« PrécédentContinuer »
like the troubled sea, when driven into tumult by the wind; it cannot rest, and its waters cast forth mire. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
(4.) A river gladdens by its fertility. It is not an arid and barren tract-a dry and thirsty land where no water is—but a spot where the soil is irrigated and rendered productive, like the plain of Jordan, wellwatered in every part, even as Eden, the garden of the Lord, with its four rivers. In the spiritual Jerusalem flows that river of God which is full of water, with which he abundantly refreshes and greatly enriches his vineyard. The moisture it imparts to the trees of righteousness, clothes their foliage with perennial verdure, and loads their branches with seasonable fruit. Under its genial influence, even the young shall spring up as willows by the water-courses, and the aged, flourishing as the palm-tree in the spots of living green, shall still bring forth fruit and be fat and flourishing. O God! thou canst change the glowing sand into a pool, and make the desert land springs of water. Send down thy Spirit on those parts of the earth that have hitherto been the most barren of thy praise. Even in the dry places that have too long been the habitation of unclean spirits, let there be grass, with reeds and rushes. And at home and abroad do thou so water thine Israel, that it may be again acknowledged by their enemies, “ As the valleys are they spread forth; as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign-aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters."
(5.) A river gladdens by its beauty, combined with its utility. We need not go far from the place where we are met—we need only survey the fair face of nature in our immediate neighbourhood, to perceive what loveliness and interest are imparted to a landscape by a deep river gradually expanding its bosom towards the
sea, and pouring into it incessantly the tribute of its many waters. And our pleasure is greatly enhanced when, in addition to this, we see it rendered subservient to the great purposes of navigation, and witness on it the ever busy scenes of commerce, and sometimes the more gay and airy exhibitions of naval pageantry. It is not always the picturesque in nature that is the most useful, but here, by the ingenuity of man, both are combined. In man's ingenuity let us adore his Maker's wisdom. Christians! have you no pleasing prospects, no enchanting landscapes when walki by the side of your streams? Rather how various, how attractive, how endearing, how impressive and improving, are the objects which every where in the Gospel strike the eye and fix the heart! And these living waters are useful as well as pleasant, for is it not by means of them that you carry on profitable intercourse with the land that is afar off, the merchandise of which is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold?
(6.) A river gladdens by its abundance and the perpetuity of its supplies. It is not an insignificant rill from a broken cistern,-it is not a summer brook, irregular in its flow and speedily dried up,—it is not one stream merely, but the river of many streams coming from springs whose waters fail not, but which continue to hold on their undiminished and majestic course from age to age. What can be more descriptive of the abundance and perpetuity of all the various spiritual blessings which we have described as constituting the happiness of Zion! Her God is indeed a gracious God, giving into the bosoms of His people good measure, pressed down and shaken together, and running over. Does He pardon? He abundantly pardons. Does He give the influence of the Holy Ghost? He sheds it down abundantly. Does He send his Son that we might have life? yea that we might have it more abundantly. Does He bless Zion's provision ? He blesses it abundantly, so that her poor are abundantly satisfied with the fatness of His house, and He makes them to drink of the river of His pleasures. Does He minister to them an entrance into His everlasting kingdom? He ministers it abundantly, and, in answer to their prayers, He does for them abundantly -exceeding abundantly-above all that they askabove all that they think. And His communications are as permanent in duration as they are abundant in
The rills of creature comfort vanish in succession like so many deceitful brooks. But the Creator God remaineth for ever the same; the streams of His grace are ever flowing, are ever full, for they come from Himself, the inexhaustible fountain of all good. So it is with the river which gladdens our Zion,-it refreshed our forefathers—it is refreshing us their children - and it is destined, we trust, to refresh millions yet unborn, who shall come after us.
Finally, and in the way of application,—a river in a city gladdens by its proximity, for then its streams are ever near, ever accessible. To a traveller crossing a burning desert, and fainting for thirst, a single spring gushing forth on his path, might revive his spirits for a time, only to lengthen out his sufferings. But the waters of the spiritual Horeb that flow from the spiri
tual rock Christ, follow the pilgrim throughout the whole of his wilderness journey; and thus refreshed and invigorated at every stage, he goes from strength to strength, till at last he reaches the Zion above. See then, my friends, what privileges you are called to realise, see what rich delights and exalted enjoyments you are invited to participate. “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," "and the Spirit and the Bride say Come. And let him that heareth say Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” And while gladdened by it ourselves, let us rejoice to see its stream flowing far and wide throughout the earth. Let us pray that from our sanctuary living waters ma flow out, to exhilarate and fertilise the most distant lands, and, encouraged by the sure word of promise, let us by anticipation take up the inspiriting shout,—“Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth ; ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift
their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.” “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine
That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.
Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase ; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him."
“ Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and
extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee ; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men : so shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him : for that which had not been told them shall they see ; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.”—Isaiah, lii. 13–15.
If there be any one subject within the compass of this holy book, which fully justifies its own declaration, “ that God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and our ways are not his," it is the mystery of that agony and death which we are this day assembled to commemorate. For who among the children of men would ever have expected that honour was to spring out of infamyblessing out of a curse—life out of death; that a cross would be the step to a crown, and the blackest malice of the creature display the brightest mercy of the Creator? Who of the angelic host could have imagined that the Ancient of days should become a child of time,—that God's only begotten and wellbeloved Son should be treated by him as an outcast, and punished as if a foe,—that the Lord of Glory should sink into the lowest ignominy,—that the Prince of Life should be brought to the dust of death ?-And yet so it was! All this and much more than this