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and the only impregnable fortress of his people. It is among the most interesting of all spiritual instructions, to eye the Lord in his watchfulness of his church. In all ages Zion was full of complaints. Lord hath forsaken me, (said she) and my Lord hath forgotten me!" No, said God, “behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” As if the Lord had said, yes,
I know thy state, I behold thy broken down walls. But there is a set time to favour Zion. I am preparing for thee all that thou wilt need; and it shall come, when I have prepared thy heart to receive it. And this divine consolation the Lord had more largely expressed upon a similar occasion, when the Lord said, “ thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be broken down, nor one of the stakes thereof that shall ever be removed; neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge. The Lord is our law-giver. The Lord is our king; he will save us.” God had purposely distinguished his Jerusalem, as in herself defenceless, that not only the Lord's people themselves might always have in remembrance, where and in whom their only security lay; but that the nations around might know, that Zion's God was Zion's protector, and his fear might be upon them not to molest Zion. Hence when at the command of God, the Israelites, which were men, went from their respective homes thrice in the year, to appear before the Lord at Jerusalem, none of the surrounding nations ever ventured to invade their dwellings, or take from them their property. And who doth not see, that is taught of God, but that this state of Jerusalem, laying open to the incursions of foes on every side; no garrison frontiers by land, nor navigable river by sea, nothing
but the sacred stream of Jordan, and the brook Kidron; how apparent to the view of human observation, was the Lord's Jerusalem liable to be swallowed up by the host of nations around. But the whole is explained, when we hear the Lord saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls; for I saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her," Zech. ii. 4, 5.
But we must not stop here. As Jerusalem herself was but an adumbration of the heavenly Jerusalem, to which the spiritual church of Christ are said to come, when by regeneration they are brought into a capability of beholding spiritual objects through spiritual mediums; I cannot divest my mind from considering Nehemiah, and those whose hearts the Lord stirred up with him to build the wall, but as looking beyond the mere letter of the work, and contemplating him on whom as the foundation laid in Zion, the whole building of the spiritual church “ fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” When we read the prayer of Nehemiah, as hath been in part already noticed in this memoir, and when added to this, we read the still longer prayer recorded in the ninth chapter, (to which I beg to refer the reader) and which contains the great outlines of the covenant of grace; I cannot disconnect the idea, but that this faithful Tirshatha, not only knew the God of his fathers, but was looking for redemption in Jerusalem. And if on the presumption, this was the case, what a lovely view doth it give, of these wall-building Israelites? How divinely encouraging and consolatory to the true Israel of God in all ages, to behold the Lord's witnesses here and there appearing through all periods of the church, of whom, when their monuments of faith they left behind them are decyphered by God the Holy Ghost, they that are spiritual can read in their history, what no natural man can receive or understand, that what the Lord Jesus delivered in testimony of Abraham, he graciously
meant might be applied to all others of the old testament saints; who like Abraham, beheld “ the day of Christ afar off, rejoiced and was glad.”. And how it raiseth up subject of delight in contemplating the portrait of Nehemiah, to consider him while his hands were employed in piling up the stones of the earth, around the beloved city, his soul was acting faith upon him, on whom is built the heavenly Jerusalem. When the Holy Ghost unlocks the cabinet of his own divine scriptures, and gives us his own notes and comments upon the inspired writings of his servants, we can then see clearly that as the deliverance by Moses, in bringing out the Lord's people from Egypt, set forth an higher deliverance by the Lord Jesus Christ from sin, death and hell; so Nehemiah, building the wall of Jerusalem shadowed forth the heavenly Jerusalem, and his almighty work, on whom both the foundation and walls rest; and his people as lively stones in him, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
But I have trespassed on the indulgence of the reader. I proposed when I entered on this portrait, to sketch but some few of the more prominent features in a way of etching of this wonderful man; and I find on looking over what I have drawn, that it forms nearly a full length painting. In closing the whole therefore, I would only add to the drapery, what may be supposed ought not to be omitted, namely, that the finishing of the wall, while it rejoiced the Lord's people, put the enemy to the blush, and established the reputation of Nehemiah beyond all further attempts to malign.
The wall took but fifty and two days in the building; and yet this great Tirshatha, continued twelve years in office. We find in his memoirs that he returned to Shushan, and again obtained leave from the king to go back to his government at Jerusalem, chap. xiii. 6, 7. His history, (as the book of Nehemiah relates, to
which I refer,) was filled in with usefulness; and such a man, with so much grace, could not have lived among the people of God a single day without being a blessing. Like the beneficent luminary of the firmament, his genial influences failed not to enlighten and warm all on whom he shone.
One view more by way of close. I would fain persuade myself that I do not err, in what I am going to observe, in the contemplation of Nehemiah; but if it be an error the Lord pardon it. As we know from an authority, not to be questioned, that the ministry of God the Holy Ghost, hath but one object, namely, to glorify the Lord Jesus; I venture to behold, in all the characters the blessed Spirit hath delineated of his chosen throughout the whole bible, more or less, somewhat that might lead the Lord's people to him ; our most glorious Christ is the centre of their system. As stars of brighter or less splendour they shine all from him; all their life, and light, and lustre, are derived by their union with him. When we read therefore," that holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost the conclusion is undeniable, they were led by his Almighty teachings to speak of him. And we cannot have an higher testimony, neither do we need an higher, in a life of faith, till we come to open vision, than that an unction from him who taught them to speak of Christ, accompanieth what we read of them, or hear from them, concerning Christ; that Christ who is our contemplation and delight was their's also. The Lord the Holy Ghost so spread the savour of Christ from the history of his servant that we have been looking at, as to confirm his own gracious design in the recording of it; that “ seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses; we may lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! Amen."