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and Barbarian, bond and free are lost and forgotten, the honours of the divine justice and mercy shall flourish and prevail. They that are afar from him, of whatever other name or description, shall perish; and the workers of iniquity shall be destroyed.
But the pious leader of the heavenly theme, as if unwilling to shut up her song with an idea so gloomy as the awful displeasure of the great God against his adversaries, relieves herself and us, by taking up the more encouraging view of the favour of Jehovah to his friends, and thus she fervently breathes out her soul; “But let them that love him, be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.”
Next to the great Lord of nature himself, who is - to us invisible,
Or dimly seen, in these his lowest works.
that glorious creature of his power, the sun, is the
ness to usefulness, without diminution and without end. By the same simple but powerful imagery the wise man represents the progress of true goodness; “the path of the just is, as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” And Wisdom itself by a similar suggestion animates the zeal and supports the industry of those who were to teach his religion to the nations of the earth; “Ye are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
To the whole is affixed an historical note, short indeed, but highly interesting and important, “And the land had rest forty years.” This is the noblest eulogium of Deborah, the most honourable display of her talents and virtues. If there be feelings worthy of .envy, they are those of this exalted woman, on reflecting that God had honoured her to restore liberty and peace to her country; and to establish such a system of administration of justice, of civil government, of military discipline, and of religious worship, as preserved the public tranquillity for forty years. How ef. fectually may every individual serve the community! Of what importance, then, is every, the meanest individual. How lasting and how extensive is the influence of real worth! There is one way in which every man may be a public blessing, may become a saviour of his country—by cultivating the private virtues of the man and the Christian.
I proceed to illustrate the female character, its amiableness, usefulness and importance, in persons and scenes of a very different complexion; in the less glaring, but not less instructive history of RUTH, the Moabitess, and Naomi, her mother-in-law; happy to escape the scenes of horror and blood which are the subject of the remainder of the history of the Israelish judges.
"VOL. IIH. 3 J.
History of RUTH.
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilton, Ephrathites of Beth-lehemJudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other south; and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. —RUTH i. 1–5.
THE perpetual vicissitude that prevails in the system of the universe, and in the conduct of Providence, is adapted to the nature, and conducive to the happiness of man. The succession of day and night, alternate labour and repose, the variations of the changing seasons lend to each, as it returns, its peculiar beauty and fitness. We are kept still looking forward, we are ever hovering on the wing of expectation, rising from
attainment to attainment, pressing on to some future mark, pursuing some yet unpossessed prize. The hireling, supported by the prospect of receiving the evening's reward, cheerfully fulfils the work of the day. The husbandman, without regret, perceives the glory of summer passing away, because he lifts up his eyes and “beholds the fields white unto the harvest;” and he submits joyfully to the painful toil of autumn, in conte, plation of the rest and comfort he shall enjoy, when these same fields shall be white with snow. It is hunger that gives a relish to food; it is pain that recommends ease. The value of abundance is known only to those who have suffered want, and we are little sensible what we owe to God for the blessing of health, till it is interrupted by sickness. The very plagues which mortality is heir to, have undoubtedly their uses and their ends: and the sword may be as necessary to draw off the gross humours of the moral world, as storm and tempest are to disturb the mortal stagnation, and to chase away the poisonous vapours of the natural. Weak short-sighted man is assuredly unqualified to decide concerning the ways and works of infinite wisdom; but weak, labouring, wretched man may surely repose unlimited confidence in infinite goodness. During the dreadful times when there was no king in Israel, the whole head was so sick, the whole heart so faint, the whole mass so corrupted, that an ocean of blood must be drained off, before it can be restored to soundness again. Not only one rotten limb, but the whole body is in danger of perishing, and nothing but a painful operation can save it. The skilful, firm, but gentle hand of Providence takes up the instrument, cuts out the disease, and then tenderly binds up the bleeding wounds. Relieved from the distress of beholding brother lifting, up the spear against brother, from hearing the shouts of the victor, and the groans of the dying, we retire to contemplate and to partake of the noiseless scenes of domestic life; to observe the wholesome sorrows and guiltless joys of calmness and obscurity; to join in the triumphs of sensibility, and to solace in the soft effusions of nature; to “smile with the simple, and feed with the poor.” The little history on which we are now entering, is one of those which every where, and at all seasons, must af. ford pleasure and instruction. It is a most interesting display of ordinary life, of simple manners, of good and honest hearts; of the power of friendship and the rewards of virtue. It forms an important link in the chain of Providence, and the history of redemption. There is perhaps no story that has been wrought into so many different forms, transfused into so many different languages, accommodated to so many different situations, as the history of Ruth. It is felt, from the cottage up to the palace, by the rustic and the courtier, by the orphan gleaner in the field, and the king's daughter. The man of taste delights in it on account of the artless structure, elegant diction, and judicious arrangement of the tender tale. The friend of virtuous sensibility delights in it, for the gentle emotions which it excites, and the useful lessons which it inculcates. The pious soul rejoices in it, from the enlarged, the instructive, the consolatory views of the divine providence which it unfolds. The inquiring and devout christian prizes it, as standing in connexion with the ground of his faith, and contributing to strengthen the evidence, and explain the nature of “those things wherein he has been instructed,” and on which he rests for salvation. , Happy the man, who, possessing all these qualities, shall peruse and employ it as a corrector and guide to the imagination, as a support to the spirit, as a light to the understanding, a monitor to the conscience, a guard to the affections, and a faithful instructor to the heart. The particular era of this story is not marked by the sacred penman, neither has he been directed to affix his