Nehemiah 2:4

I. THAT IT WAS THE OUTCOME OF A TRUE PATRIOTISM (ver. 2). This sadness was not occasioned by temporal loss, by domestic bereavement, or by unfaithful friendship, but by the desolated condition of Jerusalem. The city was "waste." Many cities of our own country are laid waste by sin; the good man cannot be indifferent, he must sympathise with and help the work of moral restoration. If men are anxious about the walls, they ought to be much more so about the morals of a city; if for the tombs of the dead, much more for the welfare of the living. Sin consumes a city as by fire. The desolation wrought by sin, in commerce, in society, in the home, and especially amongst the young, cannot but awaken deep sorrow of heart.

II. THAT IT WAS EXPERIENCED IN THE COURSE OF HIS DAILY AVOCATIONS. "And I took up the wine, and gave it to the king "( ver. 1). How many men go to their daily toil with a heart sorrow which occupation and industry cannot make them forget. Nehemiah was wont to be cheerful before the king; business should be done in joyous mood; but there are times when sorrow will prevail.

III. THAT IT WAS MANIFESTED IN THE APPEARANCE OF THE PHYSICAL FRAME. "Why is thy countenance sad?" (ver. 2). How much of the world's sorrow is concealed. In a very true sense it is sorrow of heart; it is never vocal in explanation or complaint. But such sacred grief is not hidden from God. The face reflects the emotions of the soul; it revealed the sorrow of Nehemiah, the joy of Stephen. How many sorrowful faces do we meet in a day. A sad countenance should awaken tender inquiry, wise consideration, and willing aid. Let us not be heedless of the world's sorrow. Christ is only true consolation.

IV. THAT IT WAS AIDED BY SECRET COMMUNION WITH THE DIVINE. "So I prayed to the God of heaven" (ver. 4).

1. Sorrow often has great opportunities opened up to it. "For what dost thou make request?" Nehemiah's sorrow opened up the king's resources to him. Our sorrows often make heaven rich to us.

2. Sorrow needs guidance, so as to make good use of the opportunities presented to it.

3. Sorrow finds in prayer the guidance and culture it needs to use aright its opportunity.

(1) Memory is aided;

(2) difficulty is anticipated;

(3) preparation is accomplished (ver. 7);

(4) agencies are perfected (ver. 8).

V. THAT IT WAS EMPLOYED IN THE WONDROUS PROVIDENCE OF HEAVEN. "And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me" (ver. 8).

1. The sorrow of Nehemiah was allied to the welfare of his people. It led to the rebuilding of the broken wall of Jerusalem. Our trials are often the means of promoting the welfare of others. Christ's sufferings are allied to our best delights, and to our noblest achievements. It is indeed true that others build because we have suffered.

2. The sorrow of Nehemiah was allied to the beneficence of the king. It awakened the monarch's sympathy and help. The sorrows of men awaken loving ministries.

3. The sorrow of Nehemiah was allied to the providence of God. By its means Heaven opened the heart of the heathen king in sympathy and his hand in help. The pain of the world is made to achieve high moral ends; a wise providence employs it in the building of broken walls. - E.







And I arose in the night.
Homilist.
I. HE WORKS THOUGHTFULLY. Before he commences this tremendous task he spends some time in deliberation. Who can tell the thoughts of Nehemiah as he moved amidst the ruins of Jerusalem this night? Jerusalem was the home of his fathers, the centre of his most hallowed associations. Before we undertake a work we should gauge its magnitude and become convinced of its practicability (Luke 14:28-30). Men, from the impulse of the hour, put their hand to undertakings which they have never given themselves time to understand, and for which they are not fitted; and hence, when the excitement is over, they abandon the work in disappointment, if not in disgust.

II. HE WORKS INDEPENDENTLY. "I arose in the night, I and some few men with me, neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem." It is not thus that we are wont to act in this age. There are but few men who would take up any great work, and set about it themselves, without seeking the sympathy and counsel of their fellow-men. If we have some work which presses on us as a duty of general importance, almost the first thing we do is to call our friends together, get their sanction, and form a committee to aid us in carrying it out. We, in these days, work by organisations. Our individuality in work is scarcely seen or felt. We are the limbs of societies, wheels in organisations. What we want is more individualism in action, more of the independent man, and less of the society. Two things will show the importance of this.

1. The opinions of others cannot determine our duty. Duty is between us and God. It is something that is perfectly independent of men's thoughts.

2. The opinions of others may embarrass us in duty. Duty generally comes to us in very legible writing, wants no interpreter, speaks to us in a very distinct voice. Amid the din of human opinion there is danger of its losing its voice. Let us, therefore, cultivate the habit of acting independently; not proudly, not despising the opinions of others, or refusing their co-operation, but working ever from the force of our own convictions.

III. HE WORKED INFLUENTIALLY. The next chapter shows that, under his influence, all classes, male and female, set to work in right earnest.

1. The people saw that he understood the matter. They recognised in him at once a man who knew what he was about, a man of intellectual grasp and might.

2. The people saw that he was thoroughly in earnest. What he said he meant.

IV. HE WORKED HEROICALLY.

1. Look at the sacrifices he made.

2. Look at the enemies he encountered. He had, at least, three desperate enemies (ver. 19) — Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. These men showed their opposition —

(1)By ridicule (ver. 19, Nehemiah 4:3).

(2)By indignation (Nehemiah 4:7).

3. The labour he effected. He finished the work in fifty-two days, notwithstanding all the difficulties that seemed insurmountable. He overcame the enemies who were malignant, he triumphed over all.

V. HE WORKED RELIGIOUSLY. "Then I told them of the hand of my God which was upon me," etc. (vers. 18-20).

1. His impulses to act he ascribed to God.

2. His rule of action he derived from Him (ver. 18).

3. His sacrifices in the work he made for Him (Nehemiah 5:15).

4. The spirit with which he performed his work was that of dependence upon Him (Nehemiah 4:9-12).This religion is the philosophy of his power. He felt himself the messenger and the servant of God.

(Homilist.)

We often undertake one thing and another, both in our spiritual and temporal life, without preparation; and for the want of this, failure ensues. Before Dr. Nansen, the Norwegian, started on his Polar expedition, he slept under his silk tent for the double purpose of testing it and acclimatising himself. Other members of the expedition slept in the open air covered with the wolf-skins they were taking out with them. A very famous writer, in order to secure as good a description of a thunderstorm as possible, took up his position during six such storms on the top of a cathedral tower, getting himself drenched to the skin each time. It is not only the doing of a thing, but the preparation for doing it, which in many cases issues in success. No time spent in preparation for what is worth doing is lost.

(Signal.)

The purposes of ruling spirits are sometimes so grand and daring in their character as to be incapable of deriving support from other minds; and were they to be prematurely divulged, they would be ruined in their execution. Lord Clive was wont to say that he never called a council of war but once, and if he had acted on the advice given, the battle of Plessey would not have been fought, and India would have been lost to the British Empire.

(W. Ritchie.)

Homiletic Commentary.
Learn — Good intentions are best kept secret. —

I.UNTIL THEY ARE ASCERTAINED TO BE PRACTICABLE.

II.UNTIL THEY CAN BE CARRIED OUT WITH DECISIVE ENERGY.

III.FROM THOSE WHO ARE LIKELY TO OPPOSE THEM.

IV.UNTIL THE CO-OPERATION ESSENTIAL TO SUCCESS CAN RE RELIED ON.

(Homiletic Commentary.)

In this visit of generous sorrow to a scene of temple desolation we are reminded of the first approach of the Holy Spirit in mercy to our ruined souls.

(W. Ritchie.)

Take your own measure of the destitution of the world. Every Christian man should go about in the world, so far As he is able to do so, by the aid of reports — to take his own measure of the situation — steal out by night and see what the devil has done with this human nature of ours, and he should say, "God helping me, I will do my utmost to undo this mischief and to repair the shattered house of the Lord."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. My subject impresses me with the idea WHAT AN INTENSE THING IS ATTACHMENT TO THE HOUSE OF GOD. It is through the spectacles of this scene that we discover the ardent attachment of Nehemiah for that sacred Jerusalem which in all ages has been the type of the Church of God, our Jerusalem, which we love just as much as Nehemiah loved his Jerusalem. What Jerusalem was to Nehemiah the house of God is to you. Infidels may scoff at the Church as an obsolete affair, as a relic of the dark ages, as a convention of goody-goody people, but all the impression they have ever made on your mind against the Church of God is absolutely nothing. You would make more sacrifices for it to-day than for any other institution, and if it were needful, you would die in its defence.

II. THE RUINS MUST BE EXPLORED BEFORE THE WORK OF RECONSTRUCTION CAN BEGIN. The reason that so many people in this day, apparently converted, do not remain converted, is because they did not first explore the ruin of their own heart. There was a superstructure of religion built on a substratum of unrepented sins. The trouble with a good deal of modern theology is that, instead of building on the right foundation, it builds on debris of an unregenerated nature. They attempt to rebuild Jerusalem before, in the midnight of conviction, they have seen the ghastliness of the ruin. A dentist said to me a few days ago, "Does that hurt?" I replied, "Of course it hurts. It is in your business as in my profession — we have to hurt before we can help; we have to explore and dig away before we can put in the gold." You will never understand redemption until you understand ruin. A man comes to me to talk about religion. The first question I ask him is, "Do you feel yourself to be a sinner?" If he says, "Well, I — yes," the hesitancy makes me feel that the man wants a ride on Nehemiah's horse by midnight through the ruins — in at the gate of his affections, out at the gate of his will, by the dragon well; and before he has got through with that midnight ride he will drop the reins on the horse's neck, and he will take his right hand and smite on his heart, and say, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!"

III. My subject gives me A SPECIMEN OF BUSY AND TRIUMPHANT SADNESS. If there was any man in the world who had a right to mope and give up everything as lost, it was Nehemiah. You say, "He was a cupbearer in the palace of Shushan, and it was a grand place." So it was. But you know very well that fine architecture will not put down home-sickness. Although he had a grief so intense that it excited the commiseration of the king, yet he rouses himself up to rebuild the city. He gets his permission of absence; he gets his passports, he hastens away to Jerusalem. By night he rides through the ruins; he arouses the piety and patriotism of the people, and in less than two months Jerusalem was rebuilt. That's what I call busy and triumphant sadness. The whole temptation is with you, when you have trouble, to do just the opposite to the behaviour of Nehemiah, and that is to give up. You say, "I have lost my child, and can never smile again." You say, "I have lost my property, and I can never repair my fortunes." You say, "I have fallen into sin, and I can never start again for a new life." If Satan can make you form that resolution, and make you keep it, he has ruined you. Trouble is not sent to crush you, but to arouse you, to animate you, to propel you. Oh, that the Lord God of Nehemiah would arouse up all broken-hearted people to rebuild. Whipped, betrayed, shipwrecked, imprisoned, Paul went right on. I knew a mother who buried her babe on Friday, and on the Sabbath appeared in the house of God, and said, "Give me a class; give me a Sabbath-school class. I have no child now left me, and I would like to have a class of little children. Give me really poor children. Give me a class off the back street." That is beautiful. That is triumphant sadness.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

It was like the magic horn that awoke the inmates of the enchanted castle. The spell was broken. The torpor of the Jews gave place to hope and energy. Nehemiah brought with him no new labourers; but he brought what was better, the one essential requisite for every great enterprise — an inspiration. This is the one supreme need at present.

(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)

I. THE APPEAL TO THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM. The distress under which the city was then groaning was the result —

1. Of the opposition of enemies.

2. The indifference of friends.

II. THE INVITATION IN CONNECTION WITH THE APPEAL. It was an invitation —

1. To laborious and self-denying exertion.

2. To immediate exertion.

3. To individual, to combined, to persevering exertion.

III. THE CONSIDERATIONS BY WHICH THE INVITATION IS ENFORCED.

1. He appeals to their sense of shame.

2. He notices the encouragement which was afforded them by God.

3. He appeals to the encouraging circumstances of the times.

IV. THE EFFECT WHICH ALL THIS HAD UPON THE MINDS OF THE PEOPLE.

1. It raised their enthusiasm.

2. It led them to exertion.

3. It led to mutual excitement and cooperation.

4. It led to final success.

(W. Orme.)

I. A TYPE OF ALL GOD'S TRUE REPAIRERS. Think of our English Church alone, Ridley at Cambridge, musing in his walks over St. Paul's Epistles; Wesley in days when our pulpits were too much filled with "apes of Epictetus," brooding over the gospel of grace and the sweetness of the name of Jesus; Simeon, maturing the views which stirred so many stagnant parishes, and gave a fresh spring to missionary work; in the last few years Aitken, often spending six hours in prayer within his church upon the Cornish cliff, and then going out with his soul on fire to speak to sinners of redeeming love — what are these and many others but Christian Nehemiahs? Such men began with prayer their survey in solitude and silence of the wall which was broken down. They ended by crying with a voice that went forth with the winds, and entered with the power of God into hundreds of spirits — "Come and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem."

II. LESSONS FOR ALL SUCH REPAIRERS.

1. The builders worked under arms. Those who at this crisis would do a real work of spiritual restoration in the English Church, must "every one have his sword girded by his side," and "so build." Those who seek three great ends — a more reverent worship, a ministry fuller of individual consolation, and a tenderer devotion — must, even while they build, be equipped and vigilant against a hostile influence.(1) They must guard against a Romanising ritual, and, I will add, a sentimental ritualism.(2) They should be vigilant to resist other and far subtler invasions of principles hostile to the spirit of the English Reformation.(a) We are often told that we must have among us habitual private confession, and absolution, and systematic spiritual guidance. I hold with Mason, who says, "We have not only a public absolution in our Church, but a private one also, for there are many who want particular comfort. And therefore we use a private absolution in the visitation of the sick, and so often as the broken hearts and wounded consciences of particular persons do require it." But if any desire to go further — to change confession from a medicine for the morbid into a good for all — they are aiming at that which the genius of Teutonic Christianity, the character of the English people, and of the English Reformation, render an impossibility.(b) A second point, in which our builders need to wear the sword while they repair the wall, concerns the form of the devotions which they may introduce or recommend. Let me instance that of which so much has lately been heard — the worship of the Sacred Heart.

2. The builders worked under the harmonious co-operation of priesthood and laity. Ezra and Nehemiah combined in the restoration.

(Abp. Alexander.)

A desolate city tells a tale of past greatness, past resources, past life. Who can look upon the nations of China and India and not mourn over their moral and spiritual desolation? There are God's gifts in abundance, but superstition reigns supreme. The teeming millions are in a state of moral ruin. Shall we not feel compassion for them? Let us arise and restore the breaches made by sin, Satan, and superstition.

(J. M. Randall.)

Nehemiah is for us an example. Like him, we would build again the walls of Jerusalem.

I. LET US SEE IS WHAT WAY OUR SITUATION RECALLS TO US THE TIMES OF NEHEMIAH.

1. Jerusalem, for us, is the Church. I use the word in the wide and yet exact sense that the Scripture does. The Church, according to the expression of Paul, is the spiritual house of God, built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. The Church, according to the expression of Peter, is that building to which we ought to belong as living stones in order to be a spiritual house, a holy priesthood. The Church is that family whose members are known to God alone; it is that great city of souls of which our various Churches are but imperfect realisations. If the house in which we have grown up is dear to us above all, what then will be the Church, especially when it has transmitted to us with the treasures of the gospel examples of heroic fidelity? Let us then love the Church we belong to — love it more than others; it is our right, it is our duty; but above this, let us maintain the grand reality which is called the universal Church, and which must be to us an object of faith.

2. "The wall of Jerusalem is broken down," said the fugitives to Nehemiah. Is not this the message that many voices bring to us to-day from all parts of Christendom? The Protestant Church has been surprised. Protected heretofore by the rampart of the authority of the Scriptures which the Reformation had built up, and behind which, no doubt, were sheltered many intestine struggles, it was unanimous in rushing to the breach when it was necessary to defend its liberty against Catholicism, its faith in the God of revelation against infidelity. To-day that rampart has been forced; criticism has penetrated into the place like a vast and impetuous torrent. The authenticity of the sacred books, facts, and doctrines, all have been shaken; and, after having denied the reality of a supernatural revelation, it sees itself outstripped by a philosophy which, enlarging the breach which it has forced open, destroys even the religious sentiment itself, well knowing that nothing will have been accomplished so long as the voice within the recesses of the human soul, which calls for succour and pardon from the living God, has not been stifled.

II. LET US NOW SEE WHAT HIS EXAMPLE OUGHT TO TEACH US. Notice —

1. His sorrow. Do you understand such sorrow as Nehemiah's? Do you know what it is to groan as he did over the desolation of Jerusalem? Our age has signalised sorrow; its poets have sung of the secret melancholy of the soul with a vivid emotion; but in the sadness which inspects itself, which analyses itself with complacent curiosity, which exhibits itself to the world, what egotism is there, what bitter pride or trivial vanity! How rare is sorrow for the cause of God. Curious about everything, even of evil, diverted by everything, distracted from the one thing needful, we are hardly able to comprehend the sorrow of an Elijah making lament over erring Israel, of a Nehemiah shedding heartfelt tears over the ruins of Jerusalem, or a Paul full of holy bitterness in the presence of Athenian idolatry, of a Calvin consumed with sadness at the sight of the persecuted Churches.

2. His spirit of sacrifice. Nehemiah does more than lament. He acts, and to act he knows how to sacrifice all. To the peace which he enjoys he prefers the dangers of a struggle without a truce; to the brilliant future which awaits him, the reproach of his people. It is this spirit which always distinguishes those who wish to serve God here below. In every age they must be separated from the world. I have seen, in another denomination, young men and maidens, at the age when life promised them its enchantments, giving all up, even their very name, putting on the serge or the cassock, and for ever enlisting themselves in the service of the poor, in school or hospital. We like an easy religion. They alone are able and worthy to raise the walls of Jerusalem who, as Nehemiah, will know how to sacrifice all for God.

3. His earnestness in the work he has undertaken. Notice here the greatness of his faith, as measured by the paucity of his resources and by the vast obstacles which he encounters: Possibly more than one person in this assembly has felt his zeal paralysed by the spectacle of the Church, by the smallness of our resources compared with the vastness of the obstacles! You also, like Nehemiah, have passed dark nights in which you have reviewed one after another all the ruins which our century piles up. Old beliefs, holy, venerated traditions, which mingle in a far-off recollection with the prayers of the cradle, scouted, abandoned to the derision of the multitude! Have you not seen in those souls which are dear to you the hopes and consolations of the gospel wear away one by one? Have you not heard from lips which once prayed as yours the cold denials of a pitiless criticism? Once they heard, when beholding the skies, the song of worlds praising their creator God; now they catch nothing more than the inevitable evolution of an eternal mechanism. Once it was Providence, without whose permission not a sparrow falls to the ground, and who counts our tears; now it is man, who stands solitary in face of the cold immensities of space, where God is no more. Alas! before such ruins I understand how the heart shudders. But it is the very magnificence of these ruins that fills us with hope. Between the living God of Christianity and the nullity of fatalism there is nothing which remains standing; not one system which keeps together even sufficient stones to build a piece of wall or a shelter. Now humanity does not live upon nothing. It sins, it suffers, it dies; it has need of pardon, of consolation, of hope; and if, before those supreme questions which we can shun to-day, but which will return to-morrow, science must confess its entire ignorance; if, to the spirit which has a thirst for the absolute, to the heart which has a thirst for love, to the conscience which has a thirst for righteousness, it replies, "Leave those reveries; I acknowledge nothing but what I touch and what I see"; if such are its latest words, as we are given to understand, humanity must go away elsewhere to seek for repose, peace, certitude, May it then find opened before it the Jerusalem of the living God I Come then, I say to you, come, and let us raise again the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. To the work, in days of difficulty; to the work, notwithstanding the want of success. "O God," said a great Christian, "success is Thine affair; as for me, give me obedience."

(E. Bersier, D. D.)

And they said, Let us rise up and build
There are moments when human hearts are so prepared by God that great truths require only to be addressed to them to meet an immediate reception. They are as the paper made ready by the photographer for receiving the impress of a likeness; the object has only to be presented before it in a proper light, when it takes on its exact image. It was so in this instance with these men of Judah. They readily responded to Nehemiah's appeal.

(W. Ritchie.)

The power of enthusiasm, the worth of an enthusiastic man, is the lesson here impressed upon our minds.

1. Nehemiah comes all on fire for his undertaking. He is not only enthusiastic, but wise. Enthusiasm without forethought is blind force. It is like the ocean foaming away its power in battle with an iron-bound coast. United with prudence it is like the stream of a broad, deep river fertilising the soil, bearing on its breast the ships of merchants, giving an impulse to industry, to enterprise, and to the spirit of adventure and discovery.

2. Christianity is a feeble power if it is not enthusiastic. It is the amazing spectacle of the great Redeemer of the world laying clown His life for the world which has created the Church, and which is the life and energy of her every message and mission.

3. Enthusiasm is the need of the Church of God. Hearts with fire, souls with passion glowing within them. Before such men the mountain becomes a plain, the rough places smooth, the impossible possible. It is humanity's true cleansing stream and motive power. The enthusiasm of Christ is for us all the safeguard of conduct, the mightiest inspiration to a holy and useful life.

(A. J. Griffith.)

Often what people are waiting for is simply a leader — a man of courage, energy, and hopefulness, who can stimulate their zeal by the contagion of his own, and who, at the same time, has practical ability to marshal their powers and to organise and direct their resources. Such a man was Nehemiah.

(T. Campbell Finlayson.)

Homiletic Commentary.
I. CONSISTS IN ITS POWER TO PROTECT INDIVIDUAL WORKERS AGAINST DISCOURAGEMENT.

1. Isolated workers are always liable to depression.

2. Mutual sympathy and conference relieve mental strain, and renew exhausted energy.

II. CONSISTS IN ITS POWER OF RESISTING. COMBINED OPPOSITION FROM WITHOUT.

III. CONSISTS IN ITS POWER TO COPE WITH THE INHERENT DIFFICULTIES OF THE WORK, WHICH OTHERWISE WOULD BE INSURMOUNTABLE.

(Homiletic Commentary.)

I remember a saying of Edward Irving's which proved a guiding light to so great a man as Frederick Maurice, when he was in doubt and darkness. It was this: "The Old Testament is the dictionary of the New!" We can use the Old Testament reverently as such to-day, and may find the meaning and motive of modern service in this story of earlier days. Let us try to look, then, under the surface and see —

I. THE NATURE OF THIS WORK — the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

1. It was for religious ends that it was undertaken. Babylon and Shushan were noble cities; but the work of erecting others like them would not have inspired Nehemiah with this self-sacrificing fervour. Some cities are the creatures of commerce, and grow, as London grows, by the numbers who come to it for work or speculation; and then they decay, as many a city has done, because the highway to the sea gets closed up by the mass of matter poured down by the river and silted up by the tides. Other cities are planted by a conqueror for military purposes, to dominate some disaffected district, or to guard a threatened frontier — as Metz was fortified in modern days, and as most Roman towns were erected in our own country. But Jerusalem was not a military centre; it was on no great highway, and its site would have been ill chosen for commercial enterprise. That city was pre-eminently a sacred city, containing a temple whose ritual enshrined truths which the world could not have done without. If you read the subsequent history of this rebuilding you will see the uses to which the city was put directly it was safe against attack. And those were the purposes the builders contemplated. The law of God was read to the people by Ezra; the Feast of Tabernacles was kept, as it had not been for many a year; the Day of Atonement was solemnly observed; and the former covenant with Jehovah was renewed. And then righteous laws were enforced, and justice was done to all the people. This teaches us that all our undertakings, as God's people — even though they are as material as building a city or enlarging a church — are to be begun and carried on with such ends in view.

2. Again, the good work these Jews had to do was amid the ruins of what had been noble. Every dislodged stone, every chiselled capital, every broken pillar, every charred fragment of carved woodwork was an evidence of the beauty and glory which had been. Ruins! we Christian workers see them everywhere. Heathen sacrifices and penances — what are these but the fragments, the dimly-remembered traditions, of a nobler faith? And inspiring utterances from the lips and pens of great thinkers, who doubt or deny the existence of God, are only the shattered columns which tell us of what has been given of God, though now marred by human folly. Aye, and in the Church are ruins of theological systems which once imperfectly set forth the Divine ideal, now broken up, not to be destroyed, but to be rebuilt in statelier and nobler forms. And, sadder far, we see around us ruins of manhood, ruins of womanhood, ruins of childhood, faces besotted by drink, bodies debased by impurity, living temples defiled and desecrated, till the very angels might weep over them. God help us to do a little upbuilding, and give us grace to this end to undertake the lowliest work.

3. Such labour is called for by God.

II. THE ADVANTAGES OF SUCH WORK.

1. Its tendency is to increase strength. I have seen some Churches ruined by rust, through lying by like a disused plough in fallow ground; but I never saw (or heard of) one broken down by overwork. So long as there is a spirit of enterprise, a longing to do greater things — not from a desire for self-glorification, but from a sincere wish to advance the cause of the Master — so long there is life, and life which becomes more abundant. Use develops and improves living things and living gifts always. There is more muscle in the ironworker than in the student; more keenness of sight in the Highland gillie than in the shopman; more intellectual power in the student than in the ploughman — because in each the gift has been developed by exercise. Let a Church transmute its feeling of love for the brethren into actual service for the poor, and its love will abound yet more and more.

2. Its tendency is to make more real fellowship among the workers.

III. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH ALL WORK FOR GOD SHOULD BE UNDERTAKEN.

1. In the spirit of earnestness. How seldom we pause to ask, "Is this the best I can do?" Is this "the most I can afford"? Nehemiah sacrificed ease and wealth, but our Lord sacrificed Himself; and in the presence of Christ's Cross how poor our offerings and services seem! Yet men who do not profess what we do sometimes put us to shame. Did you read, in your newspaper, about that terrible accident at the Clifton Colliery, near Manchester, whereby about one hundred and fifty men and boys lost their lives? It seemed going down to certain death to descend the shaft; yet when there was a call for volunteers there was eager competition for the honour of risking life to save the men entombed below. And one of the men down there at the time — Thomas Worrall, the surviving underlooker — knocked to the ground by the force of the explosion, recovered consciousness only to devote himself to the guidance and the deliverance of the frightened men and lads about him; and when he reached the main shaft he sent up all the injured, and then the uninjured, himself remaining in danger till the last. In another part of the pit was a fireman, George Hickson, whose duty it was to manipulate the signals between the bottom of the shaft and the engine-house above. He stood there at the post of duty, refusing to leave, whatever happened; for he was the appointed means of communication between the rescuers up in light and those to be rescued down in darkness. We admire and praise the earnestness and devotion of such heroes in humble life; but should we not emulate them if we profess to be the disciples of Him who gave His life for the world? Standing as we do, like that poor collier, between the living and the dead, the mediators — holding God with the hand of faith, and holding man with the hand of love — let us realise our responsibility and be true to our duty.

2. In the spirit of hopefulness.

3. In the spirit of prayerfulness.

(A. Rowland, LL. B. , B. A.)

They laughed us to scorn.
A poor, godly man was the subject of much profane ridicule amongst his neighbours. On being asked if these persecutions did not sometimes make him ready to give up his profession of religion, he replied, "No. I recollect that our minister once said in his sermon, that if we were so foolish as to permit such people to laugh us out of our religion, till at last we dropped into hell, they could not laugh us out again."

Admiral Colpoys relates that when he first left his lodgings to join his ship as a midshipman, his landlady presented him with a Bible and a guinea, saying, "God bless you, and prosper you my lad; and as long as you live never suffer yourself to be laughed out of your money or your prayers." This advice he carefully followed through life.

The sin of mocking —

I.WEAKENS EVERY VIRTOUS RESTRAINT.

II.STRENGTHENS VICIOUS PROPENSITIES.

III.GIVES GREAT ADVANTAGE TO YOUR WORST ENEMIES.

IV.EXPOSES TO PECULIAR MARKS OF GOD'S DISPLEASURE (2 Kings 2:23).

V.TERMINATES IN REMEDILESS WOE (Isaiah 66:3, 4; Proverbs 1:25, 26).

(J. Kidd.)

There are some natures — and these by no means the most ignoble — that are peculiarly sensitive to ridicule. They could meet a blow better than a sneer, and would rather be persecuted than despised. If we hold certain views on political questions, let us, indeed, make sure that we are holding them on good grounds; but let us not give them up, or be ashamed of them, merely because we may be sneered at as being "behind the age." There is an intellectual self-conceit which shelters its own ignorance behind the authority of great names, and all but exhausts its own shallow powers in flippant sarcasm and clever scorn. Or, again, if we take an interest in Christian missioner or try to teach a few children in a Sunday-school, or aim at lifting some of our companions into a more thoughtful life, let us not give up our endeavours merely because some Sanballat or Tobiah may jeer at us. If our work is one which the God of heaven is likely to smile upon and prosper, we can afford to despise all this foolish scorn. Or, again, if we are seeking to build up our own character into true godliness, let us learn to confront all ridicule with calmness.

(T. Campbell Finlayson.)

The God of heaven, He will prosper us.
Homiletic Commentary.
Because —

I.It suggests almighty protection.

II.It suggests providential direction.

III.It suggests divine benediction.

IV.It anticipates ultimate success.

(Homiletic Commentary.)

We are not called to build a wall; but to raise something more noble than that. We are called of God to go and search amongst the rubbish of our poor fallen humanity, and find our precious stones that shall be polished after the similitude of a palace. We are called to build a city of living stones that shall be a habitation of God through the Spirit. The times in which we are doing this are no whit better than they were in Nehemiah's day. The men who scoffed in that day sent their spirit flitting through the ages, and in their children they scoff still. I hear them sneer, and say, "What are these poor people trying to do? Do they presume to tread upon our domain, and think of building on our ruins? Why, if a fox comes against their work it will fall." Well, what is our answer? "The God of heaven, He will prosper us."

I. SIGNS OF PROSPERITY.

1. A bold independence of the world.

2. A total dependence upon God.

3. A third sign of prosperity is the spirit and power of prayer in a Church. This is the great secret of her strength and success, and the power that moves all her machinery. My little child wants to know what makes the hands of my watch go round and tell me the time. I explain the power of the spring, and assure her that is the secret of the hands going round. I want to know the secret of so much prosperity in some Churches. I see it is there in abundance, and wonder if the secret is in the learning and eloquence of the preacher, or the wealth of the deacons, or the respectability of the congregation. I have found out the secret. There is a crowd of earnest men, and in the crowd the spirit and power of prayer.

4. When the work of conversion goes on in the congregation.

II. THE SOURCE OF PROSPERITY.

III. THE CERTAINTY OF PROSPERITY.

(W. Cuff.)

I. THE HONOURABLE NAME NEHEMIAH APPROPRIATES TO HIMSELF AND TO HIS FELLOW-LABOURERS: a servant of God. To know God is the highest aim of science; to be like God, the highest ideal of humanity; to serve God, the joy of angels. A child of God is a more precious designation than that of servant of God. Yet there is a resemblance between them, for true liberty, greatness, salvation consists in this — serving God.

II. THE HOLY PURPOSE Nehemiah had before him. "We will rise and build." The true servant of God must be building the house of God.

1. In his own heart.

2. In his home.

3. In society.

4. In the state.

5. In the Church.

6. In the world.

III. HIS SEVERE STRIFE. His work does not prosper without conflict. The world and the kingdom of God are as opposed to one another as the Samaritans and Jews were of old. Ethics they hold to be of value still, but care nothing for the revelation of the saving grace of God to sinful men.

IV. THE TRUE SUPPORT.

V. A CONSCIOUS FIDELITY. Nehemiah was conscious of his own fidelity. The Lord still knows those who preserve their fidelity. For their fidelity they are responsible, not for the results.

VI. A GLORIOUS TRIUMPH. The Lord causes the work to succeed. If we build and trust, pray and work, the like success will be ours.

(J. J. Van Oosterzee.)

I.THE ANSWER TO THE ADVERSARIES.

II.THE CONFIDENCE EXPRESSED.

III.THE RESOLUTION TO WORK.

(J. Wells.)

I. THE SUBJECT-MATTER OF NEHEMIAH'S ANSWER AND WHAT IT TEACHES us. It reminds us —

1. Whence all true prosperity and success in the Lord's work are to be looked for and obtained. "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord." It is " God that giveth the increase." What the Word of God thus plainly teaches, providence abundantly illustrates, and human experience amply confirms.

2. That this ought to have the effect of stirring us up to earnest united exertion, and of keeping us ever actively engaged in the Lord's service.

II. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THIS ANSWER WAS MADE.

1. It was made in a strong, unwavering confidence in God, with the humble assurance of Divine help and success in the work.

2. It was the spirit of enlightened zeal for the cause of God and the Divine glory.

3. It was the spirit of fearless determination to prosecute the work on which he was entering at all hazards.

4. It was one of self-denying patriotism.Conclusion: We ought to cultivate the spirit and imitate the example of Nehemiah —

1. In the work of our own individual salvation.

2. In furthering the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom in the world.

(J. Sturrock.)

There was an excellent missionary who, from his conversion to his death, adopted three texts as his daily mottoes.

1. Personal hope: "Looking unto Jesus."

2. Personal strength: "My grace is sufficient for thee."

3. Personal service: "Whose I am, and whom I serve."

(J. M. Randall.).

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren.
Unity in diversity seems to be the principle on which God works both in the natural and spiritual world — a truth which is capable of almost endless illustration.

I. We see it, for instance, IN AN INDIVIDUAL CHURCH. What a variety of mental constitution and habits of thought; what difference in training, in education, and, consequently, in apprehension of spiritual things, and also in time, opportunity and social influence, among individual members. Yet where there is the quickening breath of the Spirit of God, there will be unity in the work while there is diversity in the operations. Thus one man is called to preach, another to take charge of the finances; while each takes his own part and seeks by God's help to discharge his individual responsibility, there must be a chord of sympathy between all the workers, for they "are members one of another."

II. The same is true of THE DIFFERENT SECTIONS INTO WHICH THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS STILL UNHAPPILY DIVIDED.

III. We may go farther and apply this truth to THE MANY EFFORTS THAT ARE NOW BEING PUT FORTH ALL OVER THE WORLD. Among the nations of Europe there are zealous workers, and we must bear them up before God in believing prayer. They are working on the same wall, though on different parts of it. And there are indirect workers, too, whom we must not fail to recognise. The philanthropist, the temperance reformer, those engaged in educational, charitable, and other movements which tend to benefit the masses of the people — they also are engaged in building the wall. We must enlarge our sympathies and rejoice in every man who seeks to do honest work for God. We must not forget, however, that while there was oneness in the work, there was individuality in its different parts. The work being great, it was subdivided, and each man had a special portion allotted to him, generally that which lay nearest to his own dwelling. There is work there if he will only look for it under the guidance of God's Spirit. About twenty years ago a youth in whose heart lay the fervent desire to preach to the heathen, stood in a crowded assembly listening to a popular preacher. "You think," said the speaker, "of a group of blacks gathered under the wide-spreading banian tree, and you imagine how you could discourse to them of the wondrous love of Christ. Ah I my brother, begin at home; try it in the streets of London first." It was a word in season; the young man began to build over against his house; God blessed him to the conversion of hundreds of souls, and He is blessing him still. In Christian work, too, we may see that the selfish instinct is recognised — not the selfishness which robs God and glorifies self, but that which leads a worker to be interested in his own department of work as he can be in no other. In this sense there is a selfishness which is not sinful, and which we may almost say is not selfish. If kept in due subordination to thoughts of the oneness of the work, it is commendable and ought to be cultivated. How often in conversation with a brother worker have we failed to gain his close attention while we spoke to him of our work or the work of other brethren! But when we asked about his congregation, his mission-room, or his Sunday or ragged school, what a change! His tongue was loosed, and his whole face glowed with animation as he told us how the Lord was helping and blessing him. It is both natural and right that it should be so. He is building before his own door, and while not ignoring others, he thinks of the work over against his house as he can of no other part of the wall. His heart is specially there. From the portions of work allotted to the individual citizens, we may learn also the importance of concentration in Christian effort. Had a man put a brick here, and a daub of mortar there, and laid a beam yonder, the wall would have made but slow progress; but as one man built before his own door, and another before his, and so on all round the city, the attention and energy of each were concentrated upon his special portion, and the wall rapidly approached completion. Now, concentration is an important principle in Christian work as well as in the building of a Wall, and if we look back on the history of the Church, we shall find that the greatest results have been achieved by men who have continuously bent their energies towards a given point. It is the fashion in our day rather to decry "men of one idea." This fashion is much promoted by men of no idea, who are jealous of brethren more fortunate than themselves. This principle is important in reference not only to the object of life, but to the sphere of labour. It is of greater consequence to do one thing well than many things indifferently. Diffusion seems to be the aim of many workers in this restless age, and breadth rather than depth is characteristic of their efforts.

(W. P. Lockhart.)

I. THE BUILDERS. The patriots have expressed their purpose to build the wall, and they proceed immediately to carry this good resolution into effect. We know nothing in all history like the scene here portrayed. We have read, indeed, of ancient Rome, when burned by fire, being rebuilt by her citizens; but these were still rich and powerful. We have heard, too, of ancient Carthage, when almost razed to the ground by foreign invaders, being repaired and fortified by the patriots of the nation; but these were yet numerous and wealthy. We know nothing, however, like this in the annals of the world, where the small remnant of the captives of Judah, with simple trust in God, set themselves to rebuild their fallen capital, while they were few in numbers, poor in resources, and surrounded with hosts of enemies frowning on their enterprise.

1. They were all Israelites in the land of Judah. In the book of Ezra we learn that aliens from the commonwealth of Israel were not permitted to join in rebuilding the temple, even though for sinister ends they proffered their services. They could not enter with spirit into the undertaking, and the labour of the hand was not accepted when unaccompanied with the love of the heart. And it is the spiritual Israel still who can labour in promoting Christ's cause and truth in the earth. They alone can effectually advance religion who love and exemplify it. They alone can truly know the truth so as to speak it and spread it. It is a profound observation of Pascal, "that natural things must be known to be loved, but Divine things must be loved in order to be known." Saving truth is not discerned by the mere power of natural reason, or through the acquirements of human learning; it can be perceived only through the illumination of the Holy Ghost. Believers of the word of salvation can alone declare that word with living power. It is a feeble, as well as a heartless thing, for a man to speak truth for the faith of others, that he does not believe in his own soul. It is in vain to expect earnest effort for the conversion of souls from those who have no mercy on themselves, and who have never repented of their own sins.

2. They were of diversified stations and gifts. It deserves remark, that those mentioned here not only gave contributions in money, that the work might advance, but they laboured by personal effort in the building of the wall. This is worthy of high praise, as showing a heart for the good cause, and wisdom in advancing it. Money can, no doubt, do much to procure or sustain effort in promoting the work of God; but there is a power in living activity, in the warm sympathy, in the personal influence, of the present believer helping forward a religious enterprise, that donations of gold can never secure. It is, hence, to the honour of those saints of Judah that they not merely gave their money, but they gave themselves, in life, in love, to labour with their hands in this work of God for building their city walls. In the narrative of these diversified personal efforts we observe —(1) The priests and Levites joined in the work. "Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate" (ver. 1). And "after him repaired the Levites" (ver. 17). But the lowliest act done for the cause of God receives glory from its connection with Him; and the ministers of the sanctuary should be foremost in effort to build up the cause of truth in the earth.(2) The governor and nobles laboured at the wall. There is, indeed, one notable exception to this patrician work. Respecting the nobles of the Takoites it is said, "But their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord" (ver. 5).(3) The daughters of Judah shared this honourable toil. "Shallum, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters" (ver. 12).(4) The young united in this sacred employment. "And Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another piece" (ver. 30). Youth are often tempted to think religion a gloomy thing, and that to embrace it in their early years would be to lose all the pleasures of life.

3. The builders here belonged to different parts of the Holy Land. They were there from Jericho, and Gibeon, and Keilah, and Mizpah, and Tekoa. These were not men of Jerusalem, but they loved the public interests of religion connected with the city of God, and, as true Israelites, they laboured for its restoration. The extension, the purity, the revival of the Church in every part of the world, is the common cause of all who name the name of Christ. Christians, then, should never be so absorbed with their own party interests as to forget the great cause of His glory, and the good of man. If they really love the Lord Jesus their regard for His honour must be tested by their active effort to overthrow the reign of sin, and advance the empire of righteousness.

II. THE PRGRESS OF THE WORK. In the call of Divine judgment for the overthrow of the city God commanded, "Begin at My sanctuary"; and so we remark, this work of restoration commences beside the temple, proceeds north, and westward, till it completes the circuit of the wall. "The priests built the sheep gate, and they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it." Through it the sacrifices were brought into the holy place, and the patriots first repaired it, that they might defend the house of God from all assaults or danger. They were the ministers of religion that performed this part of the work, and they thus teach their brethren that everything connected with Divine worship is to be guarded with religious care. From them, too, we learn that our first concern in all reform, as well as in the activities of life, should be for the safety and prosperity of the Church of God. But if the Church of Christ is dear to the hearts of her members, and is prosperous through their works of faith, the cause of humanity and of truth is secure in the earth. The work here was carried on by the labourers where each of them was most deeply interested. It is recorded of several of the householders of Jerusalem that "he repaired over against his house" (ver. 23), and respecting one who seems to have been only a lodger, it is said, "he repaired over against his chamber" (ver. 30). Labour near their respective dwellings was most convenient for the persons engaged, and it was necessary for their own safety that the wall there should not be broken down. Religion ever appeals to the instinct of self-love, and the strength of domestic affection in the human heart, to animate zeal for its advancement. Christian parent! your own children are dear to you, and you are appointed to labour and pray for their salvation. Christian philanthropist I your own country is the object of your love, and you are required to give your foremost endeavours for the religious welfare of your brethren, your kinsmen according to the flesh. This work, moreover, was prosecuted with varied zeal. The enterprise required co-operation of effort; and we find sometimes two persons united in setting up one gate. There was need, too, for diversity of zeal, for while one part had only to be repaired, another had to be entirely rebuilt; but the diversity of grace demanded was perseveringly displayed. To the honour of one we read, "Baruch earnestly repaired" (ver. 20), as if his diligence was such as to be manifest to all beholders. To the praise of others, we are given to understand that when they had raised up one part they proceeded to restore another. "Meremoth," and the "Tekoites" (vers. 21, 27), after finishing the work first allotted to them, undertook a second portion of labour, as if they felt there should be no remission from toil so long as any part of Jerusalem remained broken down.

III. THE OPPOSITION OF ENEMIES. It is not good that the spiritual life should flow on without trial, or that a great work should progress without admonition of its constant dependence on God. Long seasons of repose or prosperity are apt to produce self-complacency in the heart; God therefore subjects His servants to humbling reverses, and pours them from vessel to vessel, lest they should be settled on their lees. In the performance of s good work the encounter of difficulties is salutary, and it is permitted in profound wisdom. He that sits in the seat of the scornful seldom needs to sit long there alone. Here we observe the leading mocker is soon joined by a humble imitator, in the same strain of ridicule at the works of earnest piety. "Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall." And so it has been in all ages. The most solemn scenes and venerable characters, the greatest actions and the grandest enterprises, have encountered the derision of bad men, sitting in the seat of the scorner. The leading infidel of the Continent in the close of last century vented his malicious jests at the sublime verities of the Christian faith, and sneered at the redemption of the world by the blood of God's Son. Thus, too, the profane wits of the time laughed to scorn the commencement of the great enterprise of modern missions to the heathen, and derided the proposal to convert the world to the Christian faith, while only a few pounds were as yet in the treasury, and some illiterate artizans were consecrated the apostles of the gospel to India. All such mockers overlook this one thing, that the cause of truth has God for its author, and therefore faith in effort for its advancement rests on Omnipotence for success. It requires but little talent to raise a laugh against the affections and works of piety.

IV. THE DEVOTION OF JUDAH UNDER NEHEMIAH. In narrating the zeal of the builders, Nehemiah makes no mention of his own great service in the common cause. He was the soul of the whole undertaking — planning, animating, and sustaining it, at every, point; yet he never once refers to himself among those whose names are recorded with honour. In the outset of the enterprise, while it still prospers, this truly great man narrates the progress of the work in the third person, as if he had had no share in the honourable toil. But so soon as difficulties occur, the style of the history is changed, and he takes his place under the term "we," among the sufferers for the cause of truth. It is a beautiful example of modesty and humility to all the servants of God. Nehemiah in this hour of trial displays great forbearance under wrong. The proud scorn he encountered might have provoked his resentment to inflict punishment on its despicable authors. He was high in favour with the king, and it would probably have been easy for him to obtain power to chastise these adversaries of his country; but he is as distinguished for patience as for courage. There is not a Christian that suffers reproach in serving Christ, but the Lord feels it as done to Himself; and unless mercy is asked to pardon the affront, it will be visited with the wrath of the Lamb for evermore.

V. THE ZEAL OF THE PEOPLE FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE WORK. Derision and discouragement drive multitudes from the support of a good cause. Many have begun to run well in their religious course. How many, too, are frightened away from a good work by the sneers and opposition directed against those who are zealous in its promotion. They believe the enterprise to be right in itself, they are persuaded it is fraught with blessings to men; but they cannot bear the jests or banter which open adherence to it entails.

(W. Ritchie.)

It was natural that the Pasha should thus make "honourable mention" of those who came to the front, and threw their energies into this patriotic work. Nehemiah was doubtless anxious to hand down to posterity the names of all who were leaders in the movement; he did not wish to take to himself the whole credit of the work; we may be sure that he wrote down this register of names with both pleasure and pride. We find that priests, rulers, merchants, and tradesmen all took a share in this enterprise; and, where the work of the Lord is concerned, it is only becoming that there should be this unity of spirit and division of labour. Often, in our modern Christian Churches, too much is left to the ministers of religion; and sometimes one man is expected to do a work which ought to be shared by a whole congregation. The merchant and tradesman will sometimes plead the engrossing claims of business or the pressure of "bad times" as a reason for holding aloof from the varied efforts of Christian benevolence; and it is to be feared also that some of our modern aristocrats are prevented by the haughty and foolish pride of rank from throwing their energies and influence into the activities of the Christian Church.

(T. C. Finlayson.)

To us Nehemiah's catalogue of the builders may now seem to be little more than a dry register of names. But it is not difficult to imagine how interesting it may have been for generations after it was written. As Jerusalem began to grow again in power and splendour, men would scan with eager interest the list of those who had engaged in such a brave and self-denying work. We can imagine how, centuries later, the eye of some young boy might kindle with pride and enthusiasm when he read here, in one of the sacred books, the name of some ancestor of his own, who had nobly borne his part in building up the walls of Jerusalem. It is a grand thing to come of a patriotic or godly lineage.

(T. C. Finlayson.)

Words have given place to deeds.

I. In looking over this list of workers we are struck with the fact that THEY ARE DRAWN FROM ALL CLASSES OF SOCIETY.

1. The priests took a prominent part in this work. "Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep-gate." We fear that, as respects the high priest, what he did in this way was not a work of love. Some years afterwards, much to Nehemiah's regret, this same Eliashib acted a very unworthy and unpatriotic part: and we suspect it was more for the sake of appearances than from any real wish to promote the success of the enterprise that he was found among the builders mentioned in this chapter. Again, it was quite right the priest should be active on this occasion, for it was owing in a great measure to their unfaithfulness — to the unfaithfulness, that is, of the priesthood prior to the time of the Babylonian captivity, that the city was laid in ruins. In Jeremiah we read, "The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew Me not; the pastors also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit."

2. The rulers, too, or princes of the house of Israel, took a leading part in repairing the wall, and, as in the case of the priests, it was proper they should; for their misconduct, their evil practices, had contributed greatly to bring about the downfall of the city (Micah 3:9, 12). The advantages of co-operation were thus secured. By means of this combination the work was done quickly, simultaneously, and economically. Here, certainly, was a remarkable spectacle: all classes of the community concentrating their energies on a common object. Difference of opinion and rivalries might exist among them, but for the nonce these were sunk in the achievement of a purpose dear to every patriotic heart.

II. THAT THE WORK REFERRED TO WAS UNDER-TAKEN BY PARTIES FROM VARIOUS LOCALITIES, AND NOT BY THE CITIZENS OF THE CAPITAL ALONE. Thus we read, "And next unto him builded the men of Jericho." The Tekoites are also named, and the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, and the inhabitants of Zanoah, and the rulers of Bethhaccerem — these and others from places round about are represented as co-operating with the residents of the city in repairing the wall. It was a work of national importance, and as such it was regarded by those just named.

III. On further examining this register we find INCIDENTAL REFERENCES in it that should not be overlooked.

1. The first of these I will name relates to the aristocracy of Tekoah, and is evidently not intended to be complimentary to them. The Tekoites, as a people, were not backward, "but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord." They dishonoured themselves by standing aloof as they did at this crisis. Their conduct, it is true, might have been worse. If they were not active in it, we cannot say of them that they were active in their opposition to it. You have known persons not content with a passive attitude towards what is good. What restless — yea, raging opponents Christianity in its early days had to encounter!

2. In striking contrast to the supineness of the nobles of Tekoah was the conduct of Baruch the son of Zabbai. Nehemiah says of him that he "earnestly repaired" his section of the wall. He specially commends the zeal of Baruch. Luther, Wesley, Whitfield, these also are names with which, among other high qualities, will ever be associated an unflagging zeal, as attested by their more abundant labours. Did the keen glance of Nehemiah note the zeal of Baruch? and shall the eye of God pass over unnoticed one earnest worker for Him anywhere, or at any time?

3. The third and last incidental reference to which I shall call your attention informs us that there were those engaged in this wall-building whom we should hardly have expected to find thus employed. At ver. 12 we read, "And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters." All honour to them. We think of others of their sex who have toiled right worthily, and in some instances heroically, in the service of Christ. The case of Sister Dora of the Walsall Cottage Hospital occurs to us. We think too of some who are thus labouring to-day; ladies by birth and education who have consecrated their property and their lives to the Lord, for whose dear sake they shrink not from menial tasks, and repulsive ministries, and risks and dangers, to face which requires a loftier courage than nerves the soldier for the battlefield.

(T. Rowson.)

The workman is always the world's true nobleman. To pay others to do some portion of our work for us does not absolve us from the duty of personal labour. Every merchant knows that for him to pay a manager and a staff of clerks to conduct his business, while he himself goes away into the country to live and enjoy himself, means, in nine cases out of ten, the decline of his receipts, the breaking up of his trade connection, and presently, the ruin of his business. Every lady knows that to engage servants is not sufficient to secure the order and wholesomeness of her rooms, the regularity of meals in the house, nor the comfort of her husband, herself, and her children. The master, the mistress, must themselves think, and plan, and labour. In Church-work the same law is in force to its utmost jot and tittle.

(A. G. Griffith.)

Homiletic Commentary.
More than one figure in Scripture represents the work of life as a building (1 Peter 2:4, 5; Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

I. EVERY ONE TO CONTRIBUTE HIS LIFE-TOIL TO THE BUILDING UP OF THE CITY OF GOD.

II. EVERY MAN HAS HIS OWN APPOINTED SPHERE AND KIND OF WORK.

1. Every one must find his own task.

2. Every one must be content with his own task.

III. EVERY MAN CONTRIBUTES BUT A FRAGMENT TO THE GREAT WHOLE.

IV. EVERY MAN TO WORK IN HARMONIOUS AIM WITH HIS FELLOW-BUILDERS.

V. THE UNITED WORK IS SUPERINTENDED BY THE GREAT ARCHITECT.

1. He only understands the whole of the great intricate plan of life.

2. He is near us with directions.

3. Let the thought, "Thou God seest me," animate us at our toil.

(Homiletic Commentary.)

Homiletic Commentary.
I. The potency of personal influence. Nehemiah created a spirit of enthusiasm which set all this train of exertion in motion.

II. THE FORCE OF EXAMPLE. The priests took the lead in the common labour.

III. ADVANTAGES OF SYSTEMATIC ORGANISATION. Each volunteer made responsible for some limited portion of work.

IV. THE GIGANTIC RESULT ACHIEVABLE BY INDIVIDUAL ACTION. Like coral insects at work, the multitude of builders each did his part of the whole.

V. The diversity of disposition revealed by the great emergency.

1. Enthusiastic work.

2. Refusal to put the neck to the yoke.

VI. THE CONSENTANEITY OF PURPOSE AND EFFORT WHICH A GREAT EMERGENCY DEMANDS AND IS CALCULATED TO BRING ABOUT. VII. THE DIVERSITY OF GIFTS WHICH A GREAT EMERGENCY CALLS INTO REQUISITION.

(Homiletic Commentary.)

Scientific Illustrations
A single bee, with all its industry, energy, and innumerable journeys it has to perform, will not collect more than a teaspoonful of honey in a single season, and yet the total weight of honey taken from a single hive is often from sixty to one hundred pounds. A very profitable lesson to mankind of what may arise from associated labour.

(Scientific Illustrations, etc.)

Learn —

I. THAT WHILE GOD GRANTS SUCCESS TO EARNEST EFFORT, THAT VERY SUCCESS WILL OFTEN AROUSE OPPOSITION.

II. OPPOSITION TO EARNEST WORK GENERALLY COMES FROM "THE MIXED MULTITUDE" WHO HOVER ROUND THE TRUE PEOPLE OF GOD.

III. WHAT ONE MAN DARE NOT DO ALONE, HE IS EMBOLDENED TO DO BY ASSOCIATION WITH OTHERS; and often men of diverse opinions and tastes are banded together to oppose God's work, their only bond of union being a desire to have it stopped.

IV. TIMID AND FEARFUL ONES THERE ARE IN EVERY COMMUNITY WHOSE HEARTS READILY FAIL THEM, and who often think that the good cause is about to be worsted.

V. IN ALMOST EVERY CHRISTIAN CHURCH THE ARDOUR OF THE FEW IS MORE OR LESS DAMPED BY THE APATHY OF THE MANY.

VI. WE MUST WATCH AS WELL AS PRAY. A Russian proverb says, "When in a storm, pray to God and row to the shore."

VII. THE ONENESS OF THE WORKERS, AND THAT THEY SHOULD ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER WHEN BESET BY FRIEND OR FOE.

VIII. STEADY AND PERSISTENT WORK TELLS BEST IN THE LONG RUN.

IX. THAT EVEN IN THE MIDST OF ARDUOUS LABOUR FOR THE LORD, THE DECENCIES AND PROPRIETIES OF LIFE ARE IN NO WISE OVERLOOKED.

(W. P. Lockhart.)

The ministers of Christ must not only give good exhortation to their flocks, but also put their own shoulder to the work. Example is mightier than precept. The roads in the Ban de la Roche were soon levelled and put in order when the good pastor Oberlin set the example of manual toil to his parishioners.

(J. M. Randall.)

In our own country, the names of Henry Thornton, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, Sir Francis Crossley, and Samuel Budget, will occur to many. Our merchants and tradesmen have indeed glorious opportunities for extending the Redeemer's name, if they had but a mind to the work.

(J. M. Randall.)

And
Homiletic Commentary.
A great work —

I. CAN ONLY BE PLANNED BY A GREAT MIND.

II. CAN ONLY BE CARRIED OUT BY A DIVISION OF LABOUR.

III. CAN ONLY BE ACCOMPLISHED BY ATTENTION TO DETAILS. "Bars and locks."

IV. BRINGS OUT SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS.

V. MUST HAVE REGARD TO PRACTICAL UTILITY. The fish-gate as necessary as the repairing of temple wall.

VI. MUST BE INSPIRED BY A LOFTY PURPOSE.

VII. MUST LOOK ON TO THE FUTURE. It must have in it the element of permanence.

(Homiletic Commentary.)

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