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exile returns to her native land. Her daughters-in-law affectionately accompany her; one is hardly persuaded to go back, but the other, undaunted by poverty and the troubles which she may encounter among an unknown people, clings to her with the fondest attachment, and, abjuring the superstitions in which she had been educated, declares she will live and die with her in the religion and the country of her lost husband! Now all these affecting incidents, calculated in themselves, without the ornament of language, to excite the deepest sympathy, are wanting in the fiction of Thomson. Here the poet takes up the history, and he gives us indeed, a most enchanting transcript of the remaining scenes; still the original is more strongly impressive because we know the picture to be genuine. Besides, the frank and simple contract of Boaz, and the gratulations of her neighbours to Naomi, when her family was revived in the first born of Boaz and Ruth, are beauties to which the poem has no parallel circumstances.
Obed, this son, who according to their rule, was called the son of Naomi, is the link which connects the story of Ruth with the history of the Israelites.
FANNY. How delightful it is to get a new idea. I have often thought of the resemblance between these two stories, but I was not aware of the superiority of Ruth to my favourite Palemon and Lavinia. Pray, who was the author of this book.
MOTHER. We are no where informed; but both this book, and that which is denominated JUDGES, are usually ascribed to the prophet Samuel.
SONG OF MOSES AND MIRIAM.
FANNY. Begin the sacred dance-the timbrels bring, Daughters of Israel arise and sing.
To him, my father's God, my strength, the Lord
Glorious in holiness-thy power exceeds,
In praises fearful-doing wondrous deeds!
Thine is the sword and shield-thy own right hand
To Him my strength, my father's God, the Lord,
BOOK OF JOB.
MOTHER. This sublime poem has been treasured up with the sacred rolls of the Jews from the earliest period of their written history, and is transmitted with them for our instruction. It has all the marks of divine inspiration; its views of the Deity are the most elevated, and its moral sentiments the most pure: we conclude then, that it was delivered to them by their revered legislator, from whom alone perhaps, they would have received a rule of faith and manners.
CATHARINE. By whom was it written?
MOTHER. That is a question which divides commentators. Some have assigned it to Moses, and some to Job himself. Some have supposed it to have been written by Elihu, one of the actors in the drama, whilst others have not scrupled to bring it down so late as the time of Ezra; but so various are the opinions on this uncertain subject, that still others, and intermediate persons, between the first and the last named, are supported as the authors.
No book of Scripture has been more severely scrutinized than this. The reality of Job's existence, the period, and the place in which he lived, as well as the pen to which we are indebted for this portion of his story-have been all made the subjects of very able discussion. The time and the design of its publication have also been examined.
Some writers, more fanciful than wise, have imagined the whole book to be an allegory, or fable, agreeably to the eastern mode of giving lessons. Whilst others, with more reason, defend the literal truth of every circumstance related, admitting, however, that the dialogue is ornamented by the florid language, without which a conversation could not have been reduced to measured numbers consistently with the elegance required in an epic poem. But all these disputed points are put to rest by the successful labours of commentators* all competent to the work. It is not necessary that I should rehearse all the arguments on either side, an abstract on each particular, will prepare you to read their works, and to study the sublime original. I shall only premise, that it is allowed on all hands to be a poem of the most lofty character, excepting the first two and the last chapters, which are plain narrative, and that it is replete with instruction.
CATHARINE. On what ground is the reality of his existence questioned, when the patience of Job is proposed as an example by the apostle James?†
MOTHER. Objections are made to the transactions related in the exordium. That the adversary of mankind should have appcared with the "sons of God" before the throne of the Omnipotent and have obtained permission to bring a succession of calamities beyond the common lot of mortals, on a righteous man, say the objectors, appears fabulous, and the protraction of the patriarch's days to the amount of a hundred and forty years after his trial, is in
* Gray, Magee, Peters, Horne, &c.
† James, v. 11.