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and impressive representation of the nature and eifects 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
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. “ Not 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, “ Not my heart, not my head
, only, but my hands and my feet, mak
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
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 holi
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 water, 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
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, sees the thoughts of all other intelligences, he must
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 hearing 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 his disciples, understanding him in a natural sense, askcd one another whether any one had brought him food during their absence, he replied, “ My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his