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And as we find Joshua and Zerubbabel the two chief builders, so we find two chief enemies resisting these two in that service. Satan, a spiritual enemy, resisting the spiritual office of the priest: Tatnai, and others, as statesmen, opposing this enterprise in civil respects, as injurious to the king.

In the former chapter, the Lord in a vision comforted Joshua, and rebuked Satan. In this vision, he comforteth Zerubbabel, and rebuketh that mountain of opposition' which was raised against him: very fit and necessary it was, that both instruments should be encouraged, that both adversaries should be rebuked.

2. We are to enquire, how these words are an answer to the prophet's question, and an exposition of the vision which he saw? The resemblance between the vision and the word stands thus: As the candlestick was set up without man's hands, and fed with the oil dropping into it immediately from the olive trees, without any human help thereunto concurring; so the Lord alone, notwithstanding the opposition of men, and weakness of his people, would, by his spirit alone, bring this work to a consummation, and magnify his power in the weakness of his instruments. Zerubbabel must not be dismayed, because mountains of opposition are in his way, the Lord being able to level and remove them all. (Matth. xvii. 20) As he said by Haggai, The silver is mine, and the gold is mine.' (Hag. ii. 8) "If I would that way have made this temple glorious, I could as easily do it now as I did before; but I have another glory, and a greater to fill this house withal. So here, if I would erect this house by power, I could easily have done it, being the Lord of Hosts. But I have another way to do it by, even by my Spirit ; it shall appear to be the work of mine alone. grace; and thereunto shall my people with all thankful acclamations ascribe it, crying, Grace, grace unto it.'""

My Spirit is here opposed to an arm of flesh,' as Isai. xxxi. 3; to signify that the Lord alone would bring this work to pass, without the help of human power; as he said by the prophet Hosea, "I will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horseman." (Hos. i. 7) As Christ was conceived not by human generation, but by the power of the Most High; (Luke i. 35) so the temple, a type of Christ,

was to be raised by the power of the Spirit, guiding various intercurrent providences unto that end.

1. The Spirit did powerfully stir up the hearts of Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, to their work, Hug. i. 14.

(1.) By pressing upon their hearts the judgements, which they had suffered for the neglect of this great work, ver. 6,

9, 10, 11.

(2.) By comforting them with the assurance of his presence and assistance, ver. 13.

(3.) By minding them of their coming out of Egypt, which was the alone work of the Spirit of God, which Spirit did still remain among them, Hag. ii. 5.

(4.) By giving them assurance of a signal blessing, from the day that they should set about this work, Chap. ii. 19.

(5.) By promising them the Messiah, who was to come, and fill that temple with his glory; thereby comforting them against their want of silver and gold, wherewith they might suppose that house ought to be beautified, as well as the former had been, Chap. ii. 7, 8, 9, 21.

(6.) By assuring him that no power should stand in his way, to hinder or obstruct the accomplishment of this work, ver. 22, 23.

2. The Spirit ordered the letter of the enemies for hindering the work, to the promoting of it against their wills, Ezra v. 6)

3. The Spirit put it into the mind of Darius to confirm the decree of Cyrus, and to add enlargements thereunto, that they might"offer sacrifices, and might pray for the life of the king and his sons," Ezra vi. 6-12.

In the words observe; 1. The general scope and intent of them, an encouragement to build the temple, though they then wanted power to effect it.

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2. The means of this encouragement, A word of the Lord.'

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3. The vehicula, whereby this word is conveyed, by the angel to the prophet, by the prophet to the prince, Then HE answered and said unto ME.'

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4. The subject of this encouragement, 'Zerubbabel.'

5. The matter of the comfort set forth; 1. Negatively, Not by might, nor by power;' 2. Positively, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.'

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From the words thus opened, we may,

1. Observe the great care of the Lord to heal and remove the discouragements of his servants, whereby they might be weakened in any work, unto which he calleth them. If Satan resist, he shall be rebuked: if mountains stand in the way, they shall be levelled: if royal edicts hinder, they shall be revoked if sad and desponding thoughts disquiet, they shall be removed. God never sets his servants on work, and then leaveth them to their own fears; but ever proportioneth assistance and comfort to the difficulties of the service, whereunto he calls. Though his authority alone be argument enough unto his servants to do what he requireth, yet he dealeth not only in a way of sovereignty, to shew his dominion over us, but in a way of condescension, to shew his compassion unto us. He remembereth that we are but dust; and accordingly attempereth his dealings to our condition. If he chastise, it is with the rod of a man.' (2 Sam. vii. 14) If he tempt, it is with the temptation of a man.' (1 Cor. x. 13) If he draw, it is with the 'cords of a man.' (Hos. xi. 4) So he deals here with Zerubbabel and Joshua. It might seem to human reason an impossible enterprise, for a few poor men, newly crept out of their graves, to erect so stately a fabric; resisted by Satan, maligned by wise and potent men, obstructed once already by an imperial edict for many years together. Therefore as the Lord gave Moses, Aaron and Hur, to hold up his hands, so here he sends unto Zerubbabel, Haggai and Zechariah, to strengthen his hands, and to assure him, that the ministry only, and the obedience should be his; but the work itself he would effect by his own power, and that in so strange and wonderful a manner, making use of the very malice of enemies to promote the design which they most maligned; as if the house had been built, and the candlestick fed by an immediate creation.

Thus the Lord hath ever dealt with his servants in difficult employments; he hath answered their objections, resolved their doubts, removed their fears, magnified the power of his grace in their infirmities. Abraham and Sarah were beyond. hope of children, dead unto such a purpose; (Heb. xi. 12. Rom. iv. 19) the Lord raiseth him above these doubts, by his omnipotence and all-sufficiency. (Gen. xvii. 1, and xviii. 14) Jacob was afraid of his brother Esau; the Lord removes it by a vision of angels, and his prevalency in wrestling. (Gen.

xxxii. 1, 28) Moses was commanded upon hard service, to bring Israel out of Egypt: we find him full of objections, in every one of which God satisfied him, before he despatched him upon the service.

"They will not believe me," (Erod. iv. 1) No? I will make them know thou comest from me, by the miracles I will enable thee to do. (ver. 2-9) "I am not eloquent, I am slow of speech, unfit to persuade Pharaoh to part with Israel." (ver. 10) This God answers by arguments from his omnipotence, presence, and continual direction. (ver. 11, 12)

There may be a fitter man for so weighty an employment; find such a one; the fitter the man, the more successful the negotiation. (ver. 13) Here, though the Lord were angry that he should charge God with making an unfit choice, (who usually in great works hath regard to the lowliness of his instruments) yet he condescendeth so far as to send Aaron with him to be his mouth to the people. (ver. 14-16)

And now when he is made willing to go, and hath captivated his reason unto God's will; the Lord himself removes the great reason, which lay as a discouragement upon him; the fear of those that sought his life; (ver. 19) leaves not any doubt unremoved, which might have disheartened him in the work.

So he dealt with Gideon, called him to great service, to deliver Israel from the Midianites. (Judges vi. 13) Gideon is presently at Moses' fence," My family is poor, and I the meanest in it; wherewith shall I save Israel?" (ver. 15) "Wherewith? By my power; I am with thee." (ver. 16) "How shall I know that? Shew me a sign." (ver. 17)-The sign comes, and that puts him into a new fear. Timor etiam auxilia reformidat: It betrays the succours which God and reason offer. (ver. 22) The Lord removes that fear; "Thou shalt not die;" (ver. 23) but even then sets him upon a work which endangered his life. (ver. 25-30) His father hath no sooner satisfied the people, and saved his life, (ver. 31, 32) but a new fear ariseth: the Midianites and Amalekites gather together against Israel. Gideon obeys God's call, but wants signs to remove doubts. (ver. 34-40) He is gratified in them; but then he is exercised with a great temptation. His army must be lessened from thirty-two thousand unto but three hundred men. He obeys, but fears still;

(Judges vii. 10) and this fear is removed by a dream of one in the enemies' camp: (ver. 13, 14) and being so many ways confirmed, he sets on the work and prevaileth.

him, but by the

This is very suitable to the goodness of God, who knows that we have no strength of our own; that we cannot serve grace and help we receive from him. We own. (1 Chron. xxix. 14) "Quisquis con-tendit haberi posse caritatem Dei sine Dei adjutorio, quid aliud contendit quam haberi posse Deum sine Deo ?" saith St. Austin."

give him of his

It concerns the Lord in honour to back his servants to his own work, when the opposition they meet with, is not against them but for his sake. When Israel fled, God's great name was concerned; (Jos. vii. 8, 9) and therefore Asa prayed, "Let not man prevail against thee." (2 Chron. xiv. 11)

It is that which he hath promised, never to fail nor forsake us; (Jos. i. 5) to be with us while we are with him; (2 Chron. xv. 2) to keep us in our ways. (Psalm xci. 11) "The way of the Lord is our strength." (Prov. x. 29) We are ever under God's protection, while we are in God's way. He will encamp about his house, and will be a wall of fire unto it.

From this point, we learn;

1. That even when we are about God's work, we must look for difficulties, some arising from within ourselves, our own ignorance, weakness, frowardness, impatience, which usually make easy things hard:-such is Christ's yoke in itself, though to our corruption it may seem irksome. However, though we bring never so much love and resolution to the work, yet Satan will resist us; the world will hate us; God himself will try us, and put us hard to deny ourselves, to empty ourselves, and to captivate our reason unto his will. There will be mountains in our way, when we are to build God's house; mountains of pride and prejudice, and high imaginations, σᾶν ὕψωμα, πᾶν νόημα, within ourselves; ἐσμὲν ἀνδρεῖοι καθ ̓ ἑαυτῶν, καὶ κατὰ τῆς ὑγιείας ἡμῶν ἐπιστήμονες, as Gregory Nazianzen speaks '; we are strong and learned against ourselves and our own good; and mountains of opposition

Aug. Tom. 4. lib. de patientia, cap. 18.

t Greg. Naz. Orat. 1.

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