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laid to his hand, “ without money, and without price." All fulness is in the way, and“ out of this fulness we all do receive, and grace for grace.”
sthy, It is a cleanly and a holy way: If xxxv. 8. “ An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it.” The way of believing in Chrift, as it is the first and fundamental act of obedience to the law of God, so it is a spring of holiness and obedience to all the other commands of God; hence all true obedience is called the obedience of faith. The man that is heartily engaged in the way of believing, he has his “ heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, and his body washed with pure water;" and his daily work is to cleanse himself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord."
6thly, It is a safe way, in which you come up from the wil. derness; for “the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein. Though he may fall, yet he shall arife ; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” The Lord is the man's strength; and therefore " he shall hold on his way, and wax Itronger and stronger," till he come to Zion.
7thly, It is a pleasant way: Prov. iii. 17. “ Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantnefs, and all her paths are peace.” And how can it be but pleasant ? for here is every thing necdful to the traveller. Here is meat for the hungry traveller: “I am the bread of life.” Here is drink for the thirsty, even “ the water of life, issuing from the throne of God and of the Lamb." Here is clothing, yea, "" white raiment," and the “ garment of salvation,” for the naked soul. Here is light to the soul in darkness : “ The Lord shall be thy everlasting light, and thy God thy glory." Here is a shadowy rest to the traveller when he is weary : “ I sat down under his thadow with great delight. The Lord is thy shade upon, thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day; nor the moon by night.” Here in this way you have a good guide to lead you, one who.“ leads the blind, in the way they know not,” and who at every turn is crying, “ This is the way, walk ye in it." And that which contributes much to render it pleafant is, that the way is well beaten, it is a trodden path, and you have a whole cloud, an innumerable company of travellers, both going before you, and coming after you, and going along with you : Heb. xii. 1. " Wherefore, seeing we are compaffed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race," &c.
Sthly, The way that comes up from the wilderness to the land of glory is a peaceable and a quiet way. There is
nothing but noise and din, and perpetual disturbance in the ways of fin, and the way of the men of this world. But Oh there is perfect peace in this way that leads to Zion : lf. xxvi. 3. “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee : because he trusteth in thce,” lødeed you may and will have disturbances from without, “ In the world ye shall have tribulation;" but all the noise and disturbances from without cannot mar the quiet the soul has witoin ; no, no;“ In me ye shall have peace : be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.". Thus you see, that every thing in, vites you to come up from the wilderness towards that better country that is above.
I shall conclude this exhortation with a few words by way of counsei and advice. If after all that has been said, you have a mind to come up from the wilderness towards the land of glory above, then take the few following advices.
1. Keep your eyes fixed, as you come up from the wil. derness, upon an invisible God, on the glorious Emmanuel, upon the unerring rule of the word, upon a well-ordered covepant, upon the cloud of witnesses that have gone before you, and on the glorious land that lies on the other side of the wil. derness.
2. Another advice I give you is, If you would make your journey comfortable, or ever arrive at the end of it, study to keep in with these three.
1A, Keep in with God, do nothing that may provoke him to hide his face ; for if you do, it will cost you dear, you will walk in darkness through the wilderness. But Oh, « in his favour is life ;" every blink of his countenance exhilirates the spirits, and then “the joy of the Lord is the soul's Arength,” &c.
2dly, Keep in with conscience : « This is our rejoicing, the testimony of a good conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world,” &c.
3dly, Keep in with them that fear God, and cleave to the word of his teftimony; keep close with your fellow-travellers that are bound for Zion. « My delight (says David) is with the faints, the excellent ones of the earth,” &c.
3. There are some things that you should endeavour to keep under your foot, if you would come up from the wilderness to the heavenly Canaan.
1A, The moon of this world, Rev. xii. 1. If it be got into your head and heart, it will be sure to turn you out of the way; for " the friend hip of this world is enmity with
God: If any man love the world, the love of the Father is noć in him."
2dly, Carnal policy and wisdom ; for the wisdom of this world is but folly to God. Paul, “ whenever it pleafed God to reveal his Son in him, immediately he consults not with flesh and blood.” It is said of Babylon, that her wisdom and underftanding perverted her ; especially it perverts us in the things of Chrift, and is like to ruin the interests of Christ in the land at this day.
3dly, Self-righteousness, let that be 'kept under your feet; for this ruined the poor Jews, and brought on a fentence of excommunication upon them, whereby they were cast out of the church of God: “ They went about to establish their own righteousness, and would not fubmit unto the righteousness of God;” and so Christ himself became a fumbling-fone, and a rock of offence.
4thly, Keep the lust and corruption of the heart under your feet. This will keep you in continual work; for “ the flesh lufteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” Paul had much ado with a body of fin and death, Rom. vii. We must “ crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof." If we live after the flesh, we shall die ; but if we through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body,, we shall live." ..
5thly, Keep at a distance from the infection of bad company. Say, with Jacob, “ O my soul come not thou into their secret; unto their affembly, mine honour be not thou united ; for evil communications corrupt good manners."
The laft advicice I give is, to follow the example of the fpouse here in the text, to come up from the wilderness, leaning on the beloved, living a life of faith on the Son of God. But this leads to the second branch of the doctrine.
THE SUBSTANCE OF SOME DISCOURSES UPON THE
SAME TEXT, AT STIRLING. -
leaning upon her Beloved?
I occasion was, That it is the commendable practice of a fout truly efpoufed unto Chrift, to come up from the wilderness of this world, towards the land of rest and glory above, staying and resting themselves upon him as their beloved.
Here I endeavoured,
1. To give the character of a foul truly espoused to Christ, drawn from the context.
Il. I fpake of this world, under the notion of a wilder. nefs.
III. Shewed what is imported in the spouse's coming up from the wilderness..
These particulars, I say, were discoursed, and this first branch of the doctrine applied in several uses ; the reasons of this branch of the doctrine being adduced in the application, by way of motive to persuade Ginners to turn their back on the wilderness, and to come up towards the promised Canaan above.
IV. I proceed now to the second branch of the text and doctrine, which was the fourth thing in the method, namely, to speak a little of the spouse's posture in coming up from the wilderness; the comes leaning on her beloved. It is the life of faith upon the Son of God that is here intended. And this expression of faith it implies these particulars following.
s. The spouse's weakness and inability in herself to grapple with the difficulties of her way through the wilderness; that she could never surniount them by the strength of natural, or yet of any created grace in her. Man in his natural state is wholly without frength; so disabled by the fall, that he has no power for any thing that is spiritually good : yea, believers themselves, though they have received a new stock of supernatu. ral grace, yet this inherent grace of theirs is such a feeble creature, and the opposition it meets with from corruption within, and temptation and affliction without, is so strong, it could never bear the believer through his wilderness work and warfare, without continual supplies of strength from the glorious Head, in whom dwells all fulness of grace and truth, of merit and spirit. Hence Paul, though he had received a very large measure of grace from Christ, yet declares, that he was not fufficient of himself to think as of himself, but his sufficiency and ability was of the Lord. So, whenever a believer begins to think that his mountain stands strong through the strength of any grace he has received, presently the Lord withdraws the influence, and suffers him to find his weakness and inability, that he may not trust in himself, but in him who is " the ftrength of Israel.” And therefore,
2. The expression of leaning on her beloved, it implies, that however weak and insufficient she was in herself, yet there i was almighty strength in her Husband and Head, on whom she
leaned. Christ is the “ strength of the poor and needy in their distress; he is the glory of their strength, the power of God, the man of his right hand, whom he hath made strong for” the designs of his glory in our salvation. “I have laid help (says the Lord) upon one who is mighty." The arm of JEHOVAH is through him reached forth to help, and strengthen, and uphold the believer in his wilderness difficulties; and therefore he goes in this his might, saying, with Paul, “ I can do all things through Christ strengthening me.”
3. This leaning on her beloved implies a blessed knowledge · or acquaintance with the Lord Jesus. She had got a saving
discovery of him by the word and Spirit of the Lord, which induced her to lean upon him ; for we do not use to lean upon an utter stranger, of whom we have no knowledge. The foundation of faith is laid in knowledge, not simply in a headknowledge attained by external revelation, for there are many learned unbelievers; but in a heart-knowledge. “ The light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ,” is made to “ shine into the heart;" and this is the very beginning of wisdom; hence Paul describes his first conversion by it, Gal. i. “ It pleased God to reveal his Son in me.” And the promise of faith, that radical grace, is expreffed by knowledge: “I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord : They shall know, and follow on to know” him, till they arrive at a mid-day vision and fruition of him in glory.
4. The expression implies, not only knowledge, but intimacy and familiarity; for we use to lean upon them with whom we are intimately acquainted. “ Truly (says the apostle John) our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” The whole book of the Song is designed to describe this fellowship between Christ and the believing soul : they who know it in an experimental way, will be ready to say, with the spouse, “ His left hand was under my head, and his right hand did embrace me: he brought me to his banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." There is more real pleasure and satisfaction in one moment of fellowship with the Lord, than in all the pleasures of fin, which are but for a reason : hence David, Pral. lxxxiv. 10.“ One day in thy courts is better than a thousand: I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
5. This leaning posture implies Christ's nearness to the spouse ; for we cannot well lean upon a person that is at a distance. True, indeed, Christ was at a great distance from the spouse as to his corporeal presence, for he was not yet