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lech; and to marry Ruth, and thereby to raise up the name of the dead, that is, of her former husband Mahlon, upon the inheritance. And when the first kinsman declined the redemption of the land, except it were disconnected with the marriage of Ruth, lest he might mar his own inheritance, as perhaps he had already a wife and family; then Boaz, who evidently was himself desirous of marrying Ruth, declared, in presence of the witnesses, that he would redeem the estate, which Naomi, without considering Orpah, as she had remained in her own heathen country, had transferred to Ruth; and would also marry Ruth, that the name of the dead might be raised up upon his inheritance, and not be cut off from among his brethren. Then said Boaz to the elders, To this purchase and proposal, ye are witnesses this day. And all the people, who had collected themselves around the city gate, and the ten elders, said, We are witnesses. Then did the witnesses, who appear to have been pious men, upon the public recognition of this honourable and interesting marriage, conducted according to the usages of the country, pronounce their glad benediction upon Boaz : The Lord make the woman, that is come into thine house, like Rachel and like Leah of old; and worthily bless the seed, which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman. So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife; and the Lord gave her his favour, and she bare a son. And then did the women, the neighbours of the pious Naomi, gather around to congratulate her upon her renewed prosperity; and blessed the Lord, who had thus blessed her in giving her a grandson; for, said they, he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age; for thy daughter-in-law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him. And Naomi, being thus solaced for the death of her husband and her two sons, took the child, her little grandson, which the women her neighbours named Obed, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. Thus, by following the plain way of duty and piety, was the forlorn and affectionate Ruth led on, by the hand of a smiling Providence, to a happy settlement in Canaan; her little son Obed became the grandfather of king David; and
she herself, the simple barley-gleaner in the fields of Boaz, became the greatly honoured, and remote mother of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Although I have endeavoured to interweave the Moral of this beautiful Story into it, as I proceeded, yet it may well suggest some other useful remarks.
1. We are taught by the affection of Naomi and Ruth, that there ever should be an affection between parents-inlaw and children-in-law; and also, we infer, although some appear to act otherwise, a harmony between stepparents and step-children, if Providence allot them to live together.
2. We see in this pastoral picture, that God regards the distressed condition of the pious poor, and will finally reward their confiding resignation to his appointments.
3. We learn, that no judgment can be formed of a person's piety from outward appearances; for Naomi was eminently pious, yet God, to try her faith in a heathen country, greatly afflicted her for many years.
4. We learn, that persons who quit the ordinances and communion of the people of God, in order to escape some slight inconvenience, or to enlarge their worldly possessions, are not likely to be prospered.
5. We may infer, that those who, like Orpah, fall back in the day of trial, will soon be obscured and forgotten; while those who, like Ruth, persevere unto the end, will be had in everlasting remembrance.
6. When we observe the sad changes in the external condition of others, we are reminded to prepare for changes ourselves, and especially for our great and last change.
7. We are taught, that honest industry, patience in poverty, and a willingness to labour in support of an aged parent, or benefactor, are both respectable and acceptable to God.
8. We learn, that religion will produce an affable condescension, and a becoming gratitude, between the high
er and lower orders of society, which will tend to the interest and happiness of both.
9. We suggest, that wisdom and religion should be always gleaning; ever picking up some useful hint from every person and event, for future profit.
10. It appears, that our heaviest trials often arise from those quarters, whence we expected the most satisfaction ; and our greatest solace from those, whence we expected
11. This story teaches, that parents should tenderly advise their children in the important article of marriage; that they may make a wise choice, and thereby increase their future usefulness and comfort.
12. It also teaches, that prayers should be offered up by pious people on the birth of children; that they may be a consolation to their parents, and a blessing to society, and to themselves; for without the blessing of God, none of these things can be.
13. We remark, that as the chief scene of this Pastoral was laid in Bethlehem-judah, where afterwards Christ was born; so the marriage of Ruth, a heathen damsel, to Boaz, the rich Jew, prefigured the future calling of the Gentiles into the church of Christ.
14. Finally, Let the condescending kindness of the wealthy Boaz to the destitute Ruth, lead us to contemplate the kindness of Jesus to us destitute and unworthy sinners, without himself upbraiding, or suffering others to upbraid us.
VALUE OF THE SOUL.
St Matth. xvi, 26. - FOR WHAT IS A MAN PROFITED, IF HE SHALL GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD, AND LOSE HIS OWN SOUL? OR WHAT SHALL A MAN GIVE IN EXCHANGE FOR HIS SOUL?
[Some illustrations due to an English Layman, and an American Divine.]
THE THEME Suggested by the inquiry of our Lord in the text, may lead to a short discussion of three very important propositions. First. The natural arguments for the soul's immortality, independent of Revelation. Second. The infinite value of the soul. Third. That if the soul be lost, all the acquisitions of this world will avail nothing.
I. THE NATURAL ARGUMENTS FOR THE SOUL'S IMMORTALITY, INDEPENDENT OF REVELATION.
What that principle of intelligence is, that vital spark of heavenly flame, which men call the soul; how it is allied to the body; and in what condition it subsists, when its corporal functions cease, are among those inscrutable mysteries, which confound and awe the inquisitive, but limited human mind. But, notwithstanding the abstruse, and unsatisfactory nature of such discussions, the truth itself of the great doctrine of the immortality of the soul has ever been the popular belief, in all ages, and among all nations. There are many strong arguments, independent of Revelation, that the soul is to be eternal; that it has nothing, as in material things, tending to dissolution; not being, perhaps, independently immortal, but such by omnipotent destination.
1. The soul is argued to be immortal, from the nature of the soul itself, and especially its immateriality; which, though not absolutely indispensable to the everlastingness of its duration, has been proved to a moral certainty.
2. It is argued, from its sentiments and passions; as, particularly, its tenacity of existence, and its horror of annihilation; with that silent approbation, which it receives from the practice of virtue, and that dissatisfaction which ensues in it upon a participation in vice. Who can conclude, that the existence of a being is to be circumscribed by mortality, whose ideas are not? Shall every other affection be rightly planted by nature, and shall that longing after immortality, natural to all mankind, be alone misplanted, or intended to be disappointed? This uneasiness in the present, this disposing of ourselves over to farther periods of duration, this returning appetite after something still to come, is a kind of inborn, instinctive symptom, which the mind has of its own imperishable nature.
3. The soul's eternity is evinced, from the perpetual advancement of it towards perfection, without ever being able to arrive at it; its being capable, even after the body has attained its full vigour, of still surpassing acquisitions, both in knowledge, and in habits of virtue. Can it enter into the imaginations of man, that the soul, with a capacity of such exceeding perfections, and of adopting new unlimited improvements, shall shrink away into non-existence almost as soon as created? That after having but just begun to take an admiring survey of the stupendous, and benevolent system of nature, and of the power, and wisdom, and goodness, of its Creator; the soul must perish, in the very commencement of its researches? The soul hath capacities for a much greater quantity of knowledge, than it can here be master of; and an insatiable curiosity to develop the hid things of nature, and of providence.
4. Reason has judged the soul to be immortal, from man's situation here being apparently so incomplete in itself. Man, when viewed as on a probation for a better existence hereafter, is the most wonderful instance of divine beneficence; but, if we deprive him of all connexion with futurity, he is the most surprising and unac