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water" shall be in him." The site of
Gospel provides The supply of upon external
the fountain which the is the believer's heart. its waters depends not occurrences. It is not like one of those torrents, familiar to the people of Palestine; which are formed by the tempest; whose course is full to overflowing while the waterfloods fall, but is dry and deserted when the rain descends no longer. The spring of this fountain is within. Even so is that Christian principle, which is the spring and fountain of all true religion. It does not depend upon external excitement, nor does it consist in external performances. It has none of that spirit which is zealous in washing the hands, and making clean the outside of the platter, and therewith rests content; but it first of all provides that there shall be a clean fountain within, to be itself the source of many a clear bright streamlet. For though pure and undefiled, religion has its origin in the heart, it does not rest there inactive. Sound principle is the seed, but it is a seed which bringeth
forth much fruit.
The well of water is to be in the Christian, but at the same time it is to be a well springing up into everlasting life. This portion of the figure again is full of meaning, if examined carefully. It must be remembered that the country in which Christ is speaking, was full of deserts, tracts, of which a modern traveller informs us, "it is difficult to form a correct idea without having been in one. It is an endless plain of sand and stones, without roads or shelter, without any sort of produce for food. The few scattered trees and shrubs of thorns, that only appear when the rainy season leaves some moisture, barely serve to feed wild animals, and a few birds. When these trees become old, and lose their vegetation, the sun which constantly beams upon them, burns and reduces them to ashes. The other smaller plants, have no sooner risen out of the earth, than they are dried up, and all take the colour of straw." Now these are all the results of drought, the consequences of a lack of
moisture. But let us suppose a well or fountain in this desert, (and such things. there are, though often many days' journey apart,) and what will be the aspect of the spot. If it be a well retaining all its waters within itself, and suffering none of its precious contents to escape beyond its own margin, yet will the ground about it, feel the blessing of its neighbourhood, and the tree tall and flourishing, the shrub fresh and green, and the grass thick and luxuriant, will render it beautifully conspicuous, amid the surrounding desolation. If it be a fountain which springeth up, a fountain whose supply is so abundant, that it breaks forth in little rills, so as to make its influence felt in distant spots, and in different directions, the change, of course, is still more remarkable, and still more pleasing. "The wilderness and the solitary place become glad, and the desert doth rejoice and blossom as the rose, the glory of Lebanon is given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, for the parched ground hath become a pool, and thirsty land springs of water!"
And may not the heart of man, without any forced or fanciful application of the figure, be compared to one of these wildernesses? Is it not by nature as sterile? If there be in it, here and there, any spot less barren than the rest, any spot capable of producing some stunted shrub, or humble flower-some virtue or quality near akin to virtue, is not such produce speedily burnt up by the heat of this lust, or swept away by the violence of that passion? And may not the soul in such a state be said to gasp, as does a thirsty land, for aid? Suppose that aid supplied then and a fountain of divine grace opened in the heart, will not its influence be as active, and its effects as visible as in the case of the natural fountain? As there the presence of the fertilizing stream was declared by the freshness and verdure which marked its progress, so will this heavenly fountain "spring up," and show itself. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." And
1 Gal. v. 22, 23.
all these will be brought forth abundantly in the life of that man in whose heart the living waters dwell.
But while we are considering the aptness and propriety of the figure employed by our Lord when he speaks of the indwelling of his Spirit, as of a well of water; let us not forget the dangers to which those wells were subject. We have seen that the verdure which smiles beside the fountain of the desert, occupies a very small space, compared with the expanse of desolation which surrounds it. In the immediate vicinity of the little rill, the soil is firm and immoveable; it is held together by the roots and fibres of the trees it nourishes; by the clustering grass, and by bands of flowers. But immediately beyond this, all is loose and unreclaimed, a region of bare rock, or dry and arid sand. And oftentimes, a whirlwind will rush across these deserts, bearing the sand along in huge clouds, or dark dense columns, and pouring down a torrent" of powder and dust," as it is termed in Deuteronomy, upon every thing that