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“I see no good done, I fear I am found
But who (I would ask,) is permitted to know,
Thus, on then dear friends in your labor of love,
SHEARCROFT, PRINTER, BRAINTREE.
FOR THE PEOPLE HAD A MIND TO WORK-Neh.iv.6.
This was the last historical book that was written.
ed him to forego all the honors and emoluments of the court, that he might superintend the building of Jerusalem's wall, and reform the then existing state of things.
Nehemiah was a contemporary with some of the most distinguished men, the records of whose works and lives are found on the page of history -among others were Æschylus and Herodotus, Hippocrates and Thucydides ; but who are these when compared with men whom God delighted to honor, and whom he did honor by making them blessings to the world.
In claiming your attention to the words just read as a text, I would offer a passing observation or two on the narrative of which it forms a part, that we may the more clearly understand the principle it contains, and the force of its application to ourselves. For a long series of years, according to prophecy and fact, the Jews were held captive or in bondage in Babylon. At its close, Cyrus, in the first year of his reign, permitted them to return to their own country. Their first public act was to offer thanksgivings to God, (not in the form of words merely) but by presenting their offerings to the service of the temple, and by building a splendid superstructure in the which they might worship the Lord God of their fathers. This, and many other important things being accomplished, they resolved on the rebuilding the wall around their much-loved city Jerusalem. It is to this, the building of the wall, that our text refers. Of the persons engaged therein, it is said, " For the people had a mind to work.”
We might argue therefrom, the connexion between effort and success, the means and the end. It is, however, our intention this morning,
for our profit and encouragement in the work of God, to consider,
1. The work the Jews had to perform.
IV. The success with which it was attended, “ for the people had a mind to work.".
I. We shall consider the work the Jews had to perform.
The workmen engaged on the occasion were not merely artisans, but all classes among the heritage of God; they had sinned and they had been greatly afflicted. The work they had undertaken was one in which it was natural to suppose they felt the deepest possible interest; their wall which had formerly encompassed their City of Habitation, their Zion below, had been overthrown by its enemies, and it was therefore only natural that it should be rebuilt by its friends. Of Jerusalem, you know, glorious things had been spoken in the book of God. It was a city of uncommon excellence of surpassing splendour; the prophet and the priest lived there. The object which the Jews had in view in the erection of this wall was both for defence and security, they regarded the enclosure as sacred, and therefore resolved to leave no means unemployed, nor to spare expence, in order that the end anticipated might be realised.
It will be admitted that the work they had undertaken was a great work, which will appear when the magnitude of that mighty city is considered. But our object will be defeated if we only
dwell on the historical facts before us. Our design is, as we have intimated, to apply its principles to ourselves.
We would appeal to Christians-God's heritage now—and enquire if we have not a great work before us. Let us, then, contemplate the magnitude of the work itself, and who are fit agents to be employed therein.
1. We shall make reference to the work itself.
Its nature and magnitude are the points to which our attention will be directed for a few moments. As to the nature of the work; it is a moral or religious work—a work in which the agency employed is mind, and of course, to mind it is directed ; and be it remembered, to mind opposed to truth-to God's holy truth. “ The carnal mind is enmity against God,” is a truth universal in its application.
Then as to the magnitude of the work, it is indescrivable-inconceivable-of boundless extent - it is in a word, to seek the present and eternal salvation of a guilty, ruined, and perishing world. Nor must good men lose sight of the fact, that this glorious work is to be accomplished, not by miracle, nor by a divine power or agency in the abstract, but by the feeble, and of itself powerless, instrumentality of Christian men, as accompanied with the sanctifying and saving influences of the Holy Spirit of God. We shall next, very briefly refer to the agents to be employed in the accomplishment of so vast a work, as the salvation of a world. The Jews were the persons engaged in the work of rebuilding the wall-none beside could be expected to feel a real and deep interest therein. --And who, we enquire, beside the Christian, can feel, or be expected to feel a genuine interest in