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of Israel, and in the house of God; the other, like Orpahi, lives and dies in the land of Moab.
Now it is lamentable, it is awful being parted so. It is doleful, when of those who have formerly been together in sin, some turn to God, and join themselves with his people, that it should prove a parting between them and their former companions and acquaintance. It should be our firm and inflexible resolution in such a case, that it shall be no parting, but that we will follow them, that their people shall be our people, and their God our God; and that for the following reasons :
I. Because their God is a glorious God. There is none
. like him, who is infinite in glory and excellency. He is the most high God, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders. His name is excellent in all the earth, and his glory is above the heavens. Among the gods there is none like unto him ; there is none in heaven to be compared to him, nor are there any among the sons of the mighty that can be likened unto him. Their God is the fountain of all good, and an inexhaustible fountain; he is an all-sufficient God, able to protect and defend them, and do all things for them. He is the king of glory, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle: A strong rock, and an high tower. There is none like the God of Jeshurun, who rideth on the heaven in their help, and in his excellency on the sky: The eternal God is their refuge, and underneath are everlasting arms. He is a God who hath all things in his hands, and does whatsoever be pleases : be killeth and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the
: grave and bringeth up; he maketh poor and maketh rich : The pillars of the earth are the Lord's. Their God is an infinitely holy God; There is none holy as the Lord. And he is infinitely good and merciful. Many that others worship and serve as gods, are cruel beings, spirits that seek the ruin of souls; but this is a God that delighteth in mercy ; his grace is infinite, and endures for ever. He is love itself, an infinite
, fountain and ocean of it.
Such a God is their God! Such is the excellency of Jacob! Such is the God of them wbo have forsaken their sins and are converted! They have made a wise choice who have chosen this for their God. They have made a happy exchange indeed, that have exchanged sin, and the world, for such a God!
They have an excellent and glorious Saviour, who is the only begotten Son of God; the brightness of his Father's glory; one in whom God from eternity had infinite delight; a Saviour of infinite love ; one that bas shed his own blood, and made bis soul an offering for their sins, and one that is able to save them to the uttermost.
II. Their people are an excellent and happy people. God has renewed them, and stamped his own image upon them, and made them partakers of his holiness. They are more excellent than their neighbours, Prov. xii. 26. Yea, they are the excellent of the earth, Psalm xvi. 3. They are lovely in the sight of the angels; and they have their souls adorned with those graces that in the sight of God himself are of great price.
The people of God are the most excellent and happy society in the world. That God whom they have chosen for their God, is their father; he has pardoned all their sins, and they are at peace with him; and he has admitted them to all the privileges of his children. As they have devoted themselves to God, so he has given himself to them. He is become their salvation, and their portion : His power and mercy, and all his attributes, are theirs. They are in a safe state, free from all possibility of perishing : Satan has no power to destroy them. God carries them on eagles' wings, far above Satan's reach, and above the reach of all the enemies of their souls. God is with them in this world ; they have his gracious presence. God is for them; Who then can be against them? As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so Jehovah is round about them. God is their shield, and their exceeding great reward ; and their fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ : And they have the divine promise and oath, that in the world to come they shall dwell for ever in the glorious presence of God.
It may well be sufficient to induce us to resolve to cleave to those that forsake their sins and idols to join themselves with this people, that God is with them, Zech. viii. 23. “ Thus saith the Lord of hosts, In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you.” So should
” persons, as it were, take hold of the skirt of their neighbours and companions that have turned to God, and resolve that they will go with them, because God is with them.
III. Happiness is no where else to be had, but in their God, and with their people. There are that are called gods many, and lords many. Some make gods of their pleasures; some choose Mammon for their god, some make gods of their own supposed excellencies, or the outward advantages they have above their neighbours: some choose one thing for their god, and others another. But nen can be happy in no other but the God of Israel: He is the only fountain of happiness. Other gods cannot help in calamity; nor can any of them afford what the poor empty soul stands in need of. Let men adore those other gods never so much, and call upon them never so earnestly, and serve them never so diligently, they will nevertheless remain poor, wretched, unsatisfied, undone creatures. All other people are miserable, but that people whose God is the Lord. The world is divided into two societies : The people of God, the little flock of Jesus Christ, that company that we read of, Rev. xiv. 4. “ These are they which were not defiled with women ; for they are virgins: these are they which follow the Lamb wbitbersoever he goeth: these were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb :" And those that belong to the kingdom of darkness, that are without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. All that are of this latter company are wretched and undone ; they are the enemies of God, and under his wrath and condemnation. They are the devil's slaves, that serve him blindfold, and are befooled and ensnared by him, and hurried along in the broad way to eternal perdition.
IV. When those that we have formerly been conversant with are turning to God and to his people, their example ought to influence us. Their example should be looked upon as the call of God to us, to do as they have done. God, when he changes the heart of one, calls upon another; especially does he loudly call on those that have been their friends and acquaintance. We have been influenced by their examples in evil; and shall we cease to follow them, when they make the wisest choice that ever they made, and do the best thing that ever they did ? If we have been companions with them in worldliness, in vanity, in unprofitable and sinful conversation, it will be a hard case, if there must be a parting now, because we are not willing to be companions with them in holiness and true happiness. Men are greatly influenced by seeing one another's prosperity in other things. If those whom they have been much conversant with, grow rich, and obtain any great earthly advantages, it awakens their ambition, and eager desire after the like prosperity: How much more should they be influenced, and stirred up to follow them, and be like them, when they obtain that spiritual and eternal happiness, that is of infinitely more worth, than all the prosperity and glory of this world?
V. Our resolutions to cleave to and follow those that are turning to God, and joining themselves to his people, ought to be fixed and strong, because of the great difficulty of it. If we will cleave to them, and have their
God for our God, and their people for our people, we must mortify and deny all our lusts,
and cross every evil appetite and inclination, and for ever part with all sin. But our lusts are many and violent. Sin is naturally exceeding dear to us : to part with it is compared to plucking out our right eyes. Men may refrain from wonted ways of sin for a little while, and may deny their lusts in a partial degree, with less difficulty ; but it is heart-rending work, finally to part with all sin, and to give our dearest lusts a bill of divorce, utterly to send them away. But this we must do, if we would follow those that are truly turning to God: Yea, we must not only forsake sin, but must, in a sense, forsake all the world. Luke xiv. 33. 6 Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” That is, he must forsake all in his heart, and must come to a thorough disposition and readiness actually to quit all for God, and the glorious spiritual privileges of his people, whenever the case may require it; and that without any prospect of any thing of the like nature, or any worldly thing whatsoever, to make amends for it; and all to go into a strange country, a land that has hitherto been unseen; like Abraham, who being called of God, “ went out of his own country, and from his kindred, and from his father's house, for a land that God should shew him, not knowing whither he went."
Thus, it was a bard thing for Ruth to forsake her native country, her father and mother, her kindred and acquaintance, and all the pleasant things she had in the land of Moab, to dwell in the land of Israel, where she never had been. Naomi told her of the difficulties once and again. They were too hard for her sister Orpah; the consideration of them turned her back after she was set out. Her resolution was not firm enough to overcome them. But so firmly resolved was Ruth, that she brake through all; she was steadfast in it, that, let the difficulty be what it would, she would not leave her mother-inlaw. So persons had need to be very firm in their resolution to conquer the difficulties that are in the way of cleaving to them who are indeed turning from sin to God.
Our cleaving to them, and having their God for our God, and their people for our people, depends on our resolution and choice; and that in two respects.
1. The firmness of resolution in using means in order to it, is the way to have means effectual. There are means appointed in order to our becoming some of the true Israel, and having their God for our God; and the thorough use of these means is the way to have success; but not a slack or slighty use of them. And that we may be thorough, there is need of strength of resolution, a firm and inflexible disposition, and hent of mind to be universal in the use of means, and to do
what we do with our might, and to persevere in it. Matth. xi. 12. “ The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
2. A choosing of their God, and their people, with a full determination, and with the whole soul, is the condition of an union with them. God gives every man his choice in this matter : as Orpah and Ruth had their choice, whether they would
with Naomi into the land of Israel, or stay in the land of Moab. A natural man may choose deliverance from hell; but no man doth ever heartily choose God and Christ, and the spiritual benefits that Christ has purchased, and the bappiness of God's people, till he is converted. On the contrary, he is averse to them; he has no relish of them; and is wholly ignorant of their inestimable worth and value.
Many carnal men seem to choose these things, but do it not really; as Orpah seemed at first to choose to forsake Moab to go into the land of Israel: But when Naomi came to set before her the difficulty of it, she went back; and thereby shewed that she was not fully determined in her choice, and that her whole soul was not in it as Ruth's was.
APPLICATION. "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. Some of those with whom you have formerly been conversant, 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 coinpany 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 boliness 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 bad your brothers and sisters; and many