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SERMON I.

THE WELL OF LIFE.

John iv. 13, 14, 15.

Jesus answered and said unto her, 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 everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

“ 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 everlasting life.”

These are strange words for one to utter who had just before begged for a draught of water himself: strange words for a lone wayfarer, who sat by the well-side exhausted and travel worn, and imploring after this manner, “ Give me to drink," of the first chance visitant who came to draw ; it is surely strange that he should undertake to relieve others for ever from those very wants and infirmities, under which he himself was at that same moment fainting! Well might this appear somewhat inconsistent to the woman of Sychar, and well might she ask, “ From whence then hast thou that living water ?”

And how shall we, my brethren, account for this strangeness, and reconcile this inconsistency, if we are dissatisfied with the explanation which appears upon the face of the Gospel declarations? Here sits one who, we are assured, is suffering under the commonest of all human infirmities, viz. fatigue after exertion. This circumstance is announced, not with the artfulness and care of a writer who was intending to hang some doctrine upon it, but with the incidental undesignedness of simple truth. “ Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus upon the well.” Surely, this is very man! Yet hear him speak. He promises to give this woman under the figure of water that spiritual instruction and assistance which shall conduct her to everlasting life. He promises this of his own authority, and as within his own power to give—“Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him," not “God through me." He proceeds to tell her-a perfect stranger to him in all human intercourse—“ all things that ever she did ;” and finally affirms that he is the Messias. Can this be less than very God? And to meet the difficulty which occurs here, and in many other passages of the same kind, can we imagine any other solution, than that which Christ himself gives us when he says, “I and the Father are one ?,” than that which the Evangelist affords us, when he writes that “ The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us ?," and which the Apostle advances when he shows that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself' ?" Can any other solution, in short, be imagined than that doctrine supplies, which, in spite of conflicting heresies on the right hand and on the left, the great majority of Christian churches have held in all ages the doctrine, namely, that in the person of Jesus Christ, the fulness of the two natures, divine and human, were united ? Jesus Christ was man, and therefore was he weary and athirst. He was God, and therefore could he offer to this woman, and to all that would come unto him, that Spirit that should lead them unto life.

1 John x. 30.

2 John i. 14.

But I meant not to argue. Let us turn to matter more practical. Here is a promise made, in which it may readily be supposed that every one would wish to participate. By whom is that promise made ? To whom is it addressed ? And what is the nature of it ?

1 2 Cor. v. 1.

In answer to the first of these questions, perhaps, we have said enough already. We know who it is that promiseth—and we know that his promises are Yea and Amen. We know that he who promises this living water, is himself the fountain--the only well-spring of life. He hath repeated the offer in other places. “ In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink!.” And the Scriptures had long ago foretold of him that he should thus invite men. It is of him the prophet speaks when he summons every one that thirsteth to the waters, and bids them drink freely “ without money, and without price ?.” It

It is of him another prophet writes when he says, that “ In that day there shall be a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness 3." And the waters which were to break forth in the wilderness, and the springs

1 John vii. 37.

2 Isaiah lv. 1. 3 Zech. xiii. 1.

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