In the history of Enoch we learn this great truth, that the surest path, and the one which, as to outward circumstances, is the most exempt from discipline, is a life of hope, being by faith translated-actually in expectation and interest having passed away from this present scene. Enoch, no doubt, had the secret chastenings which every son in our nature needeth, but by faith, as a witness, he walked with God, in the hope of being with Him, and thus he passed beyond death without being a victim to it. During his walk of three hundred years, hope placed him beyond this evil scene, and therefore he prophesied as to what would be the consummation of it. If he was the first man who passed out of it through the power of faith, superior to the sovereignty of death, so was he the prophet of the last moments of death's cruel dynasty. If he were the first who was translated from the world, he, in the enjoyment of hope and the domain which it spread out before his soul, could best tell what would be the end of the world. Abel took his place as the witness of acceptance in righteousness, and the world could not endure him; he was unsuited to it, and it to him; he fell, and his blood was shed on it by the hand of his brother. Human righteousness is honoured among men, but righteousness through grace, by faith, honestly maintained, is always abhorrent to man, for it gives him nothing to do, nothing to improve, but to receive all from God and with God, and this necessarily places him in isolation from an human interests. Abel was a righteous man in an evil world, and he found a grave in it--a terrible death and an unnatural one. Relationship with God only places me in antagonism to the world. If we be sons of God, the world knows us riot, as it knew not the Son of God. If in this life, though a son, I only have hope, I am of all men most miserable. Abel must have been happy in his soul with God, but he was miserable in the world, and in the end he suffered a cruel death in it. His very new position entailed this suffering on him ; it demanded of him to die to everything around, because if he was righteous, everything around was unrighteous. If he did not by faith walk in hope above this scene, then he must die in it, and this is just where Enoch is a witness of a better thing: and he can prophesy of the accomplished glory, while Abel can but cry, by his shed blood, for a vengeance on a world that would not bear a righteous man!
It is plain that in an evil world a righteous man must either die in it or pass out of it in the power of translation. Enoch did this latter, after he had walked with God. Nothing can purify us from this world but hope, and the hope, too, of being with the One whom Enoch saw: " My Lord cometh, and ten thousand of his saints with him." The Lord personally engaging the heart, dissociates more from the earth than anything else. " For their sakes [he says] I sanctify myself, that they also may be truly sanctified." For the heart linked with Him outside the world is the most perfect sanctification. Saints pass through much discipline from outward circumstances, because their hearts are only set on being justified ones in the earth, a blessed position beyond all question ; but ours is one incompatible with everything earthly : and hence, if the soul does not own this it must be taught it; thus Paul was taught to surrender Jerusalem and all the associations there his heart clung to. He passed through many afflictions ere he was morally delivered from his earthly. hope. Heavenly hopes exposed him no doubt to other sorrows, but death was not one of them, for he longed to depart. If our hope were really translation to see the Lord, beyond doubt the casualties of this life would but little distress us ; they never could touch our hope; and our sufferings from present things are not so much from their actual influence or value to us as that they form so great a part of our hopes. It is our hope that lends an interest to everything about us, and belonging to us. The only discipline that Enoch sets forth is a long walk with God and a prophetic testimony, and therefore it is the path that the well-disciplined child will walk in, and the better he adheres to it, the less will he need either a " weight " to be removed, or his unbelief to be admonished, which is the end of all the Father's discipline.