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As regards Ruth and Esther,1 the first was of the utmost importance, as introducing David's line on which all hung, in a most touching and instructive narrative; and that in connection with the all-important fact of a poor Moabitess coming by grace "under the wings of the God of Israel," and being mother of Messiah Himself. The names bear, in a most evident way, a mystic signification, on which I cannot enlarge here, allying themselves immediately with the subject. Naomi ("my pleasant one") loses her husband Elimelech ("God is King" or "my King"), loses her sons, and becomes Mara ("bitterness"). Devotedness of heart to her in this state brings Ruth (a poor lost one and a stranger) by grace, to raise up the family of the deceased, through the redeemer ("in whom is strength") Boaz, the Goel; and the child is born to sorrowing Naomi, the widow-though in fact Ruth's.
The importance of Esther is most evident, besides typical instruction. Nothing could be more so in its place. It is the providential care of Israel scattered among the heathen, when God could not own them at all outwardly or publicly. Hence He does not appear in the book. It is His unseen hand that does it in a providential way.
1. As to them Mr. N. says, " The so-called canon of the Jews could not guarantee to us the value of the writings. Consequently, such books as Ruth and Esther (the latter indeed not containing one religious sentiment) stood forth at once in their natural insignificance." (Phases, p. 141.) All this class of remarks are a resumé of German infidelity. I do not pretend to be well acquainted with German infidelity, but I have picked up enough of it to know that Mr. N.'s objections have nothing original in them but their audacity, and neglect of all attempt at proof, and of all consideration of answers given to the objections he retails from the great German manufactory. There is considerable skill in the form of Mr. N.'s book in this respect; because, being a history of the course of his own mind, he can say, I gave up this; I gave up that; I was convinced of this, and clear about that: as if it were something satisfactorily proved, without the trouble of telling us how he came to this conclusion. It was convincing-that is certain; so that we are to receive it (for receiving a doubt is abandoning faith): but why we cannot tell. He will allow me to remind him of a point I shall touch on just now, that "an ambitious and unscrupulous Church... may say, ' Only believe, and all is right. The end being gained... we do not care about your reasons'... to a divine teacher [arid surely to a human] we should peculiarly look for aid in getting clear views of the ground of faith." (Phases, p. 146.) Yet, certainly, in Mr. N.'s book, while giving many objections to promote unbelief " at second-hand," in general " stat pro ration voluntas."