Walking with God
Studies on the doctrine of...
“WALKING WITH GOD”
by Dr. D. W. Ekstrand
(A compilation of studies from various writers)
"Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Gen 5:24). The original Hebrew meaning for walked implies that Enoch went to and fro with God, continually conversing with him and growing closer to him. In him, we see a new kind of believer. He walked arm in arm every day with the Lord – the Lord was his very life — so much so that at the end of his life, he did not taste death but was translated out of life (Heb 11:5). Like Enoch, those who walk closely with God are translated out of Satan's reach — taken out of his kingdom of darkness and put into Christ's kingdom of light (Col 1:13).
Enoch learned to walk pleasingly before God in the midst of a wicked society. He was an ordinary man with all the same problems and burdens we carry, not a hermit hidden away in a wilderness cave. He was involved in life with a wife, children, obligations and undertook all his responsibilities. He cared for his family: he worked, ministered and occupied; but he was not earthbound. None of the demands of this life could keep him from his walk with God. In his spirit, Enoch was not a part of this wicked world. Each day as he walked with the Lord he became less attached to the things below. Like Paul, he died daily to this earthly life and he was taken up in his spirit to a heavenly realm. All around Enoch, mankind grew increasingly ungodly. Yet as men changed into wild beasts full of lust, hardness and sensuality, Enoch became more and more like the One with whom he walked. Though he had no Bible, no songbook, no fellow member, no teacher, no indwelling Holy Spirit... yet Enoch knew God!
Hebrews 11:5 says of Enoch: "Before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." What was it about Enoch that pleased God so much? It was that his walk with God produced in him the kind of faith God loves. These two verses cannot be separated: "Before his translation he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God... without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Heb 11:5-6). We hear this latter verse often, but rarely in connection with the former. Yet throughout the Bible and all of history those who walked closely with God became men and women of deep faith. If the church is walking with God daily, communing with him continually, the result will be a people full of faith — true faith that pleases God.
The writer to the Hebrews says, "He who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb 11:6). God is a remunerator, one who recompenses for faithfulness. How does the Lord reward his diligent ones? There are three important rewards that come by believing God and walking with him in faith.
1. The first reward is God's control of our lives. The person who neglects the Lord soon spins out of control as the devil moves in and takes over. If only he would fall in love with Jesus, walking and talking with him!
2. The second reward that comes by faith is having "pure light." When we walk with the Lord, we are rewarded with light, direction, discernment, revelation—a certain "knowing" that God gives us.
3. The third reward that comes with a walk of faith is protection from all our enemies. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper" (Is 54:17).
ENOCK WALKED WITH GOD – This next section of material is from “Scroll Publishing”
What does it mean to "walk with God"? It means several things. First, that the prevailing power of enmity in a person's heart has been taken away by the blessed Spirit of God. Secondly, that the person has actually been reconciled to God the Father. Thirdly, that the person has an abiding communion and fellowship with God — what in Scripture is called "the Holy Spirit dwelling in us." Finally, walking with God implies our making progress in the divine life. Walking requires a progressive motion. But how does a Christian maintain such a walk with God?
Step One: Read the Scriptures
To begin with, believers maintain their walk with God by reading His Word. "Search the Scriptures," says our blessed Lord, "for these are they that testify of me" (Jn 5:39). The psalmist tells us that God's Word was a "light unto his feet, and a lantern unto his paths" (Ps 119:105). The characteristic of a good man that "his delight is in the law of the Lord, and that he meditates on it day and night" (Ps 1:2). "Give yourself to the public reading of Scripture," says Paul to Timothy (I Tim 4:13). "This book of the law," says God to Joshua, "shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it" (Josh 1:8). “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction" (Rom 15:4). The word of God is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16). If we ever think we are above our Bibles, we shall soon lie open to all manner of delusion, and be in great danger of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. This the apostle calls the "sword of the Spirit" (Eph 6:17).
Step Two: Personal Prayer
Believers keep up their walk with God by private, personal prayer. The spirit of grace is always accompanied with the spirit of supplication. It is the very breath of the new creature, the fan of the divine life. By it, the spark of holy fire, kindled in the soul by God, is not only kept in, but raised into a flame. Neglect of private prayer has been frequently an inlet to many spiritual diseases, and has been attended with fatal consequences. Prayer is one of the most noble parts ￼of the believer's spiritual armor. "Pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18). “Pray without ceasing” (1 Th 5:17). "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation" (Mt 26:41). Prayer brings and keeps God and man together – it raises man up to God, and brings God down to man. Even when you are about the common business of life be much in extemporaneous prayer.
Step Three: Meditation
Holy and frequent meditation is another blessed means of keeping up a believer's walk with God. Says Luther, "Prayer, reading, temptation, and meditation makes a minister." And they also make and perfect a Christian. Meditation is to the soul what digestion is to the body. David found it so, and therefore he was frequently employed in meditation, even in the night season. Meditation is a kind of silent prayer, whereby the soul is frequently (so to speak) carried out of itself to God. Through meditation, the soul is, to a degree beholds the face of our heavenly Father. None but those happy souls that have been accustomed to this divine practice can tell what a blessed promoter of the divine life meditation is. "While I was musing the fire burned," writes David (Ps 39:3). And while the believer is musing on the works and word of God, he frequently feels the fire of divine love kindle, so that he is obliged to speak with his tongue and tell of the loving kindness of the Lord to his soul. Be frequent therefore in meditation, all you who desire to maintain a close and uniform walk with the most high God.
Step Four: Noting God's Providence
Believers keep up their walk with God also by watching and noting His providential dealings with them. If we believe the Scriptures, we must believe what our Lord hath declared therein, "that the very hairs of his disciples' heads are numbered; and that a sparrow does not fall to the ground, without the knowledge of our heavenly Father" (Mt 10:29). Every cross has a call in it. And every particular dispensation of divine providence has some particular end to answer in those to whom it is sent. Seek to know what God is saying to you. "A little hint from provi- dence," says pious Bishop Hall, "is enough for faith to feed upon."
Step Five: Seek the Guidance of the Spirit
In order to walk closely with God, his children must not only watch the motions of God's providence around them, but they must also take note of the moving of His blessed Spirit within their hearts. "As many as are the sons of God, are led by the Spirit of God" (Rom 8:14). They give up themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, just as a little child gives its hand to be led by a nurse or parent. However, it is the quintessence of enthusiasm to pretend to be guided by the Spirit without the written Word — it is every Christian's bounden duty to be guided by the Spirit in conjunction with the written word of God. You must always test the suggestions or impressions that you may at any time feel, by the unerring rule of God's holy Word. And if they are not found to be agreeable to that, reject them as diabolical and delusive.
Step Six: Obedience
Those who would maintain a holy walk with God must walk with him in His commandments as well as in His providences. It is recorded of Zacharias and Elizabeth, that "they walked in all God's ordinance, as well as commandments, blameless" (Lk 1:6). All rightly informed Christians will look upon commandments, not as beggarly elements, but as so many conduit-pipes by which the infinitely condescending Jehovah conveys his grace to their souls. They will look upon them as children's bread, and as their highest privileges. Consequently they will delight to visit the place where God's honor dwells — "Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord" (Ps 122:1).
Step Seven: Godly Association
Finally, if you would walk with God, you will associate and keep company with others who walk with Him. "My delight," says David, "is in them that do excel in virtue" (Ps 16:3). In his sight, they were the excellent ones of the earth. The early Christians kept up their vigor and first love by continuing in fellowship one with another. Writes Paul, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together (Heb 10:25). For how can one be warm alone? Did not the wisest of men say, "As iron sharpens iron, so does the countenance of a man sharpen his friend"? (Prv 27:17). So it is necessary for those who would walk with God to meet together when they can, in order to provoke one another to love and good works (Heb 10:24).
THE SECRET OF WALKING WITH GOD – by Bob Sorge
God is looking for not only a clinging bride but also a walking partner. From the very beginning, God had a relationship with Adam and Eve that found them "walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Gen 3:8). God created man for the enjoyment of a walking relationship that involved companionship, dialogue, intimacy, joint decision-making, mutual delight, and shared dominion. God longs to walk with you, which is why His arms of grace have been pulling you into a closer walk with Him. Jesus went on walks with his disciples, and He still likes to walk with us today. The goal we're after is an everyday walk of unbroken communion with our Lord and friend.
Enoch was the first man in the Bible who walked with God (Gen 5:22-24). Even though men began to call upon the name of the Lord in the earliest of times (Gen 4:26), Enoch was the first man to uncover the true delight of walking with God. He found something even Adam didn't experience. He pressed into God until he learned how to commune with God through every facet of life. To find that dimension of relationship certainly required an intense spiritual pursuit, and then when he found it the Lord made a graphic statement by catching him up to heaven.
By taking Enoch up to glory, God wasn't trying to get us impressed with Enoch's piety. God's point was this, "I love to walk with man! Enoch was the first man to truly walk with me, so I decided to highlight his example by doing something extraordinary with him. I took him up to paradise to underscore how much I value and desire a daily walking relationship with My chosen ones." Enoch's example continues to witness to all generations of the great zeal God has to walk with man. One can only wonder what glorious depths of intimacy Enoch uncovered. As you draw close to God, He will not likely take you up to heaven as He did Enoch. However, He does desire to reveal the beauty of His face to you. As we walk with Him, He will open the Scriptures to us through the Spirit of wisdom and revelation and reveal to us the light of the glory of God that is to be found in Him. When we walk with God, we enter the dimension where God unfolds the secrets of his kingdom. These are the paths that the ancients trod before us. Noah knew the secret of walking with God (Gen 6:9), as did Abraham (Gen 24:40). Through Christ, you can explore the glorious riches of knowing God like they did — by His indwelling Spirit.
God wants to walk with us before He works through us. So He will wait to act until He finds the right man or woman through whom He can work. To put it bluntly, God works with His friends. When God has a friend, divine activity accelerates. When God has a useful vessel that has been prepared for noble purposes, He will use that vessel. God will use the one who walks with Him. But He's looking especially for three crucial qualities; humility, faithfulness, and loyalty. He wants to work with friends who are loyal to Him, no matter what. Even when circumstances would suggest God is unjust, His true friends continue to walk with Him. So the Lord will test our fidelity. When we prove ourselves His friends through the greatest calamities of life, we qualify as useful vessels.
The secret place is where we develop a walking relationship with God. Our inner chamber with Him becomes our training ground for a life that is rooted and grounded in love. Jesus told us that He confides His kingdom purposes to his friends (Jn 15:15). Lord, I want to be your friend and hear Your heart, and participate in your activities in this hour. Teach me Lord to walk with you! (This edited material is from "Secrets of the Secret Place" by Bob Sorge. Greenwood, Missouri: Oasis House, 2001)
WALKING WITH GOD – by George Whitefield (1714-1770)
"Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." Various are the pleas and arguments which men of corrupt minds frequently urge against yielding obedience to the just and holy commands of God. But, perhaps, one of the most common objections that they make is this, that our Lord's commands are not practicable, because contrary to flesh and blood; and consequently, that he is “a hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strewed.” These we find were the sentiments entertained by that wicked and slothful servant mentioned in Matt 24; and are undoubtedly the same with many which are maintained in the present wicked & adulterous generation. The Holy Spirit foreseeing this, hath taken care to inspire holy men of old, to record the examples of many holy men and women; who, even under the Old Testament dispensation, were enabled cheerfully to take Christ's yoke upon them, and counted his service perfect freedom. The large catalogue of saints, confessors, and martyrs, drawn up in Hebrews 11, abundantly evidences the truth of this observation. What a great cloud of witnesses have we there presented to our view? All eminent for their faith, but some shining with a greater degree of luster than do others. The first martyr Abel leads the van, and next to him we find Enoch being mentioned – he is spoken of in the words of the text in a very extraordinary manner. We have here a short but very full and glorious account, both of his behavior in this world, and the triumphant manner of his entry into the next. “And Enoch walked with God, and he was not: for God took him” – God had translated him. ￼
Who this Enoch was is not as clear – to me, he seems to have been a person of public character; I suppose, like Noah, a preacher of righteousness. And, if we may credit the apostle Jude, he was a flaming preacher. For he quotes one of his prophecies, wherein he says, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” But whether a public or private person, he has a noble testimony given him in the lively oracles. The author of Hebrews says, that before his translation he had this testimony – “that he was pleasing to God;” and his being translated, was a proof of it beyond all doubt. And I would observe, that it was the won- derful wisdom of God to translate both Enoch and Elijah under the Old Testament dispensation, that hereafter, when it should be asserted that the Lord Jesus was carried into heaven, it might not seem a thing altogether incredible to the Jews; since they themselves confessed that two of their own prophets had been translated several hundred hears before. But the thing I wish to give primary emphasis to in this discourse, is the fact that ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD. If so much as this can be truly said of you and me after our decease, we shall not have any reason to complain that we have lived in vain. In handling my intended subject, I shall...
• Endeavor to show what is implied in these words, walked with God. • Prescribe those means by which believers may maintain their walk with God. • Offer some motives to stir us up to come and walk with God.
FIRST, I am to show what is implied in these words, “walked with God;” and what we are to understand by walking with God.
FIRST, walking with God implies, that the prevailing power of the enmity of a person's heart be taken away by the blessed Spirit of God. Perhaps it may seem a hard saying to some, but our own experience daily proves what the scriptures in many places assert, that the carnal mind, the mind of the unconverted natural man – nay, the mind of the regenerate – so far as any part of him remains unrenewed, is enmity against God; so that it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. Indeed, one may well wonder that any creature, especially that lovely creature man, made after his Maker's own image, should ever have any enmity, much less a prevailing enmity, against that very God in whom he lives, and moves, and hath his being. But so it is. Our first parents contracted it when they fell from God by eating the forbidden fruit, and the bitter and malignant contagion of it hath descended to, and quite overspread, their whole posterity. This enmity discovered itself in Adam's endeavoring to hide himself in the trees of the garden. When he heard the voice of the Lord God, instead of running with an open heart, saying Here I am... he now wanted no communion with God! and later excused his behavior by saying, “The woman Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” By saying thus, he in effect lays all the fault upon God; as though he had said, “If Thou hadst not given me this woman, I would not have sinned against Thee, so Thou mayest thank Thyself for my transgression.” In the same manner this enmity works in the hearts of Adam's children. They now and again find something rising against God, and saying even unto God, “What doest Thou?” This enmity discovered itself in accursed Cain; he hated and slew his brother Abel, because Abel loved, and was peculiarly favored by his God. And this same enmity rules and prevails in every man that is naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam. Hence that an averseness to prayer and holy duties ￼￼￼￼which we find in children, and very often in grown persons, who have notwithstanding been blessed with a religious education. And all that open sin and wickedness, which like a deluge has overflowed the world, are only so many streams running from this dreadful contagious fountain; I mean an enmity of man's desperately wicked and deceitful heart. Before a person can be said to walk with God, the prevailing power of this heart-enmity must be destroyed: for persons do not walk together who entertain an irreconcilable enmity and hatred against each other. Permit me to say, the prevailing power of this enmity must be taken away; and it will never be totally removed, till we bow down our heads, and give up the ghost. The apostle Paul speaks of himself when he says, “that when he would do good, evil was present with him, so that he could not do the things which he would.” This is what he calls sin dwelling in him – his sin disposition. As the ninth article of our church affirms: some sensuality, some affectation, some desire of the flesh doth remain in us who are regenerated – its prevailing power is gradually destroyed in every soul that is truly born of God, and more and more weakened as the believer grows in grace, and the Spirit of God gains a greater and greater ascendancy in the heart.
SECOND, walking with God not only implies, that the prevailing power of the enmity of a man's heart be taken away, but also that a person is actually reconciled to God the Father, in and through the all-sufficient righteousness and atonement of His dear Son. “Can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3). Jesus is our peace as well as our peace-maker. When we are justified by faith in Christ, then we have peace with God – and only then are we able to walk with Him. Walking with a person is a sign that we are friends to that person; though we were at variance, yet now we are reconciled and friends again. This is the great errand that gospel ministers are sent out upon – to us is committed the ministry of reconciliation; as ambassadors for God, we are to beseech sinners, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled unto God, and when they comply with the gracious invitation, and are actually by faith brought into a state of reconciliation with God, then, and not till then, may they be said so much as to begin to walk with God.
THIRD, walking with God implies a settled abiding communion and fellowship with God; or what in scripture is called, “the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.” This is what our Lord promised when he told His disciples that “the Holy Spirit would be in and with them;” to reside and make His abode in their hearts. This is what the apostle John would have us understand, when he talks of a person “abiding in Christ.” And this is what is particularly meant in the words of our text. “And Enoch walked with God” – that is, he kept up and maintained a holy, settled, habitual, though not an altogether uninterrupted communion and fellowship with God, in and through Christ Jesus. So walking with God consists especially in the fixed habitual bent of the will for God, in a habitual dependence upon His power and promise, in a habitual voluntary dedication of our all to His glory, in a habitual eyeing of His precept in all we do, and in a habitual complacence in His pleasure in all we suffer.
FOURTH, walking with God implies our making progress or advances in the divine life. Walking seems to suppose a progressive motion – a person that walks, though he move slowly, yet he goes forward, and does not continue in one place. And so it is with those that walk with God. They go on, as the Psalmist says, “from strength to strength;” or, in the language of the apostle Paul, “they pass from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord.” ￼￼￼￼￼￼Indeed, in one sense, the divine life admits of neither increase nor decrease. When a soul is born of God, to all intents and purposes he is a child of God; and though he should live to the age of Methuselah, yet he would then be only a child of God after all. But in another sense, the divine life admits of decays and additions. Hence it is, that we find the people of God charged with backslidings and losing their first love. And hence it is that we hear of babes, young men, and fathers in Christ. And upon this account it is that the apostle exhorts Timothy, “to let his progress be made known to all men.” And what is here required of Timothy in particular, by Peter is enjoined on all Christians in general – “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” For the new creature increases in spiritual stature; and though a person can but be a new creature, yet there are some that are more conformed to the divine image than others, and will after death be admitted to a greater degree of blessedness. For want of observing this distinction, even some gracious souls, that have better hearts than heads, (as well as men of corrupt minds, reprobates concerning the faith) have unawares run into downright Antinomian principles, denying all growth of grace in a believer, or any marks of grace to be laid down in the scriptures of truth. From such principles, and more especially from practices naturally consequent on such principles, may the Lord of all lords deliver us!
SECOND, by what means do believers maintain their walk with God?
FIRST, believers keep up and maintain their walk with God by reading of His holy Word. “Search the scriptures,” says our blessed Lord, “for these are they that testify of Me.” And the psalmist tells us “that God's Word was a light unto his feet, and a lantern unto his paths;” “that his delight is in the law of the Lord, and that he meditates upon it day and night.” Says Paul to Timothy, “Give thyself to reading.” `And says God to Joshua, “this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth.” For whatever was written in earlier times “was written for our instruction.” And “the Word of God is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correc- tion, and for training in righteousness, that the true child of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” If we once get above our Bibles, and cease making the written word of God our sole rule both as to faith and practice, we shall soon lie open to all manner of delusion, and be in great danger of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Our blessed Lord, though He had the Spirit of God without measure, yet always was governed by, and fought the devil with, “It is written.” This the apostle calls the “sword of the Spirit.” The scriptures are called “the living oracles of God,” not only because they are generally made use of to beget in us a new life, but also to keep up and increase it in the soul. The apostle Peter, in his second epistle, prefers it even to seeing Christ transfigured upon the mount. For after he had said, “This voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount” (2 Pet 1:18), he adds, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts;” that is, till we shake off these bodies, and see Jesus face to face. Till then we must see and converse with Him through the glass of His Word. We must make His testimonies our counselors, and daily, with Mary, sit at Jesus' feet, by faith hearing His Word. We shall then by happy experience find, that they are spirit and life, meat indeed and drink indeed, to our souls. ￼￼￼
SECOND, believers keep up and maintain their walk with God by secret prayer. The spirit of grace is always accompanied with the spirit of supplication. It is the very breath of the new creature, the fan of the divine life, whereby the spark of holy fire, kindled in the soul by God, is not only kept in, but raised into a flame. A neglect of secret prayer has been frequently an inlet to many spiritual diseases, and has been attended with fatal consequences. Prayer is one of the most noble parts of the believers' spiritual armor. “Praying always,” says the apostle. “Watch and pray,” says our Lord, “that you enter not into temptation.” Jesus spake a parable that His disciples should pray, and not faint – not that our Lord would have us always upon our knees, or in our closets, to the neglect of our other relative duties. But he means, that our souls should be kept in a praying frame, so that we might be able to say, as a good man in Scotland once said to his friends on his death-bed, “Could these curtains, or could these walls speak, they would tell you what sweet communion I have had with my God here.” Oh, prayer! Prayer! It brings and keeps God and man together. It raises man up to God, and brings God down to man. If you would there, Oh believers, keep up your walk with God – “pray, pray without ceasing!” Be much in secret, set prayer. And when you are about the common business of life, be much in prayer, sending short letters to heaven upon the wings of faith – they will reach the very heart of God, and return to you again loaded with spiritual blessings.
THIRD, holy and frequent meditation is another blessed means of keeping up a believer's walk with God. Said Luther, “Prayer, reading, temptation, and meditation make a minister.” And they also make and perfect a Christian. Meditation to the soul, is the same as digestion to the body. The psalmist David found it so, and therefore he was frequently employed in meditation, even in the night season. We read also of Isaac's going out into the fields to meditate in the evening; or, as it is in the margin, to pray. For meditation is a kind of silent prayer, whereby the soul is frequently as it were carried out of itself to God, and in a degree made like unto those blessed spirits, who by a kind of immediate intuition always behold the face of our heavenly Father. None but those happy souls that have been accustomed to this divine employ, can tell what a blessed promoter of the divine life, meditation is. Writes David, “Whilst I was musing, the fire kindled.” And whilst the believer is musing on the works and word of God, especially that work of works, that wonder of wonders, that mystery of godliness, “God manifest in the flesh,” the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world, he frequently feels the fire of divine love kindle, so that he is obliged to speak with his tongue, and tell of the loving-kindness of the Lord to his soul. Be frequent therefore in meditation, all ye that desire to keep up and maintain a close and uniform walk with the most high God.
FOURTH, believers keep up their walk with God, by noting His providential dealings with them. If we believe the scriptures, we must believe what our Lord hath declared therein, “That the very hairs of his disciples' heads are all numbered; and that a sparrow does not fall to the ground, without the knowledge of our heavenly Father.” Every cross has a call in it, and every particular dispensation of divine providence has some particular end to answer in those to whom it is sent. If believers, therefore, would keep up their walk with God, they must from time to time hear what the Lord has to say concerning them in the voice of His providence. “For a little hint from providence,” says 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; so those ￼￼￼￼that enjoy most of heaven below, I believe, will be the most minute in noting God's various dealings with them, in respect to His providential dispensations here on earth.
FIFTH, in order to walk closely with God, His children must not only watch the motions of God's providence without them, but the motions also of His blessed Spirit in their hearts. As many as are the sons of God, are led by the Spirit of God', and give up themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, as a little child gives its hand to be led by a nurse or parent. It is no doubt in this sense that we are to be converted, and become like little children. And though it is the quintessence of enthusiasm, to pretend to be guided by the Spirit without the written word; yet it is every Christian'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 blessed Spirit in your souls, and always try the suggestions or impressions 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 delusive. By observing this caution, you will steer a middle course between the two dangerous extremes many of this generation are in danger of running into – ENTHUSIASM, on the one hand, and DEISM, and DOWNRIGHT INFIDELITY, on the other.
SIXTH, they that would maintain a holy walk with God, must walk with Him in ordinances as well as providences. It is therefore recorded of Zacharias and Elizabeth, that “they walked in all God's ordinances, as well as commandments, blameless” (Lk 1:5-6). And all rightly informed Christians, will look upon ordinances, not as beggarly elements, but as so many conduit-pipes, whereby the infinitely condescending Jehovah conveys His grace to their souls. They will look upon them as children's bread, and as their highest privileges. Consequently 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 honor dwelleth, and be very eager to embrace all opportunities to show forth the Lord Christ's death till He come.
SEVENTH, if you would walk with God, you will associate and keep company with those that do walk with Him. “My delight,” says David, “is in them that do excel” in virtue. They were, in his sight, the excellent ones of the earth. And the primitive Christians, no doubt, kept up their vigor and first love, by continuing in fellowship one with another. The apostle Paul knew this full well, and therefore exhorts the Christians to see to it, that they did not forsake the assembling of themselves together. For how can one be warm alone? And has not the wisest of men told us, that “As iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the countenance of a man sharpen 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, Christian societies, and fellowship meetings prevail proportionably. And as one decays, the other has insensibly decayed and dwindled away at the same time. So necessary 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.
THIRD, motives to stir us up to come and walk with God.
FIRST, walking with God is a very honorable thing. This generally is a prevailing motive to persons of all ranks, to stir them up to any important undertaking. Oh that it may have its due ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼weight and influence with you in respect to the matter now before us! I suppose you would all think it a very high honor to be admitted into an earthly prince's privy council, to be trusted with his secrets, and to have his ear at all times and at all seasons. It seems Haman thought it so when he boasted (Esther 5:11) that besides his being “advanced above the princes and servants of the king; yea, moreover, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared, but myself; and tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king.” And when afterwards a question was put to this same Haman (Esther 6:6): “What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor?” he answered, “Let the royal apparel be brought which the king used to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head; and let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honor, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city and proclaim before him. Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor.” This was all, then, it seems, that an ambitious Haman could ask, and the most valuable thing that he thought Ahasuerus, the greatest monarch upon earth, could give. But, alas, what is this honor in comparison of that which the meanest of those enjoy, that walk with God! Think ye it a small thing, sirs, to have the secret of the Lord of lords with you, and to be called the friends of God? And such honor have all God's saints. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him: and “Henceforth(saith Jesus) I no longer no longer call you servants, but friends; for the servant knows not the will of his master.” Whatever you may think of it, David was so sensible of the honor 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 ungodliness.”
SECOND, as it is an honorable, so it is a pleasing thing, to walk with God. The wisest of men has told us, that “wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace.” And I remember pious Mr. Henry, when he was about to expire, said to a friend, “You have heard many men's dying words, and these are mine: A life spent in communion with God, is the pleasantest life in the world.” I am sure I can set to my seal that this is true. Indeed, I have been listed under Jesus' banner only for a few years; but I have enjoyed more solid pleasure in one moment's communion with my god, than I should or could have enjoyed in the ways of sin, though I had continued to have gone 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 better to you than a thousand? In keeping God's commandments, have you not found a present, and very great reward? Has not his word been sweeter to you than the honey or the honeycomb? Oh what have you felt, when like Jacob, you have wrestled 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 Spirit frequently shed the divine love abroad in your hearts abundantly, and filled you with joy unspeakable, even joy that is full of glory? I know you will answer all these questions in the affirmative, and freely acknowledge the yoke of Christ to be easy, and His burden light; or (to use the words of one of our collects), “His service is perfect freedom.” And what need we then any further motive to excite us to walk with God?
But me thinks I hear some among you say, “How can these things be? For, if walking with God, as you say, is such an honorable and pleasant thing, whence is it that the name of the people of this way is cast out as evil, and every where spoken against? How comes it to pass that they are frequently afflicted, tempted, destitute, and tormented? Is this the honor, this the pleasure, that you speak of?” I answer, Yes. Stop a while; be not overly hasty. Judge not according to ￼￼appearance, but judge righteous judgment, and all will be well. It is true, we acknowledge the “people of this way” have their names cast out as evil, and are every where spoken against. But by whom? By the enemies of the most high God. And do you think it is disgrace to be spoken evil of by them? Blessed be God, we have not so learned Christ. Our royal Master has pronoun- ced those “blessed, who are persecuted, and have all manner of evil spoken against them falsely.” He has commanded them “to rejoice and be exceeding glad,” for it is the privilege of their discipleship, and that their reward will be great in heaven. He himself was thus treated. And can there be a greater honor put upon a creature, than to be conformed to the ever-blessed Son of God?
Further, it is equally true that the people of this way are frequently afflicted, tempted, destitute, and tormented. But what of all this? Does this destroy the pleasure of walking with God? No, in no wise; for those that walk with God are enabled, through Christ strengthening 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 suffering times have not frequently been their sweetest times, and that they enjoyed most of God when most cast out and despised by men? This we find was the case of Christ's primitive servants, when threatened by the Jewish Sanhedrin, and commanded to preach no more in the name of Jesus; they rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for the sake of Jesus. Paul and Silas sang praises even in a dungeon; and the face of Stephen, that glorious martyr of the Christian church, shone like the face of an angel. And Jesus is the same now as He was then, and takes care so to sweeten sufferings and afflictions with His love, that His disciples find, by happy experience, that as afflictions abound, consolations do much more abound. And therefore these objections, instead of destroying, do only enforce the motives before urged, to excite you to walk with God. But supposing the objections were just, and walkers with God were as despicable 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 sanctuary, will over-weigh all objections, and it is this:
THIRD, 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 strait, yet it opens into everlasting life.” Enoch found it so. He walked with God on earth, and God took him to sit 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 suppose we shall all die the common death of all men. But after death, the spirits of those who have walked with God shall return to God that gave them; and at the morn- ing of the resurrection, soul and body shall be for ever with the Lord; their bodies shall be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body, and their souls filled with all the fullness of God. They shall sit on thrones; they shall judge angels. They shall be enabled to sustain an exceeding and eternal weight of glory, even that glory which Jesus Christ enjoyed with the Father before the world began. “O gloriam quantam et qualem,” said the learned and pious Arndt, just before he bowed down his head, and gave up the ghost. The very thought of it is enough to make us “wish to leap our seventy years,” as good Dr. Watts expresses himself, and to make us break out into the earnest language of the royal psalmist, “My soul thirsts for Thee O God, yea, for the living God. When shall I come to appear in the presence of my God?” I wonder not that a sense of this, when under a more than ordinary irradiation and influx of divine life and love, causes ￼￼￼￼some persons to faint away, and even for a time lose the power of their senses. A less sight than this, even the sight of Solomon's glory, made Sheba's queen astonished; and Daniel, when admitted to a distant view of this excellent glory, fell down at the feet of the angel as one dead. And if a distant view of this glory be so excellent, what must the actual possession of it be? If the first fruits are so glorious, how infinitely must the harvest exceed in glory?
And now, what shall I, or, indeed, what can I well say more to excite you, even you that are yet strangers to Christ, to come and walk with God? If you love honor, pleasure, and a crown of glory, come, seek it where alone it can be found. Come, put ye on the Lord Jesus. Come, haste ye away and walk with God, and make no longer provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lust thereof. Stop, stop, O sinner! Turn ye, turn ye, O ye unconverted men, for the end of that way you are now walking in, however right it may seem in your blinded eyes, will be death, even eternal destruction both of body and soul. At your peril I charge you, step not one step further on in your present walk. For how knowest thou, O man, but the next step thou takest may be into hell? Death may seize thee, judgment find thee, and then the great gulf will be fixed between thee and endless glory for ever and ever. O think of these things, all ye that are unwilling to walk with God. Lay them to heart. Show yourselves men, and in the strength of Jesus say, “Farewell, lust of the flesh, I will no more walk with thee! Farewell, lust of the eye, and pride of life! Farewell, carnal acquaintance and enemies of the cross, I will no more walk and be intimate with you!” Welcome Jesus, welcome His word, welcome His ordinances, welcome His Spirit, welcome His people, and henceforth walk with them. Oh that there may be in you such a mind! God will set His almighty fiat to it, and seal it with the broad seal of heaven, even the signet of his Holy Spirit. Yes, He will, though you have been walking with, and following after the devices and desires of your desperately wicked hearts ever since you have been born. “I, the high and lofty One,” says the great Jehovah, “that inhabiteth eternity, will dwell with the humble and contrite heart, even with the man that trembls at My word.” The blood, even the precious blood of Jesus Christ, if you come to the Father in and through Him, shall cleanse you from all sin.
But the text leads me to speak to you that are saints as well as to you that are open and unconverted sinners. I need not tell you, that walking with God is not honorable, but pleasant and profitable also; for ye know it by happy experience, and will find it more and more so every day. Only give me leave to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, and to beseech you by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus, to take heed to yourselves, and walk closer with your God than you have in days past: for the nearer you walk with God, the more you will enjoy of Him whose presence is life, and be the better prepared for being placed at His right hand, where are pleasures for evermore. Oh do not follow Jesus afar off! Oh be not so formal, so dead and stupid in your attendance on holy ordinances! Do not so shamefully forsake the assembling yourselves together, or be so indifferent to the things of God. Remember what Jesus says of the church of Laodicea, “Because thou art neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” Think of the love of Jesus, and let that love constrain you to keep near unto Him; and though you die for Him, do not deny Him, do not keep at a distance from Him in any way.
One word to my brethren in the ministry that are here present, and I have done. You see, my brethren, my heart is full; I could almost say it is too big to speak, and yet too big to be silent, without dropping a word to you. For does not the text speak in a particular manner to those who have the honor of being styled the ambassadors of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. I observed at the beginning of this discourse, that Enoch in all probability was a public person, and a flaming preacher. Though he be dead, does he not yet speak to us, to quicken our zeal, and make us more active in the service of our glorious and ever-blessed Master? How did Enoch preach! How did Enoch walk with God, though he lived in a wicked and adulterous generation! Let us then follow him, as he followed Jesus Christ, and ere long, where he is there shall we be also. He is not entered into his rest: yet a little while and we shall enter into ours, and that too much sooner than he did. He sojourned here below three hundred years; but blessed be God, the days of man are now shortened, and in a few days our walk will be over. The Judge is before the door: He that cometh will come, and will not tarry: His reward is with Him. And we shall all (if we are zealous for the Lord of hosts) ere long shine as the stars in the firmament, in the kingdom of our heavenly Father, for ever and ever. To Him, the blessed Jesus, and eternal Spirit, be all honor and glory, now, and to all eternity. Amen, and Amen.
ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD – by Edward D. Griffin (1770-1837)
Dr. Griffin studied under America’s leading evangelist “Jonathan Edwards” at Yale University, and went on to serve as president of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass, from 1821-1836. In the following sermon preached by Dr. Griffin, you’ll notice his liberal use of the material presented in the foregoing section by that other great eighteenth century evangelist, George Whitefield. Enjoy Griffin’s take on these incredible truths and how he expands on them.
"Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." Enoch was the father of the long lived Methuselah and the great grandfather of Noah. It is said of him that he walked with God after the birth of Methuselah for three hundred years. It was a long time for a man to support a holy life and communion with God without any relapse worthy of notice. It is difficult for Christians now to do this for a single day — how remarkable then that he should have done it for three hundred years. Such approval did his extraordinary piety gain him, that when the time came for him to leave the world, God translated him, as he afterwards did Elijah, and suffered him not to taste the bitterness of death. There is something very expressive in the phrase, "walked with God." The Christian life is frequently called a walk, and believers are exhorted to "walk uprightly, not as fools but as wise." But Enoch “walked with God." I do not find this characteristic ascribed to any but Enoch and Noah. In the following material...
• I will explain what is meant by this figure. • I will show the consequences of walking with God. • I will state the prominent means by which such a walk can be kept up.
AN EXPLANATION OF WHAT IS MEANT BY THIS FIGURE. We all know what it is for two friends to walk together, engaged in close and interesting conversation. This is the figure by which is represented the intercourse of Enoch with his God for three hundred years. The figure is well adapted. The hidden life of the Christian, his retired habit of devotion, his separation from the world, (living, as it were, in the other world while dwelling in this,) his daily, intimate, unseen communion with God, are very fitly represented by two intimate friends walking together, engrossed with each other, completely unmindful of the world around them. This general thought comprehends several particulars.
1. When two friends thus walk together their communion is secret – so is the communion between the Christian and his God. The world wonders what the Christian finds to employ himself about when alone. They wonder what supports him under trials, and renders his countenance cheerful when they looked for sadness. Let them know then that he draws his comforts from another world; that he lives far away from this world, where the changes and trials of the present state do not reach him. As well might they wonder whence Abraham and David derive their present joys, while clouds are darkening the world below.
2. When two friends thus walk together, their conversation is kind and sweet. So the man who walks with God pours into his Father's ear all his desires and complaints, and receives His kind and comforting answers in return.
3. When two friends thus walk together their wills and governing feelings are the same; for how "can two walk together except they be agreed?" They also keep the same course, and thus are advancing towards the same object. So the man who walks with God is conformed to Him in moral character. Benevolence reigns in his heart, and his open arms embrace the universe. Like God, his feelings are in accordance with the holy law. He loves righteousness and hates iniquity. His object too is the same with His. The glory of his Father, the prosperity of Zion, and the happiness of the universe, constitute the one indivisible object of his pursuit. He is delighted with the government of God, and has no controversy with Him who shall reign. His will is swallowed up in the divine will. He wishes not to select for himself, but in every thing chooses that his heavenly Father should select for him. He is "careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving," makes his "requests known unto God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding, "keeps his heart and mind in Christ Jesus." Though the following two aspects are not expressly stated here, they also need to be mentioned.
4. The man who walks with God walks humbly. God will not walk with him else; for "the proud He knows from afar." The whole of man's duty is summed up in doing justly, in loving mercy, and in walking "humbly" with his God (Mic 6:8). The Christian, with all his intimacy with his Maker, does not approach Him with familiar boldness, but is the more abased the more he sees of Him. "I have heard of Thee," said Job, "by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees Thee; wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6).
5. The man who walks with God exercises a living faith. This, according to the apostle, was the main spring of all those graces which gained to Enoch the reputation of walking with God. "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found because God ￼￼￼￼￼had translated him: for before his translation he had this witness that he was pleasing to God: but without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Heb 11:5-6).
THE CONSEQUENCES OF WALKING WITH GOD.
1. By thus walking with God the soul contracts a holy intimacy with Him.
2. The result is it makes advances in the best of all knowledge, the knowledge of God. An intimate walk with God affords an opportunity to study His character, to see it developed in the free communications He makes, and to listen to His instructions. He is the great instructor of mankind; but His teachings are not extended to those who live estranged from Him.
3. This closer inspection of God is the most powerful means to sanctify the soul. Views of God are transforming. While "with open face" we behold "as in a glass the glory of the Lord," we "are changed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Cor 3:18). Therefore...
4. A sure consequence of intimacy between God and the soul, is an increased mutual affection. The more the soul knows of God the more it will love Him, and of course the more it will be beloved. What a most tender friendship did Enoch and God contract for each other during their intimate communion for three hundred years. If we would enjoy the same blessedness, we must, like Enoch, walk with God.
5. Such an intimacy between God and the soul cannot fail to establish mutual confidence. The more God is seen the more securely can the soul commit the management of all its interests to Him, and venture its everlasting all upon the truth of His word. On the other hand the more this confidence is found, the more God can confide in such a soul. He will not trust those to whom He can say, "I know you not;" but of those who are intimate with Him and confide in Him, He will say, "Surely they are My people, children that will not lie." It is the greatest happiness to feel this confidence in God and to know that He has this confidence in us.
6. Such an intimacy with God will preserve us from bad company. A man who is walking with an honorable friend, is not likely to be annoyed by disagreeable intruders or to break away after low society. When the soul is in the immediate presence of God, neither sin nor Satan dares to invade; neither the world nor any of its perplexing cares will venture to intrude. Every Christian knows what distressing and dangerous companions these are.
7. Another consequence of such a close walk with God is, that we shall find support under the unavoidable trials of life. When we are in distress, very soothing is the company of a prudent and sympathizing friend, who, from the stores of his knowledge, can suggest subjects of consolation. But how much more blissful the society of God, whose heart is all tenderness, and who can open to the soul the most comforting of all truths. There is no consolation like this. Indeed it is well worth while to be a while in the furnace, for the sake of walking there with one in "the form of the Son of God."
8. Another consequence of walking with God is the enjoyment of his protection. Myriads of enemies and dangers swarm in all the way to heaven; but while God is near He will not suffer ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼them to annoy us. When one of Enoch's spirit hears the thunders at a distance, his refuge is nearer than the danger, and he steps in and is safe. He hides himself where no evil or enemy, though searching for him throughout the world, can find him.
9. Another consequence of walking with God is, that we shall always have a faithful monitor at hand, to throw in timely cautions to keep us back from indiscretions and sin or to reclaim us when we have wandered. The conscience of one who walks with God is preserved tender, and God is faithful not to suffer a son who cleaves to Him to err by His side without rebuke. To possess such a monitor is one of the greatest blessings of life.
10. Another consequence of walking with God is an enlightened view of His providence and government, a clear discernment of the glories of the heavenly world, and a peaceful assurance of His eternal love. Tell me what is happiness if this is not. What, of all the enjoyments of the world, can be exalted happiness compared with this?
11. Another effect of walking with God is a higher enjoyment of ordinary blessings. By the placid love which by this means is kept alive, the mind is put in a frame to enjoy every other comfort. And the gratitude which is thus mingled with the enjoyment of God's gifts, renders them all the sweeter.
12. Another effect of walking with God is a greater preparation for usefulness. In proportion as the mind becomes wiser by converse with God, and holier by near and transforming views of Him, it is fitted for stronger and more persevering and better directed efforts for the happiness of others. In proportion as its faith and benevolent desires are enlarged, its prayers will be mighty for the salvation of men. Its very breath will penetrate their conscience and their heart as no other means can do. And it will throw out upon the world the all commanding majesty and winning sweetness of a holy example. One such man will have more influence upon the order of society and the salvation of men, than millions who never walked with God.
13. Another consequence of walking with God is a peaceful death. In Enoch's case it was not death, but a triumphant translation. And in every other case, in proportion as a man has walked with God, his end, though he leaves his body behind, is still triumphant, or at least serene. How unspeakable a comfort, when one is struggling with the king of terrors and about to enter on eternal and unchangeable scenes, to have "the full assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Spirit." How much better than to sink under awful fears of eternal wrath, or even under doubts which leave the soul to measure over the dark valley alone. Would you enjoy this triumph, or even this serenity in death, you must prepare for it by walking with God.
14. Finally, another consequence of walking thus closely with God, is an enlarged share of immortal glory. In heaven the blessed inhabitants all walk with God, every day and hour. And they find it no burden but a happiness which they would not exchange for the whole creation. Why was it not then a happiness on earth? And yet for an exemplary march in that happy course, millions have found their blessedness eternally increased. The enhanced joy of a single soul for a few hours, will outweigh all the pleasures of all the wicked on earth. The ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼time will come when that additional blessedness of a single soul, will have out-measured all the happiness enjoyed on earth from Adam to the conflagration. A little further, and it will have exceeded all the happiness enjoyed by saints and angels in heaven before the day of judgment.
THE PROMINENT MEANS BY WHICH SUCH A WALK CAN BE KEPT UP.
Humility and faith, as we have already seen, are not means merely, but are involved in the very idea of a walk with God. Without these we cannot approach God, much less walk with Him. The same may be said of obedience generally. These in the inquiry are not considered so much in the light of means, as a part of the walk which means are to keep up. And yet particular acts of disobedience may be mentioned as things to be avoided and particular acts of faith may be named as means to be employed. The means involve two things – the guarding against what is injurious, and the attending to what is useful.
A. The guarding against what is injurious.
1. It is absolutely impossible to preserve the soul in the habit of conversing with God, without avoiding improper conversation with men; not only every thing false or impure or profane or malicious or revengeful or passionate, but every thing deceitful or slander- ous or uncharitable or uncandid or vain. It is even said "that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
2. Vain thoughts are another hindrance to an intimate walk with God. This led the psalmist to say, "I hate vain thoughts." There cannot exist a great degree of spirituality, unless the mind is habitually employed in spiritual contemplations. People who consume most of their leisure hours in thoughts of vanity, do not walk with God. It betrays a heart full of idolatry: and as well might the worshippers of Baal claim to walk with Israel's God. These cold thoughts diffuse chills of death through all the soul, and can no more coexist with its spiritual activity, than paralysis can coexist with the activity of the body.
3. No known sin must be indulged. One such Achan fostered in our camp, will prove that we have not only no intimacy with God, but no acquaintance with him. One indulged sin is as decisive against us as a hundred. "Whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
4. Undue worldly affections and cares must be excluded. Those affections for the world are undue which are not constantly subjected to the love of God; that is, are not ready, at all times, cheerfully to submit to the rules which he has made to regulate our use and management of the world, and to any sacrifices which His providence may extort from us or require at our hands. And those cares are undue which, from their number or pressure, seduce the heart from God. Every worldly care necessarily draws the attention from God for a season, as we cannot fixedly attend to two things at once. But if the heart is not enticed away, the thoughts and affections will spontaneously return to Him at every interval of care and with ever fresh delight. Those affections and cares which, according ￼￼￼￼￼to these definitions, are undue, obstruct our communion with God and abate our intimacy with Him. These are the things to be studiously avoided. And now...
B. Let us see to what we must attend.
1. We must punctually and earnestly attend on all the means and ordinances of God's appointment. Any neglect or irregularity or carelessness in this attendance, will cut the sinews of our spirituality, and diminish our strength to achieve victories and resist temptations in the future. Separate yourselves from means, and you may as well separate your fields from culture, and even from the rain and dews of heaven. All our light and grace come through the medium of means. This in general; but to be more particular,
2. We must pray the prayer of faith and "pray without ceasing." Prayer is the Christian's life. Though every other ordinance be attended to, yet if this one be neglected, all is in vain. It is as impossible for the soul to be spiritually alive and active without a punctual course of fervent and believing prayer, as for the body to be alive and active without breath. Prayer has more influence on the sanctification of the soul than all other ordinances. It is going directly to God to receive the life-giving Spirit according to an absolute and often repeated promise. "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks receives, and he that seeks finds, and to him that knocks it shall be opened.... If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask Him." The promise is absolute, and there must be an unwavering belief in the promise in order to give the application success. "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without reproach, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord." But the faith instilled is not a belief that I shall receive, but that I shall receive if I ask aright. It is not a belief in my goodness, but in God's truth. This strong confidence in God's truth may be exercised whatever doubts we have of our own goodness or election. If we are troubled on these points it ought not to keep us back. We may leave them to be decided afterwards, and go right to God with unlimited confidence in His truth and consequent willingness to hear the cries of all who sincerely seek Him. He certainly will hear the cries of all, (be it Judas or be it Peter,) who seek Him with the whole heart. This ought to be the strong confidence of every man, whatever opinion he may have of his own character or destiny. There is a full chance then for doubting Christians to exercise this sweet and successful confidence in God. The only faith demanded is to "believe" in God, "that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him," whoever they are.
3. We must watch. In that most trying moment when the powers of hell were let loose upon the suffering Savior, He gave His disciples no other direction than this, "Watch and pray that you not enter into temptation." So much emphasis did He lay on these two duties. In regard to watchfulness, I would suggest the following rules. ￼￼￼￼
a. First, be vigilant to observe the first motions of the enemy. If he has made considerable advances before you move, your exertions in all probability will be too late – it is dangerous to parley with temptation. Check it early or it will probably prevail. Keep your eyes open to watch the different avenues by which the enemy makes his approach. He will often vary his mode of attack. Through all his variations keep your eye steadfastly upon him. Acquaint yourselves with his numerous devices.
b. Secondly, watch another enemy greater than this; watch your own heart. Keep an attentive eye upon the movements of corruption within you: otherwise some evils will gather too much strength for you to resist; others will work unseen, and go in to form your character unknown to yourselves. "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life."
c. Thirdly, watch opportunities for doing and getting good. Much is lost in reference to both by overlooking the favorable moment. “While we have opportunity, let us do good, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
d. Fourthly, watch the motions and expressions of divine providence. It will throw much interesting light on the character and government of God and illustrate and confirm many things taught in the Scriptures.
e. Fifthly, watch the motions of the Spirit upon your minds. Sometimes the Spirit whispers an invitation to prayer or divine contemplation. If the suggestion is followed we may find the duties easy and pleasant, and the effect lasting. But perhaps we refuse to attend to the impulse. The consequence is, our hearts grow cold and lifeless; and then though we attempt to pray or meditate, we find no relish for it. It may be illustrated by a passage from the Song of Solomon, understood to relate to the intercourse between Christ and the Church. The Spouse, half aroused from lethargy, says, "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew and my locks with the drops of the night. [Now mark how her indolence pleads.] I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?” [Now the heavenly Bridegroom makes a more effectual effort.] My Beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my Beloved, end my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my Beloved, but, [see the effect of not opening to Christ at first] my Beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone: my soul failed when he spoke: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him but he gave me no answer." This is enough to confirm my idea of watching and obeying the first suggestion of the Spirit of Christ.
I have thus shown what it is to walk with God, the blessed consequences, and the means. May I not now urge upon you this delightful duty? It is what you owe to the blessed God, your Father and Savior, who has astonished heaven by His kindness to you, and whose mercies, if you are not deceived, will hold you entranced to eternity. It is what you owe to Him, and it will secure you a happy life, more than all the wealth and honors of the world. It is heaven begun below. ￼￼￼￼￼ Do you not wish to be happy? Bend all your cares then to walk with God. Be not satisfied with a general desire to do this, but fix systematically on the means prescribed. Pursue those means hourly, daily, yearly. Reduce your life to a system under the regulation of these rules. Good old Enoch could walk with God three hundred years. And he has never seen cause to repent of it. Could you have access to him in his glory, would he express regret for the pleasant mode of spending the last three hundred years of his life? We are apt to think that we are not expected to aim at the superior piety of the ancient saints. But why paralyze every power by such a stupid mistake? Are we not under as great obligations? Is not God as worthy of obedience now as in the days of old? Have the increased displays of his mercy in the Gospel impaired his claims? Has the affecting scene of Calvary rendered him less lovely in the eyes of sinners? Are the means used with mankind less than in the patriarchal age? Or are the happy consequences of a walk with God worn out by time? Why should we then content ourselves with being scarcely alive, when so many saints have been through life rapt in communion with God? Do we thirst for honors and riches? Who is so honored and rich as the heir of Him who owns the universe? Does any such ingenuous motive move us? O let us never cease to walk with God. Amen.