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children, but not father's children with her: members of the visible church, but were never born of God; they were angry with her and with them joined the corrupt clergy of that day, and they continually abused her; hence she complains, chap. v. 7: "The watchmen that went about the city, found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me." They were called watchmen, and had got themselves into that office for a piece of bread: but instead of watching against the enemy, they opened the gates to the enemy, and suffered foxes to come in and spoil the vines; and instead of comforting her, and pouring in oil into her wounds, they themselves smote and wounded her, by stripping her of the sacred rights and privileges allowed her by her great Husband. Instead of drawing a veil over the infirmities and weaknesses of real believers, they studied to expose them as a company of hypocrites, and loaded them with a great deal of invidious calumnies and reproaches, that so they might with the better colour of equity harass and persecute her. The application of all these things is easy. Even in our own day, what melancholy cries and complaints are going up to heaven, through several corners of the land, to the God of sabaoth, the great King of Zion, against some set of men, who meet together in a judicative capacity even in this city? and I do not know but some of them may be hearing me. I shall only say, that the injured little ones of Christ will have day about with those that carry it against them now; before the whole scene be over, there will be wound for wound; tribulation will be rendered unto them that trouble the spouse of Christ; and when the reckoning comes, "the great men, and the mighty men, the man with the gold ring," who are now adored, as if they were the only persons to be owned in the planting of churches, they, and those that join hand with them in conspiring to hurt the little ones of Christ, will be “ crying to the rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the face of the Lamb;" when the poor people of God, that were accounted as the "dross and off-scourings of the earth," will be sitting upon the bench with Christ, every one of them “ shining forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." I conclude this with a word of advice to Christ's oppressed people, and you have it, James v. 7, 8: "Be patient therefore, brethren unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long pa tience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
Use third of this doctrine shall be by way of Trial and
Examination. That which I would have you to try is, Whether are you in this world as in a wilderness, or are you in it as your home? and whether you are sitting down in the wilderness, or are you coming up from it? I am ready to think, that in these words there may be an allusion to Israel in their travelling from Egypt to Canaan: therefore with allusion to their journey toward the promised land, which was typical of the true church of God travelling through this wilderness to glory, I would, by way of trial, ask the few following questions:-
1. Has your Egyptian bondage been loosed in a day of power? Has God, as with a high hand, and stretched-out arm, brought you out from under the dominion of sin and Satan, these oppressing taskmasters? and has he made you to see these Egyptian enemies overthrown in the Red sea of the death and suffering of a glorious Redeemer, while you by the same means made your escape? This is God's way of dealing with all his own Israel; he first makes them to groan under the fears of sin and wrath, and then opens up a way for their escape by the death and blood of the Lamb. So then, has the Son of God made you free? If so, you are free indeed. But,
2. I ask, Has God ever brought you to the foot of Sinai, and discovered himself in such awful majesty, greatness, and in the holiness and severity of his law, as has persuaded you that there is no dealing with God without a mediator. The law was published at mount Sinai "because of transgression," and that it might be "a schoolmaster to lead them unto Christ." So then, I ask, if you have seen such a distance between God and you, such holiness and perfection in his law, as has made you flee to him who is "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth? If so, you are indeed coming up from the wilderness towards the promised land; but, if not, it is a sign you are yet in the Egypt of a natural state.
3. Have you ever seen the tabernacle that God reared, and the glory of God in it? You know, the tabernacle in the wilderness was the symbol of God's presence among Israel, in which the law was kept; and the glory of the God of Israel was therein discovered in the view of Israel: this was a type of Christ, the true tabernacle which God has reared. Now, I say, have you seen this tabernacle, a God in Christ reconciling the world to himself? Have you seen the glory of God shining in the face of Christ, and the law magnified and made honourable in him? And are your motions through the wilderness, and your way to the land of promise, directed by viewing this tabernacle; according to that of the apostle,
Heb. xii. 1: “Let us run our race, looking unto Jesus?" And are you made to go "singing in the way of the Lord" through the wilderness, because "great is the glory of the Lord ?"
4. I ask how are you fed in the wilderness? Israel in the wilderness were not fed with the fruit of the earth, but with manna rained from heaven: so God has a way of feeding his true Israel in the wilderness with the manna from heaven, v Christ, the bread of life, comes down in the dispensation of the word, and they gather it by faith, and feed on it. And oh but this manna has a pleasant taste with it to the spouse of Christ coming up from the wilderness? They can say, in some measure of sincerity, with Jeremiah, " Thy word was found by me, and I did eat it, and it was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart."
5. Are you frequently drinking of the water of the rock? You know, there was a rock smitten, out of which streams of water issued, which followed Israel till they came to Canaan: "This rock was Christ, who being smitten with the rod of his Father's anger, refreshing streams of grace and consolations of the Spirit have issued, which make glad the city of God. Now, what experience have you as to this? Is Christ to you like "rivers of waters in a dry place?" And are you made now and then to see the accomplishment of that promise, Is. xliv. 3: "I will pour water upon him thạt is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground?"
6. Have you seen the mystical brazen serpent? and have you got health conveyed to your souls by looking on it, when stung by the fiery serpent in the wilderness, or when wound. ed by the fiery darts of Satan? for, "as Moses lifted the serpent in the wilderness, so is the Son of man lifted up" on the pole of the everlasting gospel; "that whosoever believeth in him," or looks to him by faith, "may not perish, but have everlasting life."
7. What is it that keeps up your heart in your journey through the wilderness? If God had not made a promise of Canaan to Israel, and engaged his veracity to bear them company in their journey, they had not gone out of Egypt; and it was the faith of God's promise that spirited and enlivened them in their travels and battles. Just so is the case here; God has made a promise of life and rest on the other side of death through Christ, and that he will be their God and their guide; that his Son, the angel of his presence, shall be your leader and commander: now, if you be really coming up from the wilderness to the promised land of glory, it is the faith of God's promise that bears you up, and carries you through in your travels, and in your wilderness-work and
warfare. Hence the spouse, here, is said to come up leaning on her beloved, resting on the promise of a God in Christ for through-bearing, and for a comfortable landing at last.
8. What pillars of smoke are you sending up from the wilderness? The offerings of Israel in the wilderness went up to heaven like pillars of smoke towering upwards; so you will be frequently sending up the sacrifices of prayer, and of praise, and holy meditation; your affections, like the smoke of the sacrifice, will be soaring heavenwards.
9. You will be frequently casting your eyes on the promised land that lies beyond the wilderness, and longing with the church to be there: Cant. ii. 17: "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away: turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young heart upon the mountains of spices."
Use fourth shall be of Exhortation, to follow the example of the church of God here, in coming up from the wilderness towards the promised land of glory above; or, as the apostle words it, Col. iii. 1, 2: "If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." By way of motive, I offer these considerations:
1. Consider what the wilderness of this world is, from which you are called to come up. Besides what was said of it in the doctrinal part, I shall add these things following, to wean your hearts and affections from it.
1st, This world is but the reprobate dog's portion: Psal. xvii. 14: "The men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly," &c. It was a common saying of Luther's, that the whole Turkish empire was but a crumb cast unto a dog.' Now, why should we cast in our lot among the dogs, who profess to be of the church of God, and the spouse of Christ?
2dly, This world is groaning under the curse of God: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake," said the Lord to our first parents, immediately after they had sinned. And under the weight of this curse "the whole creation groaneth, and travaileth with pain even until now." Oh who would be content to sit down where the curse of God dwells?
3dly, Consider, that the wilderness of this world has been a shambles, defiled with blood, with the blood of Christ, and with the blood of an innumerable company of martyrs, from which it has never been purged as yet; it may be called "Golgotha, the place of a scull; and Aceldama, a field of blood." This earth has been stained, and this land, and this city Edinburgh, in particular, have been stained with the blood of Christ mystical; and it is to be feared that the guilt
of that blood is crying to heaven, like the blood of Abel, against the land, and against the place. Now, I say, is not this sufficient to wean your hearts from the wilderness of this world, that is a field of blood, and a place of butchering and slaughter of Christ personal and mystical? The men of the world, who take up with it as their home, are just like the possessed man we read of in the gospel, lodging among tombs and sepulchres.
4thly, Consider that the wilderness of this world is just the gallery where the devil, the god of this world, that Apollyon, walks up and down, “seeking whom he may devour." Job i.—says God, "Whence comest thou Satan? I come," says Satan, "from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." Some think that the devil uttered these words with an air of haughtiness and pride, as if he made his vaunt before God, that he was the prince of this world, and that the kingdoms of it and their glory were his; so that the meaning of the devil's answer is, as if he had said, Why, says he, where should I be, but travelling in circuit through my own territories? Now, why should we not come up from the devil's quarters and territories? Who loves to be at home in the devil's quarters, in the very den of that lion and leopard, but only they that are his devoted slaves and vassals?
5thly, Come up from the wilderness; for it is but a mere empty shadow, and all the glory of it is but a piece of moonshine. Why should we set our hearts upon "that which is not," and which perisheth in the very using? You have seen bells of water blown up by children, sparkling with a variety of beauteous colours, but which just perish in a moment. And what is the whole visible creation that we now see, but just a great bell blown up by the breath of the Almighty? By the word of the Lord were the heavens made: and all It makes a the host of them by the breath of his mouth." gay and glorious appearance; but, alas! it is all imaginary, a mere shadow, a vapour, which appears for a little, and then vanishes. Now, who would be content with such an imaginary thing as this?
Gthly, Come up from the wilderness of this world; for it is condemned to be burnt. It was a piece of madness in Lot to linger in Sodom, when he was told it was to be consumed with fire and brimstone. The same madness possesses those that will not come up from the wilderness into a place of safety, when God has told them in his infallible word, that "the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the