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law, su to delight in each others company. And O what a pleasing sight to see relations walking hand in hand, in the fear of the Lord from Moab to Canaan, from this world, doomed to destruction, to the upper regions, the seat of rest and felicity! to see husband and wife, parent and child, coming cheerfully up to the house of the Lord together! But it is sad to behold the one set his face towards the house of vanity, when the other goes to worship God in his house of prayer. How many hearts this conduct bas broken, and what murder of this kind must be answered for in the day of retribution, Infinite Wisdom only knows; but of this we are certain, that it shall all be brought into judgment before an assembled world. How awful the siene, when all the secret ways of mankind, with their causes and effects, shall be publicly investigated by the impartial Judge of heaven and earth! Well may the wicked and impenitent tremble on anticipating their certain doom. And well may the saints of God rejoice on the prospect of their redemption daily drawing nearer and nearer.
(8) . They went on their way to return to the land of Judah.' ---Orpah had not as yet discovered any inclination to continue in the land of Moab, therefore her mother had no just reason to cail her sincerity in question; as man can be approved or censured only by their present works, it being wholly within the divine province to judge of the principles which influence the heart. The practical improvement is couched in this observation : all who set out from Moab to Canaan in earnest, do, like unto them, go on in their way; not indeed in the way perceived sanctity, but rather under a sense of heart pollution which lays them and keeps them low in the sight and presence of their holy Redeemer ; and this growing downwards into nothingness, is one of the evidences of growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, whether a man does or does not enjoy the immediate benefit and comfort of it himself
The righteous hold on their way, because here in this Moabitish world, they can find no continuing city nor place of abode , nothing to satisfy the cravings of an immortal mind : and from the very best authority they have heard, that in their Father's house there is bread enough and to spare ; and they justly conclude, that this being the case, it would be madness in the extreme for them to tarry in a strange land, and perish by penury. Indeed, whilst there are many mansions in his house, and yet room for every comer from every quarter of the globe, why should they be discouraged, or by any means deterred from their laudable pursuit of life eternal ? Difficulties you may, you must, you shall meet on your way; for it is through much tribulation that we sh enter the kingdom : but an entrance once adıniristered into the holiest of all, will amply reward your toil
and suffering, and cause your present afflictions to appear as waters which have passed away.
To conclude. Remember it is the Spirit of the Lord which discovers the emptiness of Moab, and the insufficiency of all creature enjoyments; which inclineth the heart to forsake father and mother, wife and children, houses and lands, for the sake of Josus and salvation : it is he who giveth courage and inspireth strength to hold on in the way even to the end, and bring you safe to the heavenly felicity. Let then your eye, and your cry, be ever to Jesus for his Spirit's teaching; for as many as are • led by the Spirit of God, they are the suns of God,' Rom. viii. 14.
Ruth i. 8---13.
And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, go return each to
her mother's house; the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant yoit, that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them ; and they lift up their voice ard wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters : why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have an husband : if I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to-night and should also bear sons, would ye tarry, &c.
Speaking of the virtuous woman, whose price is above rubics, Solomon says, Prov. xxxi. 26. “She openeth her mouth with
wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness :' truly verified in Naomi, from whom we have not heard a syllable till now, and nothing but wisdom and kindness drop from her lips ; all is maternal tenderness and piety, joined with the most becoming gravity. Far from being like the clack of the foolish woman elsewhere described, and known by the multitude of her words; she acts and speaks as if a type of the church, in caring íor the welfare of her daughters-in-law. What a rebuke does this
venerable character give to tattlers, backbiters, and busy bodies? and what a fair example is set before every mother in our modern Israel ? · I. Go, return each to her mother's house.'---This breathes the most ardent affection. She loved her daughters, and, delighted in their company ; but rather than involve them in the difficulties she saw before her, she was ready to deny herself of the only earthly consolation she retained. Much had she lost, her all was at stake, yet her noble, disinterested soul felt more for her daughters-in-law than for herself ; notwithstanding she rejected the name of Naomi, and laid claim to that of Marah. • It grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is 'gone out against me,' ver. 13. What an excellent lesson to parents, teaching you to prefer the good of your children, even to your own p.rsonal happiness; and indeed what would not a parent sacrifice to the good of his offspring ?
Besides parental tenderness, this experienced mother might have a political end in view in giving this advice. By this she brought them to the test, and proved the sincerity of their affection to her, and to that Jehovah whose religion she professed. Till this advice was given, the soundness and sincerity of Ruth's religion did not appear; nor did the rottenness of Orpali's professior, discover itself: but this brought them to a final determination, and each clave to the company with which they were formed to associate. This will ultimately be the case with all men, and every one shall have his own proper company; the very company which is their choice in the present state of existence.
Poor Orpah, whose religion was superficial, could now go back with credit, and therefore embraced her mother's advice : but steady, amiable Ruth had her heart effectually touched, and no persuasion could possibly divert her from her purpose to cleave to her mother-in-law, in life, in death, and in the very grave itself.. O how steady and immoveable is the attachment of the truly godly! where you see much unsteadiness, you have g eat reason to fear that the root of the matter is absent, for love is a fixed principle, which cannot be quenched even by many witers.
The believing church being the Redeemer's Naomi, his sweet or pleasant one, in bis unsearchable wisdom ; it is his p. asure sometimes to bring her into the wilderness of afflictions, and tempestuous trials, on purpose openly to try the love of her prolessed daughters. In such sifting and winnowing seasons, many Orpahs turn their backs on her assemblies, as if no way interested in her internal conrerns; notwithstanding at their first entising into her communion, they solemnly professed to cast their lot in with ber's for the worse, as well as for the better. But such professors who can walk with the church only in her peace and prosperity, betray their want of affection to the Lord and Master of the church himself; and it is no matter how soon they return
b ck to their own proper company, for they cannot at del profit the Lord's people.
II. «The Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the • dead and with me.'-.-This holy woman could not part with her daughters-in-law without praying with and for them; thereby setting us an example truly worthy of the closest imitation; and happy would it be if the same conduct were more generally practised in Christian society; of what union of affection might it be productive ! she prayed for both with equal earnestness, not knowing which, if either, the Lord had chosen. Hence it appears, that parents ought to pray with and for their children; for how shall they be convinced, that they have at all a share in your prayers, if they are never offered up in their personal presenice?
You may do your offspring more good by prayer and supplication for them, than by all your endeavours to render their fortunes affluent. Naomi had neither silver nor gold to confer, but she had, what was more valuable, an heart which could not cease to pray for them.
Indeed one would suppose that every parent who has an heart to love his children, would also have an heart to pray with and for them ; but alas ! the case happens very often to be quite the contrary, and many children are brought up, who, from the conduct of their parents, are altogether uvacquainted that there is either duty, or privilege in that solemnity. But will not the man of grace imitate the high father of the faithful, who, in the fervour of his spirit, prayed earnestly for the son of even the bond woman, his whole soul going forth in the ardent petition,
O that Ishmael may live before thee! Where is that parent who will not say, O that my children may live before the Most High ; and with Naomi, the Lord deal kindly with you, and • bless you ?'. Children, bless God for praying parents; it is possible that they many times pray for you, when they hardly have hearts to pray for themselves. And ye parents, go on to pray for your children, let circumstances be ever so unpromising, for the Lord hath never said to the seed of Jacob, · Seek ye my « face in vain.'
III. ^ The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with * the dead and with me.' They had shewed conjugal kindness to their husbands whilst alive, buried them honourably when dead, and dutifully continued with their mother-in-law until this time in mourning: in all these things it appears not that Ruth exceeded Orpah. From whence we gather this striking truth, that how excellent soever moral and social virtue may be in itself, it may possess that soul which is altogether uninfluenced by divine religion ; and consequently, that this, abstractly considered, is no suitable foundation for the hope of mankind.
• The Lord deal kindly with you, &c.'---It may be observed
that the Holy Ghost, by whom only prayer is inspired, leads his subjects to pray according to the designs of his grace and providence, so that although all blessings are freely given in Jesus, they shall be obtained by us only in the way of asking; for, ‘ for • all these things,' saith the Lord, ' I will be inquired of by you, .O house of Israel.' Hence it follows, that when a spirit of prayer for the nation, church, or family, is in exercise, it is an evident sign that suitable blessings are near approaching. On the other hand, when that is absent, as there is just reason to fear it is in this day, there is reason to apprehend that these blessings are at a remote distance, if at all designed. O Britain ! my heart bleeds to contemplate thy situation! may God avert the approaching judgments !
The Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the · dead and with me.'---The law of retaliation, in both good and evil, is of divine institution, and of very ancient authority, Exod. xxi. 24, 25. ' Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot
for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.' This same law is still in force under the gospel dispensation, with this difference, that under the Mosaic dispensation the execution of it was left with the judges, but now the Lawgiver has resumed that province himself. But this alters not the tenor of the law, seeing the same God who commands his people to forgive even to seventy times seven injuries, will, upon their forgiveness, himself retaliate upon their enemies ; for himself tells us, Mat, vii. 2. With the same measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.'
Adonibezek, lord of the world, and tyrant of Jerusalem, was fully convinced of the sanction of this law of retaliation, as appears from his own confession, Judges i. 7. · Threescore and
ten kings having their thumbs and great toes cut off, gathered • their meat under my table; as I have done, so God hath 'requited me.' Caleb having defeated his forces, and taken the tyrant himself prisoner, either from his knowledge of his personal history, or by some secret leading from above, ordered his thumbs and great toes to be cut off, which opened his eyes to the villanies he had himself practised on others, and brought him to the above confession, which shews forth the righteousness of the heavenly Governor.
This wretched and unjust tyrant was a lively type of that man of sin described by the Apostle Paul, 2 Thess. ii. 4. As the son
of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all bat • is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.' He also assumes the name Adonibezek, lord or father of the world, the princes of which have kissed his toe, and as it were gathered their meat under his table, holding their crowns and kingdoms by