« VorigeDoorgaan »
se come do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the . " affectation, some the desire of the flesh, which doth remain, " yea, in them that are regenerated.” But as for its prevailing power, it is destroyed in every soul that is truly born af God, and gradually more and more weakened as the bes, liever grows in grace, and the spirit of God gains a greater and greater ascendancy in the heart.
But Secondly, Walking with God not only implies, that the prevailing power of the enmity of a man's heart be taken away, but also that a person is actually reconciled to God the Father, in and through the all-fufficient righteousness and atonement of his dear Son. “Can two walk together, (lays " Solomon), unless they are agreed ?” Jesus is our peace, as well as our peace-maker. When we are justified by faith in Christ, then, but not till then, we have peace with God; and consequently cannot be said till then, to walk with hima Walking with a person, being a sign and token that we are friends to that person, or at least, though we have been at variance, yet that now we are reconciled and become friends again. This is the great errand that gospel ministers are fent out upon. To us is committed the ministry of reconciliation : As ambassadors for God, we are to beseech sinners, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled unto God; and when they comply with the gracious invitation, and are actually by faith brought into a state of reconciliation with God, then, and not till then, may they be said so much as to begin to walk with God.
Further, Thirdly, Walking with God implies, a settled, abiding communion and fellowship with God, or what in scripture is called, “ The Holy Ghost dwelling in us.” This is what our LORD promised when he told his disciples, that “the Holy Spirit should be in, and with them ;” not to be like a wayfaring-man, to stay only for a night, but to reside and make his abode in their hearts. This I am apt to believe is what the Apostle John would have us understand, when he talks of a person abiding in him, in CHRIST, " and
walking as he himself also walked.” And this is what is particularly meant in the words of our text. " And Enoch 4 walked with Gop.” i. e. He kept up and maintained a holy, fertled, habitual, though undoubtedly 'not altogether
uninterrupted communion and fellowíhip with God, in and through CHRIST JESUS. So that to sum up what has been faid on this part of the first general head, walking with God consists especially in the fixed habitual bent of the will for God, in an habitual dependance upon his power and promise, in an habitual voluntary dedication of our all to his glory, in an habitual eying of his precept in all we do, and in an habitual complacence in his pleasure in all we suffer.
Fourthly, Walking with God implies, our making progress or advances in the divine life. Walking, in the very first idea of the word, seems to suppose a progressive motion. A person that walks, though he move flowly, yet he goes forwards and does not continue in one place. And so it is with those that walk with God. They go on, as the psalmist says, from strength to strength;” or, in the language of the Apoftle Paul, “ they pass from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord.” Indeed in one fense, the divine life admits of neither increase nor decrease. When a soul is born of God, to all intents and purposes he is a child of God, and, though he should live to the age of Methufelah, yet he would then be only a child of God, after all. But in ano. ther sense, the divine 'life admits of decays and additions. Hence it is, that we find the people of God charged with backslidings, and losing their first love. And hence it is, that we hear of babes, young men and fathers in CHRIST; and upon this account it is that the Apostle exhorts Timothy, “ to let his progress be made known to all men.” And what is here required of Timothy in particular; by St. Peter, is ena joined all christians in general, “ But grow in grace, (says he) and in the knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus CHRIST." For the new creature increases in spiritual ftature; and though a person can but be a new creature, yet there are some that are more conformed to the divine image than others, and will, after death, be admitted to a greater degree of blessedness. For want of observing this distinction, even some gracious fouls that have better hearts than heads, (as well as men of corrupt minds, reprobates concerning the faith) have unawares run into downright Antinomian principles, denying all growth of grace in a believer, or any marks of grace to be laid down in the scriptures of truth. From
such principles, and more especially from practices naturally consequent on such principles, may the LORD of all Lord's deliver us!
From what then has been said, we may now know what is implied in the words, “ walked with God," viz. Our having the prevailing enmity of our hearts taken away by the power of the Spirit of GOD; our being actually reconciled and united to him by faith in Jesus CHRIST ; our having and keeping up a settled communion and fellowship with him; and our making a daily progress in this fellowship, so as to be conformed to the divine image more and more.
How this is done, or, in other words, by what means believers keep up and maintain their walk with God, comes to be considered under our second general head.
And, First, Believers keep up and maintain their walk with God, by reading of his holy word. “ Search the scriptures," fays our blessed LORD, “ for these are they that testify of me." And the royal psalmist tells us, “ that God's word was a light unto his feet, and a lanthorn unto his paths ;" and he makes it one property of a good man, “ that his delight is in the law of the LORD, and that he exercises himself therein day and night.” “ Give thyself to reading," (lays Paul to Timothy); " And this book of the law, (says God to Joshua) shall not go out of thy mouth.” For whatfoever was written in afore time, was written for our learning. And the word of God is profitable for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, and every way sufficient to make every true child of God thoroughly furnished to every good work. If we once get above our Bibles, and cease making the written word of God our fole rule, both as to faith and practice, we shall soon lie open to all manner of delusion, and be in great danger of making fhipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Our blessed LORD, though he had the Spirit of God without measure, yet always was governed by, and fought the devil with, “ It is written.” This the Apostle calls the “ Sword of the Spirit.” We may fay of it as David said of Goliah's sword, “ None like this." The scriptures are called the lively oracles of God: not only because they are generally made use of to beget in us a new life, but also to keep up and increase it in the soul. The Apostle Peter, in his ad epistle, prefers it even to seeing CHRIST transfigured upon the mount.' For after 'he had said, chap. i. 18. “That the voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount;" he adds, “ We have also a more sure word of prophecy ; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light fhining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-ftar arise in your hearts :" i. e. Till we shake off these bodies, and see Jesus face to face. Till then, we must fee and converse with him through the glass of his word. We must make his teftimonies our counsellors, and daily, with Mary, fit at Jesus feet, by faith hearing his word. We shall then by happy experience find, that they are spirit and life, meat indecd, and drink indeed to our fouls.
Secondly, Believers keep up and maintain their walk with God by secret prayer. The spirit of grace is always accompanied with the spirit of fupplication. It is the very breath of the new-creature, the fan of the divine life, whereby the fpark of holy fire kindled in the soul by GOD, is not only kept in, but raised into a flame. A neglect of secret prayer has been frequently an inlet to many ipiritual diseases, and has been attended with fatal consequences. Origen observed, 166 That the day he offered incense to an idol, he went out of * his closet without making use of fecret prayer.” It is one of the most noble parts of the believer's spiritual armour. " Praying always, says the Apostle, with all manner of fupplication.” “ Watch and pray, says our LORD, that ye enter not into temptation.” And he spake a parable, that his disciples should pray, and not faint. Not that our Lord would have us always upon our knees, or in our closets, to the neglect of our other relative dutics. But he means, that our souls should be kept in a praying-frame, so that we might be able to say, as a good man in Scotland once said to his friends on his death-bed, “ Could these curtains, or could
these walls speak, they would tell you what sweet com15 munion I have had with my God here.” O prayer, prayer ! It brings and keeps God and man tagether. It -raises man up to God, and brings God down to man. If you would therefore, I believers, keep up your walk with God; pray, pray without ceafing. Be much in fecret, fet prayer. And when you are about the common business of life, be much in ejaculatory prayer, and send, from time to time, fhort letters poft to heaven upon the wings of faith. They will reach the very heart of God, and return to you again loaded with fpiritual blessings.
Thirdly, Holy and frequent meditation is another bleffed means of keeping up a believer's walk with God. “ Prayer, “ reading, temptation, and meditation,” says Luther, “ make
a minister.” And they also make, and perfect a christian. Meditation to the soul, is the same as digestion to the body. Holy David found it so, and therefore he was frequently employed in meditation, even in the night season. We read also of Isaac's going out into the fields to meditate in the evening; or, as it is in the margin, to pray. For meditation is a kind of silent prayer, whereby the foul is frequently, as it were, carried out of itself to God, and in a degree made like unto those blessed Spirits, who by a kind of immediate intuition always behold the face of our heavenly Father. None but those' happy fouls that have been accustomed to this divine employ, can tell what a blessed promoter of the divine life, meditation is. 6.Whilft I was musing, says Dan vid, the fire kindled.” And whilst the believer is musing on the works and word of God; especially that work of works, that wonder of wonders, that mystery of godliness, “God manifest in the flesh," the Lamb of God lain for the fins of the world : he frequently feels the fire of divine love kindle, so that he is obliged to speak with his tongue, and tell of the loving-kindness of the LORD to his soul. Be frequent therefore in meditation, all ye that desire to keep up and maintain a close and uniform walk with the most-high God.
Fourthly, Believers keep up their walk with God, by watching and noting his providential dealings with them. If we believe the scriptures, we must believe what our LORD hath declared therein, “That the very hairs of his disciples heads are all numbered ; and that a sparrow does not fall to the ground, (either to pick up a grain of corn, or when Not by a fowler) without the knowledge of our heavenly Father." Every cross has a call in it, and every particular dispensation of divine providence, has some particular end to answer in thofe to whom it is fent. If it be of an affictive