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hearers : so that it is God himself that a serious is here that we have the loudest call, and best Christian is principally employed with, in the assistance to make a large return of love: and hearing of his heavenly, transforming word : where there is the most of this love between therefore he is affected with reverence and holy God and man, there is most communion, and fear, with some taste of heavenly delight, with most of heaven, that can be had on earth. obedient subjection and resignation of himself to But it much concerns the members of Christ, God. The word of God is powerful, not only that they deprive not themselves of this commuin pulling down all high exalting thoughts, that nion with God in this holy sacrament through rise up against God, but also in lifting up de their miscarriage ; which is too frequently done pressed souls, that are unable to rise unto hea- by one of these extremes, either by rushing upon venly knowledge, or communion with God. If holy things with a presumptuous careless common some Christians could but always find as much frame of heart, as if they knew not that they go of God upon their hearts at other times, as they to feast with Christ, and discerned not his body: find sometimes under a spiritual powerful minis- or else by an excess of fear, drawing back, and try, they would not so complain that they seem questioning the good will of God, and thinking forsaken, and strangers to all communion with diminutively of his love and mercy: by this God, as many of them do. While God, by his means satan deprives many of the comfortable messengers and Spirit, is speaking, and man is part of their communion with God, both in this hearing him ; while God is treating with man sacrament, and in other ways of grace; and about his reconciliation and everlasting happiness, makes them avoid him as an enemy, and be loth and man is seriously attending to the treaty and to come into his special presence; and even to motions of his Lord, surely this is a very con- be afraid to think of him, to pray to him, or to siderable part of our walking and converse with have any holy converse with him : when the just God.
belief and observation of his love would stablish 3. Also in the sacrament of the body and them, and revive their souls with joy, and give blood of Christ, we are called to a familiar con- them experience of the sweet delights which are verse with God: he there appears to us by a opened to them in the gospel, and which beliewonderful condescension in the representing, vers find in the love of God, and the foretaste of communicating signs of the flesh and blood of the everlasting pleasures. his Son, in which he hath most conspicuously re- 4. In holy, faithful, fervent, prayer, a christian vealed his love and goodness to believers : there hath very much of his converse with God. For Christ himself with his covenant-gifts, are all de prayer is our approach to God, and calling to livered to us by these signs of his own institu- mind his presence and his attributes, and exercise tion. No where is God so near to man as in ing all his graces in a holy motion towards him, Jesus Christ: and no where is Christ so famili- and an exciting all the powers of our souls to seek arly represented to us, as in this holy sacrament. him, attend him, and reverently to worship him : Here we are called to sit with him at his table, it is our treating with him about the most imas his invited welcome guests ; to commemorate portant businesses in all the world: a begging of his sacrifice, to feed upon his very flesh and the greatest mercies, and a deprecating his most blood; that is, with our mouths upon his repre- grievous judgments; and all this with the nearest sentative flesh and blood, and with our applying familiarity that man in flesh can have with God. faith upon his real flesh and blood, by such a In prayer, the Spirit of God is working up our feeding as belongs to faith. The marriage cove-hearts unto him, with desires expressed in sighs nant betwixt God incarnate, and his espoused and groans: it is a work of God as well as of ones, is there publicly sealed, celebrated, and man : he blows the fire, though it be our hearts solemnized. There we are entertained by God that burn and boil. In prayer we lay hold on as friends, and not as servants only, and that at Jesus Christ, and plead his merits and intercesthe most precious costly feast. If ever a believer sion with the Father: he takes us as it were by may on earth expect his kindest entertainment, the hand, leads us unto God, hides our sins, proand near access, and a humble intimacy with his cures our acceptance, and presents us amiable Lord, it is in the participation of this feast, which to his father, having justified and sanctified us, is called, the communion,' because it is appoint- and cleansed us from those pollutions, which ed as well for our special communion with Christ rendered us lothsome and abominable. To speak as with one another. It is here that we have the to God in serious prayer, is a work so high, and fullest intimation, expression, and communication of so great moment, that it calls off our minds of the wondrous love of God; and therefore it from all things else, and gives no creature room or leave to look into the soul, or once to be ob. I in our prayers, and not pretend the sufficiency served : the mind is so taken up with God, and of the Spirit for the patronage of our negligence employed with him, that creatures are forgotten, or sloth ; for the Spirit makes use of our underand we take no notice of them, unless when standings for the actuating of our wills and affecthrough the diversions of the flesh, our prayers tions; yet withal it cannot be denied, but that it are interrupted and corrupted, and so far de- was upon a special reason that the Spirit that is generated, and are no prayer; so far, I say, as we promised to believers is called a spirit of grace thus turn away from God. So that the soul that and supplication. That it is given us to help is most and best at prayer, is most and best at our infirmities, even the infirmities of our underwalking with God, and hath most communion standing, when we know not what to pray for with him in the Spirit : to withdraw from prayer, as we ought;' and that the Spirit itself is said is to withdraw from God: to be unwilling to to make intercession for us, with groanings pray, is to be unwilling to draw near to God; which cannot be uttered.' It is not the spirit meditation or contemplation is a duty in which without that is here meant: such intercession is God is much enjoyed : but prayer hath medita- no where ascribed to that. How then is the tion in it, and much more.
prayer of the spirit within us distinguished from All that is upon the mind in meditation, is our prayer ? Not as different effects of different upon the niind in prayer, and that with great causes : as different prayers by these different advantage, as being presented before God, and parties. But as the same prayer proceeding from pleaded with him, and so animated by the appre different causes, having a special force, (for quahensions of his observing presence, and actuated lity and degree,) as from one cause, (the spirit,) by the desires and pleadings of the soul. When which it hath not from the other cause, (from ourwe are commanded to pray, it includes a com- selves,) except as received from the spirit. mand to repent, to believe, to fear the Lord, and The spirit is a new nature, or fixed inclination, desire his grace. For faith and repentance, fear, in the saints : for their very self-love and will and desire, are altogether in action in a serious to good, is sanctified in them, which works so prayer : and, as it were, naturally each one takes readily, though voluntarily, as that it is in a sort his place, and there is a holy order in the acting by the way of nature, though not excluding reaof these graces in a Christian's prayers, and a son and will ; and not as the motion of the brutish harmony which he doth seldom himself observe. appetite. That God is their felicity, and the He that in meditation knows not how to be re- only help and comfort of their souls, and so the gular and methodical, when he is studiously con- principal good to be desired by them, is become triving and endeavouring it; yet in prayer be to them a truth so certain, and beyond all doubt, fore he is aware, hath repentance, faith, fear, and that their understandings are convinced, that to desire, and every grace falling in its proper place love good, and to love God, are words that have and order, and contributing its part to the per- almost the same signification ; and therefore here formance of the work. The new nature of a Chris- is no room for deliberation and choice, where tian is more immediately and vigorously opera- there is nothing but unquestionable good. A Christive in prayer, than in many other duties: there- tian, so far as he is such, cannot choose but defore
Every infant in the family of God can pray, sire the favour and fruition of God in iminortalwith groaning desires, and ordered graces, if ity, even as he cannot choose, because he is a not with well ordered words : when Paul beganman, but desire his own felicity in general: and to live to Christ, he began aright to pray: 'be- as he cannot, as a man, but be unwilling of dehold he prayeth,' saith God to Ananias. · Because struction, and cannot but fear apparent misery, they are sons, God sends the Spirit of his Son and that which brings it; so, as a Christian, he into the hearts of his elect, even the Spirit of cannot choose but be unwilling of damnation, adoption, by which they cry, Abba, Father,' as and of the wrath of God, and of sin as sin, and children naturally cry to their parents for relief. fear the apparent danger of his soul, so that his Nature is more regular in its works than art or new nature will presently cast his fear, repenthuman contrivance is. Necessity teaches many ance, and desires into their proper course and a beggar to pray better for relief to men, than order, and set them on work on their several ob.. many learned men, who feel not their necessities, jects, about the main unquestionable things, can pray to God. The Spirit of God is a better however they may err, or need more deliberation methodist than we are. And though I know that about things doubtful: the new creature is not we are bound to use our utmost care and skill as a lifeless engine, as a clock, or watch, or ship, for the orderly actuating of each holy affection I where every part must be set in order by the art and hand of man, and so kept and used : but it that all proceeds. Thus Jacob speaks of God : is like to the frame of our own nature, even like God before whom my fathers, Abraham and man who is a living engine, when every part is Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my set in its place and order by the Creator, and life long unto this day, the angel which redeemed hath in itself a living and harmonious principle, me from all evil, bless the lads,' &c. When he had which disposes it to action, and to regular ac- mentioned his father Abraham and Isaac's walktion, and is so to be kept in order and daily ex- ing with God, he describes his own by his deercise, by ourselves, as yet to be principally pendence upon God, and receiving from him, ordered and actuated by the Spirit, which is the acknowledging him the God that had fed him, principal cause.
and delivered him all his life. Carnal men that By all which you may understand how the live by sense, depend upon inferior sensible Holy Ghost is in us a Spirit of supplication, and causes ; and though they are taught to pray to helps our infirmities, teaches us to pray, and in God, and thank him with their tongues, it is intercedes in us; and also that prayer is to the new deed their own contrivances and industry, or man so natural a motion of the soul towards God, their visible benefactors, which their hearts dethat much of our walking with God is exercised pend upon and thank. It were a shame to theni in this holy duty: and that it is to the new life to be so plain as Pharaoh, and to say, "Who is as breathing to our natural life ; and therefore the Lord ?' or to speak as openly as Nebuchadno wonder that we are commanded to pray con- nezzar, and say, 'Is not this great Babylon that tinually, as we must breathe continually, or as I have built, by the might of my power,' &c. nature which needs a daily.supply of food for Yet the same atheism and self-idolizing is in their nourishment, hath a daily appetite to the food hearts, though it be more modestly and cunningly which it needs, so hath the spiritual nature to its expressed. Hence it is that they that walk necessary food, and nothing but sickness doth with God, have all their gifts sanctified to them, take it off.
and have in all a divine and spiritual sweetness, Thus I have showed you how our walking which those that take them but as from creawith God contains a holy use of his appointed tures never feel or understand.
12. Lastly, it is contained in our walking with 11. To walk with God includes our depend-God, that the greatest business of our lives be ence on him for our mercies, and taking them as with him, and for bim. It is not a walk for comfrom his hand. To live as upon his love and plement or recreation only, that is here meant; bounty ; as children with their father, that can but it is a life of nearness, converse, and employlook for nothing but from him. As the eye of a ment, as a servant or child that dwells with his servant is upon his master's face and hand, so master or father in the house. God should be must our eye be on the Lord, for the gracions always so regarded, that man should stand by supply of all our wants. If men give us any as nothing, and be scarcely observed in comparithing, we take them but as the messengers of son of himn. We should begin the day with God, by whom he sends it to us : we will not be God, and entertain him in the first and sweetest unthankful unto men; but we thank them but of our thoughts: we should walk abroad and do for bringing us our Father's gifts. Indeed man is our work as in his sight : we must resolve to do so much more than a mere messenger, as that his no work but his, no, not in our trades and ordiown charity also is exercised in the gift. A mere nary callings : we must be able to say, It is the messenger is to do no more but obediently to work which my master set me to do, and I do it deliver what is sent us, and he need not exercise to obey and please his will. At night we must any charity of his own ; and we owe him thanks take an account of ourselves, and spread open only for his fidelity and labour, but only to his that account before him, desiring his acceptance master for the gift: but God will so far honour of what was well, and his pardon for what we man, as that he shall be called also to use his did amiss, that we may thus be ready for our charity, and distribute his master's gifts with last account. In a word, though men be our some self-denial ; and we owe him thanks, as fellow-labourers and companions, yet the princiunder God he partakes in the charity of the gift; pal business of our care and diligence, must be and as one child owes thanks to another who our Master's service in th world. Therefore both in obedience to the Father, and love to his we must look about us, and discern the ofror. brother, doth give some part of that which his tunities of serving hiin, and of the best impruveFather had given him before. But still it is ment of his talents ; and must make it our daily from our Father's bounty, as the principal cause I study and business, to do him the greatest service in the world. Therefore we must look | Though by sin we are enemies and strangers to about us, and discern the opportunities of serving God, and stand afar off, yet in Christ we are rehim, and of the best improvement of his talents ; conciled to him, and brought near. • For he is and must make it our daily study and business our peace, who hath taken down the partition, to do him the greatest service we are able, what- and abolished the enmity, and reconciled Jew ever it may cost us through the malice of the and Gentile unto God?—“And through him we enemies, being sure our labour shall not be in have all an access to the Father by one spirit.'vain, and that we cannot serve him at too dear a We are now no more strangers and foreigners, rate. It is not as idle companions, but as ser- but fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the vauts, as soldiers, as those that put forth all their household of God.'—* In him we have boldness strength, to do his work and reach the crown, and access with confidence by the belief of him.” that we are called to walk with God. All this is | Though of ourselves we are unworthy to be done, though not in the same degree by all, yet called his children, and may well stand afar off according to the measure of their holiness by with the publican, and not dare to lift up our every one that lives by faith.
faces towards heaven, but smite our breasts, and Having told you what it is to walk with God, say, 'O Lord, be merciful to me a sinner. — Yet as to the matter of it, I shall more briefly tell have we boldness to enter into the holiest, by you as to the manner: the nature of God, of the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way man, and of the work, will tell it you.
which he consecrated for us, through the veil, 1. That our walk with God must be with the that is to say, his flesh : and having an Highgreatest reverence: were we ever so much as- Priest over the house of God, we may draw near sured of his special love to us, and ever so full with a true heart, in full assurance of faith? of faith and joy, our reverence must be never the Therefore whensoever we are afraid at the sight less for this. Though love cast out that guilty of sin and justice, let us remember that we have fear which discourages the sinner from hoping a great High-Priest that is passed unto the heaand seeking for the mercy which would save him, vens, even Jesus the Son of God: therefore let and which disposes him to hate and fly from us come boldly to the throne of grace. that we God, yet doth it not cast out that reverence of may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in God, which we owe him as his creatures, so in- time of need! He that allows us to walk with finitely below him as we are. It cannot be that him, doth allow us such humble familiarity as God should be known and remembered as God, beseems those that walk together with him. without some admiring and awful apprehensions 3. Our walking with God must be a work of of him. Infinitude, omnipotency, and inaccessible holy pleasure and delight. We may unwillingly majesty and glory, must needs affect the soul be dragged into the presence of an enemy, and that knows them, with reverence and self-abase- serve as drudges upon mere necessity or fear. ment. Though we receive a kingdom that cannot But walking together is the loving and delightful be moved; yet if we will serve God acceptably, converse of friends. When we take sweet counwe must serve him with reverence and godly sel of the Lord, and set him always at our right fear, as knowing that as he is our God, so he is hand, and are glad to hear from him, glad to also a consuming fire. We must so worship him speak to him, and glad to withdraw our thoughts as those that remember that we are worms and from all the things and persons in the world, guilty sinners, and that he is most high and holy, that we may solace ourselves in the contemplaand will be sanctified in them that come nigh tions of his excellency, and the admirations of him, and before all the people he will be glori- his love and glory, this is indeed to walk with fied.' Irreverence shows a kind of atheistical God. You converse with him as with a stranger, contempt of God, or else a sleepiness and incon- an enemy, or your destroyer, and not as with siderateness of the soul. The sense of the good-God, while you had rather be far from him, Dess and love of God, must consist with the sense and only tremble in his presence, and are glad of his holiness and omnipotency. It is presump- when you have done and are got away, but have tion, pride, or stupidity, which excludes reve- no delight or pleasure in him. If we can take rence; which faith doth cause, and not oppose. delight in our walking with a friend, a friend
2. Our walking with God must be a work of that is truly loving and constant, a friend that is humble boldness and familiarity. The reverence learned, wise and holy; if their wise and heavenly of his holiness and greatness, must not overcome discourse be better to us, than our recreations, or exclude the sense of his goodness and com- meat, or drinks, or clothes ; what delight then passion, nor the full assurance of faith and hope. should we find in our secret converse with the
most high, most wise and gracious God! How diligent heed to do the commandment and law, glad should we be to find him willing and ready to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all to entertain us ? How glad should we be that his ways, and to cleave unto him, and to serve we may employ our thoughts on so high and him with all your heart, and with all your soul.' excellent an object ? What cause bave we to 5. Our walking with God is a matter of some say, “my meditation of him shall be sweet, and constancy: it signifies our course of life, and not I will be glad in the Lord.”—“ In the multitude some accidental action on the by; a man may of my thoughts within me,' (my sorrowful, trou- walk with a stranger for a visit, or in compliblesome, weary thoughts) thy comforts do de- ment, or upon some unusual occasion : but this light my soul.' Let others take pleasure in child walk with God, is the act of those that dwell ish vanity or sensuality, but say thou as David, with him in his family, and do his work. It is 'I have rejoiced in the ways of thy command not only to step and speak with him, or cry to ments, as much as in all riches : I will meditate him for mercy in some great extremity, or to go in thy precepts and have respect unto thy ways: to church for company or custom, or think or I will delight myself in thy statutes, and will not talk of him sometimes heartlessly on the by, as a forget thy word.'-'I will delight myself in thy man will talk of news, or matters that are done commandments which I have loved.'—*Let scorn- in a foreign land, or of persons that we have little ers delight in scorning, and fools hate know- to do with : but it is to be always with him, 'to ledge, but make me to go in the path of thy seek first his kingdom and righteousness.'- Not commandments, for therein do I delight.' If to labour (comparatively) for the food that perthou wouldst experimentally know the safety and isheth, but for that which endureth to everlasting glory of a holy life, 'delight thyself in the Lord, life.' -To delight in the law of the Lord, and and he shall give thee the desire of thine heart.' meditate on it day and night.' That ‘his words Especially when we draw near him in his solemn be in our hearts, and that we teach them diliworship, and when we separate ourselves on his gently to our children, and talk of them sitting holy days from all our common worldly thoughts, in the house, and walking by the way, lying to be conversant, as in heaven, with the blessed down, and rising up.' That we pray continually, God; then may we with the holy apostles be in and in all things give thanks.' But will the hythe Spirit on the Lord's day.'-' And if we turn pocrite delight himself in the Almighty, or will away our foot from the sabbath, from doing our he always call upon God ??_His goodness is as pleasure on that holy day, and call the sabbath the morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable, and
away: shall honour him, not doing our own ways, nor So much of the description of this walking finding our own pleasure, nor speaking our own with God. words, then shall we delight ourselves in the Lord,' and understand how great a privilege it
CHAP. II. is to have the liberty of those holy days and duties for our sweet and heavenly converse with THE PRACTICAL INFLUENCE OF THE DOCTRINE God.
UPON MAN'S HEART AND LIFE. 4. Our walking with God must be a matter of industry and diligence: it is not an occasional We are next to consider how far this doctrine idle converse, but a life of obedience, and em- doth concern ourselves, and what use we have ployment, that this phrase importeth. The slug- to make of it upon our hearts and lives. gish idle wishes of the hypocrite, whose hands First, It acquainteth us with the abundance of refuse to labour, are not this walking with God : atheism that is in the world, even among those nor the sacrifice of fools, who are hasty to utter that profess the knowledge of God. It is athethe overflowings of their foolish hearts before ism not only to say there is no God, but to say the Lord, while they keep not their foot, nor so in the heart, while the heart is no more affechearken to the law, nor consider they do evil. ted towards him, observant of him, or confident • He that cometh to God (and will walk with him) in him, or submissive to him, than if indeed there must believe that he is, and that he is the re- were no God: when there is nothing of God warder of them that diligently seek him. God
the heart, wo love, no fear, no trust, no is with you while you are with him ; but if subjection ; this is heart-atheism. When men you forsake him, he will forsake you.'— Up and that have some kind of knowledge of God, yet be doing, and the Lord will be with you. If you glorify him not as God, nor are thankful to him, would meet with God in the way of mercy, 'take l but become vain in their imaginations, and their