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only decoying her into a greater depth of wo; her two remaining props sink, one after another, into the dust; all that the eyes desired is taken away with stroke upon stroke; and, to fill up the measure of a mother’s wretchedness, both her sons die childless, and hope expires with them. Now she is a widow indeed, and exhausted nature shrinks under the pressure. It is the opinion of many interpreters, that the premature death of the young men, was a judgment from heaven to punish their illegal intermarriage with strange and idolatrous women. It becomes not man to judge; and we know that God executeth only righteous judgment; and in wrath still remembers mercy. Thus in three short lines the sacred historian has delivered a tragic tale that comes home to the bosom of every one that possesses a spark of sensibility. It is a domestic story; it represents scenes which may, which do happen every day. It admonishes every one in how many points he is vulnerable, how defenceless he is against the thunderbolts of Heaven. It awfully displays the evil of sin, and the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man. If such be the temporal effects of his vengeance, how bitter must be the cup which his just displeasure mingles for incorrigible offenders, in a state of final retribution! How pleasing to reflect that trials of this sort do not always flow from anger, that they are the wholesome severity of a father, that they can aim at producing real good, that they in the issue really “yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.” The darkness of night at length yields to the glorious orb of day, the shadow of death is turned into the morning, and the desolate is as she who hath an husband. This makes way for the introduction of the heroine . of this eventful history; and we become interested in her from the very first moment. The Jewish writers, to heighten our respect for Ruth, perhaps from a pitiful desire to exalt their own ancestry, make her the
daughter of a king of Moab, and as they are never timorous in making assertions, or forming conjectures on such occasions, they tell you her father was Eglon whom F.hud slew. It is hardly probable that a prince of that country would have given his daughter in marriage to a needy adventurer who had banished himself from his country through necessity. But of little importance is it, whether she was born a princess or not. Nature has adorned her with qualities such as are not always to be found in the courts of kings; qualities which best adorn high birth, and which ennoble obscurity and indigence; fidelity and attachment; a soul capable of fond respect for departed worth, and living virtue: magnanimity to sacrifice every thing the heart holds dear, to decency, friendship, and religion; magnanimity to encounter, without repining, painful toil and humiliating dependence, in fulfilling the duties of gratitude, humanity, and piety. How eloquent is she when she speaks, how great when she says nothing, how transcendently exalted in all she thinks, speaks and acts! With what divine art, shall I say, is she introduced in the sacred drama? After we have been melted into pity by the calamity of Naomi's family, and seen the widowed mourner sinking under wave upon wave; and the prospect of progeny, the last darling hope of an Israelitish matron, rudely torn from her, lo an angel in the form of a damsel of Moab, a mourner and a widow like herself, appears to comfort her, and makes her to know by sweet experience that he, that she, has not lost all, who has found a kind and faithful friend. What is the sound of the trumpet, and a long train of mute and splendid harbingers, compared to the simple preparation of unaffected nature! Let us wait her approach in silent expectation; and muse on what is past. —Behold one generation of men goeth and another cometh; one planet arising as another sets, every human advantage balanced by its corresponding inconveniency, every loss compensated by comfort that grows out of it. —Behold the purpose of the eternal Mind maintaining its ground amidst all the tossings and tempests of this troubled ocean, triumphing over opposition, serving and promoting itself by the wrath of man and the malice of hell, out of darkness rising into lustre, “out of weakness made strong,” by the energy of the great first cause, acquiring life, vigour and prosperity from the extinction of means, from the destruction and death of secondary causes. Attend to the great leading object of divine revelation, to which all refer, to which all are subservient, in which all are absorbed and lost. I will make mention of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; of Moses and the prophets; of Boaz and Ruth. “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me; behold Philistia and Tyre with Ethiopia: this man was born there; and of Zion it shall be said, This man was born in her: and the Highest himself shall established her. The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, That this man was born there.” May our names be written in the Lamb's book of life, among the living in Jerusalem! The introduction of these personages and events, one after another, were remote steps of the preparation of the gospel of peace. And every person now born into the church of Christ, and every event now taking place in the administration of human affairs, is a little space in the great scale of eternal Providence, and a gradual preparation for the final consummation of all things. Let “thy kingdom come,” O God! Let Satan's kingdom be destroyed; let the kingdom of grace be advanced, ourselves and others brought into, and preserved in it, and let the kingdom of glory be hastened! Amen!
THISTORY OF RUTH.
.And they lifted up their voice, and wapt again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister-in-law. And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from föl. lowing after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.—RUTH i. 14—18.
THE calm, untumultuous, unglaring scenes of private life, afford less abundant matter for the pen of the historian, than intrigues of state, senatorial contention, or the tremendous operations of the tented field, but they supply the moralist and the teacher of religion with more pleasing, more ample, and more generally interesting topics of useful information, and salutary instruction. What princes are, what statesmen meditate, what heroes atchieve, is rather an object of curiosity than of utility. They never can become examples to the bulk of mankind. It is when they have de
scended from their public eminence, when they have retired to their private and domestic station, when the potentate is lost in the man, that they become objects of attention, patterns for imitation, or beacons set up for admonition and caution. For the same reason, the meek, the modest, the noiseless exhibition and exercise of female excellence, occupy a smaller space in the annals of human nature than the noisy, bustling, forensic pursuits and employments of the other sex. But when feminine worth is gently drawn out of the obscurity which it loves, and advantageously placed in the light which it naturally shuns, § how amiable, how irresistible, how attractive it is! A wise and good woman shines, by not seeking to shine; is most eloquent when she is silent, and obtains all her will, by yielding, by submission, by patience, by self-denial. Scripture, as it excels in every thing, so it peculiarly excels in delineating and unfolding the female character, both in respect of the quantity exhibited, and of the delicacy, force and effect of the design. We have already seen this exemplified, in a variety of instances, in the dignified conjugal attachment and respect, in the matron-like, conscious, impatient superiority of Sarah—in the maternal partiality, eagerness and address of Rebecca—in the jealous discontent and impatience of Rachael—in the winning condescension,
and the melting commisseration of Pharaoh’s daugh
ter—in the patriotic ardour, the prophetic elevation, the magisterial dignity of Deborah the wife of Lapidoth—in the unrelenting firmness, and the daring, enterprising spirit of Jael, the wife of Heber.
Female vice and worthlessness are delineated on the
sacred page with equal skill, truth and justice, from the insolence of Hagar, and the treachery of Delilah, down to the implacable vengeance of Herodias, and the insatiate cruelty of her accursed daughter. Three more female portraits are now presented for