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as he was rising from his knees. Was not his a sweet transition from the very attitude of prayer, to an immortality of praise? Yes, as we began the life of faith, so may we well close itand “enter heaven with prayer.”
NEHEMIAH'S RELIANCE ON GOD'S BLESSING.
“Then answered I them, and said unto them, the God of heaven
He will prosper us ; therefore we His servants will arise and build.”—Neh. ii. 20.
ONE of the holiest and most devoted of modern missionaries, when, after surmounting almost in superable difficulties, he had accomplished the translation of Holy Scripture into a language of surpassing difficulty, inscribed upon the last page of his manuscript this memorable saying :—“I give it, as the result of long experience, that prayer and pains, with faith in Christ Jesus, will enable a man to do any thing." Pains, if they be
. godly pains, will always be hallowed by prayer; and prayer, if it be genuine prayer, will always be followed up by pains. But that both may be successful, there must be faith in Christ Jesus. Whatever efforts we make, and however we may be strengthened to make them, we cannot command the result. The result is still with Him who “ doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?" A profound conviction of this truth is essential to the life of faith-essential to constrain us in all our doings to hang only
We have traced out in the character of that exalted servant of God, whose history we are illustrating for your instruction in righteousness, the great principle which actuated him, and the secret strength which enabled him to obey that principle, and also the channel through which that strength was continually derived into his soul. But the confidence that upheld him in all, and through all his toils and perils, rested not only on the succour which was promised to him, but on the ultimate success of which he was no less assured. He did not more entirely trust in God that he would enable him to fulfil his duty, than he trusted in God that, in the fulfilment of that duty, His blessing should crown his exertions. He regarded himself as no less
. dependent for the issue, than for the effort on Him who perfects His wisdom in His children's foolishness, His strength in their weakness, His grace in
their unworthiness, and His sovereignty in their success. He had undertaken a most arduous work; a work beset with every circumstance fitted to dishearten; a work to which his resources and his agencies were utterly unequal; a work which had to be carried on in the face of the bitterest antagonism of adversaries who laughed it to scorn. He tells us, that when he first came up to Jerusalem he concealed the errand on which he had come; he kept his purpose hidden in his own breast—the purpose to restore the walls of the city," the place of his fathers' sepulchres.” This he did, that his adversaries might not be aware of his design. The better to mature his plan without awakening suspicion, he says :—“I arose in the night, I and few with
any my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem : neither
me, save the beast that I rode upon. And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. Then I went on to the gate of the fountain and to the King's pool; but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned. And
the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did.” Though ninety years had elapsed since the decree had gone
forth for the restoration of the children of Israel, yet so crushed had they been with disasters-0 overborne by discouragements-80 overawed by the might and the malignity of their foes—that, though the house of their God was restored, the walls of the city lay scattered in utter desolation. Then said Nehemiah unto them: “Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.” Thus, though there were mighty masses of rubbish which had to be removed, though the wall to be built was of vast extent, and though their resources were wholly incommensurate with the work, yet, animated by the manifest presence, and confiding in the assured blessing of the Almighty, they girded themselves to the stupendous task. “But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian (who had authority under Artaxerxes), heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised