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grace and favor with God, even after they have had a prevailing hope of having experienced a saving change, and actually professed religion But why do so many walk in darkness and enjoy so little satisfactory evidence of their being the children of God, and entitled to his pardoning mercy through the divine Redeemer ? It does not appear, that Enoch walked in darkness and saw no light, while he walked with God; but it appears, on the contrary, that he had this testimony that he pleased God and enjoyed the full assurance of hope. And it appears from the account we have in scripture of many other eminent saints, who walked closely with God, that they enjoyed such tokens of the divine approbation, as banished all distressing doubts and fears from their minds. It must, then, be owing to some blameable cause, that real believers do not enjoy the full assurance of hope and that evidence of their gracious state, which excludes painful fears and doubts. If it be true, that God gives peculiar tokens of his favor to those, who sincerely and closely walk with him, then the proper and sure way of attaining satisfactory evidence of a gracious state, is to walk sincerely and closely with him. It is, therefore, because believers, at this day, do not walk with God, as Enoch, Abraham, and many other pious men under both the Mosaic and christian dispensation walked, that they do not attain to the full assurance of hope, as they did. And this is certainly a blameable cause. Believers are now as capable of walking closely and constantly with God, as Enoch was; and God is as ready now to give them the peculiar tokens of his favor, as he was to manifest his peculiar love to him.Why then do they not give diligence to make their
calling and election sure? It must be owing to their voluntary and criminal negligence. They must blame themselves, if they wander from God, and love to wander from him and justly expose themselves to the hidings of his face, and to the darkness, and doubts, and fears, which follow from it. God has expressly told them, that if they walk with him, he will walk with them; but if they forsake him, he will forsake them. But notwithstanding this, they are very apt to complain of their darkness and doubts, under the hidings of his face, rather than to condemn themselves for departing from him. He gives them tokens of his displeasure and not of his approbation, which ought to lead them to return to him, from whom they have criminally revolted. David did this, and he says he found the happy effects of it. « The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell got hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.” If saints would prevent, or remove darkness, doubts and distress from their minds, let them walk closely with God, who will then give them peculiar tokens of their pleasing him, and standing high in his favor.
2. If God manifests peculiar tokens of his favor to those, who walk with him ; then they have more to gain, than to lose, by walking with him. Good men often depart from God and conform to the world, for the sake of gaining their friendship, or through fear of losing it and exposing themselves to their reproach, contempt, and opposition. The world love their own, but not those, who come out from them and
walk with God. They feel themselves not only forsaken, but condemned by those, who choose to walk with God, rather than with them, which excites unpleasant and unfriendly feelings in their breasts towards the godly. They have ground to expect, therefore, that they shall lose the friendship of the world and experience the bitter effects of their enmity and opposition. This has been the lot of those, who have sincerely and habitually walked with God, in every age of the world.
It seems to be intimated, that Enoch's walking with God excited the mortal enmity of the wicked, who sought his life and would have taken it away, if God had not preserved it, by translating him to heaven. The apostle says, “ By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death ; and was not found, because God had translated him.” This seems to imply, that his enemies searched for him, and would have slain him, if God had not privately taken him out of the world. And this conjecture seems to be strengthened, by his being placed at the head of that catalogue of worthies mentioned in the eleventh of Hebrews, who walked with God; and many of whom “were stoned, were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword : and wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” Though these pious patriarchs lived in an evil day and suffered such an accumulation and complication of evils ; yet they gained more than they lost, by walking with God. For, they enjoyed peculiar tokens of his favor. “They all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pil
grims, on the earth. Wherefore God was not ashani. ed to be called their God; and prepared for them a city,” to which he triumphantly conveyed them. Now, if the saints of old gained much more than they lost, by walking with God; then it is very certain, that saints at this day have much more to gain than to lose, by walking with God. They may lose some of their nominal friends, and incur the neglect, reproach, contempt and opposition of the enemies of all righteousness. But what are these losses in comparison with the peculiar tokens of the divine favor? God is the same, yesterday, to-day and forever. He loves those, who love him. He will walk with those, who walk with him. He will guard those, who walk with him, not only against their visible, but invisible enemies. He will give them that peace, which the world cannot give, nor take away. He will give them full assurance of hope. He will afford them all that outward prosperity, which they can reasonably desire. And finally, he will prepare them for a peaceful death and a glorious immortality beyond the grave. Real saints have infinitely more to gain, than they can possibly lose, by walking with God. They are, therefore, always unwise, as well as criminal, when they forget and forsake God and walk with the world, to gain their friendship, or to avoid their frowns. Both their duty and happiness require them to walk constantly and joyfully with God.
3. If God be highly pleased with his friends, while they walk with him ; then he must be highly displeas. ed when they depart from him. The best of saints are more or less inconstant in their walk with God. Though Enoch is not charged with any inconstancy, yet there can be no doubt but his love to God some. times abated and he became cold and dull and negligent in walking with God. We know, however, that other eminent saints frequently wandered from God, which was highly displeasing to him and drew down tokens of his just displeasure. As God always takes notice of saints, while they walk with him ; so he takes equal notice of them, when they forget and forsake him. If they leave him for a longer, or shorter season, he knows it ; and not only so, he knows why they deviate from the path of duty. He knows, that they never forsake him, but for the sake of some inferior worldly object. He sees what mere vanities attract their attention and attachment,and draw them away from him. Of this they are often unconscious. They do not perceive how often, or how much, they suffer their thoughts and affections to wander from him. The world and the things of the world imperceptibly occupy their thoughts and turn them aside from their designed and habitual walk with God. But he always sees all their sinful deviation from the path of duty ; and of consequence they appear much more sinful in his view, than their own. Hence says the apostle John, “ Ifour heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things.” These numerous deviations and departures from God, which are highly displeasing to him, are the reasons, why those, who do sometimes walk with God, receive no more peculiar tokens of his favor and so many tokens of his displeasure. They have always reason to expect, when they forget and forsake him, that he will be displeased and some way or other manifest his displeasure towards them and continue the manifestations of it, until they return to him and walk with him.