THE SECOND SERMON UPON
JOHN iv. 14.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.
JOHN iv. 14.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.
IN my former Text Christ told the Woman of Samaria no more than she and every body knew, whosoever drinketh of this Elementary water shall thirst again; but here's a Lesson which neither she, nor any Unbeliever can know, till they have tasted the good gift of God; Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst. Go now, and ask our Saviour, Art thou greater than our Father Jacob, that gave us this Well? The Well was Jacobs perhaps, but not the water; he digged the Cystern, but God gave the Spring that flowed into it: this might have been alleged. But what profit had come to the winning of a Soul, if Christ had made comparisons between himself and his Servant? It was his purpose at this time, not to wrestle with Ja∣cob, but with the Woman of Samaria: he came not to diminish the honour of his Saints, but to magnifie the power of the Holy Ghost. Petit potum ut det potum. He met with one that was backward in courtesie, and would not draw a Pitcher of water to cool his thirst; yet he is forward in mercy, and profers living water to quench the flame of her sins: He drops by little and little upon her stony heart, until he opened that hard rock, that waters of salvation might flow out. And first his Do∣ctrin bred admiration in this Woman, then a desire to learn, then a sudden spark of faith, which confessed that Jesus was the Messias; then confusion for her sins, then repentance, and surely then godly sorrow, and then tears: and so she drew those waters before she was aware, after which our Saviour thirsts above all others, the tears of unfeigned repentance. She denied him to take the pains to draw a draught out of Jacobs Well, but he enforced her to draw out more precious liquors than those were, from the bottom of her heart.
These are the words, now read unto you, which wrought that great effect, and did pierce into her soul. And let me say of that weak Instrument, by whose tongue the Lord at this time doth make an offer unto you of that immortal Fountain, as sometimes Gregory did, when he exhorted many great persons to the contempt of the World, and invited them to eat and drink with Christ in his Kingdom, Etsi ego ad invitandum indignus appareo, sed tamen magnae sunt deliciae quas promitto; I am most unworthy to bid you come unto these waters, and drink; but the delicious Foun∣tain which I promise to them that thirst after righteousness, is worthy to invite you. To handle it succinctly, and to your edification, there are four Branches of the Text to be propounded. 1. The Subject to which all is to be referred, is a water of a most different condition from that which is mentioned in the former verse. 2. Who is able to draw it? none but Christ, it is a water that he gives, and none beside him. 3. How it is to be taken, even as a soveraign and a delight∣ful Receipt for the health of the Soul, and the very soul of health, it must be drunk. 4. The exceeding benefit and virtue, which amounts to that value, that the whole World hath not riches enough to purchase it, if it were to be bought; for who∣soever drinketh of it he shall never thirst.
Page 903To begin with these, and the Touchstone upon which all other parts of the Text shall be tried is this. What this mystical water is, which our Saviour pre∣fers so much before Jacobs Well? Christ calls it living water, at the tenth verse of this Chapter; that's a sweet Epithet indeed; and yet it hath a more amiable description in the words that follow my Text, a Well of water springing up unto ever∣lasting life. These are names of much elegancy, and much obscurity, but that we find a clear explanation of them in the seventh Chapter of this Gospel, ver. 38. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. So the Scripture hath written upon this water what it is, that you may know it from any other, it is the gift of Grace that cometh from above, that sanctifieth our hearts, and cleanseth us from all our sins, it is the working of the Spirit which knits us unto Jesus Christ, and makes us Heirs of Salvation. God the Holy Ghost doth a∣base himself to be resembled to many of these inferior things for our understand∣ing. No man can miss to remember how the Spirit did appear in cloven tongues as it were of fire, Acts ii. 2. In another place, Jo. 3.8. he is likened to the air, The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou knowest not whence it comes, nor whither it goes; so is eve∣ry one that is born of the spirit. And here his name passeth down a descension beneath that, and is termed water: only the earth is too base an Element, whereunto the Holy Spirit should be compared; leave that to man, and to his corruptible constitu∣tion. The Fire, the Air, and Water have some infinitude in them after a sort, quod suis terminis non continentur, says the Philosopher, they are diffusive bodies, which are not properly bounded, or circumscribed in any Figure, as the Earth is, there∣fore all their names are borrowed to signify some disposition of the Divine Spirit toward us, whose Vertue is most diffusive, and whose Majesty incomprehen∣sible.
But in each of the Testaments Old and New, the first time that we read of the Holy Ghost, he was joyned unto the Waters, in the first day of the Creation the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, Gen. i. 2. and upon the first manifestation of Christ, that he shewed himself abroad to be the Messias of the World, the Spirit sat upon his head when he was baptized at Jordan in the shape of a Dove. And it is not vain to consider, that when the Holy Ghost came down in fire at the Feast of Whitsontide, yet St. Peter applies the place of the Prophet Joel to that occasion, which speaks as if it had been water, effundam spiritum, In the last dayes I will pour out of my spirit to all flesh. By that which is said already I have brought it to this, the Scripture doth very much aim at this Comparison to be considered, why the vertues and operations of the Holy Ghost are called Water; and the choice of the Comparison, I think, are these particulars.
First, as waters poured upon Hills will not stay upon their tops, but runs down to the lowest places, and fills the Valleys beneath, so the Graces of God descend to the lowly, and humble in heart, and abide not with the proud. Nay David says it will be the better for it if it be but a little Valley, a diminitive: thou makest fruitful the little Valleys thereof with the drops of rain. Centurio quantò humilior tantò capacior, says Bernard; the Centurion lay very flat and low at our Saviour's feet, and where was there a man that had a larger portion of the heavenly benediction? for Christ said of him, I have not found so great faith no not in Israel. Nor is this a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as the Heathen called it, an embasement of a good courage, for the humble man hath the loftiest mind of all others if it be well observed; for he rec∣kons not by the magnificent pomp and praise of the World, though he have no little part in it, but esteems God, and nothing else to be his glory, and because he doth give God the glory in all things that are excellent, therefore he doth invite the Spirit of Grace unto himself by a religious policy; as thus, Grace is no longer Grace, than you confess it is conferred by meer gift, and frank benevolence. The proud is so arrogant in all his thoughts, that he would not yield to that; he thinks it was his due, which could not justly, or at least congruously be denied him. Needs must the rain fall down from such a steepy Mountain; and where will it find a place to rest? but in a little Valley, in a lowly heart which magnifies the love and fa∣vour of Christ for the gift of the Spirit above all things; but we had no right to ask it, because we were sinful; we had no understanding to desire it, because we were foolish; it is omni modo gratuita, a good turn freely bestowed in all respects; why do you not see, says Bernard, gratia nullibi nomen suum tuetur, nisi in humili? the Grace of God should quite lose its nature unless it dropt upon the humble man; Page 904 sink down therefore like a valley to receive this water, for the Lord resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble, 1 Pet. v. 5.
Secondly, The Spirit holds this Analogy with water, it washeth away all filth from the soul, and maketh the heart clean which was defiled. No superstition hath lasted longer, or spread further than one I shall name unto you: that an ex∣ternal sousing of the body in water did quite take away the guilt of all those sins which had been committed by the body. So Euripides as wise an Heathen as any in the pack, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Dive but into the Sea and it would rense away all their iniquities: then the Jews encurred this errour by that corrupti∣on which the Romans brought among them, especially the Pharisees; who if they had walked in the streets, or been in the Market, presently washt as soon as they came home, lest they had toucht, or been toucht by somewhat unawares which was de∣filed by the Gentiles. And if they washt all was well. No marvel therefore if the savage Moriscoes have a strong fancy to this day, how their filthiness is purged away if they bath in some river water every morning: It is more strange, that the Russian Christians in these times should attribute secret power to such an idle Ceremo∣ny: but most foppish of all, that the Priests of Rome would lead their whole Church into this delusion, that venial sins are done away if a few drops of an hal∣lowed casting bottel light upon the gaping people: and many a shrewd knavery pas∣seth under the name of a venial sin, as it is to be seen in their Cases of Conscience. Against all their errours, which I have recited, I lay my conclusion again, nothing but the grace of God, that water indeed which is above the heavens doth wash away all filth from the soul, and make the heart clean which was defiled.
The which will appear the better by noting this preeminence in their difference. Elementary water well applied takes away all impure soil that cleaves to a vessel: But can it add a brightness to the Vessel better than it had in the first making? No, you will say, that is not to be expected. I, but such is the operation of inward grace when it maketh clean; an earthen vessel is still no better than earth when it is rensed in a River: but if the Spirit from above abide within us, if it wash and san∣ctifie this Vessel of clay, it overlays it with Gold, and makes it more preci∣ous by far than ever. Then but a word spoken with grace, and in due season, is like apples of gold with pictures of silver, says Solomon. O how much have we need of it? We are all black before God like the Children of an Ethiopian,* says the Prophet Amos. We have Vultus adustos, faces as if they were scorched with flames, Jer. xiii. 8. And of others whom God did begin to loath, their visage is blacker than a coal, Lam. iv. 8. Black will take no colour we use to say, there is no help for it, either by Art or Nature:* but if the supernatural hand be stretched out upon us, then the Blackmore shall change his skin, and the Leopard his spots. As the bloud of the Mother after the birth of her Child keeps not the colour of bloud, but becomes milk in her breasts, so after we are begotten again by the Spirit, and bring forth the fruits thereof, our bloudy sins shall become milk, and though they be read as Scarlet, they shall be white as snow, Isa. i. 18. Yea, the Prophet says of Jerusalem while it served the Lord, her Na∣zarites were whiter than snow, purer than milk, Lam. iv. 7. Doth not David promise as much unto himself, if the Lord would renew a right spirit within him? Lavabis me, & dealbabor super nivem; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than the snow. As if by the Sacred Unction from heaven his soul should have a new beauty, which it ne∣ver had before; a plain Transfiguration, such as our Saviours was in the Mount, so that no Fuller upon earth could make a thing so white. Solomon in all his Royal∣ty was not cloathed like a Lilly of the field: But take Solomon in his repentance, (whereof I perswade my self) and his soul was much whiter than any Lilly in the field. This is a superlative vertue, wherewith the water in my Text is endowed, to cleanse that which was foul from every spot, and to make it surpass the whiteness which it had by nature.
Thirdly, Happy is the tree that grows by the Rivers of waters. No Plant can prosper unless sap and moysture nourish it: So Grace is that coelestial water which supplies the root within us, it makes the conscience abundant in good works, and without it it is impossible to bring forth the fruits of righteousness. Mark the rain which falls from heaven, and the same shower which dropt out of one cloud in∣creaseth sundry Plants in the same Garden according to the nature of the Plant. In one stalk it makes a Rose, in another a Violet, divers in a third, but sweet in all: So the Spirit is a moistning dew which works rare effects in several dispositions, and all most acceptable to God. Is your Complexion Cholerick? Try thine own Page 905 heart if it be apt to be zealous in a good cause. If it be so, it is the fruit of the Spirit that works upon your constitution. Is Melancholy predominant? The grace of God turns that sad humour into devotion, and Prayer. Is your Tempera∣ture Sanguine and chearful? I can tell what that will do, if this living water feed it: the mind will be bountiful, easie to remit injuries, glad of reconciliation, comfortable to the distressed, always rejoycing in the Lord. If a man be Phleg∣matick and fearful, there is a trial likewise what God can bring forth from such a nature. How wary will the Conscience be to give no offence? How pitiful? How penitent? How ready to weep over its own transgressions? Finally, in every Age of the life, old or young, in every condition of fortune, regal, honourable, or servile, this living water, where God pleaseth, incorporates it self into it, and makes it grow and fructifie, according to that use and purpose for which it was planted.
It is water then which doth increase and vegetate every Plant which our heaven∣ly Father hath planted, but with much disparity from our common waters, as you may apprehend by divers instances. For first, pour all that you can draw from your fountain upon a tree that is quite dead, and your labour is lost, it will never spring again: but most wretched were the state of man if the water which Christ gives did not bring us to live again when we were quite dead in corruption. And you being dead in your sins hath he quickned, &c. having forgiven you all your trespasses, Col ii. 13. All the Sons of Adam beside our earthly mortality are under the infliction of a double death by nature, it is a spiritual death to be bereft of grace: It is an eter∣nal death to be guilty of hell fire. We are St. Judes fruitless trees, bis mortuae,* once were enough, but we are twice dead, pluckt up from the root, yet if the light of Gods countenance shine upon us, we shall sprout again, and wax green like a Cedar in Libanus. What a sapless tree was Zachaeus before the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, as we do well call him in the Nicene Creed, did bring salvation to his house? You might as soon have squeezed water from a Pummy stone as charity from a Publican before his conversion; yet though he were dead in covetousness, as soon as He began to live in him, he scattered abroad, and gave unto the poor. As the Father said of his Prodigal Child being now come home into his bosom,*This thy brother was dead, and is alive again: So let every penitent soul confess, my root was dried up, how should it come to spring again but by some influence from heaven? I was a withered tree that cumbered the ground, how am I exalted like Aarons Rod to bring forth Buds and Almonds? I was a sensless stone, and God hath raised me from thence to be a Child of Abraham.
Take another instance of diversity, in every Plant that lives water is the means to make it bear; but in every Plant it makes it bear such fruit, and no other, as was first grafted upon it; it causeth a Fig-tree to bring forth Figs, and a Vine to be laden with Grapes: But if the fruit were sowre and unpleasant by nature, water it while your arms ake it will never help it. But this water in my Text, which is so worthy of our Saviours praise, it will make you gather Grapes of Thorns, and Figs of Thistles. Indeed, it should do so, but our Preaching is no better with ma∣ny than River water gushing upon a Crab-tree, the more we teach, the more you are laden with your own natural fruit. Pride, Luxury, Intemperance, Faction, Ma∣lice, and Incontinency are as rife as ever they were; nothing grows upon the stock for all the labour that is spent, but sowre Wildings that set the teeth on edge; it seems the chief ingredient is wanting, the blessing from above: you mind other things, and then the chief pipe of all will be stopt, by which the Spirit should en∣ter into our soul. There are some, and I would they were but few, that put in Bill and Answer, as it were against Gods plea, they urge their personal infirmities, and natural inclinations, and think that God can ask no more. I am dull of under∣standing, says one, and what I am taught I cannot bear it away: I am suddenly transported with indignation, and I cannot suffer; I am retentive of a wrong, and cannot easily be reconciled. All these are in the same tune with those ill manner'd Guests in the Gospel, we cannot come, I pray you have us excused. Humilitas sonat in ore, superbia in actione; To plead excuse is a form of humility, but in effect it is an open arrogancy. Spend this breath of excuse in Prayer and Supplication, and cry out often, and affectionately, drop down upon this heart O Lord, drop down upon it, and it shall bring forth fruit quite against the grain of your custom, quite against the bias of nature. The high-minded shall be humble as a Lamb: The implacable shall forgive his brother seventy times seven times: The Impostor shall Page 906 make restitution: the Bravaries of the time shall confess, and amend their vanity. Loe this is an alteration which nothing can produce but living water, from natural sterility of good to supernatural fruitfulness. Origen confounds Celsus with this Argu∣ment, that the Christian Religion must needs be the power of God, and not of man. For in all Kingdoms where it had success, it did civilize the most barbarous Nations: It did mollifie and intenerate the most stony hearts: It brought in Justice and good Laws among them that lived by Rapine and Robbery. A strange fruit to be found upon such wild Plants. Could it otherwise come to pass than because they were watered from above? I think you will like this Doctrine best in the Prophet Isaiahs expression, Chap. xi. 6. under the Kingdom of Christ, so it goes be∣fore, The Wolf shall dwell with the Lamb, and the Leopard shall lie down with the Kid. The Calf, and the young L•on, and the Fatling shall feed together, and a young Child shall lead them. All that place is noted by Eusebius for a Prophesie, to be meant of the con∣version of the Gentiles, whose brutishness and savage life was changed into good nurture, and sweet conversation. Ye were darkness▪ but now ye are light in the Lord. O blessed are ye, when that which is natural and inbred to our disposition drops off, and grows no more: Then if ye be planted by the River of God, ye shall bring forth your fruit in due season; and look whatsoever you do it shall prosper.
Take a third instance of diversity. Our Elementary water helps a Plant to bring forth one kind fruit at one season of the year, and this is a blessing of Gods left hand to fill us with the plenty of the earth: but the water, which is the blessing of his right hand, hath this excellency, to make the same tree bear all manner of spiritual fruit, and at all times and seasons, never unfurnisht, never empty. A mo∣ral temperate man may be unjust: A moral just man may be carnal: A moral chaste man may be covetous: But if it be spiritual temperance, or spiritual chastity com∣ing from the grace of God, it will be justice, and peace, and mercy, and all the whole swarm of vertues that can be recited. There is a difficult point in one of the Parables about a man that had not on a Wedding Garment. What is this Wedding Garment? One, will have it to be Faith; another, to be Good Works; a third, to be spiritual Joy; a fourth, to be repentance. Why Origen prevented all these controversies before they were moved, if he had been mark'd: Says he, Vestis nuptialis est textura omnium virtutum; The Wedding Garment is all these, and more than these, for it signifies that all vertue in the several threds should be woven into our heart. Faith, Hope, and Charity are fruits that hang all upon a stalk, three several divine graces, yet they have but one soul. Faith says there is a King∣dom prepared for the righteous, Hope catcheth hold, and says, it is prepared for me: Then Charity comes in for her part, and says, I will run to obtain it. They are like the three principal vital parts in mans body, the Heart, the Brain, and Liver. One is as necessary as all three together, for the decay of either is death without redemption. No stragling, single, solitary vertue which hath no fellows comes from this coelestial watering. The spiritual service of God, says a learned Author, may be measured three ways: 1. Whether it come ex toto corde, from all the heart, from all the strength, and from all the soul. 2. Whether it be Cum totâ plenitudine, with all the confluence of good works as it were in one fortunate con∣junction. 3. Whether it be in toto tempore, continually, and at all times alike. Spiritus vivificat, Joh. vi. It is the Spirit that quickneth, which makes a good man live, and fructifie at one time as much as another. It is no dead moisture which can do no good upon a Plant, unless the Sun likewise be in a fit ascension to cherish it, and make it spring. This is living water, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, says St. Chrysostome; It impels the Conscience to be never out of motion in some spiritual exercise. The Son of God is called a living stone, and the Spirit living wa∣ter, and man a living Sacrifice. Righteousness is the savour of life unto life; dead works are the savour of death unto death. A tree that always bears is a Plant of Paradise. Not a little Repentance, or a little Charity, once or twice a year at a Communion, and then shake hands with Mortification till the next Christmass, or Easter. Among other reasons why the Holy Ghost assumed the shape of a Dove this is reckoned for one, that it is a bird of a most teeming fecundity; whether any bird that flies lay oftner I am not certain, I believe not many; such fecundity there is in a lively Faith, it is never without some good Work, either the Tongue is Pray∣ing, or the Ear is Hearing, or the Heart is Meditating, or the Eye is Weeping, or the Hand is Giving, or the Soul is Thirsting for Remission of sins. And this is Page 907 enough to shew what fruitfulness is brought to pass by this heavenly moisture, and for the first part of the Text.
Yet it were an undervaluing, and a diminution to so great a blessing, to be cal∣led water, unless the second part of my text did hold up the dignity; let us come therefore to consider the rare vertue which is in it; for it takes away the molesta∣tion of thirst for ever: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall ne∣ver thirst. Yet I will take in no more than the Text doth directly prove, and leave that which some would draw in ex abundanti, by the strength of their conjectures. There are those that make this verse a convincing argument, how a man that hath tasted the grace of God is never empty more, but assuredly full and satisfied to the end of his life. Which way soever the truth of that Controversie stands I wave it off, but I think this Text is not to be charged with that meaning, as if it proved it. 'Tis true, he that drinks of this water shall never thirst; but quousque bibendum? how long must he drink? let him drink all his days, while his breath lasts, and then he shall be satisfied with the goodness of the Lord as out of a River. Again, call to remembrance what is meant by this water; every good and perfect gift which enricheth the Soul descending from the Father of lights: but among all that heavenly Offspring perseverance is the fairest; Nymphas supereminet omnes, Perse∣verance must not be excluded from the Text. Then I have done with this rubb in a word, he that drinks of this water, and puts perseverance into the Cup, he shall never thirst.
He shall never thirst? Why then says the Son of Syrach concerning the wisdom which sanctifieth all things, They that eat me shall yet be hungry, and they that drink me shall yet be thirsty, Ecclus. xxiv. 21. and very certain none so greedy to have more grace, as he that hath some already; none so instant to get ten Talents, as he that hath received five. Let Elisha be inspired with a competent measure for one of the Children of the Pro∣phets, and he will presume to ask that a double portion of Elias his spirit may rest upon him, if it be possible. Concerning all the fruits of the Spirit, this judgment of Gregorie's is undoubted, cum non habentur in falstidio sunt, cum habentur in desiderio;* they that have them not think vilely of them, they that have them do insatiably de∣sire them. Please you for the true explanation of the words to mark, the Propo∣sition must not be taken alone by it self, but respectively to the Comparison that went before. The water which the Woman of Samaria came for, it consumes, after you have tasted it, and it is missed as if it never had been. Therefore we call for Elementary drink every day, for as much as drought is a torment to nature: now when we are once made partakers of living waters we call for more and more, not because want and driness doth afflict us, but because desire doth please us. So that distinction used by many will be clear to be understood, sitis ariditati, non desiderio op∣ponitur, he that drinks these waters of the Holy Spirit shall never after have a dry and a parched Soul, but he shall ever have a thirsty affection to drink his fill. The vertue therefore of the Spirit may be well drawn to these three heads. First it moistens the Soul that it feels no driness, like a barren Land which hath no natural humour in it, there is no such thirst in him that hath a lively faith; but it cannot choose but beget a thirsty affection, and a longing to add more and more unto it. 2. It makes us leave to thirst after vain delights by little and little. 3. He that satiates his spirit with it in this life, shall be discharged from all manner of thirst hereafter, when he changeth this life to live with God for ever.
The first of these Propositions begets this lesson, where sanctification hath moistned the inward man to the bottom, and to the root, there the heart is restless till it obtain a larger abundance of the spirit. After this manner a good Profici∣ent gains upon Gods blessing step by step. Thou hast given me to know thee, O Lord, but confirm my faith also to believe in thee; nay, give me not onely to be∣lieve, but to suffer for thy Names sake, so shalt thou try and examine if there be any way of wickedness in me: or if thou hast not reserv'd me for the Cup of affli∣ctions, yet prove me throughly by obedience, grant that my works may please thee: that I may do thy will on earth as it is in heaven. Make thy Laws sweet un∣to my mouth, sweeter than the honey and the honey-comb. Such a one is Marcianus the Anchorite chronicled by Theodoret: One of his ancient acquaintance being in chase after his Game, found him alone in a Desart. What make you so far from your friends, says the Huntsman; and what make you so far in the Woods, says Marcianus, I am hunting for a Beast, says he, and I will not leave till I have taken it: and I am hunting for my God, says Marcianus, and I will not leave till I have Page 908 found him. Such a one by Procopius his description was Justinian the Emperor, (and such an Example was worth a thousand) nulla honorandi Dei satietas cum cepit,* he was never cloyed to do God honor, he never thought his duty was enough in Religious service. The more we bend our affection to heavenly things, we shall be enflamed with more devotion: as devotion encreaseth the more help shall be added, the more help the more diligence, and the more diligence the more glory.
Nemo primo statim die ad satietatem potatur, says one of the Moderns; No man is made Christian enough in a day to go to the Kingdom of Heaven: unless it be in such a rare example as that was of the penitent Thief. It is a false spirit that says unto any mortal man, it is well if you can keep at this stay, and prove no worse. Yet I know the greatest part of indifferent Christians are so affected to the love of the World, that if it were possible to measure out to a dram, what quantity of righteousness would serve them to attain to salvation, they would reach so far, if the Grace of God would assist them, but they would seek no further. I say, if they knew the trick how to make just a Saint, and no more, they would spare a labour for seeking beyond that point, and for the rest sacrifice to carnal security. Cer∣tainly there can be no living water already, where there is no thirsting for more. Whatsoever you know or hear of, that any Saint living or departed hath done for Gods sake, it is a shame for you, if you do not covet to do as much or more than that; at least if you be not sorry that your frailties make you come short of the best. Speak thus to your own heart, Should any of thy Servants love thee better than I? should any of thy Disciples be more obedient than I? for none of thine Elect is so much indebted to thy Passion as I am, because none had so many sins to be forgiven? Thus your Soul must thirst to be the nearest that shall stand before the presence of the Lord; and count your self extreme lag in perfection until you desire to come equal with the principal Saints. Lord let me love thee as Peter did, Lord let me love thee more than these. Some cried Hosanna, and shouted for ioy, when our Saviour went to Jerusalem; some cut down branches of Palms, that was a more real expression of his welcome; some spared their Garments from their back and laid them in his way: These were the formost in affection; and what a becoming thing it was to be the best of all those that ran forth to meet our Saviour? but as if one should wish always to be a Child, and never come to manly growth, so is a lumpish Christian, who perswades himself that a moderate competency of righteousness is best: let others, if they will, strive to be those green Olive trees that flourish in the House of the Lord. The learned among the Heathen love to talk of strange Creatures, and Plutarch tells of a Fish, of which to eat a little is hurtful, to eat it up all is medi∣cinal. True or false be the Story, it comes fit to be applied. Christ promiseth no blessing to him that doth but wet his lips with this living water: a little spattering holiness will turn to hypocrisy; the vertue of it abides with those that drink deep for the preserving and cherishing of a spiritual life: and the thirsty Soul, the more it drinks up, the more it will cry out, give me ever of this water to drink.
The second Experiment is this; the water which Christ gives turns the edg of the appetite quite from this world, and makes us leave to thirst af∣ter all other delights: he that drinketh of this water, though concupiscence cannot quite be rooted out, yet he shall never long greedily after carnal lusts. He that doth not hate his own Soul cannot be my Disciple:* is not this a Paradox? for, what shall it profit me to love all things else, if I hate it? well, love it as it is Christs Soul, altogether ravished with the love of him: hate it as it was thine own Soul altogether ravished with the love of the world. Tunc animam nostram benè odimus,*cum ejus carnalibus desideriis non acquiescimus, says Gregory; as a man seems to be ill affected to another, if he deny him that he sues for: so such heavenly re∣solutions by a Catachresis are called the hate of the Soul, when we deny it satisfacti∣on in foolish and earthly inclinations. He that hath called promotion to honour, or the fatness of riches, or luxury, or any such thing, the darling of his heart, it was for want of this water in my Text, to cool the inflammation of his fever: but if ever he receive a dose of it, the new Wine is put in a new Bottle, and both shall be preserved. The grace of God doth supply the place of a Cherubin that stood with a flaming sword to keep Adam out of Paradise; so the Holy Spirit will give the watch-word and cry out in the time of tentation, turn aside, and enter not into the paths of these pleasures, these are not the Paradise into which you should come; if you do, there is a Sword that will cut you in twain, and give you your portion with Hypo∣crites. St. Austin observs upon the sixth verse of this Chapter, that Jesus being Page 909 weary sat upon the Well, quasi non alius fons esset quàm ipse Christus; as who should say, O ye Samaritans, what Well do ye come forth to draw at; that Pit from which ye drew of old is vanished, but here's a better sitting in the place, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.
How ugly those things will appear to a regenerate man, which in the days of un∣happiness, when sin did reign in his mortal body, were the pride of his eyes? how contemptibly he looks upon himself, remembring how he was ambitious? how high he thinks himself above the reach of fortune, when he thinks not of high places? The World would teach him wisdom, how he may save his own: the Gospel will teach him better wisdom, to lose all for Christ: before he could not see another glister, and shine like a bigger Planet, but he felt a gripe of emulation, and his heart said, oh that I were him or him: but when he can truly say. Ʋnto thee O Lord do I lift up my soul, my conversation is in heaven, then he can see no man abroad with whom he would change conditions: and why all this? O but because the new Wine hath filled the Bottle, the Ram is offered up for a Burnt-offering, and Abraham hath his Isaac untoucht. Isaac is spiritual joy, which Abraham cannot lose, if the Ram, which is carnal concupiscence, be consumed instead of it, and burnt to ashes. Then Matthew leaves all his wealth, with more delight than ever he got it; then Paul esteems all the dignity he had in the Synagogue to be but dross for the excellency of the knowledg of Christ. And you cannot hear too often what the holy Father St. Austin says of his own conversion, that his fancy was in a good dream, as if it heard a voice saying, take up the Book and read; and he pitcht upon these words, Rom. xiii. 13. Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in chambering and wantonness, not in rioting in drunkenness. At that instant he felt a refrigeration with∣in himself to cool the fire of lust, which is kindled from Hell: at that instant he laid his mouth to the Well of water, nectareum bibit ore fontem,* and found it tem∣pered with that ingredient of the Holy Ghost, that he did never thirst. It is a para∣bolical, but a pious application which St. Austin maks upon the 28. of this Chapter. The Woman of Samaria came forth with her Pitcher to draw water; by which are moralized the unstable vanities, that are as common as an open River. Well, up∣on some conference our Saviour reveals unto her, that he was the Christ. What's next after that in the story? the Woman left her water pot, and went away into the City. Now comes in Justins Parable, the Water pot is this Appetite of ours made of clay and dirt; with it we pluck up pernicious things from the hidden and dark pits of pleasure; but she that knows Christ must abhor this Appetite, and cast away her Pitcher: quae credit in Christo renunciabit seculo: leave your filthy desires behind you, take them up no more, and then Christ will take you up into his glory.
The third Experiment, and the principal which extols this soveraign water, comes now to be handled, and it will serve fitly to conclude all: 'tis thus; he that drinks of it liberally, and thirstily unto the end of his life, shall not only as∣swage the malignity of evil concupiscence now, but shall be discharged of all man∣ner of thirst hereafter, when he changeth this life to live with God for ever. Bur∣dens heat the spirits, and waste the moisture of the body, and parch the throat with driness more than any thing: Help a man that is so overladen, with a com∣fortable draught of wine, and you fortify and enable his strength to make him bear his carriage easily, that he shall not sink under it; but yet the burden re∣mains upon his shoulders. So in this time of our Pilgrimage sin will ever be a sore burden upon us, and unless the spirit did comfort us it could not be supported; but we have a draught of wine mingled with mirrh given us now, to undergo the cross with fortitude and patience. And in the day of Gods last visitation, when He shall take thy soul into his rest, thy burden shall be quite cast off, and the tediousness shall be no more remembred.
Among the manifold mercies of God, for which we are to bless his holy Name, the pleasantest of them all is this Psal. ciii. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the Eagles. Surely there is much in joyning those two things together in that verse, thy mouth shall be satisfied with good things, when thy youth is renewed like the Eagles; which is a Paraphrase of the resurrection of the life to come. He that opens the door of his heart when Christ knocks to come in, he shall sup with Christ, Revel. iii. 20. And Gregory notes, that the grace which he will minister to us in the Kingdom of Glory is called a Supper, quia post prandium coena restat, post coenam nullum convivium: for after Dinner the stomach may look for another Meal, but having supt, it looks for no more repast that day, but is satisfied. So in Page 910 this life we dine with Gods grace, and look for an other Banquet; in the next life we sup with Gods grace, that's the hidden manna which is food for ever; qui cre∣dit in me non sitiet in aeternum, he that believeth in me shall not thirst for ever.
Then to drink of this water is to believe, the reason is because faith swallows the hidden mysteries of salvation, without chewing or biting upon them with the unsanctified tooth of humane reason; fides sine difficultate intrat in animam, it goes down like drink into our bowels with great facility: Believe therefore that this wa∣ter will suffer no thirst to possess your soul when you shall enjoy the presence of God, and be it unto you according to your faith. We ought not to trust so much to that which we see, or feel, as to be confident of the fulfilling of Gods Promises. Lazarus shall no more thirst at the Rich mans Gate, but the rich unmerciful man shall thirst for a drop of water to cool his tongue. Therefore let him that is in misery say, I take my turn to want for a little while, I shall be full hereafter, the hungry shall be fed with good things, and the rich shall be sent empty away. Fret not therefore at the prosperity of an unjust man: Would you take his gains, his honors, his pleasures told ten times over with his losses and afflictions to boot, which he shall sustein hereafter? I am sure you like not the bargain. The Silk∣worm begins to live in silk at this time, and continues but for two or three months: the Ground-worm will not change conditions with the Silk-worm, who may live longer in the dust of the earth. Why, he that is sanctified in Christ shall bequeath his body for a time to the dust, but his spirit shall return to unspeakable glory. Therefore envy not these Silk-worms, which shall flourish for a short time, perhaps for less than a month, perhaps for less than an hour, and then they shall howl, and thirst for ever. Say thou with Philip, Ostende nobis patrem & sufficit, let these things pass away, shew us thy Father, and it sufficeth.
And as faith is sure of Promise, so it is hot in Prayer: tantò instantior in prece quantò certior in promissione: because God is sure to give, I will be sure to ask. If thou wouldest ask of me, says our Saviour to the Woman, I would give thee living water. The Holy Ghost is donum ex dono, given to us not at the first hand, but because Christ is given, the gift of another gift, because God gave his only Son unto the World. As it is the natural condition of water to ascend as much as it descends; so Christ de∣scended with this grace of living water unto the earth, therefore it will ascend a∣gain from the earth, with us, where Christ is gone into Heaven. Behold I have set before you in the former verse, and my Text, vile waters and precious; a ter∣restrial Globe upon which you might study the vanity of things beneath, and a celestial Globe to study heaven, and the things that are above. The former verse begins like Solomon's Ecclesiastes, Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity: This I end as the same Book doth, The end of all is fear God, and keep his Commandments. Will you mind earthly things, or is your conversation in Heaven? Philip. iii. 19. Lo the Fountain of righteousness is open, all that thirst by faith come and drink, especially in the Supper of the Lord with humbleness: and because we have not a Pitcher to draw, and none can help us but Jesus Christ, let us turn unto him in Prayer, that he would open our mouth wide, and fill it with his hidden grace, that we may never thirst after the delightfulness of our former sins. AMEN.