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for God hath the heart of princes in his hand, to turn as pleaseth him. Do thou thy duty in the fear of God; and he will defend thee, as he thinketh best.
v. 5. And I said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the text.
thou great and fearful God, which keepest covenant
6. Let thy ears hearken, I beseech thee, and thy eyes be
7. We have outrageously sinned against thee, and have not kept thy commandments, and thy ceremonies and judgments, which thou commandest Moses thy servant.
As a man that is earnestly bent to prayer hath commonly these outward things joined withal that were spoken of afore, as sitting or kneeling, weeping, a grieved mind, sad countenance, fasting and abstinence: so necessarily he must have a charitable mind and pitiful towards his brethren, and an earnest and lively faith towards God, (which both appear in Nehemiah;) for without these two his prayer can not be heard. His loving mind towards his brethren appeareth, in that he, leaving all other pastimes, so diligently inquireth of their estate and their country, and disdaineth not to hear them: but it is seen more evidently, when he weepeth and mourneth, fasteth and forbeareth dainties, as though he were in misery with them; but specially, when he taketh so great pains and travail to do them good, as appeareth hereafter throughout this book. His earnest faith appeareth, in that he prayeth, and that only “to the God of heaven,” and with such vehement and meet words, as do declare his full mind, that he doubted not but God both could and would help them. In trouble no man asketh help but of him whom he thinketh will do him good: and because there is none so merciful to hear, and so willing to help, as God himself is, in all our griefs we must turn unto the Lord of .
heaven alone: for other saint there is none that will help or can help. The apostle saith, that “he which will come to the Lord must not only believe that there is a God, but also that he is a rewarder of them that seek him.” This faith therefore let us bring with us when we pray. This faith did continue in Nehemiah, though he had lived so many years amongst the unbelieving Persians; which was a special
gift of God to him in such troublesome times. In prayer
let us ask only such things as may stand with God's good
creatures pass all powers of princes, against whom to strive
is mere folly, and with whom to wrastle is extreme madness; whose might, wisdom, and justice is infinite; whose mercy, goodness, and pity hath no end; which art so great, that thou fillest all places, and not concluded in any, but art present every where, and seest all things; whose majesty surmounteth all creatures so far, that it cannot be contained or ruled of any: thou great and fearful God, which in thy anger threwest thy angels that offended thee out of thy glorious presence in heaven into everlasting darkness of hell; who in thy, rage drownedst all the world except eight persons; which burnedst up Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and Gen. xix. 24. brimstone from heaven; which didst cast Adam and us all out of paradise for eating the forbidden apple; who causedst the man to be stoned to death for gathering a few sticks on.” on the sabbath day; which man would judge to be but small faults, yet were great because they were contrary to thy commandments; who killed Uzzah for upholding the ark being ready to fall; which plagued Pharao with frogs, flies and hailstones; which made Nebuchadnezzar of a mighty king a vile beast to eat grass, and made Herod to be worried with lice: O thou great and fearful God, at whose beck the devils do tremble, the earth doth quake, and the heavens shoot out hot fiery thunderbolts, the clouds pour out great storms and tempests, to destroy thine enemies: 0 thou God of heaven, thou great and fearful God, I thy poor wretch, vile worm, and miserable creature, void of all goodness and full of all wretchedness, I forsaking myself, and trusting on thy goodness, am bold to creep in at a corner, and present myself before thy throne of mercy, quaking and trembling at thy fearful judgments and sharp justice against sin. I offer unto thee this poor soul and carcase, the work of thy own hands, made glorious by thee, but foully defaced by me. I, Lord, I, God, do most humbly with a heavy heart and troubled mind beseech thee; I most earnestly with bitter tears beg and crave of thee, to cast me not away out of thy sight, but graciously to hear my prayer. For although thou dwellest in thy high and holy place in heaven, yet thou lookest down into the earth, to hear the sighing of the poor and deliver the oppressed; and though thou be great and fearful in all thy works, yet I know thou art great in mercy and rich in goodness. For although thou hast punished sharply, yet thou savest more mercifully. Adam was cast out of paradise in justice, and yet had mercy offered unto him in great plenty. The enticing of a woman made him to offend thee, and the blessed Seed of the same woman hath bruised the serpent's poisonful head, and delivered us. Thou therefore, that art a God of truth, and keepest promise, and shewest mercy to them that love thee and keep thy commandments, look pitifully on us, which forsaking ourselves hang upon thee,
and though we see thy deserved rod, yet we fly to thy promised mercy. Though we have not kept our promise made unto thee in our baptism, “that we should forsake the devil, world and flesh, serve, honour, and faithfully obey thee our only Lord and God, with all our heart, strength, power and soul;” yet art thou a true God in keeping thy promise and not casting us off. When we run from thee, thou callest us again; and not destroying us suddenly, tarriest for our amendment. When we hate thee and become thy open enemies, thou, remembering thy promise made to Abraham, David, and our fathers, seekest by all means to bring us home again to thee. Though we be unfaithful, thou art true: though we forget thee, thou rememberest us. Though we deserve to be cast away from thee, without all hope of redemption, yet when thou fatherly correctest us, in the midst of thine anger thou rememberest thy mercy, and receivest us again to thee. We grant, O Lord, that we do not love thee, nor keep thy commandments, as we ought: yet, Lord, thou that art love and charity itself, and lovest all things that thou hast made, and in thy dear Son Christ Jesus dost embrace us, not looking at our deserts, but at his worthiness, who hath fulfilled the law for us, and made us partakers of thy righteousness; Lord God, hear us and have pity on us. O thou Lord God of all mercy, which never didst cast any away that fled unto thee, open thy ears and hear the prayers of me thy humble suitor. Shall I be the first whom thou wilt not hear? Is thy mercy all spent, and none left in store for us? Open thy eyes, O God of our salvation, and behold the miserable state of thy poor people. Our city lieth waste, the walls unbuilt; our enemies rush in on every side, and we are a laughing stock unto them. Thou heardst the crying of Agar, being cast out of her house; thou lookedst at the oppression of Egypt; thou pitiedst the woeful sighing of Anna; and when thy people were oppressed of any enemies round about them, thou raisedst up one judge or other to deliver them. Consider, O Lord, I beseech thee, our woeful state. We are spoiled on every side: mark and hearken to the prayer, which I thy poor servant make unto thee, which seest all secrets this day, continually crying night and day with a simple and unfeigned heart, not for mine own self, whom thou hast so well placed in the court with plenty of all things, but for my brethren, the children of Israel thy servants, the offspring of thy dear beloved Jacob, which be in great heaviness. While they be in misery, I cannot be merry. Their grief is my sorrow, and their welfare is my rejoicing. I grant, O Lord, we have grievously offended thee; yet have we not cast thee off, nor forsaken thee to be our Lord : we be thy servants, though unthrifty, unthankful, and miserable; and thou art a God rich in mercy to all that turn unto thee. I confess, O gracious God, that the children of Israel have sinned against thee; yea, not only they, O Lord, but I and my father's house have heinously broken thy commandments: and yet we despair not to obtain thy favour again, as children that have offended their loving Father. There is none of us free: we plead mercy, and not justice; we stand not in defence of our doings, but yield ourselves' into thy merciful hands. While thou givest us a heart to pray, we continually believe thou wilt hear us in the end. O Lord, correct thou us after thine own good will and pleasure; but give us not up to the lust of thy enemies which blaspheme thee, saying, Their God hath forsaken them, their God cannot nor will not help them. they hate us, not so much for our own sins, as for that we be called thy servants. O Lord, let not thy holy name be ill spoken of through our wickedness: rise and defend thine own cause ; cast not away thy servants in thy heavy displeasure. What vantage canst thou have in giving us over to thy foes? They shall laugh, when we shall weep: they will slander thy goodness for our forgetfulness of thee. Thou promisedst, O Lord, by the mouth of thy prophet, that in what hour soever the sinner did repent, thou wouldst no more remember his wickedness, nor lay it to his charge. We weep, we confess and acknowledge our manifold wickedness, wherewith we and our fathers have offended thee: we call for mercy; we pray night and day, not doubting but thou wilt keep thy promise in delivering and hearing us in thy due time. Though we have broken our promise in disobeying thee, yet if it please thee thus to try our faith and exercise our patience by laying on us thy heavy hand and ['Old edition, yourselves. Ed.]