prize; but let us beware lest, as we glide along the smooth treacherous surface, we lose it not for ever in the carelessness of security.
THE RIVER OF WATER OF LIFE:
ALEXANDER BEITH, D.D.
" And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”-REV. xxii. 1.
In this vision which John saw, we have set forth an emblematic representation of the Divine economy under the Gospel dispensation. The vision may also be taken to represent, prophetically, the glory of the latter day, or what will constitute the grand distinction of the Church in her glorified condition. Generally, however, the text teaches, in its beautiful imagery, that which characterises and constitutes the Gospel dispensation—the reign of grace, with its overflowing and ever increasing blessings; and in this view of it I purpose to consider-(First) The river and its properties, and (Second) The throne and its occupants; for although the subject is one and the same, it yet consists of these two distinct parts, essentially connected, and demanding separate consideration,
I. The River and its Properties.
In speaking of the river and its properties, one is reminded of the Paradise of Eden with its river. As it had its “tree of life in the midst of the garden," and its “ tree of knowledge of good and evil,” so also it had its river, “which went out of Eden to water the garden.” And if these “ trees” had their mystical meaning and sacramental purpose, so, likewise, had this "river.” Its part was to represent that almighty agency whereby God's gracious purposes, provided for in the first covenant, were to be applied and made effectual for man's present and future well-being. The garden which the Lord God planted and so richly stocked, where He made to grow every tree that was pleasant to the sight and good for food, beautifying and enriching it, that it might be a suitable inheritance for him under whose charge He placed it, would have been a barren wilderness without its river. To the presence of the living stream which watered it, all its luxuriance of fertility, shade, and shelter was due. The Paradise of the new covenant has its “river" also. As it has its "tree of knowledge of good and evil” — that “law” which hath "entered that the offence might abound;” and its "tree of life,” for the “healing of the nations”-so also has it its “river.” The Holy Spirit, and the blessings which He communicates is the river which gives life to the Paradise of God. “Under the law,” and “under grace" alike, that is, under the first and under the second covenant, God's eternal purposes were, and are, made available only by the office and operation of His Holy Spirit.
Keeping in view this rendering of the vision, I observe
First, That the emblem used is a River,—not a mere cistern, nor yet a streamlet trickling from some tiny fountain, but a River rolling its noble flood along—from the beginning, and throughout all the ages,-a river of whose refreshing waters have drunk the fathers and the children, and their children's children in all generations,—a river which has ever been the same in its supreme excellency and overflowing fulness, and for ever will be
The grace of the Spirit is " grace abounding." Like that river in Ezekiel's vision, when the waters had risen above the ankles, the knees, the loins,—waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over, so is the grace of the Spirit. How precious is this abounding grace, and how mysterious is its operation! “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." As “a pure river of the water of life proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb," is the fulness, the freeness, and the preciousness of this grace so communicated. What spiritual need may not, therefore, be supplied ? Surely here is enough and to spare! "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And, whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." Why should any perish in presence and within reach of a provision so unbounded and so free? and what excuse can there be for those who quench the Spirit of God, and will have none of the grace which He bestows ?
I observe, second, that It is a pure river. It is so as con
trasted with all others, because it flows from out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. Other streams, of which men drink, although originally intended, in their own sphere, to be sources of satisfaction and delight, have, through the corruption of our nature, become entirely changed in character. So uniformly is this the case, that any man who seeks to obey the injunction, Keep thine heart with all diligence,” trembles whilst he partakes. Like the dogs of Egypt, who, dreading attack from some lurking monster, run as they lap with nervous haste the flowing waters, so the “wise in heart,” alive to the evil concealed in earthly pleasures, fear indulgence, lest they should find that “at the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.” The river which John saw was a pure river. The Spirit of God is a pure and Holy Spirit. His blessings and comforts are pure and holy, as they are also purifying and sanctifying. The effect of His grace in this lost world is to expel impurity with all the wretchedness which it entails, and to establish purity, that "peace may be as a river, and righteousness as the waves of the sea." His influence is put forth to cleanse the world, that it may again become the residence of God. “That which defileth shall in no wise” be where He is, and in this pure river of water of life we behold the powerful agency by which all things are to be made new. Only let this pure stream come upon the pollutions of this world; let it mingle with, and pervade the streams from which men drink to their ruin; let it come into any man's heart and have free course there, and how blessed the changes which follow : earthly joys are sanctified and superseded by higher, the heart is set on perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, natural corruptions yielding under the power of the Divine influence, old things passing away, all things becoming new. water on him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses.” A great aim and object of the Gospel is that men should be made partakers of the Holy Spirit. Without the “ demonstration of the Spirit,” the Gospel message is but a dead letter; with His presence and power, the Word becomes spirit and life to the soul. Pray, therefore, that this blessed influence may be shed forth abundantly. If even Eden must have become a garden of weeds—the seat of disorder and unfruitfulness,—wanting its river, what must our souls be without the indwelling and saving power of the Holy Spirit !
“I will pour I observe, third, that it is a river of the water of life. It is a pure river, but its purity is the purity of life,—not the purity which careful cleansing may give, but such as comes from an invigorated constitution, and the action of healthy life, — such purity as follows when disease departs, because the poisoned blood is cleansed, and a new life flows into the decaying and dying frame. The waters of the river of Ezekiel's vision healed all other waters with which they mingled. But, besides, wherever they came, whilst they quickened what was living, they imparted life to what was dead. The Spirit of God is the spirit of life. He has life in Himself. He is the flood of life. It is thus that He is represented by the emblem in the vision. The river gives life to the dead in the first instance, and ever after imparts it more abundantly. O! to realise the solemn truth that our souls are dead, and that it is to meet the tremendous catastrophe of a world of dead souls, souls from which the life of God has departed, that the spirit of God is a "river of the water of life.” Of every saved soul He will be able to say, rejoicing, “This my son was dead, but he is alive; he was lost, but is found.” No change inferior to that is implied when salvation comes by “the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” When the Spirit of God enters into the soul-when, by His beloved influence a new Divine principle takes possession of it-when this grace pervades, and possesses, and sanctifies all its faculties—then the understanding, the will, the thoughts, the affections, become new, not merely improved and reformed, but regenerated. The whole inner man is changed, raised from the dead, and quickened, as is speedily proved by the change in his general demeanour, and in every particular in his life. True, the body of sin and death” remains, and the state of the soul within is as “the company of two armies,” but the new life will be victorious. The “body of sin and death” will be crucified, notwithstanding its utmost efforts. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life,” and His gifts and calling are without repentance. It is a “river of the water of life.” Come, therefore, perishing one, drink and live for ever. " Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink.” “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come!” Come, whosoever you are; Come, wherever you are. “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely!” “ Come from Lebanon,” from the false allurements of a world striving to be happy without God. “Come," also, “from the lions' dens; and the mountains of