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14, 15) In great employments, which pass through many men's hands, it is neither impossible nor improbable, for innocence many times to suffer, and much wrong to be done, and that reductive, even by good men themselves, if their ears be too much open to misrepresentations; as we see it was in the case of Ziba and Mephibosheth, (2 Sam. xvi. 1, 4) unless much care, wisdom, and courage be used, to require all officers to do the things belonging unto them, with justice and expedition. And here give me leave to commend unto you the care of your poor brethren; a duty which the apostles themselves have put one another in mind of. (Gal. ii. 10) You cannot be without many objects of that kind, even amongst those who serve you in these expeditions; sick mariners, desolate widows, poor children: it would be a work of a sweet savour to God, to have a steady stock going for the advantage of these, as well as of the merchants. Their prayers may be wind in your sails, and bring down a blessing on all your undertakings.
10. His bounty to the work: "He bought no land," but spent himself upon the service, and upon hospitality to the people. (Chap. v. 16, 17, 18) Covetousness is not only a bar and obstruction to all honourable undertakings, but doth miserably corrupt and spoil them by a self-seeking management, when men drive on and interweave domestical interests, under the precious pretence of public good. And therefore all great works do require great and large hearts, for the promoting of them. It was a great work, the building of the sanctuary; and the Lord gave greatness of heart to the people, to contribute unto it. (Exod. xxxvi. 5) It was a great work, the building of the temple; and God gave immense largeness of heart to David and his princes, in offering thereunto: For the sums offered were so great, as surpassed the treasures of any other princes which we read of, Sardanapalus only excepted; as the learned Breerwood, and Sir Walter Raleigh," have observed. (1 Chron. xxii. 14, and xxix. 14 See Isa. Ix. 6, 7)
11. His undiscouraged constancy; notwithstanding all the threats, slanders, letters, prophecies, misreports, and wicked.
Bubers de Asse, lib. 4 1. 11. ap 17
© Briericood de Nummis, p. 16.
artifices, purposely used by the subtile enemies, to weaken and dishearten his resolutions. (Chap. vi.) None are fit for great actions, who are not men of constant and undaunted spirits, who cannot go through evil report as well as good; whom the integrity of their own consciences cannot bear up above the reproaches of enemies. (1 Cor. iv. 3. 2 Cor. vi. 8, 9, 10)
12. His wise and pious care to communicate part of the charge unto faithful coadjutors, whom he advanced, not barely for their relation unto him, but for their fidelity to the service. (Chap. vii. 2, 3) Since it is impossible for great actions to be managed without much concurrence, singular care is to be used, that good and faithful men, by whose care, and prudence, and prayers, they may be promoted, be employed in the transaction of them; that even near relations do not prevail with us, to entrust great works in the hands of weak or wicked men. Consanguinity hath a strong bias, even with good men. Barnabas did earnestly contend to take Mark along in his and Paul's expedition to visit the churches, which Paul opposed; Acts xv. 37, 38. The apostle doth implicitly give us the reason of it in another place, Col. iv. 10; where he telleth us, that Mark was sister's son to Barnabas. f
13. His singular zeal for the purity of the people of God, that they might be a holy seed; and for the offices of God's house, that they might not be polluted: (Chap. vii.) his care of the worship of God, preaching, praying, fasting, renewing covenant, restoring intermitted duties; (Chap. viii. 9, 10) of the chambers of God's house, that they might not be defiled; (Chap. xiii. 7, 9) of the portions of the priests and Levites, that they might not be detained; (ver. 10, 14) of the sabbath, that it might be duly sanctified; (ver. 15, 22) of the courses and services of the priests and Levites, that they might be appointed; (ver. 30, 31) of the holy seed, that that might not be, by heathenish marriages, corrupted; (ver. 23, 30) of the name of God, that that might be duly praised and glorified. (Chap. xii.) By all which we learn, that the
· Μὴ διαφέρου, πότερον ῥιγῶν ἢ θαλπόμενος τὸ πρέπον ποιεῖς· καὶ πότερον kaks ȧkovwv † evenμovμevos. Marc. Anton. lib. 6. sect. 2.-Vid. lib. 10. sect. 11. f Vid. Baron. An. 45. sect. 42.
greater men's care is of the service and glory of God, the fitter instruments they are to do great works, and the more likely to prosper in the doing of them; because "they that honour God, he will honour." (1 Sam. ii. 30) So long as Uzziah sought the Lord, God made him to prosper." (2 Chron. xxvi. 5) Hezekiah trusted the Lord," and clave to him, and the Lord was with him, and "blessed him whithersoever he went." (2 Kings xviii. 5, 6, 7. 2 Chron. xxxi. 21) But when Jehoshaphat joined with Ahaziah, who did very wickedly, the Lord brake his ships, and disappointed his expedition. (2 Chron. xxx. 35, 37)
Lastly, His special wisdom and care to heal the sinful breaches and divisions which were amongst the people; causing them to enter into a solemn promise, to make reparation of all injuries done unto their poor brethren, and to prevent the reproach of the heathen. (Chap. v. 11, 12, 13) In great companies and great businesses, it is hardly possible to carry things on in so smooth and regular a way, but that some differences of judgement may arise, and cause difficulties, breaches, and obstructions in the whole work : and as our Saviour saith of kingdoms, cities, houses; so may we of companies and undertakings, that divisions will endanger their standing. (Matth. xii. 25) It is one of God's sore judgements, when he intendeth to shatter and disappoint enterprises, to send a spirit of division amongst those who are concerned in it, as he did between the men of Shechem and Abimelech; (Judges ix. 23) and between the host of the Midianites; (Judges vii. 22) and of the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites. (2 Chron. xx. 22, 23) And so he threatened to do with the Egyptians; (Isa. xix. 2) and with the armies of Gog and Magog. (Ezek. xxx. 21) The like whereunto we read of in Pausanias", and in Dionysius Halicarnasseus'. In which case, wise and prudent men (as Nehemiah here) will use their utmost endeavours to heal breaches, to close up divisions, to prevent mistakes,-to find out expedients, wherein all may readily agree for the preventing of
8 Romanos niagnos fecerunt domi industria, foris justum imperium, animus in consulendo liber, neque libidini neque delicto obnoxius: Vid. Aug. de Civit. Dei. lib. 5. c. 12. et 15. h Pausan. 1. 10. p. 654. Gr. La!.
Hal. Antiquit. lib. 7. p. 429.
those evils, which differences of judgement, if not timely cured, may be likely to produce. In which case, there is nothing more conducent than mutual mildness, meekness, and condescension. So Abraham healed the breach which was going to be made between his family and the family of Lot his kinsman *. (Gen. xiii. 7, 8) Therefore rulers are called “healers." (Isa. iii. 7) And so Christ is described as a 'binder-up,' and a strengthener. (Ezek. xxxiv. 16) And Moses, the first ruler which God chose for his people, was the "meekest man alive." (Numb. xii. 3) Certainly meekness is a very great ornament, and a very great instrument
of power. We may think that we shew our power by our
stiffness and inflexibleness; but it is a great evidence of power, to be of a yielding and meek disposition'. It shews, First, A great power which a man hath over his own spirit, which is a work of more power sometimes than the taking of a city. (Prov. xvi. 32) Secondly, It shews great humility and self-denial, when, as the apostle speaks, "Nothing is done through strife, or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind, each esteemeth other better than themselves;" (Phil. ii. 3) and " do mutually submit unto one another in the fear of God;" (Ephes. v. 21. 1 Pet. v. 5) and " in honour prefer one another." (Rom. xii. 10) The apostle made himself a servant to all, and studied to please all for their good. (1 Cor. ix. 19, 22) "Faciet sapiens," said Seneca, "et quæ non probavit, ut ad majora transitum inveniat :" a wise man will sometimes deny his own judgement, in order to a greater good. And it is an excellent direction of Hilary","Ex alienis utilitatibus placere, nec offendere ex propriis:" to be ready to make it appear unto men, that I am more desirous to please them upon the account of their profit, than to offend them upon the account of mine own. "Istæ cogitationes deprimentes superbiam, et tenentes caritatem, faciunt onera fraterna invicem libentissime sustineri," saith St. Austin. Thirdly, It imitates the example of Christ, who
Vid. exemplum Chærecratis et Chærephontis apud Xenophon. 1. 2. Memorabil. p. 744, 646. Edit. Paris. 1625. 1 Vid. Chrysost. in Psalm cxxxi. 1. Latius regnes, avidum domando Spiritum, quàm si Libyam remotis Gadibus jungas, et uterque Pœnus Serviat uni. Horat. Vid. Philip. Camerar. Hor. subseciv. part 3. c. 26.-Lactant. lib. 3. c. 15
n Hilar. in Psalm 54.
83. quæst. qu. 71.
did not "look on his own things, but on the things of others:" (Phil. ii. 4, 5) And of the Lord, whom Moses besought by an argument drawn from his power, to be patient and long-suffering unto his people. (Numb. xiv. 17, 18)
We have seen in Nehemiah, the things which he remembered to do; and which, having done them, he beseeched God to "remember." And though the word seem to have properly a retrospect only to what had been done, yet because we find Nehemiah praying when he began these "excellent works," (Chap. i. 6, 11) we shall therefore extend this prayer both ways; both as an humble representation of his own sincerity before God, in what he had done; and likewise as an humble imploring of being remembered by God, in what he shall further do.
For the former of these considerations, as the words have a retrospect to what he had already done, we shall consider them under a double notion. First, As the comfort of this good man. Secondly, As his prayer.
As his comfort, he reviewed and looked back upon those good works, which God had enabled him to do,-with much complacency and delight. And this the Lord alloweth his servants to do. For though in some respect, the apostle telleth us, that "he forgot the things behind," (Phil. iii. 13) as not esteeming his work finished, or his pace to be slackened upon his past acquirements; yet in regard of comfort, the same apostle doth once and again make mention of his conscionable conversation, as matter of present rejoicing unto him. (Acts xxiv. 16. 2 Cor. i. 12. 1 Thess. ii. 10. 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8) So did Job; "I have not concealed the words of the Holy One." (Job vi. 10) The conscience of his true faith, worship, and constant obedience to the words of the Holy One, made him assured of comfort in his death; and so elsewhere, Chap. xxix. 10, 11, 12, and Chap. xxxi. So Hezekiah, Isai. xxxviii. 3. Yea, God is pleased to mention the good works of his servants for their comfort. (Job i. 8. John i. 47. Acts x. 4. Rev. ii. 2) And he hath appointed officers on purpose to "shew a man his uprightness," and thereupon to comfort him, (Job xxxiii. 23, 26) and hath given every man a conscience in his bosom, to report the consolations of the Holy Spirit, unto well doing, and to be a