For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns…
I. THE SOUL OF MAN NATURALLY THIRSTS AFTER HAPPINESS.
1. This affords a strong argument for the dignity of the soul, and the certainty of a future state.
2. These inward and insatiable cravings, amidst the high enjoyments of sense and the world, should lead us to God, who alone can felicitate the soul He hath made; should deaden our desires towards the delights of life, and quicken them after those of religion.
II. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS NATIVE THIRST IN THE SOULS OF MEN AFTER HAPPINESS, YET THEY ARE GENERALLY MISTAKEN IN THEIR CHOICE OF IT.
1. There are many who quite mistake the object of their happiness, and place it in those things which are not only foreign from but opposite to it. Wealth, ambition, pleasure.
2. Some are right in their notions of happiness, but seek it the wrong way. Instead of seeking God's favour in the way of righteousness, through the mediation of Christ, by the assistance of His Spirit, they build their hopes of it either on a zeal for speculative opinions, party notions, formal services, modes of worship, voluntary mortifications, impulses of fancy, deep knowledge, rigid faith, or unscriptural austerities.
3. How many are they who have not only right notions of happiness but of the way to it, who yet fall short of it through neglect and indolence; and the fatal influence which the world and the things of it have upon their hearts! whereby they are rendered quite cold, lukewarm, and indifferent, in the things which concern their eternal salvation.
III. MANKIND ARE NATURALLY DISPOSED TO SEEK THEIR HAPPINESS FROM THIS WORLD, WHERE IT IS NOT TO BE FOUND.
1. The pleasures of this life are very scanty and confined. They are but cisterns of water — which can hold no very large quantity — not sufficient to answer all the occasions we may have for it, at least not for any considerable time.
2. They are also insipid and unsatisfying; like water in a cistern, stagnated and exposed to the sun; whereby it not only loses its quick taste and freshness, but contracts scum and dirt and foulness.
3. They are at the same time uncertain, and continually wasting away. The vessel that holds them is leaky.
4. They are not to be had without much pains. Even these broken cisterns we are obliged to hew out to ourselves, and be at great labour to procure.
IV. MEN ARE NATURALLY BACKWARD AND AVERSE TO SEEK THEIR HAPPINESS FROM GOD WHERE ALONE IT IS TO BE FOUND. The folly of this will appear by considering that the pleasures of piety have properties just the reverse of those belonging to worldly pleasures.
1. They are most full and capacious. Not contracted and limited, not diminished by successive draughts, as water in a cistern is — but free, and full, and ever flowing, as water at the fountain head.
2. They are the most exquisite and satisfying delights.
3. They are most durable and imperishable.
4. They are easy to be had. Freely offered.
(J. Mason, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For 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.