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"The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto
everlasting life.”—John iv. Voes this spring never dry up?" said a lady to a
little girl who had come to fetch water from a flowing stream, somewhere among the Welsh
mountains. “Oh yes,” replied the little girl ; "in very hot weather it dries up.”
“What do you do for water then ?" asked the lady.
“Oh then," was the answer, " then we go to the higher spring up on the hills."
“And does the higher spring never dry up ?”. “Oh, no, that never dries up.”
One day, many hundreds of years ago, another traveller had a conversation with a woman who had come to draw water from the ancient well at the foot of the mountain near which she dwelt. The traveller, who was sitting on the rim of the well, began his conversation by asking for a drink of water, which the woman hardly cared to give him, because she saw he was a Jew, and between the Jews and her people—the Samaritans—there had been a long-standing religious dispute, which kept them from having dealings with each other, or even speaking to each other civilly. Now the traveller could do without the water, but He knew He had something to give the woman which she could not do without and yet do well; and He was much more eager to give her this boon than to get from her a drink of water. So He sought to excite the woman's curiosity by telling her of a great secret there was in Himself, which, if she only knew, she would try to get from Him. And He spoke of something He had to give as “ living water"; and He said it came from a spring that would never dry up, and further, that it would spring up within the person to whom it should be given, so that he would never be thirsty again. No wonder that the woman began to ask questions about the water, as to where He would get it, and ended by asking
Him to give her this water that she might never be thirsty again, nor have to come down to the old well to draw.
But she did not quite understand Him. She thought the water he spoke of was like that she got from the well. Now He did not mean that at all. The water He had to give was far better than any water from a well, and it would do far more for a person than quench his natural thirst. It would satisfy his thirsty heart. What water is that? It is the water that gives life to a soul, and keeps life in it, because the well is sunk in its very depths, and is ever “springing up unto everlasting life.”
Spring water is water that springs up out of the earth. The spring water of life flows up into the soul and keeps it ever fresh, ever satisfied.
What water, then, is that of which the traveller told the woman? Even the water of Christ's saving grace; for He was the traveller that talked to the woman at the well. And this she came to understand when presently she was made to see who He was that spake to her, even the Christ of God. Then she drank, and got the living water from the spring that never dries up.
Jesus is ever ready to open this spring in the heart of the children of men. He calls to them, as He did when He was upon earth, and says, “ He that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and He that believeth in Me shall never thirst.” Now “coming” to Him and “believing in Him” are the same thing. And all who come to Him and seek His saving grace find that He Himself comes into them by His Spirit, and sends up the waters that quench the soul's thirst, and refresh the soul's weariness.
And the spring never dries up. Christ is always there with supplies of life and love, which make the soul happy and keep it happy, and will so keep it for ever and ever. For the living water is within the man, “a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.”
All other springs are “lower” springs, and they dry up. There are pleasures which are pure and good for us, but they come from springs that dry up. The pleasure you got yesterday makes you long after more pleasure to-day; the spring has dried up. The love found in you from another's heart may cease to flow, or death may dry it up. The knowledge you delight to get by reading and study, and which is good so far as it goes, will not comfort the longing heart when it is thirsty, nor assuage its sorrows when it is in trouble. Afterwards, the “lower spring" dries up when it is most wanted, as the water in the “lower" Welsh hills does in hot weather. The springs from the higher hills of Christ's grace and love never dry up, even under the heat of trial and persecution, and pain and adversity, and it never ceases to satisfy.
Shall we not say, “ Lord, give us this water!" Rather, shall not every thirsty soul that is not satisfied, is not happy, because it is trying to do without Christ, come to Him by faith, and earnestly cry," Lord, give me this water, that I thirst not !"
“I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Behold! I freely give
Stoop down, and drink, and live.
Of that life-giving stream ;
J. BRANWHITE FRENCH.
It sounded very pretty, and the speaker looked
quite delighted as she repeated this romantic remark, but I could not help inwardly smiling to myself as I reflected how entirely she was confounding two opposite
natures—the one that loves to bask in the sun itself, and the one that makes sunshine for others. My friend belonged essentially to the first class. She was a bright, pleasant, fascinating woman, whose only idea of life was, like the butterfly, to flit from flower to flower and sip its sweets; to gather gay friends around her, and give them pleasure in the way that best pleased herself, and to leave the duties of life behind her and pass the dark places by. But I did not attempt to destroy her illusion, and she snatched up ber sable muff, and calling out a careless good-bye to her aged mother, went out to join some friends at a concert given for charity. A short time after a knock at the front door announced a caller; the mistress being out, I was surprised to find the visitor ushered in. She was a quietlooking girl, with a bright face and kind eyes, and she went straight across to the old lady sitting wearily by the fireside. In a few minutes the dreary-looking old dame was chatting away with her young friend and laughing heartily. I could scarcely believe in the transformation. For half an hour the two talked merrily, the young one telling incidents and anecdotes of that outer world that her old friend so rarely visited. Then the girl discovered incidentally that the old lady's feet were very cold; that she felt a draught, and quickly and deftly she drew a couch beside the fire, and placing her old friend on it, covered her warmly up.
“God bless you, my dear !” said the old lady; "you have cheered me so I feel I shall have a nice nap. I am so comfortable. How sweet it is to be taken care of like this ! Come again as soon as you can.”
“Ah,” thought I, as the girl left the house and walked briskly up the bleak street, “there goes a genuinely sunny nature-a nature that sheds instead of merely absorbing sunshine; that seeks out the dull spots and gloomy places in this world and tries to light them up and make them light and glowing ; that puts self and selfish pleasure aside, and finds true happiness in ministering to the comfort of others, in cheering the lonely hours of the old or the sick. I do not think many of us in this busy world fully realise the great power that is in us to make lighter the burdens of our fellow-creatures. I once heard an active, happy wife and mother exclaim, “I am sure I have quite enough troubles of my own, without wanting to hear other people's." The truth was she had fewer troubles than many others—a kind husband, good healthy children, a safe and comfortable income,-and it struck me as she made the remark quoted that it was because she had so few troubles that she was uninterested in the troubles of others. We cannot easily sympathise with what we have never experienced. If we live in the sunshine ourselves, it requires an effort to realise the dreary life that has little or no sunshine in it; if we always have money in our pockets, we cannot understand at all the pinching poverty that has to look twice at every penny spent. I remember once pleading with a well-to-do man to help a brother who had slipped down the ladder of life, overweighted by the cares of a large family. “He is out of health from want of good food,” I said. “Rubbish !" was the reply; "he can get a good dinner at a dozen places in the City for a shilling." I could not make this affluent man understand that, to his poorer brother, a shilling spent on his own solitary dinner would have seemed a selfish wickedness, with so many mouths to feed at home on a very scanty income. What sunshine might one brother have let into the home of the other by a little timely kindness. It is well known that there is no class of people so kind to each other as the very poor. They know so well the sorrows of poverty, the pains and weakness of ill-health and poor nourishment, and they know too how cheering are a few sympathetic words; how the tiniest act of kindness seems to lift the weary burden somewhat, and give the tired heart fresh courage to battle with the troubles of life. Friends, whether we are poor or whether we are rich, whether we are amongst the robust or the ailing of the earth, let us learn to look around us for the dark corners of life, upon which we may shed the bright sunshine of sympathy and kindness.