“And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from
following after thee: 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.” — Ruth 1:16.
THIS was a very brave, outspoken confession of faith. Please to notice that it was made by a woman, a young woman, a poor woman, a widow woman, and a foreigner. Remembering all that, I should think there is no condition of gentleness, or of obscurity, or of poverty, or of sorrow, which should prevent anybody from making an open confession of allegiance to God when faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has been exercised. If that is your experience, my dear friend, then whoever you may be, you will find an
opportunity, somewhere or other, of declaring that you are on the Lord’s side. I am glad that all candidates for membership in our church make their confession of faith at our church-meetings.
I have been told that such an ordeal must keep a great many from joining us; yet I notice that, where there is no such ordeal, they often have very few members, but here are we with five thousand six hundred, or thereabouts, in church-fellowship, and very seldom, if ever, finding anybody kept back by having to make an open confession of faith in Christ.
It does the man, the woman, the boy, or the girl, whoever it is, so much good for once; at least, to say right out straight, “I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am not ashamed of it,” that I do not think we shall ever deviate from our custom. I have also noticed that, when people have once confessed Christ before men, they are very apt to do it again somewhere else; and they thus acquire a kind of boldness and the reliance upon religious matters, and a holy courage as followers of Christ, which more than make up for any self-denial and trembling which the effort may have cost them.
We close, having done with this old cloak, when we say, is it not beautiful as you read this epistle, and, indeed all the apostle's letters, to see how everything which the apostle thought of was connected with Christ; how he had concentrated every passion, every power, every thought, every act, every word, and set the whole upon Christ. I believe that there are many who love Christ after a sort, just as the sun shines to-day; but you know if you concentrate the rays of that sun with a burning-glass, and fix all the rays upon any object, then what heat there is, what burning, what flame, what fire!
So many men scatter their love and admiration on almost every creature, and Christ gets a little, as we all get some rays of the sun; but that is the man, who, like the apostle Paul, brings all his thoughts and words to a focus. Then he burns his way through life; his heart is on fire; like coals of juniper are his words; he is a man of force and energy, he may have no cloak, yet for all that he is a great man, and the Emperor in his imperial mantle is but a drivelling dwarf by the side of this giant in the army of God. O, I wish we could set our thoughts on Christ this morning.
Do we trust in him this morning? Is he all our salvation and all our desire? If he be, then let us live to him. Those who are wholly Christ's are not many. O that we were espoused as chaste virgins unto Christ that we might have no other lover, and know no other object of delight. Blind be these eyes to all but Christ; and deaf these ears to any music but the voice of Christ; and lame these feet to any way but that of obedience to him; palsied these hands to anything but work for him; and dead this heart to every joy if Jesus cannot move.
Even as a straw floats upon the river, and is carried to the ocean, so would I be bereft of all power and will to do aught but that which my Lord would have me do, and be carried along by the stream of his grace right onward, ready to be offered up, or ready to live, ready to suffer, or ready to reign just as he wills, only that he may be served in my living and dying. It will little matter what cloak ye wear, or if ye have not any at all, if ye have but such a concentration of all your bodily and mental powers, and spiritual energies upon Christ Jesus, and upon him alone.
May those of you who have never trusted Jesus be ready to rely upon him now? He did not forsake Paul, even in extremity, and he will not forsake you. I think Naomi was quite right to drive Ruth, as it were, to take this brave stand, in which it became an absolute necessity for her to speak right straight out, and say, in the words of our text it says, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: 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.” What is there for any of us to be ashamed of in acknowledging that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ? What can there be that should cause us to be ashamed of Jesus, or make us blush to own his name.
“Ashamed of Jesus! That dear Friend On whom my hopes of heaven
depend! No: when I blush, be this my shame, that I no more revere his
I should think that Naomi was, certainly she ought to have been greatly cheered by hearing this declaration from Ruth, especially the last part of it: “Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.” Naomi had suffered great temporal loss; she had lost her husband and her two sons; but now she had found the soul of her daughter-in-law; and I believe that, according to the scales of true judgment, there ought to have been more joy in her heart at the conversion of Ruth’s soul than grief over the death of her husband and her sons.
Our Lord Jesus has told us that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repented;” and I always understand, by that expression, that there is joy in the heart of God himself over every sinner’s repentance. Well, then, if Naomi’s husband and sons were true believers, if they had been walking all right before the Lord, as, let us hope, they had done, she need not have felt such sorrow for them as could at all compare with the joy of her daughter-in-law being saved.
We ought to be ashamed of being ashamed of Jesus; we ought to be afraid
of being afraid to own him; we ought to tremble at trembling to confess
him, and to resolve that we will take all suitable opportunities that we can
find of saying, first to relatives, and then to all others with whom we come
into contact, “We serve the Lord Christ.”
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