The Walk with God.

We find in the beginning of Gen. 5 a marked distinction between the likeness in which Adam was originally created, and that of his offspring as they came from him: - "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him;" as Gen. 1:26, "Let us make man in our image." We know that Adam abode not in this estate, and in the third verse of this chapter we find, "he begat a son in his own likeness - after his image."

In the 2nd and 3rd verses we have the account of the blessedness in which Adam originally stood - "in the image of God" - in the garden which the Lord God planted, surrounded with the tokens of His love and wisdom, lord of all; and that nothing should be lacking, "I will make him an help-meet for him;" but there was a blessedness beyond all this, his first and highest, he walked with God in holy, happy intimacy. This we learn from the whole narrative. (Gen. 2:15-19, 22.) They stood in the presence of God. God spake to them, and they were not ashamed nor afraid; for sin had not yet entered.

We observe that God, with whom they were here visibly conversant, was the Son, the Word, or, as we usually speak, the second person. God in essence, no man hath seen at any time; the Son reveals Him; and all the manifestations of God in the old time, whether in creation or otherwise, were in the person of the Son, the Word. (John 1:1, 3, 18.) Even Him whom we know as Jesus, the Christ, our Lord and our God.

But to return to Adam. We see the blessedness in which God placed him; he abode not in it, he lost this blessedness: and how did he lose it? by want of subjection to God - by wilfulness - he would follow his own will, rather than God's will, and he reaped the bitter fruit of it.

It was God's will that put Adam in the garden, in the midst of all the blessing; it was his own will that put him out of the garden, in the midst of all the curse; and so it ever has been, and ever will be. Look at the apostasies of which we read in the Scriptures, and you will find self-will in one shape or other the bitter root of each and all of them.

After his apostasy, we find Adam not walking with God. The Lord God, as He was wont, comes down into the garden and calls unto Adam; but that voice and presence, once his chiefest joy and highest honour, has no joy for him now; he hides himself from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden; he has no communion with God now - he cannot walk with Him. God is here as He was before, but Adam's confidence to approach Him is gone, it is broken down by his self-will; wilfulness has come in, and confidence is gone out, and so it ever must be; and now we see Adam - still indeed in the garden of God, in the midst of all its beauty, but what a poor conscience-stricken, wretched sinner! - striving to hide his guilty head from Him whom he has only known in love. How has the fine gold become dim! What a contrast does he herein afford to the faithful servant of God, who could say, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" the one in the midst of circumstances of blessing, but wretched, because wilful; the other in the midst of circumstances of trial and sorrow, but blessed, because obedient, - tribulation abounding, but consolation also abounding by Christ, such is the portion of the subject dependent spirit, to rise above the power of circumstances.

In Gen. 5:22, we see that restored that Adam had lost. "Enoch walked with God."

Again we find the communion issuing in the walk, and to him is the distinct testimony given that "he pleased God," and further "he was not, for God took him:" here he seems to be the type of the living saints who shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air when He cometh.

*I omit the mention of those between Adam and Enoch, not as judging of them, but as merely noticing the walk of those so mentioned in Scripture.

We thus find in Enoch what Adam lost, and possibly we learn (but on this I insist not) what Adam's portion would have been had he not fallen - assuredly he would not have died; death is not God's work, it is the wages of sin, it is the power of the devil - the power which man's self-will has given him, and death we should never have known from God.

In connection with the testimony to Enoch, we are reminded of Paul's word to the Colossians - "We do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing." And again to the Thessalonians, "Ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God."

Enoch walked with God - he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

In the next chapter we have the testimony to Noah. "Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." In the preceding verse we have, I believe, the secret of this blessed testimony, "he found grace in the eyes of the Lord." In Heb. 11 we find the principle of his walk; it was faith, not sight, as we see in the apostasy, Gen. 6:2, and also Gen. 3:6; it was faith working holy obedience - "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he." How simple, how blessed, and how opposite to the walk by sense and sight, leading us in wilfulness to do the very thing that God commanded not to be done.

There is one very blessed and beautiful principle of the walk with God mentioned of Noah in the epistle to the Hebrews - he moved with fear: it is indeed an essential ingredient of the walk with God, and the very opposite to the rashness of self-will; it is what the saints at this present day may more especially stand in need of. The very obedience, if the term may be allowed, of a saint may be more allied with self-will than holy fear, and therefore lose its savour before God. This can never be said of that which is obedience in spirit and truth; but is, I think, the character of a great part of the obedience of the day. And it is important that the saints should well consider this. At the present time we see on the one hand ordinances and blind subjection, but, what I believe is worse, upon the other hand - self-will and man's right; and on the border of this latter do those stand who, through God's grace, have been led to see the opposite evil and would escape it. It is humiliating to think how near to error we may stand in truth, when we lapse from the spirit into the flesh; and, alas! how easy is the transition, then are we in it, when we stand in the pride of our knowledge or acquirement, or in the assertion of our right. It is plain that self and not God is exalted; and then are we falling into the greater error of the two - let us be watchful herein.

Obedience may be the bowing of the intellect honest, intelligent to abstract truth; it may be the proud assertion of right in one who sees error and truth, to forsake the one and to bow to the other. True obedience is the result of subjection to God - it is meek and holy, and therefore free from that offensive independent bearing which is so frequently met with, and which is so sad and grievous to the Spirit.

Holy fear will ever be allied with holy love; as one should be the constraining motive to service, so the other should be the jealous guardian of our whole conversation, that we grieve not the heart of God, nor hinder His Holy Spirit. Adam failed in the fear of the Lord, and therefore he failed to walk with God. Noah was moved with fear, and therefore he failed not to walk with God.

We proceed a few chapters, and in Gen. 17 we find God saying to Abraham, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect;" and I observe that when God thus calls upon Abraham, it is just before the fullest opening of the covenant which God makes with him; this covenant we find in the 12th, 13th, 15th, and 22nd chapters, but here we have it more enlarged, and sealed by the token of circumcision; here Isaac was promised and named, and here we find Abraham in the confidence of friendship, pleading for Ishmael, as in the next chapter for Sodom, and in Gen. 20 for Abimelech; but previous to all this, and, as it were, the preparation fitting for it, "Walk before me, and be thou perfect." Abraham might have replied, But, Lord, how can I - who is sufficient for these things? The answer is, "I am the Almighty God," even as it is afterwards the strength for difficult requirement. (2 Cor. 6:14-18.) This is God's first revelation of Himself under this name.

Abraham's obedience we find in Genesis 22; and again in his direction to his servant in getting a wife for Isaac, Genesis 29:40, "The Lord, before whom I walk, will send His angel with thee, and prosper thy way." Thus do we see how Abraham, the friend of God, walked; not after his own will, he believed in the Lord, and He "counted it to him for righteousness:" he obeyed the voice of the Lord, and "by myself have I sworn; saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven." Whenever he followed his own will it was only to go astray.

Thus do we see God's will with His people; it is that they walk with Him.

It was His oft-repeated word to Israel, that they walked contrary to Him, and hence their misery. God knoweth that it is here that the happiness and holiness of His people are secured, and that a way of their own will ever be a way of misery in the end; and God says, even now, after all the blessed revelations that He has made of Himself in Jesus, even now He says unto faith, "Walk before me."

With man there has been the measure of obedience or rebellion, according to the spirit that was in him; but in Jesus we find the full and blessed response to this call of our God. He could say of the days of His flesh, "I have set the Lord always before me:" here was his moving principle, doing every thing in reference to the will of Him that sent Him; and this is just what the gospel history exhibits (specially John's), the SENT ONE doing the will of Him that sent him - the contrast in this to the first Adam. His life is the history of full, perfect, willing subjection to God; even in prospect of the cross, and all its shame and suffering, His word is still, "I delight to do thy will, O my God." We get a measure of this in the saints; but the one who is brought into the nearest and dearest communion with God will probably be the one most conscious of failure; for he is the one brought to measure himself by the stature of the Lord, and to see himself in the full shining of His light here he will learn the true measure of human attainment, and yet without one despairing thought; for he learns it in the blessed consciousness of his acceptance in the beloved, in the consciousness that his title to the glory is in the perfect work of Him by whose side he feels the short-coming and failure of his holiest things. Doubtless Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and a countless multitude beside, have set the Lord before them; but one only could say, "I have set the Lord always before me;" in Him was the perfect, continual, unfailing obedience, that nothing could turn from its object.

Enoch walked with God, and pleased Him: in Jesus this was perfect. "I do always the things that please Him." "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Noah walked with God, and moved with fear: this we see perfect in Jesus, "He was heard in that He feared" (the very same word as of Noah), "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him."

Abraham walked before the Lord: again we see the pattern of what was perfect in the beloved, "I have set the Lord always before me;" and indeed the little features of grace and beauty which we see scattered through the family of God, are but the faint traces of what we see in their fulness and perfection in God's beloved Son, who is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person; and just in the proportion that we are in communion with the Father and the Son, not only will our joy be full, but it will be manifested that we walk with God, and please Him, that we move in fear, setting the Lord before us.

This is testimony; this is what God requireth at our hands; not as the demand of a task-master, but as an offering of love; this is what really tells on the conscience for God: it is of practical value, and nice words without it are but as counterfeit coin, which looks well, but is worth nothing.

It is comparatively easy to get knowledge, and to increase it; but, ah, it is hard to walk with God - it is one coming out of self and walking in the power of communion with another. The natural way is to follow our own will; it is the natural way since Adam fell: he begat a son in his own likeness. The bent of the will may often to man's eye be innocent or rational - "The tree was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise." Our first parents would be wise, but it was wisdom by their own will; they turned from the tree of life, and this was God's wisdom. (Prov. 3:13-17.) Their will was to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and this was Satan's suggestion, and whenever there is not subjection to God there is the old apostasy that turned Adam out of paradise, and gave Satan his power in the world.

Beloved, the object of our life should be testimony for God; with the apostle this seemed the object in life and death (Phil. 1:20); but we cannot truly testify save as we walk with God - but as we are in communion. How important then to keep this communion uninterrupted. The provision for this we find in 1 John 2:12; it is the advocacy in the power which the blood gives, which the blood alone gives, for this alone can answer Satan; he could find failure enough in the most perfect holiness of the saint whereof to accuse him; there is none in the blood of the Lamb, and this it is that opens and keeps open communion to us. Here let us take our stand, and in the spirit of adoption, crying Abba, Father, see that we witness for Jesus from the power of communion.

One thing I would observe, there is much, very much, called testimony that after all is not testimony - it is a word now much used. In true testimony our object should be, "by manifestation of the truth" both in word and life, "to commend ourselves to men's consciences in the sight of God." If this be so, whatever our lot be with men we shall please God, and that is enough. Let us keep this in view; there may be great intellectual power at work on the things of God, and yet no testimony. God may use the intellect which originally is of Him, and then have we cause to bless Him for it; but let us see that it is so used; let us see that it is brought down in humbleness and teachableness under the power of God's Spirit - without this the greater the intellect the greater the power of evil.

It is perfectly fearful to see man's mere mind at work on God's word, in proud independence - venturing on the depths which no human line can fathom - driving along in the assertion of a power in himself, without reference to that power without which no man knoweth the things of God; and hence the flippancy we see in some in speaking of the things of God, that manifests but the mere intimacy of the flesh. Where the Spirit is present there will be the holy fear, the meekness and lowliness which mark the unction of the Holy One, and come indeed with power to our souls this will be the fruit of communion, and will manifest the walk with God.

One case to which testimony very specially belongs, and where we often see the power of communion, is in evangelizing. We may see one go out to preach the gospel, and make his statements with much truth and clearness, and yet there may be little or no testimony to the conscience, or acknowledgment of God in it. How is this? It is from the want of the manifestation of God. God is love; and if in communion with God you can show God's love to the soul of the poor sinner, there is testimony: that is what he wants. Man's mind may be amused with abstract truth, but the poor miserable sinner wants rest for his soul, and where can he get this but in the knowledge that "God is love," and the provision which that love hath made for him? and therefore the true power of an evangelist, his special qualification, should be a heart overflowing with the love of God, and telling out of its fulness of that love which is all to him; and therefore again you will find many and many a one, not with any high power of mind, or capability of great clearness of statement, acknowledged of God abundantly in His simple message of love, while others possessing these things are without testimony herein. Love is God's great instrument in effecting His work. "God is love" and if we walk in love we walk in God; our joy is in love. Love is a holy, happy thing; we know it now in communion, we shall know it in perfection in the glory. Oh, how happy is the communion and confidence of love. This would be true testimony, the manifestation of love; this is what God would acknowledge, for it is of Himself; and this is the testimony that we should give in the world in all our conversation. There will be but little in bare abstract truth, except it be for our own opinions. This is not the way that God gives us truth; He clothes it in love, He manifests it in the gift of His only-begotten Son. "Herein is the love."

Another point in which we fail in testimony, is the making it to consist in things in which it properly does not consist, which are but circumstantials, with or without which the testimony may be. Thus in the little peculiarities, personal and domestic, for which many are jealous, and on which they lay great stress as testimony for God, their very eccentricities, and the exact order or disorder of their service, are matters of testimony with them, and consequently it is in general but a waste of strength. What is worse? There is often a proneness to judge others who cannot see with them in these things; but where there is walking with God, there will be but little of judgment, save on ourselves; in truth the judgment of open sin in the believer will be sorrowful work to us, as we are walking with God. As to these matters of private observance, let every one be satisfied before God, and cease to judge his brother; let each one see that in what he does, as well as what he does not, it is unto the Lord; but let us carefully watch herein against wilfulness in our doings, that it is not our will or pleasure, but the good-will of our God that is set up. When we differ as to this, we have indeed cause to be humbled; but let us bear with one another, even as God with us, and be very watchful, as every difference opens a door to the enemy.

I notice these things to warn the saints against them, as not in the Spirit or after the example of our Lord and Master. What freedom from every thing eccentric in Him! His peculiarity was that alone of entire subjection to His Father's will.

The saint is called into liberty and not into bondage; the religion of the flesh gendereth to bondage. Let us stand in our blessed liberty, but watch that it is not made a cover for any evil or desire of the flesh in ourselves, or a stumbling-block to others. I can quite recognize the liberty which allows of a saint doing many things which I cannot do; we should in love watch that we offend not one another; but our liberty is not to be judged or regulated by each other's conscience, but by God's word.

Again: I can value any little sacrifice that is made to the Lord, and not to the poor consistency of our own notions. I believe indeed that there is nothing, however little it be, which is done unto our God that will be lost; the cup of cold water shall have its reward. Man may forget, but "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love," etc. How gracious, how wonderfully gracious! "that God, so to speak, should tax his own righteousness for the remembrance of our little doings, mixed up as they are with so much of self and unworthiness, but "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob." He accepts us in the beloved.

The remedy when we fail is in communion, for the remedy for every evil is with God; and in communion we abide with Him. Thence is the walk, and herein is our testimony; there will be power in our words and life - not a power of man, but the power of the unction of the Holy One.

We are instructed as to our inquiries into the will of the Lord, by the question of the apostles Peter and Paul. Peter, in the mere inquisitiveness of his heart, and it may be in the anxiety for his friend, but without any respect for God's glory, asks, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" and he is met by the reproof, "What is that to thee? follow thou me." Here is what is of practical moment to the disciple, "follow thou me;" and on this should all his knowledge and attainment bear. When Paul, on the contrary, is struck to the ground on his journey to Damascus, what is his first word? "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Here is no inquisitiveness, and hence no reproof; here is the true and earnest desire to know the Lord's will, and consequently it is met with the gracious reply, "It shall be told thee what thou shalt do." And so it is virtually at this present day with ourselves. Though there be no manifestation, or audible voice as of old, yet is the same principle true to us. If our search after truth be merely to gratify the inquisitiveness of our mind; if it be in the wrong spirit that would lay every thing under contribution to minister to our knowledge, not that we may follow the Lord more truly, but to feed the pride or inquisitiveness of our hearts, then shall we know the reproof of the Lord, in our souls we shall feel it, "What is that to thee?" There will be amid all the leanness within. But if we ask in trueness of heart, if our object be not in any way to minister to the flesh, but to know our Lord's will, that we may do it, assuredly "it shall be told us." Dispensations may change, but God does not change; and we shall ever find Him true to them that are true to Him. If in our walk we acknowledge Him, then He will acknowledge us; but if while His name be on our lips, some form of evil be in our hearts, what have we to expect but the rebuke of the Lord? To man we may seem to gather, and we may gather something whereof to talk or make a fair show in the flesh, but we do not gather blessing to our own souls.

If we would walk with God amid the abounding evil, then must we be on our watch-tower against the deceitfulness of our hearts and the devices of the enemy; we must see that God be our object, that we set the Lord before us in all we put our hand to. Specially must we watch against the self-will that is native to our hearts, that leads us away from God, that would fight against Him; but a single act of self-will, if it was not for God's mercy, would for ever exclude us from His presence, would lead us into the depths of misery and darkness. The subjection of a poor blind papist, evil as it is, is not so evil a thing as the assertion of right and self-will in those possessing knowledge, or making high pretensions to it. The one is superstitious, and this is bad enough; the other is rebellion, and this is worse. Who is it that has the knowledge of Satan? But it is knowledge in the rebellion of self-will against God.

In fine, let us walk with God; and that we do so, let, us watch that our communion be not hindered; if it be, we have seen the remedy - the blood, the advocate - and let us renew it again in this provision which His love has made. This is in fact the very sum and substance of our religion, that we walk with God; this is the manifestation of our secret communion. Every thing will be right with us in spirit while we do so; but unto this we need to walk circumspectly. How many things daily arise to hinder our walk? We must be sober, watchful, circumspect. This is hard work, and it is bitter to the flesh; yes, but the fruit will be sweet. When we mortify the flesh as we discover it, then is the mind subject to God, and then we make way for the Holy Spirit; but it is hard - true, every thing good is hard - self-will has made it so; but our God has laid nothing upon us for which He does not supply the help. The cross is hard, but Jesus bore it before us; and as we now know the power of the cross, it is that we get above the self-will, that we get into the subjection which is the door of blessing. Self-will is the unholy root of all the evil, and there is no remedy for it but the cross.

If we feel these things, if we are made to groan under them, let us look to Jesus: see Him in full sympathy with human sorrow at the grave of Lazarus - "Jesus wept." Here is the opening of His heart to us, here He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but follow Him a little further, and mark His first words in resurrection, "Woman, why weepest thou?" It is now no longer weeping over human misery, but the drying up of those tears which human misery had caused to flow; self-will had brought forth its plentiful harvest of sin and sorrow; unto the woman He saith (Gen. 3), "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow," but now unto the woman, "Why weepest thou?" Sorrow hath taken the place of joy in this world, for self-will has come in, and death has followed it: but now the old things have passed away, it is no longer self-will, and sin, and death. One has been found to pass through this world always doing God's will, and this was the One to bear our sin, and sorrow, and death; and now it is the new thing, death hath given place to resurrection. "I am He that liveth, and was dead, and am alive for evermore." Here is the drying of the woman's tears, "Why weepest thou?" Oh, what a word of blessedness! oh, what a return of love, after all our self-will and rebellion! Why weepest thou?" The old things have passed away, death has given place unto life, and sorrow to joy, and the joy of the Lord is our strength. Here is our provision, our strength to walk with the Lord in holy communion - it is in the power of a new, a risen life - what do we want more, but more truth of heart, more faith to prove these things? Oh, may we know them, not only by the hearing of the ear, not as having thoughts about them, but in deep and happy exercise of soul as taught by God's Spirit! The dearest saint when out of communion may be doing Satan's work; aye, more than an unconverted man. I have even felt more of difficulty in dealing with saints in the flesh than with the unconverted, in those points where they will have their way, or where one consideration or another will hinder their subjection to God.

Let us see, dear brethren, that there be no reserve, that in everything self-will be brought down, whatever it may cost us. Could we but see what blessing it hinders, and what power it gives the enemy, it would, I believe, terrify us to think that it has any place, however little, in our hearts. If we walk out of communion, whatever show of service there may be (and in such cases there is often doing, doing to try and satisfy the conscience), there is no true testimony for Him. It is in communion there is testimony - it is in communion that we can say in blessed consciousness of its truth, "We have the mind of Christ;" it is when in communion with God we can look down upon the world, and can afford to lose it, or be nothing in it; for in communion we know Jesus in the power of His resurrection. God give us more to prove these things, and day by day, as we pass along and work out His holy will, to rise in the power of the Spirit of Him "who was dead, but is alive again;" to be obedient to what He has taught us, to be doers of His will and not of our own.

May we learn more earnestly to please God, more simply to walk with Him, and thus give testimony to the truth in our day and generation.