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tle foundation of sordid interest, but on the solid basis of mutual affection, of generosity, of wisdom, of religion; a match pregnant with what consequences to Beth-lehem-Judah, to all Israel, to the human race! From this advantage of ground, how pleasant it is to trace the sweetly meandering course of the river of prophecy and promise united, toward the vast, the immeasurable ocean of accomplishment. Now the tribe of Judah is rising into consequence, now the royal sceptre is ready to be put into his hand, never to depart thence “till Shiloh come, of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end: to whom the gathering of the people shall be.” Now the star of Jacob begins to appear. Now the “tender plant” begins to rear its head, and the “root out of the dry ground to spring up; it buds, and blossoms as the rose, and its smell is as the smell of Lebanon.” But what eye can discover, what created spirit take in the whole extent of “God’s purpose and grace given in Christ Jesus before the world began,” and terminating in the final and everlasting redemption of a lost world through faith in his blood? The veil of eternity is drawn over it; “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” 1 Cor. ii. 9. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is,” 1 John iii. 2. The history of Ruth, will be brought to a period next Lord’s day. You see, men and brethren, the object which is closely kept in view, through every era of time, under all dispensations, and by whatever instruments. The work of God cannot stand still, his purpose cannot be defeated. One generation of men goeth and another cometh, but every succeeding generation contributes to the furtherance of his design; and, whether knowingly or ignorantly, voluntarily or reluctantly, all fulfil his pleasure. None are forsaken of Providence but such as are false to themselves, and till we have done what is incumbent upon us, we have neither warrant nor encouragement to look up and wish, to expect and pray. Nothing is dishonourable but what is sinful; poverty that is not the effect of idleness, prodigality, or vice, has nothing shameful in it; the gleaner behind the reapers may be as truly dignified as the lord of the harvest. Let lordly wealth cease from pride, and virtuous obscurity and indigence from dejection and despair. Waste not time, spirits, and thought in airy speculation about imaginary situations, but try to make the most of that in which infinite wisdom has seen meet to place thee. Disdain to envy any one, at least until thou hast thorougly examined into the estate of him whom thou art disposed to envy. He is destitute of the happiest preparation for the relish and enjoyment of prosperity, who has not arrived at it through the path of adversity. To receive with thankfulness, to enjoy with moderation, to resign with cheerfulness, to endure with patience, is the highest pitch of human virtue. Men are often fulfilling a plan of Providence, without intending, or even being conscious of it. They are acting a double part at the same instant; the one private and personal, local and transitory, the other public, comprehensive, and permanent: they may be building up at once a private family, and the church of God, carrying on and maintaining the succession to an inheritance to a throne, and ministering to the extension and progress of a kingdom which shall never be moved or shaken. In the kingdom of nature, there is high and low, mountain and valley, sameness with diversity: in the kingdom of Providence, there is difference of rank and VOL. III. 2 x
station, of talent and accomplishment, of fortune and success, but a mutual and necessary connexion and dependence. In the kingdom of grace, there is diversity of gifts and offices, but the same Spirit; and so in the kingdom of glory, different degrees of lustre, as stars differ one from another, but one universal glory, of which all the redeemed are together partakers, all being kings and priests unto God. Throughout the whole, there is a gradation which at once pleases and confounds, that depresses and exalts, that inspires contentment, and teaches to aspire, that now attracts to the pure fountain of uncreated light, and now repels the bold inquirer to his native darkness and distance again.
It is pleasant to survey from the exceeding high mountain where the christian tabernacle is pitched, the course of that river whose streams make glad the city of our God. What will it be, from the summit of yonder eternal hills, to contemplate the whole extent of Emanuel's land, “watered with the pure river of water of life;” to mingle with the nations of them that are saved, as they expatiate through the blissful groves planted with the tree of life: to converse with the distinguished personages who shine on this hallowed page, and shall then shine in immortal lustre; to reap with Boaz, a richer harvest than ever waved on the plains of Bethlehem-Judah; to assist Naomi in raising her triumphant song of praise; and to rejoice with Ruth, and with one another, in our joint reception into God’s cverlasting kingdom, in our common admission into “ the general assembly and chuch of the first-born.” Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of our God. We have heard of them with the hearing of the ear, may our eyes be blessed with the sight of them. May “ the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne lead us to living fountains of waters, and God wipe away all tears from our eyes.” “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
HISTORY OF RUTH,
3o Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife; and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the woman said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy dife, and a nourisher of thine old age. For thy daughter-in-law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him. And Naomi, took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi, and they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.—RUTH iv. 13–17.
THERE is an obvious resemblance between the general plan of the divine providence, and the separate and detached parts of it. The life of almost evéry good man exhibits virtue for a season struggling with difficulty, overwhelmed with distress, but emerging, rising, triumphing at length. Through much tribulation the christian must enter into the kingdom of God, and on his way be often in heaviness through manifold temptations. It is the wise ordinance of infinite goodness. Opposition rouses, calls forth the latent powers of the soul; success is heightened by the danger to which we were exposed, by the trouble which it cost us, by the pains we took; antecedent labour sweetens rest. Hence, the passages of our own lives which we most fondly recollect and relate, and those in the lives of others which most deeply engage and interest us, are the scenes of depression, mortification and pain through which we have passed. The perils of a battle, the horrors of a shipwreck, so dreadful at the moment, become the source of lasting joy, when the tempest has ceased to roar, and the confused noise of the warrior is hushed into silence. Fiction, in order to please, is, accordingly, forced to borrow the garb of truth. The hero's sufferings, the lover's solicitude and uncertainty, the parent’s anguish, the patriot's conflict, are the subject of the drama. When the ship has reached her desired haven, when the cloud disperses, when the contest is decided, the curtain must drop. Periods of prosperity cannot be the theme of history. - The vast, general system, in like manner, exhibits “the whole creation groaning and travelling in paintogether;” interest clashing with interest, spirit rising up against spirit, one purpose defeating another, universal nature apparently on the verge of confusion; chaos and ancient night threatening to resume their empire: but without knowledge, design or co-operation, nay, in defiance of concert and co-operation, the whole is making a regular, steady progress; the muddy stream is working itself pure; the discordant mass is bound as in chains of adamant, the wrath of man is praising God; every succeeding era and event is explaining and confirming that which preceded it: all is tending towards one grand consummation which shall collect, adjust, unite and crown the scattered parts, and demonstrate, to the conviction of every intelligent being, that all was, is, and shall be very good. Finite capacity can contemplate and comprehend but a few fragments at most: and scripture has furnished