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band of her youth; the mere decency that suited an adopted daughter of Israel; but this had long ceased to be a motive: had it amounted but to this, it had been buried in the grave of her departed lord: but what was at first complaisance and decency, grows up into inquiry, inquiry produces hesitation, and more serious inquiry, this improves into conviction, and conviction is followed by a determination not to be moved or shaken, and she continues stedfast to the end. Her constancy, it must be allowed, was put to severe trials. Orpah has gone back, Naomi carries her expostulation up to importunity, I had almost said, to downright vi- ‹ olence: the difficulties and hardships of the way were increasing not diminishing upon her. Had not the" heart been established by grace," so many, such accumulated discouragements, must have subdued the ardor of her spirit, and sent her back after her sister; but she has put her hand to the plough, and must not look back. Observe, she does not attempt to reason, does not oppose argument to argument, but, "being fully persuaded in her own mind," adheres firmly to her point, and argues irrisistibly by not arguing at all, and prevails by entreaty. See that your cause be good, my fair friend, persist in it, prosecute it thus, and be assured of the victory.
III. Observe finally, as Ruth's religious principle was deliberate, was steady and persevering, so it was lively, efficacious, practical. We hear nothing of the prattle of piety, nothing of the violence of a young and a female proselyte, no question of doubtful disputation introduced, about places and modes of worship, about Jerusalem and this mountain, nothing of the religion that floats merely in the head, and bubbles upon the tongue; no, her religion is seen, not heard, it "works by love, it purifies the heart, it overcomes the world." It offers up a grand sacrifice unto God, the body and spirit, affection and substance, youth, beauty, parentage, the pleasures and the pride of life. Let
me see a single instance of this sort, and I will believe the convert more in earnest, than by exhibiting all the wordy zeal of a thousand polemics.
Indeed it is by action that this truly excellent woman expresses all her inward feelings. Her affection to her husband is not heard in loud lamentation over his tomb, but in cleaving to all that remained of him, his mother, his people, his country and his God. Her affection to his mother is not expressed in the set phrase of condolence and compliment; but in adhering to ber when all had forsaken her, in laboring for her subsistence, in submitting to her counsel and her reverence for his God is manifested not merely in adopting the language and observing the rites of Canaan, but in relinquishing forever, and with abhorrence, the gods beyond the flood, and every thing connected with their abominable rites.
Every circumstance of the case and character under review, administers plain and important instruction. And, being a case in ordinary life, Ruth stands forth à pattern and instructor to young persons, in particular, whose situation may resemble her own.
Young woman, you have married into a strange family. You have of course, adopted the kindred, the pursuits, the friendships, and to a certain degree, the religion of your husband. It is your duty, and you will find it your interest, to let him and his connexions know, from your general deportment, that you are satisfied with the choice which you have made. Learn to give up your own prejudices in favor of country, of parentage, of customs, of opinions. Unless where the sacred rights of conscience are concerned, deem no sacrifice too great for the maintenance or restoration of domestic peace. As far as lieth in you, "whither he goeth, go thou; and lodge where he lodgeth; let his people be thy people, and his God thy God." You will thereby preserve and secure his affection; you will harmonize family interests and intimacies, instead
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of disturbing them: if yours be the better religion, this is the way to bring over to it the man of no religion, or of an erroneous one; and if it be the worse, your relinquishing of it, on conviction, will be at once a token of conjugal affection, a mark of good understanding, and a reasonable service toward God.
Have you had in early life, the calamity of becoming a widow? It is a distressing, a delicate situation. It ealls for every maxim of prudence, every counsel of friendship, every caution of experience, every support of piety. If you are a mourner indeed, you are already guarded against affectation; you will find rational and certain relief in attending to, and performing the duties of your station. You will neither seek a hasty cure of sorrow by precipitately plunging into the world, nor attempt an unnatural prolongation of it by affected retirement and sequestration. The tongue will utter no rash vows; the pang of separation will dictate no insnaring resolutions; the will of Providence will be respected, obeyed, followed. Respect for the dead is best expressed by dutifulness to the living.
You have before you an useful example of firmness blended with female softness, of resolution heightened and adorned by sensibility. Lately, like Ruth, you had one who thought and acted for you; one who joyfully endured the burden and heat of the day, that your body and mind might enjoy repose. But now necessity is laid upon you. You must awake and arise to think and act for yourself. And here, as in every case, Nature bas annexed the recompense to the duty. The mental powers are enfeebled, and at length destroyed, by disuse and inaction. Exertion invigorates the mind, and composes by directing it. The hstlessness of indolence undermines health; the activity of useful employment is the simplest and most infallible medicine for bodily complaints. And the most direct road to an honorable and happy second connexion, probably, is, to guard carefully against all 'vehement
expression of either inclination or aversion, on the subject.
All these, however, are merely lessons of prudence, adapted to the life that now is; and, however important in themselves, unless aided and supported by a higher principle, will constitute, at most, the decent kinswoman, or the respectable sufferer. In Ruth we have this bigher principle likewise beautifully exemplified....rational, modest, unaffected piety. True religi on sits well on persons of either sex, and in all situations; but its aspect is peculiarly amiable in a female form, and in particular situations. Youth, beauty and sorrow united, present a most interesting object....a daughter weeping at a parent's tomb; a mother mourning over" the babe that milked her," and "refusing to be comforted;" a widow embracing the urn which contains the ashes of the husband of her youth....in all their affliction we are afflicted, we cannot refrain from mingling our tears with theirs. Let religion be infused into these lovely forms, and mark how the interest rises, how the frame is embellished, how the deportment is ennobled ! the eye of that dutiful child is turned upward, her heart is delivered from oppression, her trembling lips pronounce," When my father and my moth er forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.' "My Father who art in Heaven!" The mother withdraws from the breathless clay, reconciled to the stroke which bereaved her, " goes her way and eats bread, and her countenance is no more sad," for her Maker has said to her, Why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?"....The widowed mourner "gives her mortal interest up; and makes her God her all."
Young woman, whatever thy condition may be ; whether thou art in thy father's house, or married to an husband; at home, or in a strange land; in society, or solitude; followed or neglected; be this thy monitor, this thy guide, this thy refuge...." The love of
God shed abroad in thy heart;"" the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom;" "the peace of God which passeth all understanding." However easy, gentle, flexible, complying, in other respects, where your religious principles, where the testimony of a good conscience, where your duty to your Creator are concerned, be firm and resolute, "be stedfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." Thus shall youth be guarded, and beauty adorned; thus shall society be sweetened, and solitude cheered; thus shall prosperity be sanctified, and adversity soothed; thus shall life, even to old age and decay, be rendered useful and respectable; and thus shall death and the grave be stripped of all that is terrible in them.