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senting another view of the endless variety discoverable in all the ways and works of the great Creator.
In the permanent manners of mankind we see the eternal sameness of the human mind, which no change of climate, of times, government, education can alter; a sameness as discernible and as fixed as the number of eyes, arms and fingers peculiar to the species. In those which are local and transient, we behold the infinite and endless variety of the human powers, which no stability and uniformity of law, instruction, discipline, interest, example, can arrest and fix; a variety as discernible, as unsteady, as unaccountable, as the different shades of complexion, the conformation of feature, the measurements of stature, the fluctuations of thought. Every thing satisfies, every thing confounds.
Once more, the language of this charming little epic history is plain and perspicuous, elegant yet unadorned, nervous yet chaste, simple yet not mean or vulgar. It consists of narration and dialogue, the former possessing the most exquisite degree of grace and ease, the latter of vivacity and force. There is no obscurity of idea, no redundancy of expression, no appearance of labor, no artful polish, no tinsel of words, no disgusting tediousness, no affected conciseness. Like the general code of scripture, it is capable of neither increase or diminution, without sustaining an injury.
But the least merit of the piece is its excellency as a composition. It forms a most material member of the great building of God, an important link in the chain of Providence, an interesting and instructive chapter in the history of redemption. The union of Boaz and Ruth can never lose its influence, never spend its force. When nature expires, and all these things are dissolved, the offspring of that pair" shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars forever and ever." From that root behold a branch has arisen, to which
the nations of them that are saved" continually re
sort, under whose shadow they repose, whose fruit is the source and support of a divine life, whose "leaves are for the healing of the nations." Let the Jew read
this sacred page, and glory in his ancestry; let the scholar read it, and improve his taste, and extend his knowledge; let the rustic read it, and prize his humble pursuits and innocent delights; let the sons of poverty and the daughters of affliction read it, and cease from despair, let them learn to" trust in the Lord, and to do good;" let the christian read it, and " hold fast the beginning of his confidence," and " rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
The last obvious remark on the history, sorry I am to say it, is not highly honorable to human nature. While Naomi was poor, and friendless, and forlorn, she met with little sympathy, with little countenance; she was permitted to depend for subsistence on the miserable, unproductive industry of a woman weak and wretched as herself; but no sooner is she connected with a mighty man of wealth," become a mother to Boaz, than the whole city is seeking to her; her own sex, in particular, we see entering into all her feelings, flattering all her natural propensities, accommodating themselves to her little wishes and desires, and trying to compensate their former coldness and neglect by every art of attention, officiousness and zeal. Base spirit! base world! Behold kindness pressed upon a man, just in proportion as he has no need of it; behold him oppressed with new friends, because he has already got too many, caressed by those who lately knew him not, praised and flattered to his face, by the very tongues which maligned and censured him in his absence. But that man is left to continue poor, because he is poor. He finds no support because he wants it, he stands unbefriended because he has no friend. Shame on the fawning sycophants that only flutter about in fair weather, that only frequent the mansions of the rich and great, that turn with the tide, that can
despise ragged poverty, and offer incense to ermined villainy.
Let us turn with contempt from the sight, and take a last parting look of one of the worthiest, best, happiest of human beings....Naomi nursing and cherishing her little grandson in her bosom. If there be bliss on earth she now enjoyed it. Her honest scheme had succeeded, the name of her beloved husband was revived, and his house begun to be built up: her amiable and beloved daughter was nobly rewarded for her tenderness and attachment; the inheritance of Elimelech is redeemed, and reverted to its proper channel; the wisdom and goodness of Providence are fully justified, and a prospect of felicity and honor is opened which knew no bounds. The miseries of a whole life are done away in one hour, converted into blessings, blessings heightened and improved by the memory of past woes; the name of Mara is forever obliterated, and the original, the suitable, the prophetic name of Naomi restored and confirmed. The sensibilities of a Grand mother are peculiarly pure and delicate respecting infant offspring. All good women are fond of children, to whomsoever they belong, how much more of their own, whom they bare with sorrow, and have brought up with solicitude: but "that [ should live to see my child's child, my being multiplied; dropping into the grave, yet reviving in that infant. 1 feel myself immortal; this babe will live to put his hand upon my eyes, and then I shall not feel the oppression of death; if he survive I cannot all die.
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
The Spirit of God has drawn a veil over the feelings of the mother herself, and the expression of them, and left it to imagination to figure the felicity of Ruth the widow of Mahlon, the daughter of Naomi, the wife of Boaz, the mother of Obed, in surveying the
changes of her life, in comparing what she was with
what she is.
....And thus have we finished what was intended, in discoursing on the book of Ruth. We have consider ed it, as a beautiful, because natural representation of human life; as a curious and interesting detail of important facts: and as an essential, constituent part of the plan of redempton. It happily connects the history of the Israchitish judges with that of their kings, and is obviously blended with both and while it demonstrates the care of Providence, in fulfilling the promises made to Abraham, the friend of God, 'n pro longing his race, in multiplying his seed, in making kings to arise out of him, it unfolds the more enlarged and comprehensive purpose of the Eternal Mind; it points directly forward to that "seed in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed;" it shews the subserviency of all that preceded, to the evangelical dispensation; it breathes good will to men. The reception of Rath, a Gentile, within the pale of the church of the living God; her advancement to honor, her parti» cipation of the privileges of a mother in Israel, are a happy prefiguration of the admission of the whole Gentile world within the bond of God's covenant. We see the work of God still going forward and prospering; the work of mercy enlarging, extending its sphere; all bending forward to that grand consummation, when " Israel too shall be saved," and the ancient people of God brought into a communication of the blessings of the gospel, together with "the fuluess of the Geutile nations;" when there shall be "one shepherd and one sheep-fold;" when Jew and Gentile sha'l arise together from the dead, because "Christ doth give them life."
The birth of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David, brings the history of the world down to the year 2697, from the creation, and before Christ 1307,
and conducts us to the eve of the establishment of kingly power in Israel.
How many generations of men have passed in review before us, in the course of these few years evening exercises from Adam down to Boaz! what changes has the audience undergone, since first it collected in this view! What deep and affecting changes will a will few more seasons produce! The turning of the page present a new preacher, new hearers, a different plan, a different arrangement, different interests, different feelings. The separation of this night may be final and permanent. We bend together, gracious God, with wonder and gratitude before thy throne. Spared together so many years longer, "cumberers of the ground" that we are; our bodies preserved in health, our minds in tranquillity: blessed with friendship, blest with sufficiency, blest with the means of improvemeut, blest with hope! Ah, we are unworthy of the least of thy favors, and we have been distinguished by the choicest and best! Make us to feel thy goodness and cur own unworthiness; help us to live more to thy glory. As our interest in the world diminishes, as years increase, as grey hairs multiply, as friends depart, as comforts fail, as eternity advances, let our faith strengthen, let our spirits rise to thee, let our prospects brighten, let our ardor after immortality kindle. The nearer we approach to thee, let our resemblance to thee become more apparent; let the spirit of heaven, the spirit of the blessed Jesus, be imparted to us, that, living and dying, we may edify the world, be a blessing to all connected with us, and still enjoy inward peace. And as we separate from time to time, may it be in the sweet expectation of meeting together in the regi "The grace ons of everlasting purity, love and joy. of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirits. Amen."