I. PERSONAL FEELINGS ALWAYS INCREASE THE URGENCY OF THE CLAIMS OF SELFISHNESS. "By nature and by practice" men seek their own interest. But experience shows us that strong emotion increases the danger of our yielding to such impulses.
II. WHERE PERSONAL FEELINGS ARE CONCERNED THERE IS NEED OF WATCHFULNESS AND PRAYER. It is so easy to wrong others for the sake of our own gratification, that it is well to question the arguments and pleas by which our interests are commended. Boaz must have been tempted, in the circumstances, to say nothing about the nearer kinsman, but quietly to accept the proposal of Ruth.
III. TRUE PRINCIPLE, AIDED BY THE POWER OF RELIGION, WILL ENABLE A MAN TO DO THE RIGHT, EVEN THOUGH HIS OWN INTERESTS AND HIS OWN FEELINGS ARE OPPOSED TO SUCH A COURSE. Boaz gained the victory over himself, and consented to abide the issue of an appeal to the nearer kinsman, although he risked thereby the loss of Ruth. Many of the highest illustrations of the nobility possible to man turn upon some such situation, and the course which honor and virtue prescribe is the course in which true and lasting happiness will be found. - T.
Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter .... I will do to thee all that thou requirestS. H. Tyng, D. D.)
Thou art a virtuous woman1. Observe, to begin with one of her humblest virtues, Ruth's industry. She accompanies Naomi to the land of Israel; but not to live on public charity or become the humble pensioner of affluent relatives. Reared in the lap of luxury, she has never learned to work; yet in a noble spirit of independence she resolves to earn her bread with her own hands. We have called this a humble virtue, not because we hold it cheap, or do not regret that under the debasing influence of our poor-laws and the self-indulgent spirit of the age, it is dying out of the land. One of the saddest phases of the times is that, for themselves or their parents, thousands now accept and even clamour for public charity who, less than a century ago, would have scorned to touch it. We call it a humble virtue, because, notwithstanding the degeneracy of the age, it still dwells in many a lowly home, stamping those with a true nobility who feel the bread taste sweet their own hands have earned, and, looking forward with a Christian's hope to the rest of heaven, are content here to live to work and work to live.
2. Observe next her humility. On losing their fortune some retain in a silly pride what but aggravates the loss, rankling like a thorn in a bleeding wound. An empty sack cannot stand erect; yet they inflict misery on themselves, and not seldom wrong on others, by the mean and even dishonest things they de to keep up appearances. Deeming some honest but humble work beneath their dignity, they buy what they cannot pay for, or borrow what they cannot return. Ashamed to work, they are not ashamed to live on the fruits of others' industry rather than their own. There is something inexpressibly mean in this; and worse than mean. It argues a spirit of rebellion against Him and His providence who setteth up one and putteth down another. How different from this un-Christian and rebellious spirit the humility of Ruth! How beautiful it is! Willing to engage in any honest work, however humble, she bends like a reed to the blast, bows her gentle head meekly before the majesty of heaven, and, meeting her trials like a Christian heroine, drinks off the cup mingled and presented by her Father's hand.
3. Observe her affection to Naomi. It wrings Ruth's heart to part with sister, mother, and country; but it would break it to part with Naomi. She cannot do it. The ship may sink; but, mailing her colours to the mast, she will sink or swim with it. Death only shall apart them: nor death — the last favour her lips shall ask, that they lay her in Naomi's grave. Nobly did Ruth redeem the pledges of this affecting scene. She teaches us, by what she was to Naomi, what we are to be to Christ; how we should cleave to Him — how we should love Him — with what devotion of heart and body, of soul, strength, mind and spirit we should serve Him, and gladly spend and be spent for Him — saying, as we take up our cross to follow the lover and Redeemer of our souls, "Where Thou goest,"etc.
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)
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