OF WALKING VVITH GOD
GENESIS, 5. 24.
CHAP. I. TEXT OPENED
IN this Chapter we have the Geneologie from Adam to Noah: and it's observable, That God passeth all along and saith, Adam he lived so long and begat sons; and so afterwards they lived and begat sons and daughters and then died. He only mentions them briefly, till he comes to Enoch, and there God seems to make a stop: He doth not only tell you how long he lived, and begat sons and Page 262 daughters, and died; but he addeth, Enoch walked with God. The holy Ghost spends three verses upon Enoch, He tells you how long he lived and begat Methuselah, and E∣noch walked with God. And in the 23. verse there he speaks of him again; and in the 24. vers. Enoch walked with God again. As if the Lord should say, Oh my servant Enoch I must not pass by him, he was an eminent holy man in his generation, I must not pass by him without some especial testimony: as if God should say, Oh he was the delight of my Soul, he walked with me: Enoch walked with God.
Enoch he was a Prophet in his time, he conversed much with God, and God revealed much of his mind to him. We find in the Epistle of Jude 14. there the holy Ghost mentions him again, Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, pro∣phesied of these, saying, &c. Enoch prophesied, he was a Pro∣phet: Where do we find Enoch's prophesie in all the Book of God? we have the Prophesie of Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and other Prophets; but where the Prophesie of Enoch? Here the holy Ghost saith, That Enoch prophesied, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his Saints, &c. Now for the prophesie that is here mentioned by the holy Ghost, in this Epistle of Jude, we have it not set down in words ful∣ly, but yet we have somewhat set down even in a verse or two before my Text, of Enoch's prophesie, and that is in the very name of his son Methuselah, there is that very pro∣phesie of Enoch that the holy Ghost speaks of in the Epistle of Jude, in the name (I say) of his son Methuselah, for Me∣thuselah signifieth thus much, he dieth, and then the sen∣ding out, that is the floud, he dieth and then comes the floud, that's the signification of the name Methuselah: So that Enoch prophesied many hundred yeers before the flouds coming; and that prophesie seem'd to go further, for Gods dealing with people in those times, were but as a type of his dealing with men in after-times. That the Lord would send forth a floud against all wicked and un∣godly men in due time to destroy them, he dieth, and then Page 263 the sending forth of the floud, for the floud did come in the very last yeer of Methuselah, and that's observable that this Methuselah he liv'd longer than ever any man liv'd since the world began, All the daies of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixtie nine yeers, and then he died. Now this may be one reason of the lengthening out of his life, that he might fulfil the prophesie of Enoch, for Enoch prophesied that the floud should come when he died, now because God had work to bring about, and to defer the floud for a while after, therefore Methuselah must live so long.
God doth lengthen out, or shorten mens lives according to the work he hath to do, according to the use he hath to make of them. But thus much for Enoch: The person who it was.
ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD.
Now this phrase of walking with God, sometimes it sig∣nifies some special ministration before the Lord, as in the 1 Sam. 2. 30, 35. Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed, That thy house, and the house of thy father should walk be∣fore me for ever. And then in the 35. I will raise me up a faith∣full Priest that shall do according to that which is in my heart, and in my mind and I will build him a sure house, and he shall WALK before mine anointed for ever: That is, for a special and holy ministration, so it's taken sometimes.
But here we are to understand it more largely, (though it's true, Enoch was a Prophet and he might be said to walk with God in regard of the special ministration of his Pro∣phetical Office that he had;) for walking with God, in waies of righteousness and holiness: so walking with God, as it's said of Noah, that was his great grand-child, in the 6. of Gen. 9. These are the generations of Noah, Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God. This his great-grand-child (no question hearing of his fathers walking with God was a great argument for to move him to the like, and his walking with God is dis∣cribed Page 264 to be in being righteous, and in being perfect with God. The 70. in their translation turns this that you have in your books walk with God, by the word, he pleased God. And that's observable that the holy Ghost in men∣tioning Enoch in the new Testament, doth follow the tran∣slation of the Septuagent in the 11. of the Heb. there you shall find that Enoch is mentioned among the Catalogue of the Beleevers there: By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had transla∣ted him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. That word that you have here in Ge∣nesis rendered, he walked with God: in the Hebrews it is that he had this testimony, That he pleased God: & indeed it comes to one, he walked in the waies that God was pleased and delighted in.
He pleased God.] The Calde translates it, he walked in the fear of God; and so some Interpreters quoting the Jerusalemie Thargum, he served or labored in the truth before the Lord: and that's one thing further in the explication that it's said, he walked with God after he begat Methuselab. Some now think that Enoch was a wicked man before the time that he begat Methuselah, in that sixty and five yeers there's no mention of his walking with God, but Enoch lived six∣ty five yeers and begat Methuselah, and he walked with God after he begat Methuselah: but that's no sufficient ground to conclude, because it's said after: that he did not before; it might rather be to note the constancy of his wal∣king with God, that he continued in the constant course of his life in his walking with God. I shall need to speak no further of the explication of this first part of Enoch's wal∣king with God. The point of Doctrine from it is this.
CHAP. II. The Doctrines raised from the Text, and the Treatise devided in∣to several parts.
THat 'tis the great excellency and commendations of a godly man, to walk with God: Or, That it is the highest testimo∣ny that can be given of a man that walks with God. Walking with God is a high excellency, and whoever hath this te∣stimony hath the highest testimony that can be given unto a man in this world, that he walks with God. And there∣fore that's observable, that God mentions him twice, as if he loved to mention his poor creatures walking with him: at the 22. verse; And Enoch walked with God. And then in the 24. verse, And Enoch walked with God. Oh! as if God should say, This is that that is the delight of my soul indeed. Yea, and that's observable in the testimony of Noah, in Gen. 6. 9. perhaps in the reading of it you may not observe that that I shal observe unto you now, Noah (saith he) was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. He doth not say thus, Noah was a just man and walked with God: But mark, he repeats Noah twice, Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God: as if he should say, This is the blessed man that lived in a wicked generation, and though that generation was sinful and wicked, yet he kept close with God; Noah was just and perfect, and Noah wal∣ked with God; Oh I take delight in this Noah: Consider my servant Noah, Noah was thus, and Noah walked with God. There's a great Emphasis in doubling of his name, and there can be no reason given of it, for the sense would be perfect without it: as if he should say, Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and walked with God; But for the putting of a special incomium upon Noah, Oh! Page 266Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. Oh! 'tis the excellency of a man to walk with God, and for God himself to own a man and to say, that he walks with him: Men may live in a pra∣ctice of the duties of Religion, Eternal duties, and go ve∣ry far that way, and yet be strangers unto God, never know what it is to walk with God; they may have by-waies of their own in which their hearts do walk; as the Stars that have a motion turn about by the Primum Mobile, the first mover, one way, but they have a secret motion the other way themselves: and so, though many in their external profession seem to be moved one way, but secretly their hearts move another way, they do not walk with God all that while, they did pray, and reade, and hear, and come to Sermons and make great profession, so as men might think they walked with God, but it was not so. As it is with a ship, you may be bound to such a Port, and the ship and the sails blow that way, and yet when the ship goes east, a man may walk up and down in the ship west-ward: so in profession, a man seems to be carried east-ward, yet his private walks may be another way, to his own ends, to his own designs; but here's the honor of a man when God himself shall own him, as if God should say concerning Enoch, I who am a God that am the Seer and Searcher of all mens hearts, and I observe the waies of my servant Enoch, and I see him not only in the outward pro∣fession of godliness, but in the secret of his soul he walks with me, he hath no bye-walks at all, but he keeps him∣self close with me and walks with me continually; Enoch walked with God.
This phrase, Walking with God, we have exprest in Scrip∣ture in divers other phrases that are to the same purpose: as walking before God, Gen. 24. 40 The Lord before whom I walk, saith Abraham; and so God bad Abraham, Walk be∣fore me and be upright. And so in the 116. Psal. 9. I will walk before the Lord in the Land of the Living. Remember how I have walked before thee, it's said of Hezekiah. And some∣times Page 267 the same thing is expressed by walking after the Lord; in the 13. of Deut. 4. Ye shall walk after the Lord. As a child walking after his father, though he walks step after step, yet he may be said to walk with him. And sometimes by walking in the Name of the Lord, Micah, 4. 5. We will walk in the Name of the Lord our God. And then fourthly, by walking in the spirit of God, Gal. 5. 16. and here, walking with God.
Walking Before God.
Walking After God.
Walking in the Name of God.
Walking in the Spirit of God. Or,
Walking with God. They all come to the same pur∣pose.
But for the opening of the point there are these Four things that I intend in the handling of it.
First, What it is to walk with God, or to discribe the work of God in bringing the soul to walk with him, and the way of the soul in walking with God.
Secondly, To shew you the excellency that there is in this wal∣king with God: what a blessed thing it is for a Christian to walk with God.
Thirdly, Give you some evidences of a mans walking with God.
Fourthly, To give unto you some Rules how you may come to walk with God, to have your lives so as you may have this testimony even from God himself, that you do walk with him. These are the Four things.
For the First, The discription of walking with God, the work of God in bringing the soul to walk with him, and the way of the soul in walking with God.
CHAP. III. How the Soul is brought to Walk with God, Discovered in Six Particulars.
FIrst, Every one by nature goes astray from God, in the 58. Psal. 3. it is said of all the wicked, that they are estranged from the wombe, they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. That's one of the first things wherein wickedness ap∣pears in children, but 'tis from the very womb that they go astray, before they can speak: 'tis natural for the wic∣ked to go astray from God as soon as they have any being. The way wherein men naturally do walk, it is the way of death, it's the way of their own hearts, of their own coun∣sels, it's the common course of the world, it is the walk of the flesh. But now, the work of God in bringing the soul to walk with him, it is, First, To cause the soul to make a stop in the way that men naturally walk in; Those that the Lord hath left for a while in the way of nature, that walk in the way of death, the Lord is pleased to come to them by some mighty work of his to make a stop, by con∣sidering, where am I? what's my way; whither am I go∣ing? is the way that I am in like to the way that befeems an Immortal soul? Is the way like to end well that I am walking in? It causes the soul to make a stop in it, and be∣gin to think where it is, whither it is going, and so usu∣ally causes some fear, fearing it is in a way like to miscar∣ry, so that it dare not proceed further in that way that it hath been walking in all this while, though never so plea∣sant a way, though never so sutable to the flesh, the Lord forbid that I should go on in that way that I have walked in. There's a stop caused.
Secondly, The Lord manifests to the soul the way of life, what the way of life is. This stop of the soul is just like to that we Page 269 reade of Saul, that when he was posting on in the way of death, there did shine a light round about him, and caused him to stop so that he could go no further. But then (I say) the Lord manifests to the soul what the way of life is. In the 30. of Isa. 21. And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, This is the way, walk ye in it. Oh! how many are there that can tell this by experience, that they have been walking in the waies of death, of eternal misery, and blest themselves in those waies? But there was a blessed time wherein God caused them to hear a voice as it were behind them saying, This is the way, walk-in it; you are out of the way, but here's the way of life, if you would not perish eternally, here's the way, walk in this way; It is a secret voice that the Lord causes to be heard in the soul, but yet a powerful voice: perhaps you have come to the Word, and have heard what the way of life is: but yet that never hath given a turn to your hearts: but when God would have the soul to come in to walk with him, he causes the soul (besides the outward voice of the Word) to hear a voice behind in secret, and yet powerfully, saying, Oh! this is the way; Oh thou poor soul that are wandring from the way of life, and art going on in the way of eternall death, Come in, come in, here's another way, This is the way, walk in it: And so the Lord gives a mighty turn to the soul by that secret voice.
Thirdly, The Lord makes peace between himself and a sin∣ner; He doth reveal the doctrine of Reconciliation. For a sinner at first when he comes to have his eyes enlightened, when he comes to know himself and to know God; Cer∣tainly God at first cannot but appear terrible to a sinner that hath walked in the waies of death formerly, and though I see my way to be dangerous, and I see another way to be good, Oh but God is terrible to me, and how can two walk together that are not at peace? In Amos 3. 3. Can two walk together except they be agreed? saith the text, Oh there is naturally an enmity between Man and God, every man in the world is naturally an enemy to God; and can Page 270 there be two walking together unless they be agreed? Oh! you that are going on in the waies of enmity with God, surely you are strangers to this way of walking with God, can you walk with God before you are agreed? no soul can have this testimony given of it, that he hath walked with God, but such a soul as is reconciled to him; God doth manifest that in some measure to the soul before it's a∣ble thus to walk with him, as here Enoch did, and certain∣ly Enoch came to walk with God by this, for the holy Ghost in the forenamed place of the 11. of the Heb. saith, It was by faith that he did it, and without faith it's impossi∣ble to please God, that's as much as, without faith it's impossible to walk with God. The holy Ghost means the same thing, when the Apostle saith, that he did walk by faith, and without faith it's impossible to please God, therefore there must be a work of faith to bring the soul to be reconcil'd, and that there may be an agreement between the soul and God before it can walk with him. That's the third thing.
Fourthly, Though there be peace made so that God doth not appear as an enemy against the soul, yet there may be some strangness after peace made. There was peace made between David and Absalom, David was passified towards him, yet he would not see his face for a while, he would have been gone from his presence, there should not be that converse with him in that familier way as a child with the father for a while: So though there be peace made, yet there's re∣quir'd a further work of God for the souls walking with him, that is, That God should render himself in loveliness, and fulness of mercy, and sweetness, and delightfulness unto the soul, that there may be a familiarity between the soul and God; It's one thing for me to know God is not as an enemy to me, that he doth not intend wrath and mi∣sery against me, and another thing for the soul to appre∣hend the sweet delightful countenance of God, and the im∣bracements in the arms of his mercy, and those condescen∣tions of God, that he is willing to come and deal with us Page 271 as a friend with his friend in a familiar way: Therefore that's a fourth work, the Lord is pleased to manifest him∣self to the soul in the sweetness of his love, and his delight; Not only thou art that soul that shalt not be damn'd, that shalt eternally be sav'd; but thou art the soul that my soul delights in, thou art one that I take as my friend, and that I love to deal with in all sweetness, and to bring into a fa∣miliarity with my self. This is that that is manifested to the soul for the bringing of it to this walking with God that here the holy Ghost speaks of concerning Enoch.
Fifthly, The Lord is pleased to send his holy Spirit to guide the soul To himself, and to guide it in walking With himself: In the 8. Rom. it's said, All that are the sons of God are led by the Spirit of God. As a father when he walks with the child he gives him his hand and leads along the child with him∣self: when any comes to be a child of God, God puts forth his hand and leads him, and so they walk together. As have you not seen somtimes a father and child walking in the garden, the father puts forth his finger and the child takes hold of it and so walks along with him: even so the Lord puts forth his Spirit into a gracious soul, and God and the soul thus walks together being led by the Spirit of God; in the 35. Isa. 8, 9. there you may see what the Lord speaks of the way of the redeemed ones. And an high way shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness, the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those; the way∣faring men though fools, shall not err therein: Though they be very weak and fools, yet they shall not err therein. And no Lyon shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon: it shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there, that's the priviledg of the redeemed ones. Now this way of walking up unto the Land of Ca∣naan from their captivity, it's typical, to typifie the walk of the soul with the Lord.
Sixthly, For the souls walking with God, there is this further done by God, Christ the Son of God he takes the soul and brings it unto God the Father, as the Spirit leads, so Jesus Christ.
Page 272 The Lord Jesus Christ he brings the soul unto the Father to render God and the soul familier together: In Ephes. 2. 18. Through him we have an acccess by one Spirit unto the Fa∣ther: We have an access through him, we have a manuducti∣on, He brings us unto the Father, we have access through Jesus Christ. As if a Prince should take a Traytor that is reconciled to his Father, having his pardon, and his Fa∣ther being passified towards him, the Prince comes & takes him by the hand, and saith, Come, I'le bring you unto my Father, and I will walk along with you unto my Father: So it is, None that ever hath been a sinner can walk with God, but Christ must walk together with him; Christ walks along with him, and so God is ever more rendred sweet, aimable, and lovely; why? Because Christ hath him by the hand (as I may so say) God the Father hath him in one hand, and Christ hath him by the other hand, and so the soul walks in this blessed walk, between the hands of God the Father and the Son; and the holy Ghost leads and guides him too.
CHAP. IV. Walking with God what it is, Opened in Nine Particulars.
BUt now, The way of the soul in this walk with God: When the soul is thus brought to God, and by this means enabled to walk with him, Then what's the way of the soul in walking thus with God?
Walking with God causes the soul to eye God.
In the first place, Now the soul being come thus to God, in all the waies of God it ey's God, and sets God before it. Enoch walked with God: that is, Enoch in the waies of his Page 273 life set God before him, and did eye God in his waies; First beholding the infinite beauty there is in God. Second∣ly, God being the fountain of al good to the soul. Third∣ly, the soul apprehending God infinitly worthy of all ho∣nor. These three things causes the eye to be upon God continually: The Lord hath infinit excellency and beauty in him. The Lord is the fountain of all good to me: The Lord is infinitly worthy of all honor and service; and a soul walking with God eyes God thus continually. In the 26. Psal. 3. For thy loving kindness is before mine eyes, and I have walked in thy truth: Oh Lord! I see thee aimable, love∣ly, and gracious, and the fountain of all good, and Lord, I have walked in thy truth, setting God before me; so in Psal. 16. 8. I have set the Lord alwaies before me that I might not fall. A soul that walks with God scarce ey's any thing but God, when it enjoyes the creature yet the eye is upon God; as the little child walking with the father looks up to the father; every soul that walks with God hath his eye upon him, for there's no such lovely drawing object to the soul as God himself is; whereas wicked men they do not find God to be such a lovely object, sees no such excellency in him, and therfore they rather turn their eyes away from him, they look another way, Psal. 86. 14. They do not set God before them; men that walk according to the lusts of their own hearts in their wicked sinful waies, the Lord is not in all their thoughts, as in the 10. Psalm. That's the first thing in the way of the souls walking with God, he eyes God, and sees God before him.
Walking with God causeth a man to carry himself as in Gods Presence.
Secondly, The soul behaves its self as in Gods Presence. I see my self in Gods presence, and my eye is upon God, Oh let me then look to my self, that the carriage of my soul be as beseems one who is in the presence of so holy, so great, so glorious and blessed a God as the Lord is, in the 2 Cor. 2. Page 274 17. As of God in the sight of God speak we in Christ, saith the Apostle; when we come to do any thing, we do it as of God, in the sight of God, knowing that we are all∣wayes before God. Augustine, speaking concerning Noah's walking with God, he hath this expression, Noah walked with God, that is, he had God alwaies present be∣fore his eyes, walking so holily, and so reverenced God: This is to walk in the fear of God, when the soul upon the apprehention of Gods presence shall labor to compose its self as beseeming the presence before whom it is, and this indeed is the walk that you shall find the Saints of God in all day long, would you know where to find a Saint? you may know his walk, you shall all the day long find him walking in the fear of the Lord, Preverbs 23. 17. saith the text there, Let not thy heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. He doth not say, do thou fear the Lord all the day long, but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long, Oh the walk of a Christian should be so from morning to night, to walk in the fear of the Lord; and nothing in this world should put him out of this walk, no temptations should call him out of it, but in the fear of the Lord all the day long: This is the walk of a Christian, when he labors to behave himself as be∣seems the presence of God.
Walking with God is, when we make Gods Will the Rule of our will.
Thirdly, The soul may be said to walk with God, When the way of it is the same way that God himself goes, the soul doth that that God doth: What's the way of God, but the way of holiness and righteousness? when the soul makes the Will of God to be the rule of it, I will not be acted by my own will, I will not be acted by any thing but by the Will of God: what is it that God wills? I will the same thing, then the soul walks that way God walks, when it doth sute its self with God, sets the Lord as an example before it, Page 275 as the Scripture saith, Be ye holy as your Heavenly Father is holy; I see the holy and the righteous waies of God, and I labor as a deer child to follow him, and to go in the very same steps that God doth, how doth God carry busi∣nesses? I will labor to carry things so as God doth, that my life shall hold forth a resemblance of God himself; this is to walk with God, to do as God doth, to imitate God; that's a third thing in a souls walking with God.
Walking with God is, when a Soul hath the same Ends that God hath.
The Fourth is this, Not only to do the same thing, to make the will of God to be the rule of it, But to have the same ends that God hath: What's the end that God hath in all his waies? Surely it is, that his blessed Name may be magnified, that his glory may be set forth; I'le drive on the same design, that shall be the great design of my life, it's that that my soul shall aim at as the highest end of all things, and all things shall be subordinate to this end e∣ven, The glory and honor of God, it's that that God aims at, and therefore that which I'le aim at, thus the soul goes along with God; as now, A man may be said to go along with another man when they do both drive on the same designs: Oh! this is a blessed thing indeed. We shall speak to that hereafter: but the very opening what it is shews much of the excellency of it; and I beseech you as you go along, examine your own hearts, see whether by the very mentioning of these things you be not strangers to God; examine by the workings of God in bringing your souls to walk with him, or otherwise by the way of the soul, in eying God, in behaving its self as in the presence of God, in making the Will of God to be its rule, and in driving on the design that God doth.
Walking with God, is the observing the administrations of God and suting the soul to them.
Fifthly, It is the observing of the several administrations of God, and the suting of the soule to the several administra∣tions of God in the world: I open that thus, God some∣times seems to work in one way, sometimes in ano∣ther way; now the soul that walks with God observes which are the several waies and administrations of God in the world, and let me (saith the soul) labor to sute my heart with them: that's thus, sometimes the Lord is in a way of judgments, in the world, heavie and dreadful af∣flictions: yea, sometimes against his own Saints, and Peo∣ple: then let me sute my heart according to this, Oh Lord! we will wait upon thee in the waies of thy judgments, saith the Church in Isa. Are we under Gods way of judgments, in a way of afflictions? Lord, we will sute our selves to honor thee there according to that way, we will labor to exer∣cise those graces that are sutable to these administrations of thine. And Lord, art thou in a way of mercy? we will sute our selves accordingly, and labor to draw forth and exercise our graces that are sutable to those waies of thine. And art thou in a way of affliction in my family, or in a way of mercy? Lord, I will labor to exercise those graces that are sutable to those waies of thine. This is to walk with God. As when we walk with a man, if he turn this way, then I set my self to go with him, and if he turns ano∣ther way, then I sute my self to go with him that way, so though the waies of God be never so variōus, yet the soul that walks with God is sutable to those waies of God; Oh this is a great Art, a great Mystery to sute a mans self to these several administrations of God in the world. You shall have some that if God go in a way of mercy, Oh there they can bless, & praise God, and they think that this is to walk with God; but if God turns his back upon thee and takes away thy choisestearthly comfort (it may be) thy deerest yoke-fellow & so comes in a way of affictions, how Page 277 canst thou sute with Gods waies then? When God was in a way of mercy, then my exercise was in joy, and thanks∣giving, and speaking good of his Name; but now the Lord is in a way of afflictions, now I exercise faith on God, now I exercise patience, now I exercise Christian wisdom, to know what good I can get out of this hand of God, that what courses soever God takes, yet still a Christian hath several graces to exercise in several conditions, and that not only while God is in a smooth path the soul can exer∣cise Joy, and Thanksgiving, & speaking good of his Name: But let God go into a rugged path of very great afflictions, yet the soul doth sute it's self unto God according to his several administrations; this is to walk with God.
Walking with God, is, To have a Holy Dependance upon God. Opened in Four Particulars.
Sixthly, Walking with God, it is, To have a holy depen∣dance upon God in all his waies. For one to live in a holy de∣pendance upon God for these Four things.
First, In a holy dependance upon God for Direction;* Oh lead me in the way of thy truth. When a Christian looks up to God and depends upon him in the constant course of his life, depends upon him for direction, Oh Lord! teach me thy way, Lord, lead me in the way of everlasting life, Lord, send forth thy light and thy truth to guide me; Thou shalt be my guide even unto death, when the soul dare not go one step further, then it sees God going before it, and therefore it saith, Lord, lead me, guide me: I beseech you examine as you go along, can you say, that in the course of your lives this you find; That you walk in a holy de∣pendance upon God for guidance and direction in every step? whatsoever you meddle with, yet your walk is thus in a holy dependance upon God for direction in your bu∣finess, and according as the business is, of lesse or greater conscequence the heart works more after God for guidance and direction for that business. But now, the men of the Page 278 world they are afraid that God should lead them into hard paths, into ttoublesom waies, and therefore they are shy of Gods Guidance; this is the way of wicked hearts, (I say) they are shy of the guidance and direction of God; but a gracious heart saith, let God lead me, and let the way be what it will. The wicked are guided by their own thoughts, by their own counsels, by the examples of o∣ther men, what's most sutable to their own ends, but the way of the Saints is this, Lord, guide me.
Secondly, Their holy dependance upon God it is for protection to protect them in what they do. Lord, I am in the way that * thou hast guided me into, I may meet with much trouble and affliction, but Lord do thou protect me, do thou defend me in this way of thine. As the child walking with the father, if he hears any noise that doth scare him, he looks up to the father, and depends upon his father to be prote∣cted: So when a child of God shall in all his waies walk in a holy dependance upon God for protection, this is to walk with God.
Thirdly, The soul depends upon God for assistance in any thing that it undertakes. Lord, this is the work that thou * callest me to, Oh let me have strength from thy self in this work, I can do nothing without thee Lord, and let me have assistance from thee. Whereas the wicked they make flesh their arm, and therefore there's a curse pronounc'd a∣gainst them, in Jer. 17. 5. verse, they are strangers to any such work as this, of dependance upon God for assistance! Now and then at a spurt, they will say, that God must help them and they can do nothing without God: I but to have a holy, gracious frame of spirit to walk in a holy dependance upon God for assistance in every businesse, this is far from the wicked and ungodly.
Fourthly, The soul walks in a holy dependance upon God for*a blessing upon all it doth. Walk before me and be upright, I am thine exceeding great reward. As if God should say to Abra∣ham, Walk in dependance upon me, I am thy reward, though thou hast little encouragment in the world, yet Page 279 look up to me for thy reward: so when the soul turneth from men, and the world, and minds not so much what en∣couragement it hath from the world, but looks up to God, Lord, I depend upon thee for a blessing, and how ever things seem to go, yet Lord, I look up to thee for the brin∣ging all to a good issue; here's now a soul walking with God.
Walking with God makes a man free and ready in the waies of God.
Seventhly, One that walks with God, in all his waies of Ho∣liness and Obedience his heart is free in him, he comes off readily to every good work, he is not hall'd and pull'd to God, but he walks with him. There's a great deal of differenet between one that is dragged after another, (as if you should drag a prisoner that hath no mind to go that way) and another that walks up and down with delight and pleasure with you: 'Tis not enough to walk with God, for to be in the way that God would have you to be, or to do the things that God would have you to do, except your hearts do come off freely in the waies of obidience, except there be a cheerfulness in the waies of obedience, except you choose the waies of holiness as the waies that are most sutable to you, this is the walking with God. In the 119. Psal. 45. I will walk at liberty, (saith David) for I seek thy precepts. It's a notable Scripture. The men of the world they think that there is no walking at liberty but for them to satisfie their defires to the uttermost, to walk after their lusts which is the Scripture phrase: No but saith David, my liberty is this, I seek thy precepts. A carnal heart thinks it is the greatest bondage in the world for to seek the pre∣cepts of God, and to conform to Gods precepts, that I must walk according to rule, that's a bondage: No, I'le walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts. It's an excellent argu∣ment of grace in the heart, to account the precepts of God to be the greatest liberty to the soul: When I am in the Page 280 waies of sin, I am in the waies of bondage, I am a slave to Satan; but when I seek thy precepts, I am at liberty. As a man when he is walking up and down in the fields, he is at liberty. So when the soul is walking with God it is at liberty, but when the soul is walking without God it is in a dungeon, a prison; but (I say) when it walks with God it is at liberty, it comes off freely in all the waies of obedi∣ence.
Walking with God consists in Communion with God.
Eighthly, Walking with God consists in the Converse and Communion that the soul hath with him in holy duties: There are the special walks of the soul with God, and of God, with the soul in the duties of holy Worship. In the 18. of Levit. 4. saith the Lord there, Ye shall do my Judgments, and keep mine Ordinances, to WALK therein, I am the Lord your God. You must Walk in Gods Ordinances, the Ordinan∣ces of God they are the Walks of a gracious soul, and there the soul meets with God, in the 26. of Levit. 11, 12. It's a notable Scripture to shew that in Gods Ordinances there the soul meets with God. And I will set my tabernacle a∣mongst you, and my soul shall not abhor you, that is, shall de∣light in you, And I will WALK among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I will set my Tabernacle amongst you: What's that? That is, mine Ordinances, you shall enjoy mine Ordinances, you shall have the duties of my Worship, and I will Walk among you: then God walks among us when we enjoy his Ordinances. So that you see in the 18. of Levit. there God saith, You shall walk in mine Ordinances, the Ordinances are the godly mans walk: then in the 26. of Levit. the Ordinances are Gods walk; so that we see they walk the same way, and there God and a gracious heart meet together. The Churches enjoying Or∣dinances are the Candlesticks that we reade of in the 1 of Revel. 13. In the midst of the seven golden Candlesticks was one like unto the son of man, cloathed with a garment down to the feet,Page 281and gird about the paps with a golden girdle: The Lord Jesus Christ is in the midst of the Candlesticks; that is, in the midst of the Churches, where there are the Ordinances of God, there he is, and if you would walk with him you must find him there; in the 68. Psal. 24. there likewise you may see what the way of a gracious heart is in walking with God, They have seen thy goings O God, even the going of my God, my King, (where?) in the Sanctuary. If you would walk with another you must know where his goings are, observe where he uses to walk, and be going there. They have seen thy going O God, even the goings of my God, my King, in the Sanctuary; there's the goings of God, if you would meet with God and walk with him, it must be in the Sanctuary, it must be in his Ordinances. In the 7. of Cant. 5. verse, it is said, That the King (speaking of Christ) is held in the galleries; now what's that but in the Ordinances? that's as it were the galleries of the great King of Heaven and Earth. And you know Princes and great men, they have their sumptuous galleries wherein they use to walk, and only chief favourites are permitted and suffered to be there to walk up and down: The King is HELD in his galleries: that is, when Jesus Christ is in Communion with his Saints in his Ordinances, in the du∣ties of Worship: Oh 'tis the most pleasant galleries to walk in that he hath, it's as pleasant a gallery as he hath in Heaven it's self, Oh! he loves to be there, The King is Held there. Oh! many a sweet and comfortable turn hath a gracious heart in these galleries, that is, in the Ordinan∣ces and Duties of Worship in walking with Jesus Christ.
When the soul is exercised in the Ordinances, it hath converse with Christ, it hearkens what Christ saith, and Christ hearkens what such a soul saith, I will hearken what he will say, and the soul knows the voice of Christ, 5. Cant. 2. It is the voice of my beloved, saith the Spouse. Oh it knows what the voice of Christ is when they walk toge∣ther in Ordinances: Christ speaks to the soul, and the soul knows his voice, and the soul speaks again to Jesus Christ, Page 282 there is a blessed converse between them, Christ lets him∣self into the heart, and the heart opens its self to Christ, Oh! the Communion that a gracious heart hath with Je∣sus Christ in Ordinances it is unspeakable! Only those that are acquainted with it understand what the meaning of conversing with God there means; It is with many even as it was with Adam, that when God came to walk in the garden, we read that he was hid in the bush: The Ordi∣nances and Duties of Worship are as Paradice, as Eden; and God comes many times to walk with us, and would feign have communion and converse with us, yet Oh! how many times are many of his servants hid in the bush; they have walked loosly, and contracted some guiltiness upon their spirits, and so the presence of God is terrible to them, and the more the voice of God, and the presence of God is in an Ordinance, the more they are afraid because of some guiltinesse: they are intangled in the bush when as they should be conversing with God, Oh the difference that there is between some Christians and others in the exercising themselves in the Duties of Worship! There are some that when they are worshiping of God, Oh what sweet and blessed terms have they with God, and Communion be∣tween God and their souls! and others, though (it may be) they have some good in them, yet they are intangled in the bryars of the world, and though God be in the midst of his Ordinances, yet they have no converse, no commu∣nion with him at all.
Walking with God causeth the soul to follow God more as be re∣veals himself more.
The Ninth Particular is this: The soul that walks with God, as God reveals himself unto it still more and more, so it fol∣lows God more and more, and still seeks to glorifie God more and more, that's walking: There is a progresse in the waies of godliness where there is a walking. The soul when first it is led by the hand of Jesus Christ to God, and comes and Page 283 walks with him, Oh 'tis sweet and comfortable, but still as God reveals himself more and more to the soul, so the soul still grows up in godlinesse more and more, and still is more holy, and more gracious, and honours God more in the Conversation of it than formerly it hath done, it gets neerer and neerer to Heaven every day; this is to walk with God. There's a notable Scripture in the 63. Psal. 8. David saith there, My soul follows hard after thee, O Lord, thy right hand upholdeth me. As a poor child that is walking with the father, it may be he is weak, and cannot go so fast as it doth desire, but the father puts forth his hand and takes hold of him and so upholds and strengthens the child, and it follows hard after the father: so 'tis here: Oh Lord thy right hand upholds me: If it did not uphold me, I could not walk, but thy right hand upholds me, and then my soul follows hard after thee, and so increa∣ses in godliness more and more: I will praise thee more and more saith David in another place speaking of the honor that he disir'd to give to God in his way, he profess'd he would still ad to the praise of God, and praise him more and more.
These are the principal things wherein walking with God consists.
Now to all these take in that consideration that we have mentioned all along, and that makes it up, That all these are in a constant course of a mans life, This walking with God.
Some other men that know not what it is to walk with God, perhaps they may come and walk a step or two in Gods waies, but they quickly turn out again, and they find them tedious and irksom to them: But the heart that walks with God doth all this that I have named.
That is, Eyes God in all his waies. Behaves its self as in the presence of God. Walks in the same way God doth. Observes Gods designs. And so likewise the rest, and all this in the constant course of his life.
It's true, Through the violence of some temptation there Page 284 may chance to be a step astray, or there may be perhaps some fall in the way; but still the heart is God-ward, and still is towards God, it gets up again, and walks again in the way, it doth not meerly go a step into the way of God as some carnal men do; it may be somtimes when Gods hand is upon them, or upon the hearing of some Sermon, then their hearts are a little touch'd, and they seem to be a little froward; but take the constant course of their lives, and it's in the way of sin; But the constant course of the waies of the Saints, are in the waies of God. As now, a Swine may go through a fair meadow, I but that's not the place that it doth so much regard, but it would be in the mire and dirt, and there it wallows. So it is with many wicked men, they will come and hear, and pray, and do some good duties, this is a Swine in a meadow; but when they come to those waies that may satisfie the lusts of the flesh, there they wallow, that's their proper place, and therefore far from walking with God. A begger will perhaps follow a man a little way so long as he hath hopes of getting any thing by him: but if the man goes still a∣way from him, he turns aside to another way, he will go no further along with him: so 'tis with many men, even many professors they would seem to follow God perhaps for comfort, and for something that they would have from him; but if they cannot find presently what they would have from God, then they turn aside: whereas (I beseech you observe this) the difference between a friends walking with another out of delight of Communion with him, and a begger that only goes along with another man begging for an alms; The man that goes along begging for the alms he doth not regard the company of this man any further than he may have hopes of an alms from him, if he cannot have what he would have, or if he have once what he would have, he turns aside from the man: But a friend that is walking with his friend, that that satis∣fies him is, the company of his friend, and the converse that he hath with him while he is walking, and so he goes Page 285 on in a constant way, and walks to the end of the place where his friend is to go, and is sorry that the walk is so short, and still desires to converse with his friend: So I say, this is the difference for all the world in Professors, there are some that have some touch of conscience, and they see there is no way for them if they have not mer∣cy from God but they must perish, and perhaps they will be seeking of God, and following of God, and crying to God for mercy: but if they have not comfort according as they expect they turn away from him, and seek for comfort other waies: But a gracious heart that is indeed turned to God, it doth not only seek to God for mercy for its self that it might be delivered from misery, but it sees an excellency in God, and finds sweetness in Converse and Communion with God, and loves the presence of God, and this is the ground of the constancy of his heart in the waies of holiness, Because it loves so much of the presence of God, and Communion with God, it is for God him∣self that the soul is in those waies, and such a one will hold out in the waies of God. Indeed one that meerly serves God in a servile way, and seeks himself only in seeking of God, such a one (I say) will be ready to turn aside; but where the soul walks with God out of a sence of Commu∣nion, Sweetness, and Good that there is in Communion with God, such a one goes on in a constant way to the end and is not tir'd in the waies of God as others are. You know, If you be walking from place to place, if you have good company with you, you are not weary, you account the journy nothing, why? because you have good com∣pany, and especially if you have good discourse all along too; so it is with Christians, Oh the waies of God come to be very easie to them upon this ground, and so they hold out.
CHAP. V. Twelve several Excellencies of walking with God, Opened.
THe next thing is, The Excellency that there is in walking with God.
The first Excellency.
And this may be in the first place: The walking with God. Oh there is an Excellency in it: If it were only this, That it makes the waies of God easie: All the waies of God, how easie are they to the soul that knows what this means, [Of walking with God] That hath God in his company con∣tinually, Oh the easiness that there is in the waies of God! it's that that is worth a world, and it's a very grievous and sad condition that men and women are in who have con∣vinced consciences, and dare not wilfully go out of Gods waies, but are alwaies drooping and find them grievous and tedious to them: But it is because they have not communi∣on with God in them: they are in them meerly, upon ne∣cessity because they ought to be in them. But the Saints find the waies of God more easie to them, for they have al∣waies good company with then. When I awake, I am alwaies with thee, saith David. The very nights are pleasant unto them: when he awakes still he is with God. There's ma∣ny men and women cannot lie alone; those that cannot sleep when they awake, if they have no company with them the nights are tedious; but if they cannot sleep, and yet when they awake they have some with them the nights are not so tedious to them: When I awake I am ever with thee saith David concerning God. That's the first thing, for the Excellency of this walking with God.
The second Excellency.
But Secondly, This walking with God, it is, most hono∣rable. Oh 'tis an honorable thing to walk with God. At∣tendance upon Kings and Princes we know is honorable; The Maids of Honor that do but attend upon a Queen, it's a great honor; the attendance upon a King, yea upon Noble Men: But now, not only attendance, but free con∣verse with Princes, that's more than meer attendance; to walk with an Emperour as a friend up and down in his Galleries, in his Gardens, in his Orchyard. So it is with the Saints, Abraham is called Gods friend. You are not my servants, but my friends, saith Christ. God admits the soul to come as a friend and to have converse with him, Oh! this is honorable. They were accounted blessed that were in the presence of Solomon, that were but his servants to wait at his Table; much more to sit at his Table, to see the order of Solomons Table: Then to be alwaies with God, and walking with him, what a blessed and honourable thing is this! It is the honor of Angels themselves, that they do but see the face of God, the Angels that are in Hea∣ven do behold the face of God; what honor is it then for Christians to be alwaies walking with God? Honor! 'tis that that is the great honor and happiness of the Church when she shall be in her glory. Mark how Christ doth ex∣presse himself, in Revel. 3. 4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments, What's promi∣sed to them? and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. There shall be a glory put upon them, and they shall walk with me, for they are worthy. The walking with Christ, that's the greatest honor that Christ could promise unto them. And so in the 14. of the Revelation. it's said of those that stood upon Mount Sion with the Lamb, having harps in their hands, and singing of a new song; in the 4 verse, These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins; these are they which follow thePage 288Lamb whithersoever he goes; these were redeemed from among men; being the first fruit unto God and to the Lamb. They follow the lamb whithersoever he goes: This is the honor that is put upon them: Oh the walking with God it is most honora∣ble.
The third Excellency.
Thirdly, The Excellency of walking with God consists in this, In the blessed satisfaction that the soul must needs have in walking with him: to walk with life its self, with glory, with happinesse, and that in a constant way, this must needs satisfie the soul, must I say bring inconceivable satis∣faction and peace unto the soul thus walking with Him. You know what Philip said, Let us see the Father, and it suffi∣ceth us: What, would it suffice Philip to see God? Oh then! not only to see him, but to walk and be continually with him. People will run many times but to have the fight of a great man, but to be admitted into the same room and to walk with him; this is more, in the 33. of Exod 14. And he said, my presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest: God promised to Moses that his presence should be with him, and then when the presence of God is with the soul, Oh the rest that the soul hath by the presence of God! Oh the lettings out of joy that there must needs be to the heart that walks with God! in the 38. Psal. 8. 9. They shall be a∣bundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the rivers of thy pleasures; for with thee is the fonntain of life: In thy light shall we see light. Certainly where God walks there is a glorious light round about, that such a soul never walks in darkness, the light of God shines about it; as we reade of those that walked with Christ to Emaus, the text saith, Their hearts burn'd within them. Certainly the hearts of the Saints walking with God must needs be fild with those influences from God that must make their hearts glow within them while they are walking with him: in Psal. 89. 15, 16. you have a nota∣ble Scripture there about the satisfaction of the soul in Page 289 walking with God, Blessed are the people that know the joyfull sound: they shall walk O Lord in the light of thy countenance, In thy Name shall they rejoyce all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. Those that walk with God they walk in the light of Gods Countenance, and in Gods Name shal they rejoyce all the day, and in his righteousness shall they be exalted. Oh! a blessed thing it is to walk with God. The speech of that noble Marques Galiatius that was of great birth in Italy, and forsaking all his honors and friends and coming to Geneve, he had this expression, saith he, upon a time feeling his sweet converse with God, Cursed (saith he) be that man that accounts all the gold and silver in the world worth one daies enjoyment of Communion with Jesus Christ. He had left a great deal of gold and silver, the Pope himself was a neer kinsman to him, and great posses∣sions and kindred he had, and left it all to come to Geneve, to professe the truth there, and he found all recompenced in Cōmunion with Christ, and his heart was so ful with it, that he even cursed those that should account all the gold and silver in the world worth the enjoyment of one hours communion with Christ: Oh an hours walking with Christ is more than all the world. I appeal to those souls that have been acquainted with this, whether would you have lost such an hour that you have been conversing with God for all the world? what would you take for the enjoyment of such an hour as that is? Oh not thousand thousands of worlds a gracious heart would not take for some hours that it hath in enjoyment of communion with God in walking with him; Oh there's infinite sweetness in wal∣king with God. There's a great deal of good to be had in walking with the Saints, as sometimes I have told you of Dr. Taylor that was the Martyr, when he came to prison he rejoyced that ever he was put in prison there to meet with that Angel of God John Bradford: Now if it be comforta∣ble to have communion with the Saints though in prison, Oh how sweet is it to have communion with God in wal∣king with him! I remember I have read of a King, that Page 290 once beholding Plato walking up and down with other Phylosophers, he cries out thus; Oh life! this is life and true happiness; yonder is true happiness: he did not look upon his Kingdom as affording a life to him, and as affording that happiness as he did beleeve Plato and the Phylosophers had conversing one with another about Phylosphie; as if he should say, 'tis not the Kings of the earth that live the hap∣py lives, but these Phylosophers that walk and converse thus one with another. Oh then what life and happiness it is for the soul to walk up and down with God, and to converse with God himself! what though thou walkest in the velly of Bacha, yea what though thou walkest in the shadow of death in respect of outward afflictions, yet wal∣king with God is that that will shine upon thee, and will sweeten thy heart even when thou art walking in the vally of Bacha, and in the shadow of death. In the 7. of the Revel. see whither Jesus Christ leads the soul in walking with Him, The Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Thus when thou walkest with Jesus Christ, he leads thee to the living fountains of waters that comfort thee; the comforts that thou hadst in the world were but as dirty puddles; but those comforts that thou hast in Christ when thou walkest with him, they are the fountain of living waters. That's the third thing wherein the excellency of walking with God consists, The abundance of soul-satisfaction that the heart hath in God.
The fourth Excellency.
The fourth Excellency that there is in walking with God is this, It's a special part of the covenant on our part that God doth make with us, upon which the very blessing of the cove∣nant doth in grreat part depend: as that Scripture in the 17. of Gen. doth cleerly shew, where God is coming to make a co∣venant with Abraham, and to be a God to him and to his Page 291 seed; what's that God requires of Abraham now? Walk be∣fore me and be upright; Then I am God alsufficient, and I en∣ter into covenant with you, to be a God to you, and a God to your seed, Walk before me and be upright. As if that were all the thing that God look'd at, that you should walk with him and be upright: [then] you shall have the blessing of the Covenant. Oh this is a great excellency, that it is a special part of the Covenant that God makes with his people on their part: and then on his part, he will be a God unto them. What was it that God requir'd, in the 6. of Micah, 6, 7. verses, there you may see how God prizes walking with him, that it's the great thing that God doth look at, whereas there were some that said, Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow my self before the high God? shall I come before him with burns offerings? with Calves of a yeer old? will the Lord be pleased with thousands of Rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of Oyl? shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? What shall I do to please God? Mark in the 8. verse, He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do Justly, and to love Mercy, and to WALK humbly with thy God? As if he should say, This is the great thing, to walk with thy God; not only to exercise some particular grace of thy Justice, and Mercy, but in general, to walk with thy God; Never tell me of any thing that you would do for me, but in the constant course of thy life, walk humbly with thy God. This therefore was the comfort of Hezekiah when he had the message of death come to him, in the 38. of Isa. Remember O Lord (saith he) how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart; he turned his face to the wall, and (the text saith) he wept (it was for joy:) as if he should say, Lord, it's true, there hath been many infirmities in me; but Lord, I have walked be∣fore thee in truth, and with a perfect heart; as if he should say, I may boldly challenge, and I do come now Lord to challenge the good of the Covenant, that thou wouldst re∣member me according to the riches of thy mercy, for Lord Page 292 I have walked with thee: as if he should say, Lord, was not that the thing that thou didst require of my father A∣braham? why Lord, I have walked before thee, and I have been upright in some measure; therefore Lord, be a God alsufficient to me, Lord, remember thy Covenant, be a God to me, be All in All to me because of this. Oh my brethren! Is not this worth ten thousand thousand worlds, That the soul may be able to appeal to God that it hath done that which is a special thing that is requir'd in the Covenant on our parts; and so upon it may have the assu∣rance of Gods performing the Covenant on his part.
The Fifth Excellency.
And then the fifth thing is, There is a blessed safety in wal∣king with God. As in the 23. Psal. 4. there see the Prophet David that was a man much exercised in walking with God, saith he, Yea though I walk through the vally of the sha∣dow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff doth comfort me: I am walking with thee, and though I be walking in the shadow of death, I'le therefore fear no evil. Now is it not a blessed thing to be in safety alwaies with God? And in the 138. Psal. 7. saith David, Though I walk in the midst of trouble thou wilt revive me; thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies: and thy right hand shall save me. No matter what the trouble be so God be with the soul; he that walks uprightly walks sure∣ly, in the 10. of the Proverbs, 9. Whereas it's said of the wicked that they walk upon a snare continually: in the 18. of Job, 8. The wicked walk upon a snare: The waies of wickednesse that you walk in, they may seem to be pleasant and comfortable to you, but certainly you are upon a snare, and you may be catch'd and undone for ever, though perhaps thou hast escap'd all this while, yet thou art in continual dangers, Every step (I say) thou goest on in the waies of sin, thou art upon a snare, and in danger to be catch'd to thy eternal destruction; But he that walks up∣rightly, Page 293 he walks surely, and this is a great excellency, for a man to walk surely, I know I am in my way for I am with God: A child doth not fear what way soever it goes in, if he can but see his father. Now the soul may know surely, I am in the right way, I am with God; and I am safe what ever danger comes, for I am walking with God.
The Sixth Excellency.
The sixth Excellency that there is in walking with God is this, From hence the soul comes to enjoy a holy boldness and a holy familiarity with God. It may be when the soul comes first to God, the presence of the great God strikes some fear, there is some dread of the Majesty of God; But when the soul hath used to converse with him, there is a holy fami∣liarity that the soul hath with God, and a holy boldness, it can have free liberty to say any thing to him now; and this is the reason that some now that never knew what the spirit of prayer meant, and what the liberty of the soul in opening its self to God meant before, yet when they have come to be acquainted with the waies of God; Oh what liberty have they then in their spirits to open their hearts to God, yea, they can open their hearts to God as one friend to another. I remember it's said of Luther, that when ever he was praying, he could speak to God as to his friend. In Job, 22. 21. Acqusint now thy self with Him, and be at peace. The soul comes to have an acquaintance with God, Oh what a phrase is here! What, acquaint our selves with God, that God should be our acquaintance! I, God is willing to be the acqaintance of the poorest Christian in the world, Poor men and women, and Servants, and o∣thers that perhaps some rich men that is by them wil scorn their acquaintance, but they account them rather (as it's spoken of some vile people) fit to be set with the dogs of the flock, yea, perhaps though they be poor godly people, yet they think it too much debasing themselves to have any kind of acquaintance with them: Well, but the infinite Page 294 God though he is so high that he humbles himself to be∣hold the very things that are done in Heaven, yet this God thinks not much to be one of thy acquaintance, to be of the acquaintance of any one that hath any godliness in them; when we see a great man, a man of parts and ho∣nor come to some poor man and shake him by the hand, we will say, Look what an humble man is this, that will be so familiar with the meanest of all. Oh! now acquaint thy self with God, This is the blessedness of walking with God; the soul comes to have a familiar converse with God, and a holy boldness.
The seventh Excellency.
The seventh benefit or Excellency that there is in wal∣king with God is this, The Communication of Gods secrets. He that walks with God shall come to know the mind of God. It's impossible for a man to take delight in walking with another but he must discover secrets from him; there's ne∣ver any true friendship where there is a closeness of spirit. But where there is true friendship they will take one another and walk together, and open their hearts each to other: this is comfortable walking indeed. Thus it is in walking with God, this is the blessing of it, such souls they have the secrets of God discovered to them, they come to know much of the mind of God; though they are weak in their natural parts, yet (I say) they come to know much of Gods mind because they are with God. We reade in the 13. of Proverbs, 20. vers. saith the holy Ghost there, He that walketh with wise men shall be wise. Then what shall he be that walks with God? Surely if there be wisdom to be learned from our walking with wise men, then there is wis∣dom to be learn'd in walking with God: 'Tis from hence that men that are weak in parts they come to have such ex∣cellent knowledg in the great mysteries of the Gospel, and you wonder at it: you see such a mean servant that a while ago could understand nothing at all; yet now comes to Page 295 understand the great mysteries of the Gospel, and that be yond many great Scholers: How comes this to passe? he walks with the God of wisdom, and the God of wisdom doth delight to let out himself to him, and to open his heart to him, they come to know the counsels of God be∣cause they walk with him; those Christians that keep close to God in a holy conversation walking with him, certain∣ly they come to know more of the mind of God than o∣thers do; others that walk loosly they know little of the great mysteries of the Gospel, they may talk something of them, but certainly they have not a spiritual insight into the Great mysteries of the Gospel so as those have that walk with God.
The eighth Excellency.
The eighth benefit of walking with God it is, That such find favour in Gods eyes for granting their petitions; for to hear them in their prayers. In the 37. Psal. 4. ver. Delight thy self in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desire of thine heart; walk with God, and enjoy converse and communion with him, so as to delight thy self with him, and he will give thee thy hearts desire, thou shalt have what thou wouldst have. As now, if a man have a petition to give to any great man, If he can but observe him in his walks, then he thinks that surely when he may have such an opportunity, now to present it as he hopes to have audiance, and acceptance of the petition. I remember I have read of one that offered to give a great sum of mony that he might have but liberty to whisper any thing in the Kings ear every day, why? be∣cause thereby he thought that he should have a great many people come to him to desire his help for to prefer their pe∣titions, and if he might have but that liberty he should get enough that way. Now the soul that hath the liberty of walking with God, what a priviledg hath he? and what opportunities to present petitions to God? and the Lord de∣lights in hearing of them. If a King will admit a man to walk with him, surely such a man whatsoever he presents Page 296 it's like to speed. Now my brethren, upon this ground it is thus: you shall see a great deal of difference in a formal professor's prayer, & the prayer of a godly man that walks with God; the difference in the prayers of these two is thus: I'le set it out by this similitude. You have your beggers, and they pray for an alms, but they stand at the door; but if you a have special friend, an acquaintance that shall come to desire a favour from you, the door is opened for him, you carry him into the Parlour, and there he opens his mind to you, he hath a great deal of priviledg more than the other: Both come to ask a favour from you, but one stands at the door, and the other is let into the Parlour and walks up and down there, and there opens his mind to you. Just for all the world is there this diffe∣rence between the prayers of formal professors, and the prayers of those that walk with God; Those that make but a meer profession of Religion, they will pray as others do, but they are like beggers at the door, they see not Gods face all the while, they knock it may be, but the door is not opened for them to come in: But a gracious heart that walks with God, doth not only stand knocking at the door, but it is opened and he comes into the Pre∣sence Chamber, and there saith God, What is thy request O thou soul? As if a friend should hear another that is his dear friend stand knocking at the door, he presently o∣pens the door and carries him into the best room that he hath, and there saith, Tell me what it is that you would have, I am not able to deny you; and this is the priviledg of those that are gracious and holy, that walk with God: they have much priviledg in prayer, much benefit that way, and freedom with God, and assurance of Gods gran∣ting of their petitions.
The ninth Excellency.
In the ninth place, There's this Excellency in the souls walking with God, There must needs be a glory put upon the soul.Page 297 As it was with Moses, he went up and was but with God fourty daies upon the mount, and when he came down, his face did shine that the people were not able to behold it: God appeared in a visible manner to him; But spiritually it's true now, the soul that is conversing with God fourty daies, yea, in the constant course of his life, hath a beauty, a lustre, a glory put upon it, and such a lustre and glory that those that have enlightened consciences and yet are guilty they are scarce able to bear the fight of them: As I appeal to you, when you have given liberty to some way of sin, and you have come into the presence of those that have been godly and walked very close with God, hath it not struck a terror to you? for there is a glory and beau∣ty upon those souls that do walk close with God, they do shine in the midst of a crooked and perverce generation. What's the glory of Heaven but the reflection of Gods pre∣sence upon Heaven that makes it so glorious? And in its measure a gracious heart that walks close with God hath the glory of Heaven upon it.
The Tenth Excellency.
Tenthly, Gods presence doth mightily act every grace, doth draw forth every grace: (and that I lay down as another di∣stinct head in the excellency of walking with God) I say, it draws forth every grace, the graces of the Spirit of God are alwaies kept in action: as now, fire will draw fire. The Lord being of infinite holinesse, when the heare is holy it being in the presence of God walking with him, (I say) all holinesse must needs be drawn forth, and must be acted; and this will put a mighty beauty upon men, while they have not only grace in their hearts but it is acted. And this is a great blessing to have our graces acted, drawn forth, and enlarged, and this is the benefit of walking with God.
The Eleventh Excellency.
And besides, The presence of God, and familiarity of the soul in walking with him, will make the presence of God neither at death or judgment shall ever be terrible to it. Those that now walk with God and have much converse with him, (I say) when they come to die, Gods presence shall not be terrible to them; yea when Jesus Christ shall come in flaming fire to revenge himself upon those that know him not, the pre∣sence of Christ shal not be terrible to them: Why? Because they walked with Christ all the daies of their lives: In the 11. of Hosea, 10. vers. They shall walk after the Lord: he shall roar like a Lyon. Mark how these two are joyned together: wicked and ungodly men they shall tremble at the roaring of a Lyon: but for the Saints it shal not be terrible to them: And how much is it worth, that when God shall appear in death, and at judgment here and hereafter, the terrour of God shall be taken away? My brethren, God appears at death, and at the times of Judgment ordinarily in another manner than he doth in the time of prosperity; you see no terror in Gods presence now; but beware of it when death is approaching: wicked men when they lie upon their death-beds, how terrible is the presence of God to them then! but those that walk with God shall not find it so: when they come to die, then God appears to them; Now am I going to stand before the great God, to have my eternal estate determined one way or other: But what God is this? He is great indeed; but he is my friend, I have had converse with him all the daies of my life: And so, when I must come to Judgment here comes Jesus Christ with his thousands of Angels in glory, but it is Christ that I have conversed with all the daies of my life, this Christ hath been my friend before whom I am. This will be the comfort in walking with God.
The twelfth Excellency.
And then, The end of the walk, that makes it belssed indeed. Oh! how blessed will that make it! It's a blessed thing to walk with God now; but when you come to the End of this walk you shall find it blessed indeed. If a man did come to enjoy God at last, though it was through never so many difficulties, yet he had cause to blesse God. If one were going to possess a Kingdom, though his way were ne∣ver such a difficult way and hard, yet the end of his way would make it comfortable, because it is to go and take a Kingdom: But now, you that are walking with God, you have comfort in your walk, but the end of your walk, oh that will be glorious indeed! it is to possesse a Kingdom, it is to have the crown of glory set upon your heads; your communion that you have with God here, it is but as the forerunner of that glorious Communion that you shall en∣joy with him together with the Saints and Angels to all e∣ternity.
And thus we have given you the heads at least of the Ex∣cellency that there is in, Walking with God. No marvel though the holy Ghost sets such a commendations upon E∣noch, Above al things, That he walked with God, seeing there is so much good in it. I confesse I had thought not to have left this Head without applying of it, and war∣ming it upon your hearts, that you might walk so with God that you might not lose the comfort, and blessing, and sweet Excellency that you have had opened to you in wal∣king with God; only let me say thus much, Be in love with it; Know, there is no such good in any other path, the Devil doth but gul you, and your own hearts; and the world doth but deceive you, if it promise any good in any other way that will counter vail this: Oh no, the walking with God it is the good of a Christian, it's his happinesse, his glory, his commendations; Oh that this may be re∣corded of you as it was of Enoch! And Enoch walked with God.
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.
CHAP. VIII. Ten Several Evidences of a mans Walking with God.
BUt having set out unto you the excellency of walking with God, you will say, Who is it that doth walk with Him? I shall further set out to you the Evidences of those men and women that do walk with God.
The first Evidence.
One that walks with God, Is one that depends not much up∣on sence or reason in the course of his life: I say, one that is above the waies of Sence and Reason in his course, he hath received a principle to go higher. Most men in the world they walk according to sence; and therefore the Scripture saith, They walk according to the pleasure of their eyes. But now, one that walks with God, his walk lies beyond Sence, and above Reason; though things of Sence seem to go this way or that way, quite crosse to him, yea, though Reason seem to go quite crosse to him, yet still his heart is not in a hurry, but he hath that that can quiet his heart though Sence and Reason seem to be contrary: 2 Cor. 5. 7. there you shal see the walk of a godly man, For we walk by faith and not by sight, saith the Apostle; beyond our sight, either beyond our sight of sence, or the sight of Reason; we walk by faith. But now, this is a great point, a Christian walking by faith, and therefore I in∣tend to speak to that by its self from this very text, (God willing) in another Treatise.
The second Evidence.
One that walks with God, you shall find him in private the same that he is in publick; what ever holiness doth appear in such a one before others, in his walking in the world, if you trace him and follow him in his private course you shall find him the same man as you do in publik: why? be∣cause he hath not to deal with man so much, he hath to deal with God in all his waies, when he hath any thing to do before others, he walks with God, and when he is alone he is the same man still. In the 101. Psal. see what David saith there concerning his walk in private in his family, I will behave my self wisely in a perfect way (saith he) Page 308Oh when wilt thou come unto me! I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. As if he should say, I will not walk when I am abroad only, with a perfect heart, but I wil walk within my house with a perfect heart. There are many people that when they are abroad in the world they seem to be very strict in their way, but follow such men to their houses and there you shall see a great deal of diffe∣rence. You will find many times as much difference be∣tween the course of men when they are abroad and in their houses, as you find in their cloaths; you shall have ma∣ny men and women when they go abroad they wil be very neat, and though they have but little means, yet they wil lay it upon their backs so that they may be fine abroad; but come to them in their families and they care not what cloaths they wear there: It is just so in regard of their lives, their lives have as much difference as their cloaths: When they are abroad then they put a good face on things and seem to be very fair in their conversati∣ons, and speak good things, but at home there they are froward and perverse, and perhaps in their passions, will swear, there they are prophane, and ungodly, and vent their corruptions in a most ungodly manner; doest thou walk with God? If thou hadst to deal with God thou wouldst be the same in thy family that thou art abroad, that thy wife, children, and servants in thy family might give as good a testimony of thee as when thou art abroad with others: Yea, and if ye could retire with them into their very closets you should find them the same there in a∣ny duties of Religion. You shall have many when they come abroad and joyn with others, Oh how enlarged are they! yet dead and dull when they are at home either in family or closet, yea their own consciences tells them so. Those that walk with God wil be as spiritual in the one as in the other; it may be when they are with others, because they are to be the mouth of others they wil sure themselves according to those they pray with; yet when they are alone Page 309 and in their families their hearts are as spiritual and as ho∣ly in their duties as when they are with others: why? be∣cause they have to deal with God in all: and that's ano∣ther Evidence of one that walks with God, that he is the same in private as he is in publick.
The third Evidence.
A man that walks with God hath a serious spirit: walking with God will compose the spirits of men and women, will take off that loosness and vanity of spirit: Therefore wal∣king in the vanity of the mind, that's quite crosse to wal∣king with God; as in the 4. of the Ephe. 17. there it's spo∣ken of wicked men, it's said that they walk in the vanity of their minds: All wicked men they walk in the vanity of their minds; then all those that walk with God walk in the seriousness of their minds: It must needs be that they must have a seriousness of spirit in all their waies, for it's with God that they have to deal withal, they take not that liberty to run this way or that way as others do. If ser∣vants be walking one with another they can take liberty to go out of their way and talk with this or the other body as they please: But if a servant walk with his Master or Mi∣stris, he must not take that liberty but must go as they go. So, many that walk only with the creature, they take liber∣ty to run up and down as they please; but those that walk with God, they must have composed spirits, and walk seriously, and though they may walk seriously, yet cheer∣fully; I beseech you consider of this: For that Christian knows not the way of Christian-rejoycing that doth not know how to mix it with seriousness; yea, Senecha that was a Heathen could say, Joy, it is a serious thing; there is a kind of seriousness in true joy, for the joy of a Christian is not frothy, it is a composed joy: As thus now, It's se∣rious:
First, A Christian in his joy he is able to command him∣self, he can let out his joy so far and yet at a beck he can Page 310 command himself to the most spiritual duty in the world from his joy, he doth not profusely let out his heart so as he cannot call it in again. Certainly, thou dost not joy as a Christian if thou canst not take off thy heart from creature joyes, God gives thee liberty to be merry, but so, as to have it under thy command, as thou shalt be able to call thy heart off from it to the most serious duty in the world.
Secondly, He cannot only command himself to holy du∣ties in the midst of his joy, but he finds himself the fitter for holy duties by it: now this is a serious joy if it be no other than I can command my self off from it, and that that fits me for that which is holy: Christians had need take heed of frothinesse, slightnesse, and vanity, for certainly the wal∣king with God cannot but make them serious, and those that are slight and vain, surely they do not converse with God, for God is such a serious object that it's impossible but it must work a seriousnesse in the spirits of men.
The Fourth Evidence.
Those that walk with God, they walk in newness of life: For this is not our walk naturally, our walking with God is that that comes upon a mighty converting that God gives to our spirits: our walk naturally it is with our lusts, and with the Devil, and in the way to Hell; but one that walks with God walks in newnesse of life: as the Scrip∣ture speaks in the 6. Rom. 4. He walk according to the Rule of the new Creature. In the 6. Gal. 16. And as many as walk ac∣cording to this Rule, peace be on them and mercy. You will say, What Rule doth the Apostle mean here? I confesse ordinarily you have it applied to this, The walk according to the Scriptures: I grant it, that's a truth, That the Word of God should be the Rule of our walk, and of our lives, and those that walk according to that Rule shall have peace. But I do not think that to be the meaning of this text, but the scope is to be taken from the words of the former verse, for saith he in the 15. verse, In Christ JesusPage 311neither Circumcision availeth any thing, nor Ʋncircumcision, but a new Creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, (that is, According to the rule of the new Creature; not standing so much upon external things, either Circumcision or Un∣circumcision, not standing so much upon outward duties, though in their kind they must be stood upon; But the main thing that is to be stood upon, it is, The walk of the new Crea∣ture; and those that walk according to the rule of the new Creature, those that act the new Creature in their walk) peace be unto them. And that's the fourth thing in the Evi∣dences of a Walker with God; He walks in newness of life, and so according to the rule of the new Creature.
The Fifth Evidence.
When he hath to deal with the Creature be doth quickly passe through the Creature unto God. Any one (I say) that is ac∣quainted with this mystery of godliness in walking with God, though while he is in this world, he hath to deal as other men have, with the creatures, yet he will not stick in the creatures, but soon passes from the creatures to God: As thus, he receives sweetness from the creatures as well as others, but when he hath received, or is in receiving the sweetness of the creatures, his heart is upon God, Oh the sweetness there is in God! Is the creature so sweet? how sweet is God then? When he is in company with friends, is it so sweet to have society with men: how sweet is it to have society with God then? And when he hath comforts in a wife; Oh what comfort is there in the comforts of my Husband Jesus Christ! And when he hath comfort in a sweet habitation; Oh what comfort is there in God our habitation! he is not musling in the world, in the crea∣ture, but he relies upon God in al that he doth injoy: Now those that when they have any thing in the Creature there they stick; these are not acquainted with this way of wal∣king with God.
The sixth Evidence.
A man that walks with God, he loves to be much retir'd from the world. It's true, he must follow his occasions in the world, he doth that in obedience unto God, but except he may have his retired times he knows not how to live, it's true, when he is in his calling he walks with God there, he carries his heart Heavenly: There's a great deal of difference for one to walk with a friend in company with others, and when they are alone, though it's true, that while the Saints of God live in the world they must converse with the men of the world, and they have some∣what of God there: but though they have somewhat of God there, yet that's not so much as when God and their souls are alone, this is that that is exceeding sweet and comfortable to them, therefore they have their retired times of meditation; and retired times of prayer; as we reade of Isaac, he went out into the field to meditate, or to pray, for so meditation and prayer is taken sometimes in Scripture for all one: I'le powr forth my meditations to thee, sath David: that was his prayer: So, because they should be both joyned together, Isaac went out into the field to meditate. Those that walk with God if they live in a house and have no retir'd rooms, they go abroad and have some time or other to be retir'd by themselves; where-as you have other men, they know not how to spend any retired times, when they are alone their minds wander this way or that way, and they gaze after every feather that flies, and it's a prison for them to be alone, and they won∣der that men and women will shut up themselves alone, surely it's but their melanchollinesse. Oh poor wretch, thou knowest not what walks they have, they are not alone all this time, they would be loth to give their retired times for all the times of thy Jollity and Bravery; Thou thinkest if thou beest abroad in company, and there art feasting, and having good cheer, and musick, and talking, Page 313 and laughing that this is a brave life, they would be loth to change their retired times for the times of thy greatest Jolity with thy companions: One that walks with God he loves some retir'd times as well as to be busie in the bu∣sinesse of the world.
The seventh Evidence.
One that walks with God, he is careful to make even his ac∣compts with God, he doth keep his accompts with God even. This is a special thing in walking with God, when they lie down to consider, Are my accompts even with God? is there nothing amisse between God and my soul? what hath been this day between God and my soul? For how can two walk together except they be agreed as the Pro∣phet saith: Therefore they are very careful to keep their agreement with God. Indeed Jesus Christ the great Re∣conciler hath first reconciled their souls to God and so they come to walk with him: but then afterwards in the course of their lives they must keep up their agreement with God, and not to run in areriges with, and so to be insna∣red in the world, and insnared in the corruptions of their own hearts, as that men and women will be, if they be not careful to keep their accompts with God even daily, They will insnare their souls in the world and in the lusts of their own hearts till God and their souls come to be strangers, yea, til they be afraid almost to think of God; Here's the reason that many people are loth to come to prayer, loth to come to duties of communion with God, why? because they have not kept their accompts even with God, but have run in areriges with God, and their hearts are intangled in the world, and in their lusts, and now the presence of God comes to be terrible to them; Oh poor wretch that thou art, what thou that art a Christian and yet in such a case that the presence of God should be grie∣vous to thee! Oh thy condition is sad indeed! whereas thou shouldst be glad when thou thinkest of God, I wasPage 314glad when they said, Come let us go up to the house of the Lord: But one that keeps not his accompts with God even, his retired times are grievous to him, Indeed he dares not but have retired times, I but it's grievous to him, why? be∣cause he hath not kept his accompts even with God; But the soul that keeps even with God, Oh that soul rejoyceth in those times when it is to go to God, or doth but think of God. That's a special thing in a man or womans wal∣king with God, they keep their accompts even: And I beseech you observe it, As it's an Evidence, so it may be given as a Rule to help you to walk with God, Oh be care∣ful of keeping your accompts daily: Though this point that I am treating upon, is perhaps little understood by many, yet if so be that God would by his Spirit work your hearts to this, to keep your accompts even with God, you would know more of the meaning of this point.
The eighth Evidence.
That the more spiritual any Truth is, or any Ordinance is, or a∣ny Company is, the more doth the soul delight in it: One that is used to God, and converses with God, when such a one meets with a Truth that hath much of God in it, Oh how it closes with that Truth! when it meets with an Ordi∣nance that hath much of God in it, when it meets with Company that hath much of God in it, how doth this soul delight in it! This is sutable to the heart that conver∣ses much with God, saith the soul, I have had sweet walks with God, now me thinks I come into such a Company, I see the very Image of God in these, and Oh how sweet and delightsom are these to me! and so for Truths, and Ordinances, the more spiritual they are the more such a one doth delight in them: whereas a carnal heart that walks according to the flesh, in the way of the world, if there be some Truths that have some kind of humanity in them, as now, some sollid discourse that shews strength of reason, or strength of judgment in a Sermon, he will take Page 315 delight in that, if there be any Wit, Rhetorick, Eloquence he takes delight in that; but for spiritual truths there's no such delight in them except they be cloathed with some humane excellency. But now, those that are spiritual, the more spiritual any thing is, the more delight they take in it: As for Ordinances, they are but dry meat to those that are carnal except there be something external; bring the Ordinances in the plain simplicity of the Gospel to them, where there is only communion of Saints, sitting about a Table, and eating a piece of bread, and drinking a little wine, they see no excellency there: But a gracious heart, the lesse of man he sees in an Ordinance, and the more of God, the more he closes with them, and takes delight in them: here's one now that walks with God.
The Ninth Evidence.
A man that walks with God, is one that walks in all the Com∣mandements of God. Endeavours to walk in them before him, and blameless before men: in the 1. of Luke, the 6. it's said of Zacharias, and Elizabeth, They were both righteous before God, walking in all the Commandements and Ordinances of the Lord, blameless: here's a walking with God, not only to walk in some one thing, but in all Commande∣ments, and Ordinances of God, and not only so, but blame∣less before men too; though it's true, the chief work that he hath, it is, in converse with God, yet he is careful so as to be blameless before men, because it concerns much the honor of God that he should be blameless before men: Za∣charias and Elizabeth they were walkers with God, and their lives are described so that they were conscionable in all the Commands of God, and walked blameless before men. Now as we go along, apply it, Can you say, Lord, Thou that knowest al things, knowest, that there's no com∣mand of thine, nor no Ordinance of thine, but my soul closes with, and I desire to spend my life in them, and to walk blamelesly before men? There's a great many that Page 316 speak much of walking before God, and of the Ordinan∣ces of God, and yet come to them before men, and they are careless and negligent: (do but hearken to what the Lord speaks this day to thee) Certainly thou never knew∣est what it was to walk with God except thou doest walk blamelesly before men too.
The Tenth Evidence, Opened in five Particulars.
See but how the Scripture describes the walk of the Saints with God; there are some four or five particulars that I shal infist upon, wherein I shal open some Scriptures, describing the Saints walk with God.
As first, Their walk it is a walk of Humility, a way very humble. The heart that walks with God must needs be very humble in the presence of God; you know the place in the 6. of Micah, He hath shewn thee, O man, what he would have thee to do, To walk humbly with thy God: that's more than the offering of thousands of Lambs, or ten thousand Rivers of Oyl, To walk humbly with thy God: A proud man or woman never knows what it is to walk with God. But the walking with God causes much humility, there's no such thing in the world to humble the heart of a man as to have converse with God, do you see a man proud and haughty, and high in his carriage, surely you may con∣clude this man hath little converse with God: saith Job, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now have mine eyes seen thee: what then? I abhor my self in dust and ashes.
Secondly, Another thing that the Scripture speaks of the walk of a Christian with God, it is, Ʋprightness; Walk be∣fore me, and he upright. I might give you twenty Scriptures for that, how uprightness is the walk of a Christian with God: I'le give you only one about this, and that is in the 3 Epist. of John, 3. verse, there it is exprest in the new Te∣stament, by walking in the truth: and so sometimes in the Old, the walking in Ʋprightness, and walking in the Truth, is somewhat the same: I rejoyced greatly (saith the Apostle) Page 317when the Brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, e∣ven as thou walkest in the truth: So that this surely hath refe∣rence unto walking according to the truth of the Gospel in the truth and sincerity of our hearts: They testified of the truth that is in thee: That is, The Word of the Gospel that did prevail in thy heart, and prevailing in thy heart thou didst walk-in the strength and power of that Truth, and accor∣ding to the truth; here's a walking with God. And no marvel though the soul of this man was in so good a con∣dition as indeed it was; for you find in the 2. verse of this Epistle a very strange expression of John concerning this Gaius: what doth he say of him? I wish (saith he) above al things, that then mayest prosper and be in health even as thy soul prospereth. It seems this Gaius had but a poor, weak, sickly body: but a very good soul he was; and saith John, I wish that thou mayest prosper even as thy soul prospereth. Oh! that thou hadst but as good a body as a soul! It's a very strange speech. It were a curse to many of you I am afraid. But John could say concerning Gaius, Oh that this man Gaius had as good a body as he hath a soul! And how came he to have his soul to prosper? He walked in the truth, and according to the truth; and al that he did was in the truth and sincerity of his heart, hence his soul came to prosper: and those that have but very weak parts, yet if they walk in the truth, their souls will prosper.
The Third thing is, Walking in the fear of God. And indeed, these two are very neer a kin one to another, so you have it in the 5. of Nehe. 9. verse, Also I said it is not good that ye do, Ought ye not to WALK in the fear of our God? and he gives an argument there, Because of the reproach of the Heathen. So may I say to all Christians, that would pro∣fesse themselves Christians and godly; ought not ye to walk in the fear of our God? whatsoever other men do, they do thus and thus, and seek to follow their own ends and waies, but ought not YE to walk in the fear of our God? that's the walk of a Christian, the fear of God it is continually upon him. And observe, we reade in the 9. Page 318 of the Acts, of the walk of the Christians in the Primitive times upon which they came so to grow up in the waies of godliness as they did, at the 31. verse, the text saith, Then had the Churches rest throughout all Judea, and Gallilee, and Samaira, and were edified; (and what then?) They walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the holy Ghost, and so came to be multiplied. It's an excellent Scripture; would you be built up in godliness? let the fear of God be upon you, and if you walk in the fear of God, you will walk in the joy of the holy Ghost.
Obj. You will say, Fear, that may hinder our Joy.
Ans. No, But the way to have true joy in the holy Ghost it is, To walk in the fear of God, and though you have a company of vain and wanton spirits, that are no∣thing but for Jolity and Mirth, they cannot admit of any kind of seriousness (that we spake to before:) But certain∣ly their Jolity it's but frothy and carnal, but those have the best Joy in their hearts that walk most in the fear of God: When I see a Christian have the fear of God upon him, and that in the whol course of his life, then he will have much of the comfort of the holy Ghost.
Fourthly, The comfort of the holy Ghost it's joyned with the fear of God: and if you see any that talk never so much of the joy that they have; it's but a frothy carnal joy except the fear of God be upon them; Oh it will be a means to convince others of the excellency of the wales of God, when they shall see Christians walk in the fear of God; thus saith the text, they were multiplied; there were many that were convinc'd by it and did joyn with them, because they did see such a beauty and excellency in their way, walking in the fear of God and in the joy of the holy Ghost: and this was at a time when they had much rest; many people it may be when they are in danger, then they wil seem to walk in the fear of God: but mark, this was in a time when this people was freed from their danger, then they walked in the fear of the Lord; and in the joy of the holy Ghost, that was encreased in them: And this is the Page 319 walk of the Saints in their walking with God.
Two or three things more I shall mention. As now,
The walk that they walk, it's above: The way of the Saints it is on high, it's a walk above the world, they keep themselves on high aloft in a spiritual way: it's true, their hearts are humble before God, and yet they are on high too; though they look not upon themselves as worthy of the least crumb of bread, yet they look upon themselves again as too good to be vassals to the world, or to their lusts; and they look upon themselves as being set by God in too a high condition to be satisfied with all the world to be their portion; their hearts are lifted up on high to converse with the most High God, and so they come to be delivered from the snares of death that are below.
Yea and also, They endeavor to walk as Christ walked: as in the 1 Epist. of John, 2. 6. They walk as Christ himself walked, those that walk with God. Who did ever walk with God so as Christ did? who had ever that fellowship with the Father and the Son so as Christ had? The Saints they labor to walk so as Christ walked, to look upon Christ as the pattern of their lives. And so as Christ was anointed with the oyl of joy and gladnes above his fellows; so they come to have some of the ointment run down upon them, they come to have somewhat of that communion that Je∣sus Christ had with the Father, Christ had much com∣munion with the Father in the constant course of his life: Now the Saints laboring to walk as Christ walked, so they come to have Communion with God. The Lord bring you into this walk, and keep you in such a blessed walk as this is.
Now for the Rules of Direction in this our walking with God, that's to be our subject in the next Chapter.
CHAP. IX. Twelve Rules of Direction for walking with God.
WHat Rules should be observed for a Christian's walking with God? You will say to me, You have shewed to us, That it is a most blessed thing to walk with God, and we are convinced of it: But what Rules may there be given for it?
The First Rule.
Be sure of this, That there be no way of sin in thee. Take heed of giving way to any sin, especially known sin, though it be a little one, though it should be but a sin of omision, the giving way to any known sin, will make the presence of God terrible, and make all thy duties empty; will e∣strang God from thy soul: there's more evil in it than thou art aware of, thou canst have no Communion with God while thou art in any way of sin, especially if it be against Light, The least sin that is that a Christian gives way unto, is like a thorn in a mans foot, but a great sin, & a sin against knowledg is like a great gash in a mans foot; now if a man hath but a thorn in his foot he cannot walk well, it will make him halt; if a man hath but a little gravel got into his shoo he will not be able to walk along, he may walk a step or two, but not very long. Now small sins are like gra∣vil in the shoo, or like a thorn got into the foot; but if thou fallest into a great sin, a sin against light, against con∣science, Oh that is like a great gash that one may cut with a hatchet or an ax; if a man hath cut a great gash in his foot he wil hardly be able to walk with comfort: Even so it is when thou fallest into any great sin, thou hadst need then go to the Chyriurgeon, thou hadst need then have salve applied to thee to heal thy soul, or otherwise it wil hinder thee in thy walk with God.
The second Rule, or Direction.
Secondly, Labor to abstract thy heart from earthly and sensu∣al things as much as thou canst that thou mayest be spiritual: A drossie, earthly, sensual heart is unfit to have communion with God, God he is a Spirit, and thou must be Spiritual in thy converse with him, take heed of mingling thy heart with creature comforts, thou mayest make use of them, but in a spiritual way, do not defile thy heart with them, let not thy heart close with them as adequat objects of thy desires, or of thy love, take heed of being intangled, of be∣ing insnar'd with any creature comforts; a man cannot walk if he hath got into a snare, when men fetter them∣selves in the world, and intangle themselves with abun∣dance of businesses, & creature contentments, it doth migh∣tily hinder their freedom in walking with God, when mens hearts sink down to the creature they cannot walk with God, for God is above, he is on high, and the way of the wise is on high, and we must keep our selves on high: If so be that Christians have sometimes some good affecti∣ons, their hearts are a little stir'd up to things that are good; but at other times their hearts sink down to the world, and to sensual, and earthly contentments, they cannot walk freely with God, they can but hault at the best; as a man that hath one leg shorter than the other, he cannot walk evenly, but he haults as he goes; so when our affections are up and down, sometimes they are stir'd up to Heaven, and sometimes down to the world again, yea, perhaps at the same time when we have some truths heave us upward, and yet a drossie spirit to sink us downward, this will be but haulting, our affections must go even, must not be for Heaven and Earth together, except it be in sub∣ordination one to the other, and so while we are on the earth we are in Heaven if we keep our hearts in a subordi∣nation to spiritual things when we are busied about earth∣ly; Then is a mans heart spiritual, and separated from the Page 322 earth when he knows how to have comfort in God alone, when he knows how to make up the want of all creature∣comforts in God himself, that's a spiritual heart. Now you will say, we must not be insnar'd in the things of the earth: when is a mans heart spiritual? It's then Spiritual when it knows how to satisfie its self in God alone, and to make up the want in all creature comforts in God himself, and no Christian can walk with God except he attains to that pitch, to know how to make up all in God, and use all in order unto God.
The third Rule, or Direction.
Thirdly, If thou wouldst walk with God, evermore take Christ with thee God and the Soul cannot walk together but with Christ; Christ, God and Man, that Mediator, by that I mean this, in all thy converse with God have an eye to Christ, look unto God the infinite glorious First. Being of all things, but through Christ the Mediator, or other∣wise God will not be rendered amiable, and sweet, and lovely to thee, then is God rendered sweet and amiable, and lovely to the soul, even as a friend that the soul can have familiarity withal when as he is look't upon through Jesus Christ: do thou act all by Christ by the strength of Christ, and tender up all thy services to God through Christ, those that are not acquainted with the mystery of the Gospel in Christ, surely they know but little of this walk with God.
Quest. You will say, Enoch did not know much of Christ.
Answ. Oh yes! Certainly, though it was so long be∣fore Christ came, yet his eye was upon Christ: for in the 11. of the Heb 5. verse, the Apostle saith, That it was by faith that he walked with him; it was all by faith. Now Christ is the object of faith, and so his eye certainly was upon Christ: It was through faith, and I will give you one Scripture that will shew the use of eying of Christ in Page 323 walking with God, in the 25. of Exod, 21. verse, Thou shalt put the Meroy-Seat above upon the Arke, and in the Ark thou shalt put the Testimony that I shall give thee, and there will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee. That is, There at the Mercy-Seat. They were come to the Ark to look up to the Mercy-Seat, and there saith God, wil I meet with thee, and there will I commune with thee. Now what's the Mercy-Seat but Jesus Chaist? we must look upon God in Christ, and so God is rendered amiable, sweet, glorious, and lovely unto us in his Son, there doth God meet with his Saints, and there he communes with them; Indeed while we look upon God as he is in himself he is a consu∣ming fire, and we cannot epxect to commune with God there, and therefore those that look upon God meerly in a legal way, look upon him as one that doth exact and require such and such services and duties of them, and meerly considering God as a Judge; if they perform not such and such duties they do not meet and commune with God; But such as look up to the Mercy-Seat, look up to Christ by faith, when they have to deal with God in Christ, Oh these meet with God, these commune with God, Oh there's much sweet communion between God and their souls, they walk with God, because God through Christ comes to be rendered gracious, lovely, sweet, amiable, and familier to them.
The fourth Rule, or Direction.
Be careful to beautifie thy soul; or more generally thus, (First:) Have a great care of thy spirit, look to thy spirit rather than to thy outward actions in thy walking with God; God is a Spirit, and will be worshiped in spirit and truth. One that would walk with God had need be very careful of his spirit, keep thy heart with all diligence, for it is with thy soul that God converses: Indeed 'tis the proper spheer of a Christian to be busie about his heart, to be busie in the inward man, there's the spheer of a Christi∣an: Page 324 It's not so much about the outward man, if the hear be kept in a right frame, the outward man will be brought over of its own accord; But be careful of thy spirit, (that is) of the thoughts of thy mind; Take heed of admitting of any uncleannesse in thy very thoughts, for the soul con∣verses with God in thoughts as well as we converse with men in words; how do you commune and converse with men but by speech? therefore doth God give speech to men that they may converse one with another, what speech is unto men, that the thoughts are unto God; we converse much with God by our thoughts, make consci∣ence of thoughts, labor to cleanse thy thoughts, and like∣wise the affections of thy heart, and the stirrings of thy heart, for God and thy soul doth converse together, in the workings and stirrings of thy heart look to thy spirit; and labor to beautifie thy soul with that that may make thee aimable and lovely in the eyes of God, and then the Lord will delight to converse with thee, and walk with thee. If you were call'd out to walk with a man that were your superior, with some Chief in your parish, Gen∣tleman, or Knight, or Noble man, If such a one should call you to walk with him, you would labour then so far as you were able to adorne your selves with such cloaths as were sutable unto the company of such a one: you that professe your selves Christians, God doth call you every day to walk with him, and if you would expect to have communion with God, and that God should take delight in you, you must labor to beautifie your souls, to dresse you with those things that may make you aimable in the eyes of God, and not to come dirtily and filthy into the presence of God. Now that that makes the soul aimable in the eyes of God it is, Holinesse, for that's the very Image of God, and God delights to walk with one where he can see his own Image, the more resplendent the Image of God is in the soul the more doth the Lord delight to walk with such a soul; labour for the behavior of thy soul to be suta∣ble unto God; When I walk with one that is my superi∣our Page 325 I must have such a demenour as is sutable to his pre∣sence, and as it was said before, To walk with God was to walk in the fear of God. And that's the fourth thing, Take heed to thy spirit, beautifie thy soul in that that may make thee aimable and lovely in Gods eyes, and car∣ry thy self so as is sutable to the presence of God; I shall only give you one Scripture about the beautifying of the soul, in the 45. Psalm, where it's spoken of the Church and of the Saints being brought into the presence of God, in the 13. verse, The Kings daughter, (that is, the Church) is all glorious within. (Many make great shews of Religi∣on without, but the Kings daughter is all glorious within,) her cloathing is of wrought gold: there's her ornaments: mark what follows in the 14. verse, She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needle-work: (She shall be brought to the King, to Jesus Christ, with garments of needle-work) by that is meant, the several graces of the Spirit of God that puts a beauty upon the soul: as there is a variety in needle∣work that causes a beauty upon the work, and so she shall be brought to the King. So you must have that that may make you aimable and lovely in the eyes of the King.
The Fifth Rule, or Direction.
Take heed of halting. When you walk with him you must not halt between two but give up your self fully to God, you must give up your selves wholly to him in walking with him; not to have a distracted heart, or a divied heart between two: Why halt ye between two opinions (saith the Prophet?) If God be God, worship him; if Baal, worship him. So, when the heart is not divided up and down, and is re∣solved in the way of God, that's the thing that I mean here; that is, If I cannot be happy here, I am content to be mi∣serable here; when the soul is so resolved and doth not halt in Gods way, when the soul knows that here is the way that there is happiness to be had in, and whatsoever seems to the contrary to flesh and blood, yet I know that Page 326 in these waies there's happiness to be had, there's enough to blesse my soul for ever, and therefore whatsoever becoms of me, I am resolved upon these waies; this is one that is fit to walk with God, he will not halt, but will treat strait steps in the waies of God: and that the Apostle requires of us in Heb. 12. 13. Make streight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way. Make streight paths, go on in a streight way, not having the heart longing af∣ter something else: There are some that have some convi∣ctions of conscience, that have their hearts inclinable to the waies of God, and are going on in some of the waies of God, yet they have longings of spirit after something else: but when the heart indeed walks with God, it gives up its self wholly to him, and is resolv'd in these waies: you have had some good thoughts; but if your hearts be divided between God and the world, you will turn to be Apostats in time, that which is lame will be turn'd out of the way, the waies of God will be tedious to you when you do not give up your selves wholly to them; and this is the reason of the Apostafie that there is in the world, they seem to go on in Gods waies, but they go on but lamely because they do not give up themselves wholly to the waies of God.
The sixth Rule, or Direction.
If you would walk with God, Take heed of formality in all holy duties; be laborious in holy duties, take pains with your hearts in them, labor for the power of godliness in holy duties, you must strive to get up to God in them: It were well if when we perform holie duties we did but keep close to the Duty its self, few go so far: But it's one thing to keep close to the Duty, and another thing to keep close to God in the Duty; we must labor not only to mind what we are about, but to keep close to God in the Duty, to find God in all duties that we perform, and in the use of all or∣dinances to take pains to find God there, and not to satis∣fie & quiet our hearts except we find God in the duties that we do perform; we have a notable Scripture for this, in Page 327Exod. 20. 24. In all places where I record my Name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. That is, where ever there is any Ordinance, or any holy Duty to be perform'd, there's a recording of Gods Name. And saith he, I will come un∣to thee, and there I wil bless thee. If you would walk with God, you must go where God is, and be in those places where God uses to come: now the walk where God uses to walk it is, in his Ordinances, in his Worship, therefore you must be very spiritual in worship, and sanctifie the Name of God there; (according to that that we have trea∣ted upon at large) you must take pains there, stir up your * hearts and all that is within you to walk with God there, and not be satisfied except you have something of God there. It's a notable speech of Bernard, I never go from thee without thee: when ever I come to any holy duty and leave it, I never leave it but I have thee with it: we must not be satisfied except we meet with God in holy duties.
The Seventh Rule, or Direction.
Take heed of secret declinings, or slidings away from the paths of God into any by paths. For those that professe their desires to walk with God they will not in an open way forsake God, and his waies; but if you be not very watchful over your hearts, you will have them secretly de∣cline away from the waies of God, from those paths where∣in you have had heretofore communion with God, Oh take heed of turning out of the paths of God, of any allure∣ments from the flesh, of any temptations, and especially such temptations as are sutable to your corruptions, they will be alluring you to lead you aside out of the waies of God, and seem to promise waies of contentment to the flesh; Oh take heed of any such thing, take heed of being allur'd through the deceitfulness of the flesh, as the Apostle speaks in the 2 Epist. of Peter, 2. 18. (there he speaks of some false teachers) When they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live inPage 328error. There were some that were escaped from the waies o error, from sinful ungodly waies, and really escaped that is, in their kind, they were not hypocrites, that is, to make shew of one thing and do another, but what they did they did according to the light of their consciences, but yet it was not through the sanctifying saving work of God but through the strength of a natural conscience; and so they were allur'd through the lusts of the flesh, and through wantonness, by those that taught false Doctrine, but they together with their false Doctrine came to that that was sutable to the flesh. I beseech you observe it, some that have been walking with God and then met with these that come with fair shews with that which is false, (and you may know it in this that it gives liberty to the flesh) they think here's a fine, even, and smooth way that I may have content to the flesh in; observe it, there's no such way to allure such as have by the power of the Word escaped from the waies of sin in a great measure, no such way (I say) to allure them as to come and shew them how they may make a profession of godliness and yet have liberty to the flesh too: Oh the Lord deliver yong beginners from the wan∣tons of our age! the wantons that are in our generation that do allure them through the lusts of the flesh, and pro∣mise liberty to them, for so the text saith, While they pro∣mise them liberty they themselves are the servants of corruption: THEMSELVES: Mark, those that promise them liber∣ty, and bring such Doctrine of liberty to you, they Them∣selves are in the mean time the servants of corruption: Oh take heed of declining to the waies of the flesh after thou hast seem'd to begin in the spirit; what hast thou to do in the way of Asher and in the waies of Egypt? Oh thou that heretofore didst seem to converse with God, and to walk with him, what iniquity hast thou found with me saith God? So what evil hast thou found in the waies of God? Do you find them too difficult for you, Oh it is through the baseness of thy heart, because thy heart is not changed and made sutable to that that is spiritual and holy, Oh Page 329 that the Lord would be pleased to cause his Angel to meet with some that are declining from his good and blessed waies! as we read in the book of Genesis, That the Angel met Hager when she was flying from Abrahams family, from the Church of God, and saith he, Hager Sarah's Maid, from whence camest thou? doest thou come from Abraham's family? art thou going from thence? and where dost thou think to find so much good as in Abraham's family, where the presence of God is? So, Oh that God would meet with such as are declining from the good waies of God, Oh thou soul whither art thou going? thou that hast had the Word working upon thy heart and thou wert seem'd to be turned into the good waies of God, whither art thou go∣ing? are these the waies that are like the former waies that thou hast seem'd to walk in? Oh what will be the end of these waies that now thou art in? Indeed they do give contentment unto the flesh more than former waies, but doest thou think that the end of them will be peace? Oh that there were such a messenger from God to meet thee in those waies that thou art walking in, that thou maiest say as the Church doth in the 2. of Hosea, 7. verse, I will return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than it is now: I was wont to have more peace, comfort, and sweet∣nes in conversing with God in holy duties than now I find, I will return to those waies of God; howsoever many loose professors seem to make a scorn of them and deride them, but Lord I am sure I found more sweetness in them then, than now; well I will return to them and labor to walk in them.
The Eighth Rule, or Direction.
Or if thou beest declined, Labor to keep a tenderness of spirit, so a• to be sensible of the beginnings of declining. It's true, we have a great deal of corruption while we remain here in this world, and our hearts are drawn quickly from the waies of God, I but if we could keep a spirit sensible of the beginnings of declining, we might yet keep our walk with Page 330 God: That so soon as we are got but one step from God, if we did but begin to bethink our selves; where are we? what are we doing? Oh this would cause us to return, and not to go so far off from God. For a man to go far from God is very dangerous, for then he begins to have many thoughts of dispair, and so many times he growes even de∣sperate in his course, and gives up himself to excesse even to satisfie the lusts of the flesh with greedinesse: There are some men that are convinced in their consciences that they are out of the way, and though they be convinced of it yet still they go further and further off from God.
Why (you will say?) is that possible?
Yes, Because having once made profession of Religion, and departing from God, now the Devil follows him with dispairing thoughts, he thinks now God will not receive him and accept of him upon his returning to him, and therefore he is resolved that he will satisfie himself to the full; and I verily belee•• this is the great reason why ma∣ny Apostates turn so notoriously wicked as they do: when you see a man that hath been forward in Religion, and afterwards not only fall off, but you shall find him to be a drunkard, a whoremaster, a scorner, you may almost con∣clude that this is the very ground of it, that though his conscience be convinc'd that he is out of the way, yet he is in a desperate manner set to have his pleasure, because he thinks God hath forsaken him, and he hath: forsaken God, and his lusts he will have, and poor creature that's all that he hath to satisfie himself withal; Oh take heed of getting far from God: hearken to this you that are far from righteousnes as the Scripture speaks: Oh it's a terri∣ble thing to be gone far from God, labor to keep thy heart watchful of the beginnings of declining, and be tender and sensible of them.
The Ninth Rule, or Direction
Labor to be spiritual in thy solitary times. If you would Page 331 walk with God, prize much your solitary times, and la∣bor to be spiritual in them; do not lose those times when you are alone, when there's none but God and your selves together. And especially you that have much business in the world; alas what little use do you for the most part make of your solitary times! when you are alone you know not what to do; but a man that would walk with God he had need be careful to be very spiritual there, now I am separated from the world, now I have to deal with God and mine own soul, Oh! let me improve this, and get advantage by this, Oh! let me not be quiet till I get some converse with God: Those Christians that are spiri∣tual in their solitary times they will be very spiritual when they come into company. As Moses, when he was alone with God upon the mount and came down unto the people his face did shine so as they were not able to bear it: Cer∣tainly, those that are alone with God, and are spiritual, they will shine in holy conversation when they come down from the mount, when they come to converse with others.
The Tenth Rule, or Direction.
Let Gods presence be more to thee than all the world; account it more engagement to thy soul, that thou art with God that thou hast Gods presence with thee, than though thou hadst the eye of all the world upon thee: It would migh∣tily compose the spirits of men and women if they had an awful reverence of the presence of God, and did account it more than al the world besides, and therefore to do nothing in Gods presence but what thou wouldest do in the sight of all the world; or what thou maiest do so as thy consci∣ence may not accuse thee for sin in it. Oh look upon the presence of God as more than all the world unto thee.
The Eleventh Rule, or Direction.
Go on with a resolution in the performance of holy duties thoughPage 332thou seest nothing come of them for the present. Though I have not what comfort I would, yet I am doing what duty I am commanded, I am yet in Gods way; and that should sa∣tisfie every gracious heart, that though I have not what encouragements I would, yet that I am in Gods way, and let me keep in that way of God.
The Twelfth Rule, or Direction.
Make good interpretations of all Gods waies and dealings with thee. This is a mighty help to us to keep on in the way of God, and to walk with him. If God comes in a way of affliction, make good interpretation of the affliction, do not presently conclude, that God appears like an enemy to thee, that will discourage thee in the waies of God; but look upon God as intending good unto thee in every thing; and that will help thee to keep close to him, and to walk close with him in every condition: If God seems to go out of the way of prosperity, and to come in the way of affliction, make good interpretations of it: do not therefore think that God is therefore leaving of thee and forsaking thee, but exercise faith in this, and beleeve that God may intend as much good to thee in that way as in any way whatsoever, and I ground this rule upon that text in the 12. Heb. In the former part of the chapter the Apo∣stle speaks of Gods chastening of his people, My Son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art re∣buked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scour∣geth every son whom he receiveth: and in the 7. verse, If ye en∣dure chastening then God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasieneth not? but if ye be without chastisements whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons. So still he goes on in the point of chastisement, in the 9, 10, 11. verses he speaks of nothing but of chastise∣ments, now then in the 12. verse he draws a conclusion from thence, having laid this as a ground, that we are to look upon God as a father in his chastisements, WhereforePage 333then lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way. As if he should say, when as you appre∣hend God in a way of wrath against you, and not in a way of love, your knees will be feeble and you will not be able to go on with that cheerfulness, and to walk with God in that hard way that he seems to call you too: But looking upon your selves as sons, and God intending good unto you, that by chastisements you may be made partakers of his holiness; now saith he, lift up your hands that hang down, and those feeble knees, those feeble knees that were so weak whereby you were difinabled to walk with God: Those feeble knees will be strengthened if you make good interpretation of the waies of God, and beleeve that the Lord intends good unto you. And as in other chastise∣ments, so among the rest the chastisements of spiritual dis∣certions; when God not only comes with outward afflicti∣ons upon you, but when the Lord shall come against you, even himself with spiritual discertions, and afflictions, e∣ven afflicting your souls you must make good interpretati∣ons of them.
You will say, That's hardest to walk with God; In∣deed we may walk with God, and keep on in communion with him notwithstanding outward afflictions, but when the Lord seems to withdraw himself, and when there is both outward and inward too, that's hard: For outward afflictions, I will give you one notable Scripture for a child of God, following hard after God though God seeme to withdraw himself from the soul, in the 63. Psal. where by the title of the Psalm you shall find that David was in the wilderness of Judah, and that was when Saul did persecute him for his life: Saul persecuted David and fol∣lowed him, and David was fain to sculk up and down in the wilderness of Judah from place to place, and yet mark, O God, thou art my God, (for all that) early will I seek thee, my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thir∣sty land, where no water is: And then in the 8. verse, MyPage 334soul followeth hard after thee; though Lord thou seem'st to withdraw thy self from me in regard of these outward ad∣ministrations, yet my soul followeth hard after thee (saith David) notwithstanding. If times of affliction, when God seems to withdraw himself by his afflictions, yet our souls should follow hard after God: Doth God seem to go from us as if he would not walk with us? Oh run after him: As a poor child if the mother seems to go away from it, and gets over a stile before it, the child cries and runs after: So it was with David, when the Lord did seem by those administrations of his to be going away from him, saith he, My soul follows hard after him. And this is an excel∣lent frame of spirit, that the more the Lord seems to be gone from a Christian, the more hard doth the soul follow after God, nothing can satisfie such a one but God himself; and therefore he saith, Lord, my soul thirsteth after Thee in a dry land, he doth not say after water, but after Thee. So in any affliction, if thou canst say this, Lord, it is not so much the deliverance from an affliction that my soul thirsteth after, but Oh Lord! thou knowest my soul thirsts after thee, and may the affliction be but made up in thy self it is sufficient, I never find my soul following more earnestly after thee than now in the time of my affliction.
CHAP. X. An Objection concerning Gods hiding of his face, Answered in six Particulars.
IF it be a spiritual discertion, if the Lord seems to with∣draw himself from the spirits of his servants, What Rules should be given there, for one yet to walk with God in the time of Spiritual discertion?
I have divers things to speak to those that God hath see∣med to withdraw himself from.Page 335
Object. You will say, You have told us of the excel∣lency of walking with God, and we account it the happi∣ness of our lives to walk with him; Oh but God will not walk with me, but withdraws himself from my soul so that I cannot see him, and hides himself from me.
Now I have divers things to say to thee:
In the first place, Be of good comfort; It's a good sign, that God hath made thee know what it is to walk with him, that canst be sensible of his withdrawings; there is a generation of people in the world that go on in a slight kind of way in the profession of Religion, and they know not what it is to be sensible of any of Gods withdrawings from them, you never hear them complain of any such thing, they know not what it means; therefore (I say) it's a good sign that thou knowest what it is to walk with God because thou art sensible of any of Gods withdrawings from thee.
Secondly, Examine whether thou hast not sometimes shut out God from thee, when God hath offered himself to walk with thee. Hath not God sometimes tendred himself, and even taken thee by the hand to walk with thee, and thou hast not bin at leasure then, thy mind hath been about somewhat else? Oh! therefore be humbled before him for all thy unwor∣thy dealings with him, and for all thy declynings from him; Know, God calls thee to this, There hath been ma∣ny wandrings of thy spirit from God, Oh that thou couldst but say in respect of thy spiritual wandrings, as the Pro∣phet David saith in respect of his wandrings, in Psal 56. 8. Thou tellest my wandrings, put thou my tears into thy bottle, are they not in thy book? Oh that thou couldst but say so! Lord, there hath been many wandrings of my spirit, but Lord, put my tears into thy bottle; sutable to my wandrings so are my tears, Oh! it grieves me to the soul that ever I have grieved thy Spirit; when thy spirit hath even taken me by the hand to walk with thee I have withdrawn my self, and upon that thy Spirit hath been grieved; Oh it grieves my soul! Oh Lord, thou hast taken notice of my wandrings, take notice of my tears that are sutable.
Page 336 Thirdly, It is better that God withdraw, than that we with∣draw. I beseech you observe it: If God withdraws from you it is your affliction: but if you withdraw from God, it is your sin; and sin is worse than affliction, better bear any affliction, yea spiritual afflictions than commit sin; and that you should labor to be sensible of: you that complain of God's withdrawing from you, and that God will not walk with you; Be you more sensible of your own with∣drawings as a greater evil to you than Gods? It's true, Gods withdrawing from me it is a sore affliction above all that ever befell me in this world; but my withdrawing from him it is a greater burden to me. And it may be if God did not withdraw from thee, thou wouldst with∣draw from him: And many times God doth withdraw from his people to prevent his peoples withdrawing from him. As many times the mother will withdraw her selfe from the child that the child may not be wandring from her. And this may be the very end why God withdraws, he sees thy heart begins to be loose, wanton, slight, and vain, and therefore it is that he hides himself, that thou maiest be awakened and sensible of the danger that thou art in by withdrawing thy self from God; that so thou maiest cleave to him the more fully, and that thy soul may follow more after him, that thou maiest lift up thy heart and cry more earnestly after God. But now, if God be withdrawn, & the soul be not so sensible as to cry after him, or if it should leave off crying; then such a one is in a dangerous condi∣on indeed. As if a poor child had lost the father or mo∣ther and were crying after them; at length comes some begger with an apple or plumb and steals away the child, and then the child is quiet for the present; Oh take heed of that, depart not from the Lord, keep crying after him in all his withdrawings.
Fourthly, Gods withdrawing of comfort is not alwaies the withdrawing of his presence: Thou maiest mistake, thou thinkest that God is withdrawn, why? because he hath withdarwn comfort; there may be a great mistake in this: Page 337 God (I say) may withdraw comfort, and not withdraw his presence, take this for a certain rule and make much use of it, when comforts are gone: Do not say when com∣forts are gone, therefore the presence of God is gone, there may be as ful and as gracious a presence of God when com∣forts are gone as ever there was: he may be present with his graces and support; as in Psal. 63. 8. My soul followeth hard after thee, thy right hand upholdeth me; though thou seemest to be gone. So, God may be present to uphold thee, and to strengthen thee, and to exercise thy faith in him, and that may be as acceptable to God: The exercise of faith in the want of comfort may have as much of God in it as all the comfort that ever thou hadst in all thy life; and therefore do not say, that Gods presence is gone be∣cause comforts are gone: The beams of the Sun in the winter time is not so effectual as the influence of the Sun when it is in a cloud in the summer time: Is the presence of the Sun gone in the summer because there's a cloud between the sun and you? It may be a child will think, Oh the Sun is gone out of the firmament because there's a cloud: I but I know there's the Sun still, for there's the influence of the Sun, there's some heat in the day, and there's some light wherby I may see to do my work, though I have not that lustre as before; Now when the Sun shines in win∣ter it shines bright but there's not that influence of the sun upon the earth as makes the plants grow: So, sometimes the beams of Gods presence may be clouded to a Christian by reason of outward afflictions, and yet there may be more of Gods presence than at another time, when it shall shine in the beauty of it in the comfotrs of a Christian for so I compare the shining of the Comforts of a Christian to the shining of the Sun in the winter, that sometimes have no influence to sanctifie the heart, As in winter times the Sun hath not that influence to fructifie the ground, but at other times though the Sun be clouded yet it hath influ∣ence to make the ground fruitful; so though God may not shine upon thee in regard of outward comforts, yet he Page 338 may shine in upon thy soul and make thee to increase and grow in goodness more than ever before.
Fifthly, If thou canst not see Gods face, yet hearken and see if thou canst not hear his voice, and follow that. Doest thou come to the Word and there hear his voice? Is not God pleased to speak to thy soul out of his Word? Thou goest perhaps into thy closet and canst not see his face there as thou wert wont to do, yet blesse him that thou canst hear his voice, and follow his voice though it be in the dark. As now, if a child be going with the father and it be lost, yet if the child cries, and the father or mother speaks, that quiets the child very much; so it is with the children of God, when they cannot see Gods face, yet they may hear Gods voice: They cannot have those comforts from God as sometimes they have had; those sweet manifestations of the love of God shed abroad into their hearts; but when they come to the Word, they cannot but say that they hear their fa∣thers voice; Perhaps the word is not a comforting word to thee as hereto fore, I but is it not a directing word, an instructing word, an inlightening word? Oh this now should support thee for the present.
Sixthly, All that I will say further is this, Keep thy self in a waiting frame for God: Do not determine that be∣cause the Lord is gone he will ever be gone; Oh no, but keep still in the waies of God waiting for him, resolve, that though God leaves thee, yet thou wilt not leave the path in which God was heretofore: I am sure that God was once here, Oh then keep the path wherein thou wert wont to meet with God, for thou shalt meet with him again: It's better to keep the path, the ordinary high-way of God, for you are more like to meet with God there than if you should go out of the way: I'le give you a Scripture or two for that and so conclude. The first is in Psal. 101. 2. I will behave my self wisely in a perfect way, Oh when, wilt thou come unto me! That which I quote this for is this, the resolution of David to behave himself wisely in a perfect way, toge∣ther with his panting after the presence of God, Oh when Page 339 wilt thou come unto me! as if he should say, Lord, Thou art absent from me now, but Lord, I will not go out of the way wherein I was wont to find thee, Oh when wilt thou come! I will not determine that I shall never see thee in this way as heretofore I have done, no, but I hope I shal afterwards meet thee. And so in the 119. Psalm, 8. verse, I will keep thy Statutes; what then? Oh forsake me not utterly. It seems that the Lord for the present to Davids apprehen∣sion had forsaken him: but what was Davids resolution? God hath forsaken me and I'le forsake him? Oh no, But I'le keep thy Statutes, and Oh! leave me not utterly. So keep on in the waies of God still, go on in his way and wait for the presence of God until he come; and conclude this, Surely, he will come. Be not like to children, that be∣cause they see the Sun going down, therefore they conclude that the Sun is gone, and will never come again. Though God seems to withdraw the light of his face from thee, do not conclude and determine, well, I shall never have those comforts from God, in communion with God, in walking with God, as once I was wont to have; do not say so, but go on, and keep in the waies of God, wait upon him and look up towards him, and so thou maiest come to have as much Communion, Sweetness, and Joy in God as ever thou hadst in all thy life. And now know, that God cals for the work of faith in such times as these are, now God calls thee to walk by faith and not by sence.