Page images

[ocr errors]

5thly, The sheep of Christ are satisfied on the mountains of Gilead. They can, at times, say, “ We have enough; we have all.” But here their satisfaction is not complete: sin disquiets; the world disappoints; ordinances only prove a blessing, as the Lord makes them such; the society of the best will be mvattended with advantage, if Jesus be not in the compary; our gifts will be only as leaves on the tree, without cheering and satisfying fruit; our very graces will be unsatisfying as we lose sight and hold of Christ, whom they all principaily regard. The stream from the fountain is not like the fountain itself'; the one wastes, the other reinains :- - graces are exercised, and the act is over: Christ is the same. light of the sun is gone to-day; but the sun will renew it again to-morrow. Christ is the same yesterday, 10-day, and for ever.

The bour is approaching when the flock shall be all in one fold, eternally with the Shepherd; and led by him into all the ever-green pastures of everlasting life, to fear no evil, and to feel no want.

“ Tell ine, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest? where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon? for why should I be as one that passeih by the flocks of the companions ?" - is the wish of a poor sheep, who has been exposed much to the thorns and enemies of the wilderness, but is yet

UNCONSUME!). Woburn, Bucks.



Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence.

Ruth iii. s. The divine life wants contivual nourishment, as much as the natural life, -- to replenish its languid desires, to revive its hoty energies, and to awaken its solicitude for sacred enjoyments. The condescending wisdom of God points out to lis in the Scriptures a sun to warm, cheer, and attract the Christian in bis spirimal course; and, lest we should fail in our conceptions of his unseen majesty and power, the natural sun is used as a similitude to emborly our ideas (inighi ihe expression be permitied) and 1110 " Lord God is declared to be a Sun and a Shield !"

This one example may suffice to explain the propriety of figurative espressions, to discover to our weak capacities those sacied mysteries by any other means impossible to be con: veved to our understanding. The Scriptures are replete with this metaphorical language, whereby the mind is led in sacred curiosity to learn the depths of divine love and wisdom, and, by familiar objects, to trace the God of grace through the medium of the works of nature. The pleasing and entertaining history of Ruth cannot be read without discovering many siveet traits of God's superintending providence, and many evidences of the purest natural affection ; but we leave the story, and confine our views to the believer's enquiry, “Where he may safely glean for consolation, refreshinent, and a blessing, whilst he sojourns his threescore years and ten!" and recominending three sale fields, or enclosures, where the bread of life is freely scattered, namely, the Holy Scriptures, the Ordinances of God's Appointment, and the ordinary Duties of Life, - we simply repeat,” Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence."

Various are the pursuits of life; and we know not any arı or science which can be acquired without diligent research, and the attention being directed to some decided object. What should we think of a mariner who sailed without his compass, and steered to no specific port? But the immortal inind, travelling thro' a dangerous and deceitful world, is often beguiled astray by surrounding temptations, through ignorance of its proper course, and for want of a sufficient guide. Thousands are content with the religion delivered from the pulpit, or laught them at school, without applying one sacred truth to their own experience, or seeking the meaning of a sentence, confided to memory before Reason could elucidate its meaning. Thus religion is coldly engaged in at church; confined to the performance of soine external duties; never applied to the heart, or mingled into practice ; and consequently lulling the mind into false and fatal security.

Alas! the best Christians are too supine and indolent; few are so industrious as to glean all they might during the tiine of harvest, or stoop to gather every ear of sacred nourishment which Providence scatters in their path. It were too harsh to say, " That a mind, content with its own acquirements, cannot be saved;" the power of God can, we know, in a moment awaken such a one; but spiritual things may be learned from natural. St. Paul urges us to be diligent, to make our “ calling and election sure. Our Saviour attaches the promise of finding only to those who seek; and again he says, " knock, and it shall be opened unto you." There must be an appetite for truth, and an appetite for religion, before the soul will go“ forth and glean:" when it feels this hunger and thirst atter righteousness, then, and not till then, the Scripture becomes bread. In such a state of earnest enquiry, let the seeking soul study the Scriptures, listening to the sweet counsel of Boaz, “ Go not from hence, but abide here." In the first earnest desire after real religion, many are led to peruse books of abstruse controversy : they leave the enclosure of God's truth, and depend upon the illustrations and observations of the learned; whilst in thicir Father's house is “ bread enough, and to spare.”

Christian, be persuaded to read the Bible more studiously,to read it for yourself. It is the food which will nourish unio

pray, and the

eternal life. Many a sacred ear of pure and holy sustenance lies neglected for want of industrious gleaners. O lean pot to man's wisdom, - to the sects and parties which separate the husbandmen, and scatter the flock of Christ's fold; which speculate upon the husks and straw, and leave the rich hernels of the wheat to perish. Be not beguiled by sophistical tales of moral virtue and inherent merit; but abide with the laborious reapers, who labour in the rich field of God's revealed will. Scriptural truth may bę gleaned among all the sacred sheaves of divine inspiration. The Scriptures contain the Bread of Life; they are spread before us as a field planted by infinite wisdom, and matured by divine love: the Holy Spirit waters them with the dews of grace and beavenly illumination. “Go not from hence;" accept the invitation of Boaz to Ruth, Glean not in another field;" but read and

great Master of the treasure will “ let fall some bandfuls on purpose for thee, and rebuke thee not."

The ordinancis of God's appointment are a second safe enclosure; where the soul, desirous of eternal life, may securely glean. These ordinances are private and social prayer, the public worship of God, and the privileges of the church. Prayer is the breath of the soul aspiring towards God. Iu vain would Ruth have followed the maidens, had she not stooped to gather the fallen grain. We leave all abstruse enquiries, how the mercy of God is dispensed through the medium of prayer; suifice it, that it is commanded us to pray, and not to faint: that religion is not an indolent acquiescence; but revealed as a principle to be roused into action. The Scriptures reason not upon the subtleries whicli amuse the world, and deaden its votaries with speculative theories and idle disquisitions. Its language is absolute and decisive, * Arise and pray: - pray without ceasing. -- In every thing, by prayer and supplication, make your requests known unto God. In due tine ye shall reap, if ye faint not.”

Christian, be not ontdone by the common gleaner. Oh be industrious, be urgent! In one day Ruth gleaned an opha of

For thee are spread greater things than these ; for it is said, " The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.”

Tlie public worship of God is another enclosure, where the soul may glean its desired nourishment; but let it receive the divine admonition, and " take heed how it hears.” Variety of doctrines are advanced in our churches : not to condemu with rashness, por applauti with prejudice, let the huinble gleaner for divine knowledge be reminded of our Saviour's words: My sheep hear my voice, and they know me, and they follow ine; and tlie voice of a stranger will they not follow.” The voice and cloquence of a preacher may beguile; but if the soul bears the consistent sense of revelation, or, in other words, listens to the Saviour's voice, through the instrumentality of


[ocr errors]

the preacher, -"let him not glean in arother field, neither go from hence.Objectors to the evangelical doctrines of the gospel, and strangers to its pure consolations, contend zeálonsly for the regular aitendance of every one to their pariskchurch; and, in those days, when Hooker.defended eccicsiasa tical polity, and Herbert praised church privileges, the ear's of divine truth were scattered from the pulpit as uncorrupi. ediy, and as consistently, as they are planted in the Aiticles and Litorgy. In the present day, when knowledge is encreased, let it only be duly remarked, that Scripture and the Liturgy guard the path which is described by the preacher. lo vain would the gleaner stoop for grain if he did not discern the wheat from the chaft: - in vain would he seek to thresh out his corn, were he to beat empty husks. Let the spiri! gleaner be duly enriched with scriptural knowledge, and he will be as accurate as Ruth, in the choice of the field of Boaz; nor will he then be confined by party-prejudices 10 glear in an unfruitful soil; but as faithfully and zealously its Ruth cleaved to her beloved Naomi, so will he cleave to the pure ministry of the gospel, evidencing by bis attachment 10 the truth, that, by whatever distinction called, the people of Christ“ shall be his people, and their God his God."

In the privileges of the church also may the soul securely glean; and here indeed he inay be said to glean amongst the sheaves. At the sacrament of baptisin lie is permined to enter into the Lord's enclosure, the church; and at the Lord's Table to ratity and confirm his sacred engagements,

ilere he openly professes and openly joins the chosen gleaners in the Lord's harvest-field; and if Boaz could distinguish the industrious hand of Ruth, and command his young men to let tall some handfuls on purpose for her, may we not presume to hope, that the great Masier of the feast will condescend 10 own his waiting people with those sweet and encouraging words, ". The Lord recompence thy labours, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust."

The ordinary duties of life are a third enclosure; where the devout gleaner may“ find food enough, and to spare.” Many professors of religion run with avidiiy to hear the gospel, and talk loudly to detine the subtleties of doctrine. Whilst practice languisbes, families are neglected; and the domestic scene, where religion should be always in fuit exercise, is rendered cheerless and solitary :-others, learning the rudiments of the doctrines of faith, become idie in prosecuting the daily duties assigned them by Providence; not remembering that the same voice which uttered,“ Be carelul for nothing," also said, “ in the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread

Such persons deprive the Scripture of bali its value, and rob the sacred

page of its preceptive energy : thus raising faitli abuse its level, and sinking practice into indolence, they leave to the Deity the task of procuring, by a miracle, food convenient for them. But it was not so with Ruth : she did not merely stand and gaze upon the rich field of Boaz;“ but went and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers;" and it is said she gleaned until even, and then beat out what she had gleaned.” It was in this path of doty, this industrious, active, laborious pursuit, she met with an unexpected blessing. It has been said by no ordinary moralist,“ The lamp of life was lighted to work, and not to play by.” Industry is its own reward in the pursuit of thy soul's good, and in the prosecution of temporal prosperity; and tho' Israel was promised “ fields which they did not sow, and vineyards which they did not plant,” it was only if they kept the statutes and ordinances of God :-a law then encumbered with many painful ceremonies, and requiring many personal ob

Be it thy encouragement, that in the path of duty, in the most ordinary domestic engagements, many precious grains are scattered ; which, if carefully gathered, sball enrich thee, and make thee like a fruitful garden. Go not into the vain and frivolous pursuits of fashion; go not into scenes of mere amusement; be not satisfied with present attainments. There are hidden in Providence and grace rich and abundant harvests. Glean like Ruth until even; bat beware lest curiosity, and not devotion, guide thy researches ; – beware lest hearsayreligion attract thy attention in preference to practical holiness: -indulged with the sacred Seriptures, privileged with gospelordinances, engaged by social duties, labour to inberit eteinal lite. “ Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, and the Lord be with thee." Surry.

M. G.


[ocr errors]



Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

THE POWERS OF THE MIND. THE WILL. Let it chuse God in Christ, in preference to all things. — Judgment. Let it, as instructed by the word of God, and enlightened by his Spirit, carefully determine what is to be believed and to be done. - Memory. Let il treasure up the word of God, the sios I have committed, the mercies I have received. - Conscience. Let it be exquisitely tender, without unnecessary scrupulosity. - Invention. Let me endeavour to discover new methods of doing good, and how I inay do the utmost possible good with the means I possess. - Imagination. Let my imagination delight to trace the similitudes used in Scripture; such as where a soul dead in sins is compared to a duad body; and where spiritual things are illustrated by the ob

« PreviousContinue »