« السابقةمتابعة »
nature, GOD does thereby fay, "My fon, keep thyself from idols:" if profperous, he does it as it were by a small, ftill voice, fay, "My fon, give me thy heart." If believers, therefore, would keep up their walk with GOD, they must from time to time hear what the LORD has to fay concerning them in the voice of his providence. Thus we find Abraham's fervant, when he went to fetch a wife for his master Ifaac, eyed and watched the providence of GOD, and by that means found out the person that was defigned for his master's wife. "For "a little hint from Providence," fays pious Bishop Hall," is "enough for faith to feed upon." And as I believe it will be one part of our happiness in heaven, to take a view of, and look back upon, the various links of the golden chain which drew us there; fo those that enjoy moft of heaven below, I believe, will be most minute in remarking God's various dealings with them, in respect to his providential difpenfations here on earth.
Fifthly, In order to walk closely with GOD, his children muft not only watch the motions of God's providence without them, but the motions alfo of his bleffed Spirit in their hearts. "As many as are the fons of GOD, are led by the Spirit of GOD," and give up themselves to be guided by the Holy Ghoft, as a little child gives its hand to be led by a nurse or parent. It is no doubt in this fenfe, that we are to be converted, and become like little children. And though it is the quinteffence of enthufiafm, to pretend to be guided by the Spirit without the written word; yet it is every chriftian's bounden duty to be guided by the Spirit in conjunction with the written word of GOD. Watch, therefore, I pray you, O believers, the motions of God's bleffed Spirit in your fouls, and always try the fuggeftions or impreffions that you may at any time feel, by the unerring rule of God's most holy word: and if they are not found to be agreeable to that, reject them as diabolical and delufive. By obferving this caution, you will fteer a middle courfe between the two dangerous extremes many of this generation are in danger of running into; I mean, enthusiasm, on the one hand, and deifm, and downright infidelity, on the other.
Sixthly, They that would maintain a holy walk with God, muft walk with him in ordinances as well as providences, &c.
It is, therefore, recorded of Zachary and Elizabeth, that "They walked in all God's ordinances as well as commandments, blameless." And all rightly informed chriftians, will look upon ordinances, not as beggarly elements, but as fo many conduit-pipes, whereby the infinitely condefcending Jehovah conveys his grace to their fouls. They will look upon them as childrens bread, and as their highest privileges. Confequently they will be glad when they hear others say, "Come, let us go up to the house of the LORD." They will delight to visit the place where GOD's honour dwelleth, and be very eager to embrace all opportunities to shew forth the LORD CHRIST's death till he come.
Seventhly and lastly, If you would walk with Gon, you will affociate and keep company with those that do walk with him. "My delight, fays holy David, is in them that do excel" in virtue. They were in his fight, the excellent ones of the earth. And the primitive chriftians, no doubt, kept up their vigour and first love, by continuing in fellowship one with another. The Apoftle Paul knew this full well, and therefore exhorts the chriftians to fee to it, that they did not forfake the affembling of themselves together. For how can one be warm alone? And has not the wifeft of men told us, that, "as iron fharpeneth iron, fo doth the countenance of a man his friend?" If we look, therefore, into church history, or make a just observation of our own times, I believe we shall find, that as the power of GOD prevails, chriftian focieties, and fellowship meetings prevail proportionably. And as one decays, the other has infenfibly decayed and dwindled away at the fame time. So neceffary is it for those that would walk with GOD, and keep up the life of religion, to meet together as they have opportunity, in order to provoke one another to love and good works.
Proceed we now to the Third general thing propofed, To offer fome motives to excite all to come and walk with God.
And First, Walking with GOD, is a very honourable thing. This generally is a prevailing motive to persons of all ranks, to ftir them up to any important undertaking. O that it may have its due weight and influence with you, in respect to the matter now before us! I fuppofe you would all think it a very
high honour to be admitted into an earthly prince's privys council, to be trufted with his fecrets, and to have his car at all times, and at all feafons. It feems Haman thought it fo, when he boafted, Efth. v. 11, that befides his being "advanced above the princes and fervants of the king; yea, moreover, Efther the Queen did let no man come in with the King unto the banquet that he had prepared, but myself; and to-morrow am I invited unto her alfo with the King" And when afterwards a queftion was put to this fame Haman chap. vi. 6. "What shall be done unto the man whom the King delighteth to honour?" he answered, ver. 8. "Let the royal apparel be brought which the king used to wear, and the horie that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is fet upon his head; and let this apparel and horfe be delivered to the hand of one of the king's moft noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the King delights to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus fhall it be done to the man whom the King delighteth to honour." This was all then, it seems, that an ambitious Haman could aík, and the most valuable thing that he thought Ahasuerus, the greatest monarch upon earth, could give. But alas, what is this honour in comparison of that which the meaneft of those enjoy, that walk with GOD! Think ye it a fmall thing, Sirs, to have the fecret of the LORD of Lords with you, and to be called the friends of GOD? and fuch honour have all God's faints. "The fecret of the LORD is with them that feat him" and "Henceforth, fays the bleffed JESUS, call I you no longer fervants, but friends; for the fervant knoweth not the will of his mafter." Whatever you may think of it, holy David was fo fenfible of the honour attending a walk with GOD, that he declares, "He had rather be a door-keeper in his house, than to dwell even in the tents of ungodlinefs,' O that all were like-minded with him!
But, Secondly, As it is an honourable, so it is a pleafing thing to walk with God. The wifeft of men has told us, that "Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantnefs, and all her paths peace." And I remember pious Mr. Henry, when he was just about to expire, faid to a friend, "You have heard many mens dying words, and thefe are mine: A life spent
"in communion with GoD, is the pleafanteft life in the. "world." I am fure I can fet to my feal that this is true. Indeed, I have been lifted under JESUS's banner only for a few. years; but I have enjoyed more folid pleasure in one moment's communion with my God, than I should or could have enjoyed in the ways of fin, though I had continued to have went on in them for thousands of years. And may I not appeal to all you that fear and walk with GOD, for the truth of this? Has not one day in the LORD's courts, been to you better than a thoufand? In keeping GOD's commandments, have you not found a present and very great reward? Has not his word been fweeter to you than the honey, or the honey-comb? O what have you felt, when, Jacob-like, you have been wrestling with your GOD? Has not JESUS often met you when meditating in the fields, and been made known to you over and over again in breaking of bread? Has not the Holy Ghost frequently fhed the divine love abroad in your hearts abundantly, and filled you with joy unfpeakable, even joy that is full of glory? I know you will answer all these queftions in the affirmative, and freely acknowledge the yoke of CHRIST to be eafy, and his burden light; or (to ufe the words of one of our collects) "That "his service is perfect freedom." And what need we then any further motive to excite us to walk with GOD?
But methinks I hear fome among you fay, "How can "these things be? For, if walking with GOD, as you fay, is "such an honourable and pleasant thing, whence is it, that the "name of the people of this way is caft out as evil, and every "where spoken againft? How comes it to pass that they are "frequently afflicted, tempted, deftitute, and tormented? Is "this the honour, this the pleasure that you speak of?" I anfwer, Yes. Stop a while; be not over-hafty. Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment, and all will be well. It is true, we acknowledge the "people of "this way," as you, and Paul before you, when a perfecutor, called them, have their names caft out as evil, and are a fect every where spoken againft. But by whom? Even by the enemies of the most high GOD. And do you think it a difgrace to be spoken evil of by them? Bleffed be GOD, we have not fo learnt CHRIST. Our royal Mafter has proVOL. V. nounced
nounced thofe "bleffed, who are perfecuted, and have all manner of evil fpoken against them falfly." He has commanded them to rejoice and be exceeding glad." For it is the prilege of their difcipleship, and that their reward will be great in heaven. He himself was thus treated. And can there be a greater honour put upon a creature, than to be conformed to the ever-bleffed Son of GOD? And further, it is equally true, that the people of this way are frequently afflicted, tempted, deftitute, and tormented. But what of all this? Does this deftroy the pleasure of walking with GOD? No, in no wife; for those that walk with GOD, are enabled, through CHRIST ftrengthening them, to joy even in tribulation, and to rejoice when they fall into divers temptations. And I believe I may appeal to the experience of all true and close walkers with GOD, Whether or not their fuffering times, have not frequently been their sweetest times, and that they enjoyed most of GOD, when moft caft out; and despised by men? This we find was the cafe of CHRIST's primitive servants, when threatened by the Jewish fanhedrim, and commanded to preach no more in the name of JESUS; they rejoiced, that they were accounted worthy to fuffer shame for the fake of JESUS. Paul and Silas fang praifes even in a dungeon; and the face of Stephen, that glorious proto-martyr of the christian church, fhone like the face of an angel. And JESUS is the fame now, as he was then, and takes care fo to fweeten fufferings and afflictions with his love, that his difciciples find, by happy experience, that as afflictions abound, confolations do much more abound. And therefore these objections, inftead of destroying, do only more enforce the motives before urged to excite you to walk with GOD.
But fuppofing the objections were juft, and walkers with GOD were as defpicable and unhappy as you would represent them to be; yet I have a third motive to offer, which, if weighed in the balance of the fanctuary, will over-weigh all objections, viz. That there is a heaven at the end of this walk. For, to use the words of pious Bishop Beveridge, " Though * the way be narrow, yet it is not long; and though the gate "be ftraight, yet it opens into everlasting life." Enoch found it fo. He walked with GOD on earth, and God took him to fit down with him for ever in the kingdom of heaven. Not that we are to expect to be taken away as he was: 'no; I fup