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been preparing his agents, putting his armies in motion; all is made ready, is made to meet, is made to work together, is made to prosper, by Him whe sees the perfect man in the embryo, the end from the beginning, the effect in its primary cause, the eternal chain in every series, and in all its extent.
HISTORY OF RUTH.
And behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unte the reapers, The Lord be with you: and they answered him, The Lord bless thee....Ruгн ii, 4.
THE short and simple sentence which I have read, might be made the subject of a volume. I intend to make it at least the subject of a Lecture, and entreat your patient attention to a few of the obvious, but neither uninteresting nor unimportant views which it exhibits, of life and manners, of morals and religion.
Men of different characters, from various motives, and for various purposes, might be supposed to assume the plain, unadorned history of the barley-harvest of Boaz, as an useful and instructive topic of address, and, according to the spirit by which they were actuated, and the end which they had in view, might reason upon it in this manner.
1. The prudent, careful man, would build upon it a system of attention, diligence and economy. "Behold," would he say, "behold Boaz, the wealthy and the wise, in his field, among his servants, seeing every thing with his own eyes, giving his orders in person, taking care that every one be in his own place, and performing his particular duty. The air and exercise connected with the operations of husbandry, are conducive to health, to comfort; they promote his interest; they enliven his spirits; moderate labor makes
rest welcome. See, his presence is a check upon ideness, upon carelessness, upon discord; it calls forth industry, it creates honest emulation; it reconciles the peasant to his toil, to see the master participating in it. He has brought himself down to the level of the poor laborer, who seems to have risen in proportion. See, nothing escapes his notice, not even a wretched giea-uer behind the reapers; he must be informed of every thing; to the minutest circumstance he will judge for himself.
"Young man, set out in life, and conduct your progress on such a principle, on such a model as this. It is the certain road to affluence, to respectability: you are thereby at once serving yourself, your dependants, and your country. Whatever be thy station, whatever thy employment, let thy heart be in it; let thy time and thy attention be devoted to it. "Be thou
diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds." Be not slothful in business. Let every thing be done in its season; let every thing be done decently and in order." "The hand of the diligent "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men,”
"To these might be added innumerable admonitions and arguments, drawn from scripture, from reason, from history, from experience, all tending to demonstrate the wisdom, the utility, the necessity of doing what thy hand findeth to do, with thy might; and to prove the folly, the danger, the misery of sloth and inattention. But the example is beyond all precept. Survey yonder. field; from Ruth up to Boaz; all are busy, all are pleased and cheerful, all are happy. Be instructed, my son, by the prospect; and learn that God, and nature, and reason, have inseparably connected industry and felicity; have made bodily health and inward peace, prosperity and importance to flow from virtuous, temperate exertion, as the stream from its source."
II. The moralist would take up the subject in a point of view somewhat different. "Observe" would he say, "the reciprocal duties arising out of the mutual relations of human life. We have them here beautifully exemplified in the relation of master and servant. Besides the more obvious obligations of justice, on the one, in faithfully performing the stipulated labor; on the other, in punctually bestowing the promised wages of the hireling, behold the tacit obligations of mutual affection and benevolence. Obligations founded not indeed upon a written law, but interwoven with the constitution and frame of our nature, and which the man who feels not, acknowledges not, the man who neglects or violates, let his adherence to the letter of the law be ever so close and exact, is a traitor to God and society. Nay, he is a traitor to himself, by cutting off one of the purest sources of his own enjoyment, and at the same timè depriving mankind of one of their justest claims.
"Boaz and his reapers meet with mutual cordiality. They give and receive the salutation of peace. He accosts them as a father would his children, not as á task-master would the miserable drudges subjected to his authority. They address him with the kindly and humble familiarity of sons, not the distant timidity of slaves trembling for fear of the rod. They exact the price of their service as a debt; but they receive the gentle language and smiles of their employer as a favor. He expects them to be honest and diligent, for conscience sake; but contentment with their condi tion, and good will to him, he thankfully receives, as an unconditioned, extraordinary effort to promote his in
"Suppose, for a moment, the temper and character of both changed; and the force of the example will be more clearly understood, and more powerfully felt. Without supposing any one precept of morality, or dictate of religion infringed, what a different aspect would
the field of Boaz wear! Lo, where comes the surly, stately, self-important lord of the manor, surveying in the pride of his heart, his increasing store, looking down on the humble, hardy sons of toil, as mere beasts of burden, designed to minister to his conveniency. He vouchsafes them never a word, except perhaps to complain, to threaten, or to upbraid: and then, in sullen silence and state, retires again. The insulted laborers on the other hand, regard him with terror or disgust. The social compact is dissolved between them. No eye welcomed his approach with a smile, no whisper of gratulation conveyed his name from ear to ear, no tongue pronounced " God bless him." The half-smothered execration pursued his withdrawing steps, and he well deserved it.
"What thinkest thou, my young friend, of the picture? Learn from it, that to doing justly, there must be added loving mercy, and walking humbly. Learn, that the duties and felicities of human life consist in numberless, nameless, undefinable little offices, which every one may learn without a teacher, and which every one may, if he will, perform. All have it not in their power to supply the poor, to heal the sick, to succor the distressed. Opportunity does not every day offer, nor ability permit to confer material, essential benefits; but it is in the power of all to express sympathy, to breathe a kind wish. Opportunities every hour, every moment present themselves, and ability never fails of looking pleasantly, of speaking gently and affectionately. And he is a wretch indeed who knows that the unbending of an eyebrow, the utterance of a syllable or two, the alteration of half a tone of his voice, the simple extension of his hand would in a moment relieve a heart overwhelmed with sorrow, wrung with anguish, and yet cruelly withholds so slender, so easy, so cheap a consolation.
Young man, if it be thy misfortune to have to struggle with a harsh, ungainly, unbending disposition,