CHAP. VII. Five Ʋses of Exhortation, in walking with God.
Now we proceed. Some Use I shall make of this (brief∣ly) before I go to the third head, about Evidences of walking with God.
The First Ʋse.
First, Bless God that he will be pleased to walk thus with his poor creatures; bless the Lord for his goodness to us: Happy are the Angels that stand before the Lord: How happy are we then that may have this free converse with God! What, we that were not only strangers but enemies to God a while since, now to walk with him. Oh! a blessed thing it is: Let God be magnified for this his goodness to us, even He that humbleth Himself to behold the things that are done in Heaven, do but look upon the things that are done in Heaven, Psalm. 113. and yet he will condescend fo far to His poor creatures even here on earth, as to walk with them; were we indeed wholly freed from sin it were some∣what; but while we are not only so mean in our selves, but so sinful, and yet that God wi•l so walk with us, this we have cause to bless God for if we should see his face here∣after, though we should never see him in this world; but that God should not only grant unto us this, That we should hereafter, after a wearisome and tedious pilgrimage here in this world come to see His face, but that we should have so much converse with Him here, Oh magnified and blessed be the Name of God for this.
The second Ʋse.
Secondly, What strangers are the most part of the world to this that I am speaking of. That which I am speaking of it's a riddle to most men in the world, This walking with God is but an empty sound to most men, yea, for the grea∣test part of the world they walk (as the Scripture speaks) after their own counsels, you shall find divers notable ex∣pressions in Scripture of the walk of sinners, of wicked men.
They walk according to their own counsels. They walk after the flesh. They walk after their lusts. They walk after the course of this world. They walk in the vanity of their minds. They walk contrary unto God. They walk according to men.
Yea, That's observable unto this, That the holy Ghost condemns, not only walking according to the course of the world, and as men, But to walk in the way of Kings is condemn'd in Scripture: In 2 Chron. 28. 2. If to follow the course of any men one would think it might be most cōmendable the following of the King: but here's a charge against Ahaz that he walked in the waies of the Kings of Israel: and the 2 Kings, 17. 8. They walked in the Statutes of the Heathen: here's to walk as Kings walk, and then to walk in the Laws of Kings, God would not have any men walk in them any further than they are according to his own Statutes. Not to say, it's according to Law, and I must walk according to Law: No, this is charged to walk according to the practice of Kings, or their Laws be∣ing evil. And there's another Scripiure in the I Kings, 15. 26. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the waies of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin. There's to walk in the way of great men, and that's con∣demned. Secondly, to walk in the way of the Laws of the places where we live. Thirdly, to walk according to our fathers, that's condemned. And then lastly, to walk Page 302 according to the common course of the world, that's con∣demned; and yet this is the walk of sinners. And further The Scripture saith, That wicked men they walk in dark∣ness: and they walk after their own imaginations, and in the vanity of their minds, they walk in lies, and their hearts walk after the sight of their own eyes, and they walk after their covetousness: We might mention neer twenty such kind of expressions in Scripture, and these are the walks of sinners: But the waies of the Saints, they are to walk with God, but those that walk in the way of sin∣ners, that is, in the vanity of their minds according to the fight of their own eyes, after their covetousness, and after the flesh, and their lusts, and lasiviousness, and vanity, and such kind of expression as we have in Scripture, Certain∣ly they shall have the end of their walk to be no other but destruction and eternal misery.
The Third Ʋse.
Thirdly, What vile hearts are ours that are so backward to walk with God, seeing God is pleased to admit of his Saints to walk with him! even those that are godly are to be rebuk'd from hence that they should be so backward to come in to walk with God: It is our glory, That is that that would make our lives comfortable, it would make this wilderness of ours to be a paradice, it would make our Gardens to be Edens, it would make our Houses to be Churches, and make the Church to be a Heaven unto us, and yet we are backward unto this. Oh that we would but consider of this when we are in our walk & there have vain thoughts: As ordinarily men that are walking in their pleasant Gar∣dens, or it may be pleasant Rooms, Oh the vanity and fol∣ly of their thoughts! I may speak to you, who do you walk withal all this while; when you are a walking in your Gal∣leries, or Parlours, or Gardens, or alone in the fields, who are you parlying withal? who are you conversing withal? are not you walking many times with the Devil, and ma∣king Page 303 provision for the flesh? you should be walking with God: what are you the Saints of God? doth God offer himself to walk and converse with you, and will you walk with the flesh, and converse with the Devil? and be rou∣ling of sin and wickedness up and down in your thoughts? Oh what a vile and sinful thing is this! The Lord humble you for your sinful walks, humble you that are Saints, you sometimes have had some walks with God, why is it that you walk no more close with God? you complain sometimes of your great business in the world, and occasi∣ons to converse with the world that you have no time for your Communion with God; and yet when you are off from the world, and when you have time alone wherein you might converse with God, and when you have walks to the Citie and from the Citie again, what Communion might you have with God! But Oh! how backward are our hearts even unto this that is our happinesse, and our glory! That's a third Use by way of reproof even to the Saints, which is raised from the consideration of the excel∣lency that there is in our walking with God.
The Fourth Ʋse.
Fourthly, By way of exhortation, Oh let us keep close to God in our walking with him. We reade of Peter, that he saw Christ walking upon the water, and he would leap to him to walk with him there: though it were in afflictions to walk with Christ it should be comfortable to us. We reade of Idolators, that they would have their children p•sse through the fire to get to their Idols; Oh let us be willing to pass through any difficulties to get to God, the Lord is wil∣ling we should cōmunicate our selves to him, and he is wil∣ling to communicate himself to us, the Lord would com∣municate word for word, promise for promise, imbrace for imbrace, if we would speak to him he would speak to us, if we would let out our hearts to him, he would let out his heart to us, if we would promise to him, he would pro∣mise Page 304 to us. The Lord doth often call us to walk with him; As sometimes familiar friends will call one another, Come, let us walk out together, and those that are very familiar and loving: though they may have some business yet they will lay it aside, seeing their deer friends calls them to walk, they take so much delight in it: many times God our deer friend cals us, Come, let us walk out toge∣ther. When God at any time doth dart in a Heavenly thought into your minds, he doth (as it were) call you to walk with him there, and would have you follow that thought, The following that Heavenly thought that's darted into your minds, that's the answering of Gods call to walk with him. Consider of this one note, Oh do not refuse this, you do not know how your lives may be comforted this way, and your hearts may be strengthened.
The Fifth Ʋse.
And then the last thing that I shall name by way of Use is this, If there be so much Excellency in our walking with God here, what will there be in Heaven then! If our converse with him in this world be so sweet, Oh how sweet shall our con∣verse with him in Heaven be! when we shall walk with him in white: when we shall have our garments glorious indeed, and our souls fit to converse with God. Now the truth is, we are very unfit to converse with the Lord, be∣cause of our blindness and darknesse, we do not know God. As now, let an ignorant man come to converse with a learned man, he gets but very little good, for he is not a∣ble to put a question to him, nor able to understand what the man saith, especially if he speaks any depth of learning to him. So, many that are very weak when they are in discourse with those that are strong and godly, they are not able to make that use for their discourse as others can, and it's a great excellency for one to be able to improve his converse with some men that have abilities and strength, to be able (I say) to improve their Converse it's a great ex∣cellency. Page 305 Alas! we are not able to improve our converse with God here: but in Heaven we shall be able to improve our converse with God, We shall know as we are known, we shall understand God, if God doth but communicate himself we shall be fit to receive all the beams of his glory that he shal be pleased to let out, Oh! that wil be an excel∣lent thing indeed when we shall be alwaies walking with God, and conversing with him continually. Saith Bernard, in the gracious visitations of the Spirit of God to his soul, How sweet if it were not so little! but then it shall be constant, we shall then follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes, and walk with him in white according as he speaks. Now the Church cries out and saith, Oh draw us, and we will run of∣ter thee. The Spirit of God had need to draw us here; but then we shall have no such need of drawing, but we shall of our selves, from the inclination of our own hearts, be alwaies walking and conversing with God, we shall have nothing else to do but to walk continually with the Lord, I will walk in thy truth, unite my heart to fear thy Name: Psal. 86. 11. It's an excellent Scripture, I will walk in thy Truth saith the Prophet, Oh unite my heart to the fear of thy Name. As if he should say, I find much sweetnesse and good in walking in thy Truth here, Oh Lord unite my heart to the fear of thy Name, Lord keep me alwaies here, it's good being here, as Peter said when Christ was transfigured in his glory: So, when the soul is walking with God, it saith, it is good being here: Well, when thou comest to Heaven thou shalt alwaies be with the Lord as the Scripture speaks, and therefore from the excellency that thou findest here, learn to long after Heaven, where thou shalt be continually with the Lord; and take only this one note for the setting out of the excellency of Hea∣ven, and I confesse only such as have had much sweetness in walking with God here, will understand what I mean by this; As suppose that all those sweet manifestations of God to thy soul here, and all the dartings in of the Spirit of God, all those soul ravishing joys that thou hast had, Page 306 suppose they were put all together, that thou hadst them all over again at this instant, what a comfortable time would it be! At such a time may some soul (that knows what the meaning of this point is) say, Oh the sweet com∣munion I had with God! I would give a world to have it again: Well, thou hadst it once, but it was quickly gone, and thou hast had it a second and a third time, yea, many times when I have been with God I have had wonderful, & gracious lettings out of God to my soul, Oh that I had them again! Well, suppose thou hadst now in this one quarter of an hour all the comfort and joy that ever thou hadst in all thy life put all the times together, what a comfortable quarter of an hour would this be! Now in Heaven to all eternity thou shalt have that in a kind infinitely more than that for milions of yeers, even for ever. Oh! what will Heaven be! If I should set out Heaven to a carnal man I must tell him of Crowns of glory, And there he shall see glorious sights, he shall be freed from all kind of sorrows, and there he shall have a Kingdom: But if I would set out Heaven to a Saint, I must tell him this, He shall have communion with God, and all those soul-ra∣vishing comforts that he hath had in the presence of God in this world, he shall have them all together, and infinit∣ly more than them, Oh this is that that will make their souls long after Heaven, and set prize upon it.