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increase of whose government and peace exalted;" " leading captivity captive;" “ all tnere shall be no end, upon the throne of the angels of God worshipping him; invested David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, with “a name that is above every name;" and to establish it with judgment and with “crowned with glory and honour;" “ coming justice, from henceforth even for ever. The in the clouds of heaven!" To him let my zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this.” knee bow, and my tongue confess. “His The period is approaching, men and brethren, name shall endure for ever; his name shall when Beth-lehem-judah shall display greater be continued as long as the sun: and men wonders, contrasts more confounding than shall be blessed in him; all nations shall call these. The time is at hand, when another him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the forlorn damsel of the same race, and her out. God of Israel, who only doth wondrous things. cast babe shall appear in contrast with all And blessed be his glorious name for ever: that is stupendous, striking, formidable, vene- and let the whole earth be filled with his rable in heaven and earth, shall rise above glory. Amen and amen."* all, give laws to all, eclipse all. Behold that 4thly. In the adoption of Ruth into the “ babe lying in a manger, in a stable, because church of God, and the commonwealth of there is no room for him in the inn,” control. Israel,” we have another dawning ray of ling the counsels of Augustus, the mighty hope arising upon the Gentile nations. The master of the world; behold him drawing tide is beginning imperceptibly to rise and princes and wise men from the east, with swell, which shall at length become an overtreasures of gold, and frankincense, and flowing ocean. “ In that seed shall all the myrrh, to his feet. Behold the face of hea- nations of the earth be blessed.” That ven irradiated, enriched with a new star, to stranger shall be employed in bringing formark the way which led to his cradle : while ward the mighty plan to maturity. “ Ethioa multitude of the heavenly host announce pia shall stretch out her hands to God.” in rapturous strains the birth of the lowly They shall come from the east and from the infant. Behold “a man of sorrows and ac- west, and shall sit down with Abraham, quainted with grief,” “ of no reputation;" Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." “ in the form of a servant ;" “ numbered with Verily God is no respecter of persons. transgressors;" “ obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” Behold him “highly
* Psalm lxxii, 17-19.
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 Naomi, 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 reaper : and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.-Rutu ii. 1—3.
PROVIDENCE has graciously annexed to | degree of self-complacency, of self-satisfachonest industry, both respectability and hap-tion pervades the whole; every one is acting piness. The purest and most delicious en- in his own sphere; while infinite wisdom joyment that human life admits of, perhaps, binds all together by invisible or unnoticed is, when a man sits down with those whom bands, and the various members, without he loves, to the temperate indulgence of that knowledge or design, co-operate for the comrefreshment and repose which he has just mon benefit, and fulfil the great design of earned and sweetened with his labour. The Heaven. greatest, and wisest, and best of men, are Idleness is not more dishonourable, than it ever presented to us, as engaged in virtuous is inimical to real felicity. The sluggard at employment and exertion; as deriving health, once defeats the purpose of his Maker, and subsistence, reputation, and comfort from the destroys his own peace; and what was deexercise, not the inactivity of their bodily nounced against man as a punishment, “ In and mental powers : and happily the scenes, the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,” in which every man is conversant, seem to like every other punishment that comes from him the most interesting of all, his own sta- above, is converted into a blessing; and, as tion the most eminent or useful, his own pur- in every other case, the great God is just and suits the most important. Hence a certain merciful at once ; just, in imposing on the
fallen creature the necessity of labouring; with fugitive treasures, fly away as an eagle merciful, in rendering the fruit of it so sweet. towards heaven.
But can the inhabitants of a great, com Behold the mysterious distribution of the mercial, polished city find either amusement gifts of Providence! The family of one or instruction in contemplating the rude and “brother is waxen poor and fallen into desimple manners of ancient times; in listen- cay;" that of the other is shining in splening to the history of the inglorious toils of dour, affluence, and renown. Hasty and parthe husbandman; in tracing the operations tial views of the divine conduct are always of an art, the very terms of which they do puzzling and distressful; calm and comprenot understand ; in observing the mean em- hensive investigation, will ever lead to comployments of poverty and wretchedness which posure and acquiescence. they only pity or despise ? Whether they can What must these helpless women do for derive amusement, or instruction, from such daily bread ? They sit neglected and forthings as these, or not, may not courtly pride lorn; but despondency will only increase be admonished in behalf of the lowly, rustic the calamity. Necessity suggests many exsons of want and industry, in the words of two pedients. While health, virtue, and friendsweet singing bards of our own country. ship remain, all is not lost; and Heaven fre
quently permits the current of human felicity “Let not ambition mock their useful toil, Their homely joys and destiny obscure;
to spend itself to the very lowest ebb, that Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile, its own hand may be acknowledged in the The short and simple annals of the poor."
means which caused the flood to rise and
swell again. -“ Nor ye who live In luxury and ease, in pomp and pride,
The proposal of Ruth to her mother-inThink these lost themes unworthy of your ear."
law, discovers in every point of view, a no
ble and ingenuous spirit, and an excellent We have heard the artless tale of Naomi's heart. She will do nothing without the con wo, and Ruth's attachment. We have ac- sent and advice of the venerable matron who companied the deserted, widowed mother was become father and mother, country, and daughter-in-law from Moab to Beth-le- friends and every thing to her. Begging is hem-judah, the city of their departed hus- the last miserable refuge of age or infirmity, bands; but alas, all the reception they meet of disease or sloth: she scorns to think of with, is stupid wonder, silly curiosity, or in- recurring to it, while she has youth, health, sulting pity. We hear of no kind conten- and strength to labour, and while there was tion to entertain the stranger and succour a field of lawful employment. An ordinary the distrest. The season of reaping was mind in her situation would have vented itselt come; but for them no golden harvest waved in unavailing, womanish lamentations; perin the wind, for them no mower was prepar- haps in unkind upbraidings of the ancient ing his sickle, their poverty was but embitter- woman as the cause of all the distress which ed by the sight of plenty diffused around: and she endured ; would have been for despatchthe misery of Naomi's fall is dreadfully ag- ing Naomi up and down among her wealthy gravated, by the prosperity which Elimelechi's relations and towns-folks, to solicit protection nearest relations were enjoying.
and subsistence. No, it is more honourable in Of these the most distinguished was Boaz, her eyes to earn food by her own labour; she whom the sacred historian introduces to our conceals the anguish which wrung her own acquaintance as “a mighty man of wealth.” heart, for fear of adding affliction to the Riches, like every other gift of God, become afflicted. The season of the year was favoura blessing or a curse just according to the able; and happily the law of that God, whom use that is made of them. Riches are a solid she had deliberately taken for her God, had good, when they are received with thank- made provision for persons in her destitute fulness, enjoyed with moderation, and em- condition. ployed in the service of God and of man The same bounty which poured the abunkind; but are perverted into a sore evil when dance of autumn into the lap of the mighty, they engender pride, and harden the heart, had reserved a pittance for the support of as is too generally the case, when they pur- the famished and friendless. How the mercy chase fuel for the lusts, or are fabricated into of Jehovah bursts upon us in every dispena golden image, to become the unworthy sation and in every event! In wisdom he object of adoration. Had Boaz been merely has permitted distinctions of rank and fora man of wealth, he had not deserved a tune to take place; in compassion he has place in these sacred memoirs; but though a taken care to make provision for the wants rich man, he was not slothful in business; he of the necessitous. So that while industry was a man of humanity, of intelligence, of and pity remain, no one is reduced to absodiscretion, of affability : a man that feared lute despair. the Lord, that did justly, that loved mercy, It is with pleasure we recur to the words He was ennobled by qualities which great of the law, and trace that God who careth possessions cannot confer, and which do not, for oxen,” much more solicitous about the
support and consolation of the miserable part, hereditary greatness, unvarying opulence, of the rational creation. “And when yeuphumbled, unmortified success, always cold, reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not selfish, unfeeling ? God forbid. High birth, wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither lineal honours, the accumulating wealth of shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. many generations, sometimes put on their And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither most beautiful garments, borrow lustre from shalt thou gather every grape of thy vine- condescension, sympathy, and beneficence. yard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and Is successful adversity, illuminated obscurity, stranger: 'I am the Lord your God."* And aggrandized littleness, always merciful, conagain, “When ye reap the harvest of your descending, generous, and humane? O, no: land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the poor wretch frequently forgets himself; the corners of thy field when thou reapest, condemns the arts by which he arose, spurns neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of the ladder on which he climbed to eminence thy harvest; thou shalt leave them unto the and distinction, and tries to make his upstart poor and to the stranger: I am the Lord your greatness bear a mimic resemblance to anGod.”+ And again, in recapitulating the law tique dignity, by aping the viler, not the in Deuteronomy, “When thou cuttest down nobler qualities of traditional importance. thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a Again, 2dly. Observe, the law inculcateg sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to pity to the poor and wretched by the most fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the glorious of all examples. “I am the Lord,” fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord who had compassion upon you in your misery, thy God may bless thee in the work of thine who delivered you from the furnace, who hands. When thou beatest thine olive-tree, drove out the nations from before you, who thou shalt not go over the boughs again : it planted you in the land, who fill thy garner, shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and make thy wine-press to overflow; and and for the widow. When thou gatherest who only ask, in return, a mite or two, for the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not the sons and daughters of affliction, these few glean it afterward: it shall be for the stran- ears which thy haste has let fall to the ground, ger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. that sheaf which has aceidentally dropped And thou shalt remember that thou wast a from thy car; that little corner of thy field bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I which the sickle has spared, and which that command thee to do this thing.”I
starving creature, by nature thy equal, by In this law, several remarkable circum- providence thy inferior, is waiting to pick up stances, tending to illustrate the law of na- and devour. He is an object of tenderness ture in general, and the spirit of the Mosaic and affection to me, see therefore that thou dispensation in particular, press themselves neglect him not, that thou defraud him not, upon our notice.
that thou distress him not. 1st. The consideration and recollection of 3dly. The law plainly supposes that there their own and their fathers' misery in Egypt may be an over anxiety and solicitude about are urged as the powerful motive to pity, to things in their own nature lawful and innospare, and to succour. “A Syrian ready to cent;'which it therefore aims at repressing: perish” on the road to Padan-aram “was my it supposes that there may be an eagerness futher.”. “A generation of slaves in Egypt of accumulation which defeats itself, a scatwere my progenitors, let me therefore com- tering abroad that produces increase, a with. miserate, and receive, and cherish the for. holding of more than is meet, and it tendeth lorn traveller; let me treat my own captive, only to poverty ; that diffusing, not hoarding bondman, dependant, with gentleness, and up abundance, is the proper use of it. humanity.” Who gives charity ? Not un 4thly. The law had a double object in view, feeling wealth, nor giddy dissipation; but the the improvement of the affluent, and the relief man who has known want, who once stood in of the poor. It thus became a mutual benefit, need of a friend, who has been himself suc- the one was blessed in giving, the other in coured in the hour of calamity. Who is it receiving. The greater blessedness however that relents and forgives? Not cold blooded, on the side of the giver, as the blessedness meritless, constitutional virtue; but restored, of the Creator is superior to that of the recovered frailty ; goodness which arose the creature. It is as inuch an ordination of Propurer and the stronger from having fallen. vidence, that " the poor should never cease Who is liberal and generous ? Not the nobly out of the land,” as that “ the earth should born, the unvaryingly prosperous, but mag- yield her increase," and the spheres perform nanimity nursed on the breast of adversity; their stated revolutions: and while they do the prince whom native worth,' whom con- exist, the great Lord and Preserver of all scious dignity, whom the experience of hu- things, is concerned to make suitable proviman wo have taught to devise liberal things, sion for them. The rich are his stewards, to do good, and to communicate. But is and their storekeepers : he that gleans his * Lev. xix. 9, 10.
Lev. xxiii. 22.
own field to the last ear, is a thief and a robDeut. xxiv. 19-22.
ber as much as he who plunders his neigh3 H
bour's granary; he robs God, he plunders the scurity into light," from small beginnings to needy and the destitute, he does what he can a latter end greatly increased ;" from " the to subvert the divine government, he would mouth of babes and sucklings he ordaineth make the law of charity and mercy of none strength," and by a concurrence of circumeffect, he bars his own plea for pardon at a stances which no human sagacity could forethrone of grace, he mars the possession of all see, and no human power could either bring he has, he cankers his own enjoyment, and together or keep asunder, raises a neglected affixes his seal to his own condemnation. gleaner in the field into the lady of the do
5thly. The law particularly describes the main, and a fugitive of Moab into a mother objects which it meant to relieve, “ the stran- in Israel; a mother of kings, whose name ger, the fatherless, and the widow.” Un- shall never expire but with the dissolution of happy Ruth! her title to the wretched offal nature. from the hand of the reaper was but too well At this period of the story, let us pause, established. She united in her own person and meditate. all these characters of wo. Her melancholy. On the power which regulates and conclaim to pity and support was fearfully mul- trols all the affairs of men, who has all hearts, tiplied, and a threefold burden presses her all events in his hand," who poureth contempt down to the ground: nevertheless she en- upon princes, and bringeth to nought the wistreats, as a boon, what she might have de- doin of the prudent;" who “ raiseth up the manded, and taken, as a right.
poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the needy Her trust in, and submission to the direc- out of the dunghill, that he may set him tion of Providence sweetly accord with her with princes, even with the princes of his filial affection and tenderness, and her no- people; he maketh the barren woman to keep ble independency of spirit; she is deter- house, and to be a joyful mother of children. mined to labour, 'she disdains not to employ Is there a God who “ doth according to his the necessary means for supplying herself will in the armies of heaven, and among the and aged parent with food, but she leaves the inhabitants of the earth ?" then let me never direction of her footsteps to High Heaven; be highminded, but fear” always before she is in the way of her duty, and deposits all him, for I am never out of his reach, never anxiety about the issue in the bosom of her concealed from his eye, never sheltered from heavenly Father. What a happy mixture of his justice. Is there a God who judgeth in fortitude and resignation! It cannot but pros- the earth, in whom the fatherless findeth per.
mercy, to whom the miserable never look, Having obtained the consent of her mother, never cry in vain ? then let me never sink who perhaps might have a presentiment of into despair. I am not too humble for his what was approaching, behold her up with notice, my disease is not beyond his skill to the dawn, pensive, timorous, and slow, ad- cure, my wants are not too numerous for his vancing to the fields; the country all before supplies, nor my transgressions beyond the her, where to choose her place of toil, and multitude of his tender mercies. Doth not Providence her guide; with the downcast He deck the lily, and feed the raven? a sparlook of ingenuous modesty; the timidity row riseth not on the wing, falleth not to the which sour misfortune inspires; the firm step ground, without my heavenly Father. “ Hiof conscious rectitude, and the flushed cheek therto hath the Lord helped," and his hand of kindling hope. By some nameless, unac- is not shortened, nor his ear heavy, nor his countable circumstance, Heaven-directed, she bowels of compassion restrained." unknowingly bends her course to the field Meditate again, on what ground you have and reapers of Boaz. She has done her part, encouragement to ask and to expect the dihas made the sacrifices which conscience and vine protection and favour. Have you given affection demanded, has submitted cheerfully up all for God ? Have you gond hope through to the hardships which necessity imposed, grace that you are reconciled to God through has put herself in the way of relief which the blood of his Son ? Have you a good conher situation pointed out. God is good, and science toward God that you are in the protakes all the rest upon himself. He, who or- per use of appointed means? Can you look dered her flight to Canaan at the time of bar- up with confidence and say, “ Lord, thou ley-harvest, when nature, and Providence, knowest all things, thou knowest I have not and the law concurred to find her subsistence, folded my hands to sleep, have not sat down orders her path to that field, where every in sullen discontent, have not charged thee thing, without the knowledge of the parties foolishly, have not fled to unjustifiable meconcerned, was prepared and arranged for thods of relief. I have not impiously striven the high scenes now ready to be acted. with my Maker, nor presumptuously expect,
The order of human procedure generally ed a miracle to be wrought in my behalf. I is from blaze to smoke, from noise and bustle have in much weakness, but in trembling to nothing, from mighty preparation, to fee- hope, endeavoured to do my duty; and I now, bleness of execution. 'The divine conduct, Lord, cast all my care, cast my burden upon on the contrary, glorious rise from ob- thee.” Look into the history of divine in
terpositions. Were they in compliment to creatures. In the eye of sober, unbiassed the peevish and capricious, were they extort- reason, whether of the two is the more pleased by the loud lamentations or the secret ing, the more respectable sight; and which murmurings of insolence and ingratitude ? is, in her own mind, the happier of the two, were they the pillows smoothed by the hand Ruth laden with the ears of corn which she of weak indulgence, for the drowsy head of has toiled to gather, hastening home to the sloth and indifference to repose on? No, but hut of obscurity, to administer food and comthey were the seasonable cordial of parental fort to old age and sorrow; or a modern belle, affection to a fainting child; the reward issuing forth under a load of uneasy finery, which wisdom and goodness bestow on dili- to imaginary triumphs, and certain disapgence and perseverance: the indissoluble pointment ? Who sleeps soundest at night, union which God has established between and who awakes and arises in the best human exertion and divine co-operation ; they health and spirits next day? I expect not an were the recompence of labour and vigilance, answer. the answer of prayer.
The thing speaks for itself; and I have Meditate yet again, on the true dignity of purposely forborne to state the case so strongly human nature, on the true glory of man and as I might have done. The virtuous damsel of woman also ;-honest, useful employment. has, in part, received her reward, but a greatIt is not idle, luxurious enjoyment, it is not er and better is preparing for her. The to do nothing, to be eternally waited upon, mother and daughter have been arranging and ministered unto, to grow torpid hy inac- their little matters with discretion; and the tion, to slumber away life in a lethargic great God has been preparing his agents, putdream, and to lose the powers of the soul and ting his armies in motion; all is made ready, body. by disuse; but io preserve and pro- is made to meet, is made to work together, is inote health by moderate exercise, to earn made to prosper, by Him who sees the percheerfulness and self-approbation, by the fect man in the embryo, the end from the sweet consciousness that you are not living beginning, the effect in its primary cause, wholly in vain, and to rise into importance the eternal chain in every series, and in all by being somewhat useful to your fellow- | its extent.
HISTORY OF RUTH.
And behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you : and they
answered him, The Lord bless thee.-Ruth ii. 4.
The short and simple sentence which I have | The air and exercise connected with the read, might be made the subject of a volume. operations of husbandry, are conducive to I intend to make it at least the subject of a health, to comfort; they promote his interest; Lecture, and entreat your patient attention to they enkiven his spirits; moderate labour a few of the obvious, but neither uninterest- makes rest welcome. See, his presence is a ing nor unimportant views which it exhibits, check upon idleness, upon carelessness, upon of life and manners, of morals and religion. discord; it calls forth industry, it creates
. Men of different characters, from various honest emulation; it reconciles the peasant motives, and for various purposes, might be to his toil, to see the master participating in supposed to assume the plain, unadorned it. He has brought himself down to the history of the barley-harvest of Boaz, as an level of the poor labourer, who seems to have useful and instructive topic of address, and, risen in proportion. See, nothing escapes according to the spirit by which they were his notice, not even a wretched gleaner beactuated, and the end which they had in hind the reapers; he must be informed of view, might reason upon it in this manner. every thing; to the minutest circumstance
I The prudent careful man, would build he will judge for himself. upon it a system of attention, diligence, and “ Young man, set out in life, and conduct economy. “ Behold,” would he say, “ behold your progress, on such a principle, on such Boaz, the wealthy and the wise, in his field, a model as this, It is the certain road to among his servants, seeing every thing with affluence, to respectability: you are thereby his own eyes, giving his orders in person, at once serving yourself
, your dependants, taking care that every one be in his own and your country. Whatever be thy station, place, and performing his particular duty. whatever thy employment, let thy heart be