THE kiss is a token of enmity removed, of strife ended, and of peace established. You will remember that when Jacob met Esau, although the hearts of the brothers had been long estranged, and fear had dwelt in the breast of one, and revenge had kindled its fires in the heart of the other; when they met they were pacified towards each other, and they fell upon each other’s neck, and they kissed: it was the kiss of reconciliation. Now, the very first work of grace in the heart is, for Christ to give the sinner the kiss of His affection, to prove His reconciliation to the sinner. Thus the father kissed his prodigal son when he returned. Before the feast was spread, before the music and the dance began, the father fell upon his son’s neck, and kissed him. On our part, however, it is our business to return that kiss; and as Jesus gives the reconciling kiss on God’s behalf, it is ours to kiss the lip of Jesus, and to prove by that deed that we are “reconciled to God by the death of His Son.” Sinner, thou hast hitherto been an enemy of Christ’s Gospel. Thou hast hated His Sabbaths; thou hast neglected His Word; thou hast abhorred His commandments and cast His laws behind thy back; thou hast, as much as lieth in thee, opposed His kingdom; thou hast loved the wages of sin, and the ways of iniquity better than the ways of Christ. What sayest thou? Does the Spirit now strive in thy heart? Then, I beseech thee, yield to His gracious influence, and now let thy quarrel be at an end. Cast down the weapons of thy rebellion; pull out the plumes of pride from thy helmet, and cast away the sword of thy rebellion. Be His enemy no longer; for, rest assured, He wills to be thy friend. With arms outstretched, ready to receive thee, with eyes full of tears, weeping over thine obstinacy, and with bowels moved with compassion for thee, He speaks through me and He says, “Kiss the Son;” be reconciled.
This is the very message of the Gospel — “The ministry of reconciliation.”
Thus speak we, as God hath commanded us. “We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” And is this a hard thing we ask of you, that you should be at friendship with Him who is your best friend? Is this a rigorous law, like the commands of Pharaoh to the children of Israel in Egypt, when He bids you simply shake hands with Him who shed His blood for sinners? We ask you not to be friends of death or hell; we beg you rather to dissolve your league with them; we pray that grace may lead you to forswear their company forever, and be at peace with Him who is incarnate love and infinite mercy. Sinners, why will ye resist Him who only longs to save you? Why scorn Him who loves you? Wily trample on the blood that bought you, and reject the Cross, which is the only hope of your salvation?
Man is utterly ruined and undone. He is lost in a wild waste wilderness.
The skin bottle of his righteousness is all dried up, and there is not so much as a drop of water in it. The heavens refuse him rain, and the earth can yield him no moisture. Must he perish? He looks aloft, beneath, around, and he discovers no means of escape. Must he die? Must thirst devour him? Must he fall upon the desert and leave his bones to bleach under the hot sun? No; for the text declares there is a fountain of life. Ordained in old eternity by God in solemn covenant, this fountain, this divine well, takes its spring from the deep foundations of God’s decrees. It gusheth up from the depth which coucheth beneath, it cometh from that place which the eagle’s eye hath not seen, and which the lion’s whelp hath not passed over. The deep foundations of God’s government, the depths of His own essential goodness and of His divine nature — these are the mysterious springs from which gush forth that fountain of the “water of life” which shall do good to man. The Son hath digged this well, and bored through massive rocks which prevented this living water from springing upward. Using His Cross as the grand instrument He has pierced through rocks; He has Himself descended to the lowest depth, and He hath broken a passage by which the love and grace of God, the living water which can save the soul, may well up and overflow to quench the thirst of dying men. The Son hath bidden this fountain freely flow, hath removed the stone which laid upon the mouth thereof, and now having ascended on high He standeth there to see that the fountain shall never stay its life-giving course, that its floods shall never be dry, that its depths shall never be exhausted. This sacred fountain, established according to God’s good will and pleasure in the covenant, opened by Christ when he died upon the Cross, floweth this day to give life and health, and joy and peace to poor sinners dead in sin, and ruined by the fall. There is a “water of life.”
Pause awhile and look at its floods as they come gushing upwards, overflowing on every side, and assuaging men’s thirst. Let us look with joyous eye. It is called the “water of life,” and richly doth it deserve its name. God’s favor is life, and in His presence there is pleasure forevermore; but this water is God’s favor, and consequently life. By this water of life is intended God’s free grace, God’s love for men, so that if you come and drink, you shall find this to be life indeed to your soul, for in drinking of God’s grace, you inherit God’s love, you are reconciled to God. God stands in a fatherly relation to you, He loves you, and His great infinite heart yearns towards you.
Again, it is living water not simply because it is love, and that is life, but it saves from impending death. The sinner knows that he must die because he is unworthy. He has committed sins so tremendous that God must punish him. God must cease to be just if He does not punish the sins of man. Man when conscious that he has been very guilty stands shivering in the presence of his Maker, feeling in his soul that his doom is signed, and sealed, and that he must certainly be cast away from all hope, and life, and joy. Come hither, then, ye sin-doomed; this water can wash away your sins, and when your sins are washed away then shall ye live; for the innocent must not be punished. Here is water that can make you whiter than driven snow. What though you be black as Kedar’s smoky tents, here is water that can purge you, and wash you to the whiteness of perfection, and make you fair as the curtains of king Solomon. These waters well deserve the name of life, since pardon is a condition of life. Unpardoned we die, we perish, we sink into the depths of hell; pardoned we live, we rise, we ascend to the very heights of heaven. See here, then, this ever-gushing fountain will give to all who take thereof, life from the dead, by the pardon of their sins. “But,” saith one, “I have a longing within me which I cannot satisfy. I feel sure that if I be pardoned yet there is something which I want — which nothing I have ever heard of, or have ever seen or handled, can satisfy. I have within me an aching void which the world can never fill.” “There was a time,” says one, “when I was satisfied with the theater, when the amusements, the pleasures of men of the world, were very satisfactory to me. But lo! I have pressed this olive till it yields no more the generous oil; it is but the dreggy, thick excrement thereof that now I can obtain. My joys have faded; the beauty of my fat valley hath become as a faded flower. No longer can I rejoice in the music of this world.” Ah! soul, glad am I that thy cistern has become dry, for till men are dissatisfied with this world they never look out for the next; till the God of this world has utterly deceived them they will not look to Him who is the only living and true God. But hearken! thou that art wretched and miserable, here is living water that can quench thy thirst. Come hither and drink, and thou shalt be satisfied; for he that is a believer in Christ finds enough for him in Christ now, and enough forever. The believer is not the man who has to pace his room, saying, “I find no amusements and no delight.” He is not the man whose days are weary, and whose nights are long, for he finds in religion such a spring of joy, such a fountain of consolation, that he is content and happy. Put him in a dungeon and he will find good company; place him in a barren wilderness, still he would eat the bread of heaven; drive him away from friendship, he will find the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Blast all his gourds, and he will find shadow beneath the Rock of Ages; sap the foundation of his earthly hopes, but since the foundation of his God standeth sure, his heart will still be fixed, trusting in the Lord. There is such a fullness in religion, that I can honestly testify I never knew what happiness was till I knew Christ; I thought I did. I warmed my hands before the fire of sin, but it was a painted fire. But oh, when once I tasted the Savior’s love, and had been washed in Jesu’s blood, that was heaven begun below. Oh, if ye did but know the joys of religion, if ye did but know the sweetness of love to Christ, surely ye could not stand aloof! If ye could but catch a glimpse of the believer when he is dancing for joy, you would renounce your wildest mirth, your greatest joy, to become the meanest child in the family of God. Thus, then, it is the living water, it is the water of life, because it satisfies our thirst, and gives us the reality of life which we can never find in anything beneath the sky.
In the name of Almighty God, stand back everything that keeps the willing sinner from Christ. Away with you, away with you! Christ sprinkles His blood upon the way, and cries to you, “Vanish, begone, leave the road clear; let him come; stand not in his path; make straight before him his way, level the mountains and fill up the valleys; make straight through the wilderness a highway for him to come, to drink of this Water of Life freely. ‘Let him come .’ “ Oh, is not that a precious word of command, for it has all the might of Omnipotence in it! God said, “Let there be light: and there was light,” and He says, “Let him come,” and come he will and must, that is but willing to come. “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” And now, sinner, remember God says, “Come .” Is there anything in thy way? Remember, He adds, “Let him come .” He bids everything stand out of thy way.