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dispositions, of their talents: endeavour to put them in the train which nature and Providence seem to have pointed out: attend to what constitutes their real consequence in life, and leave the issue to Him who governs all events. 3dly. Observe how the great Ruler of the universe contrasts and connects great things with small, that he may humble the pride of man, and expose the nothingness of the glory of this world. That forlorn gleaner, and Boaz the wealthy; the exile from Moab, and the resident possessor of the fertile planes of Beth-lehemJudah, seem wonderfully remote from each other. Their condition is as opposite as human life can well present: but in the eye of Heaven they are already one. She is but a single step from being lady of the harvest which she gleans, “an help meet” for its lord, and the sovereign mistress of those servants at whose aspect she now trembles, the meanest of whom she now looks up to as her superior. Childless and a widow, her family, her own children are but three steps from athrone —the throne of Judah and Israel; and in the purpose of the Eternal, “the fulness of time” is hastening to exhibit to an astonished world, in the person of this woman's seed, “that Prince of peace, of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lo R D of hosts will perform this.” The period is approaching, men and brethren, when Beth-lehem-Judah shall display greater wonders, contrasts more confounding than these. The time is at hand, when another forlorn damsel of the same race, and her outcast babe shall appear in contrast with all that is stupendous, striking, formidable, venerable in heaven and earth, shall rise above all, give laws to all, eclipse all. Behold that “babelying in a manger, in a stable, because there is no room for him in the inn,” controling the counsels of Augustus, the mighty master of the world; behold him drawing princes and wise men from the east, with treasures of gold, and frankincense and myrrh, to his feet. Behold the face of heaven irradiated, enriched with a new star, to mark the way which led to his cradle: while a multitude of the heavenly host announce in rapturous strains the birth of the lowly infant. Behold “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” “ of no reputation;” “in the form of a servant;” “ numbered with transgressors;” “obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” Behold him “highly exalted;” “leading captivity captive;” “all the angels of God worshipping him;” invested with “a name that is above every name;” “crowned with glory and honour;” “coming in the clouds of heaven!” To him let my knee bow, and my tongue confess. “His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun; and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. Blossed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doth wonderous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen, and amen,” Psalm lxxii. 17–19. 4thly. In the adoption of Ruth into the church of God, and “ the commonwealth of Israel,” we have another dawning ray of hope arising upon the Gentile nations. The tide is beginning imperceptibly to rise and swell, which shall at length become an overflowing ocean. “In that seed shall all the nations of the earth. be blessed.” That stranger shall be employed in bringing forward the mighty plan to maturity. “ Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands to God.” “ They shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” Verily God is no respecter of persons.
HISTORY OF RUTH.
And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto JNaomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and her hap was to light on a part of the jield belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of JElimelech—ltuTH ii. 1–3.
PROVIDENCE has graciously annexed to honest industry, both respectability and happiness. The purest and most delicious enjoyment that human life admits of, perhaps is, when a man sits down with those whom he loves, to the temperate indulgence of that refreshment and repose which he has just earned and sweetened with his labour. The greatest, and wisest, and best of men, are ever presented to us, as engaged in virtuous employment and exertion; as deriving health, subsistence, reputation and comfort from the exercise, not the inactivity of their bodily and mental powers: and happily, the scenes in which every man is conversant, seem to him the most interesting of all, his own station the most eminent or useful, his own pursuits the most important. Hence a certain degree
of self-complacency, of self-satisfaction, pervades the whole; every one is acting in his own sphere; while infinite wisdom binds all together by invisible or unnoticed bands, and the various members, without knowledge or design, co-operate for the common benefit, and fulfil the great design of Heaven.
Idleness is not more dishonourable, than it is inimical to real felicity. The sluggard at once defeats the purpose of his Maker, and destroys his own peace: and what was denounced against man as a punishment, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,” like every other punishment that comes from above, is converted into a blessing; and, as in every other case, the great God is just and merciful at once; just in imposing on the fallen creature the necessity of labouring; merciful, in rendering the fruit of it so sweet.
But can the inhabitants of a great, commercial, polished city, find either amusement, or instruction in contemplating the rude and simple manners of ancient times; in listening to the history of the inglorious toils of the husbandman; in tracing the operations of an art, the very terms of which they do not understand; in observing the mean employments of poverty and wretchedness which they only pity or dispise? Whether they can derive amusement, or instruction, from such things as these, or not, may not courtly pride be admonished in behalf of the lowly, rustic sons of want and industry, in the words of two sweet singing bards of our own country.
“Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
We have heard the artless tale of Naomi's wo, and Ruth's attachment. We have accompanied the deserted, widowed mother and daughter-in-law from Moab to Beth-lehem-Judah, the city of their departed husbands: but alas, all the reception they met with, is stupid wonder, silly curiosity, or insulting pity. We hear of no kind contention to entertain the stranger and succour the distrest. The season of reaping was come; but for them no golden harvest waved in the wind, for them no mower was preparing his sickle; their poverty was but imbittered by the sight of plenty diffused around: and the misery of Naomi's fall is dreadfully aggravated, by the prosperity which Elimelech's nearest relations were enjoying.
Of these the most distinguished was Boaz, whom the sacred historian introduces to our acquaintance as “a mighty man of wealth.” Riches, like every other gift of God, become a blessing or a curse just according to the use that is made of them. Riches are a solid good, when they are received with thankfulness, enjoyed with moderation, and employed in the service of God and of mankind; but are perverted into a sore evil when they engender pride, and harden the heart, as is too generally the case, when they purchase fuel for the lusts, or are fabricated into a golden image, to become the unworthy object of adoration. Had Boaz been merely a man of wealth, he had not deserved a place in these sacred memoirs; but though a rich man, he was not slothful in business; he was a man of humanity, of intelligence, of discretion, of affability: a man that feared the Lord, that did justly, that loved merey. He was ennobled by qualities which great possessions cannot confer, and which do not, with fugitive treasures, fly away as an eagle towards heaven.
Behold the mysterious distribution of the gifts of Providence! The family of one “brother is waxen poor and fallen into decay;” that of the other is shining in splendour, affluence and renown. Hasty and