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marrow, wines on the lees well refined;" and they that taste of this food, are so ravished with it, that they know not what requital to make him; but they would give him the best entertainment that they can imagine, if they had it.
6. The soul espoused to Christ is one that would just lie and lodge in the arms of a Redeemer: verse 3: “His left hand shall be under my head, and his right hand shall cmbrace me." To the same purpose is what we have, verse 6: “ Set me as a seal upon thine arm.
As if she had said, Let my life, my soul, be " hid with Christ in God;" let me be encircled in his everlasting arms, and the eternal God my refuge. As it is the desire of a gracious soul to have Christ lying as a bundle of myrrh between its breasts, so it cannot rest till it be in the arms and bosom of him who is in the bosom of the Father: and oh, when it comes there, the soulcries, “ This is my rest : here will I dwell, for I have desired it."
7. When the soul wins to any nearness to the Lord, it is afraid of every thing that may stir up his displeasure, or provoke him to withdraw; as you see it was with the spouse, verse 4: “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love until he please.” The poor soul that is admitted to nearness to the Lord, is afraid of the least squint look to the world, self, or any of Christ's rivals; afraid of the workings of a remaining body of sin and death, pride, vanity, or any thing else that may provoke him to cover himself with a cloud in his anger. The man knows, to his sad experience, that his iniquities separate between him and his God; and therefore he watches against the least appearance of evil. O there are but few tender Christians in our day: and hence it comes that there is so little of sensible communion with the Lord: for communion with God can only be maintained in a way of holiness, and habitual tenderness of walk: Psal. xxiv. 3: 66 Who shall as-cend into the hill of the Lord ? and who shall stand in his holy place ?" verse 4: “ He that hath clean hands and a pure heart,"' &c.
8. The soul espoused to Christ is one who is bending his course heavenwards, and has his back turned upon this world as a howling wilderness. They "desire a better country,
“ that is, a heavenly;" they are looking for a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God;" and there. fore they look upon this world, and the things of it, with a holy contempt and disdain ; as you' see in the spouse here, she is coming up from the wilderness toward the promised land of glory. 9. He is one. whose life in this world is a life of faith and!
Cait ende ar nuta now!
dependence on Christ, as you see in the spouse here; as she travels through the wilderness, she leans on her beloved. Here “ we walk by faith, not by sight: The life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” But of this more afterwards. Thus 1 have glanced at the charac. ter of the soul espoused to Christ, as it lies in the preceding context.
II. The second thing was, to take a view of the place of the present residence of the spouse of Christ; it is a wilderness, a very unheartsome lodging. For,
1. You know a wilderness is a solitary place: Psal. cvii. 4; it is said there of exiles, or travellers, that “they wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way." Oh what a weary solitary place is this world to God's people, especially when, to their own sense and feeling, the Lord is withdrawn from them! The whole world looks void and empty; all the riches, pleasures, relations, and comforts of time, cannot fill his room; so that they are in a manner wild, and know not what to do, or whither to turn them, when Christ is away,
Hence is that of Job, chap. xxiii. 8, 9: “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him : on the left hand where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him. O that I knew where I might find him !"
2. A wilderness is a misty and foggy place, where noisome steams and vapours, arising out of the earth, darken the sky; which are both prejudicial to health, and ready to lead the traveller out of his way. Such a part is this world to the Lord's people. What hellish steams and vapours are cast up by Satan, the god of this world, to bemist the traveller to glory, by which he is in danger of losing his way and spiritual health at once? Never was there an age in which such pestilential vapours of error, blasphemy, carnal policy, and profanity, more abounded, than in this day in which we live; the mouth of the bottomless pit is as it were opened, and blasphemy and error's cast up, to darken and obscure the Son of righteousness, &c.
3. A wilderness is a barren place; it affords little or nothing for the support of human life: hence it is said of the travellers in a wilderness, Psal cvii. 5, they were “ hungry and thirsty, and their soul fainted in them.” . Such a place is this world to God's people; it is a barren land, which yields nothing but swine's husks, vanity and vexation of spirit, which the men of this world make their food, and their all : hence David complains that he was in a “dry and thirsty land, where there was no water." It is true, indeed, the
travellers to glory have their wilderness-meals, to keep in their life in their journey: but no thanks to the world for that, for the food they live upon does not come out of the earth, the wilderness of this world cannot afford it: no, but like the manna that fed Israel in the wilderness, it comes from above.
4. A wilderness is a place of danger; thieves and robbers, and beasts of prey, frequent the wilderness, by which travellers are in danger of being spoiled of their life and substance. Such a place is this world to God's people; it is called a " den of lions," and a “mountain of leopards,” Cant, iv. 8. Here it is that the great Abaddon and Apollyon, the destroyer of mankind, with all his hellish legions, form their camp, watching all opportunities to devour and swallow up the traveller to glory. Hence the devil is called “the ruler of the darkness of this world,” and he “ goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour:" and though hell and its armies shall never so far prevail, as to keep the believer out of heaven, yet they will study to wound him, and make him go halting thither. And, sirs, you who have been at a communion-table, had need to take heed to yourselves when you go out into the wide wilderness; for I assure you, Satan will be seeking to winnow and sist you as wheat. If you be only professors, and no more, he will study to trip up your heels, and make you a scandal to religion; or if you be real believers, and have met with the Lord, the pirate will be upon you to spoil you of your lading : and therefore " be sober, be vigilant;" for you are yet within the devil's territories,
5. A wilderness is an unsettled place; many heights and hollows, turnings and windings, in a wilderness: sometimes a traveller in a wilderness will be on the top of mountains, sometimes down in the valley; sometimes his sky will be clear, and sometimes cloudy; sometimes a storm, and some
, times a calm. Just so is it in the case of the believer while here: sometimes he is on the mount of communion; at other times down in the valley of desertion: sometimes he is on mount Zion, where he enjoys a pleasant calm; at another time he is brought to mount Sinai, where a storm of the thunder of the law startles him: sometimes the 6 candle of the Lord shines on his head, and through the light of the Lord he walketh through darkness;" at other times he “ walks in darkness, and can see no light;" so that he is made to cry, “O that it were with me as in months past!" &c.
6. Many pricking briers grow in the wilderness, many rough ways, which are uneasy to travellers. Just so here, the believer passing through the world has the rough and thorny paths of affliction to travel: “Through many tribų:
lations we must enter into the kingdom of heaven:" John xvi. 33: “ In the world ye shall have tribulation.” The cloud of witnesses who are now surrounding the throne,
came out of much tribulation.” See what troubles they endured, Heb. xi. 36–38. Thus, you see in what respect this world, the present abode of the believer, is called a wilderness.
III. The third thing in the method was, to speak a little of the course that the spouse is taking, or the quarter toward which she is bending while in the wilderness; she is not going down, but coming up from the wilderness. And this, I conceive, may imply these things following:
i. That believers, or those who have really taken Christ by the hand, have turned their back on the ways of sin, which “ lead down to the chambers of death.” The way
of the men of this world, is a down-hill way, which is indeed easy and natural; but, like'a' rolling-stone upon the preci-pice, they roll on till they land in the bottomless gulf of eternal misery. But now the soul espoused to Christ has forsaken the down-hill way of this world, and steers a quite opposite course; they will not be conformed to the world, or the course of the world, even though the world should ac-count them for signs and wonders, because they will not run with them unto the same excess of riot.
2. This coming up from the wilderness implies, that belie-vers are pilgrims on the earth, and that this world is not their home. This is what David, a great king, frankly owned in the midst of his worldly wealth and grandeur, Psal. cxix. 19:. “I am a stranger in the earth, hide not thy commandments from me." And this was the confession of that cloud of worthies, Heb. xi. 13: of whom the world was not worthy; they “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth:""
3. It' implies a dissatisfaction with, and'ai disesteem of, this world, and all things in it; and therefore she has her back turned upon it, and her face toward a better quarter. Like the poor prodigal, he can find nothing in the far country but husks, that are only fit for swine; or, like Solomon, they see all here, to be but“ vanity of vanities, all vanity and vexation of spirit;" and therefore they look not at the things that are seen, which are temporal and fading. Like the woman clothed with the sun, she tramples upon the moon; or, with Paul, accounts them no better than dung and loss. O'sirs, whatever bulk this world; and'the glaring beauty of it, may have in your eyes now, yet it will appear but a very little thing, yea, worse than nothing, when you are but one moment
up from it.
on the other side of death. And therefore, O set not your hearts or eyes on that which is not; put up David's
prayer, “ Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity."
4. This coming up from the wilderness implies, that thoùgh she could find no rest or quiet here, yet she expected a quiet rest on the other side, or beyond the wilderness. If she had no view of a better country, she would pitch her tent, and, with Peter, build tabernacles in the wilderness, and not come
“ There remaineth a rest to the people of God," Heb. iy. 9. “ Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord : they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” Up thy heart, believer, the day of thy complete redemption from sin and sorrow draweth nigh, thy sighs ere long will end in songs, thy labour in eternal rest, thy warfare in victory for evermore,
5. This coming up from the wilderness implies motion, and progress in her motion heavenwards. The ransomed of the Lord are looking with their faces toward Zion, and they “go from strength to strength, till they appear before God in Zion. The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger, The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Whatever length we are come in religion, we must not sit down, “as if we had attained, either were already perfect;" no, but we must " forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before."
6. This phrase of coming up from the wilderness implies, that religion is an up-hill work and way; for the spouse's way here is represented under the notion of an ascent. There are a great many hills and mountains, believer, that lie across thy way to glory: I only tell you of a few of them:
a 1st, There is a hill of remaining ignorance that the believer has to climb, in coming up from the wilderness; for “ we know but in part, and now we see darkly, as through a glass.” He has got some twilight blinks of the glory of the Lord, and of the mysteries of the kingdom; but O they are so faint and languid, that he is ready to think he knows nothing at all. Hence is that complaint of holy Agur, wbile wrestling up this hill, Prov. xxx, 2, 3; “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy."
2dly, There is the hill of prevailing unbelief, which stands upon the top of the former; ignorance being the very root and foundation of unbelief. The poor believer is many a time put to a stand while climbing up this hill, as you see in that holy man, Psal, lxxvii. What but the prevalence of un