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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any man's heart and have free course there, and how blessed the changes which follow : earthly joys are sanctified and superseded by higher, the heart is set on perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, natural corruptions yielding under the power of the Divine influence, old things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
leopards,” from the abodes of destructive vices and squalid wretchedness. Come, drink of this river which makes “ glad the city of our God.” Its waters flow by your side. They are “nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart,” whosoever you are, and wheresoever you may be. 'Tis life to drink! 'Tis death to refuse !
I observe, fourth, that the water of the river is clear as crystal. It is a delightsome condition to which you are called, when invited to come to these waters, to partake of the life which is there,—the life of the Spirit of Life! What so delightsome to the eye as cloudless brightness ? "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun!” As that tiny cloud on a summer's eve, floating in happy repose, reflects and rejoices in the light of the sinking sun, so the soul of the sanctified one, refreshed and replenished, rejoices with heavenly joy in partaking of this water of life, clear as crystal. Thus the seventy elders on the heights of Sinai, brought near to the God of Israel, and permitted to eat and drink in His presence,
“under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the very body of heaven in his clearness.”
The Spirit of God is the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ.” His revelations of Him, and of all truth concerning Him, are “clear as crystal.” In the river of the water of life, there are no dangerous depths, no deadly reptiles, no defiling things. All is translucent and pure; not even the minutest atoms, as seen floating in the sunbeam, or embedded in the amber, can be discovered, to tarnish the crystal purity of these living waters. In these waters there are revealed wonders
grace and glory, bright and manifold the everlasting love of God, who spared not His well-beloved Son, but gave Him to the death for us all; the advent of Christ, according to the eternal purpose of the Godhead ; his obedience, sufferings, death, resurrection, and all the glory which followed; the gift of the Spirit and His effectual operation in applying the work of Christ-in accomplishing the purpose of the Father; the mystery of God in His dealings with His people—their creation in Christ, their adoption, sanctification, preservation, deliverance, and eternal glory. Standing on the banks of this river,“ clear as crystal,” and beholding with delight and wonder the exceeding glory of its perfections, the soul is forced to exclaim,“O the depths of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!”
II. The throne with its occupants—“ The throne of God and of the Lamb." I observe
First, that in the vision there was but one throne. When Solomon desired to show special honour to his mother, hə caused a seat to be set for her at his right hand. The king sat in regal splendour and dignity on his own throne, and his mother by his side on hers. But in this vision we have not two thrones, but one only. It is the “the throne of God and of the Lamb.” The throne, also, “of the Lamb and of God.” Such was the sight upon which the eye of the beloved disciple was made to rest. We ask, had Heaven always seen it so? In the Court of the Highest, had the display of majesty been always after this fashion? Let Scripture answer. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Then it was “the throne of God and of the Word.” " In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Every good conferred — intellectual, moral, physical — emanated from Him; to Him all was to be traced as the source. It is the same throne, and the same occupants, which appear to John in this vision. The changed condition of man, whose “light” He once was, has given occasion to a new manifestation of the glory of the Eternal Word. Darkness had fallen on men, and though the light shined in darkness, the darkness comprehended it not. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among men, full of grace and truth, and some beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. He was justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. Through death He destroyed him that had the power of death. He spoiled principalities and powers, triumphing over them in His cross. Thence He ascended up on high, leading captivity captive. He overcame, and sat down with the Father in His throne. There John beheld Him—the Lamb who had been slain, but was alive for evermore. The throne in the vision was the “ throne of God and of the Lamb!”
Second-The throne had but one river. God and the Lamb have but one Spirit. The relation of the ever blessed Spirit to the Father and the Son, is described in the volume of the book, by the term "proceeding” from them. The relation, so described, has existed in the persons of the Godhead from eternity. Before any part of creation was called into being, it was so. Although the universe had never been formed, it would have been so. Creation was not the occasion of the mysterious relation subsisting between the persons of the triune Jehovah. Nor was the redemption of man the occasion of it. It was not an expedient intended to meet either case. Essential to the Divine nature, the grand distinction of that ineffable glory, the relation has been from eternity and is unchangeable unto eternity. But Creation gave occasion for the manifestation of this glory of the person of God; so also did Redemption. Both reveal the character of Him who is over all, blessed for ever, and therefore make known the distinctive relations, offices, and operations of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. God writes His “name” on all His works, and His works are done that He may on them inscribe that “name.” Whether, therefore, we examine the wonders of creation and providence, or the still more glorious wonders of redemption, we shall find that the record is uniform in its terms. It always declares that God the Father purposes and appoints all things, that God the Son executes and sustains all things, that God the Spirit sanctifies and perfects all things; and yet, so as not to interfere with the truth of the unity of the Godhead, or to assume that what one person does, the other does not. When the Son assumed our nature—when He took upon Him the "seed of Abraham ” in fulfilment of God's eternal purpose as to the salvation of a lost world, in the subordinate capacity in which He then appeared He required special qualifications for the office which He filled. Those qualifications were communicated by the Spirit. Whether we speak of the body prepared for Him, of the grandest development of His mental and corporeal powers, of the wisdom which distinguished Him in all His life, or of the patient submission which He manifested before His baptism, and entry on His public ministry,--equally true is it, that the communications of the Spirit, without measure, alone supplied the qualifications by which He peformed His active ministry upon earth ;—the power which He exercised in working miracles, the divine richness of His doctrine, His constancy in enduring the contradiction of sinners against Himself, His willing obedience unto death without the faintest sinful emotion or action, His triumph on the cross; and His resurrection and ascension. And not less true is this, when we speak of the authority and government which He exercises in heaven for accomplishing, to its final issues, the great work of His