Here, I. We are all invited to come and take the benefit of that provision which the grace of God has made for poor souls in the new covenant, of that which is the heritage of the servants of the Lord (Isa. 54:17), and not only their heritage hereafter, but their cup now, Isa. 55:1. Observe,
1. Who are invited: Ho, every one. Not the Jews only, to whom first the word of salvation was sent, but the Gentiles, the poor and the maimed, the halt and the blind, are called to this marriage supper, whoever can be picked up out of the highways and the hedges. It intimates that in Christ there is enough for all and enough for each, that ministers are to make a general offer of life and salvation to all, that in gospel times the invitation should be more largely made than it had been and should be sent to the Gentiles, and that the gospel covenant excludes none that do not exclude themselves. The invitation is published with an Oyez-Ho, take notice of it. He that has ears to hear let him hear.
2. What is the qualification required in those that shall be welcome—they must thirst. All shall be welcome to gospel grace upon those terms only that gospel grace be welcome to them. Those that are satisfied with the world and its enjoyments for a portion, and seek not for a happiness in the favour of God,—those that depend upon the merit of their own works for a righteousness, and see no need they have of Christ and his righteousness,—these do not thirst; they have no sense of their need, are in no pain or uneasiness about their souls, and therefore will not condescend so far as to be beholden to Christ. But those that thirst are invited to the waters, as those that labour, and are heavy-laden, are invited to Christ for rest. Note, Where God gives grace he first gives a thirsting after it; and, where he has given a thirsting after it, he will give it, Ps. 81:10.
3. Whither they are invited: Come you to the waters. Come to the water-side, to the ports, and quays, and wharfs, on the navigable rivers, into which goods are imported; thither come and buy, for that is the market-place of foreign commodities; and to us they would have been for ever foreign if Christ had not brought in an everlasting righteousness. Come to Christ; for he is the fountain opened; he is the rock smitten. Come to holy ordinances, to those streams that make glad the city of our God; come to them, and though they may seem to you plain and common things, like waters, yet to those who believe in Christ the things signified will be as wine and mile, abundantly refreshing. Come to the healing waters; come to the living waters. Whoever will, let him come, and partake of the waters of life, Rev. 22:17. Our Saviour referred to it, John 7:37. If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.
4. What they are invited to do. (1.) Come, and buy. Never did any tradesman court customers that he hoped to get by as Christ courts us to that which we only are to be gainers by. “Come and buy, and we can assure you you shall have a good bargain, which you will never repent of nor lose by. Come and buy; make it your own by an application of the grace of the gospel to yourselves; make it your own upon Christ’s terms, nay, your own upon any terms, nor deliberating whether you shall agree to them.” (2.) “Come, and eat; make it still more your own, as that which we eat is more our own than that which we only buy.” We must buy the truth, not that we may lay it by to be looked at, but that we may feed and feast upon it, and that the spiritual life may be nourished and strengthened by it. We must buy necessary provisions for our souls, be willing to part with any thing, though ever so dear to us, so that we may but have Christ and his graces and comforts. We must part with sin, because it is an opposition to Christ, part with all opinion of our own righteousness, as standing in competition with Christ, and part with life itself, and its most necessary supports, rather than quit our interest in Christ. And, when we have bought what we need, let us not deny ourselves the comfortable use of it, but enjoy it, and eat the labour of our hands: Buy, and eat.
5. What is the provision they are invited to: “Come, and buy wine and milk, which will not only quench the thirst” (fair water would do that), “but nourish the body, and revive the spirits.” The world comes short of our expectations. We promise ourselves, at least, water in it, but we are disappointed of that, as the troops of Tema, Job 6:19. But Christ outdoes our expectations. We come to the waters, and would be glad of them, but we find there wine and milk, which were the staple commodities of the tribe of Judah, and which the Shiloh of that tribe is furnished with to entertain the gathering of the people to him, Gen. 49:10, 12. His eyes shall be red with wine and his teeth white with milk. We must come to Christ, to have milk for babes, to nourish and cherish those that are but lately born again; and with him strong men shall find that which will be a cordial to them: they shall have wine to make glad their hearts. We must part with our puddle-water, nay, with our poison, that we may procure this wine and milk.
6. The free communication of this provision: Buy it without money, and without price. A strange way of buying, not only without ready money (that is common enough), but without any money, or the promise of any; yet it seems not so strange to those who have observed Christ’s counsel to Laodicea, that was wretchedly poor, to come and buy, Rev. 3:17, 18. Our buying without money intimates, (1.) That the gifts offered us are invaluable and such as no price can be set upon. Wisdom is that which cannot be gotten for gold. (2.) That he who offers them has no need of us, nor of any returns we can make him. He makes us these proposals, not because he has occasion to sell, but because he has a disposition to give. (3.) That the things offered are already bought and paid for. Christ purchased them at the full value, with price, not with money, but with his own blood, 1 Pet. 1:19. (4.) That we shall be welcome to the benefits of the promise, though we are utterly unworthy of them, and cannot make a tender of any thing that looks like a valuable consideration. We ourselves are not of any value, nor is any thing we have or can do, and we must own it, that, if Christ and heaven be ours, we may see ourselves for ever indebted to free grace.
II. We are earnestly pressed and persuaded (and O that we would be prevailed with!) to accept this invitation, and make this good bargain for ourselves.
1. That which we are persuaded to is to hearken to God and to his proposals: “Hearken diligently unto me, Isa. 55:2. Not only give me the hearing, but approve of what I say, and apply it to yourselves (Isa. 55:3): Incline your ear, as you do to that which you find yourselves concerned in and pleased with; bow the ear, and let the proud heart stoop to the humbling methods of the gospel; bend the ear this way, that you may hear with attention and remark; hear, and come unto me; not only come and treat with me, but comply with me, come up to my terms;” accept God’s offers as very advantageous; answer his demands as very fit and reasonable.
2. The arguments used to persuade us to this are taken,
(1.) From the unspeakable wrong we do to ourselves if we neglect and refuse this invitation: “Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread, which will not yield you, no, not beggar’s food, dry bread, when with me you may have wine and milk without money? Wherefore do you spend your labour and toil for that which will not be so much as dry bread to you, for it satisfies not?” See here, [1.] The vanity of the things of this world. They are not bread, not proper food for a soul; they afford no suitable nourishment or refreshment. Bread is the staff of the natural life, but it affords no support at all to the spiritual life. All the wealth and pleasure in the world will not make one meal’s meat for a soul. Eternal truth and eternal good are the only food for a rational and immortal soul, the life of which consists in reconciliation and conformity to God, and in union and communion with him, which the things of the world will not at all befriend. They satisfy not; they yield not any solid comfort and content to the soul, nor enable it to say, “Now I have what I would have.” Nay, they do not satisfy even the appetites of the body. The more men have the more they would have, Eccl. 1:8. Haman was unsatisfied in the midst of his abundance. They flatter, but they do not fill; they please for a while, like the dream of a hungry man, who awakes and his soul is empty. They soon surfeit, but they never satisfy; they cloy a man, but do not content him, or make him truly easy. It is all vanity and vexation. [2.] The folly of the children of this world. They spend their money and labour for these uncertain unsatisfying things. Rich people live by their money, poor people by their labour; but both mistake their truest interest, while the one is trading, the other toiling, for the world, both promising themselves satisfaction and happiness in it, but both miserably disappointed. God vouchsafes compassionately to reason with them: “Wherefore do you thus act against your own interest? Why do you suffer yourselves to be thus imposed upon?” Let us reason with ourselves, and let the result of these reasonings be a holy resolution not to labour for the meat that perishes, but for that which endures to everlasting life, John 6:27. Let all the disappointments we meet with in the world help to drive us to Christ, and lead us to seek for satisfaction in him only. This is the way to make sure which will be made sure.
(2.) From the unspeakable kindness we do to ourselves if we accept this invitation and comply with it. [1.] hereby we secure to ourselves present pleasure and satisfaction: “If you hearken to Christ, you eat that which is good, which is both wholesome and pleasant, good in itself and good for you.” God’s good word and promise, a good conscience, and the comforts of God’s good Spirit, are a continual feast to those that hearken diligently and obediently to Christ. Their souls shall delight themselves in fatness, that is, in the riches and most grateful delights. Here the invitation is not, “Come, and buy,” lest that should discourage, but, “Come, and eat; come and entertain yourselves with that which will be abundantly pleasing; eat, O friends!” It is sad to think that men should need to be courted thus to their own bliss. [2.] Hereby we secure to ourselves lasting happiness: “Hear, and your soul shall live; you shall not only be saved from perishing eternally, but you shall be eternally blessed:” for less than that cannot be the life of an immortal soul. The words of Christ are spirit and life, life to spirits (John 6:33, 63), the words of this life, Acts 5:20. On what easy terms is happiness offered to us! It is but “Hear, and you shall live.” [3.] The great God graciously secures all this to us: “Come to me, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, will put myself into covenant-relations and under covenant-engagements to you, and thereby settle upon you the sure mercies of David.” Note, First, If we come to God to serve him, he will covenant with us to do us good and make us happy; such are his condescension to us and concern for us. Secondly, God’s covenant with us is an everlasting covenant—its contrivance from everlasting, its continuance to everlasting. Thirdly, The benefits of this covenant are mercies suited to our case, who, being miserable, are the proper objects of mercy. They come from God’s mercy, and are ordered every way in kindness to us. Fourthly, They are the mercies of David, such mercies as God promised to David (Ps. 89:28, 29), which are called the mercies of David his servant, and are appealed to by Solomon, 2 Chron. 6:42. It shall be a covenant as sure as that with David, Jer. 33:25, 26. The covenant of royalty was a figure of the covenant of grace, 2 Sam. 23:5. Or, rather, by David here we are to understand the Messiah. Covenant-mercies are all his mercies; they are purchased by him; they are promised in him; they are treasured up in his hand, and out of his hand they are dispensed to us. He is the Mediator and trustee of the covenant; to him this is applied, Acts 13:34. They are the ta hosia (the word used there, and by the Septuagint here)--the holy things of David, for they are confirmed by the holiness of God (Ps. 89:35) and are intended to advance holiness among men. Fifthly, They are sure mercies. The covenant, being well-ordered in all things, is sure. It is sure in the general proposal of it; God is real and sincere, serious and in earnest, in the offer of these mercies. It is sure in the particular application of it to believers; God’s gifts and callings are without repentance. They are the mercies of David, and therefore sure, for in Christ the promises are all yea and amen.
III. Jesus Christ is promised for the making good of all the other promises which we are here invited to accept of, Isa. 55:4. He is that David whose sure mercies all the blessings and benefits of the covenant are. “And God has given him in his purpose and promise, has constituted and appointed him, and in the fulness of time will as surely send him as if he had already come, to be all that to us which is necessary to our having the benefit of these preparations.” He has given him freely; for what more free than a gift? There was nothing in us to merit such a favour, but Christ is the gift of God. We want one, 1. To attest the truth of the promises which we are invited to take the benefit of; and Christ is given for a witness that God is willing to receive us into his favour upon gospel terms, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers, that we may venture our souls upon those promises with entire satisfaction. Christ is a faithful witness, we may take his word—a competent witness, for he lay in the bosom of the Father from eternity, and was perfectly apprised of the whole matter. Christ, as a prophet, testifies the will of God to the world; and to believe is to receive his testimony. 2. To assist us in closing with the invitation, and coming up to the terms of it. We know not how to find the way to the waters where we are to be supplied, but Christ is given to be a leader. We know not what to do that we may be qualified or it, and become sharers in it, but he is given for a commander, to show us what to do and enable us to do it. Much difficulty and opposition lie in our way to Christ; we have spiritual enemies to grapple with, but, to animate us for the conflict, we have a good captain, like Joshua, a leader and commander to tread our enemies under our feet and to put us in possession of the land of promise. Christ is a commander by his precept and a leader by his example; our business is to obey him and follow him.
IV. The Master of the feast being fixed, it is next to be furnished with guests, for the provision shall not be lost, nor made in vain, Isa. 55:5. 1. The Gentiles shall be called to this feast, shall be invited out of the highways and the hedges: “Thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, that is, that was not formerly called and owned as thy nation, that thou didst not send prophets to as to Israel, the people whom God knew above all the families of the earth.” The Gentiles shall now be favoured as they never were before; their knowing God is said to be rather their being known of God, Gal. 4:9. 2. They shall come at the call: Nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee; those that had long been afar off from Christ shall be made nigh; those that had been running from him shall run to him, with the greatest speed and alacrity imaginable. There shall be a concourse of believing Gentiles to Christ, who, being lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to him. Now see the reason, (1.) Why the Gentiles will thus flock to Christ; it is because of the Lord his God, because he is the Son of God, and is declared to be so with power, because they now see his God is one with whom they have to do, and there is no coming to him as their God but by making an interest in his Son. Those that are brought to be acquainted with God, and understand how the concern lies between them and him, cannot but run to Jesus Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, and there is no coming to God but by him. (2.) Why God will bring them to him; it is because he is the Holy One of Israel, true to his promises, and he has promised to glorify him by giving him the heathen for his inheritance. When Greeks began to enquire after Christ he said, The hour has come that the Son of man should be glorified, John 12:22, 23. And his being glorified in his resurrection and ascension was the great argument by which multitudes were wrought upon to run to him.