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Examples of Soul Prosperity from the Old Testament.
The subject of Soul Prosperity rises in importance as we advance; and the chapter on which we are now entering, deserves the reader's particular attention. The field is very extensive, and we cannot go over it in its full length and breadth; but must be contented to survey a few of its most fertile and delightful spots; and even this must be a hasty survey. We shall select a few only of the many bright examples with which the scriptures abound, and hold them up to the reader's imitation. We shall begin with
Out of the long catalogue of holy men who lived before the flood, Enoch is one of peculiar eminence. He was “the seventh from Adam, walked with God, and was not; for God took him.” He has the same honourable distinction in the New Testament, with some enlargement and illustration.“ 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 testimony, that he pleased God.” (Gen. v. 24. Heb. xi. 5.) The whole account of this excellent man is very short; but enough is told us to convince us that he possessed extraordinary virtues, and that a holy, prosperous,
and happy soul was lodged in his mortal body. Such was his intercourse with heaven, that he is said to walk with God. His attainments in the divine life were very great. The wicked are “ without God in the world,” and walk “ contrary to him;" but true piety impresses the heart with an abiding sense of his presence. Those whose souls prosper have an intercourse with God, and feel a desire to walk so as to please him.
It was by faith that this holy man attained such an high and honourable distinction. We are not told, indeed, what degree of light he had in the doctrine of the gospel ; yet doubtless he had been made acquainted with the grand design of redemption by Jesus Christ, the Messiah of promise, who was also typified by sacrifices.
There is the more reason to draw this conclusion from his prophecy of the second coming of our Redeemer. Jude 14, 15. “ And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand 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.” Of the authenticity of this prophecy there is no question, though we have not the book in which it was recorded. Jude was some way made acquainted with it, as written by a divinely-inspired penman, which is enough for us to know at present. And it is a natural conclusion that Enoch, the inspired author of the prophecy, understood the nature of it. He laid hold on it for his own salvation, his faith
had a relation to it, and hence sprung his soul prosperity.
Doubtless one great branch of holy walking with God, is useful walking among men. A monk in his cell becomes useless to society. He hides his talent in the earth, and robs God, his country, and his kindred, of the useful services they have a just right to expect from him. The moral and religious character of Enoch is comprised in a very few words. “Enoch walked with God.” The lives and exploits of tyrants and conquerors have filled volumes ; but such men as Alexander, or Cæsar, are not to be compared with Enoch; and woe be to those who “ love the praise of men more than the praise of God." All things except walking with God are fading and vain. This is the never failing essence of life, the easer of pain, the antidote of death, the gate of immortality; it is heaven begun below.
But two cannot walk together except they be agreed. Walking with God, which is the spring of immortality, must commence with reconciliation to him. There is only one way of having peace with God, and that is “ through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “ Wherefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thus we are told, “ by faith Enoch walked with God," and was translated that he should not see death. In every age true faith has had one and the same object. From Abel, down to the youngest of the prophets; and from the fishermen who left their nets, and their worldly all, to follow our Lord, to the end of time; pardon, and all the blessings of grace and glory, are only to be obtained through the mediation of Christ. It is through his righteousness, which consists of his active and passive obedience, that every believer in every age is “justified from all things from which he could not be justified by the law of Moses.” It was by thy faith, O Enoch ! that thou wast justified, and enabled to walk with God, till without feeling the bitter pangs of death, God was pleased to take thée, soul and body, into his own immediate presence. Blessed man! Happy saint! May thy God be “ my God, for ever and ever; may he be my guide even unto death!”
The pious heart of Enoch throbbed with gratitude, love warmed his bosom, while he submitted to, and obeyed his heavenly Father. The law of kindness reigned in his heart. He loved his God and his fellow-men, and was, no doubt, a great loss, when he was taken away.
His beneficence had relieved many, and his example had shone with peculiar brightness in that comparatively dark age of the world. What a master, what a neighbour, what a son, and what a parent was Enoch! But perhaps he was despised and slighted by the ungodly, and called an hypocrite, or a fanatic; and his soul might be grieved and vexed on many accounts; yet in the midst of all, he kept near to, and walked with God, till “ he was not, for God took him.” This is the last memorable particular in his history. He was translated, he triumphed over death, and like Elijah the prophet, was carried to heaven. His body was changed, no more to be subject to mortality; and eternally united to a prosperous soul, was received into the blissful presence of God, to go no more out.
REFLECTIONS ON THE CHARACTER OF ENOCH.
Let me ask myself, am I walking with God ? Difficulties, I know, will arise, even to the prosperous soul. Walking with God will not exempt me fr the common afflictions of life; for it is through much tribulation I must enter his kingdom, if ever I come there. Let not this discourage me; if God be for me, who can be against me? While I walk with God I have the best company, and am never alone. My soul, keep near to thy Saviour and Redeemer; and remember, amidst ten thousand trials and dangers, he has said, “I will not leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
What are my hopes ? Can I approach God in the full confidence that I enjoy his favour ? Have I a good hope through grace? How can this be, unless I am walking with God? Is it, then, the habitual desire of my heart to hate sin, and to flee from it? Merciful Lord, let me not be deceived. Blessed Jesus, all my hopes are hung upon thee, and not on my good works, or good frames. Let me not neglect my duty, nor become worldly minded; let me not indulge any improper tempers or habits: this would grieve the Holy Spirit, and bring distress and darkness into my soul. Since, therefore, I profess to be God's servant, О that I may be faithful to him even unto death, and he will give me a crown of glory. O that his countenance may shine upon me by the way as I run in the heavenly race. This will give me more joy and gladness, than can ever arise from an abundance of corn, or wine, or oil; where no such blessing is enjoyed.