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they repose, whose fruit is the source and support of a divine life, whose “leaves are for the healing of the nations.” Let the Jew read this sacred page, and glory in his ancestry; let the scholar read it, and improve his taste, and extend his knowledge; let the rustic read it, and praise his humble pursuits and innocent delights: let the sons of poverty and the daughters of affliction read it, and cease from despair, let them learn to “trust in the Lord, and to do good;” let the christian read it, and “hold fast the beginning of his confidence,” and “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
The last obvious remark on the history, sorry I am to say it, is not highly honourable to human nature. While Naomi was poor, and friendless, and forlorn, she met with little sympathy, with little countenance; she was permitted to depend for subsistence on the miserable, unproductive industry of a woman weak and wretched as herself; but no sooner is she connected with “a mighty man of wealth,” become a mother to Boaz, than the whole city is seeking to her; her own sex, in particular, we see entering into all her feelings, flattering all her natural propensities, accommodating themselves to her little wishes and desires, and trying to compensate their former coldness and neglect by every art of attention, officiousness and zeal. Base spirits base world! Behold kindness pressed upon a man, just in proportion as he has no need of it; behold him oppressed with new friends, because he has already got too many, caressed by those who lately knew him not, praised and flattered to his face, by the very tongues which maligned and censured him in his absence. But that man is left to continue poor, because he is poor. He finds no support because he wants it, he stands unbefriended because he has no friend. Shame on the fawning sycophants that only flutter about in fair weather, that only frequent the mansions of the rich and great, that turn with the tide, that can despise ragged poverty, and offer incense to ermined villainy.
Let us turn with contempt from the sight, and take a last parting look of one of the worthiest, best, happiest of human beings.-Naomi nursing and cherishing her little grandson in her bosom. If there be bliss on earth, she now enjoyed it. Her honest scheme had succeeded, the name of her beloved husband was revived, and his house begun to be built up; her amiable and beloved daughter was nobly rewarded for her tenderness and attachment; the inheritance of Elimelech is redeemed, and reverted to its proper channel; the wisdom and goodness of Providence are fully justified, and a prospect of felicity and honour is opened which knew no bounds. The miseries of a whole life are done away in one hour, converted into blessings, blessings heightened and improved by the memory of past woes; the name of Mara is for ever obliterated, and the original, the suitable, the prophetic name of Naomi restored and confirmed. The sensibilities of a Grand-mother are peculiarly pure and delicate respecting infant offspring. All good women are fond of children, to whomsoever they belong, how much more of their own, whom they bare with sorrow, and have brought up with solicitude: but “that I should live to see my child’s child, my being multiplied; dropping into the grave, yet reviving in that infant. I feel myself immortal; this babe will live to put his hand upon my eyes, and then I shall not feel the oppression of death; if he survive I cannot all die.” “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
The Spirit of God has drawn a veil over the feelings of the mother herself, and the expression of them, and left it to imagination to figure the felicity of Ruth the widow of Mahlon, the daughter of Naomi, the wife of Boaz, the mother of Obed, in surveying the changes of her life, in comparing what she was with what she is.
—And thus have we finished what was intended, in discoursing on the book of Ruth. We have considered it, as a beautiful, because natural representation of human life; as a curious and interesting detail of important facts; and as an essential, constituent part of the plan of redemption. It happily connects the history of the Israelitish judges with that of their kings, and is obviously blended with both; and while it demonstrates the care of Providence, in fulfilling the promises made to Abraham, the friend of God, in prolonging his race, in multiplying his seed, in making kings to arise out of him, it unfolds the more enlarged and comprehensive purpose of the Eternal Mind; it points directly forward to that “seed in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed;” it shows the subserviency of all that preceded, to the evangelical dispensation; it breathes good will to men. The reception of Ruth, a Gentile, within the pale of the church of the living God; her advancement to honour, her participation of the privileges of a mother in Israel, are a happy prefiguration of the admission of the whole Gentile world within the bond of God’s covenant. We see the work of God still going forward and prospering; the work of mercy enlarging, extending its sphere; all bending forward to that grand consummation, when “Israel too shall be saved,” and the ancient people of God brought into a communication of the blessings of the gospel, together with “the fulness of the Gentile nations;” when there shall be “one shepherd and one sheep-fold;” when Jew and Gentile shall arise together from the dead, because “Christ doth give them life.” The birth of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David, brings the history of the world down to the year two thousand six hundred and ninety-seven, from the creation, and before Christ, one thousand three hundred and seven, and conducts us to the eve of the establishment of kingly power in Israel. How many generations of men have passed in review before us, in the course of these few years evening exercises from Adam down to Boaz! What changes
has the audience undergone, since first it collected in this view! What deep and affecting changes will a few more seasons produce! The turning of the page will present a new preacher, new hearers, a different plan, a different arrangement, different interests, different feelings. The separation of this night may be final and permanent. We bend together, gracious God, with wonder and gratitude before thy throne. Spared together so many years longer, “cumberers of the ground” that we are; our bodies preserved in health, our minds in tranquility: blessed with friendship, blest with sufficiency, blest with the means of improvement, blest with hope! Ah, we are unworthy of the least of thy favours, and we have been distinguished by the ehoicest and best! Make us to feel thy goodness and our own unworthiness; help us to live more to thy glory. As our interest in the world diminishes, as years increase, as grey heirs multiply, as friends depart, as comforts fail, as eternity advances, let our faith strengthen, let our spirits rise to thee, let our prospects brighten, let our ardour after immortality kindle. The nearer we approach to thee, let our resemblance to thee become more apparent; let the spirit of heaven, the spirit of the blessed Jesus, be imparted to us, that, living and dying, we may edify the world, be a blessing to all connected with us, and still enjoy inward peace. And as we separate from time to time, may it be in the sweet expectation of meeting together in the regions of everlasting purity, love and joy. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirits, Amen.”
Mow there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of Mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. And this man went up out of his city yearly, to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions. But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion: for he loved Hannah; but the Lord had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord; so she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat. Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? And why eatest thou not? And why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons? —l SAMUEL i. 1–8.
SIMILAR causes ever have produced, and ever will produce similar effects. You may shift the scene