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THE TEST OF SINCERITY.
"And Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, go, return each to her mother's house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me."-Ruth i. 8.
THE narrative contained in the Book of Ruth, is one of the most interesting and instructive in the Bible. At first sight, perhaps, we may feel disposed to wonder why it should be thought worthy of a place in the sacred Scriptures. It has pleased God to make known his will in a volume which is far exceeded in bulk by many a treatise written on some single science; and yet in a book which speaks of the most important of all subjects, a place is given to the history of an obscure family in one of the smallest nations in the world. And why is this?
Because, in the first place, THAT FAMILY
LAY IN THE DIRECT LINE OF THOSE FROM WHOM CHRIST SPRANG.
He is the Alpha
and Omega-the beginning and the end of the Bible; and the humblest family from whom he derived that blood which he shed for the sins of the world is thought more worthy of mention in the Book of God than the proudest of the kings on the earth. Let
this fact impress upon our minds these truths. That in the sight of God, the distinctions of rank are as nothing. The rite of confirmation mingles all ranks, from the queen upon her throne to the humblest inhabitant of the cottage. "The brother of low degree is called to rejoice in that he is exalted, but the rich in that he is made low." The poor in this world are born to no great inheritance, but if they be "born again of the Spirit," they are become "members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven." They are adopted into the family of a father whose children are all princes, and who shall "reign on the earth" when the kingdoms of this world have passed away. The rich, on the other hand, may learn that all worldly advantages are but hindrances in the christian race; that when they come to present themselves before God,
they must strip themselves of all the distinctions of rank and wealth, and put on "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which alone in the sight of God is of great price;" while, at the same time, the privileges which they enjoy in common with the poorest of Christ's flock, far exceed in value those short-lived advantages which they derive from their natural birth.
In the next place, the history before us was, doubtless, inserted in the Word of God to show us THE VALUE OF FAMILY AND PERSONAL RELIGION. He knows by name every
family and every individual that loves and serves Him. "They that fear the Lord speak often one to another, and the Lord hearkens and hears it, and a book of remembrance is written before Him for them that fear the Lord and think upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that, day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."* He knows the name and the state of every young person, however ob
*Mal. iii. 16, 17.
scure her rank in life, who comes forward as a candidate for confirmation, and while the names of all who make a fair profession are written on the cards that testify the approbation of man, his book of remembrance is opened only for them "that fear the Lord and that think upon his name," that are sincere and earnest in their profession. That book of remembrance will one day be opened in the presence of the assembled universe, "and then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not."
In the story of Ruth we see, what is more or less manifest in the case of every believer, the providence of God concurring with his grace, disposing events and overruling difficulties, and "making all things work together" for the accomplishment of her conversion.
"It came to pass," begins the sacred historian," in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons." This was in itself a questionable step. It was leaving