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"THE WATER OF LIFE"
A Discourse Showing The Richness And Glory
Grace Of The Gospel,
as set forth in the Scripture by this term,
The Water of Life.
By JOHN BUNYAN.
"And whosoever will, let him take the
water of life freely."–Revelation 22:17
L O N D O N,
Printed for Nathanael Ponder, at
the Peacock in the Poultry, 1688.
Published the year John Bunyan died.
Edited by George Offor.
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ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR
Often, and in every age, the children of God have dared to doubt the sufficiency
of divine grace; whether it was vast enough to reach their condition—to cleanse them
from the guilt of all their sins—and to fit their souls to dwell with infinite holiness
in the mansions of the blessed. To solve these doubts—to answer these anxious inquiries,
Bunyan wrote many of his works; for although he was a Boanerges, or son of thunder,
to awaken the impenitent, he was eminently a Barnabas—a son of consolation—an evangelist
to direct the trembling inquirer to Christ the way, the truth, and the life. He proclaims
first, from his own experience, that there is "Grace abounding to the Chief
of Sinners"; then he proclaims "Good News for the Vilest of Men, the Jerusalem
Sinner is Saved"—"Christ is an Advocate"— "Christ is a complete
Saviour." Every one is invited with a "Come and welcome to Jesus Christ."
There is "Justification by his Righteousness"—"Salvation by his Grace."
"He is a Throne of Grace" to which all are freely invited. Even "The
Broken Heart is an acceptable sacrifice."
There is "The Holy City, New Jerusalem," to receive such at the end of
their pilgrimage, and directions amply given to the pilgrim to guide him in his progress
to the celestial city; and he now introduces us to a majestic overflowing river,
"The Water of Life," sufficient for the refreshment and solace of the myriads
of God's saints who have lived from the creation, and will live until the final consummation
of all things, when the prophet in holy vision saw "a great multitude which
no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, stand before the throne,
and before the Lamb." This work was the result of the author's mature experience,
being published by him during the last year of his eventful life. In it he refers
to one of those ten excellent manuscripts left by him at his decease, prepared for
the press, and afterwards published by Mr. Doe. It is called, The Saint's Privilege
and Profit. The way in which he alludes to this, as if it had been printed, shows
that he had fully determined to publish it shortly, and this, if it was needed, would
confirm our confidence in those treatises. He thus refers to it: "Because I
have spoken of this thing, more particularly upon that text, 'Let us therefore come
boldly unto the throne of grace,' I shall therefore here say no more."
Two things are rather extraordinary with regard to this valuable treatise on the
Water of Life. One is, that although inserted in every list of our author's works,
both published by himself and by his friends after his decease, it escaped the researches
of Doe, Wilson, Chandler, Whitfield, and others who collected and published Bunyan's
works, excepting only the edition with Mason's notes, printed for A. Hogg about 1785.
The other singular circumstance is, that although the separate treatises of Bunyan
were all most wretchedly and inaccurately printed, the Water of Life has in this
respect suffered more than any other of his works. A modern edition of this book,
published at Derby by Thomas Richardson, is, without exception, the most erroneously
printed of all books that have come under my notice. The Scriptures are misquoted—words
are altered so as to pervert the sense—whole sentences and paragraphs, and even whole
pages in three or four places, and, in one instance, four consecutive pages, are
left out!!! I should be grieved if more penal enactments were added to our statutes,
but surely there should be some punishment for such a crime as this.
The other editions are more reputable, but very incorrect. One of them bears the
imprint of "London, for James Bunyan, 1760." Another has "London,
sold by Baxter, Doolittle, & Burkit," evidently fictitious names, adopted
from those three great authors. The Pilgrim's Progress was twice published by D.
Bunyan, in Fleet Street, 1763 and 1768; and the Heavenly Footman, "London, sold
by J. Bunyan, above the Monument." All these are wretchedly printed, and with
cuts that would disgrace an old Christmas carol. Thus the public have been imposed
upon, and thus the revered name of Bunyan has been sacrificed to the cupidity of
unprincipled men. Had his works been respectably printed they would have all been
very popular and useful, and his memory have been still more venerated.
To attract his readers to come personally, and partake the blessings imparted by
the water of life, Bunyan shows that, as a medicine, it alone is the specific to
cure the sin-sick soul—all other applications must fail most fatally—"all other
remedies come from and return to the Dead Sea"— while the water of life issues
from, and leads the soul to, the throne of God. It cleanseth from the old leaven.
The Divine Physician is ever ready to administer to the wearied soul. Be not misled
by worldly-wisemen to take advice of the doctor's boy, but go direct to Jesus; he
is ready—he is willing to cure and save to the uttermost. His medicine may be sharp,
but merely so as to effect the cure "where bad humours are tough and churlish."
"It revives where life is, and gives life where it is not. Take man from this
river, and nothing can make him live: let him have this water and nothing can make
him die." The river of water of life allegorically represents the Spirit and
grace of God; thus the truth is mercifully set before us, for "what is more
free than water, and what more beneficial and more desirable than life?" Vast
and majestic rivers convey but a faint idea of the immensity of Divine grace; in
comparison with which "the most mighty mountain dwindles into the least ant's
egg or atom in the world." A stream of grace issued from the same source during
the patriarchal dispensation, and then mankind were directed to it by immediate revelation,
or by the tradition of their fathers. It extended under the Jewish or Levitical law,
in it's course passing through the temple, issuing from under the threshold of God's
house, revealed by types, and shadows, and an earthly priesthood, and then "grace
ran but slowly because Jesus was not glorified."
Now it flows like a majestic river from the throne of God, open to all, without limit
of family or nation, revealed to every creature by the volume of inspiration. This
water admits no mixture—it is pure and perfect as it's origin—free as the air we
breathe to sustain life. "There is no grudge, or a piece of an upbraiding speech
heard therein." Any attempt to mix with it human merits destroys all it's efficacy.
In it, and in it only, spiritual life, exciting to works of mercy, and giving sure
hopes of immortal bliss, is to be found. God's children can no more live separated
from this river than fish can live out of water. As a fish, by natural instinct,
avoids foul and unwholesome water, so a Christian has spiritual powers to judge of
the purity of doctrine. Like the manna from heaven, and our daily bread, it must
be supplied day by day. No church cistern of works of supererogation can supply this
pure water. All such pretended supplies are poisonous. It must come direct from heaven
without human interference. Those only who spiritually thirst will seek it.
Some prefer wine that perisheth in the using, while this water, once received, becomes
a well-spring of living waters, springing up into everlasting life. How marvellous
that river which swallows up all the impurities of the myriads of the redeemed, so
that they are seen no more for ever. These are the truths pressed upon our attention
in this treatise. Well may our venerated Bunyan say, while richly enjoying the blessings
of this river of grace, just before he waded through the black river which absorbs
our earthly bodies— "O grace! O happy church of God! all things that happen
to thee are, for Christ's sake, turned into grace!" It is a river that so reflects
the splendour of God, that the first sight of it was to Paul above the brightness
of the sun; a light that did, by the glory of it, make dark to him all the things
in the world.
Reader, may your soul and mine be abundantly refreshed from this inexhaustible river,
the streams whereof make glad the city of God.
THE EPISTLE TO THE READER.
I have now presented thee with something of a discourse of the water of life and
it's virtues; therefore, thou mayest, if thou wilt, call this book Bunyan's Bill
of his Master's Water of Life. True, I have not set forth at large the excellent
nature and quality thereof, nor can that so be done by the pen or tongue of men or
angels. Yet this I have said, and so saying, said truly, that whosoever shall drink
of this water shall find it in him a well of water; and not only so, but a well springing
up in him to everlasting life, let his disease be what it will. And as men, in their
bills for conviction to readers, do give an account to the country of the persons
cured, and the diseases that have been removed by liquors and preparations, they
have made for that end, so could I, were it not already (by Holy Writ) done by an
infallible pen to my hand, give you accounts of numberless numbers that have not
only been made to live, but to live for ever, by drinking of this water, this pure
water of life. Many of them indeed are removed from hence, and live where they cannot
be spoken with was yet; but abundance of them do still remain here, and have their
abode yet with men.
Only, if thou wouldst drink it, drink it by itself, and that thou mayest not be deceived
by that which is counterfeit, know it is as it comes from the hand of our Lord, without
mixture, pure and clear as crystal. I know there are many mountebanks in the world,
and every of them pretend they have this water to sell; but my advice is, that thou
go directly to the throne thyself (Heb 4:16); or as thou art bidden come to the waters
(Isa 55:1), and there thou shalt be sure to have that which is right and good, and
that which will certainly make thee well, let thy disease, or trouble, or pain, or
malady, be what it will. For the price, care not for that, it is cheap enough, this
is to be had without money or price. "I will give," saith God and the Lamb,
"unto him that is athirst, of the fountain of the water of life freely"
(Rev 21:6). Hence he says again, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of
life freely" (Rev 22:17). So that thou hast no ground to keep back because of
thy poverty; nay, for the poor it is prepared and set open, to the poor it is offered,
the poor and needy may have it of free cost (Isa 41:17,18).
But let it not be slighted because it is offered to thee upon terms so full, so free.
For thou art sick, and sick unto death, if thou drinkest not of it, nor is there
any other than this that can heal thee, and make thee well. Farewell. The Lord be
thy physician! So prays thy friend,
THE WATER OF LIFE.
"AND HE SHOWED ME A PURE RIVER OF WATER OF LIFE, CLEAR AS CRYSTAL, PROCEEDING
OUT OF THE THRONE OF GOD AND OF THE LAMB."
These words are part of that description that one of the seven angels, which had
the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, gave unto John of the New Jerusalem,
or of the state of that gospel church, that shall be in the latter days (Rev 21:9).
Wherefore he saith, "And he showed me"; HE, the angel, showed me it.
In the text we have these things to consider of,
FIRST. The matter, the subject matter of the text, and that is the water of life.
"He showed me the water of life." SECOND. We have also here the quantity
of this water showed to him, and that is under the notion of a river: "He showed
me a river of water of life." THIRD. He shows him also the head, or well-spring,
from whence this river of water of life proceeds, and that is, "the throne of
God and of the Lamb." "He showed me a river of water of life, proceeding
out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb." FOURTH. We have also here the nature
and quality of this water; it is pure, it is clear as crystal: "And he showed
me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne
of God and of the Lamb."
[THE WATER OF LIFE.]
[FIRST.] We will begin with the first of these, to wit, with the matter, the subject
matter of the text, which is, THE WATER OF LIFE. These words, water of life, are
metaphorical, or words by which a thing most excellent is presented to and amplified
before our faces; and that thing is the Spirit of grace, the Spirit and grace of
God. And the words, water of life, are words most apt to present it to us by; for
what is more free than water, and what more beneficial and more desirable than life?
Therefore I say it is compared to, or called, the water of life. He showed me the
water of life.
That it is the Spirit of grace, or the Spirit and grace of God, that is here intended:
consider, FIRST, the Spirit of grace is in other places compared to water: and, SECOND,
it is also called the Spirit of life. Just as here it is presented unto us, "He
showed me the water of life."
FIRST. The spirit of grace is compared to water. "Whosoever," saith the
Lamb, "drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but
the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into
everlasting life" (John 4:14). What can here by water be intended, but the Spirit
of grace that this poor harlot, the woman of Samaria, wanted, although she was ignorant
of her want, as also of the excellency thereof? Which water also is here said to
be such as will spring up, in them that have it, as a well into everlasting life.
Again, "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." But of what? Why
of his rivers of living waters. But what are they? Why he answers, "This spake
he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive" (John 7:37-39).
Yes, the prophets and servants of God in the Old Testament, did take this water of
life for the Spirit of grace that should in the latter days be poured out into the
church. Hence, Isaiah calls water God's Spirit and blessing, and Zechariah, the Spirit
of grace. "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry
ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring"
(Isa 44:3). And Zechariah saith, "I will pour upon the house of David, and upon
the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication, - and they
shall mourn," &c. (Zech 12:10). Behold, in all these places the Spirit of
grace is intended, and for our better understanding it is compared to water, to a
well of water, to springs of water, and to floods of water.
SECOND. It is also called the Spirit of life, [either] more closely, [or] more openly.
More closely, where it is called "living water," "that living water,"
and "water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:10,11,14, 7:38).
Then more openly or expressly it is called "the Spirit of life." "And
after three days and an half, the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and
they stood upon their feet" (Rev 11:11).
From hence, therefore, I conclude, that by these terms, water of life, is meant the
Spirit of grace, or the Spirit and grace of the gospel. And the terms are such as
are most apt to set forth the Spirit and grace of the gospel by: for,
[First. The term WATER.]
1. By this term, WATER, an opposition to sin is presented unto us. Sin is compared
to water, to deadly waters, and man is said to drink it, as one that drinketh waters.
"How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?"
(Job 15:16). So, then, that grace and the Spirit of grace is compared to water, it
is to show what an antidote grace is against sin; it is, as I may call it, counter
poison to it. It is that ONLY thing by the virtue of which sin can be forgiven, vanquished,
2. By this term WATER, you have an opposition also to the curse, that is due to sin,
presented unto you. The curse, is compared to water; the remedy is compared to water.
Let the curse come into the bowels of the damned, saith the psalmist, like water
(Psa 109:18). The grace of God also, as you see, is compared to water. The curse
is burning; water is cooling: the curse doth burn with hell-fire; cooling is by the
grace of the holy gospel: but they that overstand the day of grace, shall not obtain
to cool their tongues so much of this water as will hang on the tip of one's finger
3. Water is also of a spreading nature, and so is sin; wherefore sin may for this
also be compared to water. It overspreads the whole man, and infects every member;
it covereth all as doth water. Grace for this cause may be also compared to water;
for that it is of a spreading nature, and can, if God will, cover the face of the
whole earth; of body and soul.
4. Sin is of a fouling, defiling nature; and grace is of a washing, cleansing nature;
therefore grace, and the Spirit of grace, is compared to water. "I will,"
saith God, "sprinkle clean water upon you, [my Spirit, v 27] and ye shall be
clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you"
5. Water; the element of water naturally descends to and abides in low places, in
valleys and places which are undermost; and the grace of God and the Spirit of grace
is of that nature also; the hills and lofty mountains have not the rivers running
over the tops of them; no, though they may run "among them." But they run
among the valleys: and "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace unto the humble,"
"to the lowly" (John 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; Prov 3:34).
6. The grace of God is compared to water, for that it is it which causeth fruitfulness;
water causeth fruitfulness, want of water is the cause of barrenness; and this is
the reason why the whole world is so empty of fruit to Godward, even because so few
of the children of men have the Spirit of grace in their hearts. But,
[Second. The term LIFE.]
As there is a great special signification in this term WATER, so there is in this
term LIFE, water of life. "He showed me the water of life." In that, therefore,
there is added to this word water, that of life, it is, in the general, to show what
excellent virtue and operation there is in this water. It is aquae vitae, water of
life, or water that hath a health and life in it. And this term shows us,
1. That the world of graceless men are dead; dead in trespasses and sins (John 5:21,25;
Eph 2:1; Col 2:13). Dead, that is, without life and motion Godward, in the way of
the testament of his Son.
2. It also shows us that there is not any thing in the world, or in the doctrine
of the world, the law, that can make them live. Life is only in this water, death
is in all other things. The law, I say, which is that that would, if anything
in the whole world, give life unto the world, but that yet killeth, condemneth, and
was added that the offence might abound; wherefore there is no life either in the
world or in the doctrine of the world. It is only in this water, in this grace of
God, which is here called the after of life, or God's aquae vitae.
3. It is also called the water of life to show that by the grace of God men may live,
how dead soever their sins have made them. When God will say to a sinner, "live,"
though he be dead in his sins, "he shall live." "When thou wast in
thy blood, I said unto thee, Live; yea, when thou wast in thy blood, I said, Live"
(Eze 16:6). And again, "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and
they that hear shall live" (John 5:25). That is, when he speaks words of grace,
and mixeth those words with the Spirit and grace of the gospel, then men shall live;
for such words so attended, and such words only, are spirit and life. "The words
that I speak unto you," saith Christ, "they are spirit, and they are life"
4. In that this grace of God is here presented unto us under the terms of water of
life, it is to show that some are sick of that disease that nothing can cure but
that. There are many diseases in the world, and there are also remedies for those
diseases; but there is a disease that nothing will, can, or shall cure, but a dram
of this bottle, a draught of this aquae vitae, this water of life. This is intimated
by the invitation, "let him take the water of life freely" (Rev 22:17).
And again, "I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water
of life freely" (Rev 21:6). This is spoken to the sick, to them that are sick
of the disease that only Christ, as a physician, with his water of life, can cure
(Mark 2:17). But few are sick of this disease, but few know what it is to be made
sick of this disease. There is nothing can make sick of this disease but the law
and sin, and nothing can cure but the grace of God by the gospel, called here the
water of life.
[THE GREATNESS AND ABUNDANCE OF THE WATER OF LIFE.]
[SECOND.] We come now to discourse of the second thing with which we are presented
by the text, and that is, the quantity that there is of this water of life. It is
a RIVER— "He showed me a river of water of life." Waters that are cordial,
and that have in them a faculty to give life to them that want it, and to maintain
life where it is, are rare and scarce, and to be found only in close places and little
quantities; but here you see there is abundance, a great deal, a RIVER, a river of
water of life. In my handling of this point I will show you,
FIRST. What a river of water of life this is. SECOND. And then draw some inferences
FIRST. What a river this is, this river of water of life.
First. It is a deep river. It is a river that is not shallow, but deep, with an "O
the depth!" (Rom 11:33). "I will make their waters deep, saith God"
(Eze 32:14). And again, they "have drunk of the deep waters" (Eze 34:18).
A river of water of life is much, but a deep river is more. Why, soul- sick sinner,
sin-sick sinner, thou that art sick of that disease that nothing can cure but a potion
of this river of the water of life, here is a river for thee, a deep river for thee.
Those that at first are coming to God by Christ for life, are of nothing so inquisitive
as of whether there is grace enough in him to save them. But, for their comfort,
here is abundance, abundance of grace, a river, a deep river of the water of life,
for them to drink of.
Second. As this river is deep, so it is wide and broad (Eph 3:18; Job 11:9). Wherefore,
as thou art to know the depth, that is, that it is deep, so thou art to know it's
breadth, that is, that it is broad; it is broader than the sea, a river that cannot
be passed over (Eze 47:5). Never did man yet go from one side of this river to the
other when the waters indeed were risen; and now they are risen, even now they proceed
out of the throne of God and of the Lamb too. Hence this grace is called "the
unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8). Sinner, sick sinner, what sayest thou
to this? Wouldst thou wade? wouldst thou swim? here thou mayest swim, it is deep,
yet fordable at first entrance. And when thou thinkest that thou hast gone through
and through it, yet turn again and try once more, and thou shalt find it deeper than
hell, and a river that cannot be passed over. If thou canst swim, here thou mayest
roll up and down as the fishes do in the sea. Nor needest thou fear drowning in
this river, it will bear thee up, and carry thee over the highest hills, as Noah's
waters did carry the ark. But,
Third. As this river of water of life is deep and large, so it is a river that is
full of waters. A river may be deep and not full. A river may be broad and not deep.
Aye, but here is a river deep and broad, and full too. "Thou waterest it; thou
greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water" (Psa 65:9).
Full of grace and truth. Fill the water- pots, saith Christ, up to the brim. The
waters of a full cup the wicked shall have; and a river full of the water of life
is provided for those who indeed have a desire thereto.
Fourth. As this river is deep, broad, and full, so it still aboundeth with water.
The waters, says the prophet, "were risen" (Eze 47:4). Hence, the Holy
Ghost saith, God causeth the waters to flow (Psa 147:18). And again, "And it
shall come to pass in that day [the day of the gospel] that the mountains shall drop
down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall
flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall
water the valley of Shittim" (Joel 3:18). When a river overflows it has more
water than it's banks can bound: it has water. "Behold, he smote the rock, that
the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed" (Psa 78:20). This river of
water of life, which is also signified by these waters, is a river that abounds and
that overflows it's banks in an infinite and unspeakable manner. Thus much for the
river, to wit, what a river of water of life it is. It is a river deep, broad, full,
and abounding with this water, with this Spirit and grace of the gospel.
[Inferences to be drawn from this term RIVER.]
SECOND. Now I shall come to draw some inference from it, that is, from this term,
a river. A river of water of life.
First. Then, a river is water that is common, common in the streams, though otherwise
in the head. This river proceeds out of the throne, and so, as to it's rise, it is
special; it is also called the water of life, and as it is such, it is special; but
as it is a river it is common, and of common use, and for common good. Hence the
grace of God is called the common salvation (Jude 3), for that by the word there
is no restraint, no denial to or forbidding of any that will, from receiving thereof.
And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Rev 22:17). What can more
fully declare the commonness of a thing? Yea, this river is called, at the very head
of it, an "open fountain," a fountain opened to the house of David and
to the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Zech 13:1). And by David or Judah and Jerusalem
is comprehended every soul that would drink of the water of life or living water.
And hence it is that this river is said to "go down into the desert and go into
the sea," where all kinds of fishes are (Eze 47:8). By sea is meant the world,
and by fish the people, and thither shall run this river of water of life. But,
Second. Though a river, in the streams of it, is common, yet a river, as it passes
through a country or province, will choose it's own way, it will run in the valleys,
in the plains, not over steeples and hills. It will also fetch it's compasses and
circuits; it will go about and reach hither and thither,
and according to it's courses it will miss by it's turnings what places and people
it lists, yet it is common, for that it lies open, yet it is common for all the beasts
of the field. There is, therefore, a difference to be put betwixt the commonness
of a thing and it's presence. A thing may be common, yet far enough off of thee.
Epsom, Tunbridge waters, and the Bath, may be common, but yet a great way off of
some that have need thereof. The same may be said of this river, it is common
in the streams, but it runs it's own circuit, and keeps it's own water-courses. "He
sendeth the springs into the valleys which run among the hills" (Psa 104:10).
Indeed, he openeth his river in high places, in his throne, and of the Lamb, but
still they run in the midst of the valleys to water the humble and the lowly. Wherefore,
they that thirst and would drink are bid to come down to the waters—"Ho, every
one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy,"
&c. (Isa 55:1). And again, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and
drink" (John 7:37). The waters are common, but you must come to them, to them
where they are, or you will be nothing the better for them. "Come ye to the
Third. This water of life is called a river, to intimate to you by what store of
the same it is supplied. All rivers have the sea for their original: "All the
rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the
rivers come, thither they return again" (Eccl 1:7). And so this river of
water of life is said to proceed out of the throne, as out of a place where it breaketh
out, but the original is the sea, the ocean of grace, which is an infinite Deity.
"Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea, into the depth of
the sea of thy grace" (Micah 7:19). Rivers, when they are broken up, do with
their gliding streams carry away a great deal of the filth, which from all parts
of the countries through which they run, is conveyed into them; and they carry it
away into the sea, where it is everlastingly swallowed up. And, O! the filth
that is cast into this river of God! and, O! how many dirty sinners are washed white
therein, for by it's continual gliding away, it carrieth that filth into the midst
of the sea.
A river will take away the very stink of a dead dog: nor doth all the soil and draught
that is cast into the rivers, cause that those that can should be afraid to make
use thereof: all that have need do betake themselves to this river notwithstanding.
But how much more virtue is there in this sweet river of grace that is designed,
yea, opened on purpose, to wash away sin and uncleanness in, to carry away all our
filth, and to remain as virtuous still!
Fourth. It is called a river, to show that it yields a continual supply, as I may
call it, of new and fresh grace. Rivers yield continually fresh and new water. For
though the channel or watercourse in which the water runs is the same, yet the waters
themselves are always new. That water that but one minute since stood in this place
or that of the river, is now gone, and new and fresh is come in it's place. And thus
it is with the river of God, which is full of water; it yieldeth continually fresh
supplies, fresh and new supplies of grace to those that have business in those waters.
And this is the reason that when sin is pardoned, it seems as if it were carried
away. Those waters have, with their continual streams, carried away the filth of
the sinner form before his face. It is not so with ponds, pools, and cisterns; they
will be foul and stink, if they be not often emptied, and filled again with fresh
water. We must then put a difference between the grace that dwelleth in us, and this
river of water of life. We are but as ponds, pools, and cisterns, that can hold but
little, and shall also soon stink, notwithstanding the grace of God is in us, if
we be not often emptied from vessel to vessel, and filled with fresh grace from this
river (Jer 48:11). But the river is always sweet, nor can all the filth that is washed
out of the world make it stink, or infect it: it's water runs with a continual gliding
stream, and so carries away all annoyance, as was said, into the depth of the sea.
Fifth. The grace of God is called a river, to show that it is only suited to those
who are capable of living therein. Water, though it is that which every creature
desireth, yet it is not an element in which every creature can live. Who is it that
would not have the benefit of grace, of a throne of grace? But who is it that can
live by grace? Even none, but those whose temper and constitution is suited to grace.
Hence, as the grace of God is compared to a RIVER, so those that live by grace are
compared to FISH: for that as water is that element in which the fish liveth, so
grace is that which is the life of the saint. "And there shall be a very great
multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither; for they shall be healed,
and everything shall live whither the river cometh" (Eze 47:9). Art thou a fish,
O man, art thou a fish? Canst thou live in the water; canst thou live always, and
nowhere else, but in the water? Is grace thy proper element? The fish dieth if she
be taken out of the water, unless she be timely put in again; the saint dieth if
he be not in this river. Take him from this river, and nothing can make him live;
let him have water, water of life enough, and nothing can make him die.
I know that there are some things besides fish, that can make a shift to live in
the water; but the water is not their proper, their only proper element. The frog
can live in the water, but not in the water only; the otter can live in the water,
but not in the water only. Give some men grace and the world, grace and sin; admit
them to make use of their lusts for pleasure, and of grace to remove their guilt,
and they will make a pretty good shift, as we say; they will finally scrabble on
in a profession; but hold them to grace only, confine their life to grace, put them
into the river, and let them have nothing but river, and they die; the word, and
way, and nature of grace, is to them as light bread, and their soul can do no
other but loath it, for they are not suited and tempered for that element. They are
fish, not frogs, that can live in the river, as in their only proper element. Wherefore,
the grace of God, and Spirit of grace, is compared to a river, to show that none
but those can live thereby whose souls and spirits are suited and fitted thereto.
Sixth. The grace, and Spirit of grace of God, is called or compared to a river, to
answer those unsatiable desires, and to wash away those mountainous doubts that attend
those that indeed do thirst for that drink. The man that thirsteth with spiritual
thirst, fears nothing more than that there is not enough to quench his thirst. All
the promises and sayings of God's ministers to such a man seem but as thimbles instead of bowls (Psa 63:1, 143:6). I mean so long as his thirst and doubts walk hand in hand together. There is not enough in this promise; I find not enough in that promise to quench the drought of my thirsting soul. He that thirsteth aright, nothing but God can quench his thirst. "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God" (Psa 42:2, 63:1, 143:6). Well, what shall be done for this man? Will his God humour him, and answer his desires? Mark what follows: "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none," (and they can find none, when all the promises seem to be dry, and like clouds that return after the rain), "and their tongue faileth for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them." Aye, but Lord, what wilt thou do to quench their thirst? "I will open rivers," saith he, "in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water" (Isa 41:17,18). Behold! here are rivers and fountains, a pool, and springs, and all to quench the thirst of them that thirst for God.
Wherefore, as I said, such provision for the thirsty intimates their fears of want
and the craving appetite of their souls after God. Right spiritual thirst is not
to be satisfied without abundance of grace. And "they shall be abundantly satisfied
with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy
pleasures" (Psa 36:8).
Seventh. The grace of God is compared to a river, to show the greatness of the family
of God. He has a family, a great family, and, therefore, it is not a little that
must be provided for them. When Israel went out of Egypt, and thirsted by the way,
God provided for them a river; he made it gush out of the rock; for, alas! what less
than a river could quench the thirst of more than six hundred thousand men, besides
women and children? (Psa 78:20).
I say, what less than a river could do it? When the people lusted for flesh, Moses
said, "Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them to suffice them? or
shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them to suffice them?"
(Num 11:22). Even so could not less than a river sustain and suffice that great people.
Now his people in gospel days are not to be diminished, but increased; and if then
they had need of a river, surely now of a sea; but the river is deep and broad, full,
and abounds, or rises with water, so it will suffice.
Eighth. The grace of God is compared to a river, perhaps to show of what a low esteem
it is with the rich and the full. The destitute indeed embrace the rock instead of
a shelter, and the poor and needy, they seek water: but they that can drink wine
in bowls, that can solace themselves with, as they think, better things, they come
not to this river to drink; they never say they shall die if they drink not of this
water. It is, therefore, for the poor and needy, God will lead THEM to his "living
fountains of waters," and will "wipe away all tears from THEIR eyes"
(Rev 7:17). And thus I pass the second and come to the third particular, and that
is, to show the head and spring from whence this river proceeds, or springs.
[THE HEAD OR WELL-SPRING OF THE WATER OF LIFE.]
[THIRD.] Rivers have their heads from whence they rise, out of which they spring,
and so, accordingly, we read this river has; wherefore he saith, "He showed
me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne
of God and of the Lamb."
[GOD.] God is here to be taken for the whole Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit, for
that grace proceeds from them all; the grace of the Father, the grace of the Son,
and the grace of the Spirit is here included. Hence, as the Father is called "the
God of grace" (1 Peter 5:10): so the Son is said to be full of grace, grace
to be communicated (John 1:14- 16), and the Holy Ghost is called "the Spirit
of grace" (Heb 10:29). So then by this we perceive whence grace comes. Were
all the world gracious, if God were not gracious, what was man the better? If the
Father, or the Son, or the Holy Ghost, are gracious, if they were not all gracious,
what would it profit? But now God is gracious, the three persons in the Godhead are
gracious, and so long they that seek grace are provided for; for that, there proceeds
from them a river, or grace like a flowing stream; indeed the original of grace to
sinners is the good will of God; none can imagine how loving God is to sinful man.
A little of it is seen, but they that see most, see but a little.
[THE LAMB.] But there is added, "and of the Lamb." The Lamb is, Jesus as
sacrificed, Jesus as man, and suffering. Hence you have the Lamb, at the first vision
of the throne, set forth unto us, that is, as slain. "And I beheld, and lo,
in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders,
stood a Lamb as it had been slain" (Rev 5:6). Wherefore, by this word Lamb,
we are to understand who, or by what means, grace doth now run from the throne of
God, like a river, to the world. It is because of, or through the Lamb. We are "justified
freely by the grace of God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God
hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood" (Rom 3:24).
And again, "We have redemption through his blood," even "the forgiveness
of sins, according to the riches of God's grace" (Eph 1:7).
Nor doth the Lamb of God, by becoming a means, through death, of the conveyance of
grace to us, at all darken the nature or glory of grace, but rather doth set it off
the more. For wherein can grace or love more appear than in his laying down his life
for us? I speak now of the grace of the Son. And wherein could the nature and glory
of grace of the Father more appear than in giving his Son to death for us, that grace
might, in a way of justice as well as mercy, be bestowed upon the world? Wherefore,
as he saith here, that the river of water of life proceedeth from God, so he adds
that the Lamb, because he would have us while we are entangled and overcome with
this river of God's pleasure, not forget what it cost the Lamb of God that this grace
might come unto us.
For the riches of grace and of wisdom are, that grace comes to us not only in a way
of mercy and compassion, but in a way of justice and equity; but that could be by
no other means but by redeeming blood. Which redeeming blood came not from us, nor
yet through our contrivance or advice; wherefore, whatever it is to the Lamb, still
all is of grace to us. Yea, the higher, the greater, the richer is grace, by how
much the more it cost the Father and the Lamb, that we might enjoy it. When a man
shall not only design me a purse of gold, but shall venture his life to bring it
to me, this is grace indeed. But, alas! what are a thousand such short comparisons
to the unsearchable love of Christ.
The Lamb, then, is he from whom, by, or through whom the grace of God doth come to
us. It proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb. And it proceeds from him
now as a donator: from him, not only as a means of conveyance, but as one that has
power to give grace; power, as he is the Son of Man. For as the Son of Man he is
the Lamb, and as he is the Lamb it cometh from him. "The Son of man hath power
on earth to forgive sins" (Matt 9:6). And that before he had actually paid to
God the price of our redemption. But how much more now? Wherefore Paul, in his prayer
for grace and peace for saints, supplicates both God and the Lamb—"Grace be
to you, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:2; 1 Cor
1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3).
"Proceeding out of the throne." Formerly this river of water is said to
come from under the threshold of the house of the Lord (Eze 47:1). And it is, said
again, they "shall go out from Jerusalem," that is, the church or house
of God still (Zech 14:8). In that they are said to come out from under the threshold,
it may be to intimate that they ran but low formerly, if compared to what they do
now. Which might also be signified by this, that they "issued out," that
that issues out ordinarily comes forth but slowly. Also the prophet saith, the first
time he went through the waters, they were but up to the ankles (Eze 47:3,4). But
what is ankle-deep to that which followeth after? It is said also to come out from
Jerusalem, where, I perceive, were no great rivers, to intimate, that as long as
the first priesthood, first temple, and type, were in their splendour, only the shadow
of heavenly things were in use, and that then grace ran but slowly, nor would run
much faster, because Jesus was not yet glorified. For the Spirit and abundance of
grace was to be given not before but after his ascension.
Wherefore, now Jesus is ascended, now he is glorified, now grace proceeds from the
throne, not from the threshold of the house. "He shewed me a pure river of water
of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb."
THE THRONE. That of which the mercy-seat was a type, that which is called the throne
of grace (Exo 25:17; Heb 4:16). And it is called the throne of grace, even, therefore,
because it is that from or out of which proceeds this river of water of life, this
overflowing grace of God. Now, it may be asked what is the throne of grace? and I
shall answer it is the humanity of Christ. He is the throne, he is the Jacob in which
God sitteth (Isa 22:22,23). And he shall be for a glorious throne to his Father's
house (Rev 3:7). The fulness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily; and God was in
Christ reconciling the world unto himself, nor can grace come to men but by Christ,
nor can God rest as to our salvation but in him. But because I have spoken of this
thing more particularly upon that text, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the
throne of grace," &c., I shall, therefore, here say no more.
Only, methinks, it is a glorious title that the Holy Ghost has given to the humanity
of Christ, in that he calls it the throne of God; and methinks he gives it the highest
preference in that he saith, out thence proceeds a pure river of water of life: we
will a little, therefore, speak something to this word—the throne, the throne of
First. A throne is the seat of majesty and greatness; it is not for things of an
inferior quality to ascend or assume a throne. Now, then, since this river of water
of life proceeds from the throne, it intimates, that in grace and mercy there is
great majesty; for grace, as it proceeds, has a voice from the throne. And, indeed,
there is nothing in heaven or earth that can so AWE the heart as the grace of God
(Hosea 3:5). It is that which makes a man fear, it is that which makes a man tremble,
it is that which makes a man bow and bend, and break to pieces (Jer 32:9). Nothing
has that majesty and commanding greatness in and upon the hearts of the sons of men
as has the grace of God. So that, I say, when he saith that this river of grace proceeds
out of the throne of God, it is to show us what a majesty, what a commanding greatness,
there is in grace. The love of Christ constraineth us.
When Moses went up to the mount the first time to receive the law, he did exceedingly
fear and quake. Why? because of the fire and smoke, thick darkness and thunder, &c.
But when he went up the second time thither, "he made haste and bowed his head
toward the earth, and worshipped." But
why? because it was before proclaimed that "the Lord was merciful and gracious,
long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin," &c. (Exo 34:6-9).
There is nothing overmastereth the heart like grace, and so obligeth to sincere and
unfeigned obedience as that. "Examine me, O Lord," said David, "and
prove me; try my reins and my heart. For thy loving kindness is before mine eyes:
and I have walked in thy truth" (Psa 26:2,3). Therefore, he saith again, O Lord
our God, "how excellent is thy loving kindness" in all the earth! and that
loving kindness is marvellous; for it has that majesty and that excellent glory in
it as to command the heart and subdue sin. And, therefore, grace has given to it
the title of sovereignty, or of one that reigns. The throne is called "the throne
of grace" (Heb 4:16), that on which it sits and reigns, as well as that from
whence it proceeds: "Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by
Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 5:21).
Second. As a throne is a seat of majesty and greatness, and so can awe, so it is
the seat of authority and legislative power, and so will awe; this is confirmed from
what was said but now, "grace reigns." Wherefore it is expected that they
that hear the word of God's grace should submit thereto, and that at their peril.
"He that believes not shall be damned," is a word of power, of law, and
of authority, and the contemner shall find it so. Grace proceeds from the throne,
from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Wherefore, sinner, here is laid a necessity
upon thee, one of the two must be thy lot; either thou must accept of God's grace,
and be content to be saved freely thereby, notwithstanding all thy undeservings and
unworthiness, or else thou must be damned for thy rebellion and for thy rejecting
of this grace. Wherefore, consider with thyself and think what is best to be done.
Is it better that thou submit to the grace and mercy of God, and that thou acceptest
of grace to reign for thee, in thee, and over thee, than that thou shouldst run the
hazard of eternal damnation because thou wouldst not be saved by grace? Consider
of this, I say, for grace is now in authority, it reigns and proceeds from the THRONE.
Now, you know, it is dangerous opposing, rejecting, despising, or disowning of them
in authority; better speak against twenty than against one that is in authority.
If "the wrath of a king is as messengers of death" (Prov 16:14), if the
wrath of the king "is as the roaring of a lion," what is the wrath of God?
(Prov 19:12). And you know, to despise grace, to refuse pardon, to be unwilling to
be saved from the guilt and punishment due to treasons, the king's way, since that
also is the best way, how will that provoke? how hot will that make wrath? But to
accept of grace, especially when it is free grace, grace that reigns, grace from
the throne, how sweet is it? "His favour is as dew upon the grass."
This, therefore, calls for thy most grave and sedate thoughts. Thou art in a strait,
wilt thou fly before Moses, or with David fall into the hands of the Lord? wilt thou
go to hell for sin, or to life by grace? One of the two, as was said before, must
be thy lot: for grace is king, is upon the throne, and will admit of no other way
to glory. In and by it thou must stand, if thou hast any hope, or canst at all "rejoice
in hope of the glory of God" (Rom 5:2).
Third. As the throne is the seat of majesty and authority, so it is the highest seat
of authority. There is none above the throne, there is no appeal from the throne.
There are inferior courts of judicature, there are under-governors, and they may
sometimes, perhaps, be faulty; wherefore in some cases an appeal from such may be
lawful or permitted; but from the throne none can appeal. Now grace is upon the throne,
reigns upon the throne, proceeds from the throne. A man may appeal from the law to
the throne, from Moses to Christ, from him that spake on earth to him that speaks
from heaven; but from heaven to earth, from Christ to Moses, none can appeal, Moses
himself has forbid it. For "Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall
the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren like, unto me; him shall ye
hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that
every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people"
See here, this NEW prophet judges in the highest court; he is master of grace, the
throne by which grace reigns; and even Moses admits that from himself an appeal may
be made to this prophet; yea, he allows that men may flee from himself to this prophet
for refuge; but there must be no appeal from him. Thou must hear him or die. How
shall we escape, "if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven?"
This, therefore, is to be duly weighed and deeply considered by us. It is not a saint,
nor a minister, nor a prophet, nor an angel that speaks, for all these are but servants,
but inferiors; no, it is a voice from the throne, from authority, from the highest
authority; it is the Lord from heaven. This grace proceeds from the throne, and,
therefore, men must stand and fall by what shall come from hence. He that comes not
hither to drink shall die for thirst. He that refuses this water now, shall not have
so much as will hang upon the tip of his finger, if it would save his soul, hereafter.
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation" (Heb 2:3).
Apostates will, therefore, from hence find gripping pangs and burning coals, for
they have turned themselves away from this throne, and from the grace that proceeds
therefrom; nor is it to any purpose whatever they plead for themselves. They are
fallen from grace, and what can help them? Christ is become of none effect unto such,
whosoever is, that is, seeks to be, justified by the law; they "are fallen from
grace" (Gal 5:4).
Fourth. The throne is the seat of glory, "When the Son of man shall come in
his glory, and all the holy angels with him; then shall he sit upon the throne of
his glory" (Matt 25:31). And if the throne of judgment is the seat of glory,
much more the throne of grace. We will venture then to say that the throne of grace
is the throne of God's glory, as the throne of judgment will be the throne of Christ's
glory, and that grace proceedeth from his throne, that both it and he might have
glory; glory in a way of mercy.
1. That it might have glory; therefore has he designed that grace shall be effectual
in, and to the salvation of some, even "to the praise of the glory of his grace,
wherein he hath made us accepted in his Beloved" (Eph 1:6). He has designed,
not the glory of man's works, but the glory of his own grace; and, therefore, has
put man's works, as to justification before God, under his feet, and counts them
as filthy rags; but has set his grace up above, has made it a king, given it authority
to reign, has provided for it a throne, and called that throne the throne of grace,
from whence it also proceeds to it's own praise and glory, in and by the effectual
salvation of those that receive it, and receive it not in vain.
2. As grace is exalted, and made to proceed out of the throne, to it's own praise,
to it's own glory; so is it also thus exalted and made flow to us like a river, that
we should be the praise of the glory of him that hath exalted it. We that receive
it, and submit unto the throne whence it proceeds, have thereby "obtained an
inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all
things after the counsel of his own will, that we should be to the praise of his
glory" (Eph 1:11,12). So that this throne is a throne of glory. "A glorious
high throne, from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary" (Jer 17:12).
Now what follows from this, but that they that accept of this grace give glory to
God, to his grace, and to the word of his grace; such, I say, "glorify God for
his mercy" (Rom 15:9). "They glorify God for your professed subjection
to the gospel of Christ" (2 Cor 9:13), which is the gospel or good tidings "of
the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). They, with Abraham, believe, and give glory
to God (Rom 4:20). And with the Gentiles they glorify the word of the Lord (Acts
But to slight grace, to do despite to the Spirit of grace, to prefer our own works
to the derogating from grace, what is it but to contemn God? to contemn him when
he is on the throne, when he is on the throne of his glory? I say, it is to spit
in his face, even then when he commands thee to bow before him, to subject unto him,
and to glorify the grace of his glory, that proceeds from the throne of his glory.
If men in old time were damned because they glorified him not as God, shall not they
be more than damned, if more than damned can be, who glorify him not for his grace?
And, to be sure, none glorify him for his grace but those that close in therewith,
and submit themselves thereto. Talkers of grace are but mockers of God, but flatterers
of God. Those that only talk highly of grace, and submit not themselves unto it,
are but like to those that praise a look, or flatter him in his own conceits. Grace
God has exalted, has set it upon the throne, and so made it a king, and given it
authority to reign; and thou goest by, and hearest thereof, but wilt not submit thyself
thereto, neither thy soul nor thy life; why, what is this more than to flatter God
with thy lips, and than to lie unto him with thy tongue? what is this but to count
him less wise than thyself? while he seeks glory by that by which thou wilt not glorify
him; while he displays his grace before thee in the world from the throne, and as
thou goest by, with a nod thou callest it a fine thing, but followest that which
leadeth therefrom? Tremble, tremble, ye sinners, that have despised the richness
of his goodness; the day is coming when ye shall behold, and wonder, and perish,
if grace prevaileth not with you to be content to be saved by it to the praise of
it's glory, and to the glory of him who hath set it upon the throne (Acts 13:38-41).
Fifth. The throne is the seat of wisdom. Hence, he is called "the Ancient of
Days," that sits on this throne, the throne of God (Dan 7:9). Infinite in wisdom,
whose garments were white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool. By Ancient
of Days, and in that it is said the hair of his head is like the pure wool, his wisdom
is set forth unto us. Wherefore, when we read that out of the throne proceeds a river
of grace; when we read this proceedeth out of the throne of God, it is as much as
to say the wise God, who most perfectly knoweth all ways, counteth, in his wisdom,
that to save men by grace is the best, most safe, and sure way: "Therefore it
is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all
the seed" (Rom 4:16). And, again, forgiveness is according to the riches of
his grace, wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence (Eph 1:7,8).—Wherefore,
to set grace upon the throne, to let grace proceed out of the throne as a river,
is by the wise God, the only wise God, counted the best way, the safest way, the
way that doth best suit the condition of a sinful man, and that tends most to the
utter disappointment of the devil, and death, and hell. Grace can justify freely,
when it will, who it will, from what it will. Grace can continue to pardon, favour,
and save from falls, in falls, out of falls. Grace can comfort, relieve, and help
those that have hurt themselves. And grace can bring the unworthy to glory. This
the law cannot do, this man cannot do, this angels cannot do, this God cannot do,
but only by the riches of his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.
Wherefore, seeing God has set grace on the throne, and ordered that it should proceed
from this throne to the world; yea, seeing he has made it king, and granted to it,
to it only, the authority and sovereignty of saving souls, he has magnified not only
his love, but his wisdom and his prudence before the sons of men. This, then, is
his great device, the master-piece of all his witty inventions; and, therefore, it
is said, as was hinted before, in this thing he hath proceeded towards us in ALL
wisdom and prudence (2 Sam 14:14; Prov 8:11,12).
So then, he that comes to, and drinks of this water, glorifies God for his wisdom,
praises God for his wisdom. Such an one saith that God is only wise, and, bowing
his head, saith again, "to God only wise, be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
But he that shall contemn this grace, confronts the highest wisdom, even wisdom upon
the throne; he saith to himself, I am wiser than Daniel, than the judgment of God.
I could have found out a more safe way to heaven myself; and had I been of God's
council, I would have told him so. All this, so horrible blasphemy, naturally proceeds
from him that liketh not that grace should be king on the throne, and should proceed
out of the throne to the world; but "shall he that contendeth with the Almighty
instruct him?" He that reproveth God, let him answer it (Job 40:2).
The text says, that this very doctrine to the Greeks, to the wise, is foolishness,
and the preaching of it a foolish thing to them; but it will appear even then, when
the conclusion of all things is come, and when these wise ones, by their wisdom,
have fooled themselves to hell, that this "foolishness of God is wiser than
men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor 1:21-25).
Christ Jesus, because he was low in the world, is trampled upon by some, but he is
a glorious throne to his Father's house: for since his humility was the lowest of
all, now he is exalted to be the throne of God, yea, is made the fountain whence
grace continually flows, like the rivers, and comes down to us like a mighty stream.
Wherefore, I will conclude this with both comfort and caution: with comfort, and
that because of the security that they are under that indeed have submitted themselves
to grace; "sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law,
but under grace." And let it be a caution to those that despise. Take heed,
it is dangerous affronting of the wisdom of God. Now here is the wisdom of God, even
wisdom upon the throne. It pleased God, for the glory of his wisdom, to make this
the way: to wit, to set up grace to reign. I have often thought, and sometimes said,
if God will be pleased with any way, surely he will be pleased with his own. Now
this is the way of his own devising, the fruit and effect of his own wisdom; wherefore,
sinner, please him, please him in that wherein he is well pleased. Come to the waters,
cast thyself into them, and fear not drowning; let God alone to cause them to carry
thee into his paradise, that thou mayest see his throne.
Sixth. The throne is the seat of faithfulness, the place of performing of engagements
and promises. "When I shall receive the congregation," saith Christ, "I
will judge uprightly," that is faithfully (Psa 75:2). And now he has received
it, and is made head over all things to it (Eph 1:22,23). And for this cause is he
upon the throne, yea, is the throne, from whence proceeds all this grace, that like
a river doth flow, and glide from heaven into the world. This river, then, is nothing
else but the fulfilling of promises; the faithful fulfilling of promises. "If
I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send
him unto you" (John 16:7). "This is that which was spoken by the prophet
Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my
Spirit upon all flesh," &c. (Acts 2:16-18). Now this river is the Spirit,
the Spirit and grace of God, which was promised by the Father and the Son, and now
it comes running from the throne of God and of the Lamb. For "being by the right
hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost,
he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear" (Acts 2:33).
Behold, then, how mindful, how careful, how faithful our Father and the Lamb of God
is! It is not exaltation, nor glory, nor a crown, nor a kingdom, nor a throne, that
shall make him neglect his poor ones on earth. Yea, therefore, even because he is
exalted and on the throne, therefore it is that such a river, with it's golden streams,
proceeds from the throne to come unto us. And it shall proceed to be far higher than
ever was the swellings of Jordan. True, it runs not so high now as in former days,
because of the curse of God upon Antichrist, by whose means the land of God's people
is full of briers and thorns (Isa 32:13-17). But when the tide is at the lowest,
then it is nearest the rising; and this river will rise, and in little time be no
more so low as but ankle-deep; it will be up to the knees, to the loins, and be a
broad river to swim in (Eze 47). For "there the glorious Lord will be unto us
a place of broad rivers and streams" (Isa 33:21). "And there shall be no
more curse" in the church, "but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall
be in it, and his servants shall serve him" without molestation (Rev 22:3-6).
"These sayings are faithful and true," and in faithfulness shall they,
from the throne of God and of the Lamb, be performed to the church. Faithfulness
in him that rules, is that which makes Sion rejoice; because thereby the promises
yield milk and honey. For now the faithful God, that keepeth covenant, performs to
his church that which he told her he would. Wherefore, our rivers shall run, and
our brooks yield honey and butter (Job 20:17). Let this teach all God's people to
expect, to look, and wait for good things from the throne. But, O! methinks this
throne, out of which good comes like a river! who would not be a subject to it? who
would not but worship before it? But,
Seventh. A throne is "the seat of justice." "Justice and judgment
are the habitation of thy throne" (Psa 89:14). And it is also from justice that
this river of grace flows to us: justice to Christ, and justice to those that are
found in him (Rom 3:24). God declares that he can justly justify, and justly forgive
(1 John 1:9). Now, if he can justly justify and justly forgive, then can he give
grace, and cause that it should proceed to, yea, flow after us as a river (1 Cor
10:4). The river that gushed out of the rock in the wilderness ran after the people
there, wherefore they wandered therein. They drank of the rock that followed them;
the rock was not removed out of his place, but the flood followed them whither they
went. "He opened the rock and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places
like a river" (Psa 105:41). This rock, saith he, was Christ, that is, figuratively:
and this throne is Christ really: and the water gushing out of the rock, and following
of them in the wilderness, was to show how, when Christ became a throne, grace and
goodness should follow us in the wilderness from thence so long as here we abide.
Wherefore David, considering this, said, "Surely goodness and mercy shall FOLLOW
me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever"
But whence must this come? The text says from the throne; from the throne, the seat
of justice; for from thence, by reason of what HE hath found in Christ for us, he,
in a way of righteousness and justice, lets out to us rivers of his pleasures; whose
original is that great and wide sea of mercy that flows in his infinite heart beyond
All is paid for both US and grace (John 7:39). We are bought with a price (1 Cor
6:20). He has obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb 9:12). Yea, and as we are made
his, and heaven made ours thus, so this river of grace has been also obtained by
him for us (John 7:38). Wherefore, all comes to us in a way of justice and righteousness.
Hence we are said to obtain "faith through the righteousness of God" (2
Peter 1:1), that is, through the justice of God, and of Jesus our Lord. Mark, here
is the justice of God, and the justice of Jesus our Lord; and we have our faith from
the justice of God, because of the righteousness of Jesus our Lord; that is, Jesus
answered with works of justice the demands of justice; and therefore, in a way of
justice, grace reigns, and comes to us like a river, as is signified, for that it
is said to come to us out of the throne.
Again, grace is said "to reign through righteousness unto eternal life"
(Rom 5:21). Through what righteousness? the righteousness or justice of God by Jesus
Christ our Lord. By Jesus Christ, or for his sake. For for his sake, as I said, we
are forgiven; and for his sake have all things pertaining to life and godliness.
Which all things come to us, through, or down, the stream of this river in a way
of justice; and, therefore, it is said to come from the throne.
Eighth. This throne is the seat of grace and mercy; and, therefore, it is called
the mercy-seat and throne of grace. This throne turns all into grace, all into mercy.
This throne makes all things work together for good. It is said of Saul's sons, they
were not buried after they were hanged, until water dropped upon them out of heaven
(2 Sam 21:10,14). And it may be said of us there is nothing suffered to come near
us, until it is washed in that water that proceeds from the throne of grace. Hence
afflictions flow from grace (Psa 119:67), persecutions flow from grace; poverty,
sickness, yea, death itself is now made ours by the grace of God through Christ (1
Cor 3:22; Rev 3:19; Heb 12:5-7). O grace, O happy church of God! all things that
happen to thee are, for Christ's sake, turned into grace. They talk of the philosopher's
stone, and how, if one had it, it would turn all things into gold. O! but can it
turn all things into grace? can it make all things work together for good? No, no,
this quality, virtue, excellency, what shall I call it, nothing has in it, but the
grace that reigns on the throne of grace, the river that proceeds from the throne
of God. This, this turns majesty, authority, the highest authority, glory, wisdom,
faithfulness, justice, and all into grace. Here is a throne! God let us see it. John
had the honour to see it, and to see the streams proceeding from it. O sweet sight!
O heart-ravishing sight! "He showed me a pure river of water of life proceeding
out of the throne of God."
Indeed, as was hinted before, in the days of the reign of Antichrist there are not
those visions of this throne, nor of the river that proceedeth therefrom. Now he
holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth a cloud upon it; but the preserving,
saving benefits thereof we have, as also have all the saints, in the most cloudy
and dark day. And since we can see so little, we must believe the more; and by believing,
give glory to God. We must also labour for more clear Scripture knowledge of this
throne; for the holy Word of God is the perspective glass by which we may, and the
magnifying glass that will cause us to behold, "with open face, the glory of
the Lord" (2 Cor 3:18).
But, methinks, I have yet said nothing of this throne, which is indeed none other
but the spotless and glorified humanity of the Son of God. This throne is the Lord
Jesus, this grace comes from the Divine Majesty, as dwelling bodily in the Lord Jesus.
Wherefore let us fall down before the throne, and cast our crowns at the foot of
the throne, and give thanks to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for
ever and ever. O how should Jesus be esteemed of! The throne of the king is a royal
seat: it is said of Solomon's, "there was not the like made in any kingdom"
(1 Kings 10:20). But of this it may be said there is not it's like in heaven and
earth. At the setting up of this throne, the angels flocked round about it, and the
beasts and the elders gathered together to see it (Rev 4). When this throne was set
in heaven, there was silence, all the heavenly host had no leisure to talk; they
were surprised with sight and wonder. When this throne was set in heaven, what talk
there was! it was as the music of the trumpet.
"And behold," says John, "a door was opened in heaven; and the first
voice which I heard was, as it were, of a trumpet talking with me, which said, Come
up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I
was in the Spirit, and behold a THRONE WAS SET IN HEAVEN, and one sat upon the throne."
This throne was Jesus Christ exalted, SET, that is, lifted up, not as upon the cross
to the contempt and scorn of his person, but, as I said, to the wonderment of the
four beasts, and the elders, and all the angels in heaven. "A throne was set
in heaven, and one sat upon the throne"; that is, God. And this intimates his
desirable rest for ever: for to sit is to rest, and Christ is his rest for ever.
Was it not, therefore, well worth the seeing? Yea, if John had taken the pains to
go up thither upon his hands and knees, I say, to see the Lord Jesus as a throne
set in heaven, and the glory of God resting and abiding upon him, and giving out
by him all things, not only his Word, but all his dispensations and providences,
to the end of the world; and this blessed thing among the rest, even "a pure
river of water of life, clear as crystal," [how richly would he have been rewarded
for his pains].
[THE NATURE AND QUALITY OF THIS WATER.]
[FOURTH.] But I leave this, and proceed to the fourth and last thing, namely, to
the nature and quality of this water. It is said to be pure and clear; pure and clear
as crystal. "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal."
I know that there is a two-fold quality in a thing, one with respect to it's nature,
and the other with respect to it's operation. The first of these is inherent, and
remaineth in the subject being as such, and so for the most part useless. The other
is put forth then when it meeteth with fit matter on which it may freely work. As
to instance aquae vitae, the very metaphor here made use of, hath a quality inherent
in it, but keep it stopped up in a bottle, and then who will may faint notwithstanding;
but apply it, apply it fitly, and to such as have need thereof, and then you may
see it's quality by the operation. This water, or river of grace, is called, I say,
the water of life, and so, consequently, has a most blessed inherent quality; but
it's operation is seen by it's working, the which it doth only then when it is administered
and received for those ends for which it is administered. For then it revives where
life is, and gives life where it is not. And thus far, in the general, have we spoken
to it already. We will, therefore, in this place more particularly, though briefly,
speak a few words unto it.
[The operative quality of this water.]
FIRST. Then this water of life is the very groundwork of life in us, though not the
groundwork of life for us. The groundwork of life for us is the passion and merits
of Christ, this is that for the sake of which grace is given unto us, as it is intimated
by the text; it proceeds from the throne of God, who is Christ. Christ then having
obtained grace for us, must needs be precedent, as to his merit, to that grace he
hath so obtained. Besides, it is clear that the Spirit and grace come from God through
him; therefore, as to the communications of grace to us, it is the fruit of his merit
and purchase. But, I say, in us grace is the groundwork of life; for though we may
be said before to live virtually in the person of Christ before God, yet we are dead
in ourselves, and so must be until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high; for
the Spirit is life, and it's graces are life, and when that is infused by God from
the throne, then we live, and not till then. And hence it is called, as before, living
water, the water of life springing up in us to everlasting life. The Spirit, then,
and graces of the Spirit, which is the river here spoken of, is that, and that only,
which can cause us to live; that being life to the soul, as the soul is life to the
body. All men, therefore, as was said before, though elect, though purchased by the
blood of Christ, are dead, and must be dead, until the Spirit of life from God and
his throne shall enter into them; until they shall drink it in by vehement thirst,
as the parched ground drinks in the rain.
Now when this living water is received, it takes up it's seat in the heart, whence
it spreads itself to the awakening of all the powers of the soul. For, as in the
first creation, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, in order to
putting of that creature into that excellent fashion and harmony which now we behold
with our eyes; even so the new creation, to wit, the making of us new to God, is
done by the overspreading of the same Spirit also. For the Spirit, as I may so say,
sitteth and broodeth upon the powers of the soul, as the hen doth on cold eggs, till
they wax warm and receive life. The Spirit, then, warmeth us, and bringeth the dead
and benumbed soul—for so it is before conversion— to a godly sense and understanding
of states, of states both natural and spiritual; and this is the beginning of the
work of the Spirit, by which the soul is made capable of understanding what God and
And this drinking in of the Spirit is rather as the ground drinks in rain, than as
a rational soul does through sense of the want thereof.
The Spirit also garnisheth the soul with such things as are proper for it, to the
making of it live that life that by the Word of God is called for.
It implanteth light, repentance, faith, fear, love, desires after God, hope, sincerity,
and what else is necessary for the making the man a saint; these things, I say, are
the fruits and effects of this Spirit which, as a river of water of life, proceedeth
forth of the throne of God and of the Lamb. Hence the Spirit is called the Spirit
of faith, the Spirit of love, and the Spirit of a sound mind; for that the Spirit
is the root and original of all these things, by his operations in, and upon, the
face of the soul (2 Cor 4:13; Gal 5:22; 2 Tim 1:7).
But, again, as this living water, this Spirit and the grace thereof, doth thus, so
it also maintains these things once planted in the soul, by it's continual waterings
of them in the soul. Hence he saith, "I will water it every moment"; water
IT—his vineyard, the soul of the church, the graces of the church; and so the soul
and graces of every godly man (Isa 27:3).
And because it so happeneth sometimes, that some of those things wherewith the Holy
Ghost has beautified the soul may languish to a being, if not quite dead, yet "ready
to die" (Rev 3:2), therefore he doth not only refresh and water our souls, but
renews the face thereof, by either quickening to life that which remains, or by supplying
of us with that which is new, to our godly perseverance and everlasting life. Thus
"thou visitest the earth, and waterest it; thou greatly enrichest it with the
river of God" (Psa 65:9).
For this must be remembered, that as the herb that is planted, or seed sown, needs
watering with continual showers of the mountains, so our graces, implanted in us
by the Spirit of grace, must also be watered by the rain of heaven. "Thou waterest
the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makes it soft
with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof" (Psa 65:10). Hence he says
that our graces shall grow. But how? "I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall
grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread,
and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell
under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine:
the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon" (Hosea 14:5- 7). Or, as he
saith in another place, "The Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy
thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isa 58:11).
There is, besides this, another blessing that comes to us by this living water, and
that is, the blessing of communion. All the warmth that we have in our communion,
it is the warmth of the Spirit: when a company of saints are gathered together in
the name of Christ, to perform any spiritual exercise, and their souls be edified,
warmed, and made glad therein, it is because this water, this river of water of life,
has, in some of the streams thereof, run into that assembly (Jer 31:12,13). Then
are Christians like those that drink wine in bowls, merry and glad; for that they
have drank into the Spirit, and had their souls refreshed with the sweet gales and
strong wine thereof. This is the feast that Isaiah speaks of, when he saith, "In
this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things,
a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees
well refined" (Isa 25:6). This is called in another place, "the communion
of the Holy Ghost" (2 Cor 13:14). Now he warmeth spirits, uniteth spirits, enlighteneth
spirits; revives, cherisheth, quickeneth, strengtheneth graces; renews assurances,
brings old comforts to mind, weakens lusts, emboldeneth and raiseth a spirit of faith,
of love, of hope, of prayer, and makes the Word a blessing, conference a blessing,
meditation a blessing, and duty very delightful to the soul. Without this water of
life, communion is weak, flat, cold, dead, fruitless, lifeless; there is nothing
seen, felt, heard, or understood in a spiritual and heart-quickening way. Now ordinances
are burdensome, sins strong, faith weak, hearts hard, and the faces of our souls
dry, like the dry and parched ground.
This drink also revives us when tempted, when sick, when persecuted, when in the
dark, and when we faint for thirst. The life of religion is this water of life: where
that runs, where that is received, and where things are done in this spirit, there
all things are well; the church thrifty, the soul thrifty, graces thrifty, and all
is well. And this hint I thought convenient to be given of this precious water of
life, that is, with reference to the operative quality of it.
[The other qualities of this water.]
SECOND. I shall come, in the next place, to speak of it, as to the other descriptions
which John doth give us of it. He says it is, First, pure; Second, clear; Third,
clear to a comparison: "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear
[First. The purity of this water.]
1. You read here that this water of life is PURE, that is, alone without mixture,
for so sometimes that word PURE is to be understood. As where it saith, pure, "pure
olive oil" (Exo 27:20). "Pure frankincense" (Exo 30:34). "Pure
gold" (Exo 25:11,17). "Pure blood of the grape" (Deut 32:14), and
the like. So then, when he saith, "he showed me a pure river of water of life,"
it is as if he had said he showed me a river of water that was all living, all life,
and had nothing in it but life. There was no death, or deadness, or flatness in it;
or, as he saith a little after, "and there shall be no more curse." A pure
river. There is not so much as a grudge, or a piece of an upbraiding speech found
therein. There is in it nothing but heart, nothing but love, nothing but grace, nothing
but life. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom 11:29).
2. PURE is sometimes set in opposition to show or appearance; as where he says, "the
stars are not pure" (Job 25:5). That is, not so without mixture of darkness,
as they seem to be: so again, "If thou wert pure and upright" (Job 8:6):
that is, as thou seemest to be, or as thou wouldst have us believe thou art.
Now, take pure in this sense here, and then the meaning is, it is grace without deceit,
without guile; it's show and it's substance are the same; it has nothing but substance
in it; it is indeed what it seems to be in bulk; it is a river in show and a river
indeed. It comes from God and from his throne in appearance, and really it comes
from his very heart.
The great fear of the tempted is, that there is not so much grace in God, and that
he is not so free of it as some scriptures seem to import. But this word PURE is
levelled against such objections and objectors, for the destroying of their doubts,
and the relieving of their souls. There is no fraud, nor guile, nor fable in the
business; for though God is pleased to present us with his grace under the notion
of a river, it is not to delude our fancies thereby; but to give us some small illustration
of the exceeding riches of his grace, which as far, for quantity, outstrips the biggest
rivers, as the most mighty mountain doth the least ant's egg or atom in the world.
3. But, again, this word PURE is set in opposition to that which is hurtful and destructive:
"I am pure from the blood of all men," that is, I have hurt nobody (Acts
20:26). "The wisdom that is from above is first pure," it is not hurtful
(James 3:17). Do you count them pure with the wicked balances? how can that be, since
they are hurtful? (Micah 6:11).
Now take PURE in this sense here, and then it intimates, that the grace of God, and
the doctrine of grace, is not a hurtful thing. It is not as wine of an intoxicating
nature. If a man be filled with it, it will do him no harm (Eph 5:18). The best of
the things that are of this world are some way hurtful. Honey is hurtful (Prov 25:16,27).
Wine is hurtful (Prov 20:1). Silver and gold are hurtful, but grace is not hurtful
(1 Tim 6:10). Never did man yet catch harm by the enjoyment and fulness of the grace
of God. There is no fear of excess or of surfeiting here. Grace makes no man proud,
no man wanton, no man haughty, no man careless or negligent as to his duty that is
incumbent upon him, either from God or man: no, grace keeps a man low in his own
eyes, humble, self-denying, penitent, watchful, savoury in good things, charitable,
and makes him kindly affectionated to the brethren, pitiful and courteous to all
True, there are men in the world that abuse the grace of God, as some are said to
turn it into wantonness and into lasciviousness (Jude 4). But this is, not because
grace has any such tendency, or for that it worketh any such effect; but because
such men are themselves empty of grace, and have only done as death and hell hath
done with wisdom, "heard the fame thereof with their ears" (Job 28:22).
It is a dangerous thing for a man to have the notions of grace, while his heart is
void of the spirit and holy principles of grace; for such a man can do no other than
abuse the grace of God. Alas, what can be expected of him that has nothing in him
to teach him to manage that knowledge of grace which he has, but his flesh, his lusts,
and lustful passions? Can these teach him to manage his knowledge well? Will they
not rather put him upon all tricks, evasions, irreligious consequences and conclusions,
such as will serve to cherish sin? What Judas did with Christ, that a graceless man
will do with grace, even make it a stalking horse to his fleshly and vile designs;
and rather than fail betray both it, and the profession of it, to the greatest enemies
it has in the world.
And here I may say, though grace is pure, and not hurtful at all, yet one altogether
carnal, sinful, and graceless, having to do with the doctrine of it, by the force
of his lusts which tamper with it, he will unavoidably bring himself into the highest
ruin thereby. An unwary man may destroy himself by the best of things, not because
there is in such things an aptness to destroy, but because of the abuse and misuse
of them. Some know the way of life, the water of life, by knowledge that is naked
and speculative only; and it had been better for such if they had not known, than
to know and turn from what they know; than to know, and make the knowledge subservient
to their lusts (2 Peter 2:20-22). Some receive the rain of God, and the droppings
of his clouds, because they continually sit under the means of his grace. But, alas!
they receive it as stones receive showers, or as dunghills receive the rain; they
either abide as hard stones still, or else return nothing to heaven for his mercy,
but as the dunghills do, a company of stinking fumes. These are they that drink in
the rain that comes often upon them, and that instead of bringing forth herbs meet
for the dresser, bring forth briers and thorns; and these are they who are nigh unto
cursing, whose end is to be burned (Heb 6:7,8).
By this word PURE I understand sometimes the chiefest good, the highest good. There
are many things that may be called good, but none of them are good as grace is good.
All things indeed are pure, that is, all creatures in themselves are good and serviceable
to man, but they are not so good as grace (Rom 14:20; Gen 1:31). "There is a
generation that are pure," that are good in their own eyes (Prov 30:12). There
are good men, good consciences, good works, good days, good angels, &c., but
none so good as grace, for it is grace that has made them so. Grace, this water of
life, therefore is good, superlatively good, good in the highest degree, for that
it makes all things good, and preserveth them good. And whatever it be that this
water of life washeth not, it is soil, and given to the curse, as the prophet intimates
where he saith, "But the miry places thereof, and the marshes thereof, shall
not be healed; they shall be given to salt" (Eze 47:1).
But who understands this, who believes it? Its goodness is kept close from the fowls
of the air. Men, most men, are ignorant of the goodness of it, nor do they care to
inquire after the enjoyment of this pure, this good water of life. The reason is,
because though it is good in itself, good in the highest degree, and that which makes
all things good, yet it is not such a good as is suited to a carnal appetite. There
is good; and there is suitable good. Now suitable good is of two sorts: either such
as is spiritual, or such as is temporal. That which is spiritual, is desired only
of them that are spiritual; for temporal good will satisfy a carnal mind. Now grace
is a spiritual good; this river of grace is the goodness of spiritual good. It is
the original life of all the grace in our souls. No marvel, then, if it be so little
set by of those that are carnally minded. They will serve a horse, and mire will
serve a sow; so things of this life suit best with the men of this world; for their
appetite is gross and carnal, and they savour not the things that be of the Spirit
of God. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,"
the things that be of this river of God; "for they are foolishness unto him:
neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 2:14).
This is the river of OIL which the prophet speaks of, the river of SPIRIT. Were it
a river of gold and silver, there would be old fishing on the banks thereof. But
it is a river that runs "like oil, saith the Lord God" (Eze 32:14). This
rock pours us out "rivers of oil" (Job 29:6)—"fresh oil" (Psa
92:10)—"soft oil" (Psa 55:21)—"the oil of joy" (Isa 61:3)—"the
oil of gladness" (Psa 45:7)—oil to anoint the head withal (Eccl 9:8)—oil to
make the face to shine (Psa 104:15)—oil by which thou wilt be made able to honour
both God and man in some good measure as becomes thee (Judg 9:9).
I might have enlarged upon this head, and have showed you many more particulars wherein
this term of pure might serve for the better setting forth of the excellency of this
water of life, but I shall proceed no further upon this, but will come to that which
[Second. The clearness of this water of life.]
As this river of water of life is said to be pure, so it is said to be CLEAR. "He
shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear." This term has also it's particular
signification, and, therefore, ought to be heeded.
1. CLEAR is set in opposition to dark; therefore some are said to be "clear
as the sun" (Cant 6:10). And again, "the light shall not be clear nor dark"
(Zech 14:6). In both these places, clear is to be taken for light, daylight, sunlight;
for, indeed, it is never day nor sunshine with the soul, until the streams of this
river of water of life come gliding to our doors, into our houses, into our hearts.
Hence the beginning of conversion is called illumination (Heb 10:32). Yea, the coming
of this river of water of life unto us is called the day-spring from on high, through
the tender mercy of our God (Luke 1:78). It is also called the dawning of the day
(2 Peter 1:19). And hence, again, these men unto whom this river of water of life
comes not, are said to be dark, darkness. "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now
are ye light in the Lord" (Eph 5:8). Wherefore, this water is like Jonathan's
honey; it hath a faculty to open the eyes, to make them that sit in darkness see
a great light (1 Sam 14:27; Matt 4:16). The light of the knowledge of the glory of
God in the faith of Jesus Christ; "God, who commanded the light to shine out
of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light"; the Spirit that enlighteneth
and giveth the light, "of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus
Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). This river casteth beams where it goes, like the beams
of the sun; it shines, it casts out rays of glory unto those that drink thereof.
The streams of this grace were they that overtook Saul when he was going to Damascus;
they were the waters of this flood that compassed him round about. And if you will
believe him, he saith this light from heaven was a great light, a light above the
brightness of the sun, a light that did by the glory of it make dark to him all the
things in the world (Acts 9:3, 22:6, 26:13).
2. CLEAR is set in opposition to that which is not pleasing. For to be clear is to
be pleasant. Hence it is said, "truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing
it is for the eyes to behold the sun" (Eccl 11:7). I read of rivers that looked
red as blood, that stank like the blood of a dead man, but this is no such river
(Exo 7:19,20; 2 Kings 3:22,23). I read of rivers whose streams are like streams of
brimstone, fiery streams, streams of burning pitch, but this is none of them (Isa
30:27-33; David 7:9-11; Isa 34:9). "There is a river" besides all these,
clear and pleasant, "the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God"
There are the waters that the doves love to sit by, because by the clearness of these
streams they can see their pretty selves, as in a glass (Cant 5:12).
These are the streams where the doves wash their eyes, and by which they solace themselves,
and take great content. These streams are instead, as I said, of a looking-glass;
their clearness presents us with an opportunity of seeing our own features. As in
fair waters a man may see the body of the sun, and of the moon, and of the stars,
and the very body of heaven; so he that stands upon the bank of this river, and that
washeth his eyes with this water, may see the Son of God, the stars of God, the glory
of God, and the habitation that God has prepared for his people. And are not these
pleasant sights? is not this excellent water? has not this river pleasant streams?
3. CLEAR is set in opposition to dirty water and muddiness. I read of some waters
that are fouled with the feet of beasts, and with the feet of men, yea, and deep
waters too. Yea, saith God to some, ye "have drunk of the deep waters,"
and have fouled "the residue with your feet"; and again, "As for my
flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet, and they drink that which
ye have fouled with your feet" (Eze 34:18,19). These waters are doctrines contained
in the text, muddied and dirtied by the false glosses and sluttish opinions of erroneous
judgments, of which the poor sheep have been made to drink. And, verily, this is
apparent enough by the very colour and hue of those poor souls; for though the truth
of God was in them, yet the very stain of tradition and superstition might be also
seen in their scales. For as the fish of the river receive, by being there, the changeable
colours of the waters, so professors, what doctrine they hear and drink, do look
like that. If their doctrines are muddy, their notions are muddy; if their doctrines
are bloody, their notions and tempers are bloody: but if their doctrines are clear,
so are their notions, for their doctrine has given them a clear understanding of
Now, here we have a river of water of life that is clear— clear without dirt and
mud—clear without the human inventions and muddy conceptions of unsanctified and
uninstructed judgments; yea, here you have a river the streams whereof lie open to
all in the church, so that they need not those instruments of conveyance that are
foul, and that use to make water stink, if they receive it to bring it to them that
4. By clear we sometimes understand purgation; or that a thing has purged itself,
or is purged from those soils and imputations of evil wherewith sometimes they have
been charged. "Then thou shalt be clear from this my oath"; or, "How
shall we clear ourselves?" (Gen 24:8-14, 44:16). Something of this sense may
be in the text; for if men are not afraid to charge God with folly, which is intimated
by "that thou mightest be clear when thou judgest" (Psa 51:4), will they,
think you, be afraid to impute evil to his Word, and grace, and Spirit? No, verily;
they are bold enough at this work. Nay, more than this, even from the foundation
of the world, men have cast slanders upon, and imputed based things into the blessed
grace of the gospel. But not to look so far back. Paul was one of the pipes through
which God conveyed this grace to the world; and what was he counted for his so doing,
but "a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition - throughout the world"
(Acts 24:5,6). But, behold, no imputation can stick on the grace of God—not stick
long; for that, like honey, will purge itself of what filth is put upon it, and of
all bad imputations of evil men's springs, and rivers are of a self-purging quality.
Now, here we have to do with a river—a river of water of life; but a river more slandered
than ever did Naaman the Syrian slander the waters of Israel in preferring those
of Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, beyond them (2 Kings 5:10-12). But behold
now, at last, when all the world have done what they can, and cast what reproaches
and slanders upon it they are able, it is a river pure and clear. It has purged itself
before kings—it has purged itself before princes and judges, and all the Naamans
in the world; it is still a river—a river of water of life—a river of water of life
5. By clear we sometimes understand purity manifest, or innocency and goodness made
known. "In all things ye have approved yourselves to be CLEAR in this matter"
(2 Cor 7:11). That is, you have made it appear, and stand upon your justification,
and are willing to be searched and sounded to the bottom by those that have a desire
to undertake that work. So this river of water of life in the fountain, and in the
streams thereof, offer themselves to the consideration and conscience of all men.
To this end how often doth God, the head of this river, and he out of whose throne
it proceeds, call upon men to challenge him, if they can, with any evil or misdoing
towards them, either by presence or doctrine; hence he says, "Put me in remembrance;
let us plead together; declare thou," if thou canst, "that thou mayest
be justified," and I condemned (Isa 43:26). So again: "What iniquity have
your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity,
and are become vain?" (Jer 2:5). So Christ: "Which of you convinceth me
of sin?" (John 8:46). And "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil"
(John 18:23). So Paul: We "have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not
walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation
of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God"
(2 Cor 4:2). All these sentences are chiefly to be applied to doctrine, and so are,
as it were, an offer to any, if they can, to find a speck, or a spot, or a wrinkle,
or any such thing in this river of water of life.
Some men fly from it as from a bear; and some are afraid to drink of it, for fear
it should be poison unto them. Some, again, dare not take it because it is not mixed,
and as they, poor souls, imagine, qualified and made toothsome by a little of that
which is called the wisdom of this world. Thus one shucks, another shrinks, and
another will none of God. Meanwhile, whoso shall please to look into this river shall
find it harmless and clear; yea, offering itself to the consciences of all men to
make trial if it be not the only chief good, the only necessary waters, the only
profitable, for the health of the soul, of all the things that are in the world,
and as clear of mischief as is the sun of spots.
[Third.—this river is clear to the most perfect comparison.]
As John saw this river pure and clear, so he saw it clear to a comparison. Clear
to the best of comparisons, clear as crystal. Crystal is a very clear stone, as clear
as the clearest glass, if not clearer; one may see far into it, yea, through it;
it is without those spots, and streaks, and smirches that are in other precious stones.
Wherefore, when he saith that this river is clear as crystal, it is as if God should
say, Look, sinners, look to the bottom of these my crystal streams. I have heard
of some seas that are so pure and clear, that a man may see to the bottom though
they may be forty feet deep. I know this river of water of life is a deep river;
but though it is said to be deep, it is not said we can see no bottom. Indeed, as
to the wideness of it, it is said to be such as that it cannot be passed over; but
I say, it is nowhere said that we cannot see to the bottom; nay, the comparison implies
that a man with good eyes may see to the bottom. It is clear, as clear as crystal.
So, then, we will a little look down to the bottom, and see, through these crystal
streams, what is at the bottom of all.
1. Then the bottom of all is, "That we might be saved" (John 5:34). "These
things I say," saith Christ, "that ye might be saved"; and, again,
"I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly"
(John 10:10). This is the bottom of this great river of water of life, and of it's
proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb: it is that we might be saved;
it is that we might live. What a good bottom is here! what a sound bottom is here!
But few deep rivers have a good bottom. Mud is at the bottom of most waters in the
world; even the sea itself, when it worketh, casts up mire and dirt, and so do the
hearts of sinners; but the bottom of this grace of God, and of the Spirit and Word
thereof, is that we might be saved, consequently a very good bottom.
2. As the bottom of all is, "that we may be saved," so that we may be saved
by grace, and this is a bottom sounder and sounder. Our salvation might have been
laid upon a more difficult bottom than this. It might have been laid on our works.
God might have laid it there, and have been just, or he might have left us to have
laid it where we would; and then, to be sure, we had laid it there, and so had made
but a muddy bottom to have gone upon to life. But now, this river of water of life,
it has a better bottom; the water of life is as clear as crystal, look down to the
bottom and see, we are "justified freely by his grace" (Rom 3:24). "By
grace ye are saved," there is the bottom (Eph 2:5,8).
Now, grace, as I have showed you, is a firm bottom to stand on; it is of grace that
life might be sure (Rom 4:16). Surely David was not here, or surely this was not
the river that he spake of when he said, "I sink in deep mire, where there is
no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. Deliver me
out of the mire, and let me not sink" (Psa 69:2,14). I say, to be sure this
could not be the river. No, David was now straggled out of the way, was tumbled into
some pit, or into some muddy and dirty hole; for as for this river it has a good
bottom, a bottom of salvation by grace, and a man needs not cry out when he is here
that he sinks, or that he is in danger of being drowned in mud or mire.
3. The bottom of all is, as I said, that we might be saved, saved by grace, and I
will add, "through the redemption that is in Christ." This is still better
and better. We read that, when Israel came over Jordan, the feet of the priests that
did bear the ark stood on firm ground in the bottom, and that they set up great stones
for a memorial thereof (Josh 3:17, 4:1-3). But had Jordan so good a bottom as has
this most blessed river of water of life, or were the stones that Israel took out
thence like this "tried stone," this "sure foundation?" (Isa
28:16). O the throne! this river comes out of the throne, and we are saved by grace
through the redemption that is in him. We read that there is a city that has foundations;
grace is one, Christ another, and the truth of all the prophets and apostles, as
to their true doctrine, another, &c. (Heb 11:10). And again, all these are the
very bottom of this goodly river of the water of life (Eph 2:19,20).
4. There is another thing to be seen at the bottom of this holy river, and that is,
the glory of God; we are saved, saved by grace, saved by grace through the redemption
that is in Christ to the praise and glory of God. And what a good bottom is here.
Grace will not fail, Christ has been sufficiently tried, and God will not lose his
glory. Therefore they that drink of this river shall doubtless be saved; to wit,
they that drink of it of a spiritual appetite to it. And thus much for the explication
of the text.
[THE APPLICATION OF THE WHOLE.]
I now come to make some use of the whole.
You know our discourse has been at this time of the water of life, of it's quantity,
head-spring, and quality; and I have showed you that it's nature is excellent, it's
quantity abundant, it's head-spring glorious, and it's quality singularly good.
FIRST. Let this, then, in the first place, be a provocation to us to be more free
in making use of this water. There are many, now-a-days, that are for inventing of
waters, to drink for the health of the body; and to allure those that are ill to
buy, they will praise their waters beyond their worth. Yea, and if they be helpful
to one person in a hundred, they make as if they could cure every one. Well, here
you have the great Physician himself, with his water, and he calls it the water of
life, water of life for the soul: this water is probatum est. It has been proved
times without number; it never fails but where it is not taken (Acts 26:18; Isa 5:4,5).
No disease comes amiss to it; it cures blindness, deadness, deafness, dumbness. It
makes "the lips of those that are asleep to speak" (Cant 7:9). This is
the right HOLY WATER, all other is counterfeit: it will drive away devils and
spirits; it will cure enchantments and witchcrafts; it will heal the mad and lunatic
(Gal 3:1-3; Mark 16:17,18). It will cure the most desperate melancholy; it will dissolve
doubts and mistrusts, though they are grown as hard as stone in the heart (Eze 36:26).
It will make you speak well (Col 4:6). It will make you have a white soul, and that
is better than to have a white skin (Eze 36:25,26). It will make you taste well;
it will make you disrelish all hurtful meats (Isa 30:22). It will beget in you a
good appetite to that which is good; it will remove obstructions in the stomach and
liver. It will cause that what you receive of God's bread shall turn to good nourishment,
and make good blood. In a word, it preserveth life (John 4:14). They that take this
water shall live longer than did old Methuselah, and yet he lived a great while (Gen
Wherefore, let me continue my exhortation to you. Be more free in making use of this
water; it is the wholesomest water in the world; you may take it at the third, sixth,
ninth, or eleventh hour, but to take it in the morning of your age is best (Matt
20:3-6). For then diseases have not got so great a head as when they are of long
continuance, consequently they will be removed with far more ease; besides, those
that thus do will receive endless life, and the comfort of it betimes; and that,
you know, is a double life to one (Eccl 11:1-4).
This water gently purges, and yet more effectually than any others. True, where bad
humours are more tough and churlish, it will show itself stronger of operation, for
there is no disease can be too hard for it. It will, as we say, throw the house out
of the windows; but it will rid us of the plague of those most deadly infections
that otherwise will be sure to make us sleep in death, and bring us, with the multitude,
down to hell. But it will do no hurt; it only breaks our sleep in security, and brings
us to a more quick apprehension of the plague of our heart and flesh. It will, as
I said before, provoke to appetite, but make us only long after that which is wholesome.
If any ask why I thus allegorize, I answer, the text doth lead me to it.
SECOND. I advise, therefore, in the next place, that thou get thee a dwelling-place
by these waters. "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him, and
the Lord shall cover him all the day long" (Deut 33:12). If thou ask where that
dwelling is, I answer, in the city of God, in and among the tabernacles of the Most
High. This river comes from the throne to water the city of God; and to that end
it is said to run "in the midst of the street of it" (Rev 22:2). If ye
will inquire, inquire, return, come. "The seed also of his servants shall inherit
it, and they that love his name shall dwell therein" (Psa 69:36). Get thee a
dwelling in Jerusalem, in the midst of Jerusalem, and then thou wilt be seated by
In old times, the ancients had their habitations by the rivers; yea, we read of Aroer
that stood upon the brink of the river Arnon (Josh 13:9). Balaam also had his dwelling
in his city Pethor, "by the river of the land of the children of his people"
(Num 22:5). O! by a river side is the pleasantest dwelling in the world; and of all
rivers, the river of the water of life is the best. They that dwell there "shall
not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath
mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them"
(Isa 49:10). Trees planted by the rivers, and that spread out their roots by the
rivers, they are the flourishing trees, they bring forth their fruit in their season
(Psa 1:3; Jer 17:8). And the promise is that men that take up their dwellings by
this river of water of life, shall be fruitful as such trees.
If thou art a Christian, thou hast more than an ordinary call and occasion to abide
by these waters; thy things will not grow but by these waters. Weeds and the excellencies
of most men we may find in the barren wilderness, they grow under every hedge; but
thine are garden, and so choice things, and will not thrive without much water, no,
without the water of God's river. Dwell, therefore, here; that thy soul may be as
a watered garden (Jer 31:12; Isa 12:1-3). And when thou seest how those that are
loath to die, make provision at Tunbridge, Epsom, the Bath, and other places,
and what houses they get that they may have their dwellings by those waters, then
do thou consider of thy spiritual disease, and how nothing can cure thee but this
blessed water of life; be also much of desires to have a dwelling-place in Jerusalem,
that thou mayest always be nigh to these waters. Be often also in watering thy plants
with these waters. I mean the blessed graces of God in thy soul; then shalt thou
grow, and retain thy greenness, and prove thyself to be a disciple indeed. And herein
is God, and thy Father, glorified, that thou bear much fruit (John 15:8).
THIRD. My third word is, bless God for providing for man such waters. These only
can make us live; all others come out of the Dead Sea, and do kill; there is no living
water but this. I say, show thy acceptation of it with thanksgiving; if we are not
to receive our bread and cheese but with thanksgiving, how should we bless God for
this unspeakable gift! (2 Cor 9:15). This is soul life, life against sin, life from
sin, life against the curse, life from the curse, life beyond hell, beyond desert,
beyond thought, beyond desires. Life that is pleasing, life that is profitable, life
O my brethren, bless God! who doth good and gives us such rain, filling our hearts
with food and gladness. When Moses would take the heart of Israel, and took in
hand to raise up their spirits to thankfulness, he used to tell them that the land
that they were to go to was a land that God cared for, and that was watered with
the dew of heaven. Yea, "a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths
that spring out of valleys and hills; a land that flowed with milk and honey, which
is the glory of all lands" (Deut 8:7; Exo 3:8, 13:5; Lev 20:24; Num 14:8). But
yet in his description he makes no mention of a river of water of life; a river the
streams whereof make glad the city of God.
This river is the running out of God's heart; the letting out of his very bowels,
for God is the living God. This is his heart and soul. "Yea, I will rejoice
over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my
whole heart, and with my whole soul" (Jer 32:41). I say, if ever God's heart
and soul appeared, it showed itself in giving this water of life, and the throne
from whence it proceeds. Wherefore [there is] all the reason of the world, that in
the reception of it thy heart and soul should run out and flow after him in thanksgiving.
See how David words it in Psalm 103:1-5, and do likewise.
FOURTH. By the characters that are given of this water of life, thou art capacitated
to judge when a notion, a doctrine, an opinion, comes to thine ears, whether it is
right, good, and wholesome, or how. This river is pure, is clear, is pure and clear
as crystal. Is the doctrine offered unto thee so? or is it muddy, and mixed with
the doctrines of men? Look, man, and see if the foot of the worshippers of Bel be
not there, and if the waters be not fouled thereby. What water is fouled is not the
water of life, or at least not the water of life in it's clearness. Wherefore, if
thou findest it not right, go up higher to the spring-head, for always the nearer
to the spring, the more pure and clear is the water. Fetch, then, thy doctrine from
afar, if thou canst not have it good nearer hand (Job 36:3). Thy life lies at stake;
the counterfeit of things is dangerous; everybody that is aware, is afraid thereof.
Now a counterfeit here is most dangerous, is most destructive. Wherefore take heed
how you hear, what you hear; for, as I said before of the fish, by your colour it
will be seen what waters you swim in; wherefore look you well to yourselves.
FIFTH. Doth this water of life run like a river, like a broad, full, and deep river;
then let no man, be his transgressions never so many, fear at all, but there is enough
to save his soul, and to spare. Nothing has been more common to many than to doubt
of the grace of God; a thing most unbecoming a sinner of any thing in the world.
To break the law is a fact foul enough; but to question the sufficiency of the grace
of God to save therefrom, is worse than sin, if worse can be. Wherefore, despairing
soul, for it is to thee I speak, forbear thy mistrusts, cast off thy slavish fears,
hang thy misgivings as to this upon the hedge; and believe thou hast an invitation
sufficient thereto, a river is before thy face. And as for thy want of goodness and
works, let that by no means daunt thee; this is a river of water of life, streams
of grace and mercy. There is, as I said, enough therein to help thee, for grace brings
all that is wanting to the soul. Thou, therefore, hast nothing to do, I mean as to
the curing of thy soul of it's doubts, and fears, and despairing thoughts, but to
drink and live for ever.
SIXTH. But what is all this to the DEAD world—to them that love to be dead? They
toss their vanities about as the boys toss their shuttlecocks in the air, till their
foot slips, and themselves descend into the pit.
Let this suffice for this time.
 As God gave us existence, so, in his munificence and royal bounty, he gives us
his rich grace. We have nothing to give in return but grateful love. He redeems us
from the captivity of sin, and earth, and hell. "Every beast of the forest is
mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills: the world is mine, saith the Almighty,
with the fulness thereof." O to grace how great a debtor; freely bestowed to
the poor and needy.—Ed.
 Water is a curse, as in the dropsy, but essential to life with our food. Oil
is valuable, properly taken, but an irritating oil to consume the bones is destructive.
How awful the case of the rich man when refused a drop of water to cool that fire
which he had created while living, and into which he had irretrievably plunged himself.—Ed.
 Reliance upon an imperfect obedience to God's holy law, united with a hope, through
Christ or some other means, of forgiveness for not having kept some parts of that
law, is "the doctrine of the world," and of devils. It is a refuge of lies,
which death will fearfully sweep away. We must rely wholly upon Christ, or perish.—Ed.
 Aquae Vitae was a cordial-water well known in Bunyan's time, and much used in
compounding medicines, but now almost forgotten. It was distilled from brewed beer,
strongly hopped, and well fermented. The French have an intoxicating liquour called
eau de vie; this is distilled from the refuse of the grapes after the wine is made.—Ed.
 Although all mankind are fatally diseased, they only feel it that are made sick
of sin; this is the law work, and when it takes place, then comes the new birth and
salvation by the efficacy of this water of life.—Ed.
 A RIVER inexhaustible, to supply the pure and unmixed joys of heaven to all the
myriads of happy glorified souls, and applied by the Spirit of grace to quench the
thirst of the soul on earth. This grace is fixed and permanent, "springing up
into everlasting life." Blessed Jesus, "give me this water, that I thirst
 This water of life is as essential to the spiritual- mindedness of the soul,
as natural water is to the life of a fish. The grace of God is the element in which
only the renewed soul can live and enjoy a little of that heaven into which, as an
ocean of bliss, this river carries him.—Ed.
 Those that are satisfied with the world, and it's enjoyments, and seek not for
happiness in the favour of God; those that depend on the merit of their own works
for a righteousness; these do not thirst—they have no sense of their need, and will
not condescend to come to THE FOUNTAIN.—Ed.
 The rain is taken from the sea by water-spouts or in vapour; it is wonderfully
distilled, and descends upon the earth in fertilizing showers which supply the rivers.
In proportion to the rain or melting of the snow, is the quantity of water in the
rivers. Bunyan was taught all this phenomena of nature, by a single verse in the
inspired volume which he quotes. How wonderful is that Book!— Ed.
 This is a most astonishing natural phenomenon: that such a river as the Thames,
receiving constantly all the filth of a vast metropolis, containing more than two
millions of inhabitants, buries it all, and yet purifieth itself.—Ed.
 Light bread is an allusion to Numbers 21:5: "our soul loatheth this light
bread." The heavenly manna, like Christ, is despised and rejected of man.—Ed.
 By "the text," in this and other places, is meant the text of sacred
Scripture; not the particular passage, or text, on which this treatise is founded.—Ed.
 The solemn silence, and the sound of the trumpet, took place in quick succession
when the medium of prayer and praise, from fallen man, was first exhibited in heaven.
When Christ was revealed to John, as the throne upon which God received the prayers
of all his saints, awe, and wonder, and silence, was felt in heaven for the space
of half an hour; then came the sound of the trumpet with dire events to those who
had refused to pray in the name of Christ.—Ed.
 Thus the Spirit of God in regeneration produces light out of darkness, makes
the barren heart fruitful, and from confusion, discord, and enmity, brings order,
harmony, and tranquility. The renewed man is actuated by new hopes and fears; his
judgment is enlightened, his will rectified, and his heart transformed; his eyes
being divinely opened he sees into eternity; he has a hope full of immortality; spiritual
appetites are excited in his soul; his affections are raised to God and heaven; his
soul thirsteth for God, for the living God! Thus the Spirit giveth life to the dead,
eyes to the blind, speech to the dumb, feet to the lame, and the hand of faith to
lay hold on Christ for complete salvation.—Mason.
 This is an excellent commentary upon that part of the Pilgrim's Progress which
describes Christiana and her company at the foot of the hill Difficulty. Greatheart
points out the spring at which Christian was refreshed before he began the arduous
ascent which led him, in defiance of a persecuting world, to join in church fellowship,
allegorically represented by the house Beautiful—"When Christian drank it was
clear and good, but now it is dirty; and with the feet of some that are not desirous
that pilgrims should here quench their thirst." After the writing of the first
part, and before that of the second, the Act of Uniformity had spread it's baleful
influence over England. To use Bunyan's words—"The Romish beasts have corrupted
the doctrine by treading it down with their feet, and have muddied this water with
their own dirt and filthiness."—See Holy City.—Ed.
 "Shuck," to shake; obsolete as a verb, but retained as a noun to designate
the pea-shell, after the peas have been shook out.—Ed.
 Probatum est—is proved—a scrap of Latin commonly used in advertising medical
prescriptions, in Bunyan's time.—Ed.
 A Protestant can have but little idea of the insane superstition of the Papists
in respect to holy water. The following lines, from Barnaby Googe's Popish Kingdome,
will shed a little light upon it:—
"Besides, they do beleeue their sinnes to be forgiven quight,
By taking holy water here, whereof if there do light
But one small drop, it driueth out the hellishe deuils all
Then which there can no greater griefe vnto the feend befall."
—4to. 1570, p. 42. In the Editor's library.—Ed.
 The infatuation, nay, madness of human nature, in it's fallen state, is shown
by living to hasten the inroads of death; and when he appears, terror-stricken they
fly from it to any remedy that is within their reach. How vast the number of suicides
 The real Christian, and such only, are in this blessed case; they have the promise
of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. Their Father, the Almighty,
supplies all their wants; giving joy and peace, when heart and flesh tremble.—Ed.
 In proportion to the number of professed Christians who thus obey the gospel
by judging for themselves, so will be the happiness of the church, and the hastening
on of the kingdom of Christ. No one is a Christian that receives his doctrine from
a prelate, priest, or minister, without prayerfully comparing it with the written
Word. O man, take not the water of life as doled out by a fellow-man; go to the river
for yourself—survey yourself as reflected in those crystal streams. Christ does not
say to the heavy- laden, sin-burdened soul, Go to the church; but, Come unto me,
and find rest. Blessed is he who loves the river of water unpolluted by human devices,
forms, or ceremonies; who flies to the open bosom of his Christ, and finds refuge
from every storm.—Ed.
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