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to carry you through all temptations, and keep you blameless amidst all corruptions, till you reach the happy land, where perils, adversities, and perplexity will be no more, and where the fear of God will be swallowed up in the fulness of his love. Amen.
THE SECRET OF NEHEMIAH'S STRENGTH.
Now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands." —New, vi. 9.
It is not life that we see in the living; it is the manifestation of life. Hidden in its essence, it is apparent in its effects. The soul can reveal its powers in a look, in a word, in an action; but the soul itself eludes discovery. Even lower life lies concealed. The life of the tree discloses itself in the tender bud, in the fair blossom, in the ripe fruit; but who can detect the secret spring of all ?
If it be thus with natural life, much more must mystery envelope the life of God in the souls of his saints. The Holy Ghost thus describes that life, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Evident in result, fruitful in blessing, effectual in operation, it yet is a mystery which
the world cannot conceive, and which the believer himself cannot comprehend. “ The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit”. and so is every one that lives in the Spirit. The action is human, but the energy is divine. No mechanism, however perfect, can dispense with a motive power; it is needed both to put it into action, and to keep it in play after it has been put in motion. So with the graces and faculties of the inner man, the "hidden man of the heart;" they have neither originated nor quickened themselves, neither can they act of their own innate energy. The excellency of the power is of Christ, and in Christ. “Without me,” saith he, “ye can do nothing.” The history of the believer's spiritual life is, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Even the master motive is not the spring of action; it is the effect of that spring. Just as it is with the mighty wheel which moves the whole machinery of the factory, it appears as though the impulse it imparts were all its own; but in reality there is a latent power by which that wheel itself is moved, and without which it cannot act.
We led you last Sunday evening to contemplate
the master principle in the life of faith; we traced its potency-how it restrains from sin, how it constrains to holiness; weenlarged upon its excellencyhow it elevates a man above the fear of his fellows, how it gives him a majestic liberty,“ how it brings every imagination of the thoughts of his heart into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” But this principle is not self-acting; as it did not create, so neither can it sustain itself. Whilst in one view the saint is an agent, in another view he is a subject; he only wills and does, as God works in him to will and to do of his good pleasure.
We purpose this evening, in pursuing ourillustrations of the character of Nehemiah as a study for men of business, to explore the fountain of that strength which was made perfect in his weakness —that strength which upheld him in all his trials, capacitated him for all his duties, and made him more than conqueror over all his enemies. We find the secret of his might revealed in that simple aspiration to which you have just lent an ear. Nehemiah had come up from Babylon to restore the ruined walls of Jerusalem; he had inspirited the feeble few, who had returned from the captivity, to resume the work. Animated by his spirit, and guided by his wisdom, the enterprise prospered in their hands; but no sooner had the enemies of God and his people heard tidings that the walls of
the city were rising, than they were filled with vexation and envy, and conspired together to rest the progress of the work. “When Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Amalekites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth.” They therefore strove by open threats to crush the undertaking. But finding these fail, they had recourse to stratagem, and rumoured it abroad that Nehemiah was setting himself up as a rival to the king, his master. They hoped thus to intimidate him, and to weaken the hands of his people, so that they should cease from the work, out of apprehension of the consequences of those rumours, should they come to the ears of the king. Then it was, that this soldier of the cross, in the face of all his adversaries, instead of confiding in the precautions which he had adopted, in the watch which he had set, or in the weapons which they wielded, simply lifted up his heart to heaven, and prayed, “Now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands."
Throughout his eventful history you will find the same spirit characterising this holy man; you will find that in every measure which he undertook, in every danger to which he was exposed, and in the face of every temptation which assailed him, he had recourse to the strength of God. He walked in