Obrazy na stronie

and pull away from God and his ministers all that they may scratch or scrape, to the dishonour of God, defacing of his glory, decay of the ministery, religion, and all good learning; thinking most highly of themselves, that they be worthy to have all things, where in deed they deserve least, and the more they get the less are they satisfied. It is a full contentation to all good men, when they see God glorified in his church, word, and ministery; for then they know, if they dutifully seek, that the Lord will not see them lack that which shall be necessary for them; and they will content themselves with that portion that God giveth them, and will not greedily seek for other men's things wrongfully, to the dishonour of the high God. 6. And the king said. When the king had considered his request, he advised himself well, and was both loth to deny him his suit, and also to forego so faithful a servant; asked him how long he would be absent, and when he would return. So did the queen too, which sat by the king: they both loved him so well, and would not have him long from them. A special gift of God, to see a stranger born, of that religion and people which were hated of all the world, to be in such favour with the king and queen, and to find such favour and grace in their sight, that he gave licence and all other necessary things to build that city, which had been noisome to so many kings about them. But such is the merciful goodness of our God towards his church and people, that he will make strangers and their enemies to defend and help them: as Pharaoh and Assuerus did, by the good §. means of Joseph and Ester, &c. *wu. And because “the queen sat by,” it is like that there was some solemn feast that day; for the queens of Persia used not to come into the king's presence, but when they were called for by name, as it is written in the book of Ester: and Strabo writeth, that the Persians “used to debate of weighty matters, when they were refreshed with wine.” This might be a great cause of the great fear that Nehemiah was in, as he said before, to see the queen present, and many other great men beside, no doubt, as is commonly used at such solemnities. It will make any good nature afraid to speak to a king, but much more in the presence of so many

estates, who might be hinderers of his suit, and counsel the king to the contrary. But when God will pity his people, and have things forward, he will so move kings' hearts, that nothing shall hinder that he will have done. And so the king did grant him his request, gave him leave to go build that city, and sent him away honourably, and rewarded him liberally, as followeth. Nehemiah appointed the king a time of his return to him again; but when, it is not here mentioned; yet such a time as the king was content withal. In the last chapter of this book it appeareth, that in the twelfth year following Nehemiah returned unto the king, and yet gat licence again to go to Jerusalem. But whether this was the time that he appointed to return, it is not written, and therefore uncertain; and being unwritten and uncertain, it is not so necessary to be known, nor curiously to be searched; but we may content ourselves to be ignorant of it, as of all uncertain, unwritten, and unnecessary truths.

The Text. v. 7. And I said unto the king, If it be thought good to

the king, let them give me letters to the captains begond the river, which may convey me until I come into Jehuda ;

8. And letters also to Asaph, keeper of the king's woods, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace, which is near the temple, and for the walls of the city, and for the house which I shall enter to. And the king gave me, according to the hand of my God, which was good toward me.

9. And I came to the captains beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters; and the king sent with me captains of the army and horsemen.

10. And Sanballat the Horowite and Tobias, that serrant and Ammonite, heard of it, and they were grieved with great sorrow that a man was come to seek any good for the children of Israel.

Nehemiah was a glad man, that the king had granted his request; and sleepeth not his purpose, nor letteth the time slip; but with all diligence prepareth things necessary for his journey. And first, because the journey was long,

and dangerous for enemies, that hated him and all the Jews,
lest he should have some displeasure done him by the way,
he desireth the king, that his council and secretaries might
give him a passport, and grant him men to conduct him safely
into Jewry. A bold request for so mean a subject, being
but the king's cupbearer, a stranger, and born of that people
and country which all the world hated. What could have
been done more for the noblest man in the country, or for
the best servitor the king had: I cannot tell whether it is to
be more marvelled at, that either he durst ask it, or that the
king would grant it. But Nehemiah perceived God's good
will and the king's favour toward him, and was bold to ask:
God prospered his suit, that the king granted his request.
And as afore, so here mark also, that he doth not boldly
and rashly appoint the king what he should do, but with
all modesty referreth his request unto the king's wisdom
and discretion, to grant or deny, and saith, “If it be thought
good to the king.” Again, he doth not with bribes or flat-
tery procure the king's letters to be signed privily, (as many
do, that make unhonest suits, and would not have their matter
debated by the wiser sort, lest so it might be denied;) but
he requireth, that they which are appointed for that pur-
pose, and do such things by good advice, as chancellors and
secretaries, might give him letters to the captains beyond
the river Euphrates, (for that is meant by the river, because
it was more notable than any other river in the country,
and did divide the kingdom of Persia from other countries
about it,) over which into Jewry he might pass.
It might be thought strange to some, that Nehemiah
here asketh not only of the king his letters of passport, but
also a number of soldiers, to conduct him safely into Jewry.
For Ezra, when he had licence of the king to take the same
journey, and build the temple, neither asked nor had any
to conduct him safely on his way, though the danger was
as great then, and he was afraid as well as Nehemiah was
now. Why should Nehemiah ask now, seeing he served
and trusted in that same God that Ezra did, and was as
earnest and zealous in religion as he was: why should this
be lawful or commendable in the one, and not in the other?
Causes may be rendered divers. There was difference in

Ezra viii. Acts xxiii.

Acts xxvii.

the persons and times. Ezra was a priest, cunning in the
law, and had oft taught boldly afore the king and his nobles,
how sure and safe they were from all dangers, that put their
trust in God alone: and if he should have afterwards been
afraid, he should have seemed to have spoken untruly afore,
and his God should not have been thought able or willing to
defend his people that trusted in him. Nehemiah was a cour-
tier, and in great favour with the king, and had not so openly
and boldly spoken of God's providence and care towards
his people as Ezra had, (though he believed it as faithfully
as the other did,) and therefore might more boldly, without
reproach of his God or his doctrine and sayings, ask it.
Yet this proveth not, that preachers may not at any
time require a safe conduct of princes, to whom it be-
longeth to provide in dangerous times, that passage by the
high way may be safe and quiet. Paul, as we read, when
the Jews had “sworn that they would neither eat nor drink
until they had killed him,” desired an under-captain to bring
his nephew (who told him of that conspiracy) to the high
captain, to declare so much to him, and desired that he
would provide some safety for him, that he were not mur-
dered by the way: and in this doing Paul neither offended
man, nor distrusted of God's providence and eare toward
him. Again, in that great and long storm that Paul and
his fellows were in on the sea, where they looked for nothing
but to be drowned, the angel of God told Paul, that “God
had given him the lives of all that were with him in the
ship,” and none of them should perish; yet afterward, when
the mariners would have cunningly conveyed themselves out
of the ship, “under pretence to have cast anchor,” Paul told
the high captain, that if he suffered them to go out of the
ship, they should all perish: and this he did not say, as
doubting of the angel's true message, nor of God's good will
and mighty hand, able to deliver them, but to teach us that,
although God have made us promise of his mercy, we may
not tempt him, lie down, and sleep carelessly, but diligently
to look for and use such helps and means, as God hath
appointed us to work by. God worketh all goodness in us
himself, and yet hath appointed means for us to use and
do such things, the which we may in no case neglect; and
yet all praise is due to him, whatsoever we do; for it is
he that both ordaineth the end of all things, how they shall
come to pass, and also the means, how they shall be brought
to pass, and prospereth all them that, forsaking themselves, use
such means and hang on him, knowing the beginning, midst,
and end to be ruled and come to pass as he appointed.
God inspired the apostles with all knowledge of the
scriptures suddenly, which were unlearned and never went
to the school; yet may not we think that we will be learned
after the same sort, without study and prayer: for then we
tempt God, refusing such helps as he hath appointed for us
to come to learning by. And though we study and pray
never so much, yet we shall understand nothing until he give
us his Holy Spirit, the schoolmaster of all truth, to lighten

our minds and give understanding of his holy will. We be Isai. x.

like an axe in the carpenter's hand, which though it be a
good one, yet the praise of the good work that is done with
it is to be given to the man, and not to the axe. Such
things be we in God's hand, by whom he worketh his will
and glory, though not unsensible, as dead things be, yet as
unable to work any good thing without him, as the axe is
without the carpenter; for of ourselves we “are not able to
think” a good thought, as the apostle saith, that all praise
may be his, that blesseth and prospereth both us and the
means that he hath appointed for us to work by, and bringeth
it to a good end. We must think likewise of God's doings
and ourselves in all other things, sin except, that he “worketh
all in all,” yet not without us; that all may say with David,
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name
give all praise and glory.”
Thus we see that some man may at some times do that
another may not; yea, one man himself cannot do at all
times that he may well do at some times. But, this general
rule being kept, that God's glory be not defaced by doing
of it, it may be done of all men at all times. Paul wrought
for his living, when he preached, which others did not, nor
are bound to do; and he might have lived of his preaching,
as well as others did: yet the time was such, and the people
so peevishly bent to slander the gospel of God, that Paul for-
bare to use that liberty which God gave him, and would not

2 Cor. iii.

Psal. cxv.

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