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shalt actually become the feed of the woman, a child born to us! I think, if thou wert actually incarnace and clothed with my nature, I would not keep at such a distance, but would « enter with boldness into the holiest, through the vail” of thy human nature. Whether that be in it or not, yet it is plain, that the words express a desire after more intimacy and nearness than she had yet enjoyed. Sirs, if you be espoused.. unto Christ, whatever nearnefs or access you have had, you will defire more, and be ready to cry with David, Psal. xlii. 1.“ As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Whenever any cloud overcasts your sky, you will be ready to say, “ ( that I knew where I might find him.” ...,
2. The soul espoused to. Christ will not be ashamed to own him before the world'; as you see in the close of ver. 1. “When I should find thee without, I would kiss thee, and should not be ashamed.” We are commanded to “ kiss the Son least he be angry,” Pfal. ii. 12. And they that are espoused to him, they kiss him with a kiss of affection and love, and with a kiss of subjection and reverence, and are not ashamed to do it before the profane carnal world, who perhaps may be ready to laugh at them for their religion ; no, they will confess him, and his cause and interest, whatever be the hazard, knowing that “ they who confess Christ before men,' he will not be behind-hand with them, but will confess them before his Father, and before his holy angels." Sirs, beware of suffering yourselves to be bantered or laughed out of your religion in this degenerate day : “ For he that is alhamed of me before men, of him will I be ashamed before my Father, and before his angels. Christ despised the shame and ignominy of the cross for us, and therefore let us despise the reproaches or the revilings of the world in owning him...
3. The soul that is really espoused to Christ, is heartily concerned for the good of his mother.church, and to have the Lord's gracious and sensible presence in his ordinances; that he may be a public good to others, as well as to itself. This disposition you see in the spouse here, ver. 2. in the beginning, “I will bring thee into niy mnother's house.” As if she had faid, I would make it my business to have the Lord brought back un to the affemblies and dwelling-places of Zion, that he might be the glory in the midst of her. Sirs, the Lord is ane gry with our mother at this day, he is threatening to break up house with her; there is little of God to be seen or felt in our judicatories, in our ordinances, in preaching, in hearing, in communicating ; an Ichabod may be read in every corner: little of the life and power of religion is to be seen among
magistrates, ministers, or people. Well, if you be espoused to Chrift, you will study to wrestle, and bring him back again to your mother's house, especially when you find him in a fenfible way present with your own soul ; according to the practice of the spouse, Cant. iii. 4. “I found him whom my soul loveth: 1 held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me."
4. The soul olpoused to Christ is one that is fond of the instructions of his word and Spirit; as you see in the spouf, in the middle of ver. 2. This is one of her great designs in bringing Christ unto her mother's house, that so the and others might have the mysteries of the kingdom, and secrets of the covenant, and the wonders of his law, more clear. ly opened and unfolded. Christ is “ the Sun of righteous, ness, the light of the world ; he is made of God unto us wil. dom," the great prophet of the church,“ the interpreter among a thousand.” And when he comes unto a land or place in the power of his Spirit accompanying his word, the oracles of heaven are then opened, and the mysteries of the kingdom are un. vailed, the people that fat in darkness are made to fee great light. And O this is the delight and desire of every soul truly efpou. sed to the Lord, .
5. The soul espoused to Christ is one that is desirous to give him the best entertainment that it is capable to afford; as the spouse in the close of ver. 2. “ I would cause thee to drink of my spiced wine, and of the juice of my pomegranates.” Christ entertains his spouse with “ fat things full of marrow, wines on the lees well refined;" and they that taste of this food, they 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 : ver. 3. “ His left hand shall be under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me.” To the fame purpose is what we have, ver. 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 beluzen its breasts, so it cannot rest till it be in the arras and bosom of him who is in the bosom of the Father; and Oh, when it comes there, the soul cries, “ This is my relt : here will I dwell, for I do like it well.”
7. When the soul wins to any nearness to the Lord, it is afraid of every thing that may stir up his displeasure, or VOL. II.
provoke him to withdraw; as you see it was with the spouse, ver. 4. “ I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye ftir 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 Icast appearance of evil. Oh 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 : Pfal. xxiv, 3. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? and who shall stand in his holy place ?" ver. 4. “ He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart," &c.
8. The foul 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, an 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 dependence on Christ, as you see in the spouse here ; as the travels through the wilderness, she leans on her beloved. Here " we walk by faith, not by light : The life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the son of God,” But of this more afterwards. Thus I have glanced at the character of the soul espoused to Christ, as it lies in the preceding con text.
11. The fecond thing was, to take a view of the place of the present residence of the spoufe of Christ ; it is a wilderness, a very un. heartlome 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 unto God's people, especially when, to their own sense and feeling, the Lord is withdrawn from them! The whole world looks toom and empty; all the riches, pkasures, relations, and comforts of time, cannot fill his room ; fo that they are in a manner wild, and know not what to do, or
· whither 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 hi. deth 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 Iteams and vapours are caft up by Satan, the god of this world, to bemist the traveller to glory, whereby he is in danger of losing his way and spiritual health at once? Never was there an age wherein such peftilential vapours of error, blasphemy, carnal policy, and profanity, did more abound, than in this day wherein we live ; the mouth of the bottomless pit is as it were opened, and blasphemy and errors cast up, to darken and obscure the Sun of righteoul. ness, &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 no. thing but swines 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, whereby 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 darknels of this world," and he “ goes about like a roaring lion, feeking 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 ftudy to wound him, and make him ge halting thither. And, Sirs, you who have been at a communion-tables 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 lift you as wheat. If you be only profeffors, 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, fometimes down in the valley; fometimes his sky will be clear, and sometimes cloudy; sometimes a storm, and sometimes a calm. Just fo is it in the case of the believer while hereaway: fome. times he is on the mount of communion ; at other times down in the valley of defertion : sometimes he is on mount Zion, where he enjoys a pleasant calm ; at another time he is brought to mount Sinai, where a form of the thunder of the law startles him : sometimes the “ 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, " Oh 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 tribulations 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, they “ 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 airth toward which she is bending while in the wilderness ; she is not going down, but com ming up from the wilderness. And this, I conceive, may imply these things following:
1. That believers, or those who have really taken Christ by the hand, they have turned their back on the ways of fin, which “ lead down to the chambers of death.” The way of the men of this world, it is a down-the-hill way, which is indeed easy and natural; but, like a rolling stone upon the precipice, they roll on till they land in the bottomless gulf of eternal misery. But now the soul efpoused to Christ has forsaken the down.