THE MISERY OF FORSAKING GOD.
Jeremiah ii. 13. My people have committed two evils ;—they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
The text affirms that man is guilty of two evils. One is, that he has wandered away from God. The other is, that he has sought for happiness in objects which are incapable of affording it. There is the evil of guilt, and the evil of wretchedness; the evil of withholding the affections from the true source of blessedness, and the evil of fixing them on improper objects; the evil of going away from a fountain where happiness might be found, and the evil of attempting to find it in other objects as a compensation for that which is lost by forsaking God. Men have sought happiness by going away from God. They have been disappointed. They have not found it. That which they have found bears the same relation to true enjoyment which a cistern that is broken and leaky does to a running fountain. Such a cistern may have a great deal of beauty. It may be cut from the finest marhie, and ornamented with all the skill of art It may be placed in a beautiful grove, or it may occupy the splendid court of an oriental palace—but if it is cracked and broken, however much it may be admired, it fails in the design for which it was made, and for which a cistern is desirable.
Man has gone off from God, the great fountain of blessedness. He is a wanderer and an exile. He has substituted in the place of God that which is the fruit of his own invention, and thus far the history of this world is little else than an experiment to ascertain whether the soul can be satisfied without God, and whether the forms of amusement and business can be so modified and varied and refined that man can find in them the happiness which his immortal nature demands. It is a most inter
esting inquiry whether he has been successful in the pursuit, or whether it has been like forsaking a fountain bubbling in the desert for a splendid but broken cistern. To that enquiry I propose now to direct your attention. I shall confine my remarks to two points.
I. What has man substituted in the place of God? and
II. Has it answered the purpose, or has it been successful?
I.-What has man substituted in the place of the happiness which might have been found in God?
The text says that he has forsaken God—the fountain of living waters. Let us dwell a moment on these words.—" Living waters." They are not dead and stagnant—but running—and imparting life. Nothing is more beautiful than a running stream. In the East the course of a. stream through -a desert can be traced afar by the trees, and shrubs, and flowers, and grass that spring up on its bank, and that are sustained by it in its course— a long waving line of green in the waste of sand. Where it winds along, that line of verdure winds along; where it expands into a lake that expands; where it dies away and is lost in the sand that disappears. So with the blessedness flowing from the living fountain of waters. Life, the true life in this world, can be traced by the flowing forth of those streams from God. Where those streams flow, health and happiness spring up; where they are unseen true happiness disappears, and the world is a desert.—"*$ fountain." God is a "fountain" of liying waters—he is the source whence all the streams of bliss take their rise. The fountain is ever fresh, ever pure, ever full. The streams of blessedness begin to flow there ; and should that fountain cease, every stream would die away, and the whole world would be an arid waste.
My proposition is, that men have forsaken that everliving fountain. I do not now speak merely of the idolatrous world—of man who there has forsaken God, and who bows down to shapeless blocks. I speak of man as man—in whatever form the departure may appear; and I rather wish to show how the human heart has gone off from God so that we may feel it of ourselves, than to turn your thoughts to far-distant idolaters and philosophers. I could illustrate it of the ancient Hebrews, the Hindoo, the Chinese, the Tartar, the African, the New Zealander; I could illustrate it by the opinions and feelings of the ancient philosopher; but I have a more striking and more interesting source of illustration here— in our own families—and our own hearts—and the illustration will be confined mainly to ourselves.
It can be scarcely necessary to go into an extended statement of what man has substituted in the place of the happiness which he is unwilling to seek in his Maker, or which is the same thing in the hopes and consolations of religion. A very brief enumeration is all that the time will admit, and is all that is demanded in order to a proper understanding of our subject.
A part have sought it in philosophy. They have retreated from the bustle and the turmoil of life. They have sought enjoyment in calm contemplation on the relations of things, and on the abstract questions of philosophic inquiry. They have sought to raise themselves above suffering by rendering the mind insensible to the common ills of life, and they attempt to separate themselves from the common herd of mortals by their insensibility to the woes which affect the mass of mankind. They are the stoics of all ages—who whether in the costume and pride of the ancient Grecian philosophers; or in the Buddhism of China and India; or in the monkish system of the middle ages; or in the occasional victim of this wretched insanity who retires to caverns and rocks in modern times; or in the cool contemplative philosopher who lives but to speculate, or to laugh at the follies of mankind, have sought for happiness in the same way by supposing that it consisted in insensibility to suffering, and in that pride which looks with disdain on the mass of mankind.
A part, men of leisure and of taste, fly to the academic grove, and look for happiness there. They go up the sides of Parnassus, and drink from the Castalian fount, and court the society of the Muses. Their enjoyment, and their solace, is in the pursuit of elegant literature. Their time is spent In belles-lettres—in the records of historic truth, or in the world of poetry and of fiction. Our land furnishes as yet less of this than countries where men are favored with more hereditary wealth, and more "learned leisure;" but there are not a few who have such leisure, and not a few, it is to be feared, who substitute such sources of happiness in the place of that which is derived from the fountain of living waters. As wealth increases; and as leisure is multiplied, the desire for this species of happiness will increase—increase not as it ought to in connexion with religion, and with the cultivation of the graces of a renovated spirit, but as the substitute For religion, and as in fact the excluder of God from the soul. From the cares and troubles of life they will flee to these calm retreats as a refuge, and seek there to forget their sorrows, and to escape from the dreadful apprehension of death and the judgment.
Another, and a much larger portion, have substituted the pursuit of wealth in place of religion, and their happiness is there. This has become almost the universal passion of civilized man. Yet it is not happiness so much sought in the pursuit of wealth itself, as in something beyond. The cultivator of elegant literature seeks his enjoyment in the pursuit itself, and tastes the bliss which he seeks as he goes on the journey of life; the man seeking wealth expects his happiness not in the pursuit, but in that which wealth will procure. He looks on to the old age of elegant retirement and leisure which is before him; he sees in vision the comforts which he will be able to draw around him in the splendid mansion, and grounds, and in the abundance which his old age will enjoy. He crosses the ocean, and spends the vigor of his days in Calcutta or in Canton, not because he has pleasure in a voyage at sea; or in the long exile from home; or in the society in a distant land; or in the burning heats of a tropical sun, but because he has fixed his eye on the comforts which amassed wealth will spread around him when he shall return. . . •
A large portion, perhaps nearly as large a portion as can afford the means—and many of those who cannot— seek for happiness in the brilliant world of songs and dances; in the splendid circles where God is forgotten, and where prayer is unknown. For that they live; and the pleasure which is sought there is made a substitute for that which might be, and which should be sought in God. No one can deny that vast talent is often exhibited to make that gay world fascinating and alluring; and that no inconsiderable success is evinced in accomplishing the object in view. It would be strange if such a plan were wholly unsuccessful. With princely wealth at command; with ample leisure; with the full choice of means; and with a heart intently set on the object, it would be strange if something could not be originated that would, for the -time being, be some substitute for the happiness which should be sought in God. But nothing on earth was ever designed in a more determinate manner to exclude God. Neither prayer, nor praise, nor worship of any form; neither the remembrance of God, nor the anticipation of a holy heaven; neither conversation on the Bible, the cross, or the peace of pardon and hope, come in for any share of the joys. It begins by forsaking the fountain of living waters, and it is conducted by whatever can be best made a substitute for the happiness to be found in religion.
I might go on to speak of many other substitutes which men have adopted in the place of the happiness which should be sought in God, and which constitute the 'cisterns, broken cisterns which they have hewed out for themselves.'- I might speak of the career of high and so-called honorable ambition—whether manifested in seeking office, in deeds of glory or the battle-field, in the walks of science, or in the pride of authorship; of the drama, with all that is fascinating and captivating there; of the love of travel, and of hazardous enterprise in visiting distant lands; of the arts of painting, and music, and statuary; of the pleasures of the table; of the couch of luxury and ease, and of the indulgence in " the lusts that war against the soul"—of the low and debasing vices in which so many millions of the human race are at all times seeking enjoyment. Not all these things would I condemn for the same reason; some of them, if pursued with right motives, are not to be condemned at all. I speak of them only as substitutes for the happiness which men might find in God; as devices to which they have resorted to make their sojourn on earth in any way tolerable, and as adapted to hide as much as possible the melancholy close of that sojourn from view, and to keep the mind from sadness and despair.
All these things—differing as they do in regard to their worth or worthlessness ; their dignity or meanness; their purity or their impurity; and differing in regard to the numbers and the ranks of those who pursue them, yet agree in two things: (1.) All are resorted to in pursuit of happiness; and (2.) all this happiness is pursued by the exclusion of God. They are a part of that great system which consists in forsaking the fountain of living waters, and in hewing out broken cisterns which can hold no water. They constitute the great scheme of an alienated and a talented world to find enjoyment without God.— They exhibit the result of the experiment which has been now pursued for about six thousand years, and with a talent and zeal worthy of any cause, to see whether the happiness lost by the apostasy in Eden can be recovered without returning to God; whether the cracked and broken cistern can be so repaired and beautified as not to make it necessary to come back to the fountain of living waters; and whether the calamities and woes which the apostasy from God introduced can be put back without the painful necessity of returning to the much-hated God from whom the race has revolted.
It is a very interesting question now, whether the plan has been successful; whether it is wise to pursue it any further; or whether the voice of wisdom would not prompt man to return to the fountain of living waters.
II. Our second inquiry, therefore, is, whether the plan is successful? Has it answered the purpose which was contemplated? Can the cistern which man has hewed out for himself be made to answer the purpose of the fountain of living waters?
These are questions, evidently, which are to be settled by experience; and in making the appeal to experience there are two enquiries to be answered. The first is, what is happiness? The second, can happiness be found in these things?
What is happiness? I shall not go largely into the examination of this question, for it is not necessary, and I can easily foresee that such an examination would be tiresome. There are two or three principles which it is important to state in order to a correct answer of the other question proposed. Happiness does not consist in mere excitement, or laughter, or exhilaration, or ecstacy.— These may be found I admit without difficulty in this world—and may be found in abundance. The ball-room; the comedy; the low farce; the intoxicating bowl; the place of boisterous amusement will furnish them. But there are occasions when " laughter is mad;" and all this merriment and excitement may be attended or followed with an under current of sorrow that shall leave the soul to grief. In true happiness there must be always found certain elements, or certain essential principles, among which are the following: (I.) It must be adapted to the nature of man, or fitted to his true rank or dignity. It would be absurd to suppose that the philosopher could find permanent happiness in playing marbles,, or an angel in blowing of bubbles. These are the amusements of children, and should God confine elevated minds to such an employment forever it would be to doom such minds to an eternal hell. So it must be with all trifles. They may amuse and divert for a little while, but they are not adapted to the elevated nature of the soul, and their power must fail. (2.) Again, there must be some permanency—some solid basis on which the superstructure is to be reared. Happiness cannot be found in a palace if that palace may at any moment fall down; in a cottage, if the wind may at any moment sweep it away ; in an office, if at any moment it may be given to another; in beauty that must soon fade; in health and strength, that must soon become feeble; in a scene of pleasure, if it may soon be succeeded by grief. Who would be willing to stake his chance of happiness on the permanency of the brightest rainbow, or on the vivid lightning's flash, or on the fixedness of the colors of the gorgeous clouds in a summer evening? Yet such a basis would be as secure as half the happiness that is sought in the gay world. (3.) Again, in true happiness in this world there must be a recognition of immortality. This must be, because man is so made that he cannot wholly forget it. There is a consciousness in us of an immortal nature. There is a longing after immortality that will be continually manifesting itself in spile of all that men can do. It will break out like sunshine between clouds, and men will feel they have souls that can never die; and he who is unwilling to recognize that, can never be permanently happy. Nature will be true to herself and to the God that has made all things; and there are too many indications within us that we are immortal, and too many mementoes around us to remind us that we are travellers to a permanent home whatever it may be, to suffer us always to forget it. , (4.) Once more. True happiness must be of such a nature that it will not be materially disturbed by the prospect of sickness, the grave, and eternity. These subjects are so frequently urged upon us; they pass along before us with such solemn and admonitory aspects; they are liable to come so near to us at any moment, that our sources of permanent happiness should be such that the mention of the grave would not dry them' up; our joys should be such that the word " Eternity" would not put them all to flight. "My Athenian guest," said Croesus •to Solon, "the voice of fame speaks loudly of your wisdom. I have heard mUch of your travels ; you have been led by a philosophic spirit to'visit a considerable portion of the globe. I am here induced .to enquire of you what man, of' all you have beheld, has seemed to you most truly happy." After one or two unsatisfactory answers, and being pressed still for a reply, Solon said, " I shall not be able to give a .satisfactory answer to the question you propose till-"I know that your scene of life shall have closed with tranquillity. The man of affluence is not in fact more happy than the possessor of a bare competency, unless in addition to his wealth his end be more fortunate. Call no man happy till you know the nature of his death. It is the part of wisdom to look to the event of things; for the Deity often overwhelms with misery those who have formerly been placed at the summit of felicity/' Herod. 1. 24. 32. Our happiness must not be of such a nature as to be disturbed by the recognition of death, and the anticipation of a future world. That which is dissipated by the mention of the grave—whatever else you may call it—-ecstasy, hilarity, laughter, merriment, is not happiness; that which is put to flight by the word eternity cannot be the kind of enjoyment fitted to the nature of man.
You say, perhaps, I have given my own definition of the word happiness, and that it Will now be easy for me to show that the happiness which man seeks cannot be found away from God. I admit that this is true; and that your notions of happiness may differ materially from mine. And yet it seems to me you cannot but admit that happiness must embody or admit these elements. It must be adapted to our nature. It must have some evidence of permanency. It. must recognize our immortality. It must be of such a kind that it will not be disturbed by the mention of death and eternity. With these principles before us, let us now inquire whether man has found that which he has sought by going away from the fountain of living waters; or whether he has not hewed out to himself broken cisterns.
My appeal is mainly to experience—and here the argument need not be long. The experience of the world oil this point may be divided into two great parts—the recorded and the unrecorded. Which contains the larger portion is not material to. our inquiry, and either would be decisive of the controversy. Of the recorded testimony of the world,' I appeal to the records made on sick beds, and in graves; to the disappointments, and cares, and anxieties, evinced all over the world as the result of the revolt in Eden, and of wandering away from God.
Recall for one moment what the forsaking of God has dome. Whence is sorrow, disappointment, pain, death? The misery of our world all began at that sad hour when man afe the fruit of the forbidden tree.— What might not this world have been if man had never forsaken the fountain of living waters! The bliss of Eden might have been prolonged to the present time, and not a tear have been shed, not a sigh heard, not a couch spread for the sick and the dying; and the earth would never have opened its bosom to furnish a grave! Every sorrow, every tear, every sad hour among men has been caused by the fact that man has forsaken his God; and the woes of the earth are an impressive commentary on the fact which I am endeavoring to illustrate— the evil of forsaking God.
If I had time I would like to follow out the effect of it in a single case. I would show the effect of it from the first moment of apostasy, to the last act when the sinner attempts to exclude God from the soul on the bed of death. I would take such a case as that of Cain—the first instance, perhaps, of one who forsook the fountain of living waters no more to return, and the oldest earthly inhabitant now, perhaps, of the world of despair. Nor do I know but I might be allowed in doing this to make use of a celebrated poem, full of blasphemy, of the name "Cain ;" expressive, I doubt not, of the real feelings of this early apostate, and so true and graphic because it was drawn from the deep fountain of unbelief and blasphemy in the heart of its titled, but miserable author. The subject of the poem, and the author of the poem, might alike furnish us an illustration of the essential misery of the man who has forsaken the fountain of living waters;—the one a fugitive, a murderer, a vagabond, in a beautiful world fresh from the hand of God;—the other a nobleman, an inheritor of a palace—and yet a miserable misanthrope—and, like Cain, an unhappy wanderer from land to land.
But why look to Cain, or to the not inappropriate historian of his blasphemies? Look at our world at large— a dying world—full of sadness and wo. Look at the bold blasphemer—who is yet, if ever, for the first moment to know peace. Look at the infidel, the sceptic—without a God, without a Saviour, whose hope is chance, whose peace is the troubled sea. Look at the convicted sinner— over whose head the thunder of justice rolls, and at whose feet the lightnings of vengeance play because he has forsaken his God. Look into your own heart, to this moment devoid of true peace unless you are a renewed and pardoned man. Look at the death-bed of a sinner; read in some moment of leisure the account of the dying moments of Voltaire, D'Alembert, or Robespierre—and you will neither need nor ask any further illustration of the misery of forsaking God.
Again, for an important record of the capability of this world to furnish the happiness which man desires, I refer to the book of Ecclesiastes. Never had man more ample opportunities of finding happiness in all that this world can bestow than Solomon had. With abundant wealth ; with all the means of luxury which his age and land, and a somewhat extended foreign commerce could furnish; with peace at home and abroad; he early forgot
the counsel of a pious father, and forsook his father's God. At the close of a life over which he had much occasion to mourn, he is believed to have written the book of Ecclesiastes, as an expression of his sense of the power of this world to furnish happiness. « I said in mine heart I will prove thee with mirth; therefore, enjoy pleasure. I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, and to lay hold on folly till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. I made me great works; I huilded me houses; I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits. I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and behold all ,was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun" "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," was the result of perhaps the largest and the best conducted experiment of the kind ever undertaken by man. At the close of .a dissatisfied life we may trust this illustrious wanderer from God returned to the fountain of living waters, and this instructive record he has left to admonish all those who would tread in his footsteps, that however far they may go, and however they may vary the experiment, they will come to the same result.
.".I now read Solomon," said Lord Chesterfield when sixty-six years of age, and near the close of his unenviable life, "with a sort of sympathetic feeling. I have been as wicked and vain, though not as wise as he ; but am now at last wise enough to feel and attest the truth of his reflections, that all is vanity and vexation of spirit. This truth is never sufficiently discovered or felt by mere speculation; experience is necessary for conviction, though perhaps at the expense of some morality."
There is still one other part of the recorded experience of mankind in regard to the insufficiency of the substitute that has been adopted to give happiness. I allude to the experience of the penitent and the Christian world. Every man who comes back to God, like the Prodigal Son returning to his father's house, comes with this as an important part of his testimony, that in the efforts which he has made to find happiness he has been disappointed, and he now comes back to the fountain of living waters. Nor is the number few, nor is their testimony wilhout value. Many hundreds of millions on earth and in heaven now constitute the entire church which has been redeemed, and all come with the same language as to the power of the world to furnish enjoyment. They have turned away from the broken cisterns and have come back to the fountain of living waters. And who are they? The poor; the ignorant; the needy; the down-trodden you say;—they who have had no means of enjoying the world, or of making a full experiment there. I admit it to a great extent—perhaps to all the extent you wish— and would then say in regard to them that it is no mean honor for Christianity to have given to the poor, and the wretched, and the comfortless, peace and joy. But who have come with them to the cross? I see among them men with crowned heads laying the diadem at the feet of the Redeemer, and exchanging their princely robes for the garments of salvation. I see men coming from the halls of splendor and seeking for happiness in the religion of the Saviour. I see them come from the circles of the great, and the gay, and the rich, from the splendid party, the ball-room, and the theatre, and confessing that the happiness which they sought was not to be obtained there, and seeking it now in God. Satisfied now that the world cannot meet the desires of the immortal mind, they come back to their Maker, and find permanent bliss in the Christian hope of immortality. A living poet has beautifully expressed the feelings of them all, as they approach the church, the altar, the cross.
People of the living God,
I have siught the world around,
Paths of sin and sorrow trod,
Peace and comfort nowhere found:
Now to you my spirit turns,
Turns, a fugitive unblest;
Brethren, where your altar burns,
O receive me unto rest! Lonely I no longer roam,
Like the cloud, the wind, the wave;
Where you dwell shall be my home,
Where you die shall be my grave;
Mine the God whom you adore— .
Your Redeemer shall be mine;
Earth can 611 my heart no more,
Every idol I resign. Montgomery.
And what has been the result? Have the returning wanderers been satisfied? Have they found that which they sought, in the fountain of living waters? Hear one of them speak who gives utterance to the sentiments of them all. "As the hart panteth after the water brooks so panteth my soul after thee, 0 God, my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God." "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is-none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever." "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness." God, to such a man, becomes the portion of the soul. In his existence, perfections, government, plans, works; in his promises, and in his communications to the soul that loves him, and in the hope of dwelling with him, the weary heart finds peace, and the burdened spirit rest. From the fountain of living waters the returning wanderer drinks and thirsts no more. It is pure, elevating, inexhaustible. Like a perennial fountain it fails not by years, it is not exhausted by the numbers that partake of it. It does not tire in the enjoyment; it does not leave the soul in sickness; it does not forsake it in death. That happiness goes with us to all lands and to all worlds, and becomes brighter and purer as earthly joys fade away and as the hour approaches when we must leave the world. None have come to God and been disappointed; none who have truly tasted his love have had again a supreme relish for the joys of sense and of sin.
I said that a part of the experience of this world in reference to the happiness which is sought away from God, is unrecorded. I refer to that as yet unwritten volume where would be recorded all the sad disappointments, the cares, the anxieties, and the sorrows of those who are seeking happiness in the world. I mean the corroding envy, and jealousy, and chagrin, and inward vexation which may enter the most splendid circle, and which may live there despite all that is gay and winning. In that brilliant world all may seem to be smiles and blandishments; oh the pillow where the aching head shall rest, the eyes may give vent to tears at disappointment, or the heart be swollen by envy and chagrin, for which tears would afford no relief. Madame Malibran, the most celebrated opera singer of her age, returning home from a grand aristocratic party, where all had striven to overwhelm her with admiration, burst into tears, knowing that after all she was " a mere opera-singer." Alexander wept on the throne of the world. Charles V. and Dioclesian descended from the throne to seek that happiness in the vale of private life, which could never be found in the robes of royalty. Goethe, the celebrated German author, said of himself in advanced age, " They have called me a child of fortune, nor have I any wish to complain of the course of my life. Yet it has been nothing but labor and sorrow, and I may truly say that in seventy-five years, I have not had four weeks of true comfort. It was the constant rolling of a stone that was always to be lifted anew." Who shall record the disappointment of those who seek wealth as their portion? Who shall gather up and write down the names of the young men—numerous as mighty armies—who have sought fame, and been disappointed? Who shall give utterance to the unrecorded sighs that bespoke the failures in the pursuit of happiness in the gay assembly?— The most instructive part of the history of our world is unwritten—at least is not written among mortals. It is recorded in the book that preserves the memory of human deeds with reference to the judgment, and will be developed only on the final trial. It is the record of numberless individual failures and disappointments; the total history of that which makes up the vast experiment in our world to find enjoyment without the friendship of the Most High; the record of what has resulted to men for having forsaken the fountain of living waters, and for having hewed out to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Wandering sinner, permit me to say to you in conclu, sion, you can never be happy without God. You are destined to be a miserable man while you wander away from him—as the Prodigal Son was wretched who had left his father's home. Nor wealth, nor books, nor business, nor games, nor the dance, nor eating, nor drinking, nor a splendid dwelling, nor a brilliant reputation, nor all that you can do to secure a grateful remembrance after you are dead, can be a substitute for the happiness that is to be found in God. You may be false-to your Maker, but the world will be true to the God that made it. It will not impart happiness except when he bids it. True is that world to its God—the earth, the air, the sea, the silver, and the gold. Not one of them will give peace except when he commands, and all of them he can make a curse to your soul. There is no substitute for the bliss which he alone can give; and though you may pervert your own powers, yet you can never so torture and pervert the works of the Almighty as to make them confer permanent enjoyment except when he commands.
Wandering sinner, learn from our subject the benevolent design of the plan of redemption. It is to bring back an alienated and wretched race to the fountain of living waters. It comes to us on the presumption that man must be miserable as long as he continues to wander away from his Maker. From the broken cistern which can hold no water, it would re-conduet the race back to God, and restore the bliss of Eden. 0 happy if man had never wandered away, and happy still if he would return. Not one favor would.be denied by him who has had so just cause to be offended; not one frown would the sinner find on the brow of the Almighty; not one expression of kindness would be withheld if he would return. The same heaven might be his abode as if he had never sinned, and the bliss of even God's eternal favor may be heightened to the returning sinner by all there is in thankfulness for redemption, and in returning joy after many sorrows.
Wandering sinner, I call on you to return to your long forgotten God—the fountain of living waters. In view of the experience of the world; in view of its recorded woes in every face of care, in every sick bed, in every grave, as the result of wandering away from God; and in view of the unrecorded ills of forsaking him, I call on you to come back. Sufficient has been the sad experience of the world to satisfy you that in those wanderings happiness never can be found. Let the experience of the world—dear bought in millions of instances—lead you to return. Come back/ unhappy wanderer, come back: come to the ever-living fountain of bliss; come and partake of the happiness that never deceives, and that never fails. From the parched and desolate land where you have gone, come back to the fountain of living waters. Yes, come to the fountain of living waters; for the Spirit and the bride say come, and whosoever will let him take the water of life Freely.