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ST. JOHN, vii. 37.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood
and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
THE feast alluded to in these words was the Feast of Tabernacles; that feast which the Israelites kept year by year in the seventh month after they had gathered in their harvest, and during which they dwelt in temporary abodes, or booths made of the boughs of trees, to remind them of the life led by their ancestors in the wilderness.
Our Lord, who fulfilled all righteousness, attended this feast; and in the midst of the feast, in the middle of the seven days, He went up into the Temple, and taught.
Jerusalem was at that time thronged with visitors, and great crowds would, no doubt, be drawn into the Temple to hear Him teach. Such was the power of His words, that many of the people believed on Him. In vain did the Phari- . sees seek to stop Him, and even send officers to take Him. In spite of their hostility, He continued to teach in the Temple during the whole of the Tabernacle feast. And in the last day, that great day of the feast, before the crowds broke up and left Jerusalem, standing up in the midst of the Temple, He uttered the words now before us.
Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink; and then He went on to say, He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow ricers of living water. This, adds the Evangelist, This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive : for the Holy Ghost was not yet given ; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.
Yes, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink! This is a saying of our Lord's, worthy of all acceptation,-a saying which we meet with more than once in the Gospel. In these few words He presents Himself to His people as capable of satisfying their sharpest want, able to give that grace which cheers, and refreshes the wearied heart of man.
If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink !
And notice, brethren, before we go further,
that our Lord, on this occasion, framed His speech, as His custom was, not without reference to the circumstance about Him. It was a custom- a beautiful custom-at the Feast of Tabernacles, for the priest to bring water in a golden vessel from the Pool of Siloam, with great pomp, into the Temple, and there standing on the high altar, to pour it out before the people, while two hymns of praise, the 113th and the 118th Psalms, were being sung. This was done for seven successive days; but on the eighth day, the last day of the feast, it was not done. The Psalms were sung as usual, but the water was not brought, nor poured out.
Hence we fitness of our Lord's words at that particular moment. The people were before Him - the same people who for the last seven days had been present at the pouring out of water by the highpriest. Their minds would be full of the ceremony they had witnessed, and any allusion to it would catch their attention. Perhaps in some of them there was already a questioning as to what the inner meaning of that rite might be. Perhaps that pouring of water upon the dry ground out of the golden vessel by the priest, might have "suggested to some of the more thoughtful the condition of their own souls,dry, and barren, and greatly in need of some outpouring from on high--some watering with the dew of God's blessing. And if so, with what gladness and acceptance must they have listened, when the young Prophet of Nazareth, whose voice had already won the people's ear, who spake as never man spake before, stood up in the Temple, and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water !
Yes, here at length was what they wanted. Here was one present who brought for their acceptance — for the acceptance of all men—not mere shadows and types of divine things, but the divine things themselves. Here was the Fountain they had read of, and long yearned for, opened at length to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. Here was one who could indeed pour water, not upon the dry dust of the Temple floor, but upon the withered, weary heart of man. One who proclaimed aloud this to be His peculiar office,- If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 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, my brethren, that announcement is
made to us to-day-to us, and to all who have the pages of the Gospel open to them, does the Lord address the invitation. To every one present in this church — to every one sitting by himself at home and reading the Scriptures, without limitation and without distinction—to every soul that comes within the hearing of His voice, does He say it, - If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink !.
You see how wide and large His invitation is,- If any man thirst. If any man hath a sore want in his soul unsatisfied, if only it be for his good to have that want fulfilled, let him go unto Jesus Christ, and he shall find what he seeks,-- For He satisfieth the empty soul. Out of His fulness, His abounding grace, do His people drink as out of a river !
For consider if it be not so. Take some of the chief desires, chief wants of the soul- of the soul of an earnest and religious man—and see if they are not met and satisfied when he comes to Christ in faith.
What thirst, for instance, is so great as the thirst for the knowledge, the right knowledge of God ? Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth the soul after God. And where, except in the Lord Jesus Christ, do we attain that desired knowledge? Who but He has shown us the