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boldly say, “ The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Nay, verily, for He hath said again, “ My sheep hear my voice, and I know them; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”
NEHEMIAH'S SPIRIT OF DEVOTION.
“So I prayed to the God of heaven.”—Nen, ii. 4.
THE fire on the altar of burnt-sacrifice in the Jewish temple was kindled from heaven. God gave commandment concerning that fire, that it should always be burning-it should never go out. The appointed Levites fed and tended it by night and by day. The sacrifices were not always offering up, but the fire was always in readiness to offer them. How apt an emblem of what the renewed heart should be! The fire of its devotion was lighted from on high; it was enkindled by the Spirit of God. That holy fire ought ever to be burning; it ought never to go out. The sacrifices of prayer and praise cannot be always ascending; but the flame of devotion to kindle them, as opportunity may serve, ought never to wax dim.
Of all the habits of the new man, there is none more distinctive, none more conducive to his souls health and happiness, none more essential to his consistency of conduct and beauty of holiness, than this devotional spirit. You will find that it has always distinguished those who have excelled in virtue; and amongst these, none more strikingly than that holy man whose character forms the subject of my present course of instruction. We have examined the mainspring of his holy lifeTHE FEAR OF GOD; we have traced the secret of his spiritual strength—THE STRENGTH OF GOD MADE PERFECT IN HIS WEAKNESS. We are now to explore the channel through which the spirit of Jesus was derived into his soul. That channel was unceasing prayer. Throughout his chequered career, not only on stated occasions, and in hallowed scenes, but everywhere, and under all circumstances—whether in the midst of foes or in the seclusion of the closet-harassed by occupations or under the excitement of dangers—you find him still true to the mercy-seat, still lifting up his heart to God. “ Think upon me, O my God, for good;"
O God, strengthen my hands;" “Think upon me, and have mercy upon me, according to the multitude of Thy mercies.” Such were the devout breathings which again and again brake forth from his heart.
But of all the indications of the constancy and intensity of the spirit of supplication in the soul of Nehemiah, the most emphatic and pathetic is the one which occurs in the scene now before us.
He was living in affluence and comfort in the palace of the King of Assyria; he had been raised to an office of no common honour and responsibility, for he was cup-bearer to the King. In the midst of his ease and prosperity, tidings reached him from Jerusalem which filled him with grief. nani,” says he, “one of my brethren, came, he and
, certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven; and said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love Him and observe His commandments : let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that Thou mayest hear the prayer of Thy servant, which I pray before Thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel Thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against Thee: both I and my father's house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against Thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which Thou commandedst Thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech Thee, the word that Thou commandedst Thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: but if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now, these are Thy servants and Thy people, whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy great power, and by Thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech Thee, let now Thine ear be attentive to the prayer of Thy servant, and to the prayer of Thy servants, who desire to fear thy name; and prosper, I pray thee, Thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.