Зображення сторінки

In how many ways then, and through between themselves and eminent saints, how many voices, is the message syl- and give those circumstances in apolabled, which Christ sent to them logy for coming far behind them in whose property he required. Heark. piety. Let us then learn from the mean en for it, and it will come to you and unknown, of whom we may not through all the wants of your fellow- plead that they were separated from men, through the prevalence of igno- us by any thing rare in endowment or rance, through the pressure of indi- position. Mew who are reluctant to gence, through the accidents, sorrows, part with property, that it may be emand bereavements of life. In a thou- ployed in the cause of God; parents sand ways is God saying to us that he who would withhold their children has need of our property, need of our from missionary work, or murmur at talents, need of our time, need of those their being transplanted from earth to whom we love, and of that which we heaven ; sufferers, to whom is allotted cherish. Shall we refuse him?

or, one kind or another of afflictive diswhere we have no option, shall we pensation, and who rebel under the yield up grudgingly, in place of cheer- chastisement, as though it were not for fully, what he requires ? Nay, let us good—come ye all, and learn, if not take pattern from men to whom pro- from exalted persons such as Job and bably but little had been intrusted, St. Paul, yet from the owners of the but who readily gave up that little so ass and the colt which Christ sent for, soon as it was needed for the service when designing his last entry to Jeruof God. It may be, that we are often salem. There is virtually the same inclined to excuse ourselves from imi- message to every one of you as was tating scriptural examples, by plead- / brought to these poor and unknown ing that the saints of old were of individuals. The motive to your surextraordinary character, and in extra- rendering what is asked, or bearing ordinary circumstances, and cannot what is imposed, is precisely the same therefore with justice be set before us as was urged upon them. And they as models. If I hold up the patriarch will rise up in the judgment and conJob to those on whom sorrow presses demn you, if, with all your superior hard, and bid them observe how, when advantages—the advantages of Chrischildren were dead, and possessions tianity above Judaism, of an imperfect destroyed, this man of God meekly over an introductory dispensationsaid, "The Lord gave, and the Lord you show yourselves less compliant hath taken away: blessed be the name than they were with a summons from of the Lord”-Yes, is the feeling, if the universal Proprietor. Christ, who not the answer; but Job was no com- knoweth the heart, could reckon on mon man: his name has passed into a readiness, so soon as the owners should proverb: and it is not to be expected be told of his requiring the ass and the that such as we should emulate his colt. May he reckon on the same with marvellous patience. If again, when us! Ah, let us, when we go hence, I would urge men to sacrifices and en consider what we have which God may durances in the cause of Christ and speedily require at our hands; let us his Gospel, I dwell on the example search, and see whether we are prepaof St. Paul, who counted "all things red to resign it, when asked for by but loss,” that he might know and God-be it wealth, or child, or honor, serve the Redeemer, "in journeyings or friend—and let us observe how reoften, in weariness and painfulness, in luctance is rebuked now, and will be watchings often, in hunger and thirst, witnessed against hereafter, by the wilin cold and nakedness”—Yes, is the lingness of the owners of the ass and sentiment, if not the expression; but the colt, of whom Christ could affirm, St. Paul has never had his equal; the " Say ye, the Lord hath need of them, wonder of his own and every succeed and straightway they will send them." ing generation, we may not think to We have thus considered the inci. reach so lofty a standard.

dents to which our text has respect, Thus there is a way of evading the with reference to Christ himself, to his force of scriptural examples : men disciples, and to the owners of the ass imagine circumstances of distinction and the colt. We have endeavored to

show you that our Lord added to the It ought to encourage them who have witness for his being the Messiah, by but little in their power, that it was the prescience and power displayed;

the foal of an ass

on which Christ and that the manner of the display rode, and that this foal in all probabiwas admirably appropriate to the wants Jity, belonged to the poor. We may and circumstances of his followers. all do something towards that sublime We have set before you the disciples consummation for which the church as worthy of your close imitation, in watches and prays, when, not from a that they unhesitatingly obeyed where solitary city, and not from a single and they might have plausibly objected, inconstant people, but from ten thouand were as ready for a menial service sand times ten thousand voices, from as for the most honored and illustri- every clime, and land, and tongue, ous. And then the owners have been shall be heard the shout, " Hosanna to considered, as exemplifying

exemplifying a great the Son of David: blessed is he that principle of which we are apt to lose cometh in the name of the Lord; hosight-the principle, that, in the mat- sanna in the highest." "The Lord hath ter of our possessions, we are not need” of the strength of the mighty proprietors, but stewards, and should and of the feebleness of the weak; of therefore hold ourselves ready to part the abundance of the rich and of the with what we have, so soon as we mites of the impoverished; and if we know that it is needed by the Lord. will

go forth to his help, if each, acThey are great lessons, and striking cording to his means and ability, will truths, which have thus been derived strive to accelerate the day when "all and illustrated from our text and the shall know the Lord, from the least to context. But, before we conclude, let the greatest,” we may be sure that our us dwell for a moment on the vast ho- labor shall not be forgotten, when the nor given to humble individuals, in that Son of man shall come in his glory, they were allowed to contribute to the and all the holy angels with him.” On, progress of the Savior, when, accom- if there be some of whom it shall then plishing ancient prediction, he advan. be told that they contributed the rich ced towards the city where he was to and the costly towards preparing the sacrifice himself. I think, that; if the way for the advancing Redeemer, of men saw the triumphal procession, the others it may be said that they had not multitude spreading their garments, the rich and the costly to give, but strewing the way with branches, and that, with a willing heart, they offered burdening the air with hosannahs, they their best, though that best was only must have felt an elation of heart, that the refuse and mean. And we do not their beasts should have been chosen merely say that the poorness of the for a personage whom thousands thus gift shall not cause it to be overlookcombined to reverence and honor. The ed: the inconsiderable offering may noblest and ivealthiest might justly be shown to have been as instrumental have exulted, had they been allowed as the magnificent in furthering the to aid the glorious advance : but, as progress of the Gospel: he who, when though to show how the mean inay he would accomplish prophecy, enterserve him, and how their service shall ed Jerusalem, not in the rich man's be owned, Christ openly used the pro- chariot, but on the poor man's ass, perty of the poor, on the single occa. may prove that he went forwards to sion when there was any thing like bis kingdom, as much through what pomp in his earthly career.

the feeble wrought in their weakness, And why should we not gather from as what the mighty effected in their this, that, when he shall come in pow- strength. er and great majesty-not the lowly Let this encourage all, that they le inan, entering Jerusalem in a triumph not weary in well-doing. May all make which was itself almost humiliation, la practical use of the great doctrine but the "King of kings, and Lord of of Christ's second coming. Anticipate lords”-he will acknowledge and ex- that coming: realize your own perhibit the services rendered him by the sonal share in that coming. He will poor and despised, as well as those' come "to take account of his servants” wrought by the great ones of the earth? :-are you ready with your account? have you improved your talents ? have put "to the exchangers." There were you acted up to your ability in further- men who perhaps owned little more ing the great cause of truth upon earth? than an ass and a colt, but they were Let none think himself either excused ready to surrender what they had, when or injured by insignificance. There was needed by Christ; and lo, they were you remember, a servant to whom but honored to the effecting what propheone talent had been given; and he was cy had announced in one of its loftiest bound hand and foot and cast to "out- strains

, they were instrumental to the er darkness," because that one had bringing and displaying her King to been hidden, when it might have been "the daughter of Zion."



" I said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city,

the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then thu king said unto me, For wliat dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it.”—Nehemiah, 2:3, 4,5.


When the seventy years had expir- at, if you remember the utter desolaed, during which God, in just judg. tion in which Jerusalem and Judea ment for their many offences, had sen- then lay, the arduousness and perils tenced the Jews to captivity in Baby- of the journey, and the fact that the lon, he graciously remembered his pro captivity had continued so long that mise, and raised them up a deliverer few, and those only men fast advancin the person of Cyrus. In the first ing in years, had ever seen the land of year of that monarch's reign, " that their fathers, or were bound to it by the word of the Lord, spoken by the the ties of remembrance or acquaintmouth of Jeremiah, might be accom

No marvel if there was someplished," a royal edict was issued, thing of pause and hesitation, if piety which not only permitted the captives and patriotism did not instantly nerre to return to their own land, but enjoin- all the exiles to abandon the country ed that every facility should be afford. which had almost become theirs by ed to their march, and every assistance adoption, and to seek a home where, rendered them in the rebuilding their though they had once been possessors, city and temple.

they would only find themselves stran. It does not appear that immediate gers. But God purposed the restoraand general advantage was taken of tion of the people, and therefore, as this edict; the Jews did not rise as we read, he raised the spirit of "the one man, under the influence of a de- chief of the fathers of Judah and Bensire to resettle themselves in Pales- jamin, and the priesis and the Levites, tine. And this is little to be wondered, io go up to build the house of the

Lord which is at Jerusalem.” And thereby exposed themselves to his soon, under the guidance of Zerubba wrath. In this crisis, Ezra was raisbel, there went forth a mixed compa ed up, “A ready scribe in the law of ny of the old and the young, bearing Moses:" having obtained sanction and with them not only their own riches, assistance from king Artaxerxes, he but "the vessels of the house of the visited Jerusalem that he might" teach Lord :” obstacles were surmounted, in Israel statutes and judgments.” It dangers escaped, through the assist would seem to have been almost exance and protection of God; and in clusively to religious matters that Ezdue time the wanderers reached the ra directed his attention ; he accomspot, hallowed by so many magnificent plished a great work in dissolving the recollections, and which was yet to be unlawful connexions which the Jews the scene of mightier things ihan past had formed with the people of the days had witnessed.

land; but he did little or nothing toBut the difficulties, as you well re- wards reinstating his country in the pomember, of the Jews did not terminate sition which it had once held amongst with their arrival in Judea ; their city nations. Jerusalem appears to have and temple were to be rebuilded ; and remained without defences, exposed to in this great work, they found invete- the assault of every enemy, and liable rate adversaries in the Samaritans, at any momentso ill was it provided who had been settled in the land by with the munitions of war-to be reEsarhaddon, and who, professing a duced to the ruins from which it had mixed and spurious religion, wished so lately, and as yet so imperfectly, not the revival of the pure worship of sprung. Jehovah. The opposition of these ad- Here we come to the actions of anversaries was so far successful, that other worthy, whose history furnishes Cyrus, the patron of the Jews, being the latest canonical records of the dead, "the work of the house of God” Jews till the days of our Lord. When was made to cease until the second about twelve years had elapsed from year of the reign of Darius.” Then, the events commemorated in the close however, it recommenced, the pro- of the book of Ezra, we find a Jew, phets Haggai and Zechariah stirred up named Nehemiah, residing in Shushan, the people, and God inclined the new the capital of Persia, and filling the monarch to re-enact the decree which office of cup-bearer to Artaxerxes the had been issued by Cyrus. Under king. His father, Hachaliah, was prothese altered circumstances, Jerusa- bably one of them who had declined lem had soon again a temple, which, to take advantage of the decree of Cyif inferior to that of Solomon in state- rus, preferring to remain where he liness of structure, and richness of had made himself a home, to returnadornment, was yet prophetically de- ing to a country where he must feel clared destined to far higher dignity, himself an alien. The son, Nehemiah, inasmuch as it should receive the pro- occupying a post of great honor in the mised Messiah: "The glory of this Persian court, may never have had an latter house shall be greater than of opportunity of visiting Jerusalem, but the former, saith the Lord of Hosts; his heart yearned towards the land and in this place will I give peace, and city of his fathers; with the spirit saith the Lord of Hosts."

of a true patriot, he sought eagerly But when the temple had thus risen, for information as to the condition of and the inspired men were dead whom his countrymen, and longed to be inGod had raised up for the instruc- strumental in advancing their prospertion and encouragement of the people, ity. The information came : Hanani, there appears to have been great un- one of his brethren, and certain men settlement in both the civil and ec- of Judah, reached Shushan from Jeruclesiastical policy of the Jews; as a salem, perhaps disheartened by the nation, their position was made preca- difficulties which they had experienrious by surrounding enemies and in- ced, and accounting it better to reternal confusion ; whilst, as the people settle in the land in which they had of God, they had mingled themselves been captives. They gave Nehemiah with the people of the lands, and a melancholy, though not, as it would

seem, an exaggerated account. " The ' his object to attract the attention of remnant that are left of the captivity the king; to do this he had only to there in the province are in great allow his countenance to betray what, atiliction and reproach ; the wall of perhaps, he could hardly have forced Jerusalem also is broken down, and it to conceal--for we are expressly the gates thereof are burned with i told that he had never "besoretime fire."

been sad in his presence”-so that And now it was that the man of the altered demeanor was immediatepiety appeared in the man of patriot- i ly observed, and its reason demanded ism; and admirably does Nehemiah with all the quickness of eastern susstand forth as an example to them who picion. profess to have at heart their coun- And here it is that we reach the try's good, and to be stricken by its very simple, but touching, narration of calamities. He did not immediately our text. Nehemiah was sore afraid, call a meeting of the Jews, to consult when Artaxerxes, struck with the sorwhat might be done for their afflicted row depicted on his features, impecountrymen. He did not gather round riously asked the cause of the too evihim a knot of politicians, that plans dent grief. It was the moment for might be discussed, and assistance which he had wished, yea, for which levied. But, as one who knew in ca. he had prayed, yet, now that it had lamity the offspring of sin, and in the come, he felt so deeply what conAlmighty, the single patron of the sequences hung upon a word, that distressed, Nehemiah sat down, and he was almost unmanned, and could wept, and mourned certain days, and scarce venture to unburden his heart. fasted, and prayed before the God of He spake, however, and, first offering heaven."

the customary wish on behalf of the But Nehemiah did not count his king, asked how he could be other part done when he had thus, in all hu. than sad, whilst the city, and the place mility, confessed the sins of his nation, of the sepulchres of his fathers, lay and entreated the interference of God. desolate and waste, and the gates He was not one of them who substi- | thereof were consumed with fire? tute prayer for endeavor, though he Upon this, Artaxerxes demanded what would not make an endeavor until he request he had to make; and Nehehad prepared himself by prayer. For. miah, though his answer had of course tified through humiliation and suppli- to be immediately given, gave it not cation, he now sought to take advan- till he had strengthened himself by sitage of his position with the king, and, lent petition to one greater than the true patriot as he was, to render that king; he “prayed to the God of heaposition useful to his countrymen. ven, and ihen entreated permission Nearly four months elapsed from his to go unto Judah, and build up the interview with Hanani, before an op- city of the sepulchres of his fathers. portunity occurred for his addressing The request was successful, though Artaxerxes. There was probably a' the passage, which we have selected rotation in the office of cup-bearer, as our subject of discourse, does not which obliged him to await his turn; require us to refer to subsequent events and it was at the hazard of life to any in the history of Nehemiah. There is one to enter, unbidden, into the pre- enough in this passage itself to require sence of the Persian monarch. But and repay the most serious attention ; in the month of Nisan he stood before and we have but engaged you with a Artaxerxes, and he “ took up the wine, somewhat lengthened review of foreand gave it unto the king. He was going circumstances, that you might now, however, heavy at heart, and the the better appreciate what is here rehanding the sparkling draught to the corded of the conduct of Nehemiah. monarch at his banquet, ill assorted The two prominent facts on which we with a mind distracted and sad. He wish to seize, do indeed widely differ had not the skill, indeed he could the one from the other, so ihat, in not have had the wish, to disguise making them the subject of a single his feelings, and affect a cheerfulness discourse, we cannot hope to preserve which he did not experience. It was that continuousness of thought which

« НазадПродовжити »