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it might be the mere restlessness of a mind ill at ease, grasping at the shadow of felicity merely from change of place; it might be the ardent desire of home, of the scenes of childish simplicity, innocence and joy, which in certam circumstances all men feel, and by which the conduct of all is, to a certain degree, regulated. Whatever it were it came from above, it was over-ruled of infinite wisdom, it was, unknown to itself, acting in subserviency to a most important event: and it is thus, that little, unnoticed, unknown powers, put the great machine in motion, produce effects that astonish, and delight, and bless mankind.
The same all-ruling Providence is conspicuous in determining the season of Naomi's return. On this hinged all the mighty consequences of Ruth's acquaintance and connexion with Boaz...the birth of kings, the trasmission of empire, the accomplishment of ancient prophecy, the hopes of the human race. Had this apparently unconsequential journey been accelerated, been retarded, a month, a week, a single day, the parties might never have met. Contingent to men, it was foreseen, fixt, disposed and matured by Hum, "who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."
Every one observes and records the great incidents of bis life. But would you, O man, have rational pleasure blended with useful instruction, attend to little things, trace matters of highest moment up to their source; and behold thy fate stand quivering on a needle's point; and a color given to thy whole future life, thy eternal state fixed, by a reed shaken with the wind, by an accidental concurrence which thou wert neither seeking nor avoiding; and rejoice to think that all things are under the direction of unerring wisdom, of all-subduing mercy; are" working together for good."
Does this teach a lesson of levity and inconsideration? Darest thou to trifle with thy everlasting con
cerns because there is a God who ruleth and judgeth in the earth, who doth all things after the counsel of his own will? God forbid. Presumptuously to lead the decrees of Providence, impiously to resist them, or timidly to draw back, are equally offensive to a righte ous, a boly and wise God.
We have seen the unhappy Naomi stripped of almost every earthly good; husband, children, friends, means, country, comfort; it is the dark midnight hour with her. No, there is one little lamp left burning, to dissipate the gloom, to prevent despair...the sacred flame of virtuous friendship. No, the sun of righteousness is hasting to the brightness of his arising. The name after all was propitious and prophetic; God brings it about in his own way, and it is "wondrous in our eyes."
The continuation of this story will carry us on to the contemplation of scenes of rural simplicity, for the enjoyment of which, grandeur might well relinquish its pride, and pomp its vanity and vexation of spirit, and rejoice in the exchange. Let us meanwhile pause and reflect on the history of Naomi as administering useful instruction.
1st. As an admonition never to despair. God frequently brings his people to that mournful spectacle, hope expiring, that he may have the undivided honor of reviving it again, and be acknowledged as the one pure and perennial fountain of light and life and joy. The condition of Jacob, of Joseph, of Naomi, all preach one and the same doctrine; all proclaim that the time of man's extremity is God's opportunity.
2dly. Let us call, let us reckon nothing mean or contemptible which God employs, or may be pleased to employ, in his service. The notice of the King of kings impresses dignity and importance, confers true nobility on the low-born child, the beggar, the outcast, the slave. Ou them all he has stamped his own image; and their present and every future condition
is the work of his providence. "It is not the will of your
Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" and if destined to salvation, to what worldly distinction may they not aspire, may they not arrive? Carefully mark the progress of children: study the bent of their dispositions, of their talents: endeavor to put them in the train which nature and Providence seem to have pointed out: attend to what constitutes their real consequence in life, and leave the issueto Him who governs all events.
3dly. Observe how the great Ruler of the universe contrasts and connects great things with small, that he may humble the pride of man, and expose the nothingness of the glory of this world. of this world. That forlorn gleaner, and Boaz the wealthy; the exile from Moab, and the resident possessor of the fertile plains of Bethlehem-Judah, seem wonderfully remote from each other. Their condition is as opposite as human life can well present: but in the eye of Heaven they are already one. She is but a single step from being lady of the harvest which she gleans,. "an help meet" for its lord, and the sovereign mistress of those servants at whose aspect she now trembles, the meanest of whom she now looks up to as her superior. Childless and a widow, her family, her own children are but three steps from a throne....the throne of Judah and Israel; and in the purpose of the Eternal," the fulness of time" is hastening to exhibit to an astonishing world, in the person of this woman's seed, "that Prince of peace, of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will perform this." Theperiod is approaching, men and brethren, when Bethlehem Judah shall display great wonders, contrasts more confounding than these. The time is at hand,. when another forlorn damsel of the same race, and her outcast babe shall appear in contrast with all that is:
stupendous, striking, formidable, venerable in heaven and earth, shall rise above all, give laws to all, eclipse all. Behold that "babe lying in a manger, in a stable, because there is no room for him in the inn," con trolling the counsels of Augustus, the mighty mas er of the world; behold him drawing princes and wise men from the east, with treasures of gold, and frankincense and myrrh, to his feet. Behold the face of hea ven irradiated, enriched with a new star, to mark the way which led to his cradle: while a multitude of the beavenly host announce in rapturous strains, the birth of the lowly infant. Behold "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," " of no reputation;"" in the form of a servant;" "numbered with transgressors;' "obedient to death, even the death of the cross." Behold him "highly exalted;"" leading captivity captive;" "all the angels of God worshipping him;" invested with a name that is above every name;" "crowned with glory and honor," "coming in the clouds of hea ven!" To him let my knee bow, and my tongue confess."His name shall endure forever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun and men shall be blessed in him: all nations strall call him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name forever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen," Psal. lxxii. 17....19.
4thly. In the adoption of Ruth into the church of God, and the commonwealth of Israel," we have another dawning ray of hope arising upon the Gentile nations. The tide is beginning imperceptibly to rise and swell, which shall at length become an overflowing 'ocean. "In that seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." That stranger shall be employed in bringing forward the mighty plan to maturity. Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands to God." "They shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." Verily God is no respecter of persons.
HISTORY OF RUTH.
And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. RUTH ii. I....3.
PROVIDENCE has graciously annexed to honest
industry, both respectability and happiness. The purest and most delicious enjoyment that human life admits of, perhaps is, when a man sits down with those whom he loves, to the temperate indulgence of that refreshment and repose which he has just earned and sweetened with his labor. The greatest, and wisest, and best of men, are ever presented to us, as engaged in virtuous employment and exertion; as deriving health, subsistence, reputation and comfort from the exercise, not the inactivity of their bodily and mental powers: and happily, the scenes in which every man is conversant, seem to him the most interesting of all, his own station the most eminent or useful, his own pursuits the most important. Hence a certain degree of self-complacency, of self-satisfaction pervades the