Obrazy na stronie

be thought to preach for gains; but wrought for his living, would not be chargeable to any man. Such was the case here, that Ezra might not ask help, and Nehemiah might. 8. And letters also. Nehemiah, wisely considering what he wanted yet to the finishing of such a work as he went about, perceived he should need timber; and therefore desired the king's letters of warranty “to Asaph, keeper of his woods, that he might deliver him such trees and so many, as would serve his purpose, both for the building of the gates, the towers of the palace near the temple, the city walls, and the house that he should dwell in himself.” And here we shall see the king worthy great praise, though he was but barbarous; that for policy's sake, and wealth of his country, both preserved his woods, and set a keeper over them, that they should not be wilfully wasted. A good example for princes, to foresee the like in their countries in all ages; for commonwealths cannot stand without the use of woods in many kind of things. Nehemiah is also much to be commended, that although he was in so great authority and favour with the king, yet he would not take of his woods without his licence and warrant, as many do. If these two things were kept in this land, that both the prince's woods, and others too, should be preserved, faithful keepers set over them, and none delivered without sufficient warrant, we should not find the great lack that we generally do. What spoil hath been made of woods in our remembrance, wise men have noted, but few gone about to amend it, though many have lamented it. What common dealing hath been practised to get such lands of the prince and other men, as were well wooded, into their hands, and when they had spoiled the woods, racked the rents, and deeply fined the tenants, then to return the same land into the prince's hand again, or sell it over to others, and get as much, it is too well known throughout the realm, and to the hurt of many, at this day. Nehemiah could ask nothing so much, but the king did grant it speedily. God did so move the king's heart, and prospered Nehemiah's doings, in so much that he giveth all the praise to God alone, and saith, “the hand of his God was good toward him,” to set forward his good purpose of building Jerusalem. Nehemiah knew well that God was the common God of all people and nations, both by creation and government of them: but because he seemed to favour him more than he did other, in giving him boldness to open his grief unto the king, wisdom to make his humble suit without offence unto the king, and so good success to have all things granted that he required of the king, so unlooked for, he calleth him his God, as if he loved or cared more for him than for the rest of the world. This is the common use of the scripture, to call him the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Daniel, because he did both deliver them out of such trouble as none else could or would, or any hath been so oft and wonderfully delivered as they were ; and also, did so bless and prosper them and their doings, as the common sort of men were not wont to be. So they that see their own misery, and how little goodness, but rather punishment, they deserve at God's hand, when they see the Lord pity them, remember them, help them, and bless them, they conceive by and bye such a love toward God, that it would please him to look upon them, that for joy they burst out into tears, they call him their God, because they feel his good will and favour so much toward them, and more than to other, yea, much more than they could deserve or be bold to look for at his hands. And as one man useth to help another by putting forth his hand to raise him that is fallen, to give him such things as he wanteth, and to put away and defend him from such things as may hurt him; so it is called “the good hand of God,” when he either bestoweth his blessing and good things upon us, or when he putteth away such dangers and evils from us, as might hurt us, as it were with his mighty and merciful hand. 9. And I came to the captains. Nehemiah hath now taken his leave at the court, and loseth no time; but when he had provided all things necessary for his journey, he speedeth himself forward, and thinketh all time lost that is not bestowed in relieving his country, being in such misery. A strange example, to see a courtier leave that wealth, ease, and authority that he was in, and go dwell so far from the court, where commonly it falleth out that he which is out of sight is out of mind and soon forgotten, in an old, torn, and decayed city, a rude people and poor country, where

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he should not live quietly for his enemies, but take pains
to build himself a house, and the city where he would dwell;
to toil and drudge, like a poor labouring man, that should
work for his living, yea, and many times to be sore assaulted
of his enemies, both openly and privily, to the great danger
of his life, as the rest of the book following will declare.
But this is the case of earnest and zealous men in religion,
that they can say with David, “I have chosen rather to be
a door-keeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the
palaces of sinners;” and, “it is better to be one day there
than a thousand elsewhere.” God for his mercy's sake raise up
some such few courtiers as Nehemiah was, which can be con-
tent to forsake their own ease, wealth and authority, and give
themselves painfully to travail for the wealth of their country
And because that is to be wished, rather than hoped for, good
Lord, give us such as will be no hinderers, and will be con-
tent to live in compass quietly, and not seek to trouble others
that would serve the Lord willingly. Amen.
The king did not only deal thus liberally with Nehemiah
at his departure, but also honourably sent him away with
captains and horsemen, safely to conduct him on his journey,
that none should hurt him by the way. And where the king
used him so courteously, no doubt the rest of the court shewed
him much courtesy; for courtiers must needs like and mis-
like whatsoever the king seemeth to like or mislike, to set
up or pull down. Courtiers commonly, when the king speak-
eth, have lost both sense and wit; for if the king seemeth
to favour any thing, they all, as men without understanding,
say it must needs be so. If the king will not give ear to
hear a matter, they are all deaf and cannot abide to hear
speak of it. If the king will not see it, they all cry out,
Away with it ! So that it is hard to tell, whether is in more
miserable case, the king or such dissemblers: for if the king
have no judgment of himself, he shall have no help of such;
and they, like witless men, dare not speak a truth. Happy
is that prince therefore, that hath wise counsellors about him,
which will dutifully inform him of matters uprightly, wisely
debate the matter with him, without all double dealing, as
the other sorts do. When king Assuerus would advance
Haman, every man had him in reverence; but when Mar-

docheus was set up, then was there crying, Crucifige, on Esth. iii. & Haman. But thus mercifully doth our Lord God deal with " his church and people, that in every age he hath some about the prince, that both can and will speak and be heard, though not for all generally in their rage and persecution, yet for many, as occasion serveth, which shall be delivered from such tyranny to glorify their God for his mercy; though many willingly spend their lives patiently to the praise of the same God eternally. But no rage shall be so great to root out God's chosen, but the Lord will ever preserve a number, even by help of their enemies, openly to worship and serve him in despite of all their foes. Plinius, the ruler of a province under Trajan the emperor, o: and appointed to punish the Christians sundry ways, seeing""" the great number of them, doubted what he should do; and wrote to the emperor, that “he found no wickedness in them, but that they would not worship images, and that they would sing psalms before day-light unto Christ as a God, and did forbid all sins to be used among them.” The emperor, hearing this, became a great deal more gentle unto them'. Sallus-Ruff Lib. i. tius, tormenting Theodorus, a Christian, sundry ways and a *. 36. long time, to make him forsake his faith, but all in vain, went to Julianus the emperor, and told him what he had done from the day-break until ten of the clock; and counselled him that he “should prove that way no more by cruelty, for they gat glory in suffering patiently, and he gat shame in punishing so sharply,” because they would not yield unto him”. Many more such examples the ecclesiastical histories

[* IIpos & row Toaiavov odoua totoorov reflexévai’ to XploTuavasu poxov an ékúnresoróat uév, Šutreatov koMáčerbai. P. 30. Ed. Paris. 1544. Pliny's Letter to Trajan here referred to is extant. Lib. x. Epist. 97. ED.]

[* Quod Sallustius, praefectus ejus, non probans, licet esset gentilis, tamen jussus exequitur; et apprehensum unum quendam adolescentem, qui primus occurrit, Theodorum nomine, a prima luce usque ad horam decimam tanta crudelitate et tot mutatis carnificibus torsit, ut nulla aetas simile factum meminerit. Cum tamen ille in equuleo sublimis, et hinc inde lateribus instanti tortore, nihil aliud faceret, nisi quod vultu securo et lacto psalmum, quem pridie omnis ecclesia cecinerat, iteraret; cumque se omni expensa crudelitate Sallustius nihilegisse perspiceret, recepto in carcerem juvene, abiisse fertur ad Imperatorem, et quid egerit

are full of, where God delivered his people by the forespeech of their enemies: but these shall suffice at this present. God had now raised up Nehemiah, and had given him favour and grace in the king's sight, to ask and obtain comfort for the deliverance of his church and people, the Jews, which had been so long in great misery and slavery. Nehemiah then passeth on his journey toward Jerusalem with great speed and honour, passeth the river Euphrates, and those thievish and dangerous ways that he was afraid of, safely cometh to the rulers of the country beyond Euphrates, delivereth them the king's commission for timber, and a band of new soldiers for his safe conduct into Jewry, that these might return home again to the king, with thanks that they had conveyed him so far on his way safely. 10. And Sanballat. As Nehemiah was glad that God had prospered his doings so well hitherto, so others were sorry. For at his coming into the country Sanballat and Tobias were so sore grieved, that any man found such favour with the king, that he might procure any good thing toward the children of Israel; that, if he had not brought the king's letters with him, he could not have escaped their displeasure. It is not manifest in the text, what country these men be of; but I can well incline to that opinion, which thinketh that Sanballat was a Moabite of the city Horonaim, which Esay in the xv and Jeremy xlviii speak of, and that Tobias was an Ammonite; because the Moabites and Ammonites were ever from the beginning most cruel against the Israelites in their coming out of Egypt and all their doings, though they came and were born of near kinsmen. Abraham was uncle unto Lot: of Abraham came the Israelites; of Lot, when he was drunken, came the Moabites and Ammonites, gotten by his own daughters. And this is commonly seen, that both those which be so bastardly born against nature prove not honest; and when displeasure groweth among kinsfolk, and specially for religion, as this was, it scarce can be forgiven. Sanballat by interpretation signifieth a pure enemy;

Gen. xix.

nuntiasse, ac monuisse ne tale aliquod tentare vellet de cetero; alioquin et illis gloriam et sibi ignominiam quaereret. Auctores Hist. Eccles. x. (Ruffini 1.) cap. 36. The same account is given by Theodoret, Lib. In. cap. 11. Ep.]

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