Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved? I raised you up under the apple tree…
I. I SHALL TAKE NOTICE OF SOME THINGS SUPPOSED IN THIS DOCTRINE.
1. As soon as a soul is espoused to Christ, it is loosed from the world.
2. The soul espoused to Christ, being loosed from the world, is set in motion heavenwards, away from the world (Psalm 84:5-7).
3. The believer's journeying heavenwards is attended with many difficulties. It is an up-going, and that through a wilderness.
4. The believer's passage to heaven is also a work of time. It is not a leaping out of the wilderness into Canaan, but a going up out of it by degrees. It cost Israel long forty years in the wilderness.
5. Christ is with the believer in the journey. It is a weary land they have to go through, but they are not alone in it (Song of Solomon 4:8).
6. The end of this journey is a most comfortable one (John 14:2).
II. I SHALL UNFOLD THE BELIEVER'S LIFE, AS A GOING UP FROM THE WILDERNESS OF THIS WORLD, TYPIFIED BY THE ISRAELITES GOING UP FROM THE WILDERNESS TO CANAAN.
1. I shall show you how believers are brought unto the wilderness. The world is not a wilderness to them and in their esteem, till they be brought out of the Egyptian bondage of their natural state. Then, and not till then, they enter into their wilderness-state.
2. I shall show how the believer is set into the wilderness. When once converting grace has made a fair separation betwixt the sinner and the world, presently he enters into a wilderness-state.
(1) He cares not for the world as he was wont (Galatians 6:14).
(2) The world cares not for him as before (Galatians 6:14).
(3) Then it becomes, by God's appointment, the place of trial for him, as the wilderness was to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 8:2).
(4) It is no more his home or his rest; but the place of his pilgrimage, the place he must travel through in his way home to his eternal rest (Hebrews 11:13).
3. I shall show how the believer is going up from the wilderness.
(1) By the course of nature, which is swift as a post, a ship, and as an eagle's flight.
(2) In the habitual bent of his heart and affections. Believers' hearts are turned off the world, and set on things above.
(3) In progressive sanctification (Proverbs 4:18).
(4) In obtaining victory over the world (1 John 5:4).
4. The hardships and inconveniencies of the wilderness-road, which the believer must lay his account with, while he goes up from the wilderness. It is a difficult way through the wilderness. The road the travellers must go will try their patience, their strength, etc.
5. I now come to show the advantages and conveniencies of the wilderness-road. The people of God, while in the wilderness-world, have as much allowed them from heaven as may balance the hardships of the wilderness.
(1) The pillar of cloud to go before them in the wilderness.
(2) They have provision allowed them from heaven in the waste wilderness. The King's country affords them provision for their journey.
(3) Sometimes they are allowed a song in the weary land, for their comfort and recreation by the way (Psalm 119:54).
(4) The Lord is their banner in the wilderness, and so they may be sure of victory, they shall be conquerors in the war (Exodus 17:15).
(5) There is healing in the wilderness for them, for the wounds got there.
(6) We must not forget the tabernacle in the wilderness, which was the comfort of the godly Israelites there. The tabernacle of Gospel-ordinances is the great comfort of the travellers towards Zion.USE
I. Of information.
1. The people of God need not be surprised, that they meet with many hardships and trials in the world, and that it is a strange world to them. While they are in it, they are in a wilderness. How, then, can they expect other than a wilderness-life?
2. They have good reason to bear all the hardships of their wilderness-lot patiently, and with Christian fortitude and cheerfulness. And that(1) Because they will not last, they will be over ere long; they are going up from the wilderness.
(2) Because the heavenly Canaan which the wilderness-read leads to, will make amends for all.
(3) Their lot is a wise mixture, take it at the worst.
3. They are not Israelites indeed, nor espoused to Christ, who are "not going up from this world as a wilderness, in heart and affection, in life and conversation.USE
II. Of caution. While ye are in the wilderness, beware of wilderness sins and snares.
1. Unbelief (Psalm 68:22).
2. Murmuring (1 Corinthians 10:10).
3. Lusting (1 Corinthians 10:6).
4. Looking back to Egypt (Numbers 14:4).
5. Fawning and flattering enemies (Numbers 25:17, 18).
6. The mixed multitude (Exodus 12:38).USE
III. Of exhortation.
1. Ye who profess to be espoused to Christ, evidence the reality of it by your going up from the wilderness-world with Him in heart and affection, in the progress of sanctification, and contempt of the world, holding off from the ways of it.
2. Strangers to Christ, be espoused to Him, that ye may go up with Him from this wilderness-world, to His Father's house in the heavenly Canaan; believe that Christ is offered in an everlasting marriage-covenant to you. Embrace ye and accept, and so close with Him as your Head and Husband, for time and eternity.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.