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fied, we shall be also sanctified, "in the name of “the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God."*
Nor shall they prevail against our comfort, more than against our purity. Though beset with tribulation, in Christ we shall have peace: for, as rivers of water refresh and invigorate, while they cleanse; and as the shadow of a great rock shelters from the exhausting heat, and renews the fainting spirits; so in Jesus are the blessings of spiritual consolation and strength, as well as of purification from sin. When the earth is parched with drought, the plants droop, and their leaves are withered: but no sooner are they wet with the rain, or moistened at root, by the waters of a stream filtering through the soil, than they again rear their heads, and recover their verdure their leaves spread, and their blossoms open. Thus it is with the traveller, in passing through a dry and a burning desert. The juices of his body are drunk up: his spirits become exhausted weariness, languor, and dejection, oppress his mind. But if happily he meet with a resting place under the shadow of a great rock, and can drink and wash in the cool limpid stream descending from its side, he again lifts up his head; his spirits and his strength return; and he is enabled to prosecute his journey with cheerfulness and vigour. And is it not thus with the weary and heavy laden christian, when supplies from the Redeemer's grace are afforded to his soul? There are portions of his journey, where he has to complain both of the barrenness, and of the languor of the desert. But when faith in the love and promises of his Lord is renewed; when the assurance of par
I Cor. vi. II.
don, and a sense of divine favour are conveyed to his soul; when strength to overcome temptations, and fortitude to endure trials, are communicated; when the blessed hopes of immortality elevate his spirit; when communion with God is vouchsafed, and his love is "shed abroad in the heart;" in a word, when the graces and consolations of the Holy Ghost abound; then to him is " the wilderness "and the solitary place made glad; and the desert "rejoices, and blossoms as the rose." Instead of feeble irresolution, vigour and perseverance in the ways of God, mark his character. His disquiet and apprehensions are exchanged for alacrity and courage. Even the tears, which he is still, at times, constrained to shed, are accompanied by sensations of holy joy. Hence the beauty and propriety of those scriptures, in which the figures before us are employed to denote, not only the powers and virtues of the Holy Spirit in general, but his refreshing and consolatory influences in particular-" I will
pour water upon 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."*" Then shall the
lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the "dumb sing for in the wilderness shall waters "break out, and streams in the desert; and the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water."†
Nor are these blessings temporary and transient. They are as certain and lasting, as they are sweet in enjoyment. To a traveller crossing a burning ↑ Ibid. xxxv. 6, 7.
Isaiah xliv. 3, 4.
desert, where the means of supporting life cannot be procured, and where he is on the point of fainting through fatigue and thirst, a single stream might, instead of a blessing, be a curse; unless the supply, which it afforded, could suffice him to his journey's end. It would otherwise only renew his strength for a while, to prolong his sufferings; and revive his spirits, only to render him more sensible to the miseries of his situation. But the rivers of water, which flow from the great rock, whose shade refreshes our weary land, do not excite expectations which shall be disappointed, or leave the pilgrim to perish, as he proceeds. Like the waters from Horeb,* they follow him all the way. He drinks continually from "the spiritual rock which follows "him; and that rock is Christ." The expression of our text, therefore, is not a spring, or a fountain, but rivers of water: as if to intimate that, at every resting place in this wilderness, streams are made to flow. These continual supplies at once enable the christian to advance with persevering vigour, and impart an assurance that the end of his labours shall be happy. Thus refreshed, he goes on from strength to strength, till he appear before God in Zion.
The pleasures of the world may, for a while, intoxicate the soul, and blunt the sense of pain: but, like the brethren of Job, they may be compared to "the stream of brooks which pass away. What "time they wax warm, they vanish. When it is hot, they are consumed out of their place." They disappoint the weary traveller's expectations; and leave him hopeless, in the hour of his greatest +1 Cor. 1. 4.
*Exod. xvii. 6.
Job vi. 15, 17.
need. But the river, with which Christ hath watered our dry land, is a river whose fountain never fails, whose stream is always full, always accessible, and always refreshing. It is a branch of that great river of life, which takes its rise from the throne of God and of the Lamb. The saints, while they drink of it, have a foretaste of those everflowing pleasures," and of that "fountain of life,"* to which they shall resort in the paradise of God ;a foretaste, which is a pledge of ultimate and everlasting possession. "Whosoever," saith Jesus, "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."t
Let the sun, then, scorch by day, and the tempest howl by night: let "the pestilence walk in darkness, and destruction waste at noon; yet shall they not come nigh us." Christ beneath his shade will hide us; and with the water of life will cherish us, till the hour of danger be past, and the storm be over and gone :-till we shall have arrived in that happy realm, where the sun smites not by day, nor the moon by night; and where," in "the light of God, we shall see light."§
Thus is Jesus, in the blessings with which he supports us, through the scene of toil and peril, 'not less precious, than in the protection which he affords. If as a covert, and a hiding place," he shields us from the "wind and the tempest;" as "rivers of water, and as the shadow of a great rock," he refreshes the desert region, and revives the fainting soul.
* Psalm xxxvi. 8, 9. ↑ John iv. 14. Psalm xci. 6, 7. § Ibid. xxxvi. 9.
But can we conclude this subject, without reminding christians of their infinite obligations to the free and unmerited love of God, in Christ Jesus? There, the threatening tempest rolls towards you, with a force which you cannot resist. Here, a place of defence is reared, by sovereign power and grace. A legion of spiritual foes, a world lying in wickedness, and a heart contaminated by corruption, are leagued to spread your way with continual snares and difficulties; that they may exhaust you by incessant toil, and defile you, in every part, by the abominations of sin. But by your side stands the conqueror, who hath led captive captivity, of fering his aid. To strengthen your weariness, to revive your drooping spirits, to heal your pains and sorrows, he makes the cleansing and invigorating waters of life to flow across your path, and to follow you as you go. For these blessings no price is demanded, no condition prescribed: the sole command is, Ho, every one that thirsteth; come ye "to the waters ;" and "Come unto me, all ye "that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "O," then, give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for 16 ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, "whom he redeemed out of the hand of the enemy. They wandered in the wilderness, in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in: hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then
they cried unto the Lord in their trouble; and "he delivered them out of their distresses."
Once more can I be silent, till I call upon sin.. ners, who still stand unsheltered from the storms Isaiah lv. I + Matt. xi. 28. Psalm cvii. 1, 2, 4-6,