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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 pepared and arranged for the high scenes now ready to be acted.
The order of human procedure 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 forsee, and no human power could either bring together 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 controls all the affairs of men, who has all hearts, all events in his 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 dunghill, 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" doth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth?" then let me never "be highminded, 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 judg
eth in the earth, in whom the fatherless findeth mercy, to whom the miserable never look, never cry in vain, then let me never sink into dispair. 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 trangressions beyond the multitude of his tender mercies. Doth not he deck the lilly, and feed the raven? a sparrow riseth not on the wing, falle:h not to the ground, without my heavenly Father. "Hitherto hath the Lord helped," and "his hand is not shortened, nor his car heavy, nor his bowels of compassion restrained.”
Meditate again, on what ground you have encouragement to ask and to expect the divine protection and favour. 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, endeavoured 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 com. pliment 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 drewsy 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 be
tween human exertion and divine co-operation; they were the recompense of labour and vigilance, the an swer of prayer.
Meditate yet again, on the true dignity of human nature, on the true glory of man and 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 imaginary 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
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 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 who 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 unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.-RUTH 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.
I. 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 labour makes rest
welcome. See, his presence is a check upon idleness, 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 labourer, who seems to have risen in proportion. See, nothing escapes his notice, not even a wretched gleaner 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 maketh rich." "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 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 VOL. III. 2. R.