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altered ? so bereft and declining ?” “ And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi [signifying pleasant], call me Mara (that is, bitter] for the Lord hath dealt very bitterly with me.” Ah, reader, how ready are we, poor sinners—blind creatures of a day—to charge our best Friend with unkindness and a want of due care and consideration, and that, too, probably when He is at the very moment working out His own loving and gracious purposes in the most marked and merciful way. Well do we remember one, some five-and-thirty years ago, who, in this Mara spirit, was charging God with unkindness, and (Jonah-like) cared not what became of him, whilst (as the sequel proved) the Lord was at the very time working so wisely and tenderly and graciously in his behalf, bringing about all-aye, and infinitely more than all—that rebellious one had ever thought of, much less deserved, at His kind and gracious hands. Whilst He was entertaining hard and ungrateful thoughts of his God, that God was saying, by the merciful though mysterious leadings of His providence, “I know the thoughts which I think towards you—thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Ah, reader, as occasionally we pass and repass through the streets of London, how do these old scenes and former exercises come up in review; and we are filled with amazement when at times standing in the pulpits of those churches under the shades of which for months, and even years and years, we were personally the subject of these bitter experiences. Oh, the patience, the long-suffering, the forbearance of our God !
But to return. Reader, mark the close of the first chapter: "And they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest.”
"And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, and his name was Boaz." In all probability, Naomi had forgotten all about this man, or, if she thought of him at all, supposed he had no care about or interest in her. Reader, the forgetfulness of God's people is sometimes as much ordered and overruled of Him as some of their most vivid and detailed remembrances. Was not God's hand in the fact recorded at the close of the 40th chapter of Genesis : “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him”? When God's time came for the chief butler to remember, he could no longer for, get. The yea-and-amen promises of our God must first bud and blossom, and then, in due season, shall bring forth fruit. Our God will never be hurried. He takes His own time, and does His own work in His own way, but always to the admiring wonder and adoring love of His previously-exercised and generally-impatient ones. “And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now
to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shalĩ find grace. Observe, 1. Her respect and obedience : she would not go without asking her mother's consent; 2. Her lowliness: she was willing to work, yea, even to glean ; 3. Her hope and dependence:
after Him in whose sight I shall find grace. Who inspired her with this hope but Him who is the God of hope? And what a God
He is! “And she said (that is, Naomi said] unto her, Go, my daughter.” Although she knew Ruth to be a stranger in those parts, and doubtless to the customs that prevailed, yet she was made willing to let her go and glean. “And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers : and her hap was to light on a
art of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.” Ah, reader, how came this “hap," or how was it this happened? How? because God had the ordering and the appointing. Although so much in the daily walk and chequered experience of the family of God comes apparently in a way of chance or peradventure, yet there is not the shadow of chance or peradventure about it. The so-called accidents and incidents are “all of Him, and through Him, and by Him, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” From first to last the Lord Himself had the leading and the guiding cf this poor Moabitish girl, and it is the self-same Lord who has the leading and guiding of all His people. There is not the most minute circumstance escapes His notice, or which He deems beneath His control. He orders as much the falling of a leaf, or the alighting of a sparrow, as He does the sun or the moon or the stars in their courses. We remember, some years ago, walking to the summit of the reputed Wind Cliff, which commands so beautiful and extensive a view of the river Wye, and the surrounding country of Monmouthshire, Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, and the north of Devon; and directly in our pathway was a little tiny worm winding its downward way from a branch of the shady trees beneath which we were walking. “Is there nothing to be learnt here ?” thought we. “ Yes, verily, for the Almighty One who formed that tiny creature as well as me, and who spread this beauteous scene around, has as much the ordering and directing that tiny creature's movements as He has mine, or any of the objects of His vast and beauteous creation. This little worm must turn this way or that way, rise higher or drop itself lower, just as constrained and inclined by Him who has all things, animate and inanimate, under His all-wise direction and control.” And we remember taking comfort at the time from the conviction that the Lord's power and preservation were as verily engaged in that worm's behalf as in the movements of the lion of the forest, or the leviathan of the mighty deep. Would, dear reader, that we could more entirely cherish this thought! Would that we could perpetually realize the great fact that “our times are in His hand,” that He moves us hither and thither as so many ciphers ! Oh, how much unnecessary pain and needless anxiety would such a state of mind save us !
“And, behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto' the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.” What a salutation between master and men ! Rather unlike the intercourse of our times between employer and employed. But how was it that Boaz came just at this time, and how was it that his eye happened to fall upon Ruth ? How?' because the Lord
had the ordering of all. “Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: and she said [mark her modesty again - she asks permission before she ventures to glean], I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house. Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger ?”
Beloved, how sweet is this subject, and how blessed is the language, taken in both its literal and in its spiritual meaning. The diffidence and the retirement and the modesty and the devotion of Ruth, as a woman and a daughter, are beautiful in the contemplation. All these qualities were striking commendations of her character, and stood forth, no doubt, in marked contrast to many by whom she was surrounded, or who were wont to glean in other fields; and such characteristics were not likely to be lost on such a man as we naturally imagine Boaz was. He had, as a man, a penetration and an interest and a devotion that such qualities as Ruth's would attract and win upon and influence. Her very appeal, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger ?” would only serve to increase his esteem, call forth his admiration, and rivet his affections. It has been well said, that "chastity and modesty form the best dowry & parent can bestow.” Beyond all question, Ruth had that leading feature in her character, of which the apostle Peter speaks where he testifies of “ the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Solomon speaks of such where he says, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”
In the spiritual sense, however, there is peculiar blessedness both in this narrative and in the language before us. The Lord leading Hiš people forth from old haunts and former pleasures and dependencies by means of famine and a felt destitution and discomfort: putting it into their hearts to seek—to follow after—to cleave unto His people ; hovering about, and at length venturing into the Gospel field, there tremblingly and timidly to glean after the reapers. To mingle with the gleaners, mid hope and fear, and desire to be like them, and to share their privileges and advantages. At length to be addressed by none less than the heavenly Boaz Himself, and that in such tender, loving, compassionate terms. Oh, well may she wonder, and well may she ask, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me—even me—seeing I am a stranger ?”
Such, dear reader, will be the great wonder of the skies, and the everlasting inquiry of the redeemed in glory! THE EDITOR.
St. Luke's, Bedminster, June 27, 1868.
"THERE REMAINETH A REST TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD." HAIL, holy day of heavenly rest, In praising God, their joy, their might. When man and beast from labour rest! Man, on this holy day of rest, When quiet reigns throughout the In thought e’en now seems with the land,
bless'd. And God comes down to speak with Imagination loves to dream,
And catch, perchance, a passing beam O holy day, when man may trace From out that glorious land of light, The pathway to that holy place, Where all is peace, where all is bright. Where God with man delights to dwell, They think of friends they loved to The spot where souls in union tell
meet, Of joys and hopes in glowing strain; With whom they knelt at Jesus' feet; And that in Christ their all they gain, Yet now departed to their rest, For strength to fight life's battle To be with Jesus ever blest. through,
O holy, blessed day, arise, They ask, and thus obtain it too. When praise shall rend both earth and Thus worshipping before God's throne, skies; They love to think they're not alone; When saints below and saints above That in that heaven, near or far, May join in one their praise of love; Which sin and death can never mar, When holy joy, eternal rest, Bright angels, in a glorious throng, Shall be for ever for the blest; Join with them, too, in ceaseless song. When labours hard and trials sore Sweet sounds of adoration rise, Shall then have passed for evermore; Resounding echoes fill the skies. When one unceasing song of praise Thus heaven and earth in one unite The sainted saints to God shall raise. Wilford.
THE CONTRAST; OR, MOMENTARY AFFLICTION AND
ETERNAL GLORY! “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”—2 Cor. iv. 17. WHATEVER we suffer here will not merit any reward hereafter; therefore we may gather from this passage that the trials we have to pass through in this world are to purify us, and make us more fit to enjoy the glory in heaven; and that the more we suffer here for Christ's sake, the more exceedingly shall we enjoy the blessedness to be revealed. As the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, so are we, who are soldiers of the cross, to pass through the same path to our rest above. (Rom. viii. 18; 1 Peter F. 10.)
REMINISCENCES OF VILLAGE PREACHING.
"And Jesus went about the villages teaching.”—Matt. ix. 35. To a Christian whose lot in life is cast amidst commercial activity, it is no slight relief and privilege to be allowed sometimes to open his mouth for Christ, and, out of the abundance of his heart,
“Tell to others that surround,
What a dear Saviour he has found.” Such labour of love will bring with it conflicting feelings; sometimes he will find much to cast him down, and he will go forth with a heavy heart, but at other times the little pulpit in the humble house of prayer will be a sacred spot to him, and none other than “the gate of heaven."
Beloved, as we have advanced to nearly the end of the month without having any subject formally laid upon our minds, we have sat down in the cool of a summer's evening thinking it might be profitable, and we trust Christ-honouring, if we let our thoughts wander back, and our pen cluster together a few facts experienced in connexion with village preaching. We know it is sometimes asked, What right have business men to preach at all? We can only respond, Business men did so in the apostle's time; for Matthew was a tax-gatherer, Luke was a physician, and Peter a fisherman; and the order in the Church as laid down by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and given us by the apostle Paul is, “And He gave some, apostles ; and some, prophets ; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ;" and we think it would be well if this scriptural order was better observed. We know one Baptist cause under the pastorate of a man of God which sends forth, Sabbath after Sabbath, upwards of twelve lay helpers to preach the Gospel in the surrounding villages where the people are too poor to pay for a regular ministry, and the blessing that redounds to the parent Church is remarkable.
But the writer's plan for many years has been to go forth free of all denominations wherever the Lord has been pleased to open doors, determining “to know nothing among men save Jesus Christ and Him crucified ;" consequently, we have steered clear of much fleshly contention we could not otherwise have avoided, and been privileged to preach the word in national schoolrooms and rustic barns; in chapels and cottages; in a rector's kitchen and gentleman's drawing-room, as well as under the blue canopy of heaven with the people grouped about upon the village green.
We have said that we have spoken in the name of Jesus in "a rector's kitchen.” Yes, and memorable seasons they were. A venerable clergyman, now in glory, would, on a Sabbath eve, throw open the large kitchen of his hall for the preaching of the Gospel, the church being far distant and without gas; and a rare sight it was to see that aged saint sitting meek as a child, listening to a layman testify of what he has felt concerning the word of life, and at the end rising and pronouncing the benediction, while the warm shake of the hand betokened approval. We heard of more than one who was born again in that kitchen, and of many who had their souls refreshed and comforted; and who can gainsay such a work, when fruit unto God thus appears ?