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ries of God, rejoice with trembling. Glory only in the cross of Christ on the one hand, and оссиру
your talents in preaching and living according to the doctrine of that cross, on the other. Let your loins be girdèd about, and your lights burning. And ye yourselves like . unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. But if that servant say in his heart, My Lord debayeth his coming, and shall begin to beat the men-servants and maidens, and to eat and drink and be drunken; the Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
YOUNG PERSONS ENCOURAGED TO DECISION
RUTH, I. 15.17. And she said, Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone
back unto her people and unto her gods; return thou after thy sister-in-law. And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.
There is scarcely any narrative in the Holy Scriptures more interesting than that of Ruth. It is like a piece of fine painting, abounding in the inost natural and exquisite touches. It affords a specimen of the gracious dealings of God with his church; and especially tends to encourage young persons in resolutely choosing the
ways of piety. The character of Ruth, the
circumstances of her conversion to the faith of Israel, and the subsequent events of her life, are all full of instruction. The whole exhibits the loveliness of true religion, and is calculated to inspire us with a holy courage in following it. With this impression I shall endeavour to offer some remarks on her history, in the hope that, under the blessing of God, it may animate young persons especially to take a decided part “in professing the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully fighting under his banners against the world, the flesh, and the devil *.”
In considering, then, the holy resolution recorded in the text, let us notice,
I. Those steps of the providence of God which led Ruth to the knowledge of religion.
II. The effects of his grace apparent in her pious determination to follow Naomi to the land of Israel.
III. The evidences of his faithfulness which appeared in her subsequent history.
Thus the providence of God, the grace of God, and the faithfulness of God, as exemplified in this affecting narrative, will be the chief objects of our contemplation in this discourse.
I. Ruth was by birth a Gentile, a Moabitess; an alien from the commonwealth of Israel,
a stranger from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But the providence of God, concurring with his grace, led her in a very remarkable manner to the knowledge of the true religion, and made her a fellow-citizen with the saints and of the household of God.
The first step towards this result was THE PAMINE IN ISRAEL, which induced Elimelech, with his wife Naomi, and his two sons, Ephrathites of Bethlehem Judah, to go to sojourn in the country of Moab, the land where Ruth was born and in which she dwelt. This removal may seem to be a somewhat dubious measure; for temporary difficulties ought not to make us easily throw ourselves into situations, in which we cannot enjoy the benefit of the means of religion and of the society of God's church and people. In the famine itself, however, both the judgment and the mercy of God were apparent. A fruitful land made he barren, doubtless, for the wickedness of them that dwelt therein ; and yet by such a visitation many particular designs of grace towards individuals, as in the case we are to consider, were probably accom, plished.
In Moab, Elimelech died, and his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, no longer restrained by his authority, united themselves in marriage with women of Moab, contrary to the command
of God, who expressly forbade the Israelites contracting marriages with the idolatrous nations around them, and who especially declared that a Moabite should not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth gene ration shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever. Thus Elimelech appears to have contributed to the sins of his children by removing them from the service of God and the society of his worshippers. He went to Moab to avoid famine; but probably without taking counsel of the Lord. Such projects seldom succeed even in this world. And what was the result in this instance? He himself finds death were he thought to obtain the means of prolonging life: he leaves his family unprotected; and his sons connect themselves in forbidden affinity with the heathens.
It pleased God, in accomplishing his purposes of mercy towards Ruth, that she SHOULD BE ONE OF THE TWO WOMEN OF MOAB, WHOM THE SONS OF ELIMĖLECH MARRIED. Thus she became united to the family of an Israelite, and had the opportunity of learning the revealed will of God. This marriage, sinful as it was on the part of her husband, was to her the first step of salvation. How inexplicable is the mystery of the divine counsels! By circumstances unlawful in themselves, and for which the agents who commit them, are justly punish