A Service in the Olden Time. Nehemiah viii.
I. -- The Congregation.

All who could understand were present (verses 2-3). None should absent themselves from public worship and the preaching of God's word, except infants and idiots.

II. -- The Behaviour of the Hearers.

We are told (verse 3) "All the people were attentive." There are some who go to God's house, and make such poor use of their ears, that they will wish at the Judgment Day they had been born deaf. We read also of the reverence of the people. They "stood up" to listen, and joined in the prayer with a great "Amen!" What a scene we have depicted in verses 5-6.

III. -- The Preachers.

There was a PULPIT, but not the tub-like thing that we see in some places -- it held more than a dozen. It would be high enough for all the people to hear and see. But Ezra had more sense than to have it so high that he and his helpers were separated from their hearers. Pulpits should help, not hinder the preacher.


verse 8. They read "distinctly." We sometimes listen to a man whom we cannot hear, and it is a pain and grief to us to see his lips move, but because he drops his voice when he has anything extra good to say, we lose the best. Such Preachers forget that "faith comes by hearing."

verse 8.

This is one of the duties of Preachers, to make their hearers understand the Bible, so that the man who does not teach as well as preach has not done all that he has been called to do. That is the best kind of Preacher, who not only stirs up the people like a poker, but puts fuel on at the same time.

IV. -- The Effects of the Service.

First, there was sorrow of heart. No one can understand the Bible and not be moved. The Levites, however, showed their people that God would like them to be happy. Those who weep over the Bible may well be comforted. Let those weep who have not listened to God's word.

One blessed result of the sacred joy which followed the weeping, was the


(verses 10-12). It would be well if, after every good time we had at chapel, we made the poor to rejoice. If God feeds you with the Bread of Life, send a loaf of bread or a bit of meat to some who are likely to go hungry!


xliv the british bayonet
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