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their folly in forsaking the Lord though only in heart. Let us therefore dread the slightest departure from the “ fountain of living waters ;" here and here only are all our “fresh springs ;" other streams of consolation may seem pure, and may promise us much refreshment; our own attainments in divine knowledge, in grace, and in holiness, our victories over sin, and increasing conformity to Christ, may hold out plausible grounds of rejoicing; but we shall find that these are not to be relied on; we ourselves are changeable and fluctuating; and the stream which today flows abundantly, promising luxuriant fertility, may to-morrow present to the eye of the weary traveller but a dry and empty channel. With the Lord alone is the well of life! This is the only fountain that never fails ! His promises, his word, his truth, though ever the same, are ever renovating. With continual “joy may we draw water out of these wells of salvation;" while all who look to themselves, or trust to human aid, or to any other source of happiness, shall find them to be but “ cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
And do any inquire, How shall we partake of these spiritual blessings ? Are they ready to say with the woman of Samaria, We have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep? we would invite them to a diligent use of the appointed means whereby alone the deep waters of comfort are to
be obtained by the thirsty and fainting soul, meditation, the study of the word of God, and earnest prayer. The more carefully these means are used, the more abundantly will the blessing be enjoyed. And when like wandering sheep we have strayed from the fountain of living waters, and all other streams of consolation have failed us, then shall we know the value of that which we have forsaken, the good shepherd will lead us back to that pure and perennial spring “ of which if a man drink he shall never thirst.” May it please Almighty God to pour out abundantly of his Holy Spirit upon our souls, that it may be “in us a well of water springing up into everlasting life!”
THE CELESTIAL CITY.
ISAIAH xxxiii. 24.
AND THE INHABITANT SHALL NOT SAY, I AM SICK: THE PEOPLE THAT DWELL THEREIN SHALL BE FORGIVEN THEIR INIQUITY.”
Of what favoured city, of what happy land does the prophet here speak? Can it be that he describes any terrestrial scene? or is it some fair region of the blessed that has floated by him, and of which his prophetic spirit has caught a transient view? There can be little doubt that in their primary sense these words apply to Jerusalem, and to the good days that were yet in store for her; especially when her king Messiah should visit her, to set up his spiritual kingdom of grace. But the whole passage must obviously be interpreted of the second coming of Christ and the eternal and glorious kingdom which he will then establish " in the new heavens and the new earth in which dwelleth righteousness.” Of his approach the prophet had assured the suffering church in the 17th verse. “ Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” And in the verses more immediately preceding the text, the security, blessedness, and glory of that city of the blessed are depicted in images of surpassing beauty and grandeur. It is a peaceful and eternal city : “Look upon Zion the city of our solemnities : thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall EVER be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.” The Lord has embellished and defended it by wide and flowing rivers which surround it as a vast moat on every side. “There the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams: wherein shall go no” hostile "galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship” of the foe pass thereby."
“ The Lord is our judge—the LORD is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king, he will save us.” Jehovah Himself reigns there, He is the true light, the glory and defence of this wonderful city. As for her enemies, they shall be as a dismasted and disabled vessel. “Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail :" while, changing the metaphor, it is added, the people of the Lord shall be as mighty ones that "divide great spoil,” and their enemies so feeble
that “lame men might take them as a prey. “And the inhabitant of that city shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.”
Now these beautiful words are written for our learning, and they are calculated to suggest many affecting and yet encouraging reflections relative to our present state and future prospects. If the text be a description of the ultimate condition of the redeemed, of which there can be no doubt, then we may learn from it that the souls in glory had all once been both sick and guilty, and that they are now both pardoned and happy, and free from all sickness and sorrow for ever. In taking a rapid view of our present and future state, may it please God by his Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and affect our hearts; that seeing and feeling our present misery and condemnation, we may be led to seek that Saviour in and through whom we can alone find pardon, salvation, and peace.
Let us then, I. CONSIDER OUR PRESENT CON
DITION AS IMPLIED IN THE WORDS BEFORE US :
WE ARE ALL BOTH SICK AND GUILTY ; AND WE
ARE ALL SICK BECAUSE WE ARE ALL GUILTY.
Melancholy and humbling truths ! yet established by all Scripture, and illustrated in the experience of every human being. From that fearful moment when the Lord “cursed the very ground” we tread on for man's sin, and when in the ears of