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FOR THE SOUTHWARK FEMALE SOCIETY.
RUTH 11. 12.
THE LORD RECOMPENSE THY WORK, AND A FULL
REWARD BE GIVEN THEE OF THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL, UNDER WHOSE WINGS THOU ART COME TO
Such was the benevolent expression of Boaz, the inhabitant of Bethlehem in Judah, to her, who from the purest motives of gratitude, and duty, had followed her Mother into the land of Israel. Far from quitting her Motherin-law, Naomi, in the hour of sorrow, and affliction ; she followed her steps, returning in poverty to her Native Land, exclaiming with tender affection; “ Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after
thee; for whither thou goest I will where thou lodgest I will lodge : thy people shall be my people, and thy God
God.” And what became the reward of Ruth the Moabitess, in whom a powerful sense of duty was superior to all worldly considerations ; was she neglected by Naomi's people, forsaken by their God? Eventually becoming the Wife of the good, and virtuous, Boaz; she had the immortal honour of being a female Ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ ; man's universal Lord, and God, the great, and sole, Redeemer of our race.
For it was of Him that the Everlasting Father, God Almighty, spake by His Prophet Micah to the people of Israel His chosen. “ But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah ; yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
Ruth became the Mother of Obed, Father of Jesse; from whom David, his Son, transmitted the mortal lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ to his descendant the blessed Virgin Mary. And to her the Angel Gabriel, one
of those our immortal Brethren standing round the throne of God; thus announced another gracious mercy granted to that tender sex, whom, for the best, and wisest, purposes He created “as a help meet for man.
Hail, thou that are highly favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women-fear not, Mary : for thou hast found favour with God. And behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest : and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his Father David : and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.”
In His name, my beloved Brethren, are we this day gathered together in His holy Church ; to assist one of the most deserving of all public Charities, the Southwark Female Society, in showing true practical obedience, by works of faith, and mercy, to His ever benevolent commands.
“ Blessed are the merciful,” said He, “ for they shall obtain mercy.”
“ Be as your Father also is merciful.” And, also, we find it written in the Old Testament ;
ye merciful, “ Be merciful after thy power. If thou hast much, give plenteously: if thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little ; for so gatherest thou thyself a good reward in the day of necessity.”
When we examine into what this excellent Female Society has already performed, in glorious works of Christian Charity to the poor, and needy; we shall find their claims upon our co-operation to be unanswerable, except by the ready hand, and willing heart. Like Ruth, a sense of duty led them to persevere in a good cause; and in her words we shall readily say to our beloved Sisters in the Lord Christ;
· whither thou goest, I will go -thy people shall be my people, and thy God my
God.” Their faith, and good sense, has led them to follow the example of Dorcas, mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles thus : “This woman was full of good works, and of almsdeeds which she did.” And when all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats, and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them :" the Almighty enabled his Apostle Peter to recall her Soul from death.
In like manner, have these, our beloved Sisters in faith, in hope, in charity, furnished the distressed Poor, with clothing, food, and nourishment : prudently purchasing the necessary supply, themselves, and, with true benevolence, seeing it properly applied. For we know, by sad experience, that money
is too often used improperly by many poor people; by all that portion of them whose distress has arisen from their own imprudence : and the industrious will thank these generous women; who
procure aid for them, without calling them away from that daily occupation, by which they try to maintain their families.
Thus do they, indeed, prove to us that the Virtues are Sister Excellences; fortitude, temperance, patience, prudence, and charity, are always the companions of true faith: and in this holy band are found modesty, and chastity, and every blessed inmate of the female heart.
Thus are our gentle Sisters; descended from the same Earthly Parents, entitled to call our Father in Heaven their Father also; thus are they ever to be found clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, tending the sick; in