Изображения страниц

mise, it has the enjoyment of the life that purpose and grace given in Christ Jesus be-
now is. Mysterious Providence, that direct-fore the world began," and terminating in
ed my doubtful, trembling steps to glean in the final and everlasting redemption of a lost
that field, that has in a few short weeks made world, through faith in his blood? The veil
such a change in my condition, that has raised of eternity is drawn over it; “ Eye hath not
me from the lowest, meanest, most forlorn of seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered
dependants, to the highest state of affluence, into the heart of man the things which God
ease, and respectability; and transplanted me hath prepared for them that love him."*
from the va:t howling deserts of idolatry and Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and
ignorance, to the fair and fertile regions of it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but
knowledge, of purity, of hope, and joy! To we know that, when he shall appear, we
comfort and maintain a mother like Naomi, shall be like him; for we shall see him as
to find such a friend and husband as Boaz! he is.”+
It is life from the dead. It is of that God who The history of Ruth, will be brought to a
has taught me to know, and to choose him as period next Lord's day.
my God, and who will never fail nor forsake You see, men and brethren, the object
them who put their trust in him."

which is closely kept in view, through every
Boaz, too, finds his situation greatly im- era of time, under all dispensations, and by
proved, rejoices and gives God thanks. ** My whatever instruments. The work of God
wealth was great, my garners full, my man- cannot stand still, his purpose cannot be de-
servants and maidens numerous, dutiful, and feated. One generation of men goeth and
affectionate, but I had no one to share my another cometh, but every succeeding gene-
prosperity with me, I was solitary in the ration contributes to the furtherance of his
midst of a multitude: like Adam in Paradise, design; and, whether knowingly or igno-
incapable of enjoyment, because destitute of rantly, voluntarily or reluctantly, all fulfil
a companion, an help meet for me; but God his pleasure.
hath provided for me a virtuous woman, None are forsaken of Providence, but
whose price is above rubies. My house has such as are false to themselves, and till we
now received its brightest ornament, my fa- have done what is incumbent upon us, we
mily its firmest support, my estate its most have neither warrant nor encouragement to
prudent and faithful dispenser. I have done look up and wish, to expect and pray.
my duty. I have respected the majesty of Nothing is dishonourable, but what is sin-
the law. I have followed where Providence ful: poverty that is not the effect of idleness,
led the way, and I have found my reward, in prodigality, or vice, has nothing shameful in
the peace of my own mind, in the possession it; the gleaner behind the reapers may be as
of a wise and good woman, in the blessing of truly dignified as the lord of the harvest.
that God who has done all things for me, and Let lordly wealth cease from pride, and vir-
who does all things wisely and well.” tuous obscurity and indigence from dejection

Behold a match formed immediately by and despair. the hand of Providence, through the happy Waste not time, spirits, and thought in concurrence of little incidental circumstan- airy speculation about imaginary situations, ces; a match built, not on the brittle founda- but try to make the most of that in which tion of sordid interest, but on the solid basis infinite wisdom has seen meet to place thee. of mutual affection, of generosity, of wisdom, Disdain to envy any one, at least until of religion; a match pregnant with what con- thou hast thoroughly examined into the sequences to Beth-lehem-judah, to all Israel, estate of him whom thou art disposed tu to the human race !

envy. From this advantage of ground, how plea

He is destitute of the happiest preparasant it is to trace the sweetly meandering tion for the relish and enjoyment of prospecourse of the river of prophecy and promise rity, who has not arrived at it through the united, toward the vast, the immeasurable path of adversity. To receive with thankocean of accomplishment. Now the tribe of fulness, to enjoy with moderation, to resign Judah is rising into consequence, now the with cheerfulness, to endure with patience, royal sceptre is ready to be put into his hand, is the highest pitch of human virtue. never to depart thence “ till Shiloh come, of Men are often fulfilling a plan of Provi. the increase of whose government and peace dence, without intending, or even being conthere shall be no end: to whom the gather- scious of it. They are acting a double part ing of the people shall be.” Now the star at the same instant; the one private and of Jacob begins to appear. Now the "ten- personal, local and transitory, the other pubder plant” begins to rear its head, and the lic, comprehensive, and permanent; they " root out of the dry ground to spring up; may be building up at once a private family, it buds and blossoms as the rose, and its smell and the church of God, carrying on and is as the smell of Lebanon."

maintaining the succession to an inheritBut what eye can discover, what created ance, to a throne, and ministering to the spirit take in the whole extent of “God's

1 1 John iii. 2.

* 1 Cor. ii. 9.

[ocr errors]

extension and progress of a kingdom which | whose streams make glad the city of our shall never be moved or shaken.

God? What will it be, from the summit of In the kingdom of nature, there is high yonder eternal hills, to contemplate the and low, mountain and valley, sameness whole extent of Emanuel's land, “ watered with diversity: in the kingdom of Provi- with the pure river of water of life;" to dence, there is difference of rank and sta- mingle with the nations of them that are tion, of talent and accomplishment, of for- saved, as they expatiate through the blissful tune and success, but a mutual and necessary groves, planted with the tree of life: to conconnexion and dependence. In the king- verse with the distinguished personages who dom of grace, there is diversity of gifts and shine on this hallowed page, and shall then offices, but the same Spirit; and so in the shine in immortal lustre; to reap with Boaz kingdom of glory, different degrees of lus- a richer harvest than ever waved on the tre, as stars differ one from another, but one plains of Beth-lehem-judah; to assist Naomi universal glory, of which all the redeemed in raising her triumphant song of praise; are together partakers, all being kings and and to rejoice with Ruth, and with one anpriests unto God. Throughout the whole, other, in our joint reception into God's everthere is a gradation which at once pleases lasting kingdom, in our common admission and confounds, that depresses and exalts, into the general assembly and church of that inspires contentment, and teaches to the first-born." Glorious things are spoken aspire, that now attracts to the pure foun- of thee, O city of our God. We have heard tain of uncreated light, and now repels the of them with the hearing of the ear, may bold inquirer to his native darkness and dis- our eyes be blessed with the sight of them. tance again.

May o the Lamb who is in the midst of the Is it pleasant to survey from the exceed throne lead us to living fountains of waters, ing high mountain, where the Christian and God wipe away all tears from our eyes." tabernacle is pitched, the course of that river/" Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."



So Boaz took Roth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception,

and she bare a son. And the women 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 life, 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 bim. 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 of depression, mortification, and pain through the general plan of the divine providence, which we have passed. The perils of a and the separate and detached parts of it

. battle, the horrors of a shipwreck, so dreadThe life of almost every good man exhibits ful at the moment, become the source of virtue for a season struggling with diffi- lasting joy, when the tempest has ceased to culty, overwhelmed with distress, but emerg- roar, and the confused noise of the warrior ing, rising, triumphing at length. Through is hushed into silence. much tribulation the Christian must enter Fiction, in order to please, is, accordingly, into the kingdom of God, and on his way be forced to borrow the garb of truth. The often in heaviness through manifold tempta- hero's sufferings, the lover's solicitude and tions. It is the wise ordinance of infinite uncertainty, the parent's anguish, the pagoodness. Opposition rouses, calls forth the triot's conflict, are the subject of the drama. latent

powers of the soul; success is height- When the ship has reached her desired ened by the danger to which we were ex- haven, when the cloud disperses, when the posed, by the trouble which it cost us, by the contest is decided, the curtain must drop. pains we took; antecedent labour sweetens Periods of prosperity cannot be the theme rest. Hence, the passages of our own lives of history. which we most fondly recollect and relate, The vast, general system, in like manner, and those in the lives of others which most exhibits “the whole creation groaning and deeply engage and interest us, are the scenes travailing in pain together:" interest clash

ing with interest, spirit rising up against to the effect intended to be produced. There spirit, one purpose defeating another, uni- is no violent or sudden transition, but a calm, versal nature apparently on the verge of rational, progressive change from deep sorrow confusion; chaos and ancient night threat to moderated affliction, to composed resignaening to resume their empire: but without tion, to budding hope, to dawning prosperity, knowledge, design, or co-operation, nay, to solicitous prosecution, to partial success, to in defiance of concert and co-operation, the final and full attainmeni. whole is making a regular, steady progress; The discovery of Ruth, of her character, of the muddy stream is working itself pure; the her virtues, of her relation to Bouz, is in the discordant mass is bound as in chains of ada- same happy style of natural simplicity and mant, the wrath of man is praising God; ease. On her part we see no indecent eagerevery succeedinu, era and event is explain- ness to bring herself forward, no clamourous ing and confirming that which preceded it; publication of her distresses or pretensions, no all is tending towards one grand consumma- affected disguise or concealment to attract tion which shall collect, adjust, unite, and observation or provoke inquiry: on his, there crown the scattered parts, and demonstrate, is no vehemence of exclamation, no hastiness to the conviction of every intelligent being, of resolution; but in both, the calmness of that all was, is, and shall be very good. good minds, the satisfaction which conscious

Finite capacity can contemplate, and com- virtue enjoys, in the unexpected discovery of prehend but a few fragments at most: and mutual attractions and kindred worth. The scripture has furnished us with a most deli- situations are interesting, affecting, governed cious one, in the little history of which I have | by the laws of nature and probability, and now read the conclusion. The story of Ruth consonant to every day's experience. has been considered, by every reader of taste, 4th. The sentiments are just, arising out of as a perfect model in that species of composi- the situations, adapted to the characters, tion. It will stand the test of the most rigid guarded equally from apathy and violence. criticism, or rather, is calculated to give in- The pathetic expostulation of Ruth with her struction and law to criticism. With your mother-in-law, when she proposed a separapatience I will attempt a brief analysis of it. tion, is in particular, a masterpiece of native

1st. The subject is great and important be- eloquence: at hearing it, the heart is melted yond all that heathen antiquity presents: the into tenderness, the tear of sympathy rushes foundation and establishment of the regal dig- to the eye, nature feels and acknowledges the nity in the house of David, the and an- triumph of virtue. The sentiment of impascestor of the Messiah. An event in which sioned sorrow glows with equal vehemence on not one age, one nation, one interest is con- the lips of Naomi, and excite in the bosom of cerned, but the whole extent of time, the sensibility, pity mingled with respect. In whole human race, the temporal, the spiritual, Boaz we praise and admire unostentatious the everlasting interests of mankind." What generosity, dignified condescension, honest, is the demolition of Troy, or the settlement of undisguised affection, a sense of impartial, inÆneas in Latium, compared to this? Para- flexible, undeviating justice. dise Lost, itself, must give place to this glo 5th. The characters are nicely discrimirious opening of Paradise Regained. nated, boldly designed, and uliformly sup

2d. The story is perfect and complete in ported. The grief of Naomi is verbose, imitself; or, as the critic would say, has a be- petuous, and penetrating; that of Ruth calm, ginning, a middle, and an end. Elimelech is silent, melting, modest. The plans of the driven by famine into banishment, dies in the mother are sagacious, comprehensive; the land of Moab, and leaves his family in distress. result of reflection, of experience; they indiHere the action commences. Naomi and cate skill, ability, resolution, perseverance, Ruth, united by propinquity, by affection and Those of the daughter are artless, innocent; by distress, are induced to return to Beth-le- the suggestion of the moment, the effusion of hem-judah, in hope of effecting a redemption the heart; indicate candour, sincerity, conof the estate which had belonged to the family, scious, unblushing, unsuspecting rectitude. but under the pressure of necessity had been In Boaz the struggle between inclination, alienated. Their reception, deportment, and propriety, prudence, and justice is happily deprogress, form the great body of the piece. signed, and forcibly executed: it is a painting The marriage of Boaz and Ruth, and the birth from nature, and therefore cannot fail to of Obed is the conclusion of it.

please. His openness and fair dealing also, 3d. The conduct of the plot is simple, natu- as was observed in a former Lecture, are finely ral, and easy. No extraneous matter, person- contrasted with the selfishness, insincerity, age, or event is introduced, from first to last: and unsteadiness of the nearer kinsman. the incidents follow, and arise out of one The character of the servant who was over another, without force, without effort. No the reapers, though we have but a slight extraordinary agency appears, because none sketch of it, discovers the hand of a master, is requisite; the ordinary powers of nature, the hand of truth and nature. We see in it, and the ordinary course of things, are adequate the beautiful and interesting portrait of una.

bashed, unassuming inferiority, of authority, heart, the philanthropist will deal with them undisfigured by insolence or severity, the gently, because they are the harmless pecuhappy medium between power and depen- liarities of his fellow-creatures, and piety will dence, the link in the scale of society which respect them as presenting another view of connects the wealthy lord with the honest la- the endless variety discoverable in all the bourer, the friend and companion of both. ways and works of the great Creator.

The rest of the characters are classed in In the permanent manners of mankind we groups, but discover a characteristic and de- see the eternal sameness of the human mind, cided distinction. We have the inquisitive- which no change of climate, times, governness, curiosity, hard-heartedness and indiffer- ment, education, can alter; a sameness as ence of an idle provincial town; the good discernible and as fixed as the number of nature, hospitality, candour, and cheerfulness eyes, arms, and fingers peculiar to the species. of the country:

In those which are local and transient, we The compliments of congratulation pre- behold the infinite and endless variety of the sented to Boaz, on his marriage, and those human powers, which no stability and uniaddressed to Naomi, on the birth of her grand-formity of law, instruction, discipline, inson, clearly evince the different train of terest, example, can arrest and fix; a variety thought and feeling which dictated them, and as discernible, as unsteady, as unaccountable, mark beyond the possibility of mistake the sex as the different shades of complexion, the and sentiment of the addressors. In a word, conformation of feature, the measurements the ideas expressed by the several characters of stature, the fluctuations of thought. Every in this sacred drama, are so peculiarly their thing satisfies, every thing confounds. own, that no reader of ordinary discernment Once more, the language of this charmneeds to be told, who it is that speaks: the sen-ing little epic history is plain and perspicutiments cannot possibly be transferred from ous, elegant yet unadorned, nervous yet one to another.

chaste, simple yet not mean or vulgar. It 6th. The manners are delineated with the consists of narration and dialogue, the former same felicity of pencil. We have a faithful possessing the most exquisite degree of representation of those that are permanent grace and ease, the latter of vivacity and and founded in nature: and of those which are force. There is no obscurity of idea, no relocal and temporary:

When I observe these dundancy of expression, no appearance of Bethlehemites flocking round the old woman labour, no artful polish, no tinsel of words, and her outlandish daughter, plying them and no disgusting tediousness, no affected conone another with questions, circulating the ciseness. Like the general code of scripture, leer and the whisper, I could suppose myself it is capable of neither increase nor diminu. in one of the gossiping villages which sur-tion, without sustaining an injury. round this metropolis, whose inhabitants feed But the least merit of the piece is its exon rumour, exercise no principle but curiosity, cellency as a composition. It forms a most employ no member but the tongue, or the feet

, material member of the great building of in hunting after the materials for that employ- God, an important link in the chain of proviinent. In the innocent festivity, the uncom- dence, an interesting and instructive chapter plaining toil

, the contented simplicity, the in the history of redemption. The union of unaffected benevolence, the unprofessing piety Boaz and Ruth can never lose its influence, of that field of reapers, I have mingled a thou- never spend its force. When nature expires, sand and a thousand times. It was the delight and all these things are dissolved, the offof childhood, it is the unpainful, the unde- spring of that pair “shall shine as the brightpressing retrospect of age.

ness of the firmament, and as the stars for We have a representation equally faithful ever and ever.” From that root behold a and just of customs and manners which are branch has arisen, to which “ the nations of local and temporary; some of which excite them that are saved” continually resort, our astonishment, some shock our delicacy, under whose shadow they repose, whose and some provoke our mirth. Such are the fruit is the source and support of a divine inodes of courtship here described, the transfer life, whose " leaves are for the healing of the of property, the forms of judicial procedure, nations.” Let the Jew read this sacred page, the terms of familiar address and friendly and glory in his ancestry ; let the scholar communication: and the like. These, having read it, and improve his taste, and extend his no intrinsic moral excellence or turpitude, are knowledge ; let the rustic read it, and prize the object of neither praise nor censure. To his humble pursuits and innocent delights; trace their origin, or explain their nature and let the sons of poverty and the daughters of design, may be an innocent amusement, but it affliction read it, and cease from despair, let were unjust to explode them as absurd, or to them learn to " trust in the Lord, and to do run them down as ridiculous. The antiqua- good ; let the Christian read it, and “hold rian will revere them for their age, the phi- fast the beginning of his confidence," and insopher will investigate them as opening a "rejoice in hope of the glory of God." new path to the knowledge of the human) The last obvious remark on the history,

sorry I am to say it, is not highly honourable , my eyes, and then I shall not feel the oppres to human nature. While Naomi was poor, sion of death; if he survive I cannot all die.” and friendless, and forlorn, she met with lit-“ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart tle sympathy, with little countenance; she in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvawas permitted to depend for subsistence on tion." the miserable, unproductive industry of a The Spirit of God has drawn a veil over woman, weak and wretched as herself; but the feelings of the mother herself, and the no sooner is she connected with “a mighty expression of them, and left it to the imagiman of wealth,” become a mother to Boaz, nation to figure the felicity of Ruth the . than the whole city is seeking to her; her widow of Mahlon, the daughter of Naomi, own sex, in particular, we see entering into the wife of Boaz, the mother of Obed, in surall her feelings, flattering all her natural veying the changes of her life, in comparing propensities, accommodating themselves to what she was with what she is. her little wishes and desires, and trying to And thus have we finished what was incompensate their former coldness and neglect tended, in discoursing on the book of Ruth. by every art of attention, officiousness, and we have considered it, as a beautiful, bezeal. Base spirit ! base world! Behold kind- cause natural representation of human life; ness pressed upon a man, just in proportion as a curious and interesting detail of importas he has no need of it; behold him oppressed ant facts; and as an essential, constituent with new friends, because he has already got part of the plan of redemption. It happily too many, caressed by those who lately knew connects the history of the Israelitish judges him not, praised and flattered to his face, by with that of their kings, and is obviously the very tongues which maligned and cen- blended with both : and while it demonstrates sured him in his absence. But that man is the care of Providence, in fulfilling the proleft to continue poor, because he is poor. mises made to Abraham, the friend of God, He finds no support because he wants it, he in prolonging his race, in multiplying his stands unbefriended, because he has no friend. seed, in making kings to arise out of him, it Shame on the fawning sycophants that only unfolds the more enlarged and comprehenflutter about in fair weather, that only fre- sive purpose of the eternal Mind; it points quent the mansions of the rich and great, directly forward to that “ seed in whom all that turn with the tide, that can despise rag- the families of the earth shall be blessed ;" ged poverty, and offer incense to ermined it shows the subserviency of all that previllany.

ceded, to the evangelical dispensation; it Let us turn with contempt from the sight, breathes good-will to men. The reception and take a last parting look of one of the of Ruth, a Gentile, within the pale of the worthiest, best, happiest of human beings, church of the living God; her advancement Naomi nursing and cherishing her little to honour, her participation of the privileges grandson in her bosom. If there be bliss on of a mother in Israel, are a happy prefiguraearth, she enjoyed it. Her honest scheme tion of the admission of the whole Gentile had succeeded, the name of her beloved hus- world within the bond of God's covenant. band was revived, and his house begun to be We see the work of God still going forward built up; her amiable and beloved daughter and prospering; the work of mercy enlarging, was nobly rewarded for her tenderness and extending its sphere; all bending forward to attachment; the inheritance of Elimelech is that grand consummation, when “ Israel too redeemed and reverted to its proper channel; shall be saved," and the ancient people of the wisdom and goodness of Providence are. God brought into a communication of the fully justified, and a prospect of felicity and blessings of the gospel, together with the honour is opened which knew no bounds. fulness of the Gentile nations;" when there The miseries of a whole life are done away shall be "one shepherd and one sheepfold;" in one hour, converted into blessings, bless- when Jew and Gentile shall arise together ings heightened and improved by the me- from the dead, because “Christ doth give mory of past woes; the name of Mara is them life.” for ever obliterated, and the original, the The birth of Obed, the father of Jesse, the suitable, the prophetic name of Naomi re- father of David, brings the history of the stored and confirmed. The sensibilities of a world down to the year two thousand six Granılmother are peculiarly pure and deli- hundred and ninety-seven, from the creation, cate respecting infant offspring. All good and before Christ one thousand three hunwomen are fond of children, to whomsoever dred and seven, and conducts us to the eve they belong, how much more of their own of the establishment of kingly power in Iswhom they bare with sorrow, and have rael. brought up with solicitude: but “that I How many generations of men have passed should live to see my child's child, my being in review before us, in the course of these multiplied; dropping into the grave, yet re- few years evening exercises from Adam down viving in that infant. I feel myself immor- to Boaz! What changes has the audience tal; this babe will live to put his hand upon / undergone, since first it collected in this

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »