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by Robert Hawker
THE BOOK OF
THE book of, Nehemiah takes up the history of the church very nearly from the close of that of Ezra; at least, not more than ten or twelve years after. The design of the Holy Ghost in giving this memoir of the Church's history, among other divine causes, was, no doubt, to carry on the progress of the church's account in a regular order. It compriseth a period of not more than twelve years. And as far as the connection of history can be preserved, at should seem that this record of Nehemiah opens about ninety years after the return of the people from Babylon; and closes about 433, years before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is well worthy the Reader's attention, that small and inconsiderable as those records of the church appear at this period, and especially if compared with other nations; yet not a word doth the scripture contain of the mightiest monarchies then existing, excepting in such things as are necessary to relate, from their occasional transactions with the church. The kingdom of Persia, which succeeded in the sway of the then known world that of Babylon, had now flourished for a century; and Greece began to make a conspicuous figure in the earth. Rome also was in her infancy about this time under which Judea at length became tributary as a province. Yet not a word of either, unless (as I said before) in a collateral way, from having to do with God's people. It is the seed of Abraham, the church of Jesus, the Holy Ghost records the memoirs of, whether Jerusalem be in adversity or prosperity; as if (and which is indeed the case) all the rest were regarded no more, or less, but as they ministered to God's people. What a thought to exalt our ideas of the nature and tendency of distinguishing grace! well might the man of God exclaim, Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord!
The principal subjects in the book of Nehemiah are - the zeal and concern of Nehemiah, under a commission he received from the king his master, to repair to Jerusalem for the rebuilding the wall of it; redressing the grievances of the people; registering the people; setting up a reform, and following up the plan of Ezra in the dissolution of unlawful marriages.
We cannot help admiring, as we prosecute the history, the very affectionate attachment of Nehemiah to his people; and yet more how much the Lord had imparted to him of his Holy Spirit. Surely the Lord had heard and answered the fervent prayer the man of God had put up, even before he called, agreeably to his own most gracious promise, and remembered him for good.
I must still beg the Reader before he enters upon the perusal of this precious fragment of the church's history, to keep in memory the request I have all along been making him, namely, to search for Jesus through the whole. I should be tempted to question the authenticity of the book of Nehemiah, if nothing could be found in it either in direct reference, or in secret allusion, to his sacred and most endearing person, to whom all scripture ministers, Reader! depend upon it, Jesus is here. And if here, he will be found of them that seek him. Oh! then for increasing grace, both to Writer and Reader, to search and find him whom God the Father delighteth to honour, and God the Holy Ghost is engaged to glorify. Oh! Lord Jehovah! give us to see him, to know him, to love him, to live to him, to rejoice in him, to hang upon him, and to cleave to him, that he may be our portion in life, in death, and to all eternity. Amen.