Walking with GOD, THE Great Duty and Priviledge Of true Christians. In Two SERMONS, Preached on the Lecture, in the year 1700.

By Samuel Willard, Teacher of a CHURCH in Boston.

Micah 6.8.

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

Boston: Printed by B. Green, and J Allen. Sold by Benjamin Eliot. 1701

[Page 3]

Walking with God.

Genesis V. 24.

And Enoch walked with God.

THIS Chapter contains the Chronology of the Lives of the Antidiluvian Patriarchs, from Adam to Noah: of whom little else is mentioned, but their names, succession, long lives and death: only concerning Enoch, we have his short life, eminent piety, and wonderful Translation here recorded, verse 21, &c. And yet it is to be supposed that these, being Christs Predecessors, through whom his Humanity was derived, and those heads of Families by whom the true Religion was preserved in the world, were all of them ho­ly men. There must therefore be something singular in Enoch, on account whereof God gave him this record, by which he testified how well be was pleased with him, as we are informed, Heb. 11.5. Before his translati­on he had this testimony, that he pleased God; [Page 4] which must needs refer to the words of our Text. That which is now to be insisted on, is the eminency of his piety, to which a witness is here born, to his perpetual honour; and doubtless, whatsoever is written in the Word of God is for our admonition. Scripture Example are our Monitors, either to warn us against sin, or to animate us unto Holiness. The thing that is here asserted concerning Enoch; is, that he walked with God: in which few words we have a most excellent cha­racter given of him; and they contain in them a large History of his Life, by which we are given to understand, not only that he was a Godly man, and separated from the corruptions of the times; but he was sin­gular, and had out stript other holy ones that had gone before him, or that were con­temporary with him It is observable, that his Walk with God is twice asserted in the Context; and the Spirit of God doth not use vain repetitions: it is therefore to stir up our attention to it, as to a thing of special re­mark In he former it is mentioned to set forth his constancy in it, that he held on this course perseveringly for three hundred years: and in what capacity, viz in an Oeco­nomical, or in a Family relation, and did not turn Anchorite for it: in the latter it is re­peated to introduce the great recompence [Page 5] that God gave him, by a glorious. Translati­on. The purport of the expression here u­sed, will be enquired after in the sequel: The words themselves will offer us this,

DOCTRINE. Walking with God is the Christians both Duty and Glory in this Life, and the way to Eternal Felicity.

This Doctrine takes it for granted, that there is such a Walk to be enjoyed here, as well as Sitting down with him in his Kingdom hereafter; and is exemplified in many o­thers besides Enoch. That it is every Chri­stians Duty to imitate him in this is evident, because this is recorded of him for our en­couragement to do likewise; and that it is our Glory here, appears in that this was it which procured for him his renown above others, because he excelled in this; and the singular Providence of God in translating him to Heaven, not to see death, shews how serviceable it is to our Eternal well Being. Nor doth his short abode here any whit contra­dict the truth of this, inasmuch as life is but a Journey to Eternity & when the work of our Generation is done, it is our happiness to go home. That to which I shall confine the fol­lowing [Page 6] discourse shall be an enquiry into, and resolution of this great Case, viz.

Quest. How may a Child of God so order his life, as to maintain a continued Walk with God to the end of it?

Answ This Case being of greatest import­ance, and for the regulation of our daily practice, it will require the more distinct consideration: but that it may be the more portable, I shall endeavour to contract it so far as the nature of the subject will permit. And here, to prepare the way for the Rules of direction about it, it is requisite that we make some brief enquiry into the nature of the Duty, or What it is to Walk with God? And we may observe that there are three ex­pressions made use of in the Scriptures on this account, viz. to walk with God, to walk before him, and to walk after him. Which Commentators do suppose to aim at one and the same thing: and doubtless each of them doth comprehend the other two under it, though there may be something specially pointed to in each of them. Walking after God may intend a following of his Com­mand, which is the Rule of Life: Walking before him may intimate a setting our selves as in his presence always, to awe our hearts into a careful endeavour to obey him: and, [Page 7] Walking with him may signifie our maintain­ing Communion with him in our whole Life; and hence it includes in it, a living in the practice of all those things by which that Communion may be upheld, and avoiding of whatsoever may interrupt it. The word is Metaphorical, and serves to give light to the thing aimed at Walking is properly the progressive motion of a living creature, by which, from an inward principle or power, it carries it [...] from one place to another; and is opposed to sitting down, or standing still: and is therefore used for that course of life which men do lead, which is called the way they walk in; for walking ever suppo­seth a way. It also supposeth the motion to be spontaneous, in opposition to that which is violent or compulsive; and so in voluntary agents, it points to that course of life which they follow upon choice; and it tells us, that a Christian is not to stand still, but to pursue his way with freedom of spirit, if ever he hopes to obtain his great end. To walk with another is used for our conversing with him, and using of his familiarity, so Prov. 13 20. He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise. It there­fore supposeth friendship and intimacy, and a likeness of manners in the persons so associating; and on this account, Walking with God intends, a so ordering of our Conversation, [Page 8] as is according to his will; or, a so living as to have fellowship with him in all that we do; on this account it is said, 1 Job. 1.3. Truly our fellowship is with God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ. Or, an endeavouring so to live that we may please him, and enjoy his favourable presence with us: for, it is not his Essential presence which is here de­signed, but the presence of his love, and his acceptance of us. The Apostle therefore in the fore cited Heb 11.5. interprets his walk­ing with God, by his pleasing of God. Now, we then please God, when we always do the things that please him; and he walks with us, when he signifies to and in us, that he takes delight in us; hence that of Christ, Job. 8.29. The Father hath not left me alone, for I do always those things that please him. Hence this is set forth in other terms in Scripture, all of which are but Commenta­ries on this. Sometimes to walk in the ways of God. Isa 3.2. i. e. in those ways which he hath commanded us, and wherein we con­form to his will: to walk in his law, Psal. 119 1. i. e. to follow that law which he hath revealed to us for the ordering of our Con­versation by; to walk in good works, Eph. 2.10 i e. to exercise our selves in such works as God approves of; to walk in our integrity, Psal. 26.1. i. e. in the practice of sincere O­bedience [Page 9] to God; and many expressions of like import. So that in summe, we are then properly said to walk with God, when we constantly nourish true piety in our hearts, and pursue it in our whole lives. This then is the matter about which we are now en­quiring; and for our help and direction in which, the following Rules are to be ob­served.

I. That we may walk with God, we must take care that he and we are reconciled. Walk­ing together signifies, and presupposeth friend­ship and agreement; hence that, Amos 3.3. Can two walk together except they be agreed? If therefore there hath been a discord be­tween them before, it presumes that there hath been a making up of the breach, and bringing of them together again: and so it is in the case before us. Here then let us observe.

1. That the state of nature is a state of alie­nation from God. Not that mans primitive state was such, for God made man upright, Eccl. 7.29. There was a Covenant of amity between God and man at first; but mans Apostasy hath violated that Covenant, and so hath procured a great distance between them, Isa. 59 2. Your sins have separated be­tween you and your God. And at this distance [Page 10] is every natural man born, as he comes out of the loins of the first Adam, hence that is universally a truth, Eph. 2.3. Were Children of wrath by nature. On this account Unre­generate men are said to be far off from God, Psal. 73.27. Eph. 2.13. In this regard also ungodly men have the stile of Enemies put upon them, Rom. 5.10. Whiles we were yet enemies, &c. And good reason, for man is by his sin revolted from God, hath broken his Allegiance, which hath both filled him with enmity against him, for such is the frame of them that are carnally minded, Rom. 8 7. and incensed the just indignation of God against them, for we are told in, Psal. 7.11. God is angry with the wicked every day.

2. That so long as this alienation abides, there can be no Communion between God and Sinners. Communion between person ever supposeth an union going before, which is the foun­dation of it: and where there hath been an ancecedent separation, it requires an a­tonement, in order to which that which made the difference must be removed. God and Sinners go two ways, they walk contrary one to another, and God requires that they do acknowledge that it hath been so, Levit. 26.40. How then should they go together? Whiles then things remain in this posture, the distance must needs abide; yea it must en­crease, [Page 11] for sinful man is not only naturally afar off, but he is continually going further: hence the way that they are in is called a departing from the Living God, Heb. 3.12. and a forsaking of the fountain of living waters. Jer. 2.13.

3. That this Reconciliation must be mutual. And the reason is, because the alienation was so; Zech 11.8. My Soul loathed them, and their Soul also abhorred me. Gods anger is kindled against the Sinner, and how should he come at him, whiles this abide? as long as that fire burneth against him, there is no approaching to it, Heb. 12 ult. Our God is a consuming fire. The Psalmist intimates how dangerous a thing it is, Psal 76.7. Who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? The Sinner also is full of prejudices at God, hath taken up false opinions of him, and so long as these abide, he will not come unto him, but hide out of his sight, as our first Parents did as soon as they had violated his Com­mand. God therefore must be at peace with the Sinner, and the Sinner at peace with him, if ever the breach be made up between them.

4 Christ having reconciled the Justice of God by his Obedience, invites Sinners by the Gos­pel, to be reconciled to God Mans sin had ar­med the revenging Justice of God against him, which was engaged to destroy him; [Page 12] till this was satisfied, there was no hope of agreement: this therefore was first done by Christ as our Surety, who standing in our room, answered all the demands of the Law for us, and now God is ready to receive Sin­ners into favour upon terms; Col. 1.21, 22. You that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, in the body of his flesh, through death. 2 Cor. 5.19 God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. Now Justice and Mercy can meet together and agree: But this did not compleat the affair, but upon the former, Christ, in pursuit of his Mediatorship, opens a treaty of peace and by the Gospel he pro­claimeth it to Sinners and Rebels, offering the atonement, and solliciting them to em­brace it; for which he hath delegated his Ambassadours, whom he hath Commission­ed thereto, and we are told what is the de­sign of their Embassy, 2 Cor 5.20. We are Ambassadours for Christ, as though God did be­seech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God

5. The terms on which this Reconciliation is to be made, are offered in the New Covenant. God doth not only offer Sinners to be at peace with them, but maketh proposals of agreement, on which he is ready to lay aside all differences, and receive them into favour, [Page 13] and intimate fellowship. He treats with men in a Covenant way, in which the peace is to be ratified between them; and there are the Articles of it, which must be compli­ed withal it ever they unite. The Gospel promises are therefore proposed Hypotheti­cally, and a threatning in case of failure, Mark 16.16. He that believes shall be saved, and he that believes not shall be damned; and Rom 8.13 If ye live after the flesh ye shall die, but if ye through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live.

6. Hence by our cordial closing with these terms, we are again made nigh unto God. It is the blood of Christ which is the procuring cause of this, Eph. 2 13 Ye who were some­times afar off, are made nigh by the Blood of Christ; but the actual accomplishment of it is brought about by our entertaining of the offered Grace, according to the tenour of the Gospel Covenant. We therefore no sooner repent and believe, but we are at peace with God, his anger is turned away, and he receives us into favour. We are by this faith united to Christ, and so become the Children of God, Gal. 3.26. For ye are all the Children of God by faith in Jesus Christ: And now he carries it as a father to us and we may with a Child-like boldness approach near unto him, and maintain fellowship with [Page 14] him, Eph. 3.12. In whom we have boldness, and access with confidence, through the faith of him.

7. That we may thus embrace these terms, we must wait upon God for his Grace and Spirit, to work this Faith and Repentance in us. As we could do nothing for the reconciling of God to us, & if Christ had not done it for us, it had never been; so neither can we reconcile our selves to him, or comply with the proposals of the New Covenant, of our selves: We have neither ability nor inclination hereunto; hence that in, Eph. 2.8 By Grace are ye sa­ved through faith, and that not of your selves, it is the gift of God Acts 5.31. Him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and for­giveness of sins It is therefore the Spirits work to make application of that Grace to us, by which we may be wrought up to a compliance with the calls of the Gospel; and it is our duty to renounce trust in our selves, and seek for his help, waiting on him in all the ways of his appointment, for his coming and doing of this great thing for us: and when once this is effectually wrought in us, we are then fitted for communion with him.

II If we would walk with God, we must carefully avoid all those things that tend to make a distance between him and us. It is true, that [Page 15] when once we are reconciled to God by the Blood of Christ, and the powerful virtue of the Spirit in us, bringing us over to a cordial compliance with the terms of the New Co­venant, there shall never be a total breach made between him and us, his Omni­potency will keep us from it, 1 Pet. 1 5. Ye are kept by the power of God through saith unto salvation. However, there may be distances procured, and uncomfortable breaches made, the Communion be interrupted, and we thereupon lose our sight of him; and though there be the Soveraign withdrawings of his light and comfort from his own, when they are watchful over themselves; yet there are the things which provoke him to hide away, and carry himself to them as an Enemy: and if we would prevent this, we must be watchful against all those carriages which will procure it. And to this end,

1. Let us carefully avoid every sin; and more peculiarly every bold transgression. As it was sin that at first made the breach between God and man, so it hath always a tendency in it to produce this effect, because it is a thing so contrary to his Holiness, according as is declared, Hab. 1 13. Thou art of parer eyes than to beheld evil, and canst not look on ini­quity. And although God hath a fathers pity to extend to all those his Children which serve [Page 16] him, and accordingly hath a regard to their frames, as Psal 103.13, 14. And therefore will accept of their integrity, and bear witness to it, notwithstanding the deficiency which at­tends upon their best, yet if at any time they allow themselves in any presumptuous sin, it will incense his righteous displeasure at them, and procure for them some remarka­ble desertion: we read in 2 Sam. 11. ult. The thing which David did displeased the Lord. And what awful Dispensations in his Providence followed upon it, is recorded in the History: what care then ought we to use on this ac­count, lest we be drawn into any iniquity?

2. Let us pursue the mortification of every fleshly lust. Though the Dominion of sin is subverted in every Regenerate one, yet there are the remains of it in the best in this life; & it is very active, and hath too much of the nature of a Law in them, as he confesseth of himself, Rom. 7.21. I find a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. The best way for a Christian to avoid the Com­mission of sin, is to endeavour the mortifi­cation of those lusts which are the branches of Original Concupiscence in him, by the motions and force whereof he is hurried in­to actual sins. That is on this account made the Duty of all the People of God in, Col. 3.5. Mortify your members which are upon the [Page 17] earth, fornication, &c. And for this we should make use of the Cross of Christ, where we should Crucify them, thus did Paul, Gal 6.14. God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

3. Let us maintain a special warfare against our bosome sin. Although there is every lust remaining in every believer, against which the spiritual warfare is to be upheld and pur­sued: yet there is usually one more remar­kable lust, which either our natural constitu­tion, or the occasions offered in the Provi­dence of God, or the affairs that we are em­ployed in, do stimulate us to; and we are more easily won to hold correspondence with it, and find it hardest to withstand the motions of it, when it calls for being attend­ed and gratified. Now one sin if it be al­lowed by us, and we can hold familiar cor­respondence with it, though it be never so secretly, is enough to procure a distance be­tween God and us, and make us to experi­ence his displeasure. How carefully then ought we to observe the stirrings of it in us, and resist it with greatest resolution? David therefore tells us on this account, Psal. 18.23. I was upright before him, and I kept my self from mine iniquity.

4. Let us Crucify our over eager affections to [Page 18] the world. There is a love to the Creature which it is lawful for Gods people to exer­cise: but then there is a love of these things which is very dangerous, against which we are warned, 1 Job. 2.15. Love not the world neither the things which are in the world. If a­ny man love the world, the love of the father is not in him. If we let our hearts out over ea­gerly after these things, they will draw them off from God: and our Saviour hath cauti­oned us in, Mat 6.24. No man can serve two masters, &c. And there is nothing that more obstructs our walking with God, than the prevalency of Ambition, Covetousness, and Vo­luptuousness in us: And because these things are so adapted to our senses, and gratifie the cravings of the outward man, we have the more need to be dayly crucifying of them, and praying as he, Psal 119.37. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; we are there­fore earnestly advised in, 1 Pet. 2 11. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the Soul.

5. Let us carefully abstain from evil company. Ungodly men are Gods enemies, and we should in that regard look upon them as ours, Psal 139.21. Do I not hate them, Oh Lord, that hate thee? And God is therefore angry, when we make choice of such to be our in­timates, [Page 19] and enter into alliances with them. How was Jehoshaphat rebuked and threat­ned for this? 2 Chron. 19.2. Shouldst thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from the Lord. And if we will associate our selves with such per­sons, we shall learn of their ways, and walk with them; and then we shall not walk with God, because his ways and theirs are contrary; and doubtless the little regard that men have to the choice of their Compani­ons, is none of the least reasons why Profes­sors at this day make so little progress in their Christian Walk, and that there is so great an Apostasy among them.

6. Let us manfully resist all the Temptations of Satan and his instruments. If we resolve to walk with God, we must expect to be with­stood in our way: they that are his enemies will be ours too; and if all their policy and industry can draw us off, they will not be wanting. We are told of Satan, 1 Pet. 5.8. Your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour; and of his agents in, Mat. 24.24. If it were possible they would deceive the very Elect. And there is no way for us to escape them, but by with­standing of them, 1 Pet. 5.9. Whom withstand stedfastly in the faith. There is need there­fore of courage and constancy, in all those [Page 20] that would hold on their way, and not be turned out of it.

7. Let us beware of Hypocrisy. And indeed there is nothing more dangerous. The Hy­pocrite pretends to walk with God, but doth not; he seems to look one way, but indeed goes another: he hath a way of his own which he closely prosecutes, whiles he holds the world in hand that he is running in the way of Gods precepts; and in nothing is God more provoked than by such an Atheist­ical carriage as this is; as if he could as easily blind the all seeing eye, as impose upon the credulity of short sighted men. We are therefore given to understand the doom of such, Jeb. 8 13. The Hypocrites hope shall perish, and 13 16. An Hypocrite shall not come before him. Take heed then, for it is only the upright in heart, whose way pleaseth God.

III. If we would walk with God, we must live the exercise of the Graces of his holy Spirit. As one that is without Grace cannot so do, so he who hath it habitually, doth no further keep close with God, then he is in the exer­cise of it. And here observe,

1. That the graces of Sanctification are be­stowed on us, to furnish us for new Obedience. It is by new & Evangelical Obedience that we keep in Gods way, & so walk with him, which we [Page 21] are altogether unable to do, whiles we abide in our natural state, Rom. 8.8. They that are in the flesh cannot please God The Apostasy had rendred us altogether unprofitable, and without strength to do any acceptable Service to God. Man, by the loss of Gods Image, in which he was at first created, lost his own power which he before was furnished with­al. It is therefore by restoring and renew­ing of this Image, that he is recovered to it again; hence that, Eph. 4 23, 24 Be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righte­ousness and true holiness. So that it consists in the sanctifying Graces, which are infused into the Soul, by the Spirit of God, that we are renovated; & that is by being put into Christ by Regeneration, according to, 2 Cor. 5.17. If any man be in Christ, he is a new Creature; old things are past away, behold all things are become new And what is this for, but that we may obey God, and do the things that please him? for we are told, Eph. 2 10. That we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works.

2 Hence no actions of ours, but what are in­fluenced by these Graces, are to be accounted steps in this walk. It is not enough that we are renewed, for us hence to conclude that all that we do will be right, and that now we cannot decline from the way which we are [Page 22] put into, as if now we might confide in the promise, without taking heed to our selves. We have corruption as well as grace in us; there is the Flesh as well as the Spirit, and these are ever drawing us contrary wayes, Gal 5.17. The flesh lusteth against the spirit, & the spirit lusteth against the flesh; and these two are contrary; and that which is the product of either of these two principles will be at­tributed to it, as, Joh. 3.6. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. God doth not only look at the actions which we do, but also at the spirit with which we do them; hence that, 2 Chro. 12.2. He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart.

3. Hence we ought very carefully to take heed by what principle we act. Many professors think themselves no farther concerned in the duties they do, then to see to the things so done, that in the matter of them they be things warranted or commanded in the Word of God; & if therein they are conformable, they think all is well: but so may an ungodly man do, without any root of grace or piety in him, meerly by the instigation of a natu­ral Conscience in him, and the force of moral principles, and yet such duties are far from finding acceptance with God. Nay we have that character put upon them, Prov. 21.4. The [Page 23] plowing of the wicked is sin. 28.9. His prayer shall be an abomination. God indeed requires the outward act, but he calls for the heart too, Prov. 23.26. My Son, give me thine heart; and that is done only by the exerting of the Graces of Sanctification in the duties that we do.

4. And that we may thus exercise our Grace, we must wait upon the Spirit of God for his help in exciting and actuating of it. It is true, we must have Grace before we can use it, Gal. 5.25. If you live in the spirit, walk in the spirit. But it is equally certain that the exercise hereof depends upon his influence, nor can we put it forth in any thing farther than he affords us his assistance. The Apostle refers not the will only but also the deed hither Phil. 2.13. It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do. And they were Regene­rate ones to whom our Saviour said, Joh. 15.5. Without me ye can do nothing. It is there­fore the believers encouragement, that he may have this aid afforded him upon his right asking for it, Luk. 11.13. Your heavenly Father shall give the holy spirit to them that ask him. It then concerns us to seek this of him, how else shall we walk with him?

IV. If we would walk with God, we must maintain the life of faith. We are told in, Heb. [Page 24] 10.38. The Just shall live by his faith. Where, by living is not only intended, the enjoyment of the title to Everlasting Blessedness, which is secured by promise to faith in Christ, Joh. 3.16. Whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting Life; but also the main­taining of a life of Holiness, in which alone it is that we can be said to walk with God, and because this is an essential point, let us consider it in the following observations.

1. There is no walking with God, but in the way of new Obedience. There was an Obedi­ence which God required of man in the Co­venant of Works, in the performance of which, if he had kept his integrity, he should have upheld entire Communion with God; and that was in an exact conformity to the Law of that Covenant. But fallen man cannot maintain this; he is fallen short of the Glory of God, and can no more conform to the Law: We are therefore told. Gal 3.10. As many as are of the works of the Law, are under the Curse. There is therefore a new Covenant opened, in which, as there is O­bedience to God required of us, so it is up­on another tenour, in which sincerity is ac­cepted at our hands by God, and all our short comings are over looked: and it is for that reason called new, because there was nothing of it in the Old Covenant which [Page 25] pronounced a Curse upon the least defect. Of this is that blessing pronounced, Psal 119. 1, 2, 3. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the way of the Lord, &c. and for this he prays in, Psal. 25.22. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me.

2. There is no performing of sincere Obedience but by the help of Christ. He must work our works in us, if ever we do them as we ought. As all the operation of second Be­ings depends on the Co operation of the first, even in things natural; so the Gracious Actions of the Children of God must have their supply from Christ, through whom all saving benefits derive to his people: he is the Vine and they are the branches, Joh 15. begin. And all the Sap which they have that must render them fruitful comes from him, Hos. 14.8. From me is thy fruit found. Paul therefore dares not to presume any further for his doing of any duty, Phil. 4.13. I can do all things through Christ strengthening of me.

3. It is by Faith that we must derive all this vertue and help from him. As all our help is fountained in him, so there is a way in which we are to fetch it in from him, and that is by the exercise of faith on him: and for this reason, Paul, when he speaks of his life of Holiness in which he walked with God, refers it hither, Gal. 2.20. I live, yet not [Page 26] I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God. The Obedience of Gods peo­ple is on this account called the work of faith, 2 Thes. 1.11. And all the glorious exploits which are mentioned to have been done by the Worthies of old, are ascribed to their faith in, Heb. 11. For it is by faith that we go to Christ, and embracing the promise, in which all the help that we need is laid up, we fetch in that assistance from him, by which we are enabled to walk with him.

4. The best of our Obedience labours of sinful infirmities, and imperfections. It is by the law that we have the knowledge of sin; accordingly we are to reckon that whatsoever comes short, in any respect, of what that re­quires, whether in matter or manner, or end, is so far sinful. Now the people of God, when they have exercised their Grace with the most sincere endeavour, come be­hind in this respect, and so dare not to put themselves upon a law tryal, but confess as, Psal 130.3. If thou, Lord, should mark iniqui­ties; Oh Lord, who shall stand? And there­fore deprecate it as, Psal. 143.2. Enter not in­to judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Sinless perfe­ction is that which none can with any truth pretend unto, for we are told, 1 Joh. 1.8. If [Page 27] we say that we have no sin, we deceive our selves, and the truth is not in us.

5. This imperfect Obedience, when sincere, is rendred acceptable to God through Christ. God, out of Christ, is a severe Judge, and con­demns men for the least defect in what they do: whereas believers have hope of accep­tance, notwithstanding they find so much of a body of death mixing with their duties: and whence is this? not because God likes sin in his own, when he cannot endure it in others; his Holiness forbids that: But it is, because he looks upon them in Christ, and having covered them under the robe of his Righteousness, he will not see, so as to judge them for their frailties, according to, Numb. 23.21. He hath seen no iniquity in Jacob, nor perverseness in Israel; but we have all our ac­ceptance in the beloved, Eph. 1.6.

6 It is only by faith that we apply this per­fect Righteousness of Christ by which we are thus accepted Hence that title is put upon it, Phil 3.9. The Righteousness which is of God by faith. If we confide in our own works, and expect to be accepted for the worthiness of them, God will despise us, and wholly re­ject our services as things which he can take no delight in: but when we utterly renounce our affiance in them, and resolve our whole hope, after all, into Christ, and him alone, [Page 28] we then please God. We thus comply with the New-Covenant way, in which the Grace of God is every way exalted, and our whole acknowledgment is paid to it: and when we thus do, we Walk by faith, and so Walk with God.

V. If we would Walk with God, we must endeavour to conform our whole Conversation to his revealed will. We before observed, that walking intends the course of life which we follow, every action whereof incompared to one step that we take. Walking with God then, is a living according to his will, so it is exprest in, 1 Pet. 4.2. That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. Now there is a double-consideration of the Will of God, viz as it is secret, or as it is reveal­ed; by the former of which God disposeth of all the affairs of his Creatures, according to his infinite wisdom, and good pleasure, Eph. 1.11. Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will. And by the latter he pre­scribes to us our Duty, and how we ought to carry towards him in all things. And here we may observe,

1. That God hath given us a Rule to direct us in the way wherein we may walk with him. He hath not only enjoyned it upon us as a [Page 29] duty so to walk, but hath also shewn us the way in which we may so do; else we had been left at an utter loss. Nor did he only do so to man when he first created him, by the Covenant of Works, for compliance wherewithal fallen man is left altogether without strength: but he hath also thus pre­scribed under the New Covenant, which is therefore called the law of Christ, Gal. 6 2. For the Gospel doth not discharge man from obedience to God, and so open to him a door of licentiousness; and they are grievously mistaken who reckon this for the Grace of the Gospel: but it prescribes unto them a new way, in which they may live and please God: which is called the way of Righteousness, 2 Pet. 2.2. & the way of peace, Luk 1.69 Rom. 3.17. and the way of Salvation, Acts 17.16. Nor hath he left it a thing indifferent, whe­ther we go in this way or no; but hath ad­ded Sanctions to the Command.

2. That this Rule extends to the whole man. For this reason, the Sanctification, which is to furnish us with ability to conform to this Rule, extends to the whole, 1 Thes 5.23 The very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God that your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless. Man consists of a soul and a body; and both of these are to be regulated by it: It therefore giveth precepts concern­ing [Page 30] the inward as well as the outward man; and we are obliged to glorify God with both, 1 Cor 6.20. Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods. There is a way of the heart as well as of the hand and foot, which we must take heed to, if we would walk with God; and indeed God firstly and mainly regards the heart in all; and our outward actions, let them be otherwise never so regular, are no further accepted with him, than our heart is right in them. God there­fore requires this in the first place, Prov. 23.26. My son, give me thine heart And this is a remark that is made on the specious refor­mation attempted by Israel, Psal 78.37. Their heart was not right with him; and if our feet move one way, and our heart goes another, God is not honoured, but despised by us; so he upbraids them Isa 29.13 This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me.

3 Hence it gives laws to all sorts of actions. As the whole man is under the command of it, so all the motions of it, in all respects, are to be regulated by it; and we no farther walk with God than we sincerely conform to it. Actions are distinguished from the next subject by which they are exerted, into thoughts, words and deeds. Thoughts are the [Page 31] next and immediate acts of the heart, or in­ward man, and are performed in us, by the Soul it self: others are strangers to them, but this Rule extends to them, and is a Judge of them, Rom. 2.16. God shall judge the secrets of men; and that is one prerogative attributed to the Word of God, Heb 4.12. Is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The words are the acts of the tongue; and men are deceived if they think their tongues are their own, and have no lord over them, as they vainly boasted, Psal. 12.4. for of these also there is a reckoning ere long to be made, Mat. 12.36. I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an ac­count thereof in the day of Judgment. And deeds comprehend under them, all else that is performed by the outward man, as it is the organ of the Rational Soul in the exerting of its imperate acts; every whereof he is al­so accountable for, Eccl. 12 14 God will bring every work into judgment. The right ordering of these therefore belongs to our walking with God: to every of which the Scripture precepts are adapted.

4 And it prescribes to all the Relations that we are set in. There are a great many rela­tions which God hath placed between men, whiles they are in this world; in every of which they owe an obedience to God, and [Page 32] for their direction whereunto, he hath an­nexed the duties which he requires of them in each, in the discharge whereof they are to serve him; and they can no farther walk with him in them, then as they comply there­withal. These Relations are enumerated in the Holy Scriptures, where also the precepts which God hath given concerning each of them are recorded: and they are Natural, Oeconomical, Civil, and Ecclesiastical. There is the Relation of Husband and Wife, Parents and Children, Masters and Servants, Magi­strates and Subjects, Ministers and Churches, Teachers and Scholars, aged, and younger persons, &c. In our discharge of all of these we ought to yield obedience to the command of God relating to them, and when we do so, we therein walk with him: and thus did Enoch, verse 22.

5. It also directs to all the callings which God providentially placeth men in. The most of these Callings might have been reduced to the former head of Relations; being foun­ded in, or resuking from them. But let me here add, that there is a General Calling, which all persons of what relation soever, are obliged to the pursuit and practice of, viz the Religious Worship of God in all the ways of his appointment; and that both in the Natural and Instituted: and the more con­stant [Page 33] & faithful Christians are in their atten­dance upon those duties, the more closely do they walk with God. There are also the Particular Callings which God hath distribu­ted among men, which nextly refer to the concerns of this life, & the publick, as well as private & personal benefit of mankind, which are also subordinated to Religion: & in these also God expects that we should maintain fellowship with him; & we do in vain pre­tend to walk with him in acts of Worship, if we regard him not in these. I should be endless in going about to prescribe particular Rules of walking with God in all the fore ci­ted cases, for which the Word of God plen­tifully furnisheth us with advice. Let then two or three general hints suffice.

1. We must use all endeavours to get a distinct acquaintance with the Rules of holy walking. Though knowledge alone be not sufficient for us, for we may know our duty, and yet live in the neglect of it, which will but ag­gravate our guilt, yet without knowledge the mind of man cannot be good; nor his actions regular; those therefore are put together, Joh. 13 17. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. And for this end,

1. We must be diligent in reading the Word of God. That is the compleat Rule of our walking with him, and without our [Page 34] getting acquaintance with it, we must needs err; for, if God had not there shewn us what is good, we must have wandered in a labyrinth of mistakes: David resolves upon this, Psal. 119 16 I will delight my self in thy statutes; I will not forget thy word. And he tells us what use he makes of it, v 105. Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my path.

2. We must be frequent in meditation on the Word of God. It is not enough for us curso­rily to read it, and set our selves a stint of so doing, but we must do it with understanding & consideration; how else should it be our guide in the paths of peace? David resolveth on this. Psal 119 15. I will meditate in thy pre­cepts, and have respect unto thy ways; and he tells us for what end he did it, v. 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin a­gainst thee; and to what a degree of acquain­tance with it he arrived by this course, he tells us, verse 99. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation.

3. We must be careful in attending on the preach­ing of the Word. God hath appointed the Gospel Ministry for this end, that they may be helpful in acquainting us with his mind; & when he bestows such upon us, it is a great blessing; he therefore promised that in bet­ter [Page 35] times, Jer. 3.15. I will give you Pastors ac­cording to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding; and he hath ac­cordingly made it our duty to afford all di­ligent & ponderous attention upon the Preach­ing of his Word, that we may thereby get acquaintance with his mind; & he hath de­clared all such to be blessed ones who do faith­fully comply therewithal, Prov. 8.34. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

4. We must joyn to all prayer for the Spirit of Illumination to be afforded us. We do not on­ly stand in need of the Word and Ordinan­ces to inform us about the will of God, tho' the matter of the knowledge of it is therein contained Doctrinally; but of the Spirit too, to give us a right discerning: for we are na­turally blind in spiritual things, and so need not only light to be set before us, but our eyes to be restored that we may perceive it. And though there is a remainder of the light of nature in us, which can apprehend the rea­son of many moral Duties, yet we are alto­gether strangers to the way of Evangelical Obedience, by which alone we can walk with God: this therefore Paul prays for on their behalf, Eph. 1 17, 18. That the Father may give to them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understand­ings [Page 36] being enlightned, &c. And good reason; for he tells us in, 1 Cor. 2 14 The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; nei­ther can he know them, because they are spiritu­ally discerned. Surely then we should pray for it in respect of our selves, in the words of the Psalmist, Psal. 119 18 Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

2 We must corroborate our love to the Rule. It is not enough to have a Theoretical know­ledge of it, for it is certain that we shall con­form unto it no farther than we love it: The natural man is offended at the Rule of Obe­dience given us by God; his heart riseth up against it, he hath entertained prejudices at it, yea is a meer lump of ermity, as he is de­scribed, Rom. 8.7. The carnal mind is enmity a­gainst God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. And so much as there is of the law of sin remaining in the best; so far is their love defective & stands in need of fortifying. And here observe

1. That all sincere Obedience is the exercise of love. Faith indeed regulates our Obedience, but it is love that acts it, according to Gal 5.6. Faith that worketh by love. We walk with God in no duty any farther than we do it in love, for we are told in, Rom. 13 10. Love is the ful­filling of the law And for this reason all O­bedience is called by the name of love, and [Page 37] put distributively with faith, 2 Tim. 1 13. Faith and love which is in Christ Jesus; and the A­postle John so argues, 1 Joh 4.7, 8. Love is of God, & every one that loveth is born of God, & knoweth God; he that loveth not, knoweth not God.

2. Hence we no farther please God, than we are acted by this love in our Duties. We may be very circumspect in the matter of them, and critical to the very tithing of mint, an­nise and cummin, and take a great deal of pains in the performance of it; but still, if this principle doth not influence them, God will not take the least content therein; and good reason, for love is the very life of the precept, and obedience thereto is deno­minated by it, Mat. 22.37, 38 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, & with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great Commandment.

3. That we may so do, we must get perswaded of the excellency of the Rule, and the felicity of them that delight themselves in it. It is the loveliness of the object that attracts our love to it; and we must discern that in it which renders it so, in order to our union with it. We have David professing of his inexpressible love to this Rule, Psal. 119.97. Oh, how I love thy law! And no wonder that he was thus raised in his mind, for he could [Page 38] give that incomparable encomium of it, Psal. 19.7, &c. The law of God is perfect, &c. More to be desired than gold, yea than much fine gold, sweeter also than the honey, and the honey comb. And that we may keep up this value, we must look upon it as the great medium of Communion with God in this life; and if we love that above all things, we shall prize this for that reason proportionably.

3 We must be very accurate in all our acti­ons, to see that they comport with the precept. The Word of God is a Rule of life, and no farther profiteth us than as we order our Conversation according to it: and for this we ought to take great heed to its counsels, and accordingly lay out all our actions by it: to do nothing but by the direction of it, and to bring all that we have done to the trial of it; & this is that accurate walking which is commended to us, Eph. 5.15. See that you walk circumspectly; for if we depart from this Rule, we therein depart from God. And there are two things especially that we are to be curious about in this affair.

1 About the matter of them. God hath told us what we should do, and what we are to avoid, if we would please him in our Conversation; and there is much of curiosi­ty to be used by us in this, if we would not miss in our endeavours. For though we may [Page 39] do the matter of duty very plausibly and without blame from men, or our own Con­sciences in that regard, and yet sin, for want of all other requisites to render it conforma­ble to the precept; yet if we neglect or transgress that, we sin unavoidably. We are forbidden to add or diminish, Deut. 12 32. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. And we are limited hither, Isa. 8 20 To the law, and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them

2. In the sincere aim of them. We then on­ly keep with God in our actions, when we pursue the same end in them for which he prescribes them: And though no pretence of a good end, and aiming at the glory of God in it, or the benefit of others, will gain the Divine approbation for any thing which is in it self a Transgression; yet a sinister end in the doing of it, will spoil that which is o­therwise a Duty. God always observes, not only what we do, but what we do it for; and if we fail in that point, he will make his re­mark upon it, Zech 7.5 When ye fasted and mourned, &c. did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? It spoileth prayers & alms when they are done to be seen of men, Mat 6. beg. That then is to be fixed in our hearts in all our act­ions [Page 40] of all sorts, if we would keep with God in them, 1 Cor. 10 31. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

VI. If we would walk with God, we must be much in these duties wherein close communion with him is to be upheld. Although we are to follow him in all duties, yet there are some in which we separate our selves for special intimacy with him, in which he is wont more pecu­liarly to manifest himself to his people, when they carefully seek him in them. And the more special of these are;

1. Secret Prayer. Prayer is in the Scrip­tures called a drawing nigh to God, because in it we present our selves before him, and put up our petitions to him. Praying is an act of Divine Worship, and that in all the kinds of it; and God hath made it to be a medium of participation in his favour; and therefore when he had made large promises of blessings to his people, he tells them how they may come by them, Ezek 36 37. I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them. And of all prayers there are none in which a Child of God hath more of free­dom and intimacy with him, than in those that are performed in secret. We are there­fore directed to and about this sort of prayer, Mat. 6 6. Here we may pour out our hearts [Page 41] before him; here we may open all our cases with the greatest freedom, whiles there's none that stands by to upbraid or dis­courage us; and the more we are sincerely engaged in this Duty, the oftner shall we be in the Mount where God is, and have inti­mate converse with him; & if we have not a great deal of such private business with God every day, it is an ill sign that we do not walk with him.

2. Diligent attendance on the Ordinances of his house. If we would walk with God, we must repair thither where his goings are: and we are told, Psal. 68 24. They have seen thy goings Oh God, in the Sanctuary. And 77.13. Thy way, O God is in the Sanctuary. Here it is that he makes peculiar manifestations of his grace and love to his people; here he hath com­manded the blessing, & hath therefore promi­sed his presence to be with such for this end, Exo. 20.24. In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee This was the reason why the Psalmist desired it as a peculiar priviledge to dwell all his days in the house of God, Psal. 27 4. To behold the beau­ty of the Lord; and in his exile he envies Swallows and Sparrows their liberty of build­ing near the Altar, Psal. 84 3. And why? but because he counted them to be happy men who were so priviledged, verse 4 Blessed [Page 42] are they that dwell in thine house. It was there­fore that he might have a refreshing sight of God that his Soul so longed and thirsted, Psal. 63.2. To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in thy Sanctuary. Only if we would enjoy this benefit when we come there, we must be sure that we make this our business; that it be our very errand to his house, to get into his company and fellowship.

3. Spiritual Communion with such as walk with him. We before observed, that if we make ungodly men our companions, it will be the readiest way to lose Gods company: and we may here further take notice, that to be much with those that fear him, is the way to be near him. If we take heed that our frequent and intimate fellowship be with them whose fellowship is with God, we are then of that society in which he delights; for we are told, Psal. 25.14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and this is the argument used by the Apostle to invite those whom he writes to, into the fellowship of the Saints, 1 Joh. 1.3. Truly our fellowship is with God the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Only observe, that it is not enough to associate our selves with their per­sons; meer civil friendship will not advance this, but it must be spiritual; for by that on­ly it is that they do mutually edify one ano­ther. [Page 43] When we chuse such as are gracious for our society, and make it our endeavour to stir up each others graces, and confer toge­ther about the Matters of the Kingdom, seek­ing to warm each others hearts with holy & heavenly discourses, we shall then have Christ to come and make one in the Company, as he did to those two Disciples, who walked together, and talked of the affairs that con­cerned Christ; Luk. 24 14, 15. And were this Duty revived, which so much languisheth, and is so little pursued, there would be a great deal more of close walking with God a­mong Christians, than there is.

4. Self examination, accompanied with renew­ed Repentance. And indeed it is requisite that these two be in conjunction; for there will be no kindly Repentance, but upon self reflecti­ons; and serious calling of our selves to an account daily, will promove the exercise of Repentance in us There is a great deal of folly breaking forth in our Conversation, when we take never so much heed to our selves, and much more when we are remiss in our watch, which we are too often guilty of; in all of which we get so far out of the way wherein God and we should go together & till by Repentance we turn into it again, we keep at a distance from him: whiles then we take no heed to reckon with our selves, this [Page 44] separation will abide, whereas they that are often calling of themselves to a strict account, enquiring where they are, what they have been doing, & bring themselves to the Rules of Tryal upon that account, are most likely to go the least away from God, and to make the speediest returns to him. This was a practice which the Psalmist accustomed himself to, Psal. 119.59. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. No won­der then, if those that are negligent in ac­quainting themselves very often with them­selves, do so frequently straggle away, and many times are a great while before they can recover their former communion with God.

VII. If we would walk with God, we must endeavour to subordinate all our outward concerns to his guidance and government. We have ob­served, that this Duty extends to all that we have to do withal in this life. Enoch walked with God in his Oeconomical capacity; and it is certain, that a Christian would be a great sufferer by being obliged to the duties of his particular calling, which take up the bigger part of his time in this life, if his attendance thereupon would necessarily interrupt his Communion with God, but it is quite other­wise: and though it so fails out too often, that through the prevalency of our concupis­cence, [Page 45] & our over eager letting out our selves upon these things, we are drawn away, and lose our selves here, for which reason we have duties of Worship enjoyned us by God, to be frequently engaging our selves in as helps to recover and establish us; yet it is incum­bent on us, and God expects it of us, that we order these affairs, and our selves in them, with that care and caution, that they may not hinder, but promove our Communion with him. And to that end;

1. We must seek God, and not our selves, ulti­mately in these things. The things of this life are given to us for our support in the world, & the comfortable supply of our outward man; these being, by the Divine appointment, the things, on which we have our dependance for our bodily life and livelihood whiles we con­tinue here, in the ordinary course of Gods Providence; and hence it follows, that the next and immediate design of our contriv­ing and labouring for these things, in the se­veral vocations that God placeth us in, is for the body, and the suitable support of it. But we must not center here, and look no fur­ther; much less are we to seek to gratify our fleshly lusts with them, which is the farthest reach of unregenerate men, and is born wit­ness against, Jam. 4.3. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon [Page 46] your lusts. But as we are to devote our whole lives to the Service and glory of God; so we ought to desire, endeavour and pray for the supplies and comforts of it, with this great purpose, that therewith we may the better honour him and be encouraged therewithal in our faithful obedience: that therefore is a precept enjoyned us, Prov. 3 9. Honour the Lord with thy substance; and we are told that God gave Israel all those things for this end, Psal. 105 44, 45. And gave them the lands of the heathen; and they inherited the labour of the people; that they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws; & the neglect of this is se­cretly threatned, in Deu 28.47, 48. Because thou servedst not the Lord with joyfulness & gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things, &c.

2. Take heed that we be not put by our Spiri­tual Duties for worldly affairs. These are our principal business Mat 6 33. Seek first the king­dom of God God hath not made the duties which he requires of us to interfere, but they may very suitably joyn and go hand in hand, if it be not our own fault; and we may and ought to allot to each their season: we ought to be diligent in our callings, but we are to worship God too Our being good husbands must not hinder our being good Christians, but pay a due deference to it, else we shall be guilty of the worst husbandry that can [Page 47] be: we must not follow the world so eager­ly as either to thrust out Religious duties, or tire our selves to an unfitness to attend them; all our success depends on the blessing of God, Prov 10 22. The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich; & all our endeavours, all our prudence and industry without it is of no value. If we think the time lost from the world, that we spend in daily religious exercises, we run away from God, and practically deny his superintendency over all humane affairs, nor can we have ground to expect to enjoy him with us in our employments.

3. Let us submit the issue of these things to the Providence of God. Diligence and discretion is our Duty, and we must ask that of God too, for it is his gift; but after all our care and wisdom, he governs the event as he will; and the wise man observes in, Eccles 9 11. The race is not to the swift, nor the battel to the strong, nor yet bread to the wise nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill; and he tells us that we ought to do our Duty under the ignorance of what shall be the suc­cess, in, Chap. 11.6. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withold not thine hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, &c. that therefore is the advice given us, Jam. 4.15 Ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that; and for this end we are to [Page 48] commit every thing that we are concerned in, to him by faith and prayer, Psal. 37.5. Commit thy way unto the Lord. And when we have so done, it behooves us to be quiet, and not to perplex our selves with anxious cares about it, but to wait patiently till we see the end of it, believing that God is infinitely wise, and as he hath all things at his dispose, so he will certainly bring them about in such a way, as shall be most for his glory, and our best good; and in this we should with greatest satisfaction wait upon his Pro­vidence in well doing.

4. Let us carry it suitably towards God in e­very condition of this life. There are many changes that we are liable to in regard of the affairs of this world, and there is an answe­rable deportment required of us, if we would serve God aright in them; we are therefore advised in, Eccl. 7.14 In the day of prosperity re­joyce, in the day of adversity consider. If God smiles upon our secular concerns, and we prosper in our way, it becomes us to give him the praise of it, and not to sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense to our own drag; as they, Hab 1 16 And to study how we may serve him in and with it; and take heed to our selves, that it do not become a snare to hinder us in our faithful obedience to him: & if he defeat our most likely undertakings, [Page 49] and bring us low in the world, we ought to adore his Soveraignty, and study what is the language of it, so as to improve it to lower our esteem of mutable things, and fix us the more in our earnest pursuit after a mere endu­ring substance.

VIII. If we would maintain our walking with God, we must use all means to establish our Per­severance. A Christians walk is not only for a turn or two, but it is to continue all his life. It is mentioned as the reproach of those Disciples, who sometimes had followed Christ in Joh. 6.66. From that time many of his Dis­ciples went back, and walked no more with him. And Christ declares how ill he resents such a thing, Luk 9.62. No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God. Now the Children of God meet with a great many temptations, which offer to draw them off, to prejudice them at the good ways of God, to allure them after the vanities of this world, and make them to be weary and faint in their Christian pro­gress; whereas the promise runs to such as en­dure to the end, Mat [...] 4.13. Which that we may do.

1. Let us prize Communion with God above all things. Labour to get a firm and experi­ [...]al perswasion of the happiness of the [Page 50] Children of God in this world, and that it consists in this, that they live with God, and have the advantage of conversing with him. This is the reason why David declares them to be blessed who hear the joyful sound, Psal. 89.15. They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy Countenance. Reckon every distance from him to be so far an unhappiness but his com­pany to be sufficient to carry you above all fear in the darkest condition that you can be in; as he, Psal. 23.4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.

2. Let us keep our eye firmly fixed upon the unseen and eternal things. There are the things of time that the people of God do here en­counter withal, which have such an aspect on them, as if they look no farther, will dis­courage them, and make them to faint under the difficulty of them. We read of the sto­ny ground professors, Mat. 13. When tribula­tion, or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. Now such trials as these are to be expected; it is an Evangelical Doctrine, Acts 14.22. That we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God; and if we do look no farther, we shall doubt­less tire and give in; for we are told, 1 Cor. 15.19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable; but if [...] [Page 51] look forward by an eye of faith, we shall have a prospect which will swallow up all this, take off the discouragement of the way we are walking in, and give us fresh vigour in our pursuit of it, 2 Cor. 4.16, 18 For which cause we faint not; whiles we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.

3. Let us get an heart more and more weaned from all the objects of sense. There is Concu­piscence remaining in the best of Gods peo­ple here; and sensible objects have anattra­ctiveness in them, to draw away our fleshly appetite after them; and that will certainly disturb our Perseverance, and thereby impede our Communion with God, and make us to drive heavily in our course of Christianity. We must therefore be very careful to get our hearts loosned more and more every day from these things, if we would hold on unmoveably in our way. Let us take that advice, and be quickned by the argument with which it is strengthened, 1 Joh. 2.15. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world: if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And to that end let us get more practical experience of the emptiness and vanity of these things, and the very great hindrance that an over eager affection to them gives to the great [Page 52] concerns of our Souls; which he that hath any intimate acquaintance with himself cannot but subscribe unto.

4. Let us contemn all the flatteries and frowns of the world. The great endeavour of the world is to draw us off from our Walking with God, which it prosecutes with utmost intenseness; and there are these two ways in which it attempts it, viz. either by faw­ning insinuations wherewith it endeavours to steal our hearts away after, and by false representations of things, as if accommoda­ted to give us the best satisfaction, to draw away our love to it, and if it prevails, we shall go off from God; or else by threat­nings and affronts to terrify us, and make us afraid of following our way, by represent­ing these things with a discouraging aspect: but we must entertain both of these with an holy scorn, and when they are pressed ne­ver so hard upon us, to say to the one, as Peter once to Magus, Acts 8.20. Thy money perish with thee; and to resolve of the other, as Paul doth with respect to those bonds and afflictions that did abide him, Acts 20.24. None of these things move me.

5. Let us be content to go alone. It is true, we cannot be alone, if we have God with us; however, as to men it may be so. It is observable that this is the encomium that [Page 53] God gave to Noah, Gen. 7 1. Thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation: And it is certain, that there are but a few who go in this Walk. Gods Company, that have fellowship with him, is but a little compa­ny: the multitude go in the other way, which leads from him. There is an holy singularity which all they must be contented withal, that would hold communion with God in this life; nor must it prejudice them if they see, not only the greatest number, but also the wisest men in the worlds ac­count, going in another road.

6. We must be content to follow God in the dark. It is true, God is sometimes pleased to lead his Children in the light of his Coun­tenance, and that is a very comfortable thing, and they can rejoyce all the day in his name; according to, Psal. 39.15, 16. But he very often calls them into a dark vale; there are clouds that encompass them, and they cannot clearly see their way before them; and if it be so with us, we must not baulk that, but resolve still to go on, that we may keep with him, Psal 23.4. Nay, if he hide his face from us, and we are environed with darkness, trouble and fear, yet we must after him, and not desert him, and say as he, Job 13.15. Though he slay me, I will trust in him.

[Page 54]7. We must ever interpret dark Providences by the Promise. Sometimes there are very hard chapters in the Providence of God, which we are at a loss about the meaning of, and now Temptations offer to draw us to despond, and sit still; but for us so to do will dishonour God, whose Service we have engaged our selves in, and bring us more into the dark; and though we cannot see the particular meaning of such Dispensati­ons at present, yet we have a clue, which if we follow, it will never deceive us, and that is the promise, unto which all Providences are accommodated, and shall issue in the accomplishment of; and if there were no more, that one would be sufficient, Rom. 8.28 We know that all things work together, for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

8. Maintain a believing resolve, that all they are happy that walk with God. Could we al­ways firmly build on his conclusion without wavering, how steadily would it help us to walk? Here then,

1. Believe that your nearness to God now is your present safety and security. Satan, and the corrupt part in us, would perswade us to count it our danger, and thereby fright us from it, and could the adversaries of our Souls have their will, they would make it so; [Page 55] but God hath assured us that it is other­wise: David gives this reason why he de­sired to dwell so near to God, Psal. 27 5. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion. And this is the argument of encouragement which God useth to fortify the hearts of his people against fear, Isa 41.10. Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strength­en thee; yea, I will help thee, yea, I will up­hold thee by the right hand of my righteousness.

2. Believe that all that walk with him here, shall rest with him for ever. The way in which all such as these go, is the way of peace; it is the way to eternal life; and all that follow it to the end of it, shall without fail arrive at last in the E­verlasting Kingdom. They that walk with God, have him for their Guide; and David could presume upon this, Psal 73.24. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to Glory. And let the way be in it self never so difficult, and discoura­ging, yet this is your consolation, that un­der the conduct of such a Guide there is no fear of miscarrying.

9. Look to the Lord Jesus Christ as your Undertaker, and rely on him to do all that [...] you, by which you may be preserved in your [...] till you come to the end of it. If you [Page 56] would walk and not faint, nor miscarry in your way, you must lean on him as your beloved. Neither lean to your own understandings; nor confide in your own strength, but by the continued exercise of faith, fetch all grace from him, to enable you to hold on to the end: so shall you abide in him, and hold on your way; yea, grow stronger in it, till you arrive at the end of your faith, the Salvation of your Souls: for we are assured in, Isa. 40 31. They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.


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