Imatges de pÓgina
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days and nights have been appointed, who by the experience of misery, have learned to pity and to succor the miserable. May the God of mercy, the friend of the orphan, the judge of the widow, the refuge of the distressed, have mercy upon them, and conduct them in safety to their desired haven.

Which shall we most admire, the generosity and disinterestedness of the mother, or the steadiness, spirit and resolution of the daughters? How pleasurable is strife of a certain kind, the strife of good will, of magnanimity, of gratitude, of piety, of self-denial! The language, the sentiments, are the language and sentiments of nature, they flow from the heart, and reach the heart. "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. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you, in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them. And they lift up their voice and wept," Verse 8, 9.

The good woman herself admits that enough of respect has been paid to filial and conjugal tenderness.; she wishes and prays, as a recompense for their kindness to the living, and devotedness to the memory of the dead, more lasting and more auspicious connexions with husbands of their own country. She proposes not, recommends not the affected, constrained, involuntary retirement and sequestration of prudish, squeamish virtue; and they, on their part, assume no unnatural airs of immortal grief; they form no flimsy suspicious vows of undeviating, unalterable attachment; make no clamorous, unmeaning, deceptious protestation of love extinguished, and never to be rekindled, the pitiful artifice of little minds to flatter themselves, and catch the admiration of others. How much more emphatical the silent, unprotesting reply of Or pah and Ruth!" She kissed them; and they lift up their voice and wept.' What charming eloquence is

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heard, is seen, is felt in those tears! Have these lovely damsels, less regard for their departed lords, are they more eager to form new alliances, that they say nothing? I cannot believe it. Noisy grief is quickly over, soon spends itself. Sincerity seldom calls in the aid of exclamation, vehemence and vows; but dubious, staggering fidelity is glad to support itself with the parade of woe, and the pomp of declamation.

Their persevering, determined, unprotesting friendship but endears them the more to their venerable parent, and inclines her the more powerfully to resist their inclination, and prevent the sacrifice which they were disposed to make; and again she has recourse to more earnest and tender expostulation, resolved to of fer up a noble sacrifice to maternal tenderness in her turn. “And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are they yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands ? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have a husband also to-night, and should also bear sons; would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters: for it grieveth me much for your sakes, that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me," Verse 11...13.

What sweet touches of unsophisticated nature press upon the heart, in perusing this address! beyond the pomp and power of art to reach. of art to reach. Who is not melted at hearing the undissembled wailings of a good and honest mind, mourning for others, not itself; calmly surrendering its own interest in the joys of life, but anxiously desirous to procure and preserve them for those whom she loved as her own soul; nobly resigning that cordial of cordials, virtuous friendship, when it could not be enjoyed, but to the detriment of those who felt and expressed it; composed to the prospect and suffering of solitary anguish, provided her amiable

children were restored to the rank, affluence and comfort which they so well deserved. How poor and contemptible are the contentions for precedency and preeminence, the emulation of fortune and dress, the rage of admiration and conquest, compared to this! How pleasant is it to see an humble fortune dignified and supported by generosity and greatness of mind!

The touchstone is now applied to the affection of the two sisters, and their characters and merits are finally disclosed. Orpah suffers herself to be persuaded; with regret we behold her resolution overcome; we behold her separating from her mother-in-law, with the valedictory kiss of peace, and returning to her country and her gods; and we hear of her no more. But Ruth cleaves to her new choice, unmoved by the example of her sister, or the entreaties of her mother, she persists in her purpose; the desertion of Orpah only kuits her heart the faster to her adopted parent, and in words farsweeter than the nightingale's song, she breathes out her unalterable resolution to live and to die with her. How could Naomi find in her heart to make another attempt to shake off so lovely a companion? How delighted must she have been, in yielding the triumph of kindness to a pleader so irrisistible!" And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whitherthou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me," Verse 16, 17.

The mother is every way outdone, overcome, and contends no longer...to persist farther had been cruelty, not friendship; and thus mutual sympathy and deliberate choice have, under the direction of all-ruling Providence, formed an union dearer than the ties of interest, or even the bonds of nature know: and thus the same breath which extinguishes the fainter spark, blows up the stronger into a purer, brighter flame; and

thus the God who has all hearts and all events in his hand, ever rears a refuge for the miserable, provides a remedy against despair, and extracts a precious essence from calamity, which operates its own cure. "When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her," Verse 18. And thus Ruth stands without an equal, without a rival. And how has she gained the glorious superiority over a sister? By a lofty tone and an overbearing spirit, by the poisoned whisper, and the dark insinuation; by smoothness of forehead and malignity of heart? No, but by perseverance in well doing, and adherence to rectitude; by modest firmness, and heart-affecting simplicity; by undissembled affection and unaffected piety. O goodness, how pure, how sincere, how satisfactory are the honors which crown thy head, and dilate thy heart!

It is impossible to tire in contemplating an object so trascendently excellent. In that fair form all the feminine virtues and graces love to reside. We have pointed out some of them; let us meditate for a moment, on that which is the crown and glory of all the rest. Estimable for her conjugal fidelity, and filial attachment; great in her voluntary renunciation of the world, and patient submission to poverty, hardship, and contempt; how superlatively great, how supremely estimable does she appear, arrayed in the robe of unfeigned piety, and triumphant faith in God! The world may perhaps condemn her for preferring the society, country, and prospects of so poor a woman as Naomi to the friendship of her own kindred, the possessions of her native home, the allurements of present ease and comfort. Had she conferred with flesh and blood, how very different had the decision been! But the same divine principle which caused Moses to "refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;" and which taught him "to esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt," determined this amiable

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creature to withdraw from the companions of her youth, the protection of her father's house, and the religious worship of her ancestors; and to follow a destitute forlorn widow from country to country, to cast her subsitstence upon the care of Providence, and to look for her reward beyond the grave.

Observe these distinct qualities of the religious principle by which she was actuated.

I. It was deliberate, the result of reflection, comparison and choice, not the prejudice of education, the determination of self-interest, nor the momentary ef fect of levity and caprice. Her prejudices, her partialities, her worldly interests were all clearly on the other side. The idolatrous rites of Moab were fascinating to a young mind, not yet beyond a taste for pleasure; the aspect of the religion of Canaan was rather ungainly and forbidding, and to adopt it implied the renunciation of all that the heart naturally holds dear. When she therefore thus solemnly affirms, "Your God shall be my God," it is in effect saying, "I have counted the cost, I know whom I have believed. I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back. I have subscribed with my hand to the God of Jacob. Blessed be the day that I came into connexion with an Israelitish family. It has indeed cost me many tears, pierced through my heart with many sorrows, it is banishing me from my dear native clime, from the endearments of parental affec tion, from ease, honor and abundance, driving me among strangers, exposing me to struggle with uncertainty, anxiety, necessity, neglect and scorn; but my resolution is fixed: none of these things move me; every sacrifice, every loss, every disgrace is infinitely more compensated by having Israel's God for my God." Which leads to observe a

Second feature of Ruth's religious character; was it steady and persevering. It might at first have been mere respect for the opinions and practice of the hus

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