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or restoration of domestic peace. As far as lieth in you, “whither he goeth, go thou; and lodge where he lodgeth; let his people be thy people, and his God thy God.” You will thereby preserve and secure his affection; you will harmonise family interests and intimacies, instead of disturbing them: if yours be the better religion, this is the way to bring over to it the man of no religion, or of an erroneous one; and if it be the worse, your relinquishing it, on conviction, will be at once a token of conjugal affection, a mark of good understanding, and a reasonable service toward God. Have you had, in early life, the calamity of becoming a widow? It is a distressing, a delicate situation. It calls for every maxim of prudence, every counsel of friendship, every caution of experience, every support of piety. If you are a mourner indeed, you are already guarded against affectation; you will find rational and certain relief in attending to, and performing the duties of your station. You will neither seek a hasty cure of sorrow by precipitately plunging into the world, nor attempt an unnatural prolongation of it by affected retirement and sequestration. The tongue will utter no rash vows; the pang of separation will dictate no ensnaring resolutions; the will of Providence will be respected, obeyed, followed. Respect for the dead is best expressed by dutifulness to the living. You have before you an useful example of firmness blended with female softness, of resolution heightened and adorned by sensibility. Lately, like Ruth, you had one who thought and acted for you; one who joyfully endured the burden and heat of the day, that your body and mind might enjoy repose. But now necessity is laid upon you. You must awake and arise to think and act for yourself. And here, as in every case, Nature has annexed the recompense to the duty. The mental powers are enfeebled, and at length destroyed, by disuse and inaction. Exertion invigorates VOL. III. 2 o
the mind, and composes by directing it. The listlessness of indolence undermines health; the activity of useful employment is the simplest and most infallible medicine for bodily complaints. And the most direct road to an honourable and happy second connexion, probably, is, to guard carefully against all vehement expression of either inclination or aversion, on the subject. All these, however, are merely lessons of prudence, adapted to the life that now is; and, however important in themselves, unless aided and supported by a higher principle, will constitute, at most, the decent kinswoman, or the respectable sufferer. In Ruth we have this higher principle, likewise beautifully exemplified—rational, modest, unaffected piety. True religion sits well on persons of either sex, and in all situations; but its aspect is peculiarly amiable in a female form, and in particular situations. Youth, beauty and sorrow united, present a most interesting object— a daughter weeping at a parent's tomb ; a mother mourning over “ the babe that milked her ;” and “refusing to be comforted;” a widow embracing the urn which contains the ashes of the husband of her youth—in all their affliction we are afflicted, we cannot refrain from mingling our tears with theirs. Let religion be infused into these lovely forms, and mark how the interest rises, how the frame is embellished, how the deportment is ennobled! The eye of that dutiful child is turned upward, her heart is delivered from oppression, her trembling lips pronounce, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” “My Father who art in heaven!” The mother withdraws from the breathless clay, reconciled to the stroke which bereaved her, “goes her way, and eats bread, and her countenance is no more sad,” for her Maker has said to her, Why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?”
The widowed mourner “gives her mortal interest up; and makes her God.her all.” Young woman, whatever thy condition may be; whether thou art in thy father’s house, or married to an husband; at home, or in a strange land; in society, or solitude; followed or neglected; be this thy monitor, this thy guide, this thy refuge—“The love of God shed abroad in thy heart;” “the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom;” “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.” However easy, gentle, flexible, complying, in other respects, where your religious principle, where the testimony of a good conscience, where your duty to your Creator are concerned, be firm and resolute, “be steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Thus shall youth be guarded, and beauty adorned; thus shall society be sweetened, and solitude cheered; thus shall prosperty be sanctified, and adversity soothed; thus shall life, even to old age and decay, be rendered useful and respectable; and thus shall death and the grave be stripped of all that is terrible in them.
So they went until they came to Beth-lehem. ...And it came to pass, when they were come to Beth-lehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, which returned out of the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley-harvest.—RUTH i. 19–22.
OF the calamities to which human life is exposed, a few only are to be accounted real evils: the rest are imaginary and fantastical. Want of health is real wo; but what proportion do the hours of pain and sickness bear to the years of ease and comfort and joy? Want of bread is real distress, but it is very seldom the work of nature, and therefore ought not, in justice, to be introduced into the list of the unavoidable ills which flesh is heir to. The loss of friends is a sore evil, but even wounds from this sharp-pointed weapon are closed at length, by the gentle hand of time, and the tender consolations of religion.
Whence then the unceasing, the universal murmurings of discontent, of desire, of impatience? Men fix their standard of felicity too high; and all they have attained goes for nothing, because one darling object is still out of reach; or they groan and sigh under the weight of some petty disaster, which scarce deserves the name; while ten thousand substantial blessings are daily falling on their heads unnoticed, unacknowledged, unenjoyed. Compare, O man, thy possessions with thy privations, compare thy comforts with thy deserts, compare thy condition with thy neighbour's, consider how far, how very far thy state is on this side worst, and learn to give God thanks. Repine not that some wants are unsupplied, that some griefs are endured, that some designs have been frustrated, while so many unmerited good things are left, while hope remains, while there is recource to Heaven. Behold these two forlorn wanderers, widowed, friendless,
destitute, and cease from thy complaints, and stretch
out thy hand to succour the miserable. : In the glorious strife of affection, Ruth has nobly prevailed. Impelled by the fond recollection of endearments past, and now no more—prompted by filial duty and tenderness to the mother of her choice, attracted, animated, upheld by the powers and prospects of religion, she composedly yields up her worldly all, takes up her cross, and bears it patiently alongfrom Moab to Beth-lehem-Judah. The history is silent on the subject of their journey. It is easy to conceive the anxieties, the terrors, the fatigues, the sufferings of female travellers, on a route of at least a hundred and twenty miles across the Arnon, across the Jordan, over mountains, through solitudes, without a protector, without a guide, without money. But that God who is the friend of the destitute, and the refuge of the miserable, that God who was preparing for them infinitely more than they could ask, wish or think, guides and guards them by the way, and brings them at length to their desired resting place.