The use that I shall make of what has been said is to move sinners to this resolution, with respect to those amongst us that have lately turned to God, and joined themselves to the flock of Christ. Through the abundant mercy and grace of God to us in this place, it may be said of many of you that are in a Christless condition, that you have lately been left by those that were formerly with you in such a state. There are those that you have formerly been conversant with that have lately forsaken a life of sin and the service of Satan, and have turned to God, and fled to Christ, and joined themselves to that blessed company that are with him. They formerly were with you in sin and in misery; but now they are with you no more in that state or manner of life. They are changed, and have fled from the wrath to come; they have chosen a life of holiness here and the enjoyment of God hereafter. They were formerly your associates in bondage, and were with you in Satan’s business; but now you have their company no longer in these things. Many of you have seen those you live with, under the same roof, turning from being any longer with you in sin, to be with the people of Jesus Christ. Some of you that are husbands have had your wives; and some of you that are wives have had your husbands; some of you that are children have had your parents; and parents have had your children; many of you have had your brothers and sisters; and many your near neighbors and acquaintance and special friends; many of you that are young have had your companions: I say, many of you have had those that you have been thus concerned with, leaving you, forsaking that doleful life and wretched state that you still continue in. God, of his good pleasure and wonderful grace, hath lately caused it to be so in this place that multitudes have been forsaking their old abodes in the land of Moab, and under the gods of Moab, and going into the land of Israel, to put their trust under the wings of the Lord God of Israel. Though you and they have been nearly related, and have dwelt together, or have been often together and intimately acquainted one with another, they have been taken and you hitherto left. O let it not be the foundation of a final parting! But earnestly follow them; be firm in your resolution in this matter. Don’t do as Orpah did, who, though at first she made as though she would follow Naomi, yet when she had the difficulty of it set before her went back: but say as Ruth, “I will not leave thee; but where thou goest, I will go: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” Say as she said, and do as she did. Consider the excellency of their God and their Saviour, and the happiness of their people, the blessed state that they are in, and the doleful state that you are in.
You who are old sinners, who have lived long in the service of Satan, have lately seen some that were with you, that have travelled with you in the paths of sin these many years, that with you enjoyed great means and advantages, that have had calls and warnings with you, and have with you passed through remarkable times of the pouring out of God’s Spirit in this place, and have hardened their hearts and stood it out with you, and with you have grown old in sin; I say, you have seen some of them turning to God, i.e., you have seen those evidences of it in them, whence you may rationally judge that it is so. O let it not be a final parting! You have been thus long together in sin, and under condemnation; let it be your firm resolution, that, if possible, you will be with them still, now they are in a holy and happy state, and that you will follow them into the holy and pleasant land.
You that tell of your having been seeking salvation for many years, though, without doubt, in a poor dull way, in comparison of what you ought to have done, have seen some that have been with you in that respect, that were old sinners and old seekers, as you are, obtaining mercy. God has lately roused them from their dulness, and caused them to alter their hand, and put them on more thorough endeavors; and they have now, after so long a time, heard God’s voice, and have fled for refuge to the Rock of Ages. Let this awaken earnestness and resolution in you. Resolve that you will not leave them.
You that are in your youth, how many have you seen of your age and standing that have of late hopefully chosen God for their God and Christ for their Saviour! You have followed them in sin, and have perhaps followed them into vain company; and will you not now follow them to Christ?
And you that are children, there have lately been some of your sort that have repented of their sins, and have loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and trusted in him, and are become God’s children, as we have reason to hope: let it stir you up to resolve to your utmost to seek and cry to God, that you may have the like change made in your hearts, that their people may be your people, and their God your God.
You that are great sinners, that have made yourselves distinguishingly guilty by the wicked practices you have lived in, there are some of your sort that have lately (as we have reason to hope) had their hearts broken for sin, and have forsaken it, and trusted in the blood of Christ for the pardon of it, and have chosen a holy life, and have betaken themselves to the ways of wisdom: let it excite and encourage you resolutely to cleave to them and earnestly to follow them.
Let the following things be here considered:—
1. That your soul is as precious as theirs. It is immortal as theirs is; and stands in as much need of happiness, and can as ill bear eternal misery. You were born in the same miserable condition that they were, having the same wrath of God abiding on you. You must stand before the same Judge; who will be as strict in judgment with you as with them; and your own righteousness will stand you in no more stead before him than theirs; and therefore you stand in as absolute necessity of a Saviour as they. Carnal confidences can no more answer your end than theirs; nor can this world or its enjoyments serve to make you happy without God and Christ more than them. When the bridegroom comes, the foolish virgins stand in as much need of oil as the wise, Matt. xxv. at the beginning.
2. Unless you follow them in their turning to God, their conversion will be a foundation of an eternal separation between you and them. You will be in different interests and in exceeding different states, as long as you live; they the children of God, and you the children of Satan; and you will be parted in another world; when you come to die, there will be a vast separation made between you: Luke xvi. 26, “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” And you will be parted at the day of judgment. You will be parted at Christ’s first appearance in the clouds of heaven. While they are caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, to be ever with the Lord, you will remain below, confined to this cursed ground, that is kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. You will appear separated from them while you stand before the great judgment-seat, they being at the right hand, while you are set at the left: Matt. xxv. 32, 33, “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” And you shall then appear in exceeding different circumstances. While you stand with devils, in the image and deformity of devils, and in ineffable horror and amazement, they shall appear in glory, sitting upon thrones, as assessors with Christ, and as such passing judgment upon you, 1 Cor. vi. 2. And what shame and confusion will then cover you, when so many of your contemporaries, your equals, your neighbors, relations and companions, shall be honored, and openly acknowledged and confessed by the glorious Judge of the universe and Redeemer of saints, and shall be seen by you sitting with him in such glory, and you shall appear to have neglected your salvation, and not to have improved your opportunities, and rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, the same person that will then appear as your great Judge, and you shall be the subjects of wrath, and, as it were, trodden down in eternal contempt and disgrace! Dan. xii. 2, “Some shall rise to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” And what a wide separation will the sentence then passed and executed make between you and them! When you shall be sent away out of the presence of the Judge with indignation and abhorrence, as cursed and loathsome creatures, and they shall be sweetly accosted and invited into his glory as his dear friends and the blessed of his Father! When you, with all that vast throng of wicked and accursed men and devils, shall descend with loud lamentings and horrid shrieks into that dreadful gulf of fire and brimstone, and shall be swallowed up in that great and everlasting furnace, while they shall joyfully, and with sweet songs of glory and praise, ascend with Christ, and all that beauteous and blessed company of saints and angels, into eternal felicity, in the glorious presence of God, and the sweet embraces of his love; and you and they shall spend eternity in such a separation and immensely different circumstances! And that however you have been intimately acquainted and nearly related, closely united and mutually conversant here in this world; and how much soever you have taken delight in each other’s company! Shall it be so after you have been together a great while, each of you in undoing yourselves, enhancing your guilt, and heaping up wrath, that their so wisely changing their minds and their course, and choosing such happiness for themselves, should now at length be the beginning of such an exceeding and everlasting separation between you and them? How awful will it be to be parted so!
3. Consider the great encouragement that God gives you, earnestly to strive for the same blessing that others have obtained. There is great encouragement in the word of God to sinners to seek salvation, in the revelation we have of the abundant provision made for the salvation even of the chief of sinners, and in the appointment of so many means to be used with and by sinners, in order to their salvation; and by the blessing which God in his word connects with the means of his appointment. There is hence great encouragement for all, at all times, that will be thorough in using of these means. But now God gives extraordinary encouragement in his providence, by pouring out his Spirit so remarkably amongst us, and bringing savingly home to himself all sorts, young and old, rich and poor, wise and unwise, sober and vicious, old self-righteous seekers and profligate livers: no sort are exempt. There is now at this day amongst us the loudest call and the greatest encouragement and the widest door open to sinners, to escape out of a state of sin and condemnation that perhaps God ever granted in New England. Who is there that has an immortal soul so sottish as not to improve such an opportunity, and that won’t bestir himself with all his might now? How unreasonable is negligence, and how exceeding unseasonable is discouragement, at such a day as this! Will you be so stupid as to neglect your soul now? Will any mortal amongst us be so unreasonable as to lag behind, or look back in discouragement when God opens such a door? Let every single person be thoroughly awake! Let every one encourage himself now to press forward, and fly for his life!
4. Consider how earnestly desirous they that have obtained are that you should follow them, and that their people should be your people, and their God your God. They desire that you should partake of that great good that God has given them, and that unspeakable and eternal blessedness that he has promised them. They wish and long for it. If you do not go with them, and are not still of their company, it won’t be for want of their willingness, but your own. That of Moses to Hobab is the language of every true saint of your acquaintance to you, Numb. x. 29, “We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.” As Moses, when on his journey through the wilderness, following the pillar of cloud and fire, invited Hobab, that he had been acquainted with and nearly allied to out of the land of Midian, where Moses had formerly dwelt with him, to go with him and his people to Canaan, to partake with them in the good that God had promised them; so do those of your friends and acquaintance invite you, out of a land of darkness and wickedness, where they have formerly been with you, to go with them to the heavenly Canaan. The company of saints, the true church of Christ, invite you. The lovely bride calls you to the marriage supper. She hath authority to invite guests to her own wedding; and you ought to look on her invitation and desire as the call of Christ the bridegroom; for it is the voice of his Spirit in her: Rev. xxii. 17, “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” Where seems to be a reference to what had been said, chap. xix. 7-9, “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” ’Tis with respect to this her marriage supper that she, from the motion of the Spirit of the Lamb in her, says, Come. So that you are invited on all hands; all conspire to call you. God the Father invites you: this is the King that has made a marriage for his Son; and he sends forth his servants, the ministers of the gospel, to invite the guests. And the Son himself invites you: ’tis he that speaks, Rev. xvii. 17, “And let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst, come; and whosoever will, let him come.” He tells us who he is in the foregoing verse, “I Jesus, the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star.” And God’s ministers invite you, and all the church invites you; and there will be joy in the presence of the angels of God that hour that you accept the invitation.
5. Consider what a doleful company that will be that be left after this extraordinary time of mercy is over. We have reason to think that there will be a number left. We read that when Ezekiel’s healing waters increased so abundantly, and the healing effect of them was so very general; yet there were certain places, where the water came, that never were healed: Ezek. xlvii. 9-11, “And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.” And even in the apostles’ times, when there was such wonderful success of the gospel, yet wherever they came, there were some that did not believe: Acts xiii. 48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.” And chap. xxviii. 24, “And some believed, and some believed not.” So we have no reason to expect but there will be some left amongst us. ’Tis to be hoped it will be a small company. But what a doleful company will it be! How darkly and awfully will it look upon them! If you shall be of that company, how well may your friends and relations lament over you, and bemoan your dark and dangerous circumstances! If you would not be one of them, make haste, delay not and look not behind you. Shall all sorts obtain, shall every one press into the kingdom of God, while you stay loitering behind in a doleful undone condition? Shall every one take heaven, while you remain with no other portion but this world? Now take up that resolution, that if it be possible you will cleave to them that have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before them. Count the cost of a thorough, violent, and perpetual pursuit of salvation, and forsake all, as Ruth forsook her own country and all her pleasant enjoyments in it. Don’t do as Orpah did; who set out, and then was discouraged, and went back: but hold out with Ruth through all discouragement and opposition. When you consider others that have chosen the better part, let that resolution be ever firm with you: “Where thou goest, I will go; where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”