Imatges de pÓgina

time nor space can limit, and feel thine own importance, and aim only at high things, and trust in omnipotence for the execution of its own eternal purpose.

In a country and among a people where names were not mere arbitrary sounds, but conveyed a meaning connected with character, with history, with expectation, those of Elimelech," my God is king," and of his wife Naomi," the pleasant one," from their peculiar import, must have a reference to certain circumstances in their history which are not recorded. The former might be dictated by the spirit of prophecy, and be significant, without the intention of them who imposed, or of him who bore it, of the future greatness to which the family, through the favor of Heaven, should arise, in the persons of David, of Solomon, and that long succession of princes which finally centered, and was absorbed, in the person of Christ, David's son; yet David's Lord. The particulars of his own story that have reached us, are too few and too general to admit of our discerning any reference or application of his name to his character, office, or condition but we know enough of the character and history of Naomi to justify the suitableness of the appellation to her person, dispositions and final attainments.

In the disasters which befal, and the successes which attend certain families and individuals, we behold an apparent partiality of distribution that confounds and overwhelms us. Death enters into that house, passes from couch to couch, spares neither root nor branch; the insatiate fiend never says it is enough. Whatever that poor man attempts, be the scheme ever so judiciously formed, ever so diligently prosecuted, uniformly fails; the winds as they change, the stars in their courses fight against him. The very mistakes of his neighbor turn out prosperously, his sails are always full, his children multiply, his wea th increases, his mountain stands strong. Is God therefore unwise, capricious, partial or unjust? No, but we are blind, contracted,

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presumptuous. We can discern, can comprehend, only here and there a little fragment of his works, we are gone, before the event has explained itself; it requires the capacity, the eternity of God himself to take in the mighty whole of his plan.

The house of Elimelech exhibits an affecting instance of the inequality we have been mentioning. The sad account of famine, of banishment, of degradation, of dependence, is at length closed with death. Disease of body, co-operating with distress of mind, probably the effect of it, shortens his days, and terminates his own worldly misery, dreadfully aggravates the woes of the unhappy survivers. Wretched mother, left to struggle alone with poverty, solitude, danger, and neglect far from friends, encompassed with enemies, loaded with the charge of two fatherless children, not more the objects of affection, than the sources of anxiety and care! While Elimelech lived, penury was hardly felt as a burden; in exile thou wert always at home; secluded from society, the conversation of one still dispelled the gloom. Thy sons afforded only delight, because that delight was participated in, by him who had a common interest with you in them; but all is now ebanged, every load is accumulated seven-fold, every comfort is embittered, every prospect is clouded: the past presents nothing but regret; the future discloses nothing but despair.

She seems to have given up at this period, all thoughts of returning to her native country, and, making a virtue of dire necessity, attempts to naturalize her family in the land of Moab, by allying her sons, through marriage, to the inhabitants of the coun try. The sense of the loss she has sustained gradually yields to the lenient hand of time, and to the sweet hope of seeing the house of her beloved husband built up, and his name revived in the person's of his grandchildren. Alas, what is the hope of man! the flatterer has been only decoying her into a greater depth of

woe; her two remaining props sink, one after another, into the dust; all that the eyes desired is taken away with stroke upon stroke; and, to fill up the measure of a mother's wretchedness, both her sons die childless, and hope expires with them. Now she is a widow indeed, and exhausted nature sinks under the pressure.

It is the opinion of many interpreters, that the premature death of the young men was a judgment from heaven to punish their illegal intermarriage with strange and idolatrous women. It becomes not man to judge; and we know that God executeth only righteous judg❤ ment; and in wrath still remembers mercy.

Thus in three short lines the sacred historian has delivered a tragic tale that comes home to the bosom of every one that possesses a spark of sensibility. It is a domestic story; it represents scenes which may, which do happen every day. It admonishes every one in how many points he is vulnerable, how defenceless he is against the thunderbolts of Heaven. It awfully displays the evil of sin, and the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man. If such be the temporal effects of his vengeance, how bitter must be the cup which his just displeasure mingles for incorrigible offenders, in a state of final retribution! How pleasing to reflect that trials of this sort do not always flow from anger, that they are the wholesome severity of a father, that they aim at producing real good, that they in the issue really yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. The darkness of night at length yields to the glorious orb of day, the shadow of death is turned into the morning, and the desolate is as she who hath an husband.



This makes way for the introduction of the heroine of this eventful history; and we become interested in her from the very first moment. The Jewish writers, to heighten our respect for Ruth, perhaps from a pitful desire to exalt their own ancestry, make her the daughter of a king of Moab, and as they are never ti

morous in making assertions, or forming conjectures on such occasions, they tell you her father was Eglon. whom Ehud slew. It is hardly probable that a prince of that country would have given his daughter in marriage to a needy adventurer who had banished himself from his country through necessity. But of little importance is it, whether she were born a princess or no. Nature has adorned her with qualities such as are not always to be found in the courts of kings; qualities which best adorn high birth, and which ennoble obscurity and indigence; fidelity and attachment; a soul capable of fond respect for departed worth, and living virtue: magnanimity to sacrifice every thing the heart holds dear, to decency, friendship, and religion; magnanimity to encounter, without repining, painful toil and humiliating dependence, in fulfilling the duties of gratitude, humanity and piety. How eloquent is she when she speaks, how great when she says nothing, how transcendently exalted in all she thinks, speaks and acts! With what divine art, shall I say, is she introduced in the sacred drama? After we have been melted into pity by the calamities of Naomi's family, and seen the widowed mourner sinking under wave upon wave; and the prospect of progeny, the last darling hope of an Israelitish matron, rudely torn from her, lo an angel in the form of a damsel of Moab, a mourner and a widow like herself, appears to comfort her, and makes her to know by sweet experience that he, that she, has not lost all, who has found a kind and faithful friend. What is the sound of the trumpet, and a long train of mute and splendid harbingers, compared to the simple preparation of unaffected nature! Let us wait her approach in silent expectation; and muse on what is past.

....Behold one generation of men goeth and another cometh; one planet arising as another sets, every buman advantage balanced by its corresponding inconve

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niency, every loss compensated by a comfort that grows out of it.

....Behold the purpose of the Eternal Mind maintaining its ground amidst all the tossings and tempests: of this troubled ocean, triumphing over pposition, serving and promoting itself by the wrath of man and the malice of hell, out of darkness rising into lustre, "out of weakness made strong," by the energy of the great first cause, acquiring life, vigor and prosperity from the extinction of means, from the destruction and death of secondary causes.

Attend to the great leading object of divine revelation, to which all refer, to which all are subservient, in which all are absorbed and lost. I will make mention of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; of Moses and the prophets; of Boaz and Ruth. "I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me; behold Philistia and Tyre with Ethiopia: this man was born there; and of Zion it shall be said, This man was born in her and the Highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people That this man was born there." May our names be written in the Lamb's book of life, among the living in Jerusalem!

The introduction of these personages and events, one after another, were remote steps of the preparation of the gospel of peace. And every person now born into the church of Christ, and every event now taking place in the administration of human affairs, is a little space in the great scale of eternal Providence, and a gradual preparation for the final consummation of all things. Let thy kingdom come, Let thy kingdom come," O God! Let Satan's kingdom be destroyed; let the kingdom of grace be advanced, ourselves and others brought into, and preserved in it, and let the kingdom of glory be hastened! Amen!

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