07 January, 2014
Coming up From the Wilderness- From Volume 5
"Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her Beloved?" Song of Solomon 8:5
To come up from the wilderness, is to come up out
of OURSELVES; for we are ourselves the wilderness.
It is our wilderness heart that makes the world
what it is to us . . .
our own barren frames;
our own bewildered minds;
our own worthlessness and inability;
our own lack of spiritual fruitfulness;
our own trials, temptations, and exercises;
our own hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
In a word, it is what passes in our own bosom
that makes the world to us a dreary desert.
Carnal people find the world no wilderness. It is an
Eden to them! Or at least they try hard to make it so.
They seek all their pleasure from, and build all their
happiness upon it. Nor do they dream of any other
harvest of joy and delight, but what may be repaid
in this 'happy valley', where youth, health, and good
spirits are ever imagining new scenes of gratification.
But the child of grace, exercised with a thousand
difficulties, passing through many temporal and
spiritual sorrows, and inwardly grieved with his own
lack of heavenly fruitfulness, finds the wilderness
But he still comes up out of it, and this he does
by looking upward with believing eyes to Him who
alone can bring him out.
He comes up out of his own righteousness, and
shelters himself under Christ's righteousness.
He comes up out of his own strength,
and trusts to Christ's strength.
He comes up out of his own wisdom,
and hangs upon Jesus' wisdom.
He comes up out of his own tempted, tried,
bewildered, and perplexed condition, to find rest
and peace in the finished work of the Son of God.
And thus he comes up out of the wilderness of
self, not actually, but experimentally. Every desire
of his soul to be delivered from his 'wilderness
sickening sight' that he has of sin and of himself
as a sinner. Every aspiration after Jesus, every
longing look, earnest sigh, piteous cry, or laboring
groan, all are a coming up from the wilderness.
His turning his back upon an ungodly world; renouncing
its pleasures, its honors, its pride, and its ambition;
seeking communion with Jesus as his chief delight;
and accounting all things but loss and rubbish for
the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus his Lord
as revealed to his soul by the power of God; this,
also, is coming up from the wilderness.
When we gaze upon the lifeless corpse
From the cradle to the coffin, affliction and sorrow are
the appointed lot of man. He comes into the world with
a wailing cry, and he often leaves it with an agonizing
groan! Rightly is this earth called "a valley of tears," for
it is wet with them in infancy, youth, manhood, and old
age. In every land, in every climate, scenes of misery
and wretchedness everywhere meet the eye, besides
those deeper griefs and heart-rending sorrows which lie
concealed from all observation. So that we may well say
of the life of man that, like Ezekiel's scroll, it is "written
with lamentations, and mourning and woe."
But this is not all. The scene does not end here!
We see up to death, but we do not see beyond death.
To see a man die without Christ is like standing
at a distance, and seeing a man fall from a lofty
cliff—we see him fall, but we do not see the crash
on the rocks below.
So we see an unsaved man die, but when we gaze
upon the lifeless corpse, we do not see how his soul
falls with a mighty crash upon the rock of God's eternal
justice! When his temporal trials come to a close, his
eternal sorrows only begin! After weeks or months of
sickness and pain, the pale, cold face may lie in calm
repose under the coffin lid; when the soul is only just
entering upon an eternity of woe!
But is it all thus dark and gloomy both in life and death?
Is heaven always hung with a canopy of black? Are there
no beams of light, no rays of gladness, that shine through
these dark clouds of affliction, misery, and woe that are
spread over the human race?
Yes! there is one point in this dark scene out of which
beams of light and rays of glory shine! "God did not
appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:9
There, on the other side, is my solitary soul
"For what is a man profited, if he shall gains the
whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what can
a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mt. 16:26
Here is my scale of profit and loss.
I have a soul to be saved or lost.
What then shall I give in exchange for my soul?
What am I profited if I gain the
whole world and lose my soul?
This deep conviction of a soul to be saved
or lost lies at the root of all our religion.
Here, on one side, is the WORLD and all . . .
its winning ways,
to gain which is the grand struggle of human life.
There, on the other side, is my solitary SOUL,
to live after death, forever and ever, when the
world and all its pleasures and profits will sink
under the wrath of the Almighty.
And this dear soul of mine, my very self, my
only self, my all, must be lost or saved.
Even your own relatives think you are almost insane
"The Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him."
The world—that is, the world dead in sin, and the
world dead in profession—men destitute of the life
and power of God—must have something that it can
see. And, as heavenly things can only be seen by
heavenly eyes, they cannot receive the things which
Now this explains why a religion that presents itself
with a degree of beauty and grandeur to the natural
eye will always be received by the world; while a . . .
religion will always be rejected.
The world can receive a religion that consists of . . .
These are things seen.
the pomp and parade of an earthly priesthood,
and a whole apparatus of 'religious ceremony',
carry with them something that the natural eye can
see and admire. The world receives all this 'external
religion' because it is suitable to the natural mind
and intelligible to the reasoning faculties.
But the . . .
which presents no attractions to the outward eye, but
is wrought in the heart by a divine operation—the world
cannot receive this—because it presents nothing that
the natural eye can rest upon with pleasure, or is
adapted to gratify their general idea of what religion
is or should be.
Do not marvel, then, that worldly professors despise a
religion wrought in the soul by the power of God. Do not
be surprised if even your own relatives think you are
almost insane, when you speak of the consolations of
the Spirit, or of the teachings of God in your soul. They
cannot receive these things, for they have no experience
of them; and being such as are altogether opposed to
the carnal mind, they reject them with enmity and scorn.