« PreviousContinue »
left which could induce her to prolong her stay in Moab, a country of idolaters; for she naturally judged that her daughters-in-law would leave her on the prospect of their marriage. Having told them of her design, they resolved to accompany her part of the way home; and after walking some distance, she addressed them, saying, “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 you that ye may find rest each in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice and wept. And they said, surely, we will return with thee unto thy people.” She then addressed them again with still greater fervor and pathos, and concluded with saying, “ It grieveth me much, for your sakes, that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.” And they lifted up their voice and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, and returned to her own home, and to her idols ; but Ruth clave unto her. Naomi now turned to Ruth and said, “ Behold thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her Gods; return thou after thy sister-inlaw :” but Ruth nobly and affectionately replied, " Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee."
But what made this appeal so earnest and so tender? Why did she wish her mother-in-law not to mention the subject any further to her ? Because
1. Of the recollections she cherished. And those recollections would principally refer to the probable piety of her husband, and most certainly to the profitable conversation and holy conduct of her mother-in-law. Her husband had doubtless done wrong in marrying an idolatress, but he had been
partly led into the temptation by his parents going into an idolatrous country, and continuing there for a longer period than, perhaps, was absolutely necessary. But this evil was overruled for great good in the end ; and though we ought never “ to do evil that good may come,” it has sometimes happened that the believing husband has saved the wife; though we have no right to hope that this will be the case when courtship is commenced, and marriage contracted with an unbeliever, after having ourselves made a profession of religion. For such conduct we shall have trouble in the flesh, and anguish of spirit, that will make us bitterly feel that we have done a great evil in the sight of God.
From the training which her husband had received from such parents, as Ebimelech and Naomi, we can have little doubt of the ardent and elevated piety of his mind; and Ruth would, therefore, think with deep interest at this painful moment, of his kind and tender appeals to her to renounce her Gods, and embrace the worship of Jehovah. She would remember his fervent prayers to the living and true God on her behalf, and would think of all the holy composure and resignation he displayed in his last moments, when he gave up his soul to God who gave it, and committed her to his mother's care, and to the protection and blessing of the God of his fathers. And in this hasty review she would think of the many and delightful conversations she had enjoyed with her mother-in-law, and of the many accounts she had given of the worship and privileges of the Jews; and, therefore, she said, “My mind is fully fixed upon going with thee to thy own country and home, and, therefore, intreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after thee.”. From this supposition you see, then, my friends, the necessity of a constant and faithful endeavour to show forth the nature, and press home the claims of personal piety. You know not when, nor how, the seed may spring up in the breasts of your children or friends. Use then your utmost endeavours for their salvation—and leave them by prayer in the hand of God; but do not allow them to say that you never warned or instructed them, or prayed, or wrestled for their conversion to God. Let your conduct be a living comment on your religion ; but let your tongues speak freely, frequently, and faithfully for God.
2. The love and gratitude she felt to Naomi, for all the proofs of her piety and expressions of her love.
“ Intreat me not to leave thee,' for I have found thee to be a mother indeed. In thy holy conversation I have enjoyed many a happy day; and now thou art about to return to thy country, of which I have heard thee so often speak, I am resolved to accompany thee.”
Ruth had found the company of Naomi to be, a source of very great pleasure; and it is delightful to see that she had not become either wearied or disgusted with the topics on which Naomi would principally dwell. Too often, young people seek the society of those who are as vain and as frivolous as themselves, and manifest either rudeness or chagrin when the subject of religion is introduced; but here was an idolatress that had found so much pleasure in topics like these, that, when there was a danger of her not hearing these things again, she could not bear the thought of losing her kind, faithful, and amiable leader, but begged that she would say nothing to her to induce her to return back again : for she would follow her whithersoever she went. No representation of her future disadvantage, if she went with Naomi, could weigh against this one consideration, that she would lose the benefit of her delightful society and profitable converse, if she did not accompany her. See here, ye mothers in Israel, ye aged women! what blessings you may be to the church of God! What an influence may your holy conversation exert on the conduct and resolution of some whom you love, and whose welfare you are desirous to promote! The best way to secure their sincere esteem and lasting gratitude, is to deal faithfully and kindly with them on religious subjects. Your labours may not be very acceptable at first ; but, they will be well rewarded at last. Either from her husband or her mother-in-law, Ruth had learnt so much of the nature, and had felt so much of the power, of religion, that her heart was already under its influence; and she was resolved to avow herself a proselyte of the gate, and her future conduct proved that it was not under the excitement of animal feeling, or a momentary passion of grief and love, that she avowed her resolution never to leave this good woman till death 'should put a period to their fellowship on earth.
Let us now proceed to notice,
“ For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried ; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part me and thee!” This was noble ! O that we could see more of this female heroism in the cause of God, of religion, and the cross. Too many, like Orpah, when
they hear of difficulties in the way, turn back again to the beggarly elements of the world: but true religion increases under difficulties; and it is only when there are real dangers in the way that the valour of some can display itself. So it was with Ruth, and the trial proved the sincerity of her love to her mother-in-law, and the decision of her soul for God. She could not halt between two opinions. She saw the Lord to be God, and humbly resolved to follow him: and to choose his people as her own. But this we shall learn, by briefly analysing her resolution, which was
1. To follow Naomi in her movements. “ To go whither she went, and to lodge where she lodged.” And with her poor prospects, this was a fine display of courage and attachment. Naomi was a poor traveller on foot-no carriage to convey her, no servants to attend her; no home to receive her. The foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but she, for aught she knew, had not where to lay her head. And yet, said Ruth, though in weariness and painfulness, though in hungerings and thirstings, though in watchings often and fastings often, though in cold and nakedness, I will readily and cheerfully accompany thee. My fortunes and happiness are bound up in thine. Now, my young friends, can you say thus respecting yourselves, in humble dependence on grace? Without any presumptuous boasting, can you say that you have resolved to go with the people of God, and share their joys and sorrows, whatsoever they may be? They cannot promise you great things in this world, as an inducement; but the rewards of religion are principally future : there is something better in store-and