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no other tenure than his despotic will. In fat contradiction to holy writ, he has practically declared that it is by him kings reign, and princes decree judgment. 'One is your Master, even • Christ,' says the Scripture ; but I am lord of conscience, says the man of sin.
This man of sin is the head of the Roman church, that Anti christian hierarchy, which has ever shut the door of knowledge against the people, and persecuted to death the faithful followers of Jesus ; and against which church is already denounced the following awful malediction, Rev, xviii. 6, 7. “ Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to
her works ; in the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double. • How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so
much sorrow and torment give her.' Nor is this to be considered as an empty threatening, for its ful6lment is on its way, and shall be amply accomplished under the third vial, Rev. xvi. 6. where it is represented in point of certainty, as a fact which had already taken place. • They have shed the blood of the saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for
they are worthy, Let the man of sin with all his adherents tremble at the dreadful doom ; and let the souls under the altar rejoice, seeing that judgment is hastening, and their God will fully execute the law of retaliation.
IV. “The Lord grant that you may find rest each of you in the house of her husband.'---Benevolence prompted the piou. prayer, and shewed that she preferred the welfare of her living daughters, to the memory of her deceased children. She wisely considered them as loosed from the law of their former husbands, and at full liberty to re-enter the conjugal state with whom, and whensoever they pleased. This shews that a life of celibacy was no more known to ancient custom, than it is any part of Scripture requirement. It is evident that she even considered marriage, yea, a second marriage, as honourable, and a state of rest in comparison of widowhood or virginity. Let experience speak, and it will testify the same truth, therefore those who recommend a sequestered life, ought to be deemed enemies to society.
This good woman looked to God as the giver of this rest, • The Lord give each of you rest.' Happy, happy it is for that man who can look to the Lord, as the only giver of every good and perfect gift! And assuredly, if men and women were to look to him, instead of fortune, and social connections, there would be many more happy marriages than in general subsist. Blessed is that man who can upon this, and every other occasion, say with David, Psal. xxv. 15. My eyes are ever towards the • Lord.' But as Mr. Ness observes, with but too much justice, in general on these occasions the great bag, instead of the great God, is inost regarded. And this
we may conclude, that where
the first is the object, true conjugal happiness is not to be expected. Begin with God, and he will continue with you even to your dying moments.
V. Having prayed with and for them, she kissed them, which shews that a rejection of every form of homage proceeds from superstition, rather than from Scripture usage. Even Abraham, the parent of the chosen race, bowed to the cursed Hittites ;* and venerable Boaz, in a pious manner, saluted his harvest people, with 'The Lord be with you.'
In Scripture we read of a civil kiss of salutation congratulatory at the meeting of friends, as when Jacob met with his cousin Rachel.t This in the text is valedictory, at an intended parting. Of a flattering, treacherous kiss, designed to cover the malignity of heart intentions : thus Absalom, acting the traitor to his own father, kissed the people on purpose to win their affections. Thus Joab took Amasa by the beard and kissed him, on purpose to conceal the dagger intended to be plunged into his bowels. And thus Judah comes with his, Hail Master! on purpose to betray the Saviour of the world.
We also read of a superstitious and idolatrous kiss, such as the image of Baal received from his worshippers; not unlike to the former practice of princes stooping to kiss the toe of the hoary impostor at Rome. A wanton whorish kiss, Prov. vii. 13. where it is said, 'And she caught him, and kissed him.' But above all, there is an holy kiss of precious communion between Christ and his church, or the believing soul.
This is twofold.---Ist. From Jesus, when he speaks pardon, peace, and loving-kindness to the poor, lost, and self-condemned sinner, mentioned Song i. 1. 'Let him kiss me with the kisses
of his lips, &c.' and who, that feels the bitterness of convicted sin, but will join in the ardent petition ?---2d. There is a kiss of homage and submission from the believer unto the Saviour, similar to that which is practised by men in civil society. When any person is by the prince entrusted with offico, you hear of him doing homage by kissing the hand of his sovereign and benefactor: how much more reasonably is the pardoned sinner called upon, Psal. ii. 12. “To kiss the Son lest he be angry,' and to take upon him the Redeemer's light yoke and easy burden?
This tenderness and piety of the mother produced in her daughters the softest sensations; they were not like many who can hear the most fervent petitions without the least emotion, who, perhaps, while the parent is groaning for their redemption, can snort away the moments of prayer, moments never, ah! never to return! unless it is like the flying Spartans, to lodge an arrow in the heart of the thoughtless. May the thoughtless and prayerless be enabled to keep this in remembrance.
VI. And they said unto her, surely we will return with thee • unto thy people.'---So said both, and both meant as they spoke. A few remarks here.
(1) Promises of speech, and purposes of heart, whether to God, to his church, or to individuals, ought to go hand in hand. Speech is the glory of man, and its intent is to express the meaning of the heart. None ought to promise with their mouths what they do not purpose with their hearts; this is to be fraudulent and deceitful, which is destructive to human society; and such act the part of devils, and prostitute the glory of their nature to the worst of purposes, if a man's word does not express his meaning, and bind him, nothing can : you who have said to the church, 'Surely we will go with thee, pray that God would give you grace to keep your word, lest, like Orpah, you turn back again.
(2) Promises and purposes often proceed from passion instead of principle. This we frequently see exemplified in young converts, who have a passionate regard to the person or manner of a preacher; and who for a while are extravagantly fond, and vehemently carried away. Orpah's was evidently from passion. Saul, overcome with David's kindness, promised that he would not seek his hurt. Naomi seemed sensible that this proceeded from passion, therefore prudently distrusts them till she had put them to a farther trial.
A church will, at least ought, to examine into the candidate's principle before admission, and that because,
(3) Purposes and promises proceeding merely from passion soon fall to the ground. A changed heart is necessary to perseverance in following God with Naomi. 'I go, Sir,' and went not, was the language of one whom we read of in the gospel, Mat. xxi. 30. Some persons' meltings under the ministry of the word, are but as the summer brook which lema's troops drank of, soon dried up, Job vi. 15, 20. Good thoughts do only make a thoroughfare upon a wicked heart, they stay not there as those that like not their lodging. Saul may have his religious fits, and Jehu much zeal, but for want of a changed heart both come to nothing.
VII. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters : why will 'ye go with me?' &c.--- Permit me to engage your attention to the following particulars :
(1) Why will ye go with me?'---She well knew that if their hearts were not formed to it, the customs of Israel would prove irksome. This would have been a stumbling block to the weak; a scorn to the wicked; an heart-breaking to herself. Why will
ye go with me?' says the church. Young candidates should be full of caution, looking well to the grounds of their forsaking their idols : whether a sense of the purity of God and his law the malignity of sin ; Christ's all-sufficiency and fitness be at th
bottom. Why will ye go with the church ?' Is it because ye consider it as God's chosen, purchased, and conquered people? Or in Moses' words, because ye have heard that the Lord is
among them ? Numb. xiv. 14. or because tne church is Christ's Naomi, his sister, his spouse, his love, his dove, his undefiled ? You will enter into a arfare ; none have more enemies than the professing Christian ; Satan, and all his vassals, his myrmidons, *the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.'
Now, war is to be entered into with caution and consideration, Luke xiv. 31. “Wliat king going to war against another king, ‘sitteth not down and consulteth, whether he be able with ten
thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty • thousand? You are called to follow the Lamb, and his gospel, in good and evil report; to choose godliness though afflicted, and the gospel though persecuted.
Naomi's reasoning was full of candour and gentle persuasion. She used not the authority of a mother ; but the softness of a friend; for she well knew that candour and kindness, are better than moroseness and rigour.
(2) • Are there yet sons in my womb, that they may be your • husbands?' alluding to the Levitical law, Deut. xxv. 5, 6. in which the brother of the deceased husband was bound to take the widow, &c. that the inheritance should not be alienated, nor the husband's name perish. Naboth lost his life because he would pot part with his inheritance, 1 Kings xxi. 3. ' And Naboth said • to Abab, the Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inherit•ance of my fathers unto thee. This will apply to the gospel and its ordinances, descended to us from our ancestors : God forbid that we should alienate or fool it away ; should we not transmit it to posterity, children's children, might curse us. Slavery follows a departed gospel. God forbid that our land should cast us out, or that our sins should cast out the gospel, or that Christ's land should be given to Antichrist.
(3) 'I am too old to have an husband.'---Second marriages are no where in the word of God condemned as unlawful. Had they not been lawful, Abraham had been reproved for marrying Keturah. Naomi gives no intimation of her having relinquished the world to go into a nunnery, &c. The doctrine of a monastic life is contrary to Scripture usage. Enoch walked with God as prince and high priest of the faithful, in a married state, begetting sons and daughters. If Adam and Eve had been separated in a convent or nunnery, how would the world have been peopled? The Pope contradicts God in this as well as in every thing else. It is not good for man to be alone,' says God. “It is best for men in orders to be alone,” says the Pope. But whether it be right to hearken unto the Pope more than unto God, judge ye.
(1) Would ye tarry for them till they be grown? would ye
stay for them from having husbands ?'---None of them thought of having children without husbands. Nay, my daughters : ' for it grieveth me much for your sakes.' To a gracious soul, it is very affecting to see others involved in the fruit of its sins. She sinned in leaving Canaan, perhaps she was the principal cause of their removal ; but they had not sinned with her, yet they suffer. When the plague went forth upon the people, David spake unto the Lord, and said, 'Lo, I have sinned, and I
have done wickedly : but these sheep, what have they done? • Let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my • father's house,' 2 Sam. xxiv. 17. O that spendthrift husbands would think of this, how their wives and their children are involved in their punishment !
The words are by some read, ' It is more bitter to me than to you.' She was a poor, an old, a childless widow. Such are the objects of Christian charity, and to give to such is to lend to the Lord.
(5) 'That the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.'--It is well for us if we can see, and are brought to acknowledge the Lord's hand in our afflictions. Divine Providence gives commission to afflictions to seize upon us : Providence orders the measure, the continuance, and the fruit of afflictions. The Stoics ascribed them to inevitable fate; the Epicureans and Atheists to blind fortune; the Philistines to chance. But Christians are of another mind; they hold a different creed, and ascribe the trials and changes of life to a quite different cause. David could see the divine hand through Shimei's wickedness, 2 Sam. xvi. 11. The providence of God regardeth all his works. • The very hairs of your head are numbered.'
Ruth i. 14, 15.
And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed
her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her. 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. The Son of God being ordained the Saviour of all who believe of the Gentiles as well as the Jewish race, it was necessary he should derive his human body of the substance of each; that affinity by blood might between thein subsist, and consistently