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loving kindness promised. Nehemiah useth both the law and the gospel to persuade them withal.
The seventeenth verse layeth afore them the misery they were in, to live under heathen and strange princes, the pitiful sight of their broken wall, their gates burned, whereby they lived in continual danger of the enemy round about them to be spoiled and murdered: the shame was no less than the loss, that they could not repair and recover by their well-doing that their fathers lost; and they had dwelled so many years in it since king Cyrus gave them licence to go home again: all which were the heavy burdens and curse of the law. But this verse setteth afore them the gracious goodness of God and the king, which had given great tokens of their good will and favour toward the work, of their mere mercy: and so both the law and the gospel laid afore them the misery taken away and mercy offered unto them; they should most thankfully receive the goodness promised, and avoid the great burden of misery that they so long had borne. This kind of teaching is very meet to be followed of all preachers, and those that shall speak unto a people where all sorts of states are to be persuaded; for these kinds of reasons touch all sorts of men, and if it be done in the fear of God, it will work as it did then. Those be the best scholars that will learn without the rod; yet none so good but at times he needeth the rod : and a wise schoolmaster will make such choice of his scholars whom he will have learned, that he shall profit more with gentleness than cruelty; and such asses as must continually have the whip, are meeter to be driven from the school to the cart, than by their loitering to hurt others.
v. 19. Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobias the servant, an Am- The text.
monite, and Gesem the Arabian heard it, and they mocked us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? do ye fall away from the king 2 20. And I answered them, and said unto them, The God of heaven is he that hath granted us prosperity; and we his sercants will rise up and build: and as for jou, there is no portion and right nor remembrance in Jerusalem.
2 Pet. iii.
2 Tim. iii.
These men, as they were sad at Nehemiah's first coming, when they see that any man had found such favour with the king to do good to Jerusalem, so now were they almost mad for anger, when they heard that they went about to build the walls of Jerusalem. Openly to withstand them, or forbid them to work, they durst not, because they had the king's commission to do so; but so much as they durst, they discourage them: they mock them, they threaten to accuse them, and of that which would make any man afraid; they lay rebellion to their charge, and say, they would build that city for no other cause, but that they would make themselves strong against the king, fall away from him, set up a king amongst themselves, obey none, but use their own liberty, and rule all about them, as they did afore. These men bare some authority in the country; and "re proud braggers, and dissembling malicious enemies to God and his word, they would hinder so much as they could this building. The world is too full at this day of such like dissembling hypocrites. The one sort, if they come up of nought, and get a badge' pricked on their sleeve, though they have little, yet they look so big and speak so stoutly, that they keep the poor under their feet, that they dare not rout". All must be as they say, though it be neither true nor honest: none dare say the contrary. But the dungeon dissembling papist is more like unto them: for he careth not by what means to get it, by fear or by flattery, so that he can obtain his purpose.
These men first mock the Jews, and scornfully despise them for enterprising this building, thinking by this means to discourage poor souls, that they should not go forward in this work: after that they charge them with rebellion. These two be the old practices of Satan in his members, to hinder the building of God's house in all ages. Judas in his epistle saith, that “in the last days there shall come mockers, which shall walk after their own wicked lusts.” Peter and Paul foretold the same. Our Saviour Christ, though he was most spitefully misused many ways, yet never worse
[' Badge: a mark or ornament, usually of silver, shewing that they were in the service of some nobleman or powerful person. En.] [* Rout: make a stir, rebel. En.]
than when they mocked him; both Herod, Pilate, the priests and the Jews. It is thought but a small matter to mock simple souls, and so to withdraw them from God; but Salomon saith, “He that mocketh shall be mocked:” and David, “He Prov. iii. that dwelleth in the heavens shall mock them, and the Lord Psal. ii. shall laugh them to scorn.” This shall be the just reward of such scorners. It is justly to be feared, that as the Jews were given on. up to Nebuchadnezzar for mocking the prophets and preachers." of their time, as it is written; so we, for our bitter taunting, scoffing, reviling, disdaining, and despising of God's true ministers at these days, shall be given into our mortal enemies' hands. What is more common in these days than, when such hickscorners” will be merry at their drunken banquets, to fall in talk of some one minister or other: Nay, they spare none, but go from one to another, and can spy a mote in other V men, but cannot spy their own abominations. Christ was never more spitefully and disdainfully scoffed at, than these lusty ruffians open their mouths against his preachers: but the same Lord Christ saith of his disciples, that “he which despiseth them despiseth him.” What reward the mockers of Christ shall have, I think every man knoweth. Good men with heavy hearts commit themselves and their cause unto the Lord, and pray with David, “Lord, deliver my soul from wicked lips and from a deceitful tongue.” Salomon saith, [Prov. i.) “God will laugh when such shall perish.” Michal, wife to 2 Sam. vi. David, was barren all her life for mocking her husband, when he played on his harp and danced afore the ark of God. The
children that mocked Eliseus, and said, “Come up, thou bald 2 Kings ii.
pate, come up,” were all devoured suddenly of wild bears, that came out of the wood hard by. David, amongst many
miseries that he complaineth of, saith, that “the scorners made Psal. lxix.
their songs of him,” when they were at their drunken feasts; and when he seeth no remedy how to escape their poisonful tongues, he patiently turneth him unto the Lord, committeth all to him, and in the latter end of the psalm God comforteth him, and telleth him what sundry mischiefs shall fall on them for their despiteful dealing. When Belshazzar, king of Ba- Dan. v.
[* In an old allegorical drama, printed by Wynkyn de Worde, Hyckescorner is represented as a libertine who scoffs at religion. Ed.]
1 Kings xviii.
bylon, made his drunken feast to his great men, and called for the vessels and jewels which Nebuchadnezzar brought from Jerusalem, that he and his harlots might eat and drink in them in despite of the living God of Israel, a hand appeared writing on the wall, which Daniel expounded, when none of his soothsayers could do it, and said, his kingdom should be taken from him; and so it came to pass: for the same night Belshazzar was slain, and Darius king of the Medes possessed his kingdom. A just reward for all such drunken mockers of God, his people, religion, and ministers; and yet our merry toss-pots will take no heed. Sarah saw Ismael playing with Isaac her son, and said to Abraham, “Cast out the handmaid and her son, for he shall not be heir with my son.” But St Paul, alleging the same text, calleth this playing persecution, and saith, “As he that was born after the flesh did persecute him that was born after the spirit, so it is now: but the scripture saith, Cast out the handmaid and her son, for he shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.” So shall all scornful mockers, jesters, and railers on God, his word, religion and people, be cast out into utter darkness, and not be heirs of God's kingdom with his children. This playing and mocking is bitter persecution, and therefore not to be used of good men, nor against good men and lovers of religion: yet at this day he is counted a merry companion and welcome to great men's tables, that can rail bitterly or jest merrily on the ministers. Such is our love towards God, his word, and ministers: but sure, he that loveth God and the word in deed, cannot abide to hear the preachers ill spoken of undeservedly. I cannot tell whether is worse, the scoffer, or the glad hearer. If the one had no pleasure in hearing such lewd talk, the other would not tell it. The other thing they charge the Jews withal is rebellion, falling from the king, and setting up a kingdom amongst themselves. When Elias rebuked Achab and the people to return unto the Lord, Achab saith unto him, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” “Nay,” saith the prophet, “it is thou and thy father's house.” Rebuking him and teaching truth was counted troubling of the commonwealth and the king. What was the cause that king Saul and his flatterers hated poor David so much, and so cruelly sought his death, but that the people sang, after that Goliah was slain, that “Saul had killed Sam xviii. a thousand, and David his ten thousand”? Which was as much to say as, they thought that David was a mightier man than Saul, and meeter to be king. Daniel set open his windows, and contrary to the king's commandment prayed thrice a day unto Dan. vi. the living Lord, and therefore was accused of disobedience to the king, and cast to the lions' den to be devoured of them. The Israelites in Egypt, when God blessed them, and increas- Exod. i. ed them to a great people, were accused that they waxed so many and wealthy, that they would rebel against the king; and therefore, to keep them under, were oppressed by the taskmasters, and set to make brick for their buildings. When our Lord and Master Christ Jesus was born, the wise men Matt. ii. asked, “Where the king of the Jews was " Herod was mad, and killed all the children of two years old and under, lest any of them should come to be king and put him down. When our Saviour Christ said, his “kingdom was not of this John xviii. world,” then said Pilate, “Thou art a king then "Whereupon the Jews took occasion to accuse him of treason; and said, “Every one that maketh himself a king speaketh against the emperor; for we have no king but the emperor.” The apostles Acts v. were accused, that they had troubled the commonwealth by preaching Christ, and filled Jerusalem with their doctrine, contrary to the commandment of the priests and elders. Jason was drawn out of his own house for lodging Paul, being accused that he had troubled the world, and disobeyed the emperor. When St Paul had preached Christ in Athens, Acts xvii. he was accused for troubling the state by teaching his new doctrine. Thus ever the building of God's house by preaching of the gospel hath been charged with rebellion, disobedience to princes, and troubling of the commonwealth and peace. But good men have not been dismayed at such big words, but with good courage have proceeded in their work, having the testimony of a good conscience that they be not guilty of any such thing. 20. And I answered. This was the first push, but not the worst, that they had to discourage them for proceeding in this building; and not unlike but it made some afraid to hear such big words, and so great matters laid to their