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the dark ;" but a step into perfect and endless day, where the sun shall no more go down, nor the moon withdraw her shining ; but God would be uis everlasting light, and the days of his mourning would be ended.
I really ought to apologize to you, my Christian friends, for detaining you 80 long. When I came up to London on this short visit, I determined that I would endeavour to preach short. I began well, but was hindered. However, I often remind my young friends, that I did not err in this way originally. When I began my ministry, I said there was one excellency within my reach, and I determined I would avail myself of this, namely, brevity; and for years I seldom preached much more than half an hour. Some of you, I dare say, will recollect this was the case when I came to occupy this pulpit first, now forty-seven years ago. I was then a youth about nineteen years of age. Where am I now? I hardly know. The minister is growing old; his matter is grown under his hand: he has seen thousands hanging upon his lips; and as he grows in years, he knows that his opportunities of addressing you must be diminished : he has been anxious to fasten the word as a nail in a sure place; and, therefore, he has struck the head of it again, and again, and again, in order to drive it in: but the matter must no:v be resigned.
And what arises from the whole of this discourse? Why that we should all bless God for our Bibles—for a Bible inspired, for a Bible preserved, for a Bible translated, for a Bible printed, for a Bible brought within the reach of all; a Bible published, a Bible explained, and a Bible applied to the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost. And then while we bless God for the inestimable privilege ourselves, let us pity those who are destitute of it. Let us pray—and let us shew by our exertions and sacrifices that our prayers are fervent, or at least sincere_"Let thy way be known upon earth, and thy saving health among ail nations."
REBUILDING OF THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM
REV, J. W. CUNNINGHAM, A.M
ST. PHILIP'S CHURCH, CLERKENWELL, MARCH 15, 1835..
“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the
people had a mind to work."-NEHEMIAH, iv. 6.
It will be perceived at once, that these words have been chosen with a distinct reference to the subject which has called us together to-night. I have been brought into your presence, Christian brethren, for the express purpose, however unworthy of the office, of endeavouring to commend to the affection and sympathies of this congregation, the religious interests of this particular district, and the sustenance of that edifice of religion, in which, through the providence of God, we are assembled together to-night. I believe there is no reason that I should particularly press on the members of this congregation the duty of so sustaining this edifice, because “the people had a mind to work;" and an especial blessing has rested upon their endeavours. But in as far as God shall enable me, I will endeavour to sustain and cherish that spirit: for which purpose I have chosen, from the book of Nehemiah, an account of the labours of the people, after their return from their captivity, in rebuilding the walls of the holy city. It appears to me that these chapters, very interesting in themselves, will supply certain suggestions which, through God's infinite blessing, may be profitable to the persons hearing. May God, of his infinite mercy, be pleased to bless the simple remarks, which it will be my endeavour to offer.
I would wish to direct your attention, in the first place, to the persons by whom the work was mainly performed ; and, secondly, to the spirit in which, under God's blessing, it was accomplished.
Consider, in the first place, thB PERSONS BY WHOM THIS WORK OP RE
The class of persons first named as labourers in this great work are the priests. “ Then," it is said, “ Eliashib, the high priest, rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep-gates ; they sanctified it and set up the doors of it; even unto the towers of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananee..' In this case the work began—the work being especially connected with religion, leading to the rebuilding of the temple—the work began as it
• For the support of the funds of the Church.
always ought, with the ministers of religion. Nothing can threaten deeper ruin to the interests of religion and morais, than when those, whose lips ought to keep knowledge, and whose spirit and conduct ought ever especially to reflect the image of the Master they profess to serve—when these fall behind in the great work of building up the church of the Redeemer. The corruptions of the priesthood in every age of the world, have supplied a sort of guage of the degeneracy and corruptions of the people. If the priests have been bad, the people have been worse. The worst state of the Jewish church, was when “ the prophets prophesied falsely," as it is said by Jeremiah, and “ the people loved to have it so."
On the contrary, brethren, nothing can promise better for the interests of a country and of the church, than when the priesthood, awakened in conscience, or touched in heart by the Spirit of the living God, awake from their slumbers, and pour their whole soul into the work of general and personal improvement. It was in the first and best ages of the English Church—and I feel it right to say, though at the risk of being thought to speak too favourably of my own order—that perhaps there never was a period in the history of our national church, in which there was a larger, or perhaps so large, a body of ministers honestly devoted to the work of the Lord: I mean men (for what other men are of any value?)-men that preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in truth and sincerity; men that love to own a Saviour, and to commend the Gospel, the whole Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel, to the consciences and hearts of their hearers. No doubt we have many loiterers in the vineyard ; many satisfied rather to gather the grape than to cultivate the soil. We have those, it is to be feared, who do the work of the Lord deceitfully, or carelessly, or not at all. We have some whose carelessness, or levity, or bigotry, are amongst the worst curses of the church and the country. There will be tares among the wheat in the present state of the church. There was a Judas amongst the twelve apostles; and there were large multitudes more, in those early days of religion, that were faithless to their great undertaking.
On the contrary, I may venture to say, no man who has looked carefully into the history and circumstances of his country can have failed, as I think, to be struck with the increase of holy and zealous ministers; of men, as I hope, determined to know nothing among their countrymen but Jesus Christ, and him erucified; of men whose first and last wish it is to glorify Him who has bought them with his own blood. May God multiply the number; and may your prayers, Christian brethren, ascend to the throne of grace from day to day, that God will supply his church with such men ; that we may always hear the voice behind, say, “Woè unto them that preach not the Gospel!" and that we may be faithful to our high, and holy, and heavenly calling.
The priests, in this particular instance, are said to have builded and sanctified the sheep-gate. This is said to have been the gate by which the sacrifices were brought into the city: and if so, they began by looking carefully to that which respected their own office: an example worthy imitation. Our first duty is to trim our own lamps ; to take care of our own oil; to prepare the right sacrifices of the Lord; and especially to plead the great Sacrifice of Almighty God that taketh away the sins of the world ; to make mention of His righteousness only;
to endeavour to make Christ precious to all, and to lay every one of you in the bosom of your Saviour and of your
God. It is said in the fifth verse of the third chapter that “the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles put not their necks to the work of the Lord." It is the only class of nobles, or persons of very high rank and property in the tribe, who appear to have shrunk from the general duty; the other nobles, it is mentioned more than once, were faithful to their work. And happy, brethren, were it for the public interests, that this offence were confined to a few of the higher orders. Scarcely any thing can contribute more to the safety and value of a work of religious reform, or of any endeavour to build up the church of Christ, visible or invisible, than when our proper leaders really take the lead, and fill the place which Providence assigns them. Unless they bow their necks to the work, they may soon have to stoop to a heavier yoke, a more intolerable burden. Such cannot make a greater mistake than in imagining, that it is not their highest interest to sustain the work of God in their country.
It is stated in several of the verses of the third chapter, that the rulers were active in the work: and this, no doubt, greatly contributed to the success of the undertaking. It is useful to measure the degree of influence which the higher orders of every country exercise over the lower. Are you a person of influence-of property? Are you a father, or a master, or a teacher, or a guardian of others ? Remember that in proportion to your power is your responsibility. Bow your neck to that work. Endeavour, as far as God shall enable you, to employ every faculty put into your hands to the glory of the Great Giver.
It is said in the twelfth verse of the third chapter that the daughters of Shallum were fellow-labourers in the work. And thus St. Paul speaks of “ devout women who laboured with him in the Gospel." And it is one of the characteristics of our own age, and a very important one, that half the funds of the numerous societies for the extension of religion are raised by women : they are to a great extent the builders and constructors of schools, the circulators of Bibles, the senders of missions : they assist to light the spark, and supply the fuel, of the fire which, I venture to hope, is destined to burn out the plaguespot of corruption and misery from our guilty country. What can be more lovely in itself, and what could afford better security for public prosperity and domestic joy, than to see women casting all their natural or acquired influence into the great scale; and escaping from the nonsense, and the dissipation, and the follies of life, to live for the glory of their crucified Lord ; bringing to the aid of religion and benevolence all that wins the heart, and constrains the conduct, of the great multitude around them. The Gospel has done much for women, and women ought to endeavour to do much for the Gospel. Women in the first and best ages of the Church were the last at the cross, and the first at the grave. May it still be their characteristic that they love their Lord; that they rejoice to bathe his feet with the tears of penitential sorrow; that they delight to pour on his head the precious ointment of grateful charity-oi simple, holy, devoted, affectionate services, lives, and conversations ; to the glory of that dear Master who has loved them, and shed his precious blood for them.
Of some persons it is said, in several of the verses of this chapter, that they repaired "over against their own houses :" and, says an old writer, in somewhat quaint, but very characteristic language, “ If every one would sweep before his own door, the street would be clean. If every one will mend himself, we shall all be mended.” It is said of others of these labourers, that, when they had done their own work they helped their fellows. How valuable is this as an example to ourselves! Dear brethren, selfishness is the curse of every cause into which it enters. No great work can be accomplished, except by each man breaking from the narrow circle within which his self-love would confine him, and becoming a labourer in the common field of duty. It is of infinite importance for every one of ourselves to consider, how far the religion of Jesus is doing its proper work in our own souls as to this point. The language of St. Paul ia, “ The love of Christ constrains us, that we should no longer live unto ourselves, but unto Him that died for us, and rose again.” Unless, therefore, this change is in some degree wrought-unless you love yourselves less, and other people better-unless a large portion is given, not to yourselves, but to the general welfare-unless you feel yourselves to be, as it were, stewards of the faculties, time, power, property, which God has given you-unless, when the stores are confided to your keeping, you delight to take your stand, like Joseph, at the door of the granary, and contribute to the hungry and the thirsty the bread and the water of life-unless this is the case, the spirit of religion is not in us, the spirit of our Master is not in us; and, whatever may be our opinion, we must come to the conclusion that our hearts are not right before God.
Brethren, there are certain selfish doctrines and sayings as to this point; such as, “ Charity begins at home:" “ Each man for himself, and God for us all;" which reduced into praotice, according to the philosophy of this world, scein to mean little more than that each is to live for himself, and leave a hungry and suffering world to hunger and suffer as it may. There are certain sayings such as these which are leading articles in the creed of this world, and which tend to render society the distracted and turbulent scene which it is. Substitute for such maxims the two great maxims of the Gospel -—“ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart”-“ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;" and you would, under God's blessing, change the desert into a garden, beat the swords into ploughshares, make the earth a counterpart of heaven, and assist, under God, to bring on that moral millenium which is the morning of the resurrection, and the first dawn of the everlasting glory of the saints and servants of the Lord.
Having thus touched upon some of the different classes of persons stated to have been employed in this great and good work, I proceed to consider, more particularly, in the second place, the spirit by which they appear to HAVE BEEN ANIMATED.
And here I may notice, in the first place, the spirit of prayer in which all the movements of Nehemiah and the people who co-operated with him, appear to Save proceeded. No sooner had Sanbailat, and other enemies of the Jews, heard that the walls were beginning to rise, than it is said they were wroth, and endeavoured, partly by mockery, and partly afterwards by threats, at once