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hill way of this world, and steers a quite oppofite course ; they will not be conformed unto the world, or the course of the world, even though the world should account them for figns and wonders, because they will not run with them unto the same excess of riot.
2. This coming up from the wilderness implies, that believers 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 a difefteem of, this world, and all things in it; and therefore fue has her back turned upon it, and her face toward a better airth. Like the poor prodie gal, he can find nothing in the far country but husks, that are only fit for swine ; or, like. Solomon, they see all hereaway, 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, the 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 on the other lide 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 though fhe could find no rest nor quiet hereaway, yet the expected a quiet rest on the other side, or beyond the wilderness. If the had no view of a better country, she would pitch her tent, and, with Peter, build tabernacles in the wilderness, and not come up from it. " There remaineth a rest to the people of God," Heb. iv. 0. ^ 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 fin and sorrow draweth nigh, thy fighs 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 ranfomed of the Lord, they 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 be stronger and stronger. The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Whatever lengih we are come in religion, we must not fit 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 im. plies, that religion is an up-the-hill work and way; for the spouse's way here is represented under the notion of än ascent. There are a great many hills and mountains, believer, that lie cross thy way to glory: I only tell you of a few of them.
+ 1A, 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 they are so faint and languid, that he is ready to think he knows nothing at all. Hence is that complaint of holy Agur, while 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 prevalency of unbelief made him to cry, “ Is his mercy clean gone for ever? hath he forgotten to be gracious ? hath he in anger thut up his tender mercies ?” David gets such a backset with this hill of u'nbelief, that he sometime a-day cried out, “ All men are liars," the prophets of God not being excepted. Oh how much need of that caution, Heb. ii. 12."" Take heed, brethren, left there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God !
3dly, A mountain of guilt casts up to the believer in his travelling through the wilderness, which sometimes seems to tumble upon him, and crush him under the weight of it. Hende David cries, “ Mine iniquities are gone over mine head, as a burden too heavy for me to bear:" and at another tiine, Psal. xl. 12. “ Innumerable evils compass .me about, mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up,” &c.
4thly, A hill and mountain of divine hidings and with. drawings cafts up in the wilderness : and this joins with the former; for it is a our iniquities that separate between us and our God, that he hides his face from us." And Oh, when the believer is wrestling with this hill, he "walks in darkness, and fees no light ;" which makes it exceeding melancholy: hence Job, «I go mourning without the fun;" and the church, Il. xlix. 14. “ Zion faid, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.”
Sthly, And while the believer is involved among the dark clouds of defertion, mountains of wrath fometimes cast up in his view ; as you see in the case of Job, chap. vi. 4. “ The arrows of the Almighty are within me,” &c.; and Heman, Psal. lxxxviii. “ While I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted: Thy terrors have cut me off,” &c. Sometimes a hill of strange and cloudy dispensations cast up in the wilderness, that he knows not what to make of them: God's way to him is many times " in the sea, and his paths in the mighty waters.” How was Jacob overset with dark dispensations, when he is made to cry, “ Jofeph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away also: me have ye bereaved of my children : all these things are against me.” David, the man according to God's heart, when he took a view of that dark dispensation of the prosperity of the wicked, and adversity of the truly godly, he is so overset with it, that he is at the point of giving up with religion altogether as a vain thing, Pfal. Ixxiii. 13. “ Veri. ly I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency." ;
6thly, Sometimes a hill of disappointments faints the believer's heart. Perhaps he was expecting a meeting with God in his ordinances, some supply, some communication of the Spirit, some influence and watering ; but alas ! he finds ordinances to be dry breasts, or like the brooks of Tema where no water is : and thereupon the poor and needy soul is ready to faint, and their tongue to fail for thirst. Such a melancholy disappointment the spouse meets with, Song iii. at the begin. ning, "by night on my bed I fought him whom my foul loveth: I fought him, but I found him not,” &c. I might tell you of 'the dark hills of temptation from hell, and oppression from the world, and the workings of remaining corruption ; but I do not ingit. Only, from what has been said, you may see, that religion is an up-the hill way: they who expect to win heaven - in a way of fin and floth, they will land in hell; for, “ If the
righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the anner appear? The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence,” &c.
So much for the third thing, what is implied in coming up from the wilderness. .
IV. The fourth thing avas, to speak to the spouse's posture ; fie comes up leaning on her beloved. But I shall wave this at prefent, and only make some practical improvement of what has been said in a doctrinal way.
Use first of this branch of the doctrine may be of Isformation, in the few following particulars. Is, it the duty and practice of believers to come up from the wilderness of this world, and to aspire after better and greater things than are hereaway ? then,
1. See hence the paucity of true believers who are espoused unto Christ. Why, the greatest number, instead of coming up from the wilderness, are going down the wilderness : " Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to de. struction, and many there be which go in thereat." Oh what shoals of people are there in the world, “whose god is their belly, and who mind earthly things ?” But how few are they who have their « affections set upon things above," and who are really pointing heavenwards ? " Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The world perhaps may laugh at them who keep the narrow way of religion, but behold the end of the day, “ The triumphing of the wicked is short, for they shall lie down in sorrow :" but as for the righteous and the upright, mark him, “ for the end of that man is peace ; his. “weeping endures but for a night, joy shall come in the morning.”
2. See hence why believers are called men of another spirie than the rest of the world: it is said of Caleb and Joshua, that they were of another spirit ; and the apostle, speaking of himą self, and other believers, says, “We have not received the fpi. rit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”. Why, here is the ground of it, other men are of a mean fordid spirit, and are content with the wilderness, and fill their belly with the husks that they find in the wilderness; but it is otherwise with the true believer, he comes up from the wilderness, he feeks and affects « those things which are above, where Christ Gitteth on the right hand of God.” The world generally have a mistaken notion of true greatness of spirit ; they fondly imagine, that it lies in pushing their resentment against those that injure them, or in pushing their fortune, as they call it, in scrambling up the pinnacles of worldly honour,
wisdoma wisdom, riches, or preferment; whereas true greatness of spitit lies in a contempt of all these things, in comparison of things that lie beyond the wilderness; it lies in “ looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” O Sirs, we link our souls below their original make and excellency, when we lie down, with the serpent, to lick up the dust and vanity of this world : true greatness of spirit is, with the spouse of Christ, to soar above the world, to mount up with wings like eagles, to things calculate for the soul and its heavenly nature.
3. See hence the excellency of the Chriftian religion, which makes a discovery of things that lie beyond the wilderness of this world, and calls a man to come up from the wilderness in order to his being pofsefled of them. “Life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel.” The Heathen philosos phers had indeed some foolish guesses about another world, a Life to come; but how ftrangely were they in the dark about it! One of the best of them, when he was dying, told his friends, that he was persuaded of a future state ; but whea
ther he was going to a state of happiness or misery, he did ' not know. But now the Christian religion brings life and immortality (I say) to light, and opens a way and paffage to a happy eternity: it is like mount Pisgah, from which one may stand and discover the goodly land that lies on the other side of Jordan. David, Psal. xvi. when he wins up to the top of it, and gets a view of the glories of heaven and eternity, he cries out like a man in a transport, “My heart is glad, and my glory ream joiceth;" Why? « Thou wilt thew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleafures for evermore.”
4. See hence a good reason why the faints express such longings to be away out of the body, “ I desire to be diffolved," says Paul; “ In this we groan earnestly, defiring to be cloathed upon with our house which is from heaven;" why, it is no wonder; for this world is but a wilderness unto thema : and how natural is it for a traveller in a wilderness to wish and long to be at home in his own country, and among his own kindred, where their inheritance lies, even “ an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away?”
S. See a good reason why the saints should poffess their souls in patience under all the trials of a present life. Who is it, that, travelling through a wilderness, does not lay his account with inconveniences and difficulties ? But besides, believer, thou art coming up from the wilderness, and ere long thou wilt come out of it, and beyond it altogether. "In the world VOL. II.