Sermon 1464. A Refreshing Promise
BY C. H. SPURGEON.
"I will water it every moment," Isaiah 27:3.
WHEN the Lord is most intent on justice He is, at the same time, earnest in His love. The day of vengeance of our God is alsothe acceptable year of the Lord. In the Scripture before us, the Prophet says, "Behold, the Lord comes out of His place topunish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity," (Isa. 26:21), and he foretells that the Lord will come forth as one armed with a great and strong sword to smite the fiercest of Hisenemies with a deadly wound (Isa. 27:1). Yet before He had bared His arm for the battle, He prepared chambers of refuge for His people that they might dwell aswithin closed doors until the tempest of indignation was past (Isa. 26:20). The shouts of war did not prevent the Lord from remembering His beloved and His song of love concerning her, for He says,"In that day sing you unto her, a vineyard of red wine. I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment."
Happy people, who even in the day of wrath are satisfied with favor! Blessed heirs of Grace who hear the just and terribleAvenger say concerning them, "Fury is not in Me" (v. 4). The love of the Lord towards His whole Church goes forth to eachindividual member-the care which He displays towards the vineyard is exercised upon each vine which He has planted. So, then,we may without hesitation believe that the Lord will do for us, personally, that which He promises to do for His people asa whole! Or else there would have been exceptions stated and the Word of God would have run thus-I will water a part of Myvineyard, but a portion of the plants shall be left to be dried up." The Lord's Word is so truthful that it would never raiseungrounded expectations by general statements if there were, indeed, cases not included therein.
We are always safe in concluding that if the Lord had meant to shut out one believing soul from a privilege, He would havementioned it, for He has not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth, anything which would deny the happiness of anyone of His people. This, then, beloved Friends, is the pledge of love concerning the spiritual life of my soul and yours-andthe soul of every humble Believer in Jesus-"I will water it every moment." This is a precious promise and the more we meditateupon it, the more rich it will appear. May we now be watered by the Holy Spirit while we meditate upon this promised watering!
In warm climates irrigation is essential to fertility, therefore travelers see on all sides, pools and watercourses, wheels,cisterns and channels for the water to flow in. The watering arises from necessity and it is carefully attended to becauseotherwise the farmer or gardener would look in vain for fruit. I remarked to a gardener in the South of France that the weatherwas bad, but he replied that it was good for the garden, for the rain gave plenty of water and that was the chief thing. InParadise it was no mean advantage to its verdant bowers that a fourfold river pursued its course through its midst and thatbefore the rain had fallen upon the earth there went up a mist from the earth and watered the face of the ground.
From the necessity and value of water to the plants of the earth, the Lord would teach us our own need of His Grace and thepreciousness of that Grace-and render His promise of supply the more delightful to our souls. That we may prize the goodnessof the Lord in the promises before us, we shall consider the necessity of our being watered; the manner in which the Lordpromises to supply our need and the certainty that He will do so. O for a living meditation, not upon the letter of the Word,only, but upon its innermost teaching!
I. There is a great NECESSITY for the watering promised in the text. This we might conclude from the promise itself, sincethere is not one superfluous Word of promise in the whole Scriptures! It becomes more evident when we reflect that all creaturelife is dependent upon the perpetual outgoing of Divine power. Existence is a continued creation, for the creatures have nopower within themselves to preserve their own being-even the solid rocks and the great mountains would reek away as so manyshadows if eternal Omnipotence did not, every moment, keep them in being. The
world is not like a wheel, which, having received a great push from a strong hand, continues to revolve long after the handis withdrawn, but, Divine energy goes forth continually to uphold all things which God has made.
Now, the same law holds good in the more choice and illustrious works of God in the kingdom of Grace and multitudes of illustrationsof this are to be found in Holy Writ. Believers are stones, but their upholding comes continually from the foundation-theyare branches perpetually sucking nourishment from the stem-members of the body always deriving life from the Head. TowardsGod we are streams and not fountains; rays of light, not suns; lamps which must be trimmed and nourished with oil; sheep whichneed unceasing care and feeding. The inner life cannot live upon itself! It is one mark of its presence that the Believeris not only dependent as a creature, but feels it as a living, sensible, instructed and trustful creature. The Christian hasno quarrel with the hint of utter weakness which is implied in the text, for he is well aware that he must be watered, eachmoment, or he will dry up from the root and cease to be.
Moreover, the Truth of God is specially certain as touching the Believer, for a multitude of agencies are at work to dry upthe moisture of His soul. As far as this world is concerned, he is planted in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.His sorrows tend to parch him like a hot wind from the desert and earthly joys are still more like a sirocco which burns asan oven. Satan's temptations scorch and wither our hearts unless the Water of Life is abundantly laid at our root-and themen of the world act after the same manner. If we trusted in ourselves, we should soon be as the heath in the desert, or asthe grass upon the housetops. Indwelling sin is especially a devouring blast and would, if it acted without check and counterbalance,turn the garden of the soul into a desolate wilderness. We are as plants set in the blaze of a tropical sun upon which a burningoven pours forth its tremendous heat. One moment without Divine watering and shade would dry us up root and branch.
Neither have we any other source of supply but the living God. "All my springs are in You." We have the ordinances and meansof Grace, but we cannot, of ourselves, fetch a blessing from them. The Spirit of God is as the dew and the rain, but we cannotcommand His influences-these lie altogether at the Sovereign disposal of the Lord. To convince us of our utter impotence inthe matter, the Lord asks us in the Book of Job, "Can you lift up your voice to the clouds that abundance of water may coveryou?" No, the bottles of Heaven drop at Jehovah's bidding and unless His good pleasure gives the land its refreshment, "thedust grows into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together," the brooks are dried up and the springs of water fail. Nonecan afford us a drop of spiritual water unless the infinite depths of Divine Grace overflow to us and the Lord visits theheart and waters it from the river of God which is full of water. Therefore the need that we cry with David, "I stretch forthmy hands unto You: my soul thirsts after You, as a thirsty land."
Remember, also, that our need of Divine watering is clearly seen when we consider what drought, barrenness and death wouldcome upon us if His hand were withdrawn. Then would be fulfilled in us the prophecy of Jeremiah, "Their nobles have sent theirlittle ones to the waters: they came to the pits and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamedand confounded, and covered their heads. Because the ground is chapped, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen wereashamed, they covered their heads." Then would our leaf wither and our root fail. As for fruit-there would be none and weshould be only fit for burning! Without watering every moment, the most faithful among us would be cast forth and be onlyfit for the fire-every Prophet would become a Balaam, every Apostle a Judas, every disciple a Demas! We must be watered andwatered every moment, or we die! Lord, save us, or we perish! Look down from Heaven and behold and visit this vine and thevineyard which Your right hand has planted.
II. This point is clear and our experience daily brings it under our notice. Let us now carefully regard THE MANNER in whichthe Lord promises to water His people-"I will water it every moment." Our first thought is excited by the perpetual act-"everymoment" the Lord will water the vineyard! There is never a moment in which it ceases to need it and, therefore, the supplyis as constant as the demand. He further says, "Lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day," so that at all hours of thenight, as well as of the day, the Lord's care is over His people! Mercy knows no pause! Grace has no canonical hours, or ratherall hours are alike canonical-yes, and all moments, too.
We may stop our asking, but God does not stop His giving! We may not perceive the flowing of His Grace and yet they are neversuspended, no, not for a moment, or else it were not true-"I will water it every moment." This leads us to rest assured ofour final perseverance, since His perseverance in watering will produce our perseverance in budding, leafing and fruit-bearing,else His watering were in vain, His Grace ineffectual, His purpose defeated and it would not be true that none had hurt thevineyard. Glory be to the great Keeper of the vines, He will give a good account of His
charge, saying, "Of all that You gave Me, I have lost none." Between here and Heaven there will never be a moment in whichthe Lord will not water His people and, therefore, never a moment in which they will be dried up and left to perish. Let faithlay hold of this and gather strength from it.
Nor is this all-the Lord's watering is a renewed act. He does not water us once in great abundance and then leave us to liveupon what He has already poured out. He does not cause so much rain to fall in one day as may water the earth for seven years,or there could not, then, be a daily dependence upon Him for rain and dew! Neither does He give Grace enough to His servantsat any one time to serve them for a month, or a week, or a day, or even an hour-He waters them "every moment" that they mayknow that at no one instant of time can they do without Him. He placed the whole fountain of Living Water in His Son, forin Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. But in our case He releases His showers that we may seek and obtainnew out-flowing of the Eternal Life and every moment come under new debts to His infinite love.
It is very sweet to have it so, for thus we have, each moment, a reason for coming to Him, inasmuch as every moment He hassomething to impart to us. If we are conscious at this moment of our poverty, we need not despair, nor even hang our heads,for the next moment has its appointed watering and before the clock has ticked, faith may receive a flood of Grace, accordingto the promise, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground." Attention should be gratefullydirected to the fact that the watering promised by the Lord is a personal act- "I will water it." Apollos waters, but he cannotdo it of himself, nor can he do it every moment, nor at all except as an instrument in the hands of God! The Lord does Hiswork effectually-as in Creation He spoke not in vain, but He spoke and it was done. So in Grace He waters and we are watered,indeed!
Sweet is the Truth of God that we are not left to second causes or agents-these might fail us in the hour of need, yes, theymust prove liars if we depended on them-for it would be impossible for any of them, or all of them put together to water usevery moment! But the all-sufficient God, out of the measureless stores of Grace, can and will, in His own Person, supplyall His saints forever, giving them to be filled with His fullness and never to know a need. Not even to angels has He leftthe care of His saints, but He, Himself, through the mediation of His dear Son, does every moment keep and water us by Hiseffectual Grace! How condescending is this on the Lord's part! He who leads forth the stars by their armies, bows the heavensto visit your soul and mine, taking care that there shall be a channel for the Water of Life to flow to the poorest and meanestof His people!
How near this brings the Lord to us and what an idea it gives us of His perpetual active Presence. As the gardener standsover the plant, gently pouring the water all around it and upon it so as to feed the roots and wash the leaves, even so doesthe Lord, as it were, stand over His people, watching over them for good and dispensing His Grace with all wisdom and prudenceas they are able to receive it. Our need calls for His abiding Presence and His love vouchsafes it. Every moment is the Lordnear us, for every moment He waters us. Every moment does He love us because His love is actively demonstrating itself incondescending actions.
His love suggests the watering and the watering proves His love. He is never weary of the work which He has, Himself, undertakenin love and which He will not delegate to others because He is so well pleased with doing it Himself.
III. This much suffices to fill our slender space-let us now, in the third place, consider THE CERTAINTY that the Lord willwater every plant that His own right hand has planted. Here a vast number of arguments suggest themselves, but we will contentourselves with the one ground of confidence which is found in the Lord Himself and His previous deeds of love. The Lord ourGod is true and cannot lie and, therefore, if He says, "I will water it," we need no further guarantee that it will be done."Has He said, and shall He not do it?" Has He ever broken the Word which has once gone out of His mouth? Assuredly not!
The Lord is mighty and cannot, therefore, leave His promise unfulfilled from lack of power to make it good. He may safelysay, "I will," because nothing is impossible with Him! Man's, "I will," is often an empty boast. Never is it so with the Lordof Hosts! Our souls need supplies so great as to drain rivers of Grace, but the all-sufficient God is able to meet the largestdemands of the innumerable company of His people and He will meet them to His own honor and Glory forever. Here, then, wesee His truth, His power and His all-sufficiency all pledged to provide for His chosen and we may be sure that the guaranteewill stand. The Immutability and Omnipresence of God both speak to the same effect. The
Lord has watered His people up to now and, as He cannot change, they may expect the same treatment at His hands. He will neitherrevoke His promise nor cease from fulfilling it.
Moreover, He can be with His needy servants every moment as His promise implies, for it will never be said of Him, "PerhapsHe is pursuing, or He is on a journey, or He sleeps and must be awakened." While He is working in Heaven and on earth andin all deep places, yet can His gracious hand be busy among the tender plants of His Grace and that at all times, yes everymoment! If we needed further confirmation we might well remember that the Lord has already watered His vineyard in a far morecostly manner than it will ever need again. The Lord Jesus has watered it with a sweat of blood and can it be supposed thatHe will leave it now? Gethsemane worked for the Church much beyond any future need which can possibly arise to her-He whospared not His own blood will not withhold watering from those He has redeemed!
Dear Friend, you and I have already cost the Savior so much that there is no fear of His parting with us, or losing His rewardin us by giving us over to barrenness! Jesus has already fulfilled, on our behalf, a weightier engagement than that whichis contained in the text. He said, "I will redeem it," and He has kept His Word-and now, if He declares, "I will water it,"it would be a superfluity of unbelief to distrust Him! Up to now the sacred promise has been fully kept, for we have beengraciously preserved in spiritual life. Times of drought have befallen us and yet our soul has not been suffered to famish!Why, then, should we question the goodness of the Lord as to years to come?
His delight is in us as much as ever, because Jesus, in whom He beholds us, is as fair and lovely as ever! And therefore wemay expect the same kindness from the same loving heart. He has not only pledged Himself to water His people, but again andagain He has spoken to the same effect. Hear how Isaiah speaks by the Holy Spirit-"And the Lord shall guide you continually,and satisfy your soul in drought, and make fat your bones: and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water,whose waters fail not."
Jeremiah also speaks to the same effect in his 31st chapter at the 12th verse. Shall the Lord run back from His Covenant?Shall we so much blaspheme His name as to suppose that He will be false to His engagements? Unbelief, hide your guilty head!Doubting one, be comforted-He who said, "I will water it every moment," must not be dishonored by your guilty suspicions,for He will do even as He has said! It is true your heart is, by nature, barren and dry, but what has that to do with thepromise of Free Grace so as to render it of no effect? Is not your parched and desolate condition rather to be viewed as areason why the Lord should open the windows of Heaven above you and pour out His blessing?
One thing is never to be forgotten-we are the Lord's. Therefore, if He does not water us, He will, Himself, be the loser.An owner of vineyards, if he should allow them to be parched with the drought, would derive nothing from his estate. The vineyardwould be dried up and he would receive no clusters. With reverence it is spoken-Our Lord Himself will never see the travailof His soul in untended vines, nor in hearts unsanctified and unrenewed, nor in men whose Graces droop and die for lack ofDivine refreshing! The Lord must carry the work through or lose what He has done- and that would not be consistent with theforesight of His wisdom or the purpose of His heart!
He chose us. He bought us. He delights in us. He put His very Glory in pawn concerning us and we may, therefore, be sure beyondall doubt that he will water us to the end. Does He water us every moment? Then let His praise continually be in our mouths.Does He thus care for us? Let us, then, watch for the advance of His cause, the extension of His kingdom, the good of Hispeople. He who is thus watered should water others! If the Lord puts within us a well of Living Water through His Divine watering,then let us give forth to others rivers of Living Water! Yet let not this be our first thought, but rather let us go awaycrying, "Lord, make my soul as a watered garden! Saturate my fleece! Fill my vessel to the brim and keep it full forever!Fulfill this Word unto Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope, and water me every moment, even me."