The Lord’s conversation with the woman of Samaria, the history of which occupies the early part of this chapter, is one of the most beautiful incidents in his life of beneficence. Humility, tenderness, wisdom, are all displayed in that perfection, which we behold only in the Son of Man, the impersonation of sympathetic love for frail humanity. As in the case of Nicodemus, we seem to owe the import-ant lessons which this incident teaches us, to the accidental circumstance of the woman coming to the well, while Jesus, wearied with the journey, sat upon it. Is it not easy to see that all these circumstances were divinely foreseen, and, therefore, so ordered as to bring about the happy result which the Lord’s conversation with the woman produced?
1-3. When the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples), he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. There had been a dispute between some of John’s disciples and a Jew about purifying, of which the baptism of Jesus formed a part. If John’s baptism was offensive to the Jews, that of Jesus must have been still more offensive to the Pharisees, as it must be to the Pharisaic principle in the human mind. The baptism of Jesus represented a more inward purification than that of John. And the more inward the purification is, it brings to light deeper evils of the heart, and excites them into more deadly hostility to the power that would remove, and the good which would supplant them. The Pharisees, whom the Lord so often charged with hypocrisy, represented self-love united with deceit, the form in which the evil enters most deeply into the human heart.
It is said that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John ; but it is added that Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples. We have (iii. 26) spoken of three kinds of baptism, the water-baptism of John, the water-baptism of Jesus, and the Lord’s baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire; the two first representing purification from outward and inward evils, the last communicating the living principles of truth and love to the purified will and understanding. This last baptism is peculiarly the Lord’s. His disciples, as ministers of his Word, can communicate the knowledge of religion and dispense the outward means of salvation; but the Lord alone can give illumination and life. The means of removing evils can therefore be supplied and applied by the Lord’s disciples, but the Lord alone can implant good. Therefore, in water-baptism, the Lord himself baptized not, but his disciples.
The result of the Lord’s knowing what the Pharisees had heard respecting him, was his leaving Judea, and departing again into Galilee. This may seem to indicate the mere humanity of Jesus. He may seem to act with human precaution, and with a desire for self-preservation. As there are instances of his acting otherwise, this is but an appearance, presented for a wise purpose. In the spiritual sense, these circumstances disclose the mode of the Lord’s dealings, as providentially adapted to the states of men. However hostile men may be to him, he is never hostile to them; and he removes as far as possible all cause of offence, all occasion of conflict. He therefore, as it were, departs from where the conflict arises, or moderates the influx of his truth, so that the temptation to which it gives rise may be tempered and moderated. To see this subject practically, we must consider the Lord as within us, operating, through the truths which we have acquired, against our evils. When our selfhood is excited into severe opposition to the Lord’s truth and love, he acts less directly and powerfully upon our hereditary and acquired evils, that they may not overcome and destroy the new principles of life which he has inspired. His apparent desire for self-preservation is, therefore, a desire for the preservation in us of the principles of love and truth, which we derive from him, and in which he is present with us. The Lord’s present journey like all his others, represents progression, both in the process of his own glorification and in that of man’s regeneration. His purpose in leaving Judea was to go into Galilee, where he had been before. This descent represented and describes the progress of the Lord’s truth from the interiors of the mind, where it has been implanted, into the affections and thoughts of the natural mind, that the graces of the heart may be embodied in corresponding virtues in the life.
4 But in going from Judea to Galilee, Jesus must needs go through Samaria. The divine truth; in progressing from the spiritual into the natural mind must needs pass through the rational, which is intermediate. At the time of our Lord’s pilgrimage on earth, Canaan was divided into three regions, Judea, Samaria, Galilee, which represented three regions or degrees of the mind. Yet Samaria was different from what it had been. The kingdom of Israel, which possessed it, had been overturned, and the inhabitants of the country had been carried away into captivity, and replaced by a strange people from the land of their conquerors. The Assyrians, who took Samaria and peopled it, represented the rational principle, but, as the opponents of Israel, they represented that principle perverted and opposed to the spiritual. At the time of the present history the Samaritans were half Jew, half Gentile. They had, indeed, adopted some of the religion of the Israelites; for soon after the deportation of the ten tribes, the King of Assyria sent back one of the captive priests to teach the people in Samaria the manner of the God of the land. The Samaritans were, therefore, not entirely out of the pale of the church, and yet were not, strictly speaking, within it. It was among this people, therefore, that the Lord had now come.
5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. The city of Sychar was the same as that known to the patriarchs under the name of Shechem. The parcel of ground near which Sychar stood is mentioned in Genesis (xxxiii.), where it is recorded that “Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, and he bought a parcel of a field for an hundred pieces of money. And he erected there an altar, and called it El-elohe-Israel.” The manner in which this parcel of ground became the property of Joseph, or of the tribes descended from him, is related in the book of Joshua (chap. xxiv.). Before his death Jacob bequeathed it to Joseph, predicting that God would bring him again into the land of his fathers. This prediction was literally fulfilled in the case of Joseph. When the children of Israel left Egypt, they, as Joseph had commanded them, carried up his bones. And when they had obtained possession of the land, and Joshua had died, “the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up oat of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor” (Josh. xxiv. 32). Joseph was a type of the Lord; and as burial signifies resurrection, the burial of Joseph’s bones in the parcel of ground in Shechem was representative of the resuscitation of the Lord’s truth and love in the church. Here, then, nearly two thousand years after the transaction, the Lord himself, of whom Joseph was a type, appeared for the purpose of bringing into actual existence that spiritual state which had been shadowed forth in the literal history of a people, who had been chosen, not to be, but to represent a church. He came to awaken into new life the principles of the. church, which, like the dry bones of Joseph, lay buried amongst them. But what is signified by this ground being the gift of Jacob to his son Joseph? Jacob represented the natural principle in man, and Joseph the spiritual. The ground while it was Jacob’s, is the good of the natural mind, and its transfer to Joseph is the elevation of this good out of the natural mind into the spiritual. This parcel of ground thus signifies natural good made spiritual by regeneration. And this good exists when good natural dispositions are brought under the influence of spiritual principles. Sychar was not on, but near to, this parcel of ground, to teach us that the Samaritans were not in, but were near to, this condition of mind. The Lord’s coming to this Samaritan city, spiritually means the influx of his divine truth into doctrines having an affinity with the good of which we have spoken ; thus bringing himself near to men, by giving them a clearer intellectual perception of him as the Truth itself.
6. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jacob’s well is the Word of God. More expressive is it when read “Jacob’s fountain;” for the Word is a fountain, a well of water springing up unto eternal life. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well. He had seen of the travail of his soul; and now he was to be satisfied. Although the Lord was susceptible of bodily fatigue, his weariness, like his hunger and thirst, was symbolical. His weariness was that of which we read, where the Lord says, ” Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins ; thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities” (Isa. xliii. 24). ” Ye have wearied the Lord with your words : yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him 1 When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment” (Mal. ii. 17). The Lord’s weariness, even in the days of his flesh, was the expression of the weariness of his Spirit, resulting from the iniquities and perverseness of mankind. And not only from the iniquities of the world without, but from those which he inherited and bore in his own body. His humanity bore the burden of all human frailty, as it existed in the world, subjecting him to trial and temptation, to suffering and death. The Lord’s weariness arose also from his temptations and sufferings, and this state is further indicated by the time of the day, when Jesus thus sat on the well, which was about the sixth hour. It was in prophetic reference to these states of labour through which the Lord passed in his works of glorification and redemption, that he, as the Creator, is said to have created the world in six days, and to have rested on the seventh. And it is because regeneration is an image of the Lord’s glorification that in the representative church men were commanded to labour, and do all their work during six days, and to rest on the seventh, the Sabbath being the symbol both of completed glorification and regeneration. Jacob’s well being a type of the Lord’s Word, the Lord seated upon the well represents to us the divine truth itself above or within it. The Lord is not only the subject of the Word, the testimony of the Lord being the Spirit of prophecy; he is the Word itself, it being not only a revelation of him but a revelation from him. Considered without relation to him, the Word is not living but dead, not spiritual but natural, not divine but human. Regarded in its individual application, in which Jesus and the well of Jacob are the eternal and the revealed Word, as they are in the minds of those who are passing through the regenerate life ; Jesus is wearied with his journey, when, through labour and trial, our faith in his truth and our love of his goodness become weak. Then it is that Jesus sits on Jacob’s well. For where can the Lord rest in us but on his own blessed Word ? Its truths refresh and restore the soul. The inward graces of the mind find repose in the outward duties of the life. When we are wearied with our journey, as we often must be during our pilgrimage on earth, let us go to that Word where so many encouraging promises are given, and where we shall ever find abundance of those living waters that refresh them that are weak.
7 While Jesus sat thus on the well, there cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. Samaria representing the semi-Gentile church, the woman of Samaria represented the affection by which that church was influenced in favour of the truth, and by which it was drawn to the Word of God, to draw water from it as the well of salvation. Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. This request the Lord still makes to his creatures, and especially to those who possess his Word and seek instruction from it. The Lord’s thirst is his ardent desire for the salvation of his people. It was this desire for the salvation of mankind that gave utterance upon the cross to his dying exclamation, ” I thirst,” and which stands as a perpetual appeal to his creatures to give him to drink. But how can we give him to drink? We give to the Lord when we gratefully return to him what we have received from him, and especially when we give to each other. In the Jewish church, the meat and drink offerings, when laid upon the altar, were considered to be offered to the Lord, to satisfy his hunger and thirst. And this was a type of true worship, in which we present to the Lord the offerings of our best thoughts and affections, of thanksgiving and praise; for we can offer to the Lord only that which we have received from him, and it is by laying these gifts upon his altar that they become sanctified, to our use. But our truest worship is that of the life, in ministering to others, as the Lord has ministered to us; for in giving to them we give to the Lord. So he himself has assured us : “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink.” And when the righteous say, ” Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee, or thirsty and gave thee drink1?” this is the Lord’s answer : ” Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” How, in thus ministering to others, do we minister to the Lord1? Every sincere desire to be fed with good and truth is from the Lord, and is the Lord in us. It is he who hungers and thirsts in us, for we have no inherent desire for spiritual and heavenly things. As he is in himself, the Lord can receive nothing from us j but as he is in the penitent and humble mind, we can give him to drink, by endeavouring to satisfy the soul’s desire for his saving truth.
8 At this part of the narrative it is mentioned, to account for the Lord’s being alone and conversing with the woman, that his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat. While the disciples were seeking to procure meat in the city, Jesus was asking drink from the woman at the well. Thus our attention is drawn to the two elements of spiritual life, the principles of goodness and truth, which are brought out so clearly, as the soul’s meat and drink, in the Lord’s subsequent conversation with the woman and his disciples. In their representative character, the disciples are the affections and perceptions of goodness and truth, derived from the Lord, and as a city, spiritually understood, is the doctrine of the church, or the church with respect to its doctrine, the disciples going into the city to buy meat describes how the Lord, by means of the good and truth proceeding from him, entered into and explored the doctrine of the Samaritan church, to find if it possessed any true goodness, as the means of his communion and conjunction with it. Buying implies, however, something of self-interest in those who sell. The Lord gives to his creatures of his free grace, of his unbought mercy. They are invited to come, and buy wine and milk, without money and without price. But while he giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not, he rewards those who minister to him. He gives his labourers their hire, and even buys from them those things which he has bestowed upon them as a gift. And this giving them money for then? bread teaches us, that for every good that men do they are enriched with knowledge in return. In spiritual life there is, properly speaking, no buying and selling, but only giving and receiving. The only things which our Lord exhorts his disciples to sell are those of their corrupt selfhood; all else, even the produce of their richest possessions, they are to give away, as the means of having treasure in heaven.
9 When the Lord, in the absence of his disciples, asked the Samaritan woman to give him to drink, she answered, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria ? (for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans). The hatred which existed between the Jews and the Samaritans, and which was most bitter on the Jewish side, too plainly indicated the existence of what it also represented—the separation of faith and charity. When the minds of men, especially of those professing the same faith, are turned away from each other, it is a sign that they have no real belief in the truth, which teaches them that they should love the Lord above all things and their neighbour as themselves. The woman was surprised, but it does not seem she was displeased, at being asked to perform an act of kindness to one who was a Jew. It may rather be inferred that the Lord’s unexpected expressions of friendly feeling, uttered, as they must have been, in tones of the deepest tenderness, awakened in her heart some degree of a corresponding affection, and made her feel like the good Samaritan, whose compassionate nature led him to succour the man, his Jewish despiser, who had fallen among thieves, when the priest and the Levite passed by on the other side. So much may true kindness do to remove sectarian animosity, and make its way to the hidden affections of love, never entirely extinct in any human breast. The woman addressed her words to Jesus as a Jew. But Jesus was the pattern of what a Jew should be, of one who is not a Jew outwardly, but who is a Jew inwardly, whose circumcision is not of the flesh, but of the Spirit—whose praise is not of men, but of God. He was goodness itself, manifested in human nature ; and he desired truth, not to be enriched thereby, but to be the object of its human operation and perception. How is it that Jesus, being a Jew, asks drink of a Samaritan woman? To teach us, in the first place, that he had come to remove enmities between brethren, and break down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile. And to instruct us, in the second place, that the Lord from his divine love ever appeals to the affection of truth, in his church and in the minds of his creatures, to reciprocate his love, by giving him the truth which his love desires for the sake of conjunction. The Lord by love joins-himself to us, and we by truth join ourselves to him. We acquire truth from the Word, and the Lord by the affection of truth in us joins that truth to his love, and so joins us to himself. It is, indeed, a matter of surprise and a’stonishment, that he by whom we live should ask from us, as if he lived by us. Our Lord himself explains this, as we find from his words to the woman in the next verse.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The Lord asks not that he may receive, but that he may give—that what we offer to him may be. returned with his divine blessing. The truth we derive from the Word by instruction is at first but knowledge; it has no life. But when from affection we, by humble and grateful acknowledgment, connect it with the Lord as its life and eternal source, then does it descend to us again as living truth. To realize this great blessing we must know the gift of God, and who it is that asks of us (( Give me to drink.” The gift of God is Jesus Christ—as eternal, saving truth in the inner man, which ever craves the truth which has been received from the Word in the outer man, that the dead may be exalted into union with the living, and, when sanctified and vivified by it, may flow down again as a living stream, carrying life and health wherever it goes.
11 The woman did not understand the language and the lesson of Jesus. Not more dull of apprehension was she than those whom she spiritually represented. In our early states of religious intelligence, we as little see the connection and correspondence between the letter and the spirit, as she saw between the water of Jacob’s well and the Lord’s divine truth, of which it was the symbol. Thou hast nothing (no vessel) to draw with, and the well is deep. So long as we know and believe in the existence of the letter only, it seems to us as if there could be nothing deeper in the Word, and no means of reaching even these without the ordinary vessel. Vessels symbolize the receptacles of truth and goodness, which are not only the faculties of the mind, in which these principles are received, but the knowledges which are the means of receiving and containing them. Spiritual truths are not learned scientifically, but are discerned spiritually. They are not those which are drawn by laborious study from the letter of the Word, and then laid up in the memory, but spiritual truths are within those natural truths, and are seen by the light of a purer reason, which is perception. When the woman said that the well was deep, she did not mean that the water was deep, but that it was too far below the surface to be reached without a vessel. She knew that Jesus could not obtain it, and she asked him, Whence then hast thou that living water ? Those who know and believe in no sense but that of the letter, can conceive of no higher truth than that which the letter makes known. They suppose that there is nothing beyond the reach of their own doctrinal deductions. They think that they have all that the Word can yield. Whence can there be anything greater or better ?
12 The woman, supposing Jesus alluded to the water of some other spring, asked him, Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jacob, as the father of the Israelitish people, represented that church and everything that belonged to it. Jacob gave us the well—for the Word was revealed to the Israelitish church, and came through it to the people. And he drank thereof, and his children, and his cattle; for the Word was the religious drink of the whole Israelitish church and people, with all their internal and external affections. But the Israelitish people knew, and desired to know, only the literal sense of the Word. And those who know and believe in the letter only, suppose that there can be nothing greater. And as these have no experience but that of the natural mind, to which the letter applies, and in which it resides; they further suppose that if the natural mind, with its internal and external affections, and their satisfaction in its simple truths, there can 1m no greater satisfaction possible or desirable. ” Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” is the demand of the natural man to every direction of his mind to a higher kind or degree of truth. Hear the answer.
13, 14. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever 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. In its simple natural meaning this is beautifully true; the natural is exhaustible., the spiritual is inexhaustible. Yet it is not true in the sense in which it is sometimes understood. The spiritual nature of man requires, and will require through eternity, fresh supplies of truth, as, in this world, the body requires fresh supplies of water. The soul has desires, as the body has thirst. We are rather, therefore, to consider the Lord’s words in a figurative and in a spiritual sense. Natural and earthly truths afford no permanent satisfaction and happiness: those only which are spiritual can give enduring peace and pleasures for evermore* And so is it relatively with the Word. The letter gives not full and perennial delight: but the spirit is, in every one who receives it, a well of water springing up into everlasting life. They that enter into its spirit shall hunger no more neither thirst any more; for the Lamb shall lead them to living fountains of water. In his address to the woman the Lord distinguishes between the water of Jacob’s well and the water which he should give, as a supply coming from without and one coming from within; one coming from the memory and the other from the heart. This is the water which the Lord gives, as distinguished from that which we procure ourselves, even when the supply is derived from revelation. Such is the difference between the truth we acquire by our own spirit, and that which we acquire by the Spirit of the Lord.
15 Still thinking naturally, The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Both the world]y and the naturally minded are willing to think of a happiness greater than that which they possess. Many, indeed, desire heaven as a place of happiness, who have hardly any of the elements of happiness in them, and have no disposition to acquire them. Where there is but little of the principles of true happiness, there may be a disposition to acquire more. There may, consequently, be a disposition in favour of the spiritual sense of the Holy Word, where there is as yet no knowledge of its nature or even of its existence. As every good natural affection is intended to be the receptacle of a spiritual one, there is in every such affection, not only the capacity but the desire for the higher, which constitutes its true spirit and life.
16 When the Lord has excited this desire for spiritual truth in the human heart and mind, he then begins to teach the qualifications and conditions for its reception. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. Naturally, this was no doubt intended as the means of revealing to the woman the Lord’s Messiahship through his supernatural knowledge of her history. Literally understood, it has no immediate connection with the subject, or the giving of the living water. Spiritually, it has. Marriage is the symbol and the outbirth of the heavenly marriage of goodness and truth, or love and faith. The spiritual mind cannot be opened to the perception of spiritual truth, until truth has been united to good in the natural mind. This union of truth with good is effected by doing the truth, our living according to the laws of divine order. The woman was therefore desired to go and call her husband, to teach us, that the reception of heavenly truth in the inner man requires the union of good and truth, or of the will and understanding, in the outward man. Another reason, under this, for the Lord desiring the woman to call her husband was, that not only will but understanding is necessary for the perception and reception of divine truth. In the heavenly marriage the will is represented by the wife and the understanding by the husband. Hence our Lord, when the woman expressed her desire to receive, said, “Go, call thy husband.” To go at the Lord’s command means to live in accordance with his teaching; and to call her husband signifies to draw the understanding into closer connection with the will, so that both will and understanding may come to the Lord, to receive the gift of his grace and truth.
17 The woman answered, I have no husband. It is remarkable that the Lord should ask the woman to call her husband, when he yet knew she had no husband. It was no doubt to bring her sin to her remembrance, and induce in her a state of humility and repentance. There was a mixture of criminality and candour in the woman’s conduct. Living with a man to whom she was not married, she was so far truthful as not to put him forward in a false character, though she at the same time showed the desire to conceal her connection with him. She was perhaps a fair specimen of the half Jew half Gentile character of the Samaritan people, and a true representative of the Samaritan church—Jewish in sin, Gentile in simplicity. ” I have no husband ” is expressive of the state of those who are spiritually like them. The spiritual Samaritan is one who has an affection for truth, but possesses no genuine but only spurious truth, between which and the affection of truth there is and can be no true marriage, but only an illicit connection. But when the truth possessed is spurious, the affection of which it is the object is impure. Truth purifies good, and good exalts truth. Affection, without truth to purify and guide it, is not spiritual but natural. Affection without truth is blind ; and blind affection is mere impulse, which acts for no end and is directed to no object. The character or quality of affection is such as that of the truth by which it is guided. If the truth is spurious—apparent and not real— affection is so far impure. Hence the value of genuine truth. Its teachings may not be always faithfully followed • but when it is possessed, there are at least the means of advancement. In the heavenly marriage, truth is the husband, and affection is the wife; and from their union good motives and useful actions are produced. But the Samaritan church and people had no genuine truth. ” I have no husband” was the acknowledgment of the woman who represented them. They had an affection for truth, which affection the woman herself represented, but they had only a spurious kind of truth, between which and the affection of truth there could be no real marriage, but only an illegitimate conjunction. In the church itself there was some perception of this. So the Lord’s words imply. Thou hast well said, I have no husband. And such a confession by any one in corresponding spiritual circumstances is a preparation for a better state.
18 The acknowledgment that the woman made opened the way for a further disclosure of her private history, and evidence of the Lord’s superhuman character. Having first simply confirmed her testimony respecting herself—”I have no husband,” he proceeded to show her that he knew more of her history than this, and of a fact that she had not revealed. For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband : in that saidst thou truly. In those times of easy divorce, and for any cause, it might not be a very extraordinary thing for a woman to have had five husbands. The spiritual lesson is that which chiefly concerns us. And what amount of union was there here? Marriage signifies the union of good and truth. It may be concluded that the greater the number of husbands the woman had, the slighter the bond that existed between her and any of them. Marriage, in any of these instances, must have been but a very superficial union. This is indicated by her five husbands; for numbers, as we have had occasion to remark, do not in spiritual language express the quantity but quality ; and five signifies that which is comparatively imperfect. Five signifies remains, but in a small degree. Among these Gentiles there had been the remains of truth conjoined to good; there had existed amongst them, some of the true elements of the church, similar in kind, but less perfect in degree, than those which existed amongst the Jews : but this state had passed away, and in its place had arisen one in which nothing of the union of goodness and truth existed in the mind, but only a spurious and worldly connection. And thus it is with the individual members of the church itself in a worldly age. Although some remains of good and truth in a united state may be implanted in their minds during early life, these may pass away, and the truth, which in this case is only knowledge, may be held by the affections in a loose and even sinful connection, because only for the sake of the world and its pleasures.
19 When Jesus had declared her history, the woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. The Lord’s knowledge of her history revealed to her his prophetic character : and this discovery of her guilt, in her present condition of life, no doubt humbled her, and opened the way in her mind for the reception of his truth. She perceived that he was a prophet. This was part of the truth; she did not yet know the whole. A prophet represented heavenly truth, which a prophet was the instrument of revealing; but the Lord as the Christ was more than all prophets^ the Divine Truth in person. To receive truth from the Lord is one thing, to receive the Lord as the Truth is another: so is it one thing to see him as a prophet, and another to receive him as the Christ. Yet the Lord must be seen in one character before he can be received in the other. We have seen the means by which the first was brought about: we have now to consider the second.
20 The woman, understanding Jesus to be a Jewish prophet, addresses him as we might expect a Samaritan to do. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain. This was mount Gerizim, on which Israel stood to bless, when the law was rehearsed in their ears, after entering into the land of Canaan. After the separation of the ten tribes in the reign of Behoboam, and their forming themselves into a separate kingdom in Samaria, they built a temple for their own worship on ” this mountain ” of Gerizim, near which the Saviour and the woman now were. This was the chief ground of the Jews’ hatred of the Samaritans. We can hardly suppose that the woman wished to provoke a dispute on this point: she rather wished, it would seem, to hear the opinion of one whom she regarded as a prophet on so momentous a subject. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, but ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. It is supposed that by their fathers, she meant the patriarchs, and appealed to Jacob and his sons worshipping on Gerizim, while they dwelt in Shechem, as an evidence of ” this mountain ” having been the place of divine worship long before men worshipped at Jerusalem. The erection of a temple on mount Gerizim was, however, a violation of the principle on which the temple of Jerusalem was built—that there might be one place for all the tribes to assemble. Considered as a permission, worship in Gerizim could only represent external worship without internal, while that in Jerusalem represented external worship in which there was internal. Yet all sacrificial worship was shadowy, and was to pass away when the substance it represented, which Christ was, had come and instituted spiritual and internal worship. Hence the Lord’s answer in the next verse.
21 Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. The Jewish and the Samaritan worship were both local. Both peoples regarded the place where they worshipped as being holy, and they considered the worship performed there to be sanctified by the holy place. True worship is that which is performed in a holy state; and when the state of the worshipper is holy, every place where he worships God is holy ground. In the Jewish church place represented state; and the place appointed for worship was called holy, only because it was the grand symbol of the holy state of love and faith, from which all true worship proceeds. When the Lord came into the world, mere representative worship ceased, and with it all local sanctity. When the Lord addressed the Samaritan woman, the hour was rapidly approaching, when neither on mount Gerizim, nor yet on mount Zion, in the city of Jerusalem, should men worship the Father. This impending change in the outward condition of the church represented a coming change in the inward state of the worshipper. A change from place to state, from the letter to the spirit, was to be effected by the coming of the Lord as the Holy One, the antitype of the temple made with hands. A corresponding change takes place in every regenerate person. Representative worship was about to cease. But this is true with respect to a regenerate individual, as well as a regenerate church. The worship of every one is representative and shadowy before he is made spiritual, even when his worship, though simple, is sincere. The hour cometh, the state arrives, with every one who suffers himself to be regenerated, when neither in the mountain of natural love, nor yet in the city of doctrinal intelligence, will man expect to find or worship the Father. When the Lord makes his advent into the mind and life, the regenerate man worships the Father from higher and purer principles.
22 Yet there is an important difference between the two rudimentary and preparatory states. Those who are in good without truth, or in natural love alone, worship they know not what; but those who are in doctrinal intelligence know what they worship; for salvation is of the Jews. The Jews occupied a higher position than the Samaritans. The Jews had this advantage indeed over all classes of Gentiles—” To them, pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose were the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever” (Rom. ix. 4, 5). Therefore, as our Lord said, “salvation is of the Jews.” As the Word revealed to them formed the connecting link between heaven and earth, the church instituted amongst them formed the centre from which light was diffused to the surrounding nations ; and as they supplied the root of Jesse, out of which the Branch sprung, salvation, both for their own and for all time, came of the Jews. But there is a more spiritual lesson in the Lord’s words than this. The Jews, as the descendants of the patriarch, and the remnant of the kingdom, of Judah, represented the principle of love or goodness, of which salvation essentially comes. Yet the Jewish was only a representative church; so that all that is said of the Jews is to be spiritually understood. As that which the Lord here speaks of is the symbol of the state which precedes redemption and regeneration, salvation is not actually in it, but comes through it. As Jesus the Saviour came of the Jews, so does salvation come of that state which the Jews represented.
23 Worship of the Father from natural affection and doctrinal knowledge is followed by the worship of him from the spirit of love and in the light of truth. The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth ; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. The spirit and truth in which the Lord is to be worshipped are graces and states in the mind of the worshipper ; but in relation to the historical period to which our Lord refers, the spirit and the truth, in which the Father was then about to be worshipped, came by Jesus himself, from whom every human worshipper receives them. Spirit is the life or affection which enters into and animates worship, and truth is the intelligence which enlightens and directs it. The Lord himself is the life and light, as well as the Object of all true worship. He was the light in which the life was manifested ; and in him we are enabled to worship the Father. ” The Father seeketh such to worship him.” The divine love of the Lord, or the Lord from his divine love, seeks true and spiritual worship for the worshipper’s sake. Worship by the blood of bulls and goats was only a temporary institution, in accommodation to the sensual states of men ; but it had always been the desire of the divine mind that worship should be spiritual, and such it was made when our Lord came into the world, and he himself became the great and living sacrifice. The Lord is to us all that the sacrifice, and the priest who ordered it, were to the Jews.
24 God is a Spirit. And here the name God is used instead of Father; for God is more expressive of the Divine Wisdom, as Father is of the Divine Love. But when it is said that God is a Spirit, we are not to understand it to mean that God is a mere essence. God is Man—the perfect Man of whom created man is but the imperfect image. He is the only being, substance, form; all others are his created images, whose existence and subsistence are from him. God is called Spirit specifically with reference to the Spirit which proceeds from him, and which, when received in the minds of angels and men, makes them, spiritual, and enables them to worship him in spirit and in truth. This was especially the case with the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit; and therefore the spiritual and true worship of God is the worship of him in the person and in the spirit of Jesus Christ. This is the worship of which our blessed Lord speaks, as that which was about to succeed and’ supersede the worship which, had been practised during the Israelitish dispensation. The hour that was coming was that in which the work of redemption was finished; which finished the ceremonial law with its sacrificial worship, and introduced a worship that was spiritual and living, because offered to a Being who is Spirit and Life, by spiritual and living worshippers.
25 I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ. When he is come he will tell us all things. We need not dwell on this declaration in regard to the speaker, but consider its inspired meaning. The affection of truth has in it the faith of truth, and man, when partially enlightened, looks forward with confidence to receiving a full measure of intelligence. “I know that Messias cometh.” Such is the language of the loving heart. It is like the exclamation of Job—” I know that my Redeemer liveth,,” I know that my present state of obscurity and uncertainty will pass away, and be followed by light and certainty. The Messias, the Anointed, the Truth itself from Love, when he comes, will tell my understanding all things that my heart desires to know.
26 When the woman had thus expressed her faith in the coming Saviour, Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. In spiritual things, as in the spiritual world, there is no time : state is every thing. When the mind comes into the state of reception the truth is revealed. Jesus is with us even when he is yet unknown to us, and he reveals himself whenever the heart is prepared to accept him. Here he is called Jesus, which is expressive of his divine love, and what he ” speaketh” is truth from love.
27 While Jesus yet spake, his disciples came. At the time that the Samaritan woman came out of the city to Jacob’s well to draw water, the disciples of Jesus had gone into the city to buy meat. This represented a search into the state of the church of the Samaritan Gentiles, to see and to draw out whatever of good it contained, to bring it to, and connect it with, the Lord. The disciples procured meat— the church yielded good, and it is now brought to Jesus that he may partake of it. But the disciples marvelled that he talked with the woman. This arose from the Jewish prejudice against the Samaritans, and from the opinion of the Jews, that women were not worthy of receiving religious instruction. The state of the disciples represents that state of the regenerating mind, when faith regards charity with something of contempt, and is unwilling to think that it should be the immediate object and receptacle of heavenly truth. Yet no man said, What seekest thou ? or, Why talkest thou with her? How strikingly does this show the superiority of Jesus as felt by his disciples. So a sincere but mistaken faith feels the power and virtue of the Lord’s operation into charity, even while it marvels at the Lord’s communion with it. Many of the Lord’s doings are marvellous in our eyes, while our eyes are but partially opened to see his wise and just economy : and when will they be able to behold him as he is ? What the Lord either seeks from or imparts to those who are in charity, is unknown to those who are only in faith.
28, 29. The woman then left her water-pot, and went her way into the city. When those who are in charity are instructed by the Lord in the nature of spiritual truth, they leave the scientifics of natural truth, meant by the water-pot, and enter into doctrine, meant by the city. And the object of thus entering into doctrine, is to instruct by means of it, and bring those who are in the truths of doctrine of the church into the acknowledgment of the supreme Truth, and into conjunction with the supreme Good. These truths of doctrine are the men of the city, and the effort to draw them out and elevate them, is implied in the invitation of the woman, Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did. All her deeds were told her. How impressive. The Lord searches the heart and the reins: his truth reveals the secret thoughts and intents of the heart. He indeed knows every one of us, and all of us alike; but it is his knowledge revealed within, us, and bringing our doings home to our own conscience, that makes us true penitents, and zealous workers in his cause, both inwardly in ourselves, and outwardly among others. This inward practical revelation is the test of truth. Is not this the Christ ? He only can convince of sin who can forgive sin. The truest witness of the truth is the inward witness of our deeds as unrolled by it before us.
30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. The truths were elevated out of doctrine, or, to express it otherwise, the intellectual perceptions were raised out of a doctrinal to a spiritual view of Divine truth.
31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. The Lord partook of human food, and those who thus ministered unto him, did to Jesus an act similar to that which the Jews did to Jehovah, when they laid their sacrifices as food for him upon the altar. We spiritually ask our Lord to eat when we ask his acceptance of the good which we have acquired.
32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. The Lord here began to teach his disciples, who had brought him meat, a lesson similar to that which he taught the woman who had come to draw water. As his object was to teach the woman that he had in himself a fountain of living water, so was his object to teach his disciples that he had in himself an inexhaustible supply of living bread. They knew not yet of the true nature of this bread of life; he had not yet delivered his discourse on that great subject, in which lie declared himself to be the living bread that came down from heaven. As the water which the woman came to draw was the type of natural truth, so the meat which the disciples craved the Lord to eat was the type of natural goodness. Our Lord did not, therefore, eat it, but began to tell those who pressed the meat upon him that he had meat to eat that they knew not of; intimating that they knew not of the nature, or even the existence, of the good which constituted his true meat.
33 The disciples show their ignorance of what our Lord meant. Therefore said they one to another. Hath any man brought him ought to eat ? They knew not yet of any good but human good, nor had they any clear apprehension that the Lord’s good was other than human and finite. Such is the state and case of every early disciple. He thinks of the Lord as some philosophers think of the sun, as fed by surrounding matters that in reality depend upon him for their existence.
34. Jesus proceeds to teach them what food he had to eat. He saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. How sublime a truth! and how divinely instructive ! It is no metaphor, but a great reality. The Lord’s work was to do his Father’s will. No doubt he partook of natural food, but m supposing that he who multiplied the loaves and fishes needed this for the support of his natural body, that was not the meat by which he lived. That which constituted Iris meat, which nourished the body which men saw not with their natural eyes—the humanity that was a form of goodness and truth—was the doing of the will of him that sent him. For what is the will of God but divine good; and doing this will made the humanity divine good also. And when the Lord had finished the work which the Father gave him to do, then was he the Father himself in a divine humanity—that which rose in power and glory. As it was with the Lord, so is it in like measure with his disciples. Their meat is to do their Father’s will and to finish ‘his work. It is this which feeds the immortal soul as truly as material substances feed the body.
35 After teaching his disciples respecting his own food, the Lord draws their attention to the harvest which is to provide food for his church. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest ? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. The harvest signifies the church itself, or those who were to be gathered into it ; but it signifies also the principles by the reception of which men become members of the church.; and these principles are the soul’s spiritual food. This provision was the immediate result of the Lord’s redeeming work. The abundant provision which his redemption and glorification made for the salvation of mankind was the harvest, which his disciples had said was yet four months distant. Harvest is the ingathering of goodness and truth, of the conjunction of which four, like two, is expressive. And this harvest was already come, but the disciples saw it not. To see it, the Lord desired them to lift up their eyes and look upon the fields—that is, to elevate their understandings, and regard that which was present, though unseen; for the fields were white already unto harvest. Standing corn signifies truth in the mind’s conception, and white is expressive of its maturity in the understanding, the reaping of the harvest having relation to the ingathering of the fruits of faith into the life.
36-38. Of this reaping our Lord proceeds to speak. He says, And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. He-evidently speaks of the continued labours of the divinely commisioned teachers of all times. Those that sow are the prophets of the Old Testament, and those who reap are the apostles of the New. The Lord, therefore, says, I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. The lahours of other men and of other dispensations had prepared the way for the Christian dispensation and its ministers: they hud sown the seeds, and their successors were about to reap the harvest. But we may more profitably view this subject in its purely spiritual sense, abstractly from times and persons, and applicable to the regenerate mind. Sowing and reaping are two different acts of the regenerating man, in two different states of the regenerate life. Sowing is the insemination of the truths of the Word into the mind, and reaping is the ingathering of the fruits of a holy life. Truths are sown in the mind during the age of childhood and youth; and he in whose mind they have been sown must himself reap the harvest. But one inseminates truths in his own mind when he arrives at mature years, and reaps the harvest when he is regenerated. Seeds are the truths of the understanding, and their fruits are the goods of life. The affections of truth are the sowers, and the affections of good are the reapers. In other words, the intellectual affections sow the seeds of truth in the mind, and the voluntary affections reap the fruits of truth in the life. While, therefore, one sows and another reaps, the end of this economy is, that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. And this rejoicing takes place when the affections of truth and of good, or when the understanding and the will, are united in the final end, which is use, and the ultimate state, which is salvation and happiness.
39 The evangelist now returns to the Samaritans, who went out of the city and came to him (ver. 30) ; and he tells us that many of the Samaritans of that city believed, on him for the saying of the woman. The woman signifies affection, the men thoughts. The influence which the affections have upon the thoughts is well brought out in this and in another scripture narrative. The women, it will be remembered, were the first to convey to the disciples the glad tidings of the Lord’s resurrection. Reception of the truth by the thoughts through the affections is meant by this acknowledgment of Jesus by the men of Sychar, who believed on him for the saying of the woman. Yet this influence brings its own testimony with it—the inward and practical testimony, that the truth of God reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart—c< he told me all things that over I did.”
40 So when the Samaritans were, come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode (or tarried) there two days. The Samaritans did not come to satisfy themselves of the truth of what the woman had told them of Jesus, but to ask him to tarry with them. When the mind is convinced of the truth, it desires that the Truth itself may remain with it. The Lord’s compliance with the men’s request teaches us that he is ever willing and ready to enter into the sincere heart, and to enter into conjunction of life with those who are prepared to receive him, which conjunction is here expressed by the Lord remaining with them two days. In the Word a distinction is made between tarrying and abiding, or sojourning and dwelling. Tarrying is predicated of the life of truth with good, and abiding, of the life of good with truth. This distinction is not, however, made here. States of life being meant by days, tarrying certain days involves the idea of successive states—two days, successive states of truth with good, of faith with charity, and the conjunction of truth with good, and of man with the Lord, as the result. Whether we speak of the conjunction of good and truth in man, or the conjunction of man with the Lord, it amounts to the same; the conjunction of these principles in man gives him conjunction with the Lord, for the Lord dwells with man in the heavenly marriage of goodness and truth.
41, 42. Many more believed because of his own Word. There is mediate and there is immediate teaching from the Lord’s Word, as there are mediate and immediate influx from the Lord himself. We all receive the truth in the first instance from others but instruction is not complete till we are taught immediately by the Lord himself. These two classes of persons and states of life are spoken of by the prophet, as those who are taught of the neighbour and those who are taught of God. And the promise is given that a time will come, when the people shall be all taught of God, when they shall teach no more every man his neighbour and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know him from the least of them unto the greatest of them (Jer. xxxi. 34). We are not indeed to understand this promise to men, that the time will ever arrive when human teaching will be unnecessary; but a time will come, in the history of the church, when human authority in matters of faith shall cease, when God will be his own teacher as well as his own interpreter, when men will believe what they know, not merely what they learn, and will know what they believe as well as believe what they know. This change of state should also be effected in each one of us. Happy if, when we have received the truth on human authority, we reach the more perfect state of accepting it on its own testimony, which is to make the Lord our teacher. This did the Samaritan, who said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves. Immediate teaching and influx confirm and illustrate those which are mediate. Therefore, the men said in conclusion, we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Mediate teaching and influx act principally on the external of tho mind, immediate teaching and influx enter into the internal, giving spiritual light and vitality to what had been externally received, and changing an historical into a living faith.
43 When the Lord left Judea ,it was to go into Galilee, Samaria being taken in the way. Now, after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. “While these journeyings describe, in the supreme sense, the progressive glorification of the Lord’s humanity, and, historically, the rise of his church among all classes of those in whom there was any remnant of spiritual affection for goodness and truth; they showed forth the advancement of his kingdom in the individual mind. In reference to the regeneration of man, we have seen (ver. 3) that the Lord’s journey from Judea through Samaria into Galilee, represented the progression of his divine truth from the internal, through tho rational, into the natural degree of the mind; which may, in a general way, be called its progression from the will through the understanding into act; for in proceeding from the will into act, the divine truth ” must needs'” pass through the understanding. The two days he abode in Sychar are again mentioned, intimating the conjunction of truth with good in the rational principle ; after which it was to be manifested in its power in the natural mind and outward life.
44, 45. A reason is assigned for the Lord’s going into Galilee, where he was brought up, which would seem, according to our human notions, more likely to repel than to attract him. For Jesus- himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country. This has been felt to be a difficulty. Without enlarging on it, we may remark, that this can hardly refer to what was future, since in entering their country ” the Galileans received him,” but would seem rather to refer to the past, Jesus having previously testified this to the Galileans themselves (Luke iv. 24): and to that John would seem in the present instance to refer. Some of the Galileans, who went up to the passover, had seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast. There is a beautiful and instructive truth in the Lord’s going down into Galilee, where he was brought up. The Lord’s early life, as he now lives it, is his life in us during the early period of our existence. He is brought up in all minds, especially in the minds of those whose parents bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Our infantile and childish conceptions of Jesus are the periods of his infancy and childhood in us. As our conceptions of him, or of his truth, improve, he increases in wisdom and stature.
In brief, the Lord’s outward life in the world has its image in his inward life in the minds of those, who pass through the stages of the regenerate life, corresponding to those of his own glorification. Jesus leaves Galilee, when he has implanted in the young mind the remains of goodness and truth; but he returns to it again, when, in manhood, regeneration actually commences. This is the time and state which are now spoken of. The difference in the conduct of the Galileans, before and after this visit to Jerusalem, is explicable on another ground. When the truth manifests itself where it has been brought up. or taught, and has become familiar from childhood, it is at first without honour; for the first dawn of manhood, even in those who have been religiously educated, is not unfrequently marked, for a time, by scepticism or indifference, or even by hostility. But when the Lord’s truth has been elevated into the spiritual mind, and has come down through the rational into the natural mind again, having there done and spoken miraculous things, it is then received and honoured. It is received and honoured by and through those natural thoughts and affections that have themselves been elevated towards the interiors, and have there experienced purification from falses, which is signified by the feast of the passover, or of unleavened bread, to which the Galileans also went up.
46, 47. So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. Cana is the church among the Gentiles; and the making the water wine represented the bringing of spiritual out of natural truth. This miracle was performed to confirm the belief of his disciples ; the Lord’s second visit to Cana resulted in the confirmation of the faith of an eminent Gentile, by a miracle of another kind. This Gentile was a nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. This man affords a pleasing instance of faith in Jesus, first in his coming to implore his help, and secondly in placing entire reliance on his simple word. The nobleman, as the original expresses, was an officer of the king, or one near his person. The very court of Herod Antipas furnishes an eminent instance of belief in the meek and humble Saviour. But as the king is not named, we are to understand, as in many other cases in the Word, the regal office abstractly; and as this is symbolical of the government of truth, the nobleman is one who loves and obeys the truth as he knows it. The affection of truth is meant by his son; for affection is an offshoot from love, as a child is from a parent. But the son was sick. The soul sickens when its desires remain unsatis fied; for love unsatisfied, like hope deferred, maketh the heart sick.
Sickness also corresponds to temptation; for evil spirits infuse their evil influences into the mind which feels its lack of heavenly truth and goodness, and causes anxiety even to despair. This is like the state of the nobleman, whoso son was at the point of death; for despair is the extinction of hope. But he saw that there was still one, and only one, ground of hope remaining—hope in Jesus. It is to bring the mind to rely on this hope alone that temptation is permitted; and it is only when every other hope is broken down, that hope in the all-sufficiency of the Saviour prevails and succeeds.
48 It is remarkable that on this, as on some other occasions, the Lord does not immediately satisfy the desires, and answer the prayers of the supplicant, urgent as the need seems, earnest as the prayer is. To the beseeching of the afflicted parent the Lord answers, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The Lord’s answer was addressed to others as well as to him ; for the Galileans had refused to believe till they saw the miracles which he did. Belief had led the nobleman to Jesus, and belief was the result of the miracle, the effect of which was that the father ” himself believed and his whole house” (ver. 53). His first belief in Jesus must have been belief in him as a prophet; his final belief in him must have been a belief in him as the Messiah. And in this the man represented one whose first faith is natural, intellectual, and historical. Saving faith is spiritual, of the heart and mind; and this faith, confirmed by temptation, gives health and newness of life.
49. The only answer of the father to this seeming reproof is, Sir, come down ere my child die. The son was sick at Capernaum. This place represented an external state relatively to that meant by Cana. In a previous chapter (ii. 12, 13), we read that after the marriage in Cana, Jesus went down to Capernaum, and went up from thence to Jerusalem. When he returned from Jerusalem he went direct to Cana, and the nobleman came up from Capernaum to Cana to implore his help. The nobleman represented those who, while they have a sincere and ardent affection for truth, are held in external things, as the fallacies of sense and science, but who come to elevate their minds to the Lord, as revealed in his Word.
50 The Lord did not comply with the man’s entreaty to ” come down,” but only said unto him, Go thy way, thy son liveth. The Lord performed this miracle at the very moment he gave the assurance that the child lived; illustrating the truth he had declared reprovingly to the Jews, ” Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a, God afar off?” (Isa. xxxiii. 33). The man believed the word that Jesus had spoken with him, and he went his way. Here again is faith. He had believed that he only needed the Lord’s presence to have his child cured; he now believes that the Lord has already cured him. His word is sufficient. This is a1 new and higher phase of faith. The command, Go thy way, is not without its practical significance. To go is to live, and the law of truth is the way in which the disciple is to walk. The man obeys the Lord’s command; he goes by the word of the Lord, and in his strength.
51 And as he was going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Any principle that is subordinate and subservient to another, is, spiritually, its servant: as truth to good, natural things to spiritual. The servants going out to meet their Lord, and convey the glad tidings to him, describes the co-operation of the natural mind with the spiritual, and of truth with good; and meeting him is expressive of their reciprocation and conjunction. The servants convey to their master the joyful tidings, Thy son liveth. Spiritually understood, truth enables good to perceive the new life, which the Lord has imparted to the distressed and languishing affections. When good and truth thus meet together, the word of the Lord, already believed, is realized—his truth is confirmed, and his goodness is experienced. In reference to this same circumstance, the Word speaks of mercy and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each other.
52 Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. The father no doubt wished to know if there was an exact coincidence between the time of the Lord’s word and his son’s recovery, the more certainly to connect them as cause and effect. Time is state; and the desire to know the hour when his son began to amend, is expressive of a desire to know the precise nature of the new life in its beginning. The servants answered, Yesterday about the seventh hour, the fever left him. The seventh hour is a holy state; and is especially a state of rest and peace, after states of labour and temptation. These states of temptation are the fever of the soul, when the thoughts rush tumultuously through the troubled mind, and the feelings are wrought up to the highest pitch of painful excitement. The power of the Lord is more conspicuous, as its result is more blessed, in removing the fever of the soul than in removing the fever of the body, wonderful as this was in the present case. This miracle of the Lord showed his omniscience and omnipotence, and therefore his divinity. He is entreated to come and cure a child. He sends his word and heals him. He wills, and the raging fever, like the tempestuous sea, is in a moment calmed, and the blood flows gently on.
53 The father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. It is only necessary to remark on the results of this fact—the recognition of the child’s restoration as the work of Jesus. We find that it led to the whole house receiving the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole house spiritually means the whole mind, that is, the whole of the affections and thoughts. When all these are brought under the influence of a spiritual and saving faith, then is man regenerate or born again. New life is imparted to the soul, and the man becomes a new creature.
54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee. The question for us is, what spiritual relation has this second miracle in Galilee to the first ? It is deserving of remark that these two miracles produced the same effect, but upon different persons. The effect of the first was, that “his disciples believed on him;” the result of the second was, that the father of the child “himself believed, and his whole house.” The miracles, the .persons, and the places, all point to the fact, that they were both wrought for producing or confirming faith in the Lord, first in the interiors, and next in the exteriors, of the mind: thus tending to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. There are works of the mind and works of the life, although it is only when they unite that they make man perfect.
Author: William Bruce –1870
Pictures: James Tissot—-Courtesy of the Brooklyn museum