The Biblical Illustrator
Now it came to pass, when the wall was built.
The guardian of the holy city
I. His care for Jerusalem’s protection. It is a beneficent law of our nature that the more true affection is exercised it increases in strength, and knits the heart to its object in firmer bonds. This beautiful law, of the growth of affection by its exercise, is still more exemplified in the labour of love for Christ’s name sake, and for the promotion of His truth in the earth. Thus it was that the suffering and sacrifice which Nehemiah had endured for Jerusalem bound him to it by stronger ties, and drew him to seek its good with deepening affection. He had wept over its desolation in the night; he had toiled, through many days, for its restoration; and, when its walls were now rebuilt, how could he but cherish a tender solicitude, lest any danger should befall the home of his heart? Was it not enough to fill him with sorrowful apprehension that false men were within the walls of Zion, and that, under the name of Israelites, they were ready to betray the dearest interests of their nation into the hands of the heathen? Then, as strong walls are no sufficient protection without faithful watchmen, he set apart true men, to keep guard in the common danger.
1. We remark the character of the men to whom he committed this high trust. “I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem.” “My brother Hanani.” The expression of fraternal relation is simple and dignified, but warm and affectionate. The brother’s heart speaks the word, and utters in it a brother’s love, glowing with a brother’s pride, over one so dear, ready to help in a work so Divine. It is deeply interesting to observe how often, in the procedure of grace, God hallows the social affections, by grafting on their stock a Divine love; and how large a portion of the inspired history of the religious life is a record of kindred dear in the same households, united in the same faith, walking together to the better country. Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Joseph, Moses and Aaron, James and John, Martha and her sister Mary, and Lazarus, with many more revered names in Scripture story, united in the bonds of nature and also of grace, prove how true God is to His promise--“I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” Hananiah, the other patriot, here entrusted with charge over the holy city, receives this high encomium, “He was a faithful man, and feared God above many.” There was special need for this superior fidelity and piety in the watchmen of Zion then; and the same necessity demands such graces still in all who have charge in the Church of God.
2. We notice the nature of the charges given to these faithful men. Walls and gates are set around the city of God, not to foster indolence, but to aid active defence, and by this means to secure the guardian care of Omnipotence. This Divine help is ever sure to those who are willing by God’s grace to help themselves, and who stand on their watchtower, in the attitude of vigilance. This is an operation of faith, and an effect of that wisdom that is from above. Sound principles of truth are believed, not for the purpose of lying in the mind as a dead letter, or to be in themselves a certain defence against danger, but they are embraced to be used as a shield in times of assault, to be applied to the practical conduct; and if they are loosely held, the enemy will break through them to wound the heart, as surely as these foes of Jerusalem would have entered it by the gates or walls, had these been unguarded. The word is, “Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand.” Faith everywhere sets on this enterprise its indubitable seal. The city, we are told, “was large and great; but the people were few within, and the houses were not builded.” It was reared in the sure confidence of a future increase, according to the promise, “Jerusalem shall be inhabited, as towns without walls, for the multitude of men and cattle therein.” In like manner, everything devised and done for the kingdom of Christ may be planned on the largest scale, to accord with the amplitude of the purpose of grace. There is room in the heart of God for all sinners of mankind, would they but trust His love.
II. His effort for Jerusalem’s purity. In a work of God, the completion of one service to His honour makes way for the commencement of another. A holy heart feels no desire to rest in complacency after the labour of one enterprise is finished, as if enough were done for a while to come.
1. We remark in this the means he adopts to secure the purity of Jerusalem. He owns, with grateful humility, the Divine source of all his plans of wisdom for the good of Jerusalem. “My God put into mine heart.” All holy desires, all good counsels, all just works are from God; and it is right to ascribe to Him the glory of these precious gifts. The great thinkers of the world--the men whose vocation it is to exercise thought for the instruction of others--are under paramount obligation to give honour to the Father of lights for every grand or good idea He discovers to their mind. God is specially the author of all gracious purposes in the hearts of His children, and of every good counsel for the advancement of His kingdom. It is in this frame of exultant gratitude to the Lord for all good counsels that Nehemiah says, “My God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy.” Recent events, no doubt, suggested reasons for making sure who belonged to the tribes of Israel; and God, by opening His servant’s mind to the force of these reasons, rendered the path of duty plain. False men had lately appeared in the congregation of the Lord, claiming a place in it, who were not of it, but were proving traitors to its dearest interests. At this time, then, when much depended on the possession of a true heart in the children of Zion, the heads and people of Judah were convened, that all might be reckoned by genealogy.
2. We notice the fidelity Nehemiah evinces to secure the purity of Jerusalem. Many went up to the holy city who could not show their father’s house, whether they belonged to Israel or no. Some of them would prove in their conduct they were the people of God; but they could not as yet produce evidence of their genealogy as the seed of Jacob. In like manner, want of assurance of personal salvation bars the way of no sinner in applying to Christ; and if any follow on to seek Him, He will in no wise cast them out, though they may not be able for the present to express their sure hope of eternal life. Some at this time in Jerusalem were friends of Zion, of this description, truly belonging to Israel in spirit, but unable, meanwhile, to prove their relation. But others were there of a different class, and, perhaps, also of a different character. Some of the priests “sought their register among those who were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found.” (verse 64). In the fidelity, therefore, of these patriots to purify from alloy the congregation of the Lord, we have an example for the imitation of the universal Church of Christ. Purity of communion in a Church is essential to its healthful condition, and to its success in spreading religion in the world. A diseased member in the natural body may gradually destroy the vital functions of the entire frame; and so, in the mystical body of Christ, one member unsound in heart will impair the spiritual action of the whole, just as one Achan in the camp occasioned the defeat of all the army of Israel. This register, used by the servant of God to ascertain who were the children of Zion, may suggest to us the joyous assurance that God knows all His true Israel, and will take means, in due time, to make them known. Oh! what a privilege to find Tour name in the Lamb’s book of life in that day! On the other hand, what a dismay to discover then it is not there! (W. Ritchie.)
For he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.
I. Consider the meaning of faithfulness. It is the reverent and constant acceptance of those duties springing out of the relations in which I inevitably stand. Man is a being set in relations. When the ivy climbs up ruins and binds lovingly the fallen stones together, and wraps them in its green, it clambers and winds about and helps and beautifies because of the feelers it thrusts out, laying hold, by them, of the crumbling stones. It is the nature of the ivy to force these feelers out. So forth from every man there are shooting feelers of relations. They are part of his life-endowment.
1. Man is bound into relation with God. God is Creator--Father--Providence and Sustainer--King and Judge.
2. Men and women are bound to each other in the relation of father and mother, and child and relative, and fellow-citizen, and so on endlessly. Springing out of these relations there are forced upon us certain duties. Faithfulness is accepting and steadily discharging them.
II. Faithfulness is a chance opening right at the feet of every man for a noble life.
III. Faithfulness is an open door for a right ambition--to develop a noble character. Thus we may lift humdrum from our daily life. There is nothing so invigorating as the consciousness of recognising and accepting duty. The peace of a quiet conscience is in it.
1. Thus I am sure of setting a right example.
2. Thus I shall certainly make my life tell in all directions.
IV. A reward of faithfulness. Nehemiah gave Hananiah charge over Jerusalem because “he was a faithful man.”
V. The real source and incitement of faithfulness. He “feared God.” Think of Milton as holding himself “as ever in his great Taskmaster’s eye.” Policy, expediency, self-interest may seem to hold a man to duty in fair weather. The only lasting motive for faithfulness for all times is God. (Wayland Hoyt, D. D.)
Piety and faithfulness
We are here taught:--
I. That the fear of God--real, Scriptural piety--is the solid foundation of all faithfulness between man and man.
II. That the indispensable expression and proof of the fear of God is to be found in a man’s fidelity as to the affairs and transactions which take place between him and his fellows.
III. That persons of eminent piety and great fidelity will be honoured both by God and man. (J. Taylor.)
I. That faithfulness in religion is essentially connected with eminence of attainment in the Christian character.
II. Characteristics of eminent piety.
1. It consists in the habitual maintenance of a close walk with God.
2. It comprises a high and enlightened estimate of the character and work of Christ.
3. It is connected with an exquisite spiritual and moral sensibility.
4. It is always most powerfully swayed by spiritual motives and considerations.
5. These characteristics show the baselessness of the claims and pretensions to the possession of exalted religious attainments that are sometimes advanced.
III. Motives which may lead Christians to aspire after eminence of personal piety.
1. The honour of religion.
2. It is a great preservative against apostasy.
3. Regard to personal enjoyment.
4. Its relation to usefulness.
5. Its bearing upon our future blessedness.
6. The enduring nature of the distinction it confers.
7. The adequate provision that has been made to aid in its attainment. (W. Hurd.)
I. The nature of eminent piety.
1. It involves a habit of serious reflection.
2. It is consistent and comprehensive. The man who exemplifies it believes the doctrines of revelation, is awed by its threatenings, animated by its promises, and controlled by its laws. He is at once sober, righteous, and godly.
3. It endures severe tests. It resembles a robust constitution, which can pass through all varieties of climate, while a sickly constitution demands careful restriction to one.
4. It is active and laborious.
5. It is piety that grows.
II. Considerations that enforce eminent piety.
1. The effects it produces on those who exemplify it.
2. The effects it produces on those who witness it.
1. Eminent piety is very rare
2. The means of acquiring and promoting eminent piety are invaluable. Intercourse with good men--attendance in a Christian sanctuary--reading, meditation, and prayer.
3. Real piety is indispensable. (Joseph Hughes.)
A faithful man
I. The distinguishing feature of Hananiah’s character. “He was a faithful man.” If we suppose With some that Hananiah is the same as Shadrach mentioned in the Book of Daniel, we see how brightly this trait of his character shone forth in him in Babylon. “A faithful man” is perhaps the most distinguished commendation that can be passed upon any mortal. It refers to that attitude under which God Himself has been pleased to allow His people to regard Him. “God is faithful”; “the Lord is faithful”; and it is in the faithfulness of God that His people hope and confide. “A faithful man”--
1. Is one that can be depended on, who performs all his promises, executes all trusts confided to him, one who is punctual and unwavering in all his engagements, and whose uprightness and integrity are transparent to all.
2. He is one who has been made the recipient of a gracious and Divine principle that is--
3. He is a godlike man (2 Peter 1:4).
II. The conduct which Hananiah showed--he “feared God.” The fear of God is--
1. A reverential awe of the majesty of God.
2. An implanted principle (Jeremiah 32:40).
3. A governing principle--Obadiah (1 Kings 18:12-13); Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5:15).
III. The distinguished position assigned to Hananiah. (Francis Wills.)
An example of excellent piety
I. He was a faithful man. To serve God acceptably we must be faithful.
1. By believing what God has revealed, on His testimony (2 Chronicles 20:20). To the exercise of this faith we are urged by the best example, as that of Abraham (Galatians 3:9; Romans 4:20), and that of Barnabas (Acts 11:24). Under the influence of this faith, we shall be led to seek God in the way He prescribes.
2. By conscientiously performing those duties which arise from our relations to God; as His servants, stewards, and soldiers. As His covenant-servants, we must devote ourselves to His service (Jeremiah 1:5; 1 Corinthians 4:19-20). As His stewards, we must employ His gifts for His glory (1 Peter 4:10-11). This faithfulness is required in stewards (1 Corinthians 4:2). As His soldiers, we must be valiant for His revealed truth (Jeremiah 9:8). We must be faithful--
3. By steadfast adherence to the required worship and service of God. Like the Church at Pergamos, we must not deny Christ through fear of suffering for righteousness’ sake (Revelation 2:13; Revelation 17:14).
4. By seriously realising the invisible things of God (Hebrews 11:1). We should realise God’s presence with us, as our Master, Helper, and Observer (Psalms 16:8; Psalms 46:1; Hebrews 11:27). We should realise the general judgment, when we must all appear before Christ (2 Corinthians 10:7; 2 Corinthians 10:9-10).
II. And he feared God above many.
1. By the fear of God, in this place, is meant the whole of personal religion, including the principles and practice, the dispositions and the conduct of its subject or possessor (Psalms 34:11; Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 19:28; Ecclesiastes 8:12).
2. He feared God above many. This implies that there are different degrees of piety among those who truly fear God. This is intimated by our Lord, in His parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:8). It is admitted by St. Paul, in his doctrine of future rewards (2 Corinthians 9:6). This difference in pious attainments is also evident from the present state of the religious world. Of some eminent Christians, who are now the salt of the earth and the lights of the world, it may be said with great truth that they fear God above many. They acknowledge God more than many in their secular concerns (Proverbs 3:6; Philippians 4:6); they are more careful than many to allow themselves m those recreations only which are consistent with, and favourable to, their advancement in holiness (1 Corinthians 10:31); they converse more spiritually and profitably than many (Ephesians 4:29); and they are more zealous than many, in employing all their talents for God’s glory and the benefit of mankind (Acts 13:36). With respect to reputation; some have a good report from them that are without the Church, while the good that is in others is evil spoken of, through their indiscretions. With respect to usefulness; some are general blessings to their respective connections, while others are not visibly instrumental in bringing scarcely any souls with them to Christ and heaven.
3. The honourable mention of Hananiah’s distinguished piety should excite us to imitate him, by endeavouring to excel in piety also. To excel in piety is--
(a) Our greater happiness (Isaiah 48:18);
(b) our greater safety (2 Peter 1:10);
(c) our greater glory in heaven (2 Peter 1:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51).
(a) God calls us to this (1 Peter 1:15-16);
(b) God will hereby be glorified (John 15:8);
(c) herewith He will be pleased (Psalms 35:27). (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
Placed in trust
It was a State appointment made on moral and religious grounds. Hananiah was put in “charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.” Without discussing in detail the merits of the principle, let us inquire, What would be its effects as a passport to office ?
1. In the first place, it would shut out atheists from the Legislature of the country.
2. It would exclude from power all immoral or ungodly persons.
3. Such recognition would show that the profession of religion is not incompatible with, nor a disqualification for, the duties of public life.
4. The appointment was on Scriptural lines. It was strikingly in accord with the advice of Jethro to Moses: “Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth hating covetousness, and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” (T. Robson.)
Eminent of character
It is not the first thousand feet, but the last, that gives a mountain its name and fame. There is not a vast difference, for example, between Monte Rosa and Mont Blanc, but the latter is celebrated owing to those few extra feet. It is not so much ability, or learning, or diligence which differentiates Christian men as nearness to heaven and God. Those few extra hours spent in prayer, the additional steps of approach to Christ--these raise above the level of average piety and impart sanctity to the character. (Sunday Companion.)
Religious sentiment the most refining
It is the property of the religious sentiment to be the most refining of all influences. No external advantages, no good birth or breeding, no culture of the taste, no habit of command, no association with the elegant--even no depth of affection that does not rise to a religious sentiment--can bestow that delicacy and grandeur of bearing which belong only to a mind accustomed to celestial conversation. (R. W. Emerson.)
Men loyal to God
Martin Luther used to say, “God needs strong men as much as strong men need God,” and it was true. Let men seek to escape from the responsibilities of labour and law, and the freedom won by patriots and martyrs would soon fall, superstition would soon reassert its sway, and passions would leap forth again which would throw civilisation back into barbarism. If the Apostles had trusted the men of their age there would have been no true Christianity. If John Knox and others had trusted to such there would have been no Reformation. Let them bestir themselves in every noble way. They could each, at least, give to God one life that was true and faithful, one loyal to the core to truth and duty. It was not enough to contribute their criticism, they must contribute themselves--be willing to perish that others might live. That was what was meant by Christianity. (John Hunter.)
Coherence in character
What is the cause which makes one life so full to us while another has no meaning? What is it that constitutes the articulateness or the inarticulateness, the significance or the insignificance, of human lives? One very simple thing--coherence, that is all. The reason why these letters spell something is because they cohere together according to a certain law, and express something. The reason why these notes are sweet and inspiring to your ear is because they blend together according to the codes of harmony. And so are human lives bound together by something which brings coherence and signifiestion, harmony and force. Look at the lives which strike us; look at the imperious and imperial personalities amongst us. What made Bismarck such as he was? Coherence--one purpose! The difference between a life which is insignificant lies precisely in the word “coherence.” Why was Newton great? Why, because Newton, like all great men, said, “This one thing I do,” and he forgot his food in the earnest contemplation and pursuit of science. It is coherence which makes greatness in life. (Bp. Boyd Carpenter.)
Every one in his watch:--
Every one in his watch
This book may almost be called the Book of the Busy Man, telling as it does of the multifarious duties and responsibilities of one who acted as governor of the Jewish people in a very difficult and anxious time, and who had the rare and excellent faculty of leading every one else to work also. The picture which this book presents is almost that of a beehive, the murmur of whose work rises from every page. It is in entire sympathy with the general strain and tenor of the book that our text speaks when it shows us “every one in his watch.” Consider--
I. The individual dealing of God with us--“every one in his watch.” We often resist the thought of having to do individually with God; it becomes too solemn, too oppressive, too terrible for a soul that is not reconciled to Him. This is partly at the root of the preference which many have for the Church life rather than the individual life, for the idea of the multitude in which we may hide rather than that of solitude in which we must be seen. There is much in which we can have no companionship. We are born alone ; every great disease or pain finds us in the deep places of a loneliness which none can share with us ; and it is in utter solitude that each of us dies. In all such cases it is individual dealing between the Lord and us. We never come right, we never come to the Pardoner of sin, or the trust of daily life, or real work for Christ, till we have had the individual dealing with God which brings us into the position of those whom God has accepted for Christ's sake, and for whom henceforth He will provide.
II. The text is also universal in its reach. Every man means all men, which gives us the thought that there is a post for every man which God has appointed for him.
III. The work of the Christian may be regarded as military service. In this aspect of life three things are required.
1. Strict discipline.
2. Instant obedience.
3. Perfect obedience.
IV. The part of military service which falls to us all is sentinel duty.
V. The object of the watch which is laid upon every Christian.
1. It is a watch against attack.
2. It is a watch for reinforcement and succour. (T. Elder Cumming.)
And they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women.
The captives in the text had music left in them, and if they could find, amid all their trials, two hundred and forty and five singing men and singing women, then in this day of gospel sunlight and freedom from all persecution there ought to be a great multitude of men and women willing to sing the praises of God. All our churches need arousal on this subject. Those who can sing must throw their souls into the exercise, and those who cannot sing must learn how, and it shall be heart to heart, voice to voice, and the music shall swell jubilant with thanksgiving and tremulous with pardon. Have you ever noticed the construction of the human throat as indicative of what God means us to do with it ? In only an ordinary throat and lungs there are fourteen direct muscles that produce 16,888 sounds, and thirty indirect muscles that produce 173,741,828 sounds, and the human voice can produce seventeen trillion, five hundred and ninety-two billion, one hundred and eighty-six million, forty-four thousand, four hundred and fifteen different sounds. What does that mean? It means that you should sing! Do you suppose that God, who gives us such a musical instrument as that, intends us to keep it shut? Suppose some great tyrant should get possession of the musical instruments of the world, and should lock up the organ of Westminster Abbey, and the organ of Lucerne, and the organ at Haarlem, and the organ at Freiburg, and all the other great musical instruments of the world--you would call such a man as that a monster; and yet you are more wicked if, with the human voice--a musical instrument of more wonderful adaptation than all the musical instruments that man ever created--you shut it against the praise of God.
I. Music seems to have been born in the soul of the world. The omnipotent voice with which God commanded the world into being seems to linger yet with its majesty and sweetness, and you hear it in the grain-field, in the swoop of the wind amid the mountain fastnesses, in canary's warble and in thunder-shock, in brook's tinkle and in ocean's paean. There are soft cadences in nature, and loud notes, some of which we cannot hear at all, and others are so terrific that we cannot appreciate them. The animalcules have their music, and the spicula of hay and the globule of water are as certainly resonant with the voice of God as the highest heavens in which the armies of the redeemed celebrate their victories. When the breath of the flower strikes the air and the wing of the firefly cleaves it, there is sound and there is melody ; and as to those utterances of nature which seem harsh and overwhelming, it is as when you stand in the midst of a great orchestra, and the sound almost rends your ear because you are too near to catch the blending Of the music.
II. Music seems dependent on the laws of acoustics and mathematics, and yet where these laws are not understood at all the art is practised There are to-day five hundred musical journals in China. Two thousand years before Christ the Egyptians practised this art. Pythagoras learned it. Lasus, of Hermione, wrote essays on it. Plato and Aristotle introduced it into their schools; but I have not much interest in that. My chief interest is in the music of the Bible. The Bible, like a great harp with innumerable strings, swept by the fingers of inspiration, trembles with it. So far back as the fourth chapter of Genesis you find the first organist and harper--Jubal. So far back as the thirty-first chapter of Genesis you find the first choir. All up and down the Bible you find sacred music--at weddings, at inaugurations, at the treading of the wine-press. The Hebrews understood how to make musical signs above the musical text. When the Jews came from their distant homes to the great festivals at Jerusalem they brought harp and timbrel and trumpet, and poured along the great Judaean highways a river of harmony, until in and around the temple the wealth of a nation’s song and gladness had accumulated. All through the ages there has been great attention paid to sacred music. Ambrosius, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Charlemagne, gave it their mighty influence, and in our day the best musical genius is throwing itself on the altars of God. Handel, and Mozart, and Bach, and Durante, and Wolf, and scores of other men and women have given the best part of their genius to Church music. A truth in words is not half so mighty as a truth in song. Luther’s sermons have been forgotten, but the “Judgment Hymn” he composed is resounding yet all through Christendom.
III. While there may be great varieties of opinion in regard to music, it seems to me that the general spirit of the word of God indicates what ought to be the great characteristics.
1. A prominent characteristic ought to be adaptiveness. Music that may be appropriate for a concert-hall or the opera-house or the drawing-room may be shocking in church. Glees, madrigals, ballads may be as innocent as psalms in their places. There is no reason why music should always be religious music. So I am in favour of concert-halls as well as churches. But church music has only one design, and that is devotion, and that which comes with the toss, the song, and the display of an opera-house is a hindrance to the worship. From such performances we go away saying, “What splendid execution! Did you ever hear such a soprano? Which of those solos did you like the better?” When, if we had been rightly wrought upon, we would have gone away saying, “Oh! how my soul was lifted up in the presence of God while they were staging the first hymn; I never had such rapturous views of Jesus Christ as my Saviour as when they were singing that last doxology.” There is an everlasting distinction between music as an art and music as a help to devotion. Though a Schumann composed it, though a Mozart played it, though a Sontag sang it, away with it if it does not make the heart better and honour Christ.
2. Correctness ought to be a characteristic of church music. God loves harmony, and we ought to love it. There is no devotion in a howl or yelp.
3. Another characteristic must be spirit and life. Music ought to rush from the audience like the water from a rock--clear, bright, sparkling. If all the other part of the church service is dull, do not have the music dull. With so many thrilling things to sing about, away with all drawling and stupidity. Let our song be like an acclamation of victory. You have a right to sing. Do not surrender your prerogative. If, in the performance of your duty, or the attempt at it, you should lose your place in the musical scale and be on C below when you ought to be on C above, or you should come in half a bar behind, we will excuse you. Still, it is better to do as Paul says, and sing “with the spirit, and the understanding also.”
4. Again, I remark, church music must be congregational. This opportunity must be brought down within the range of the whole audience. A song that the worshippers cannot sing is of no more use to them than a sermon in Choctaw. Let us wake up to this duty. Let us sing alone, sing in our families, sing in our schools, sing in our churches. I never shall forget hearing a Frenchman singing the “Marseillaise Hymn” on the Champs Elysees, Paris, just before the battle of Sedan. I never saw such enthusiasm before or since. As he sang that national air, oh I how the Frenchmen shouted. Have you ever in an English assemblage heard a band play “God Save the Queen”? If you have, you know something about the enthusiasm of a national air. Now, I tell you that these songs we sing Sabbath by Sabbath are the national airs of Jesus Christ and of the kingdom of heaven, and if you do not learn to sing them here, how do you ever expect to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb? (T. De Witt Talmage.)
And that which the rest of the people gave.
The rest of the people gave
It is a great misfortune when any Christian effort is supported by the contributions of the few and not of the many. All should be encouraged to contribute so far as they are able. Workers, too, should, as their means admit of, subscribe towards the expenses of work. “What people pay for they will pray for, and what they pray for they will pay for.” (W. P. Lockhart.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Nehemiah 7". The Biblical Illustrator. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25