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prosperity, after his distresses, far exceeded any thing that he had enjoyed in his earlier life. Naomi, too, found, in the issue, that she had no reason to "adopt the name of Mara": for her subsequent connexion with Boaz soon dissipated all her sorrows, so that she could "put off her sackcloth and gird her with gladness." But, if this should not be the case, we may well be satisfied that "tribulation worketh patience, and experience and hope," and that our light and momentary afflictions work out "for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." In the view, then, of all these things, we should "learn, in whatsoever state we are, therewith to be content: we should be equally ready to be abased or to abound, and to be instructed everywhere, and in all things, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."]
[This will never fail us. If we have much, it will sanctify our prosperity, and keep it from injuring our souls. If we have little, it will supply the lack of every thing. View the rich man in all his abundance, and Lazarus in all his destitution. The eye of sense will look with envy on the one that is revelling in plenty: the eye of faith will form a far different. estimate, and congratulate the sufferer in the midst of all hist distresses. The wealth of this world brings with it many cares and troubles: but "the blessing of God maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow with it." Even whilst the two were here in this world, no doubt the poorer was the happier man. But at the moment of their departure hence, what different feelings would have been expressed, if they had still been subjected to the sight of man! Is this the rich man-now destitute of a drop of water to cool his tongue? Is this Lazarus—now in the bosom of Abraham, at the banquet of the Lord? So, then, shall it ere long be said of you, ye sons and daughters of affliction, if only ye improve your trials for the furtherance of your spiritual welfare. How soon shall all " your tears be wiped away from your eyes!" How soon shall "joy and gladness come forth to meet you; and sorrow and sighing flee away for ever!" "Be patient, then, unto the coming of your Lord:" and you shall soon find, that "the sufferings of this present life were not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us'."]
m Job xlii. 10-16.
P Phil. iv. 11, 12.
n ver. 20.
q Prov. x. 22.
o 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18.
Rom. viii. 18.
BOAZ AND HIS REAPERS.
Ruth ii. 4. And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.
EVERY season suggests to us some appropriate considerations: and even the most common incidents of life are capable of affording us very important instruction. Certainly, at first sight, a man's intercourse with his reapers would not promise much for spiritual edification: but the address of Boaz to his people, and their reply to him, were altogether so different from what is usual in our day, that we shall find our time not unprofitably employed in the investigation of them.
I. Their mutual address is the first thing to be considered
It may be understood in a two-fold view;
1. As a friendly salutation
[It seems probable that, if not at that time, yet in after ages, this kind of address was common in the time of harvest a. But, as used on this occasion, it deserves peculiar notice; both as expressing great condescension and kindness on his part, and as evincing much respect and gratitude on theirs. Boaz, it must be remembered, was a mighty man of wealth":" and therefore any notice from him might be deemed an act of condescension, and more especially this, which conveyed to their minds such a sense of paternal love. And their reply argued a becoming feeling of filial respect. Into how many fields might we go, before we heard such greetings as these! How much more frequently might we hear complaints respecting the work, on the one part; and murmuring concerning the wages, on the other part! Notwithstanding the superior advantages we enjoy, and the higher attainments which, in consequence, we might be expected to make in every thing that was amiable and praiseworthy, how uncommon an occurrence should we deem it, if we chanced to witness such greetings in the present day! The true picture of modern life may be drawn in those words of Solomon, "The poor useth entreaties; but the rich answereth roughly."]
a Ps. cxxix. 7, 8.
b ver. 1.
c Prov. xviii. 23.
2. As a devout benediction
[From the piety evinced by Boaz, we may well suppose that these benevolent expressions, on both sides, were not a mere customary form; but a real desire, in the bosoms of them all, for their mutual welfare in reference to the eternal world. How lovely was the address, how suitable the answer, in this view! It is remarkable, that the Apostle Paul begins and ends almost every epistle with prayers and benedictions, expressive of his love for the souls of men. And such ought our correspondence to be, even when the main subject of our letters refers to temporal concerns. Such, too, should be our daily intercourse with friends and servants, in the house, or in the field. Who does not admire this interview between persons so distant in rank, yet so allied in spirit? Let us, then, cultivate the spirit here manifested: for, verily, if it universally obtained, we should enjoy almost a heaven upon earth.]
II. The next point for us to consider, is, What instruction we should gather from it
We may learn from it,
1. That the blessing of God is our chief good
[This, under any view of their expressions, is evidently implied. The wealth of Boaz, if he had possessed ten thousand different estates, would have been of no real value without the blessing of God; and with that, the men who laboured in reaping down his fields were truly rich. It is the light of God's countenance which is the only solid goodd: "In his presence is life; and his loving-kindness is better than life itselfe."]
2. That religion then appears in its true colours, when it regulates our conduct in social life
[It is in vain for a man to pretend to religion, if in his daily converse with the world he do not manifest its power to transform the soul. What is the knowledge even of an angel, without love? What the faith that could remove mountains? What the zeal that could give all our goods to feed the poor, or even our bodies to be burnt for Jesus' sake? We speak advisedly when we say, that in the full possession of all these excellencies we should be no better than "sounding brass and tinkling cymbals," if we were not under the habitual influence of love. Know ye, Brethren, that your religion must be seen, not in the church or in the closet only, but in the shop, the family, the field. It must mortify pride, and every other evil
d Ps. iv. 6. e Ps. xxx. 5. and lxiii. 3. f 1 Cor. xiii. 1—3.
passion; and must bring forth into exercise "all the mind that was in Christ Jesus." Try yourselves by this standard: see what you are, as husbands or wives, parents or children, masters or servants. See whether you possess the courtesy of Boaz, or the respectful love of his reapers. It is in this way that you are to shine as lights in a dark world. It is in this way that you are to put to shame the specious pretences of politeness, and the feigned humility of those who are candidates for earthly honour: your courtesy must be the genuine offspring of Christian benevolence; and your whole deportment, a visible exhibition of your Saviour's image.]
And now, not as a master to his servants, but as a father to his children, I say, "The Lord be with you!" And may there be in all of you a responsive voice, imploring the blessing of Almighty God on him, who truly, though unworthily, seeks your welfare.
“The Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” Phil. ii. 4, 5.
RUTH'S PIETY AND REWARD.
Ruth ii. 11, 12. And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
THE book of Ruth contains only the domestic occurrences of one poor family and it may well excite our wonder, that such trifling incidents should occupy the pen of inspiration, when the affairs of kingdoms and nations are overlooked. But there is nothing trifling that relates to morals: and still less, that relates to the Messiah. Were there nothing contained here but an exhibition of filial piety, it would not be recorded in vain; because a very principal intent of the inspired volume is, to rectify, in every relation of life, the dispositions and habits
of mankind. But an attentive reader of this history will discover in it a fund of rich instruction. To assist you in this search, we shall set before you, I. The general circumstances of the history—
Not having time to notice every thing, we shall confine ourselves to those parts which deserve our more especial attention. The famine that was in the land of Canaan "in the days of one of the Judges," the consequent departure of Elimelech with his wife and children into the land of Moab, the marriage of his two sons with Moabitish women, the death of Elimelech and of both his sons, the return of his wife Naomi to her native land, when she heard that God had restored plenty to it: these and other circumstances we pass over in silence, in order that we may enter more fully into the things which relate to Ruth.
Ruth was the wife of Mahlon, Naomi's son: and to her this history principally relates. Two things in particular are stated concerning her, and they are distinctly specified in the words of our text; namely,
1. Her piety
[This was so conspicuous, that it was a matter of notoriety, and a theme of high commendation, at Bethlehem, almost as soon as she arrived there. On Naomi's adopting the resolution to return to her own country, Ruth, though a Moabitess, determined to accompany her: and, though Naomi stated faithfully to her the many inconveniences that would attend it, she would suffer nothing to divert her from her purpose. She had been instructed by Naomi in the knowledge of the only true God, and had seen in her the beauty and excellence of practical religion; and she determined to participate Naomi's lot, whatever it might be, and to give herself up a living sacrifice to Naomi's God. True it was, that in order to this she must relinquish all her own relations, and abandon all hopes of ever receiving benefits from them: but she had counted the cost, and deliberately preferred an adherence to Naomi and Naomi's God, before her country, her kindred, and all that the world could give her. The terms in which she expressed her resolution strongly marked the firmness of her purpose; "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