Imatges de pÓgina
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tique dignity, by aping the viler, not the nobler quali ties of traditional importance.

Again, 2dly. Observe, the law inculcates pity to the poor and wretched by the most glorious of all examples. "I am the Lord, who had compassion upon you in your misery, who delivered you from the furnace, who drove out the nations from before you, who planted you in the land, who fill thy garner, and make thy wine-press to overflow; and who only ask, in return, a mite or two, for the sons and daughters of affliction, these few ears which thy baste has let fall to the ground, that sheaf which has accidentally dropped from thy car; that little corner of thy field which the sickle has spared, and which that starving creature, by nature thy equal, by providence thy inferior, is waiting to pick up and devour. He is an object of tenderness and affection to me, see therefore that thou neglect him not, that thou defraud him not, that thou distress him not."

3dly. The law plainly supposes that there may be an over anxiety and solicitude about things in their own nature lawful and innocent; which it therefore aims at repressing: it supposes that there may be an eagerness of accumulation which defeats itself, a scattering abroad that produces increase, a withholding of more than is meet, and it tendeth only to poverty; that diffusing, not hoarding up abundance, is the proper use of it.

4thly. The law had a double object in view, the improvement of the affluent, and the relief of the poor. It is thus become a mutual benefit, the one was blessed in giving, the other in receiving. The greater blessedness however on the side of the giver, as the blessedness of the Creator is superior to that of the creature. It is as much an ordination of Providence, that the " poor should never cease out of the land," as that "the earth should yield her increase," and the spheres perform their stated revolutions; and while they do exist,

the great Lord and Preserver of all things, is concerned to make suitable provision for them; The rich are his stewards, and their storekeepers: he that gleans his own field to the last ear, is a thief and a robber as much as he who plunders his neighbor's granary; he robs God, he plunders the needy and the destitute, he does what he can to subvert the divine government, he would make the law of charity and mercy of none elfect, he bars his own plea for pardon at a throne of grace, he mars the possession of all he has, he cankers his owu enjoyment, and affixes his seal to his own condemnation.

5thly. The law particularly describes the objects which it meant to relieve," the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow." Unhappy Ruth! her title to the wretched offal from the hand of the reaper was but too well established. She united in her own person all these characters of woe. Her melancholy claim to pity and support was fearfully multiplied, and a three-fold burden presses her down to the ground; ne. vertheless she entreats, as a boon, what she might have demanded, and taken, as a right.

Her trust in, and submission to the direction of Providence sweetly accord with her filial affection and tenderness, and her noble independency of spirit; she is determined to labor, she disdains not to employ the necessary means for supplying herself and aged parent with food, but she leaves the direction of her footsteps to High Heaven; she is in the way of her duty, and deposits all anxiety about the issue in the bosom of her heavenly Father. What a happy mixture of fortitude and resignation! It cannot but prosper.

Having obtained the consent of her mother, who perhaps might have a presentiment of what was approaching, behold her up with the dawn, pensive, timorous and slow, advancing to the fields; the country all before her, where to choose her place of toil, and Providence her guide; with the downcast look of ingenuous modesty; the timidity which sour misfortune

inspires; the firm step of conscious rectitude, and the flushed cheek of kindling hope. By some nameless, unaccountable circumstance, Heaven-directed, she unknowingly bends her course to the field and reapers of Boaz. She has done her part, has made the sacrifices which conscience and affection demanded, has submitted cheerfully to the hardships which necessity imposed, has put herself in the way of relief which her situation pointed out. God is good, and takes all the rest upon himself. He, who ordered her flight to Canaan at the time of barley-harvest, when nature, and Providence, and the law concurred to find her subsistence, orders her path to that field, where every thing, without the knowledge of the parties concerned, was prepared and arranged for the high scenes now ready to be acted.

The order of human proceedure generally is from blaze to smoke, from noise and bustle to nothing, from mighty preparation, to feebleness of execution. The divine conduct, on the contrary, is a glorious rise from obscurity into light, from " small beginnings to a latter end greatly increased;" from "the mouth of babes and sucklings he ordaineth strength," and by a concurrence of circumstances which no human sagacity could foresee, and no human power could either bring toge ther or keep asunder, raises a neglected gleaner in the field into the lady of the domain, and a fugitive of Moab into a mother in Israel; a mother of kings, whose name shall never expire but with the dissolution of nature.

At this period of the story, let us pause, and meditate.

....On the power which regulates and controlls all the affairs of men, who has all hearts, all events in bis hand, who "poureth contempt upon princes, and bringeth to nought the wisdom of the prudent;" who "raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the needy out of the dungbill, that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people; he maketh

the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children." Is there a God who "doti according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth?" then let me never" be high-minded, but fear" always before him, for I am never out of his reach, never concealed from his eye, never sheltered from his justice. Is there a God who judgeth in the earth, whom the fatherless findeth mercy, to whom the miserable never look, never cry in vain? then let me never sink into despair. I am not too humble for his notice, my disease is not beyond his skill to cure, my wants are not too numerous for his supplies, nor my transgressions beyond the multitude of his tender mercies. Doth not he deck the lily, and feed the raven? a sparrow riseth not on the wing, falleth not to the ground, without my heavenly Father. "Hitherto hath the Lord helped," and " his hand is not shortened, nor his ear heavy, nor his bowels of compassion restrained."

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Meditate again, on what ground you have encouragement to ask and to expect the divine protection and favor. Have you given up all for God? Have you good hope through grace that you are reconciled to God through the blood of his Son? Have you a good conscience toward God that you are in the proper use of appointed means? Can you look up with confidence and say, "Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest I have not folded my hands to sleep, have not sat down in sullen discontent, have not charged thee foolishly, have not fled to unjustifiable methods of relief. I have not impiously striven with my Maker, nor presumptuously expected a miracle to be wrought in my behalf. I have in much weakness, but in trembling hope, endeavored to do my duty; and I now, Lord, cast all my care, cast my burden upon thee." Look into the history of divine interpositions. Were they in compliment to the peevish and capricious, were they extorted by the loud lamentations or the secret murmurings

of insolence and ingratitude? were they the pillows smoothed by the hand of weak indulgence for the drowsy head of sloth and indifference to repose on ? No, but they were the seasonable cordial of parental affection to a fainting child; the reward which wisdom and goodness bestow on diligence and perseverance; the indissoluble union which God has established between human exertion and divine co-operation; they were the recompense of labor and vigilance, the answer of prayer.

Meditate yet again, on the true dignity of human nature, on the true glory of man and of woman also ; ....honest, useful employment. It is not idle, luxurious enjoyment, it is not to do nothing, to be eternally waited upon, and ministered unto, to grow torpid by inaction, to slumber away life in a lethargic dream, and to lose the powers of the soul and body by disuse; but. to preserve and promote health by moderate exercise, to earn cheerfulness and self approbation, by the sweet consciousness that you are not living wholly in vain, and to rise into importance by being somewhat useful to your fellow-creatures. In the eye of sober, unbiassed reason, whether of the two is the more pleasing, the more respectable sight; and which is, in her own mind, the happier of the two, Ruth laden with the ears of corn which she has toiled to gather, hastening home to the hut of obscurity, to administer food and comfort to old age and sorrow; or a modern belle, issuing forth under a load of uneasy finery, to imaginery triumphs, and certain disappointment? Who sleeps soundest at night, and who awakes and arises in the best health and spirits next day? I expect not an answer.

The thing speaks for itself; and I have purposely forborne to state the case so strongly as I might have done. The virtuous damsel has, in part, received her reward, but a greater and better is preparing for her. The mother and daughter have been arranging their little matters with discretion: and the great God has

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