Citation
The King's cup-bearer

Material Information

Title:
The King's cup-bearer
Creator:
Walton, O. F., Mrs. ( Author, Primary )
Knight
Religious Tract Society (Great Britain) ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
London
Publisher:
Religious Tract Society
Manufacturer:
Knight
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
184, [8] p., [2] leaves of plates : ill., col. maps ; 19 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Kings and rulers -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Governors -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- Assyria ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- Jerusalem ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1896 ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1896 ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1896
Genre:
Publishers' catalogues ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) ( rbprov )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Date of publication from prize inscription.
General Note:
Publisher's catalogue follows text and on endpapers.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Mrs. O.F. Walton.

Record Information

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University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
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This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
027008043 ( ALEPH )
ALH9864 ( NOTIS )
232606069 ( OCLC )

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Full Text
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| JM. & G2 LONDON.







ASSUR-BANI-PAL AND HIS QUEEN,

(From the Tablet in the British Museum.)



Taser

KING'S CUP-BEARER

BY
Mrs. O. F. WALTON

AUTHOR OF

‘CHRIstin’s Onp Organ’ ‘A Pere Bruinp tur ScEnzs’
‘Saapows’ ‘ WINTER’S FoLLy’ ETc. ETc.

THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY
56 Parernoster Row 65 St. Pavut’s CHURCHYARD AND

164 ProcaDILLy



CHAP.

I.

II.

IIt.

Iy.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

XI.

XII.

XII.

xv.

XVI.

CONE aN s:

Sete
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Tur Crry or LInInrs . 4
Tur Kina’s TaBLe . .
Tur Goop Hanp ¢ ‘

To Every Man nis Work

Tur SworRD AND THE TROWEL

Tum WoRLp’s BIBLE 5
TruE To HIS Post c B
Tur ParIpagogos . ‘

Tur SecRET oF STRENGTH .
Tur HIGHTY-FOUR SEALS.
Tur Brave VOLUNTEERS ;
Tum Hony Crry . :
Having wo Roor ‘ :
Strona MmasuREs. A
Tur OupEst SIN _ *o

Gop’s REMEMBRANCE i

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PLAN OF THE PALACE AT PERSEPOLIS,

















Wels, CONG S) (CU PERE.

POLS





CHAPTER I.
Che City of Silies,

ies great Rab-shakeh, magnificently attired in all the
A brilliancy of Oriental costume, is walking towards

the city gate. Above him stretches the deep blue
sky of the Hast, about and around him stream the warm
rays of the sun. It is the month of December, yet no
cold biting wind meets him, and he needs no warm
wraps to shield him from the frost or snow.

The city through which the Rab-shakeh walks is very
beautiful; it is the capital of the kingdom of Persia.
Its name is Shushan, the City of Lilies, and it is so
called from the fields of sweet-scented iris flowers which
surround it. It is built on a sunny plain, through
which flow two rivers,—the Choaspes and the Ulai; he
sees them both sparkling in the sunshine, as they wind
through the green plain, sometimes flowing quite close
to each other, at one time so near that only two and a
half miles lie between them, then wandering farther
away only to return again, as if drawn together by some
subtle attraction.

Then, in the distance, beyond the plain and beyond



8 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

the rivers, the great Rab-shakeh sees mountains, for a
high mountain range, about twenty-five miles from the
city, bounds the eastern horizon. He has good reason
to love those high mountains, which rise many thousands
of feet above the plain, for even in the hottest weather,
when the heat in Shushan would otherwise be unbear-
able, he can always enjoy the cooling breezes which
come from the everlasting snow-fields on the top of that
mountain range, and which blow refreshingly over the
sultry plain beneath.

The City of Lilies is a very ancient place. It was
probably built long before the time of Abraham. We
read in Gen. xiv. of a certain Chedorlaomer, King of
Elam, who gathered together a number of neighbouring
kings, and by means of their assistance invaded Pales-
tine, and took Lot prisoner. This Chedorlaomer probably
lived by these very rivers, the Choaspes and the Ulai, and
Shushan was the capital city of the old kingdom of
Elam over which he ruled.

Later on the City of Lilies was taken by the Baby-
lonians. They had their own capital city, the mighty
Babylon, on the Euphrates. But although it was not
the capital, still Shushan was a very important place in
that first great world-empire. We find Daniel, the
prime minister, staying in the palace of Shushan, to
which he had been sent to transact business for the
King of Babylon, and it was during his visit to the City
of Lilies that God sent him one of his most famous
visions. In his dream he thought he was standing by
the river Ulai, the very river he could see from the
palace window, and before that river stood the ram with
the two horns and the strong he-goat, by means of which







ish Milos
W050 200



Sanaa
ACHMETHA
a otKebatana)

Dur)

oO fie



AES SS aie R lial
AND THE ADJACE. COUNTER)
illuswating
THE CAPTIVITIE: ISRAELE& JUDAH.



depopulated by Tiglath Pileser (2 Kings XV, 29)........coloured blue

» Shalmaneser & Sargon (2 ¥ings MES; 1) red
Lana of Judah,
partially depopulated ty Nebuchadnezzar (2 Bings XSIV) grea

















THE CITY OF LILIES. 6

God drew out before his eyes a picture of the future
history of the world.

But the great Babylonian empire did not last long.
Cyrus the Persian took Babylon, Belshazzar was slain,
the great Assyrian power passed away, and the second
great world-empire, the Persian empire, was built upon
its ruins.

What city did the Persian kings make their capital ?
Not Babylon, with its mighty walls and massive gates, but .
Shushan, the City of Lilies. They chose it as their chief
city for three reasons; it was nearer to their old home,
Persia, it was cooler than Babylon because of the neigh-
bouring mountains, and lastly, and above all, it had the
best water in the world. The water of the river Choaspes
was so much esteemed for its freshness, its clearness,
and its salubrity, that the Persian kings would drink no
other; they had it carried with them wherever they
went; even when they undertook long warlike expeditions,
the water of the Choaspes was considered a necessary
provision for the journey.

The City of Lilies, in the days of the Rab-shakeh, was
a perfect fairy-land of beauty, surrounded as it was by
fruit-gardens and corn-fields ; the white houses standing
out from amongst dark palm trees, and the high walls
encircled by groves of citron and lemon trees. As the
Rab-shakeh walks along the air is scented with their
blossoms, and with the sweet fragrance of the countless
Shushan lilies, growing beside the margin of the
sparkling rivers.

Above him, in the midst of the city, stands his lordly
home. It may well be a magnificent place, for it is the
-palace of the greatest king in the world, the mighty King



Io THE KING’S CUP-BEARER,

of Persia. The palace in which the Rab-shakeh lives is
not the old palace in which Daniel stayed when he
visited Shushan ; it is quite a new building, built only
forty years before by the great Ahasuerus, the husband
of Queen Esther. It was to celebrate the opening of
this gigantic palace that the enormous and magnificent
feast of which we read in Esther i., was given by the
Persian monarch, who was its founder.

This new palace was built on a high platform of stone
and brick, and the view from its windows of the green
plain, of the shining rivers, of the gardens filled with
fruit trees and flowers, and of the snow-clad mountains
_ in the distance, was magnificent in the extreme. In the
centre of the palace was a large hall filled with pillars,
one of the finest buildings in the world, and round this
hall were built the grand reception rooms of the king.

The ruins of Shushan, the City of Lilies, were discovered
by Sir Fenwick Williams in the year 1851, and the bases
of the very pillars which supported the roof of the great
Rab-shakeh’s splendid home may be seen this very day
on the plain between the two rivers.

But who was this Rab-shakeh, and how came he to
live in the most glorious palace in the world? He was
a Jew, a foreigner, a descendant of those Jews whom
Nebuchadnezzar took captive, and carried into Assyria.
Yet, although one of an alien race, we find him in one of
the highest offices of the Persian court, namely, the
office of Rab-shakeh.

This word Rab, so often found in the Bible, is a
Chaldean word which means Master. Thus, in the New
Testament, we find the Jewish teachers often addressed
by the title Rabbi, Master. But the title Rab was also



THE CITY OF LILIES. II

used in speaking of the highest officials in an Hastern
court. Three such titles we find in the Bible:

Jer. xxxix. 18. _Raz-saris, Master of the Hunuchs.

Ras-mac, Master of the Magi.
2 Kings. xvii. 17. Ras-suaxen, Master of the Cup-
- bearers.

This last office, that of Rab-shakeh, was a very
important and responsible one. It was the duty of the
man who held it to take charge of the king’s wine, to
ensure that no poison was put into it, and to present it
in a jewelled cup to the king at the royal banquets. Ii
was a position of great trust and power; great trust,
because the king’s life rested in the cup-bearer’s keeping ;
great power, because whilst the Persian monarchs,
believing that familiarity breeds contempt, kept them-
selves secluded from the public gaze, and admitted very
few to their august presence, the cup-bearer had access
at all times to the king, and had the opportunity of
speaking to him which was denied to others.

Strange that a Jew, one of a captive race, should be
chosen to fill so important a post. But King Artaxerxes
knew his man. He felt he could trust him fully, and he
was not disappointed in his confidence, for the great
Rab-shakeh served a higher Master than the King of
Persia, he was a faithful servant of the God of Heaven.

The Rab-shakeh’s name was Nehemiah, a name chosen
by his parents, not as a fancy name or asa family name,
but chogen for the same reason which usually influenced
Jewish parents in the selection of names for their
children, because of its beautiful meaning. Nehemiah
meant The Lord my Comforter.

What a sweet thought for Hachaliah and his wife as



12 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

they called their boy in from play, or as they put‘ him
in his little bed and took leave of him for the night,
‘The Lord is my Comforter. Life in sunny Shushan
was surely no brighter than life in our more clouded
land; they had their times of sorrow as- well as their
times of joy, they had their temptations, their cares,
their anxieties, and their trials, just as we have. How
blessed for them in one and all of these to be reminded
where true comfort was to be found, so that they might
turn to God in every time of grief with the name of their
little son on their lips, ‘The Lord is my Comfortey.’
What do we know of Nehemiah? Can we say from
our heart, ‘The Lord is my Comforter?’ I take Him
my every sorrow, I tell Him my every trouble. He
understands it, and He understands me, and He comforts
me as no other can. The Lord is indeed my Comforter.
So the little Nehemiah had grown up an ever-present
reminder in his parents’ home of the comfort of God.
How many children Hachaliah had we are not told,
but Nehemiah had certainly one brother, Hanani.
There’ had been some years before this a parting in
Hachaliah’s family. Hanani, Nehemiah’s brother, had
left Shushan for a distant land. Twelve years had
passed since all the Jews in Shushan had been roused by
the news that Ezra the scribe was going from Babylon
to Jerusalem, and that he was calling upon all who loved
the home of their forefathers to go with him, and to help
him in the work he had undertaken. Bad news had
been brought to Babylon of the state of matters in
Palestine; those who had returned with Zerubbabel were
not prospering, either in their souls or their bodies, and
Ezra, shocked by what he had heard, determined to go



THE CITY OF LILIES. 13
to Jerusalem that he might reform the abuses which had
arisen there, and do all in his power to rouse the people
to a sense of their duty. A brave company had set forth
with him. Eight thousand Jews had been ready to leave
comfort, luxury, and affluence behind, that they might
go to the desolate city, and endeavour to stir up its
people to energy and life.

One of the 8,000 who went with Ezra was Nehemiah’s
brother, Hanani. It is possible that Nehemiah himself
was at that time too young to go; it is also probable
that Hachaliah, the father, having been born and brought.
up in Shushan, was hard. to move. So Hanani set
forth alone, and the brothers were parted.

Twelve long years, and in all probability no news had
reached the family in Shushan of the absent Hanani. A
journey of five months lay between them and Jerusalem;
and in those days, when all the conveniences we enjoy
were unknown, they would not only never expect to meet
again, but they would also never anticipate the pleasure
of even hearing any news of each other, or of holding
the slightest communication.

But as the Rab-shakeh walks to the gate of Shushan,
on the day on which the story opens, he spies a caravan
of travellers coming along the northern road. They
have evidently come a long way, for they are tired,
exhausted, and travel-stained. The mules walk slowly
and heavily under their burdens, the skin of the
travellers ig burnt and cracked by the hot sun of the
desert, their clothes are faded and covered with dust,
their sandals are full of holes.

Where can the caravan have come from? Nehemiah
finds to hig astonishment that it has come from



14 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Jerusalem, the city of cities, as he had been taught to
believe it, and, to his still greater surprise, he finds
amongst the travellers his long-lost brother Hanani.
What had brought Hanani back from Jerusalem we are
not told ; he may have wished once more to see his old
father Hachaliah; but we can well imagine the joy with
which he would be welcomed by all, and not the least
by his brother Nehemiah.

As they walk together through Shushan to the palace,
the Rab-shakeh asks anxiously after Jerusalem. Has
Hizra’s work been successful? How are matters pro-
gressing? Are the people more in earnest? Is
Jerusalem thriving ?

But the travellers have a dismal tale to tell. Affairs
in the Holy City are about as bad as it was possible for
them to be.

Neh. i. 8: ‘They said unto me, The remnant that

are left of the captivity there in the province are in
great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also
is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with
fire.’ .
In other words, things are just where they were
twelve years ago; the people are miserable and de-
pressed, beset with countless troubles; the city itself is
still an utter ruin, just as Nebuchadnezzar left it. The
temple, it is true, is built at last, but nothing more is
done; the walls lie just as they were when the city was
taken,—a mass of ruins; the gates are nowhere to be
seen, only a few blackened stones mark the place where
they used to stand.

The Rab-shakeh’s heart is very heavy as he goes to
his rooms in the royal palace. What terrible news he











THE CITY OF LILIES. 15

has heard! Jerusalem is still, after all Hzra’s efforts to
restore it, a desolate ruined city. Nehemiah is full of
sorrow, sick at heart, overwhelmed with disappointment
and trouble.

But he remembers his own name and its warning,
Nehemiah, The Lord is my Comforter. At once, without
a moment’s delay, he goes to his Comforter. He weeps,
he mourns, he fasts, and he pours out all his sorrow to
God. Asa child runs to his mother, and pours into her
ear his grief or his disappointment, so Nehemiah hastens
to his God.

We walk through a splendid conservatory, the pride
and glory of anobleman’s garden; we admire the flowers
of all shades of colour; rare blossoms from all parts of
the world, ferns of every variety, palms, and grasses,
and mosses, and all manner of natural beauties meet
our eye at every turn. Whatis that plant standing in a
conspicuous place in the conservatory? It is a beautiful
azalea, covered with hundreds of pure white blossoms.
But there is so much else to see in that conservatory
that we scarcely notice it as we pass by. Nor are we at
all surprised to see it there; itis just the very place in
which we should look for such a plant. Nor are we
astonished to find it so flourishing and so full of bloom,
for we know that everything in that conservatory is
calculated to improve its growth, the atmosphere is just
what it should be, not too dry or too damp, it has
exactly the right soil, the proper amount of light, the
most carefully regulated heat; it has in fact everything
which it ought to have to make it a flourishing’ and
beautiful plant. Accordingly we are not surprised to
find it full of bloom and beauty.



\
16 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

But suppose, on the other hand, that walking through
the slums of London we see a similar sight. In one of
the closest, most filthy courts we see, in a garret window,
a white azalea full of flowers, pure as the untrodden
snow.

Now indeed we are surprised to see it, for it is in the
most unlikely place ; there is nothing to favour its growth,
_ the air is foul, the light is dim, everything is against it,
yet there it stands, a marvel of beauty! And we look at
it and say, ‘ Wonderful!’

Surely we have even now seen the white azalea in the -
garret. For where should we expect to find a man of
God? Dwelling in the holy temple in Jerusalem,
surrounded by everything to remind him of God,
breathing in the very atmosphere of religion, with godly
people all around him, with everything to help him to
be holy and pure, no one would be astonished to find a
man of God in such a place as that.

But here is Nehemiah the Rab-shakeh, living in a
heathen palace, in the midst of a wicked court, sur-
rounded by drunkenness, sensuality, and all that is
vile and impure, breathing in the very atmosphere of
sin, yet we find him a plant of the Lord, pure as the
azalea, aman of faith, a man of prayer, a holy man of
God. With everything against him, with nothing to
favour his growth in holiness, he is a flourishing plant
in the garden of the Lord. So it ever is. The plants
of God’s grace often thrive in very unlikely places.
There was a holy Joseph in the court of Pharaoh, a
faithful Obadiah in the house of wicked Jezebel, a
righteous Daniel in Babylon, and saints even in Cxsar’s
household



ZHE CITY OF LILIES. 17

Are we ever tempted to say, I cannot serve the Master
faithfully? If I were in another position, if my home
lite were favourable to my becoming decided for Christ,
if I had different companions, different occupation,
different surroundings, then indeed I would grow in
grace, and bring forth the fruit of a holy life. But as I
am, and where I am, it isa simple impossibility ; I can
never, under existing circumstances, live near to God,
or be what I often long to be, a true Christian.

What does the Master say as He hears words like
these? ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ ‘As thy day
so shall thy strength be.’

Even in most unlikely and unfruitful soil God can
make His plants to grow and flourish. Where I am,
and as I am, and with exactly the same surroundings
as I now possess, God can bless me, and give me grace
to serve and to glorify Him. If I do not become a
flourishing plant, it is not my position that is to blame,
it 1s because I will not seek that grace which the Lord
is ready to give me. ‘Ye have not, because ye ask not.
Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.’



18

CHAPTER II.
The Ming's Cable.

Gr was midnight in London, in the year 1665. The
iL houses were closed and barred, but strange lurid

fires were lighted in every street, a stifling odour of
burning pitch and sulphur filled the air, and from time
to time came the heavy rumble of wheels, as a terrible.
cart, with its awful load, passed by in the darkness of
the night. With the cart came a cry; 80 loud, so clear,
so piercing, that it could be heard in all the closed
houses of the street. ‘Bring out your dead, bring out
your dead!’ Then, one door after another was hurriedly
opened, and from the plague-stricken houses one body
after another was brought out, and was thrown hastily
into that awful dead cart.

Bring out your dead! what a solemn, terribly solemn
ery! How it must have filled with awe and dread all
who heard it! And if that call were repeated, if the holy
angels of God were to go through the length and
breadth of our land, and, stopping before each house,
were to cry to those within, ‘ Bring out your dead, bring
out your dead,’ not your dead bodies, but your dead
souls; bring out all in your house who are not alive
unto God, who are dead in trespasses and sins, how



THE KING’S TABLE. 19

many would have to be carried out of our houses?
Should we ourselves be left behind? Are we alive or
dead P

The angels have not yet come to sever the dead from
the living, but the time for that great separation is
drawing daily nearer, when the Son of man shall send
forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His
kingdom all things that offend; all the loathsomeness of
death, and decay, and impurity shall be collected by
angel hands, and, we read, they shall cast them, not into
a vast pit such as was dug in London in the time of
the plague, but into a furnace of fire, there shall be
wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Surely, then, it is worth while to find out whether our
soul is alive or dead. What test then shall we use?
How shall we settle the matter clearly and definitely ?

There is one thing, and one thing only, which proves
that a man has life. A man apparently drowned is
brought out of the water. He does not speak, or see,
or move, or feel. He is rubbed and warmed, but no sign
of life can be perceived. Can we therefore conclude
that the man is dead? Nay, we will put him to the
test. Bring a feather, hold it before his mouth, watch
it carefully, does it move? A crowd of anxious
bystanders gather round to see. Soon a ery of joy is
heard, the feather moves. The man lives, for he
breathes, and the breath in him is the unmistakable
sien of life.

How then shall I know if my soul lives? Does it
breathe ? That is the all-important question. But
what is the breath of the soul? The breath of the
soul is prayer. As the old hymn says— :



20 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

*Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air.’
Saul of Tarsus, with all his outward religion, was a
dead soul, till the Lord met him and gave him life.
What then is the first thing we find Saul doing?
‘Behold he prayeth. As soon as he is alive, he
breathes, he prays.

Here then is the test for us to apply to our own souls.
Do I know anything of real prayer? DoTI love to hold
communion with my God? Am I ever lifting up my
heart to Him? If I live in the atmosphere of prayer,
then Iam alive unto God; if, on the other hand, I feel
prayer a weariness, and know not what it is for my
heart to hold unseen intercourse with my Lord, then
indeed I am dead in sin, having no breath, and I have
consequently no life.

Nehemiah, the great Rab-shakeh, was a living soul,
for he loved to pray. No sooner had he heard the sad
news about Jerusalem, than he went to his private
apartments in the palace, and began to plead with
God. He feels that all the trouble that has come upon
his nation has been richly deserved, so he begins with a
humble confession of sin.

‘Let Thine ear now be attentive, and Thine eyes open,
that Thou mayest hear the prayer of Thy servant, which
Japray before Thee now, day and night, for the children
of Israel Thy servants, and confess the sins of the
children of Israel, which we have sinned against Thee.’
And then, coming nearer home, he adds, ‘both I and
my father’s house have sinned.’

Was it some special sin which he confessed before God
then? Can his sin, and the sin of his father’s house,



THE KING'S TABLE. 21

have been the refusing twelve years ago to leave home
and comforts behind them, and to return with Ezra to
Jerusalem ?

Then Nehemiah pleads God’s promises to His people
in time past, and ends by definitely stating his own
special need and request (Neh. i. 8-11).

By day and by night Nehemiah prays, and nearly four
months go by before he does anything further.

The next step was not an easy one. He had deter-
mined to speak to the great Persian monarch—to bring
before him the desolate condition of Jerusalem, and to
ask for leave of absence from the court at Shushan, in
order that he might go to Jerusalem, and do all in his
power to restore it to something of its former grandeur.

It is not surprising that Nehemiah dreaded this next
step. The Persian kings had a great objection to being
asked a favour. Xerxes, the husband of Queen Esther,
when on his way to Greece with his enormous army,
passed through Lydia in Asia Minor. Here he was
feasted and entertained by a rich man named Pythius,
who also gave him a large sum of money for the expense
of the war, and furnished five sons for the army. After
this Pythius thought he might venture to ask a favour
of the Persian monarch, so he requested that his eldest
son might be allowed to leave his regiment, in order that
he might stay at home to be the comfort and support of
his aged father. But, instead of granting this very
natural request, Xerxes was so much enraged at having
been asked a favour, that he commanded the eldest son
to be killed and cut in two, and then caused his entire
army to file between the pieces of the body.

Artaxerxes, the king whom Nehemiah served, was



22) THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

considered one of the gentlest of Persian monarchs, and
yet even he was guilty of acts of savage cruelty, of which
we cannot read without a shudder. For example, when
he came to the throne, he found in the palace a certain
eunuch named Mithridates, who had been concerned in
his father’s murder. He condemned this man to be put
to death in the most horrible and cruel way. He was
laid on his back in a kind of horse-trough, and strongly
fastened to the four corners of it. Then another trough
was put over him, leaving only his head and hands and
feet uncovered, for which purpose holes were made in
the upper trough. Then his face was smeared with
honey, and he was placed in the scorching rays of the
sun. Hundreds of flies settled on his face, and he lay â„¢
there in agony for many long days. Food was given
him from time to time, but he was never moved or
uncovered, and it was more than a fortnight before death
released him from his sufferings.

It was the very king who had put one of his subjects
to this death of awful torment before whom Nehemiah
had to appear, and of whom he had to make a request.
No wonder, then, that he dreaded the interview, and that
he felt that he needed many months of prayer to make
him ready for it. It was in the month Chisleu (Decem-
ber) that Hanani had arrived, it was not until Nisan
(April) that he made up his mind to speak to the king.

Before leaving his room that morning, he knelt down,
and put himself and hig cause in the Lord’s hands,
Neh. i. 11.

Then, attired in his official dress, the Rab-shakeh
sets forth for the state apartments of the palace. The
central building of that magnificent pile in which the



THE KING’S TABLE. 23

king held court was very fine and imposing, as may be
seen to-day from the extensive ruins of Shushan. In
the centre of it was the Great Hall of Pillars, 200 feet
' square. In this hall were no less than thirty-six pillars,
arranged in six rows, and all sixty feet high. Round this
erand hall were the beautiful reception rooms of the
king, and these were carefully arranged, in order to
ensure perpetual coolness even in the hottest weather.
There was no room on the hot south side of the palace,
but on the west was the morning room, in which all the
morning entertainments were held, whilst the evening
banqueting hall was on the eastern side. By this
arrangement the direct rays of the sun were never felt
by those within the palace. Then, on the cool northern
side was the grand throne room, in which the king sat
in state, and through which a whole army of soldiers,
or an immense body of courtiers, could file without
the slightest confusion, entering and leaving the room
by stone staircases placed opposite each other. The
steps were only four inches in depth and sixteen feet
wide, and were so built that horsemen could easily
mount or descend them.

Into one of the grand halls of the palace Nehemiah
the cup-bearer enters. The pavement is of coloured
marble, red, white, and blue; curtains of blue and
white, the Persian royal colours, drape the windows and
are hanging in graceful festoons from the pillars; the
fresh morning breeze is blowing from the snow-clad
mountains, and is laden with the scent of lemons and
oranges, and of the Shushan lilies and Persian roses in
the palace gardens.

There is the royal table, covered with golden dishes



24 THE KING’?S CUP-BEARER.

and cups, and spread with every dainty that the worid
could produce.

There is the king, a tall, graceful man, but with one
strange deformity—with hands so long that when he
stood upright they touched his knees, from which he
had received the nickname of Longimanus, the long-
handed.

He is dressed in a long loose robe of purple silk, with
wide sleeves, and round his waist is a broad golden
girdle. His tunic or under-garment is purple and white,
his trousers are bright crimson, his shoes are yellow,
and have long pointed toes. On his head is a curious
high cap with a band of blue spotted with white. He is
moreover covered with ornaments: he has gold earrings,
a gold chain, gold bracelets, and a long golden sceptre
with a golden ball as its crown.

The king is sitting on a throne, in shape like a high-
backed chair with a footstool before it. The chair stands
on lion’s feet, and the stool on bull’s feet, and both are
made of gold.

By the king’s side sits the queen; her name was
Damaspia, but we know little more of her in history,
except that she died on the same day as her husband.
Behind the king and queen are the fan-bearers, and fly-
flappers, and parasol-bearers, who are in constant
attendance on their royal majesties, and around are
the great officers of the household.

Fifteen thousand people ate the king’s food in that
palace every day, but the king always dined alone. It
was very rarely that even the queen or the royal children
were allowed to sit at the king’s table, which is probably
the reason why Nehemiah mentions the fact that the



THE KING'S TABLE, 25

queen was sitting by him. Perhaps he hailed the
circumstance as a proof that the king was in good
humour that day, and would therefore be more likely to
listen to his petition. But no one who was not closely
related to the king was allowed to sit at the royal table,
even the most privileged courtiers sat on the floor and
ate at his feet.

The feast has begun, and it is time for aie Rab-shakeh
to present the wine to the king. He takes the jewelled
cup from the table in the king’s presence, he carefully
washes it, then he fills it with a specially rare wine,
named the wine of Helbon, which was kept only for the
king’s use. This wine was made from a very fine growth
of grapes, at a place in the Lebanon not far from
Damascus, named Helbon. Then Nehemiah pours a
little wine into hig left hand and drinks it, and then,
lightly holding the cup between the tips of his fingers
and thumbs, he gracefully presents it to the great
monarch.

Artaxerxes glances at his cup-bearer as he rises from
his knees, and at once notices something remarkable in
his face. Nehemiah is pale and anxious and troubled ;
his whole face tells of the struggle going on within, and
the king cannot fail to perceive it. ‘Turning to the Rab-
shakeh he asks: ‘ Why is thy countenance sad, seeing
thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of
heart.’ ‘Then,’ says Nehemiah, ‘1 was very sore afraid.’
It is no wonder that he was alarmed, for it was actually
a crime, proscribed by law, for any one to look sad or
depressed in the presence of a Persian king. However
heavy might be his heart, however sorrowful his spirit,
be must cross the threshold of the palace with a smiling



26 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

face, and show no signs in the king’s presence of the
trouble within. But Nehemiah’s face has betrayed him.
What will the king do? Will he dismiss him from
office? Will he degrade him from his high position ?
Will he punish him for his breach of court etiquette?
Or can it be that this is a heaven-sent opportunity in
which he may make his request? He answers at once:

‘Let the king live for ever: why should not my coun-
tenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’
sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are con-
sumed with fire?’ ’

And the king, quite understanding from Nehemiah’s
speech that he wants something from him, asks imme-
diately :

‘For what dost thou make request?’

Oh, what a critical moment! How much depends on
Nehemiah’s answer to this unexpected question! What
shall he say? What dare he propose? The whole
future of Jerusalem may hang on hig answer to the
king’s question.

There is a moment’s pause, but only a moment’s, and
then Nehemiah’s answer is given. Only a moment, and
yet great things have been done in that short time. ‘ I
prayed,’ says the Rab-shakeh, ‘ to the God of Heaven.’

Did he then rush away to his own apartment to pray P
Did he kneel down in the midst of the banqueting hall
and call upon his God? No, he spoke no word aloud,
he did not even close his eyes. The king saw nothing,
knew nothing of what was going on; yet a mighty
transaction took place in that short time between the
silent man, who still stood holding the cup in his hands,
and the King of Heaven.



THE KING’S TABLE. 27

We are not told what the prayer was, perhaps it was
only, ‘ Lord, help me.’ But quick as lightning the answer
came. His fear fled, wisdom was given him to answer,
and his heart’s desire was granted.

How often we hear the complaint, ‘1 cannot pray long
prayers, like the good people | read of in books. I lead
a busy active life, and when work is done my body is
weary and exhausted, and I find it impossible to pray
for any length of time, and scmetimes I fear that because
I cannot offer long prayers I cannot therefore be the
Lord’s.’ But surely it is not long prayers that the Lord
requires. Most of the Bible prayers are short prayers,
the Lord’s pattern-prayer is one of the shortest. It is
the heathen who think they will be heard for their
much speaking. Nehemiah’s was a true prayer, and an
answered prayer, yet it was but a moment in length.

Nor are uttered words necessary to prayer. The
followers of Baal cried aloud, thinking their much
shouting would reach the ear of their god, but Nehemiah
speaks not, does not even whisper, and his prayer is
heard in heaven. Surely now-a-days, when there are
some who seem to think that much noise, that loud
shouting, that the uplifted voice must needs pierce the
sky, it is well for us to be reminded that God heeds no
language, hears no voice, but the language of the soul,
the voice of the innermost heart.

Nor is posture a necessary part of prayer. Some
choose to pray standing, others prefer to kneel. It is not
the posture of body God looks at, but the posture of the
heart. BReverence there must be, but such reverence as
comes from the inner sanctuary of the soul, and which
only finds outward expression in the body. Nehemiah



28 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

stood with the jewelled cup in his hands, yet Nehemiah’s
prayer was heard.

So we see that heartfelt prayer—prayer which is
prayer indeed—may be short, silent, and offered in a
strange place and ata strange time, and yet be heard
and answered by God.

Let us try to grasp the full comfort of this thought,
for we live in a world of surprises. We rise in the
morning, not knowing what the day may bring forth.
We are walking on a road with many turnings, and we
never know what may meet us at the next step!

All of a sudden we find ourselves face to face with an
unexpected perplexity. What shall we do? What
course shall we take? Here is the little prayer made
ready for our use—

Lord, guide me.

Then, at the next turn, comes a sudden temptation.
Unjust, cruel words are spoken, and we feel we must
give an angry reply. Let us stop one moment before
we answer, and in that moment put up the short
prayer—

Lord, help me.

Or a sudden danger, bodily or spiritual, stares us in

the face. At once we may lift up the heart and ery—
Lord, save me.

There is no need to kneel down, no need to speak
aloud, no need to move from our place. In the office,
the workshop, the schoolroom, the place of business, the
railway carriage, the street, wherever we may be and in
whatever company, the short silent prayer may be sent
up to the God of heaven.

Thank God, no such prayer is ever unanswered !



CHAPTER III.
The Good Hand.

of kings, who shall give us even a faint idea of its
size ?

It has been calculated that about 100,000,000 stars
can be seen from our world by means of a telescope.
Yet who can grasp such a number as that? Which of.
us can picture in his mind 100,000,000 objects? Let
us suppose that instead of 100,000,000 stars we have
the same number of oranges; let us arrange our oranges
in imagination on a long string, which shall pass through
the centre of each of them. How long will our string
have to be if it is to hold the 100,000,000 oranges? It
will have to be no less than 6,000 miles long, and our
100,000,0C0 oranges will stretch in a straight line from
Iinegland to China.

One hundred million stars, and of all these God is
King. But these are but as a speck compared with His
vast universe. Each telescope that is invented, which
enables us to see a little further into space, discovers
more and more worlds unseen before. Who can even
guess how many still lie beyond, unseen, unnoticed,
unheard of? The regions of space are endless, as God
their Maker is endless.

And all these countless worlds are under the eye of

(aN) : 3 : :
F um mighty universe, the great empire of the King
ql

Kh



30 THE KING'S CUF-BEARER.

the King of kings. He rules all, watches all, guides all.
Can I, then, believe that He will have time to take
notice of my tiny affairs? Can He care if I am sick,
worried, or poor, or depressed? Surely I must be ready
to say with the Psalmist—

“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy
fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast
ordained, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him 2?
and the son of man, that Thou visites$ him?’

Yet that quaint old saying of John Flavel the
Puritan is right, ‘The man who watches for Providence
will never want a Providence to watch.’ In other words,
he who trusts his concerns to a higher power, he who
puts his cause in the Lord’s hands, will never be
disappointed. The God who rules the universe will not
forget to attend to him, but will watch him, and guide
him, and help him, as tenderly as if he was the only
being in that universe.

St. Augustine used to say, ‘Lord, when I look upon
mine own life, it seems Thou hast led me so carefully
and tenderly, Thou canst have attended to none else; but
when I see how wonderfully Thou hast led the world
and art leading it, ] am amazed that Thou hast had
time to attend to such as I.’

How much more must we wonder at God's loving
care, when we look beyond this tiny world to the
countless millions of worlds in the universe!

Nehemiah was watching for Providence. He had
taken his case to God, he had trusted all to Him, and
Nehemiah did not want a Providence to watch; the
God in whom he had put his confidence did not
disappoint him.



THE GOOD HAND. 31

‘Let me go that I may rebuild Jerusalem,’ says the
cup-bearer ; and the great Persian king does not refuse
his request, but (prompted, it may be, by the queen
who was sitting by him) he asks: ‘For how long shall
thy journey be? and when wilt thou return P’

‘And I set him a time.’ How long a time we are not
told. Nehemiah did not return to Persia for twelve
years; but it is probable that he asked for a shorter
leave of absence, and that this was extended later on,
in order to enable him to finish his work.

Cheered and encouraged by the king’s manner, feeling
sure that God is with him and is prospering hin,
Nehemiah asks another favour of the king. The Persian
empire at that time was of such vast extent, that it
reached from the river Indus to the Mediterranean, and
the Euphrates was looked upon as naturally dividing it
into two parts, east and west. Nehemiah asks, ch.1. 7,
for letters to the governors of the western division of
the empire, that they may be instructed to help him
and forward him on his way.

He asks, ver. 8, for something more. There is a
certain man named Asaph, who has charge of the king’s
forest or park (see margin of R.V.). The real word
which Nehemiah used was paradise—the king’s paradise.
The derivation of the word is from the Persian words
Pairi, round about, and Deza, a wall. Up and down
their empire, in various places, the Persian kings had
these paradises—parks or pleasure grounds—surrounded
and shut off from the neighbouring country by a high
fence or wall. These paradises were places of beauty
and loveliness, where the king and his friends might
meet and walk together, and enjoy each other's society.



32 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Is not this the Lord’s own picture of the place He
went to prepare for His people? Did He not say to the
thief on the cross, ‘To-day thou shalt be with Me in
Paradise?’ It was a new name taken by our Lord from
these paradises of the Persian kings, and given by Him
to that new place which He went to prepare for His
people, even the Garden of the Lord, the pleasure ground
of the King of kings, the place to which His people go
when they die. There they enjoy His company, and
see His face, and walk with Him and talk to Him,
waiting for that glorious day when they shall pass from
the garden of the King into the palace itself.

We are not told where this particular paradise was,
of which Asaph was the keeper, but probably it was the
place which the kings of Judah had always made their
pleasure ground. This was at Htam, about seven miles
from Jerusalem, where Solomon had fine gardens, and
had made large lakes of water, fed by a hidden and sealed
spring.

Solomon himself twice used the word paradise of his
gardens, and these are the only places in which the word
occurs in the Old Testament, except in Neh. ii. 8.

Sclomon says, Eccles. ii. 5, ‘I made me gardens and
paradises.’ In Cant. iv. 13 he speaks of ‘ a paradise of
pomegranates, with precious fruits.’

For three purposes Nehemiah wanted wood frora
Asaph’s paradise, and asked the king to give him an
order for it, that he might deliver to the keeper.

He wanted it (1) for the gates of the palace of the
house. The house means the temple, and the palace
should be translated the castle. It was a tower which
stood at the north-west corner of the temple platform,



THE GOOD HAND, 33

and commanded and protected the temple courts. (2) He
required wood for the gates of the wall, and (8) for ‘the
house that I shall enter into,’ i.e. for my own dwelling-
house.

All is granted—the royal secretaries are called, and
are bidden to write the required instructions to the
governors beyond the river, and to Asaph, the bailiff of
the forest. Nehemiah takes no credit to himself that
all has gone so prosperously, he does not praise his own
courage, or wisdom, or tact in making the request, he
knows it is a direct answer to a direct prayer, he recog-
nises the fact that it is God’s doing, and not his.

‘The king granted me, according to the good hand of
my God upon me.’

That was Ezra’s motto, quoted by him again and
again (Hizra vii. 6, 9, 28; viii. 18, 22,81). In all his
deliverances, in every one of his mercies, he had seen
the good hand of his God, and he had taken those words,
‘The good hand of my God upon me,’ as the keynote of
bis praise, and as the motto of his life. But Nehemiah
had in all probability never even seen Ezra, yet here we
find him quoting Ezra’s favourite saying. Can it be
that Hanani, his brother, who had been one of Hzra’s
companions, had repeated it to him? Can it be that in
order to cheer and encourage his brother when he under-
took the difficult task of speaking to the king, he told
him how Ezra was always repeating these words, and
how he found them a sure refuge in time of need? Ifso,
how gladly would Nehemiah hasten to his brother when
his duties in the palace were completed, to tell him that
Bzra’s motto has held good again, for ‘the king granted
me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.’

D



34 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER,

‘The good hand of my God.’ What blessed words!
Let trouble come, or temptation come, or death itself
come, I will not fear. The good hand of my God is over
me. None can pluck me from that hand. ‘All my
times are in Thy hand, O Lord,’ and are safe there from
even the fear of danger. Oh, how blessed to be one so
sheltered, so shielded, underneath the good hand of my

God! But the same hand is against them that do evil.
~ I must either be in the hand, or have the hand raised
against me! Which shall it be?

All is ready now, the preparations are ended, and
Nehemiah, accompanied by his brother Hanani, and by
a royal escort of soldiers, sets forth on his long journey.
Jerusalem, the City of David—how often he had dreamt
of it, how earnestly he had longed to seeit! Now, at
last, his desire is to be granted. The travellers could
not sing, as they rode slowly over the scorching desert,
‘Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem,’ for
the gates of the city were burned with fire, and only a
blackened space showed where each had stood, but they
may have joined together in that other psalm, which
was probably written about this time, Psalm cil.

‘Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the
time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.

‘For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and it
pitieth them to see her in the dust.’

There is no misadventure on the journey, they travel
safely under the care of the king’s guard; but surely
Nehemiah saw adark cloud on the horizon as he handed
in his letters to the governors beyond the river. One
of these was Sanballat, the satrap or governor of
Samaria. His name was an Assyro-Babylonian one,



THE GOOD HAND. 35

so that he was probably descended from one of the
Babylonian families settled in Samaria, and it signifies
‘The Moon God gives life.’ His native place was
Horonaim in Moab. and Sanballat was by nation a
descendant of Lot.

With the Samaritan governor was his secretary
Tobiah, the servant or the feud slave, a man also
descended from Lot, for he was an Ammonite, and
standing evidently very high in Sanballat’s favour.

It was probably Tobiah who read Artaxerxes’ letter
to his master, and very black and gloomy were both
their faces as they heard the news it contained.

At the court of Sanballat was a friend of his, Geshem
the Arabian, the head or chief of a tribe of Arabs, which
we find, from the ancient Assyrian monuments recently
discovered, had been planted in Samaria by Sargon,
King of Assyria. This man Geshem was therefore a
Bedouin, a descendant of Esau. :

These three, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, cannot
conceal their disgust that anyone has been sent from
Persia to look after the welfare of Jerusalem. So far
they have trampled the Jews under foot as much as
possible, and the Jews have been powerless to resist
them. But now here is a man come direct from the
court at Shushan, with letters from their royal master
in his hand, and with orders to rebuild and fortify
Jerusalem,

From that moment Sanballat and his friends became
Nehemiah’s bitter enemies, determined to thwart and to
oppose him to the utmost of their power.

At length the wearisome journey is over, and Nehemiah
arrives in Jerusalem. He tells no one why he has come ;



36 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

but, worn out with the fatigue he has undergone, he
goes quietly to the house of a friend, probably to that
of his brother Hanani, and for three days he rests
there. Then, on the third night after his arrival, when
all Jerusalem is asleep, he rises, mounts a mule or
donkey, and, with a few faithful followers, steals out to
explore for himself the extent of the ruin, to see how
ings really were, what was the state of the walls, and
how wouch had to be done to put them into good repair.
Stealing out of the city on the south side, at the spot
on which in better days the Valley Gate had stood, a gate
which was so called because it opened into the Valley of
Hinnom, he turned into the ravine, and went eastward.
No doubt there was a moon, and by its quiet light he
could see the heaps of rubbish, and the work of the fire
which had destroyed the gates 150 years ago. How sad
and forsaken it all looked in the moonlight, as he turned
‘towards the Dragon’s well’ (see Revised Version). The
site of this Dragon’s Well is very uncertain, but it is
generally identified with Upper Gihon. It is sometimes
confounded with the Virgin’s Fount, called by the Arabs
the Mother of Steps, because there are twenty-seven
steps leading down to it, and the descent is very steep.
This is the only spring near Jerusalem, and its water is
carried by an underground passage to the Pool of Siloam.
It is an intermittent spring, suddenly rising and as sud-
denly falling, at irregular intervals. ‘Two explorers, Dr.
Robinson and Mr. Smith, were just about to measure the
water, when they found it suddenly rising ; in less than
five minutes it had risen a foot, in ten minutes more it
had ceased to flow, and had sunk to its former level.
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38 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Now Nehemiah has seen the work before him, and has
realised that it is both vast and difficult. He is ready
now to put his scheme before the people of Jerusalem.
He finds the city governed by no single man, but by a
kind of town council. He now summons a meeting of
these rulers, and he also invites the nobles and the
working men to be present. Then he makes his appeal :

‘Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth
waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come,
and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no
more a reproach.’

Then, to cheer them on to make the effort, he tells
them how God has helped him up to that point; he tells
them what the good hand has done for him already in
openir g the king’s heart and the king’s purse.

What response does he meet with? As one man that
large assembly rises and joins in the ery, ‘ Let us rise up
and build.” Happy Nehemiah to find such ready help,
to find those he speaks to willing at once to fall in with
his scheme, and to aid him in his work.

It is to be feared that had he lived in our more cautious
and calculating days, Nehemiah would have had many a
bucket of cold water thrown on him and his plan. One
would have risen and would have said, ‘The work is too
. hard, the heaps of rubbish are too great, it is impossible
to undertake such atask. Look at the south-east corner,
who will ever be able to clear away the heaps that have
accumulated there P ’

Another would have been sure to grumble at the
expense, would have asked how they, poor down-trodden
Jews as they were, could ever afford to give time or
money to such a vast undertaking ?



THE GOOD HAND. 39

A third would have risen with a long face, and would
have asked, ‘What will Sanballat say if we rebuild the
wall? What will Tobiah do? What will Geshem
whisper? Now indeed we have no open rupture with
the governors, but who can tell what the result of our
taking action in this matter will be? Surely it is better
to let well alone.’ ;

A fourth would have given as his opinion, that what
had served for 150 years would surely last their time.
True, Jerusalem was forlorn and defenceless, but they
had grown accustomed to it now. It struck Nehemiah,
of course, coming as he did fresh from the glories of
Shushan, but they had become used to it, and he would
soon do the same. There was no need surely to make a
disturbance about it or to run into any risk about it.

A fifth would have suggested, with some warmth, that
surely old inhabitants of the city were better judges of
its requirements than a stranger, and that it was for the
town council to propose such a scheme if they saw the
necessity for it, and not for a new-comer who had been
less than a week in Jerusalem.

These, and countless other objections, might have
been raised, had the meeting been called in our luke-
warm. days.

But the Jerusalem committee did not act thus, they
did not fill Nehemiah’s way with difficulties and his soul
with discouragement. A plain bit of work lay before
him and before them; he was ready to lead, and they
were ready to follow. ‘Let us rise and build,’ they cry.
And ‘they strengthened their hands for this good work.’

Let us take heed that we, as servants of Christ, follow
their example. ‘Let us never be seen with the bucket of



40 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

cold water, ready to throw on the efforts of others for
good. As ‘iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth
the countenance of his friend.’ Let us ever be ready
with the word of encouragement, with the helpful hand,
with the cheering spirit of hope. There is work for us
amongst the ruins of God’s fair world, and the labourers
are few.

Let us then rise and build, each of us in earnest, each
of us encouraging his brother, each of us looking beyond
the diseouragements of earth to the Master’s ‘ Well done,
good and faithful servant.’ :



at

CHAPTER IV.
Co Every Wan his Work.

Lays a year, in the University of Cambridge, there
Js) is a grand day called Commemoration Day. On

that day, in the middle of the service, in each
college chapel a list of honours is read out, a list
containing the names of all those who, in times gone by,
gave money or help to that college. The bodies of those
whose names are read have many of them crumbled to
dust long centuries ago, but their names are remembered
still, remembered for what they have done; and that
they may never be forgotten, they are publicly read
aloud, year by year, on the great Commemoration
Day.

Let us now take up God’s honour list, and see who
are entered upon it. We shall find it filled with the
names of those who have been dead more than 2000
years, but whose names are not forgotten; they stand
out fair and clear in the Book of God, all are entered on
the great list of honours, and are remembered for what
they have done.

Where shall we find God’s great honour list? It is
the list of all those who responded to Nehemiah’s appeal,
and who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. In Neh. ill. we



42 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

have a list of their names, not one is omitted. There
those names have stood for 2000 years; there they will
stand fo the end of time. Brave men, noble men were
those Jews, who, as soon as the scheme was laid before
them, cried, ‘ Let us arise and build;’ and who not only
responded by word of mouth, but who at once set to
work to do what they had promised.

Let us take a walk round the walls of Jerusalem and
watch the builders at work. We will begin where they
began, ver. 1, at the Sheep Gate on the east side of the
city. As we stand by the gate we see beneath us the
Kedron valley, and beyond it the slopes of the Mount of
Olives. Close by us, but inside the city, is the
sheep-market, where the sheep and lambs are sold to
those who wish to sacrifice in the temple, and near this
market is the pool where the sheep are washed before
being led up into the temple courts. This is the pool
mentioned in John v. 2, where in later times lay the
impotent man waiting to be healed.

Who are these who are busily engaged repairing the’
Sheep Gate and the wall beyond it; they are the priests,
who have left their work in the temple courts close by,
and who, with their loins girded and their long white
tunics turned up, are leading, as it was right they should,
the van of Nehemiah’s effort.

Heading these priests, and superintending their work,
is Eliashib the high priest. The meaning of his name
is God restores, @ grand name for the man who began
the restoration of the Holy City. This Eliashib was the
grandson of the high priest Jeshua, who had returned
with Zerubbabel. He is honourably mentioned by
Nehemiah as leading the way in this work; but, sad to



TO EVERY MAN AIS WORK, 43

say, though he earnestly built the wall round the city,
Eliashib was afterward the one who let sin come within
those very walls.

The priests are building from the Sheep Gate as far
as the two towers, Meah and Hananeel, which stood at
the. north-east corner of the city.

We pass on, and next we see a number of men
building; we notice at once, by their dress, that they
are not priests, so we ask them where they come from.
We find they are men of Jericho, the city of palm trees,
fourteen miles away in the Jordan valley. They are the
descendants of the 845 men of Jericho who returned with
the first detachment of Jews in the time of Cyrus. This
piece of the wall has been allotted to them because it
faces their own city Jericho; they are building at the
very spot from which the road started that led from
Jerusalem to Jericho.

Passing the Jericho men we come to a bit of the wall
where one solitary man is working. His name is
Zaccur. He can only have a small piece of the wall
allotted to him, for we are close now upon the Fish Gate,
where other builders are at work, the sons of Hassenaah.
Possibly this Zaccur was a man of no importance, for
_ we never hear of him again; probably his share of the
work was only a small one, yet it was well and faith-
fully done, and his name stands fast in God’s honour
list, and will stand there while the world shall last.

We have come now to the Fish Gate, on the north
side of the city. Close by us is the fish-market, for
through that gate comes all the fish sold in Jerusalem.
Men of Tyre are there with baskets of fish from the
Mediterranean, and Galilean fishermen with fish from



44 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

the great inland sea, on which in later times the
apostles toiled for their daily bread.

Three men, who were probably well-known citizens,
are repairing the three next pieces of the wall, their
names are Meremoth, Meshullam, and Zadok. We will
notice one of these three men, Meshullam, for we shall
hear more of him presently. If Meshullam’s name is
honourably mentioned here as one of the builders of
Jerusalem, we shall find it very differently mentioned
as we go on with Nehemiah’s story.

Passing these three men, we come to a part of the
wall which is being built by the inhabitants of Tekoa,
a small village not far from Jerusalem, whence came
the wise woman whom Joab sent to King David. What
is the matter at this part of the wall? The work does
not get on as it should. They seem to have no leaders,
these people of Tekoa, and to have a long stretch of
wall, and but few hands to build it. We ask how this
is, and we find that some in Tekoa have shirked the
work (ver. 5):

‘Their nobles put not their necks to the work of

their Lord.’ ,
- ‘They have been like oxen, too idle to draw the plough,
which have pulled their necks from under the yoke,
and have stubbornly refused to go forward. So have
these nobles of Tekoa stood aloof, too proud to work
side by side with the common people of the village, or
too idle to join in anything which requires continuous
effort; they have left their poorer neighbours to bear
the burden alone, and to do it or not as they please.

-We are now passing the Old Gate, on the north of
the city, the Damascus Gate of modern days, from



TO EVERY MAN HIS WORK. 45

which goes the great northern road to Samaria and
Galilee.

The men of Gibeon and Mizpah, whose villages lay
near together, we find next on the wall, working side by
side as neighbours should, and building the part of the
wall which faced their own homes, two villages standing
on the hills about five miles from the northern gate.

Coming round the city. we find ourselves passing the
Gate of Ephraim and the Broad Wall. Here we see
no workmen, for that part of the wall does not need
repairing. Uzziah, King of Judah, had built a strong
piece of wall here, about 200 yards long, and the
Chaldeans had not been able to destroy it with the rest

-of the city. This wall was twice the thickness of the
rest, and was always called the Broad Wall.

Near this wall we find men of two different trades
working, goldsmiths and apothecaries. Trades in the
East are almost always hereditary, passing down from
father to son for many generations. Thus these
goldsmiths and apothecaries were joined together in
family guilds or unions, and came forward together to
the work. The apothecaries were the spice makers,
important persons in the Hast, where spices are so
largely used in cooking, and where so many sweet-
smelling and aromatic spices are employed in embalming
the dead.

Then, passing on, we see the tower which protected
the furnaces or brick kilns, in which the bricks were
made which had been used in rebuilding the houses of
the city. So unsettled was the country, that it is
supposed it was found necessary to erect a tower for the
defence of these brick-makers, who were often at work



46 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

by night as well as by day. Close to the furnace tower
we see a strange sight, and one which is well worthy of
our notice. This part of the wall deserves our earnest
attention, for here are actually young ladies engaged in
the work, standing, trowel in hand, toiling away side
by side with the other workmen. Who are these girls?
They are the daughters of Shallum, the ruler of the half
part of Jerusalem (ver. 12) (or rather of the country
round Jerusalem). Shallum was evidently a wealthy
and influential man, but he did not. withdraw from
the work, like the nobles of Tekoa, and so anxious
are his daughters that the Lord’s work should be done,
that here we find them toiling away by their father’s
side. God noticed the effort made by these young
ladies of Jerusalem, and did not forget to notice them
in His great honour list.

Passing on, we come to the part of the wall which
Nehemiah had examined in his moonlight ride. We see
the Valley Gate, the Dung Gate, and the Gate of the
Fountain, opposite the Pool of Siloam. This part of
the city has suffered much from Nebuchadnezzar’s work
of destruction, and the work of rebuilding it is therefore
very heavy. But close to the south-east corner, at the
place where Nehemiah’s mule stumbled and was unable
to proceed, the builders have a stiff piece of work indeed.
The piles of rubbish are so many and so deep, there is
so much to be cleared away before they can commence
building, that we find accordingly the piece given to
each man to repair is not great, and that many hands
are making the labour light.

We notice, too, that most of those who. are working
in this part of the city are repairing that bit of the wall



TO EVERY MAN HIS WORK. 47

_which is immediately opposite their own houses. No
- legs than six times we are told that the builder’s own
house was close to the part of the wall he built.

One man we cannot help watching as we turn round
towards the eastern wall. His name is Baruch, and
there is something about him which attracts our
attention at once. He works as if he were working for
his life, he does not lose a moment; whoever is absent,
Baruch is always at his post; whoever is idle, Baruch
is ever hard at work, early in the morning and late at
night, when the hot sun is scorching the city and when
the night dews are falling, Baruch is always busy,
toiling away on the wall with all his might and main.
Ver. 20 tells us he ‘ earnestly repaired.’ The word means
to be hot, to be on fire with zeal and energy. He
‘earnestly repaired the other piece,’ or as it would be
better translated ‘another piece.’ Having finished his
own portion, in another part of the wall, Baruch has
- come to the rescue at the south-east corner, where the
rubbish is deepest and the work is hardest. Baruch
therefore receives the mark of distinction on God’s list
of honour. Round the corner, on the eastern wall, one
builder we cannot pass without notice, for he is an old
white-headed man. His name is Shemaiah the son of
Shechaniah. We find this man mentioned in 1 Chron.
iii. 22 as a descendant of King David. His son Hattush
had returned with Ezra, twelve years before; now here
is the old man himself, determined not to let his white
hairs prevent him from helping on the good work (ver.
29). He builds by the gate which was his charge, the
Golden Gate, at the east of the temple court and facing
the Mount of Olives.



48 THE KRING’S CUP-BEARER.

The last piece of the wall is being done by the goldsmiths
and the merchants; and now, as we pass them, we find
ourselves again at the Sheep Gate, at the very spot from
which we started in our walk round the city. .

Listen to the ring of the trowels, hearken to the
shouts of the workmen, as they call to one another and
cheer each other on in the work. From morning till
night, day after day, the trowels are kept busy, and the
work goes on, and already, as we-watch, we begin to see
the gaps filled up and the ruin of many years repaired.

It was the work of the Lord, a grand work, a glorious
work, which those builders of Nehemiah were doing, and
God noticed and marked, and put on His list of honour
every one who joined in it.

Times have changed, manners have altered, kingdoms
have.passed away, since the eastern sun streamed upon
Nehemiah’s workmen, but there is still work to be done
for the Lord. The Master’s workshop is still open, and
the Master’s eye is still fixed on the workers, und He
still enters the name of each in a register, His great list
of honour, kept not in earth, but in heaven.

Is my name then on God’s honour list? Am I
working for Him? Am I to be found at my post,
faithfully carrying out the work He has given me to
do?

Looking at the walls of Jerusalem, surely the Lord
would have us learn three great lessons.

(1) Who should work.

(2) Where they should work.

(3) How they should work.

Who should work? What say the walls of Jerusalem?
liveryone without exception. Do we not see people of



TO EVERY MAN HIS WORK. 49

all classes at work—rich men and poor men, people of
all occupations, priests, goldsmiths and apothecaries,
and merchants? men of all ages, the young and strong,
and the old and white-headed? those from all paris of
the country—men of Jericho, and Gibeon, and Mizpah,
side by side with inhabitants of Jerusalem? people of
both sexes, men and women? The goldsmith did not
say, ‘I don’t understand building, therefore I cannot
help.’ The apothecary did not object that it was not
his trade, so he must leave it to the bricklayers and
masons. Old Shemaiah did not say, ‘Surely an old
white-headed man like myself cannot be expected to do
anything.’ The men of Jericho did not complain that
they were fourteen miles from their home, and that
therefore it would be inconvenient for them to help.
The daughters of Shallum did not say, ‘We are women,
and therefore there is nothing for us to do.’

But all came forward, heartily, willingly, cheerfully,
to do the work of their Lord.

There is only one exception, only one blot on the
page, only one dark spot on the register. The nobles of
Tekoa, for 2000 years their names have stood, enrolled
as the shirkers in God’s gtand work.

Who then are to work for God? Every one of us,
whoever we are, whatever is our occupation, whatever
our place of residence, whatever our age, whatever our
sex, the motto in God’s great workshop remains the
same—‘T'o every one his work,’ his own particular work,
to be done by him, and by no one else.

Where then shall we work? Imitate Nehemiah’s
builders; those living in the city built each the piece of
wall before his own door, those living outside built the

E



50 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

part of the wall facing their own village, whilst the
priests built the piece nearest to the temple. Let us
then, as God’s workers, begin at home, working from a
centre outwards; our own heart first, surely there is
plenty of work to do there; then our own family, our
own household, our own street, our own congregation,
our own city, our own country, letting the circle ever
widen and widen, till it reacheth to the furthest corner
of God’s great workshop, to the uttermost parts of the
earth.

How then shall we work? ike Baruch, the son of
Zabbai, hot with zeal, on fire with earnestness and
energy. Baruch did not saunter round the walls to
watch how the other builders were getting on; he stuck
to his post. Baruch:did not work well one day and lie
in bed the next, he persevered steadily and patiently.
Baruch did not work as if he were trying to make the
job last as long as possible, idly pretending to work,
but dreaming all the time, but he worked on bravely,
earnestly, unceasingly, till the work was done. So let
us work while it is called to-day, for the night cometh
when no man can work.

Tt was no easy work those Jerusalem builders had.
Outdoor work in the East is always hard and heavy ; it
is no light matter to stand for hours in the scorching
sun without a particle of shade, toiling on at heavy and
unaccustomed work. But the builders bravely endured,
and were stedfast in the work, and they have their
reward. Their names stand on God’s honour list, not
even the most insignificant amongst them is omitted.

Workers for God, does the work seem hard? Are the
difficulties great ? Are you weary and faint as you keep



TO EVERY MAN HZIS WORK. SI

at your post? Does the hot sun of temptation often
tempt you to throw up the work? Think of Nehemiah’s
builders. Hold on, cheer up, work well and bravely,
remembering that the reward is sure. We read of
certain people who lived at Philippi whose names were
written in heaven. Who were theseP (Phil. iv. 8.)
St. Paul tells us; they were his fellow-labourers, the
workers of God in that city.

No human hand, no hand of angel or archangel,
enters the names on that register, for it is the Lamb’s
book of life. None but the Lamb can open it, none but
He can write in it, none but He will read its contents in
the ears of the assembled universe.

What an honour, what a wonderful joy, what a
glorious reward it will be to each faithful worker, as
he hears his own name read from the list! Surely it
will well repay him for all he has undergone in the
working days of earth.



52

CHAPTER V.
The Sword and the Crowel.

qi sea is calm and quiet, blue as the sky above i,
rb, not a wave, not a ripple is to be seen ; it is smooth
as polished silver, shining like a mirror, and
peaceful as the still lake amongst the mountains. On
‘the sea is a boat, floating along as quietly and as gently
as on a river. The man in the boat is having an easy
time, as he rows out to sea, almost without an effort.
But what is that in the far distance? It is a black
cloud, rising from the sea. In a little time the wind
begins to moan and sigh, white lines are seen on the
distant water, a storm is coming, and coming both
swiftly and surely. The man in the boat at once
rouses himself and prepares for action; it was an
easy thing to go forward when all was still, he will
find it a very different matter to meet the rising storm.
So found Nehemiah the governor. Up to this time
all had gone smoothly and easily, the king had granted
his request fully and freely, Asaph had given him the
wood from the royal ‘paradise, the committee, composed
of the leading men in Jerusalem, had at once fallen in
with his scheme, the people, great and small, men and



THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. 53

women, old and young, had responded to his appeal, the
walls were being rebuilt, the trowels were busy, the
rubbish was being cleared away, and all was bright,
cheerful, and encouraging. As Nehemiah walks round
the city directing the builders, dressed, as a Persian
governor, in a flowing robe, a soft cap, and with a gold
chain round his neck, he feels his work both easy and
pleasant. It is always a light task to direct and
superintend those who have a mind to work, and
Nehemiah for some time went peacefully on his way,
ag the man in his boat rowed easily along in the still,
untroubled water.

But what is that dark cloud rising north of Jerusalem ?
What is that moaning, muttering sound in the far dis-
tance? Can it be a storm coming, a terrible storm of
opposition and difficulty? Surely it is, for we see
Nehemiah rousing himself, and preparing to row his
frail boat through troubled waters.

Sions of the approaching storm had indeed been seen
by him, before the first stone had been placed on the
city wall. No sooner had he revealed his plans to the
people of Jerusalem, no sooner had they responded,
‘We will arise and build,’ than something had occurred
which might well make Nehemiah feel uncomfortable.
A messenger had appeared at the northern gate, bearing
in his hand a letter, written on parchment, and ad-
dressed to the Tirshatha, or governor. Nehemiah
opened the roll, and found it contained an insulting
message from Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, a
message which was evidently expressed in very scornful
and unpleasant words. The upshot of the letter was
this (i. 19):



BA THE KING’S CUP-BEARER,

‘What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against
the king ?’

Do you, Nehemiah, intend to fortify Jerusalem, and
then set up the standard of rebellion against Persia ?
Our master, the king, may be deceived by you, but I,
Sanballat, see through your hypocrisy and your wicked
designs. ,

Nehemiah’s answer was clear and to the point. Three
things he would have Sanballat know:

(1) We have higher authority than that of man for
what we do.

‘The God of heaven, He will prosper us.’

(2) We intend to go on with our work in spite of any-
thing you may say or do.

‘ We His servants will arise and build.’

(3) It is no business or concern of yours. You,
Sanballat, have nothing whatever to do with it.

‘Ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jeru-
salem.’

Be content then, Sanballat, to manage your own
province of Samaria, and to leave Jerusalem and the
Jews to me and to their God.

No answer came back to Nehemiah’s letter, and
perhaps he and his companions fondly dreamed that
this was an end to the matter, that the storm had blown
over, and that Sanballat, when he saw that they were
determined, and that they did not heed his threats or his
ridicule, would in the future let them alone.

But one day, quite suddenly, the clouds returned, and
the storm rose. he work is progressing splendidly.
The priests and the merchants, and the goldsmiths and
the apothecaries, the daughters of Shallum, earnest



THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. 55

Baruch, and white-headed Shemaiah, are all at their
post, when suddenly, as they look up, they see an
unexpected sight. A great crowd of Samaritans is
gathered together outside the northern wall, and is
standing still, staring at them, and watching their every
movement as they build the wall.

Sanballat the governor is there, Tobiah the secretary
stands by his side, his chief counsellors have come with
him, as have also the officers of his army. Dark and
thick the storm is gathering, and surely the builders
feel it, for the trowels cease their cheery ringing sound,
and all are listening, waiting and wondering what will
come next.

The silence is broken by a loud scornful voice, loud
enough to be heard down the line of workers, and by
Nehemiah as he stands among them. He knows that
voice well; it is the voice of Sanballat the governor. In
scoffing disagreeable words he is speaking to his com-
panions, but he is talking about the builders, and is
talking for their benefit too, that they may feel the full
sting of his sarcastic words.

‘What do these feeble Jews?’ A poor weak, miserable
_ down-trodden set of men; what can they do?

‘Will they fortify themselves?’ Do they fondly dream
they will ever finish their work, and fortify their city ?

And how long will it take to build walls like these ?
Do they think it will be done directly? ‘Will they
sacrifice? Will they make an end ina day?’ Do they
expect to offer the sacrifice at the commencement of their
work, and then the very same day to finish it?

Why, they have not even the necessary materials.
Where will they get their stone from? Are they going



56 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

to do what is impossible, to make good, solid building-
stone out of the heaps of rubbish, the crumbling burnt
masses which are all that remain of the old walls?

‘Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of
the rubbish which are burned?’

Then when Sanballat had done speaking, there follows
the loud coarse sneer of Secretary Tobiah. Why if a
fox (or. jackal) tries to get over their miserable wall,
even his light foot will break it down.

‘Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall
even break down their stone wall.’

We can picture to ourselves the burst of laughter with
which this speech would be hailed by the bystanders,
the officers and courtiers of Sanballat.

What does Nehemiah answer? How does he reply to
this cruel ridicule, these sharp, cutting, insolent words,
that provoking laughter ?

If we study Nehemiah’s character, we shall find that
he was a man of quick feelings and of a sensitive nature.
He was not one of those men who are so thick-skinned
that hard speeches are not felt by them. He was
moreover a man of great power and spirit. He must
have felt much inclined to give Tobiah the bitter retort
he so richly deserved, or to call upon his men to drive
Sanballat and his party from the walls.

But Nehemiah speaks not. He does not utter a single
word to Sanballat or to his friends. He remembers that
this is God’s work, not his; and he therefore complains
to God, not man:

‘ Hear, O our God; for we are despised : and turn their
reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey
in the land of captivity.’



THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. 57

Then, quietly and steadily, as if nothing had happened,
he takes up his work again, and the people follow his
example; they take no notice of the jeering company
below, but they build on in silence, all the quicker and
the more carefully for the scoffs of their enemies.

Sanballat and Tobiah soon tire of laughter and
mockery, when they see it ig of no avail; they move
off discomfited, and the work goes on as before.

Satan, the great enemy of souls, is the same to-day
as he was in Nehemiah’s time. He never lets a good
work alone; he never permits Christ’s servants to row
in smooth water, but immediately he sees work done for
the Master, at once he stirs up the storm of opposition.

The young man who is careless about eternity, who
is living simply to please self, has an easy time ; he will
not come across even a ripple of opposition, his sea will
be smooth as glass. But let that young man be aroused,
be awakened, be converted to God, let the good work of
grace be begun in his soul, and at once Satan will stir
up the storm of difficulty and opposition. Very often it
begins, just as Nehemiah’s storm began, in laughter. It
has been said that laughter hurts no one. That state-
ment might be true if we were all body, but inasmuch
ag we have a spirit within us, it is not true that laughter
cannot hurt. Surely it stings, and cuts, and wounds
the sensitive soul, just as heavy blows sting, and cut,
and wound the body. Satan knows this, and he makes
full use of the knowledge.

The man who sets out for heaven will scarcely fail,
before he has gone many steps, to come across a
Sanballat. He will have his taunt and jest all ready.
‘ What is this I hear of you? Have you turned a saint ?

a



58 THE KING S CUP-BEARER.

I suppose you are too good for your old companions
now; you are going to set the whole world to rights.’
Or, if the words are unspoken, Sanballat has the shrug
of the shoulders, and the scornful gesture, which are
just as hard to bear. Nor must the man who has his
face heavenwards be surprised if he hears Tobiah’s
sneer. ‘Ah, wait a bit,’ says Tobiah; ‘let us see if it
will last. Hiven a fox will throw down that wall; the
very first thing that comes to vex him, the very first
temptation, however small, will be sufficient to overturn
the wall of good resolutions, and his religious professions
will lie low in the dust, and will be shown to be nothing
but rubbish.’

It is well to be prepared for Sanballat and Tobiah,
for any day we may come across them. How shall we
answer them? Let us follow in Nehemiah’s footsteps,
let us turn from man to God. He hears the taunt, even
as it is spoken, and He says to each of His tried,
tempted children:



‘For My Name’s sake, canst thou not bear that taunt,
That cruel word ?

Is not the sorrow small, the burden light,
Borne for thy Lord ?

For My Name’s sake, I see it, know it all,
Tis hard for thee,

But I have loved thee so, my child, canst thou
Bear this for Me?’

Sanballat and Tobiah have moved away from the
walls of Jerusalem, and the work goes on prospering ;
the gaps are being filled up, and already the wall is half
its intended height (iv. 6), for the people had a mind
to work, and much can be done in.a short.time when



THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. . 59

that is the case. Not a word more has, for some time,
been heard of Sanballat, and perhaps the builders
fancied and hoped they had seen the last of their
enemies, when one day, suddenly, dreadful news is
brought into the city.

Sanballat and his friends, having failed to stop the
work by laughter and mockery, are going to take
stronger measures, and have agreed to resort to force.
Dark secret plots are being formed to gather an army
together, and to come suddenly upon the defenceless
builders and kill them at their work.

All the surrounding nations are invited to join
Sanballat in his enterprise. Not only the Samaritans
in the north, but the men of Ashdod from the west, the
Avabiang from the south, and the Ammonites from the
east, are gathering together against Jerusalem. Psalm
lxxxiii. is supposed by many to have been written at this
time, and describes the great storm. as it arose, and
threatened to destroy the defenceless city (Psalm Ixxxiil.
1-8).

Poor Nehemiah! he sees the raging of the waters, and
he feels that the little boat needs a careful hand at
the helm. He has a double receipt against this new
opposition—a receipt which may be summed up in the
two words which the Master has given us as our watch-
word—Watch and pray.

‘Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and
seta watch against them day and night.’

But the billows rose higher. Three mighty waves
came sweeping on, and threatened to swamp Nehemiah’s
frail vessel.

(1) The builders grew discouraged and tired. The cry



60 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

was raised inside the city, ‘We had better give up
attempting to work, the rubbish is too deep, it will never
be cleared away, the men who are carrying it away are
worn out, we cannot build the wall, it is of no use to try
any longer.’

Ver. 10: ‘And Judah said, The strength of the bearers
of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so
that we are not able to build the wall.’

(2) News was brought in from all sides, that any day,
any night, at any moment, a sudden attack might be
expected, for their enemies were boasting loudly to all
they met that they were confident of taking the builders
by surprise. _

Ver. 11: ‘And our adversaries said, They shall not
know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them,
and slay them, and cause the work to cease.’

And not only was there discouragement inside the city
and threatened danger without, but the number of hands
was lessened upon the city wall, for (8) men arrived from
different parts of the country, saying that it was abso-
lutely necessary that their brethren who had come up
to work on the wall should at once return home. They
were needed to guard their families and their homes
from the approaching foe. Ten times over Nehemiah
received deputations of this kind (ver. 12); and the
spirits of the builders sank lower and lower.

But Nehemiah, like a true leader, rises to the occasion,
and does not allow himself to be cast down. He did not
make light of the difficulties he saw around him, but he
manfully faced them, and in the hour of trial his people
did not desert him.

One day, ver. 14, looking towards the north, Nehemiah



THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL,. OI

suddenly saw the enemy coming. ° But all was ready ;
the weapons were laid where they could be taken upina
moment. No sooner is the alarm given than the work
ceases, and the whole company of builders is changed
into an army of soldiers, and swords, and spears, and
' bows are to be seen on the walls instead of trowels and
hammers. Nehemiah had carefully arranged the position
which each man was to occupy; he drew up his soldiers
after their families, probably giving to each family the
part of the wall nearest to their own house, that they
might feel that they were fighting for their homes, their
wives, and their children. Then when all were put in
readiness Nehemiah called upon them to be brave in the
defence of their city, and not to fear the foe.

‘Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which
is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your
sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.’

The enemy approaches; but instead of taking Jerusa-
lem by surprise, as they had boasted they would, they
find they are expected, and will meet with a warm
reception if they advance farther. They are afraid to
make the attempt; God guards the faithful city, and
Sanballat and his allied forces withdraw discomfited.
No sooner has the enemy beaten a retreat than the work
begins again.

‘We returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his
work,’

But, from that time, the sword and the trowel must
never be parted. Each builder worked with a sword
hanging by his side; each porter held a hod in one hand,
and a weapon in the other. They were always on the
alert, ever ready for action.



62 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Nehemiah had brought with him from Shushan a
large following of faithful servants or slaves ; on these he
could thoroughly rely. He divided them into two parties,
half worked at the building, filling up the gaps left by
- those who had returned home; the rest stood behind
them, guarding the weapons, the shields, and the spears,
and the bows, and the swords which were laid ready for
immediate use. By Nehemiah’s side stood a trumpeter,
ready to blow an alarm at the first sight or sound of the
enemy.

For, says Nehemiah, ‘I said unto the nobles, and to
the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is
great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one
far from another. In what place therefore ye hear the
sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our
God shall fight for us.’

So the work and the watching went on all day long,
and when the sun set over the Mediterranean, and the
stars came out in the quiet sky, and darkness made the
work impossible, still the watching went on as before.
Those who had laboured at the building all day lay
down and slept, whilst others kept guard on the wall.
The workmen who lived outside the walls were requested
by Nehemiah to stay in the city all night, in order to
increase the strength of their force. As for the governor
himself and the little body of faithful servants, they
gave themselves hardly any rest, either by night or by
day. They were almost always on duty, not one of them _
even undressed all that long time of watching; if they ,
laid down to sleep, they laid in their clothes, ready at
any moment for the attack of the enemy (chap. iv. 28).

Thus, day by day, the work grew and the walls rose



THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. 63

higher, strong lines of defence once more encircled the
city, and the prayer of the captives in Babylon, offered
so earnestly and amongst many tears, was already
receiving an abundant answer.

‘Do good-in Thy good pleasure to Zion, build Thou
the walls of Jerusalem.’

The scene changes. Nehemiah and his workmen fade
away ; the walls of Jerusalem become dim and obscure,
and, in their place, we see coming out, as in a dissolving
view, other figures and another landscape. We see the
Master, Christ Jesus, standing in the midst of His
countless labourers and workmen, the great company of

-His faithful servants. We notice that each one is
working busily at the special work the Master has
given him to do, we see that this work is very varied,
no two labourers have exactly the same task. But in
one respect we notice that all the Master’s servants are
alike, they all carry a sword, for it is not possible for
any one to be a worker for Christ without also being at
the same time a soldier.

Nor is it difficult to see the reason of this, for, if
we serve Christ, we are certain to meet with opposition.
The mighty hosts of hell will come against us, to hinder
and te oppose us.

Let us, then, be prepared for their attack. Let us
set a watch against them. Satan and his forces always
watch for our weakest point. Let us find out what that
point is. What is the weak part of our defences? Is
it selfishness? Is it pride? Is it prayerlessnessP Is
it temper? Is it an unkind spirit? Whatever it is by
which we are most easily led astray, that is our weak
spot, and there we ought to set a double watch. David



64 THE KING'S CUP.BEARER.

had his weak spot, and he knew it: unguarded, hasty
words were ever coming out of his mouth, but he found
out the weak point in his defences, and there he set
a strong and powerful guard. He called upon God
Himself to keep out the enemy at that weak place:

‘Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth. Keep the
door of my lips.’

Let us not only watch, but let us ever be ready to
fight. Never let us iay down the sword of the Spirit,
or the shield of faith. Never fora moment let us put
off our armour, for we never know when the next attack
may come. The unguarded moment is the moment for
which Satan always watches, and which he knows only
too well how to use.

Above all, let us pray, for the watching and the
fighting will be of no avail unless we ask and obtain
strength from on high. ‘Our God shall fight for us,’
cried Nehemiah to his discouraged men. But they had
prayed day and night for the help which bore them
safely through. ‘Ye have not, because ye ask not.
Ask, and ye shall receive.’

‘Christian, seek not here repose,
Cast thy dreams of ease away,
Thou art in the midst of foes,
Therefore, Watch and pray.
CGird thy heavenly armour on, i
Wear it ever night and day, i

Near thee lurks the evil one,
Therefore, Watch and pray.’



65

CHAPTER YI.
Che World's Bible.

voices, a cry which resounds through the streets of

the city, and which is echoed by the surrounding
hills. What can be the matter? What can be the
cause of this mournful wail ?

There was a great ery in Egypt on that awful night,
when there was not a house in which there was not one
dead. That was the great cry of terror.

Hsau raised a great cry when he found that he
had lost his father’s blessing, the great cry of
disappointment.

There arose a great cry in the council chamber of
Jerusalem, when the Apostle Paul stood before his
judges,—the ery of conflicting opinion.

- But the great ery which is sounding in our ears now
is no ery of terror or of disappointment, and the men
who join in it are all of one mind; yet the cry is none
the less bitter or heartrending. As we listen to it, we
can distinguish the shrill voices of women mingled with
_the deeper ones of men, and we notice also, that,
although the cry is one of sorrow and distress, there ig
a deep undertone of anger and complaining.

F

oh GREAT cry, a piercing cry, raised by hundreds of
oh



65 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

Who are crying, and what is the cause of their
distress? Who are crying? An excited mob of men
and women, standing in the streets of Jerusalem.
Look at them well, surely we know some of their faces.
Is it possible, can it be, that we recognize some of those
whom we saw working so happily and cheerfully on the
walls? What a change, what a terrible change in their
faces !

What is the cause of their distress? What can
have happened to move them so deeply? Have the
Samaritans returned to attack the city? Are the walls
on which they have spent so much labour overturned
and laid low in the dust? No, all without is peaceful,
there is no sound of war in the streets, and the hills
around stand out brightly in the sunshine, and are
untrodden by the foot of any foe. The trouble is at
home this time, and as poor Nehemiah listens to the
dismal noise, and as he tries to still the shrill cries, that
his voice may be heard, and as he watches the people
rocking to and fro, as Hasterns do when moved by
sorrow, he may well feel downcast and disappointed,
for a city divided against itself cannot stand, and as
Nehemiah listens to the cry, he clearly sees that, at
that moment, Jerusalem, the city he loves best on earth,
is indeed a divided city.

Who then were these citizens of Jerusalem, these men
and these women, who raised the great cry? They were
the poorer classes of the city; it was a cry of the poor
against the rich, a cry like that which was raised all over
France at the time of the French Revolution, a cry for
bread.

Nehemiah listens carefully to the cry and complaints



THE WORLD'S BIBLE, 67

ofthe people, and as he does so he feels sure they are
not raised without cause. There is undoubtedly great
and distressing poverty in the city, and he finds that this
may be traced to three principal causes.

(1) The King of Persia had only allowed the returned
captives a very small tract of country to live in. The
rest of the land was filled up by the Samaritans, the
Arabians, the Edomites and other nations who had
settled in Palestine whilst the rightful owners were in
Babylon. Consequently, as their families increased, the
Jews found this narrow strip of country was not sufficient
to maintain them, and, as is always the case, over-
population and over-crowding was followed by great
poverty.

(2) Then there had evidently been a severe famine,
which had made matters worse, for there had been
numbers of mouths to feed and barely anything to feed
them on. No country is more subject to famine than
Palestine, for the harvest there is entirely dependent on
the rainfall. There are but few springs, there is no river
but the Jordan, and that runs in a deep ravine; the
whole fertility of the country hangs on the amount of
rain that falls in autumn and winter. Norain means no
corn, no corn means starvation, and the people know it
well. Nowhere on earth are there such fervent prayers
for rain, prayers which are offered by Turk, Jew, and
Christian alike, as there are in Palestine to this very
day, if the rainy season is passing away and a sufficient
quantity of rain has not fallen.

(3) Then Nehemiah found there was a third cause of
distress. Every year, in addition to earning money to
keep his wife and children alive, the poor man had to be



68 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

ready for a visitor, and this visitor never received a very
hearty welcome. Once a year there arrived at his door
an official sent by the King of Persia. He was the tax-
collector, sent to collect the tribute which had to be paid
yearly to their master, the great sovereign at Shushan.
Whatever else went unpaid, that tribute must be paid; |
whatever other debts they incurred, that sum must be
paid in full, and paid at once.

Over-population, famine, tribute, it was no wonder
that the people were so poor.

But the great cry in the streets of Jerusalem was not
merely a cry of suffering and distress; it was an angry
complaining cry; it was the cry of those who felt that
others were to. blame for their sorrows.

As Nehemiah walks amongst the weeping crowds, and
as he talks to the people one by one, he finds that there
are no less than three sets of complainants.

(1) There are the utterly poor people, those who have
no private means whatever, but who are entirely
dependent on the work of their hands and on the wages
they get for that work. These come to Nehemiah and
pour out their sorrowful tale. ‘We,’ they say, ‘have
large families, for

“We, our sons, and our daughters, are many.’

But ‘Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of
them,’ so runs the Psalm, and are not children a heritage
and gift that cometh of the Lord? Yet when the quiver
is more than full (for a quiver only held four arrows), and
when bread is scarce and work bad, it needs faith to trust
the children which the Lord has given to His care, and
to feel sure that He who sent them will send the bread
to feed them.



THE WORLD'S BIBLE. 69

‘Now,’ say these overburdened parents to Nehemiah,
‘we cannot let our children starve. We have been
building this wall and earning nothing, but we have had
to eat all these weeks; we have been obliged to take up
corn for our families lest they should die, and the
consequence is we have run very heavily into debt’
(ver. 2). That was the first class of complainants.

(2) But amongst the weepers Nehemiah found a
second class, those who had once been somewhat better
off, and had, in happier days, owned a little property,
and had some means of their own, but who, at the time
of the late famine, had got into difficulties. ‘I,’ said
one, ‘had a little farm in a village near Jerusalem.’ ‘I,’
' said another, ‘was the owner of a nice little vineyard or
oliveyard on the hill side” ‘I,’ said a third, ‘ built a
house in the city on my return from captivity, and hoped
to leave it to my children.’ ‘But so terrible was our
distress in the famine,’ say these men, ‘that we were
obliged to borrow money of our neighbours the rich
Jews in Jerusalem. They were willing to lend the
money, but they required security for it, and we were
compelled to pledge or mortgage our little property to
these men, and now times are still bad, and we see no
hope whatever that we shall be able to buy our little
possessions back again’ (ver. 8).

(8) But the shrillest cries of all came from the third
class of complainants. These were men who, up to a
certain point, resembled the second class. They had
once possessed a little property, but in the time of
famine they had parted with their lands, their houses,
and their vineyards like the rest. But the story of the
third class did not end here, these had since then got



7O THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

into still worse difficulties. The tax-collector had come
round to collect the tribute for Artaxerxes, and he had
demanded immediate payment. They had, however,
nothing to give him. What could they do? They were
obliged once more to borrow money of their rich
neighbours, who lent it to them at the rate of 12 per
cent. (one eighth part of the money to be paid
monthly). And what pledge, what security did these
nobles require for their money? The poor people had
already lost their houses and their vineyards, there was
nothing left to them but their children, and actually the
son or the daughter was pledged or mortgaged to the
rich money-lender. If the heavy interest is not paid, at
any moment the child may be seized, and carried off to
the noble’s house to be brought up as a slave. ‘ Nay,’
ery some of the mothers in the crowd, ‘ our case is worst
of all; some of our daughters have been taken as slaves
already, and we have no power to redeem them. Yet
we love our children just as much as these rich people
love theirs, they are just as dear to us as eu are to
them ’ (ver. 5).

‘ And then,’ says Nehemiah, ‘ when I had heard their
ery and listened to their tale, I was very angry.’ But
surely it was wrong of Nehemiah to be angry. Is not
anger a bad thing? . Is it not one of the works of the
devil, which we are bidden to lay aside ?”

Yet what says St. PaulP ‘Be ye angry, and sin not.’
So it is possible to be angry, and yet to be sinless. And
we read, Mark ii. 5, that, in the synagogue at Capernaum,
the Lord Jesus looked round on the hard-hearted
Pharisees with anger ; and in Him was no sin.

Nehemiah was very angry, yet Nehemiah sinned not



THE WORLD'S BIBLE. 7Y

in being so, for it was anger at sin, anger at the wrong-

‘doing which was bringing disgrace on his nation, anger
at the conduct which was offending God and doing harm
to God’s cause. It was righteous anger against the
cruelty and selfishness of those who, in those hard
times, had profited from the poverty and distress of
their poor fellow countrymen.

For some time Nehemiah did nothing, but he carefully
‘turned the matter over inhismind. He says, ‘I consulted
with myself,’ or as it is in the margin, ‘My heart
consulted in me.’ We can picture him pacing up and
down, saying again and again, What shall I do? What
is the wisest course to take? How can this great evil
be stopped? Doubtless, too, he took this trouble, as he
had taken all his other anxieties and cares, and laid it
before the God of heaven.

Then he sends for the nobles and all those who had
cppressed the people, and he gives them very plainly
his mind on the matter:

‘I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto
them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother.’

And thereby they had broken the law, for no Jew was
allowed to take interest, or increase, of another Jew,
much less to exact usury: see. Mxod. xxii. 25; Ezek.
xviii. 8, 17.

The Hebrew was to look upon every other Hebrew as
his brother, and to treat him as such. There was to be
brotherly love in time of misfortune, such love as would
prevent the receiving of increase from the one who was
in trouble. With reoard to the mortgaging of land, it
does not seem that these rich men had actually broken
‘the law, such pledges were allowed, provided that the



72 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

property mortgaged was returned in the year of jubilee.
But, whilst they had not broken the letter of the law,
these Jews had certainly acted in a hard, self-seeking
way, showing no sympathy whatever for the sorrows of
those around them.

How different was this from the generous conduct of
Nehemiah himself! All the time of his government he
drew no taxes or contributions from the people over whom
he ruled, as other governors did, and as his predecessors
in Jerusalem had done. THastern governors in’ those
days, like Turkish governors now, were accustomed to
farm their provinces. That is to say, the king allowed
them no salary, but he put the taxation of the people in
their hands. A certain fixed sum was to be sent to him
every year from the province ; and whatever the governor
could grind or squeeze out of the people, over and above
this stated amount, went into his own pocket and formed
his salary. Jerusalem now-a-days rings with many a
cry of distress caused by the unjust means used by the
pacha to increase his stipend by putting fresh burdens
on the people. The former Jewish governors had made
as much as forty shekels a day, or £1,800 a year out of
the people in their province. But when Nehemiah came
to Jerusalem, he found the people so poverty-stricken
and oppressed that he would not take a single penny for
himself. It is probable that his salary as cup-bearer had
been continued, and on this he lived and kept his
household going all the time of his government. Not
only so; not only did Nehemiah pay all his private
expenses, but he kept open house for the people of
Jerusalem; every day 150 of the rulers and chief men
dined with him, besides all the visitors to Jerusalem,



THE WORLD'S BIBLE, 73

- Jews from other countries, strangers from foreign nations
who were staying but a short time in the city, all of
whom were invited to the governor’s house, and sat down
at the governor’s table.

Nehemiah himself gives us his daily bill of fare,
ver. 18.

1 ox.

6 fat sheep.

Fowls without number.

A fresh supply of wine of all kinds stored in every
tenth day.

It was no small expense to have above 150 men to
dinner daily, yet for all this Nehemiah took not a penny
from his province, so touched was he to the heart by the
poverty of the people. Not only so, but all the time the
walls were being built he toiled away, and allowed all his
household servants to work both night and day, and yet
looked for no payment or compensation, ver. 16. Then
besides all this, Nehemiah had been most generous in
the time of the famine; he had supplied the poor people
with money and with corn, and yet he had firmly
refused to allow them to pledge or mortgage their lands,
much less their children, ver. 10.

And Nehemiah tells us the secret of his consistent
conduct; he tells us why he differed so much from the
governors who went before him. him back from sin.

‘So did not I, because of the fear of God.’

_ Thus Nehemiah had a right to speak, for he practised
what he preached. But in spite of this, his private
appeal to the nobles appears to have been in vain. They
seem to have given no answer, to have taken no notice



74, THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

of his appeal, and to have given him no reason to think
that they intended to change their conduct.

So he set a great assembly against them. He called
a monster meeting of all the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
rich and poor, for he felt that if their conduct was
publicly exposed and condemned, they. might possibly be
ashamed to continue It.

Nehemiah’s speech at the meeting was very much to
the point. He first tried to shame the nobles by
reminding them that whilst he, ever since his return, had
been spending his money in buying back those Jews who
had been sold into slavery to the heathen round, they
on the other hand had actually been doing the very
opposite, bringing their fellow citizens into slavery to
themselves. Was this right, or fair, or just? The
argument told, noone could answer it, there was dead
silence, ver. 8. :

Now, says Nehemiah, consider: ‘Ought ye not to
walk in the fear of our God?’ Ought ye not to be careful
in your conduct, kind, and just, and generous in your
dealing? And why?

‘Because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies.’

Because you Jews are God’s people, and all these
heathen round will judge your God by what you are.
You make a profession of religion, you claim to have
high motives; but if they see you grasping, greedy, hard,
like themselves, what will they think of your religion?
Surely they will say, ‘These Jews are no better than
ourselves, their religion cannot be worth much.’

Now, says Nehemiah, remembering all this, bearing in
mind the disgrace you are bringing upon the name of
Jew, I call upon you at once to give up this practice of



THE WORLD'S BIBLE. ro

mortgaging and pledge-taking. Not only so, but I bid
you restore at once the vineyards and the oliveyards,
the fields and the houses, you have taken from these poor
people. I bid you also return the interest they have
paid you (the eighth part of the money), and I call
upon you, in every way you can, to undo the evil you
have done already, and for the future to do unto others
as you would they should do to you, vers. 10, 11.

Nehemiah’s earnest words prevailed,

‘Then said they, We will restore them.’

This promise was followed by a very curious act on
the part of Nehemiah.

‘TI shook my lap.’

The lap is what the Latins called the sinus, a fold in
the bosom of the tunic, which was used as a pocket.
Eastern-like, Nehemiah used a sign to show what will
happen to any man who shall break the promise he had
just made. God will cast him forth as a homeless
wanderer, emptied of all his possessions, all his ill-gotten
wealth. He shall be void or empty, just as Nehemiah’s
pocket was void or empty, ver. 13.

‘And all the congregation said, Amen.’

Then, instead of the great ery of distress, was heard
the great shout of joy, for

They ‘praised the Lord.’

And the promise was not one of those promises made
to be broken, for

‘The people did according to this promise.’

It has been well said that Christians are the only
Bible that men of the world read. In other words, those
who will not read the Bible themselves, judge the reli-
gion of Christ simply by the Christians they happen to



76 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

come across. This is not a fair way of judging; it
surely cannot be right to condemn Christianity itself,
because some of those who profess it are not what they
ought to be.

Let us picture to ourselves an island in the Pacific
Ocean, where no European has ever been seen. A large
ship is wrecked not far from this island, and three men
are able to make their escape in a boat, and to land
upon its shore. The men belong to three different
nations—one is a Frenchman, another is a German, and
the third isan Englishman. The people of the island
receive them most kindly, warm them, and feed them,
and shelter them, and do all they can for them till a ship
shall come to take them away.

What return do the three men make for their kind-
ness? The Frenchman is grateful, and willing to make .
himself useful in any way: he can: he amuses the
children and helps in the work of the house, and does
all he can to make return for the hospitality he is
receiving. ‘The German is very clever with his fingers,
and spends his time in teaching the natives to make
many things which they had not been able to do before;
he becomes indeed so helpful to them that they dread
the day coming when he will have to leave them. But
the Englishman is a man of low tastes and bad morals.
He spends his time in drinking the spirit he finds on the
island, in quarrelling with the inhabitants, and in ill-
treating their children; there is not a soul on the island
who does not rejoice when the ship bears him away,
never to return.

Soon after this, news is brought that a small colony
from Europe is anxious to settle on that island, and to



THE WORLD'S BIBLE, 77

trade with the inhabitants. ‘The commercial advantages
of this step are laid before the natives, and leave is asked
for the party of traders to land. One question, and one
question only, is asked by the inhabitants. Of what
nation are these colonists? The answer is brought back,
They are English. At once the whole island is up in
arms. They shall not land, they cry, we will not hear
of it; we know what English people are, we have had
plenty of the English. Had they been French or
Germans we would have given them a hearty welcome,
but we never wish to sée an Englishman again.

But surely that was not fair, it was not right to judge
a whole nation by one bad specimen. Nor is it right to
judge the followers of Christ in that way. I know a
man, says one, who is hard and grasping and self-seek-
ing, and that man makes a religious profession, therefore
I will have nothing to do with religion. I know a
Christian who is bad-tempered; I know a Christian
who is not particular about truth; I know a Christian
out of whose mouth come bitter, unkind words; I know
a Christian who is unpleasant in his manner; I know a
Christian with whom I should be sorry to do business ;
I know a Christian who is always mournful and miser-
able. These are your Christians, are they? Then do
not ask me to be one; I have no opinion of any of
them.

Yet, after all, the man who speaks thus draws an
unfair conclusion. Because I find in my bag of gold
one bad half-sovereign, or even two or three bad ones,
am I therefore to throw all the rest away? And because
one Christian, or several Christians, disgrace their
Master, and act inconsistently, am I therefore to con-



78 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

demn Christianity itself? Am I therefore to cut off my
own soul from all hope of safety ? s

But, remembering this, bearing in mind that many
eyes are on us, that our conduct is being read, our
ways watched, our actions weighed, our motives sifted,
Christian friends, let us walk carefully. Do not let us
bring disgrace on our Master, do not let us hinder others
and be a stumbling-black in their way; do not let us
give the world a wrong idea of Christ.

We are not half awake, we are not half careful enough ;
let us walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Let
us, whenever we have been tempted to any inconsis-
tency, be able to take up Nehemiah's brave noble words, »

‘So did not I, because of the fear of God.’

T could not get into a temper, I could not be hard or
grasping, I could not do that piece of sharp practice, I
could not stoop to that deceit, I could not disgrace my
Master, because in my heart was a principle holding me
back from sin, the fear of the Lord. I feared to grieve
the One who loved me, and that fear kept me safe. ‘So
did not I, because of the fear of God.’



CHAPTER VII.

Crue to his Post.

(y iors wife was changed into a pillar of salt; and if that

“iy pillar still remained, we should see her to-day

standing in exactly the same attitude in which she
was standing when death suddenly came upon her.

About a hundred years ago, a baker in the south of
Italy sunk a well in his garden ; and whilst doing so he
suddenly came upon a buried city, a city which had been
lost to the world for 1800 years. The underground city
was no empty place; it was peopled with the dead, and
these were found in the very attitude and position in
which death had overtaken them, standing, sitting,
lying, just as they had been on that awful day when
Mount Vesuvius sent out terrible showers of ashes,
destroying them all.

Very various were the positions of the dead in that
buried city. Many were in the streets, in the attitude
of running, trying to make their escape from the city
gate; others were in deep vaults whither they had gone
for safety, crouching, in their fear of what might fall
upon them; others were on staircases and flights of
stone steps leading to the roof, in the attitude of climbing
to a place where they hoped the lava might not bury

«a



80 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

them. Two men were found by the garden gate of a
large and beautiful mansion. One was standing with
the key in his hand, a handsome ring on his finger, and
a hundred gold and silver coins scattered round him.
The other, who was probably his slave, was stretched on
the ground, with his hands clutching some silver cups and
vases. These men had evidently been suffocated whilst
trying to carry off the money and treasure.

But one man in that buried city deserves to be
remembered to the end of time. Who was he? One
Roman soldier, the brave sentinel at the gate. There he
had been posted in the morning, and there he had been
bidden to remain. —

And how was he found? Standing at his post, with his
hand still grasping his sword, faithful unto death. There,
by the city gate; whilst the earth shook and rocked,
whilst the sky was black with ashes, whilst showers of
stones were falling around him, and whilst hundreds of
men, women and children brushed past him as they fled
in terror from the city, there he stood, firm and unmoved.
Should such a man as I flee? thought the sentinel.
And in that same spot, in that post of duty, he was
found 1800 years after, faithful to his trust, faithful
unto death.

Oh, that the Lord’s soldiers were more like that brave
man in Pompeii! Itis so easy to begin a thing, so hard
to stick to it; so easy to start on the Christian course,
so difficult to persevere; so easy to enlist in the army,
so very hard to stand unmoved in the time of danger or
trial. Yet what says the Master? He that endureth to
the end (and he alone) shall be saved. What says the
Captain? that it is the soldier who is faithful unto



TRUE TO HIS POST. 81

death (and no one else) who shall receive the crown
of life.

Who then amongst us are faithful, true and unmoved ?
Who amongst us can stand firm in spite of Satan’s
efforts to lead us aside? Who can hold on, not for a
week only, but still faithful as the weeks change into
months, and the months into years, faithful unto death ?
About 100 years before the time of Nehemiah, there
lived a wise old Chinaman, the philosopher Confucius.
Looking round upon his fellow-men, Confucius said that
he noticed that a large proportion of them were ‘ Copper-
kettle-boiling-water men.’ The water in a copper kettle,
said Confucius, boils very quickly, much more quickly
than in an iron kettle; but the worst of it is that it just
as quickly cools down, and ceases to boil.

So, said Confucius, is it with numbers of my fellow-
men: they are one day hot and eager, boiling over with
_ weal in some particular cause; but the next day they
have cooled down, and they take no interest in it what-
ever. Soon up, soon down, like the water in a copper
kettle.

Just so is it in the service of God. There are, sad to

say, many copper-kettle-boiling-water Christians, hot
and earnest in the work of God one moment, but in
the next they have cooled down, and are ready to leave
the work to take care of itself.
. But Nehemiah was no copper-kettle-boiling-water
man, he comes before us as a man faithful to his post,
standing firm to his duty, a man whom no one could
draw from his work, or cause to swerve from what he
knew to be right.

The Samaritans have made a mighty effort to stop

G



82 THE KING’S CUP.BEARER,

Nehemiah’s great work, the building of the walls of
Jerusalem. They began with ridicule; but the builders
took no notice of the shouts of laughter, but built on as
before. Then they tried to stop the work by force; but
they found the whole company of builders changed, as
by a magic wand, into an army of soldiers, ready and
waiting for their attack. Now the news reaches them,
chap. vi. 1., that the walls are progressing, that the gaps
are filled up, the different pieces are joined together, and
that nothing now remains but to put up the gates in the
various gateways.

They feel accordingly that no time is to be lost; they
must, in some way or other, put a stop to Nehemiah
and his work at once. They determine, therefore, to.
try a new plan, they will entrap Nehemiah by stratagem
and deceit. So they send an invitation to Jerusalem,
begging him to meet them in a certain place, that there
they may settle their differences by a friendly conference.

Sanballat is to be there as the head of the Samaritans,
Geshem as the head of the Arabians, and Nehemiah as
the head of the Jews; and surely, meeting in a friendly
way, and embued with a friendly spirit, nothing will be
easier than quietly and peacefully to confer together,
and then to arrange matters in a comfortable and
satisfactory manner.

The place appointed for the meeting is the Plain of
Ono—the green, beautiful plain between the Judean hills
and the Mediterranean—called elsewhere the Plain of
Sharon. There in later days stood Lydda, the place
where St. Peter healed Auneas; there stood Joppa, from
which Jonah embarked; there, at the present day, may
be seen fields of melons and cucumbers, groves of orange



TRUE TO HIS POST. 83

and lemon trees, and fields of waving corn. Nehemiah
would have a journey of about thirty miles before he
reached the appointed meeting-place.

Sanballat’s proposal sounded very fine and even very
friendly, but it was a trap. His real desire was to
tempt Nehemiah from behind the walls of Jerusalem, to
entice him to a safe distance from his brave friends and
companions, and then to have him secretly assassinated.
Who then would ever hear again of the power of Jeru-
salem? Who then would ever see the gates put in their
places ? ,

Is Nehemiah moved from his post of duty by San-
ballat’s message? Does he leave his work at once, and
set off for the Plain of Ono? Look at his decided
answer.

‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come
down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and
come down to you?’

God’s work would be done better, and with more
success, if all His workmen were like Nehemiah. But,
alas! many who call themselves workers for God are
ready to run off from the work at every call, every
invitation, every appeal from the world, the flesh, or the
devil. I am doing a great work, but there is that
amusement I want to take part in, the work must be
left to-day.

Iam doing a great work; but Ido not feel inclined for
it just now, I feel idle, or the weather is too cold to go
out, or the sun shines so brightly I should like a walk
Instead, I must leave my work to others to-day.

I am doing a great work; but I love my own ease,
or pleasure, or convenience, better than I love the



84 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER

work, these must come first and the work must come
second.

So speak the actions of many so-called workers, aa
thus it is that so much Christian work is a dead failure.

But, says Nehemiah, ‘I am doing a great work, so that
I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst
I leave it, and come down to you ?’

Let us remember his words, let us inwardly digest .
them, and the very next time that we are tempted to
give up work for God and to run off to something else,
let us take care to echo them.

But Sanballat is determined not to be beaten, he will
try again and yet again. Four times over he sends
Nehemiah a friendly invitation to a friendly conference,
four times over Nehemiah steadily refuses to come.
Then, when that plot com euely fails, Sanballat loses
his temper.

One day a messenger arrives at the gate of Jerusalem
with an insult in his hand. The insult is in the form of
a piece of parchment; it is a letter from Sanballat, an
‘open letter,’ ver. 5.

Letters in the Hast are not put into envelopes, but
are rolled up like a map, then the ends are flattened and
pasted together. The Persians make up their letters in
a roll about six inches long, and then gum a piece of
paper round them, and put a seal on the outside. But
in writing to persons of distinction, not only is the letter
cummed together, but it is tied up in several places with
coloured ribbon, and then enclosed in a bag or purse. »
To send a letter to such a man as Nehemiah, not only
untied and unenclosed, but actually not even having the
ends pasted together, was a tremendous insult, and



TRUE TO HIS POST. 85

Nehemiah, who had been accustomed to the strict
- etiquette of the Persian court, knew this well.

‘ But Sanballat probably sent this open letter not only
with the intention of insulting Nehemiah, but also in
order that every one whom the messenger came across
might read it, and that the Jews in Jerusalem and its
neighbourhood might be frightened by its contents, and
might therefore be inclined to forward his plans.

The letter contained a piece of gossip.

‘It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith
it.’

So the letter began, and then there followed the
scandal, the gossip about Nehemiah. :

People’s tongues were busy 2,000 years ago, just as
people's tongues are busy now, and the gossips of those
days, like the gossips of to-day, were not particular
about truth.

What was the gossip which Gashmu had started
against Nehemiah? It was this: Jerusalem ig being
built, we all see that, says Gashmu. But now, what is
at the bottom of this business? Hush! says Gashmu,
do not tell any one, and I will tell you a secret. You
would never believe it, you would never guess it;
_ but what do you think? As soon as those walls are
‘ built and those gates are finished, you will hear news.
There is going to be a king in Jerusalem, and his name
is Nehemiah. As soon as ever he has a strong city in
which to defend himself, he is going to rebel against
Persia. Nay, he has already paid people inside Jeru-
salem to pretend to be prophets, and to say to the
people:

‘There is a king in Judah.’



86 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

That is the gossip, says Sanballat, that is going the
round of all the gossips’ tongues in the land. And now
what will be the result? If the King of Persia hears of
it, and it is sure to reach his ears sooner or later, it will
go badly with you, Nehemiah. The best thing you can
do is to consent to meet me, and we will talk the matter
over and see what can be done to prevent this report
reaching Persia.

‘Come now therefore, and let us take counsel
together.’

Nehemiah hag stood firm under ridicule; he has been
unmoved by force or deceitful friendships; will he be
frightened from his duty by gossip? No, he cares not
what they say, nor who says it. He simply sends
Sanballat word that there is not a vestige of truth in
the report, nor does he intend to take any notice of it.

‘There are no such things done as thou sayest, but
thou feignest them out of thine own heart.’

Over the entrance to one of our old English castles
these words are carved in the stonework :—

THEY say.
WHAT Do THEY say?
Let THEM SAY.

These words are well worth our remembering. It is
not pleasant to be talked about, especially if the words
spoken about us are untrue, but it will be a wonderful
thing if any of us escape the gossip’s tongue.

They say, and they always will say, to the end of
time; people will talk, and their talk will chiefly be of
their neighbours.

What do they say? Do you answer like the Psalmist,
‘They lay to my charge things I knew not?’ They



IRUVE TO IlS POST, 87

speak unkindly, untruly, unfairly. Never mind, Let
them say. You cannot stop their mouths, but you can
hinder yourself from taking notice of their words. Let
them say, for they will have their say out, but they will
end it all the sooner if you take no notice of it.

Let us try for the future to be thick-skinned, and
when Gashmu’s tongue is whispering, and whenever
some busybody like Sanballat repeats Gashmu’s words
to us, let us act as Nehemiah did. Let us take no
notice of the repeated tittle-tattle.

Yet, although we may practically ignore the gossip-
ing tongue, if we are naturally sensitive and highly
strung we cannot help feeling some sting from the
unkind or untrue speech. Poor Nehemiah, unmoved
though he was by the gossip, yet feels it necessary to
remember the meaning of his name, and to turn from
Sanballat’s letter to ‘ the Lord my Comforter.’

‘O God, strengthen my hands.’

So he cries from the depths of his soul, and so he
was comforted.

Sanballat now feels that he is attempting an impos-
sibility. It is of no use trying himself to move
Nehemiah, for Nehemiah is thoroughly on his guard
against him. If he reaches him at all, he must do so
through others, whom Nehemiah does not suspect. So,
by means of his gold, Sanballat tempts some of the
Jerusalem Jews over to his side.

There is a woman living in Jerusalem named Noadiah,
and she (to her shame be it spoken) is bribed by
Sanballat to give herself out as a prophetess, and to be
the bearer of messages to Nehemiah, pretending that
those messages were sent to him by God. Nor is



88 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

Noadiah the only one who is bribed by the Samaritan
governor to pretend the gift of prophecy.

One day, Nehemiah is sent for to the house of one of »

these people who profess to be able to prophesy. He is
a young man of the name of Shemaiah, whose family
had returned from Babylon with Zerubabbel, but who —
had never been able to prove their Jewish descent (vii.
61, 62, 64).
' This young man professes to be very fond of
Nehemiah, and begs him to come to see him. Nehemiah
does so, and finds him shut up, his doors barred and
bolted, his house barricaded like a fortress. He admits
Nehemiah, and seems, as he does so, to be in a great
state of fear and terror.

Then he whispers a dreadful secret in his ear. He
tells Nehemiah that his life is in immediate danger,
that there is a plot set on foot by Sanballat to murder
him that very night, and that this plot has been
revealed to him by God. He tells him that he feels
his own life, as one of Nehemiah’s best friends, is also
in danger, and therefore he proposes that they shall go
together after dark to the temple courts, and, passing
through these, enter into the sanctuary itself, the Holy
Place, in which stood the altar of incense, the golden
candlestick, and the table of showbread. There, having
carefully closed the folding doors of fir-wood, they
may hide till daybreak, and those who were coming
to assassinate Nehemiah will seek him in vain.

Shemaiah gives this advice as a direct message from
God, but Nehemiah saw through it. He felt sure God
could not have sent that message, for God cannot
contradict His own Word. And what said the Word ?



IRUE TO HIS POST. 89

Tt was clearly laid down in the law of Moses that no
man, unless he was a priest, might enter the Holy
Place; if he attempted to do so, death would be the
penalty.

‘The stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.’
So Nehemiah bravely answers:

‘Should such a man as I flee ? and who is there, that,
being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life ?
I will not go in,’

Who is there, that, being as I am—that is, being a
layman, not a priesi—as I am, could go into the temple
and live? for that is the better translation. In other
words, if I, Nehemiah, who am not a priest, should
break the clear command of God, by crossing the
threshold of the temple, instead of saving my life I
should lose it. I will not go in.

So failed this dastardly plot to get Nehemiah to sin,
in order that his God might desert him. The sentinel
stood unmoved at his post, Nehemiah goes on steadily
with his work. Should such a manas I flee? And in
fifty-two days after its commencement, in less than
two months, the wall was finished, vi. 15.

With a huge army, with hundreds of horses, and
with twenty elephants, Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, crossed
over from Greece to Italy to conquer the Romans. No
elephants had ever before been seen in Italy; and when
the two armies met, and the huge animals advanced
with their dark trunks curling and snorting, and their
ponderous feet shaking the earth, the horses in the
Roman army were so terrified that they refused to
move, and Pyrrhus won an easy victory. After the
battle was over Pyrrhus walked amongst the dead, and



90 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

looked at the bodies of his slain foes. As he did so,
one fact struck him very forcibly, and it was this, the
Romans did not know how to run away. Not one had
turned and fled from the field of battle. The wounds
were all in front, not one was wounded in the back.

‘Ah,’ said Pyrrhus, ‘with such soldiers as that the
whole world would belong to me.’

Soldiers of Christ, let us be brave for the Master.
Let the language of the heart of each in the Lord’s
army be that of Nehemiah, ‘Should such a man as I
flee?’ Nay, I will not flee, I will not desert my
post, I will stand my ground, bravely, consistently,
perseveringly, unto death.



91

CHAPTER VIII.
The Paidagogos.

(px Tarpeian Rock was the place where Roman
q criminals who had been guilty of the crime of

treason were executed. They were thrown head-
long from this rock into the valley below, and perished
at its base. The rock took its name from a woman
named Tarpeia, who has ever been a disgrace to her
sex, and whose name was hated in Rome, for she was
a traitress to her country. For a long time the war
had raged between the Romans and the Sabines. The
Romans were at last compelled to shut themselves up
in their strong fortress, which the Sabines attempted
to take, but in vain. So steep were the rocks on which
it stood, so strong were the walls, that the Sabines
must have given up their attempt in. despair, had it
not been for the treachery of Tarpeia, the governor’s
daughter. She looked down from the fortress into the
Sabine host, and she noticed that, whilst with their
right arms the Sabines held their swords, on their left
arms were hung massive golden bracelets, such as
Tarpeia had never beheld before. One day, leaning
over the precipice, she managed to whisper into the ear
of. a Sabine soldier her treacherous plan. She was



«

92 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

‘willing in the dead of night to unlock the gate of the

fortress, and to admit the Sabines, provided that they
promised on their part to give her what they carried on
their left arms. Tarpeia’s proposition was agreed to,
and that night the governor’s daughter stole the keys of
the fortress from her father’s room, and admitted the
enemy.

But the Sabines had too much right feeling to let
her treachery go unpunished. She stood by the gate,
hoping to receive the bracelets, but each Sabine soldier,
as he entered, threw at her head his massive iron
shield, which he also carried on his left arm, until she
was crushed to the ground, and buried beneath a mass
of metal. They had fulfilled their promise, but in a
way the treacherous Tarpeia did not expect. When she
was quite dead, they took up her body, and threw it
over the rock which ever after bore her name, as a
warning to traitors.

Treachery within the camp, those in league with the
enemy in the very midst of the citadel, those who whilst
pretending to be friends are secretly conspiring to hinder
and annoy. Surely such a state of things is enough to
move any man’s heart. Who could help feeling it
bitterly ?

David could not. Listen to his heartrending cry—

‘For it is not an open enemy, that hath done me
this dishonour ; for then I could have borne it. Neither
was it mine adversary that did magnify himself against
me; for then I would have hid myself from him. But
it was even thou, my companion, my guide, and mine
own familiar friend.’

Nehemiah could not help feeling it. He had borne



THE PAIDAGOGOS, 93

patiently ridicule, force, deceit from without; whatever
of harm or mischief Sanballat did, he could not help,
nor was he surprised at it. But when the trouble came
nearer home, when he found that in Jerusalem itself,
amongst those whom he had loved and for whom he had
sacrificed so much, there were actually to be found
traitors, then indeed Nehemiah’s soul was stirred to its
very depths.

He discovered to his horror that letters, secret,
treacherous letters, were constantly passing from Tobiah
the secretary to some of his so-called friends in Jerusalem.
Nay more, he discovered that these letters were dili-
gently answered, and that a quick correspondence was
being kept up by Tobiah on the one side and these
treacherous Jews on the other.

Worse still, Nehemiah found that many of those
round him were acting as spies, watching all he did,
taking note of every single thing that went on in
Jerusalem, and then writing it down for Tobiah’s benefit.
And in spite of this, these Jews. had the audacity and
the bad taste when they met Nehemiah in the street,
or sat at his table, or came across him in business, to
harp constantly upon one string—the goodness, and
perfections, and excellences of dear Tobiah.

‘They reported his good deeds to me, and uttered my
words to him.’

Nor was this communication with the secretary at all
easy to break off, for he was connected by marriage with

some of the first families in Jerusalem. Tobiah himself

had obtained a Jewish girl for his wife, the daughter of
one of Nehemiah’s helpers—Shechaniah, the son of
Arah.





THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.
94

Not only so, but Meshullam, one of the wealthiest
men in the city, one of the most earnest builders on the
wall, one who had worked so diligently that he had
actually repaired two portions (chap. iii. 4, 80), one who
must have been either a priest or a Levite, for we read
of his having a chamber in the temple, this man,
Meshullam, so well spoken of, and so much esteemed in
Jerusalem, had actually forgotten himself so far as to
let his daughter marry the son of the secretary, Tobiah.
We cannot excise Meshullam by suggesting that his
daughter may have been spoilt or wilful, and may have
married in spite of her father’s displeasure, for, in the
Fast, marriages are entirely arranged by the parents,
and Meshullam’s daughter probably had no choice in
the matter.

Seeing then that there are enemies without, and half-
hearted friends within, Nehemiah feels it necessary, so
soon as the walls are finished and the gates set up, to
do all he can to make Jerusalem secure and strong.
Solomon had appointed 212 Levites to be porters or
gate-keepers, to guard the entrances to the temple.
Fiver since his time there had been an armed body of
Levites, kept always at hand, to guard the treasures of
the temple, and to keep watch at the gates. From these
Nehemiah selects the keepers for his new gates. Surely
these Levites will be faithful, and they have had some
experience in watching, inasmuch as they have for so
long acted as temple police.

Nehemiah’s next step was to appoint two’ men to
superintend these guards, and to be responsible to him
for the safety of the city. At any moment he might
be recalled to Persia, at any moment he might have to



THE PAIDAGOGOS. 95

leave his important work in Jerusalem, that he might
stand again as cup-bearer behind the king’s chair. He
felt that he must therefore appoint deputies to guard
the city for him, so that all might not hang upon the
fact of his presence in the city.

Whom did Nehemiah choose for this post of enormous
trust ? One was his brother Hanani, the very one
who had come to see him in Persia. Why, he would
never have even thought of doing this great work, if it
had not been for Hanani; and he felt he could
thoroughly trust him, and rely upon him entirely.

His other choice was Hananiah, the ruler of the palace
or the fort, which was a tower, standing in the temple
courts on the spot on which, in Roman days, stood the
Tower of Antonia. Nehemiah tells us exactly why he
made choice of the man Hananiah.

‘He was a faithful man, and feared God above many.’

He was a faithful man, thoroughly trustworthy and
reliable. He feared God above many, and therefore
Nehemiah knew that he would be kept safe and free
from sin. ‘So did not I,’ he had said of himself,
‘because of the fear of God; that fear held me back
from sin,’ and he felt sure it would be the same with
Hananiah. THe feared God, and therefore he could be
depended upon.

These two rulers, Hanani and Hananiah, planned out
the defence of the city. They divided the wall amongst
all the men in Jerusalem, nolding each man responsible
for the safety of that part of the wall which lay nearest
to his own house. Then, by Nehemiah’s orders, they
saw that the guards took care that the gates were not
only carefully closed every night, but that they were



96 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

kept closed till the sun was hot, that is, till some hours
after sunrise. These orders were most necessary, seeing
that there were traitors inside the gates as well as
enemies without.

It was the sixth month of the Jewish year when the
walls were finished. Then came Tisri, the seventh month,
the greatest and grandest of the months. The Jews say
that God made the world in the month Tisri, and in it
they have no less than two feasts and one great fast.

On the first day of the month Tisri was held the Feast
of Trumpets, or the day of blowing. On that day
trumpets or horns were blown all day long in Jerusalem;
on the house-tops, and from the courts and gardens, as
well as from the temple.

Obedient to the voice of the trumpets, at early dawn
the people all gathered together, and stood by the water-
gate, in a large open space suitable for such a gathering.
This gate is supposed to have been somewhere at the
south-east of the temple courts, and to have taken its
name from the fact that through it the temple servants,
the Nethinims and the Gibeonites, carried water from
the dragon well into the city.

Here a huge pulpit had been erected, not such a pulpit
as we find in our churches, but such an one as is to be

"seen in the synagogues of Jerusalem, a pulpit as large
as a small room, and capable of holding a large number
of persons.

The pulpit by the water-gate was a raised platform,
made for the purpose. In it stood Ezra the scribe, and
beside him stood thirteen of the chief men of Jerusalem:
Meshullam was there; but one man was conspicuous by
his absence. Hliashib, the high priest, who should







THE PAIDAGOGOS. 97

surely have been found taking a principal part in the
solemn service of the day, was nowhere to be seen.

Before the great pulpit was gathered together an enor-
mous crowd, men, women, and children, all those who
were old enough to understand anything having been

brought there, that they might listen to all that went on.

It was early in the morning, soon after sunrise, when
the great company met together. The blowing of the
trumpets ceased, and there was brought out by a Levite
an old roll of parchment. What was it? It was the
Book of the Law, the Bible of Nehemiah’s day, consisting
of the five books of Moses.

Slowly and reverently Ezra unrolled the law in the
sight of all the people; and they, sitting below, watched
him, and as soon as the book was opened they stood up,
to show their respect and their reverence for the Word
of God.

Then the reading began, and the ears of all the people
were attentive to the book of the law. For no less than
six hours Hizra read on, from early morning until mid-
day, yet still the people stood, still the people listened
attentively. There was no stir in the crowd, no one
asked what time it was, there was no shuffling of fect,
no yawning, no fidgeting ; in earnest, fixed attention the
people listened.

As Eizra read, a body of Levites went about amongst
the crowd, translating what he said. So long had the
people lived in captivity that some of them had forgotten
the old Hebrew, or bad been brought up from children
to talk the Chaldean tongue. Thus many of Hzra’s
words and phrases were quite unintelligible to them.
So the Levites acted as interpreters; and besides ex-

H



98 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

plaining the words, they also opened out the meaning of
what was read..

‘The Levites caused the people to understand the
law: and the people stood in their place. So they read
in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the
sense, and caused them to understand the reading.’

And at the end of six hours there came tears—there
was not a dry eye in the crowd—men and women alike
wept like children. There was Ezra in his pulpit, his
voice faltering as he read, and there were the people
below, sobbing as they heard the words.

What was the matter? What had filled them with
grief? §t. Paul tells us the secret of their tears (Rom.
iii, 20).

‘ By the law is the knowledge of sin.’

You draw a line. How shall you know if it be
straight or not? Lay the ruler beside it, and you will
soon find out its crookedness.

You build a wall. How shall you tell if it be per-
pendicular? Bring the plumb-line, put it against it,
and you will soon find out where the wall bulges.

You take up a drawing of wood, and hill, and tree;
how shall you know if it be correctly sketched? Put
beside it the master’s copy, look from one to another,
and you will soon discover the mistakes and imperfections
of the pupil.

Take the perfect law of God, lay it beside your own
life, as these people did, you will find out exactly what
' they found. You will find that you are a sinner, that
you have left undone what ought to have been done,
that you have done what ought not to have been done,
and that you yourself are full of sin.



Full Text


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| JM. & G2 LONDON.




ASSUR-BANI-PAL AND HIS QUEEN,

(From the Tablet in the British Museum.)
Taser

KING'S CUP-BEARER

BY
Mrs. O. F. WALTON

AUTHOR OF

‘CHRIstin’s Onp Organ’ ‘A Pere Bruinp tur ScEnzs’
‘Saapows’ ‘ WINTER’S FoLLy’ ETc. ETc.

THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY
56 Parernoster Row 65 St. Pavut’s CHURCHYARD AND

164 ProcaDILLy
CHAP.

I.

II.

IIt.

Iy.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

XI.

XII.

XII.

xv.

XVI.

CONE aN s:

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To Every Man nis Work

Tur SworRD AND THE TROWEL

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Tur ParIpagogos . ‘

Tur SecRET oF STRENGTH .
Tur HIGHTY-FOUR SEALS.
Tur Brave VOLUNTEERS ;
Tum Hony Crry . :
Having wo Roor ‘ :
Strona MmasuREs. A
Tur OupEst SIN _ *o

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CHAPTER I.
Che City of Silies,

ies great Rab-shakeh, magnificently attired in all the
A brilliancy of Oriental costume, is walking towards

the city gate. Above him stretches the deep blue
sky of the Hast, about and around him stream the warm
rays of the sun. It is the month of December, yet no
cold biting wind meets him, and he needs no warm
wraps to shield him from the frost or snow.

The city through which the Rab-shakeh walks is very
beautiful; it is the capital of the kingdom of Persia.
Its name is Shushan, the City of Lilies, and it is so
called from the fields of sweet-scented iris flowers which
surround it. It is built on a sunny plain, through
which flow two rivers,—the Choaspes and the Ulai; he
sees them both sparkling in the sunshine, as they wind
through the green plain, sometimes flowing quite close
to each other, at one time so near that only two and a
half miles lie between them, then wandering farther
away only to return again, as if drawn together by some
subtle attraction.

Then, in the distance, beyond the plain and beyond
8 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

the rivers, the great Rab-shakeh sees mountains, for a
high mountain range, about twenty-five miles from the
city, bounds the eastern horizon. He has good reason
to love those high mountains, which rise many thousands
of feet above the plain, for even in the hottest weather,
when the heat in Shushan would otherwise be unbear-
able, he can always enjoy the cooling breezes which
come from the everlasting snow-fields on the top of that
mountain range, and which blow refreshingly over the
sultry plain beneath.

The City of Lilies is a very ancient place. It was
probably built long before the time of Abraham. We
read in Gen. xiv. of a certain Chedorlaomer, King of
Elam, who gathered together a number of neighbouring
kings, and by means of their assistance invaded Pales-
tine, and took Lot prisoner. This Chedorlaomer probably
lived by these very rivers, the Choaspes and the Ulai, and
Shushan was the capital city of the old kingdom of
Elam over which he ruled.

Later on the City of Lilies was taken by the Baby-
lonians. They had their own capital city, the mighty
Babylon, on the Euphrates. But although it was not
the capital, still Shushan was a very important place in
that first great world-empire. We find Daniel, the
prime minister, staying in the palace of Shushan, to
which he had been sent to transact business for the
King of Babylon, and it was during his visit to the City
of Lilies that God sent him one of his most famous
visions. In his dream he thought he was standing by
the river Ulai, the very river he could see from the
palace window, and before that river stood the ram with
the two horns and the strong he-goat, by means of which




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partially depopulated ty Nebuchadnezzar (2 Bings XSIV) grea














THE CITY OF LILIES. 6

God drew out before his eyes a picture of the future
history of the world.

But the great Babylonian empire did not last long.
Cyrus the Persian took Babylon, Belshazzar was slain,
the great Assyrian power passed away, and the second
great world-empire, the Persian empire, was built upon
its ruins.

What city did the Persian kings make their capital ?
Not Babylon, with its mighty walls and massive gates, but .
Shushan, the City of Lilies. They chose it as their chief
city for three reasons; it was nearer to their old home,
Persia, it was cooler than Babylon because of the neigh-
bouring mountains, and lastly, and above all, it had the
best water in the world. The water of the river Choaspes
was so much esteemed for its freshness, its clearness,
and its salubrity, that the Persian kings would drink no
other; they had it carried with them wherever they
went; even when they undertook long warlike expeditions,
the water of the Choaspes was considered a necessary
provision for the journey.

The City of Lilies, in the days of the Rab-shakeh, was
a perfect fairy-land of beauty, surrounded as it was by
fruit-gardens and corn-fields ; the white houses standing
out from amongst dark palm trees, and the high walls
encircled by groves of citron and lemon trees. As the
Rab-shakeh walks along the air is scented with their
blossoms, and with the sweet fragrance of the countless
Shushan lilies, growing beside the margin of the
sparkling rivers.

Above him, in the midst of the city, stands his lordly
home. It may well be a magnificent place, for it is the
-palace of the greatest king in the world, the mighty King
Io THE KING’S CUP-BEARER,

of Persia. The palace in which the Rab-shakeh lives is
not the old palace in which Daniel stayed when he
visited Shushan ; it is quite a new building, built only
forty years before by the great Ahasuerus, the husband
of Queen Esther. It was to celebrate the opening of
this gigantic palace that the enormous and magnificent
feast of which we read in Esther i., was given by the
Persian monarch, who was its founder.

This new palace was built on a high platform of stone
and brick, and the view from its windows of the green
plain, of the shining rivers, of the gardens filled with
fruit trees and flowers, and of the snow-clad mountains
_ in the distance, was magnificent in the extreme. In the
centre of the palace was a large hall filled with pillars,
one of the finest buildings in the world, and round this
hall were built the grand reception rooms of the king.

The ruins of Shushan, the City of Lilies, were discovered
by Sir Fenwick Williams in the year 1851, and the bases
of the very pillars which supported the roof of the great
Rab-shakeh’s splendid home may be seen this very day
on the plain between the two rivers.

But who was this Rab-shakeh, and how came he to
live in the most glorious palace in the world? He was
a Jew, a foreigner, a descendant of those Jews whom
Nebuchadnezzar took captive, and carried into Assyria.
Yet, although one of an alien race, we find him in one of
the highest offices of the Persian court, namely, the
office of Rab-shakeh.

This word Rab, so often found in the Bible, is a
Chaldean word which means Master. Thus, in the New
Testament, we find the Jewish teachers often addressed
by the title Rabbi, Master. But the title Rab was also
THE CITY OF LILIES. II

used in speaking of the highest officials in an Hastern
court. Three such titles we find in the Bible:

Jer. xxxix. 18. _Raz-saris, Master of the Hunuchs.

Ras-mac, Master of the Magi.
2 Kings. xvii. 17. Ras-suaxen, Master of the Cup-
- bearers.

This last office, that of Rab-shakeh, was a very
important and responsible one. It was the duty of the
man who held it to take charge of the king’s wine, to
ensure that no poison was put into it, and to present it
in a jewelled cup to the king at the royal banquets. Ii
was a position of great trust and power; great trust,
because the king’s life rested in the cup-bearer’s keeping ;
great power, because whilst the Persian monarchs,
believing that familiarity breeds contempt, kept them-
selves secluded from the public gaze, and admitted very
few to their august presence, the cup-bearer had access
at all times to the king, and had the opportunity of
speaking to him which was denied to others.

Strange that a Jew, one of a captive race, should be
chosen to fill so important a post. But King Artaxerxes
knew his man. He felt he could trust him fully, and he
was not disappointed in his confidence, for the great
Rab-shakeh served a higher Master than the King of
Persia, he was a faithful servant of the God of Heaven.

The Rab-shakeh’s name was Nehemiah, a name chosen
by his parents, not as a fancy name or asa family name,
but chogen for the same reason which usually influenced
Jewish parents in the selection of names for their
children, because of its beautiful meaning. Nehemiah
meant The Lord my Comforter.

What a sweet thought for Hachaliah and his wife as
12 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

they called their boy in from play, or as they put‘ him
in his little bed and took leave of him for the night,
‘The Lord is my Comforter. Life in sunny Shushan
was surely no brighter than life in our more clouded
land; they had their times of sorrow as- well as their
times of joy, they had their temptations, their cares,
their anxieties, and their trials, just as we have. How
blessed for them in one and all of these to be reminded
where true comfort was to be found, so that they might
turn to God in every time of grief with the name of their
little son on their lips, ‘The Lord is my Comfortey.’
What do we know of Nehemiah? Can we say from
our heart, ‘The Lord is my Comforter?’ I take Him
my every sorrow, I tell Him my every trouble. He
understands it, and He understands me, and He comforts
me as no other can. The Lord is indeed my Comforter.
So the little Nehemiah had grown up an ever-present
reminder in his parents’ home of the comfort of God.
How many children Hachaliah had we are not told,
but Nehemiah had certainly one brother, Hanani.
There’ had been some years before this a parting in
Hachaliah’s family. Hanani, Nehemiah’s brother, had
left Shushan for a distant land. Twelve years had
passed since all the Jews in Shushan had been roused by
the news that Ezra the scribe was going from Babylon
to Jerusalem, and that he was calling upon all who loved
the home of their forefathers to go with him, and to help
him in the work he had undertaken. Bad news had
been brought to Babylon of the state of matters in
Palestine; those who had returned with Zerubbabel were
not prospering, either in their souls or their bodies, and
Ezra, shocked by what he had heard, determined to go
THE CITY OF LILIES. 13
to Jerusalem that he might reform the abuses which had
arisen there, and do all in his power to rouse the people
to a sense of their duty. A brave company had set forth
with him. Eight thousand Jews had been ready to leave
comfort, luxury, and affluence behind, that they might
go to the desolate city, and endeavour to stir up its
people to energy and life.

One of the 8,000 who went with Ezra was Nehemiah’s
brother, Hanani. It is possible that Nehemiah himself
was at that time too young to go; it is also probable
that Hachaliah, the father, having been born and brought.
up in Shushan, was hard. to move. So Hanani set
forth alone, and the brothers were parted.

Twelve long years, and in all probability no news had
reached the family in Shushan of the absent Hanani. A
journey of five months lay between them and Jerusalem;
and in those days, when all the conveniences we enjoy
were unknown, they would not only never expect to meet
again, but they would also never anticipate the pleasure
of even hearing any news of each other, or of holding
the slightest communication.

But as the Rab-shakeh walks to the gate of Shushan,
on the day on which the story opens, he spies a caravan
of travellers coming along the northern road. They
have evidently come a long way, for they are tired,
exhausted, and travel-stained. The mules walk slowly
and heavily under their burdens, the skin of the
travellers ig burnt and cracked by the hot sun of the
desert, their clothes are faded and covered with dust,
their sandals are full of holes.

Where can the caravan have come from? Nehemiah
finds to hig astonishment that it has come from
14 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Jerusalem, the city of cities, as he had been taught to
believe it, and, to his still greater surprise, he finds
amongst the travellers his long-lost brother Hanani.
What had brought Hanani back from Jerusalem we are
not told ; he may have wished once more to see his old
father Hachaliah; but we can well imagine the joy with
which he would be welcomed by all, and not the least
by his brother Nehemiah.

As they walk together through Shushan to the palace,
the Rab-shakeh asks anxiously after Jerusalem. Has
Hizra’s work been successful? How are matters pro-
gressing? Are the people more in earnest? Is
Jerusalem thriving ?

But the travellers have a dismal tale to tell. Affairs
in the Holy City are about as bad as it was possible for
them to be.

Neh. i. 8: ‘They said unto me, The remnant that

are left of the captivity there in the province are in
great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also
is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with
fire.’ .
In other words, things are just where they were
twelve years ago; the people are miserable and de-
pressed, beset with countless troubles; the city itself is
still an utter ruin, just as Nebuchadnezzar left it. The
temple, it is true, is built at last, but nothing more is
done; the walls lie just as they were when the city was
taken,—a mass of ruins; the gates are nowhere to be
seen, only a few blackened stones mark the place where
they used to stand.

The Rab-shakeh’s heart is very heavy as he goes to
his rooms in the royal palace. What terrible news he








THE CITY OF LILIES. 15

has heard! Jerusalem is still, after all Hzra’s efforts to
restore it, a desolate ruined city. Nehemiah is full of
sorrow, sick at heart, overwhelmed with disappointment
and trouble.

But he remembers his own name and its warning,
Nehemiah, The Lord is my Comforter. At once, without
a moment’s delay, he goes to his Comforter. He weeps,
he mourns, he fasts, and he pours out all his sorrow to
God. Asa child runs to his mother, and pours into her
ear his grief or his disappointment, so Nehemiah hastens
to his God.

We walk through a splendid conservatory, the pride
and glory of anobleman’s garden; we admire the flowers
of all shades of colour; rare blossoms from all parts of
the world, ferns of every variety, palms, and grasses,
and mosses, and all manner of natural beauties meet
our eye at every turn. Whatis that plant standing in a
conspicuous place in the conservatory? It is a beautiful
azalea, covered with hundreds of pure white blossoms.
But there is so much else to see in that conservatory
that we scarcely notice it as we pass by. Nor are we at
all surprised to see it there; itis just the very place in
which we should look for such a plant. Nor are we
astonished to find it so flourishing and so full of bloom,
for we know that everything in that conservatory is
calculated to improve its growth, the atmosphere is just
what it should be, not too dry or too damp, it has
exactly the right soil, the proper amount of light, the
most carefully regulated heat; it has in fact everything
which it ought to have to make it a flourishing’ and
beautiful plant. Accordingly we are not surprised to
find it full of bloom and beauty.
\
16 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

But suppose, on the other hand, that walking through
the slums of London we see a similar sight. In one of
the closest, most filthy courts we see, in a garret window,
a white azalea full of flowers, pure as the untrodden
snow.

Now indeed we are surprised to see it, for it is in the
most unlikely place ; there is nothing to favour its growth,
_ the air is foul, the light is dim, everything is against it,
yet there it stands, a marvel of beauty! And we look at
it and say, ‘ Wonderful!’

Surely we have even now seen the white azalea in the -
garret. For where should we expect to find a man of
God? Dwelling in the holy temple in Jerusalem,
surrounded by everything to remind him of God,
breathing in the very atmosphere of religion, with godly
people all around him, with everything to help him to
be holy and pure, no one would be astonished to find a
man of God in such a place as that.

But here is Nehemiah the Rab-shakeh, living in a
heathen palace, in the midst of a wicked court, sur-
rounded by drunkenness, sensuality, and all that is
vile and impure, breathing in the very atmosphere of
sin, yet we find him a plant of the Lord, pure as the
azalea, aman of faith, a man of prayer, a holy man of
God. With everything against him, with nothing to
favour his growth in holiness, he is a flourishing plant
in the garden of the Lord. So it ever is. The plants
of God’s grace often thrive in very unlikely places.
There was a holy Joseph in the court of Pharaoh, a
faithful Obadiah in the house of wicked Jezebel, a
righteous Daniel in Babylon, and saints even in Cxsar’s
household
ZHE CITY OF LILIES. 17

Are we ever tempted to say, I cannot serve the Master
faithfully? If I were in another position, if my home
lite were favourable to my becoming decided for Christ,
if I had different companions, different occupation,
different surroundings, then indeed I would grow in
grace, and bring forth the fruit of a holy life. But as I
am, and where I am, it isa simple impossibility ; I can
never, under existing circumstances, live near to God,
or be what I often long to be, a true Christian.

What does the Master say as He hears words like
these? ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ ‘As thy day
so shall thy strength be.’

Even in most unlikely and unfruitful soil God can
make His plants to grow and flourish. Where I am,
and as I am, and with exactly the same surroundings
as I now possess, God can bless me, and give me grace
to serve and to glorify Him. If I do not become a
flourishing plant, it is not my position that is to blame,
it 1s because I will not seek that grace which the Lord
is ready to give me. ‘Ye have not, because ye ask not.
Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.’
18

CHAPTER II.
The Ming's Cable.

Gr was midnight in London, in the year 1665. The
iL houses were closed and barred, but strange lurid

fires were lighted in every street, a stifling odour of
burning pitch and sulphur filled the air, and from time
to time came the heavy rumble of wheels, as a terrible.
cart, with its awful load, passed by in the darkness of
the night. With the cart came a cry; 80 loud, so clear,
so piercing, that it could be heard in all the closed
houses of the street. ‘Bring out your dead, bring out
your dead!’ Then, one door after another was hurriedly
opened, and from the plague-stricken houses one body
after another was brought out, and was thrown hastily
into that awful dead cart.

Bring out your dead! what a solemn, terribly solemn
ery! How it must have filled with awe and dread all
who heard it! And if that call were repeated, if the holy
angels of God were to go through the length and
breadth of our land, and, stopping before each house,
were to cry to those within, ‘ Bring out your dead, bring
out your dead,’ not your dead bodies, but your dead
souls; bring out all in your house who are not alive
unto God, who are dead in trespasses and sins, how
THE KING’S TABLE. 19

many would have to be carried out of our houses?
Should we ourselves be left behind? Are we alive or
dead P

The angels have not yet come to sever the dead from
the living, but the time for that great separation is
drawing daily nearer, when the Son of man shall send
forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His
kingdom all things that offend; all the loathsomeness of
death, and decay, and impurity shall be collected by
angel hands, and, we read, they shall cast them, not into
a vast pit such as was dug in London in the time of
the plague, but into a furnace of fire, there shall be
wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Surely, then, it is worth while to find out whether our
soul is alive or dead. What test then shall we use?
How shall we settle the matter clearly and definitely ?

There is one thing, and one thing only, which proves
that a man has life. A man apparently drowned is
brought out of the water. He does not speak, or see,
or move, or feel. He is rubbed and warmed, but no sign
of life can be perceived. Can we therefore conclude
that the man is dead? Nay, we will put him to the
test. Bring a feather, hold it before his mouth, watch
it carefully, does it move? A crowd of anxious
bystanders gather round to see. Soon a ery of joy is
heard, the feather moves. The man lives, for he
breathes, and the breath in him is the unmistakable
sien of life.

How then shall I know if my soul lives? Does it
breathe ? That is the all-important question. But
what is the breath of the soul? The breath of the
soul is prayer. As the old hymn says— :
20 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

*Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air.’
Saul of Tarsus, with all his outward religion, was a
dead soul, till the Lord met him and gave him life.
What then is the first thing we find Saul doing?
‘Behold he prayeth. As soon as he is alive, he
breathes, he prays.

Here then is the test for us to apply to our own souls.
Do I know anything of real prayer? DoTI love to hold
communion with my God? Am I ever lifting up my
heart to Him? If I live in the atmosphere of prayer,
then Iam alive unto God; if, on the other hand, I feel
prayer a weariness, and know not what it is for my
heart to hold unseen intercourse with my Lord, then
indeed I am dead in sin, having no breath, and I have
consequently no life.

Nehemiah, the great Rab-shakeh, was a living soul,
for he loved to pray. No sooner had he heard the sad
news about Jerusalem, than he went to his private
apartments in the palace, and began to plead with
God. He feels that all the trouble that has come upon
his nation has been richly deserved, so he begins with a
humble confession of sin.

‘Let Thine ear now be attentive, and Thine eyes open,
that Thou mayest hear the prayer of Thy servant, which
Japray before Thee now, day and night, for the children
of Israel Thy servants, and confess the sins of the
children of Israel, which we have sinned against Thee.’
And then, coming nearer home, he adds, ‘both I and
my father’s house have sinned.’

Was it some special sin which he confessed before God
then? Can his sin, and the sin of his father’s house,
THE KING'S TABLE. 21

have been the refusing twelve years ago to leave home
and comforts behind them, and to return with Ezra to
Jerusalem ?

Then Nehemiah pleads God’s promises to His people
in time past, and ends by definitely stating his own
special need and request (Neh. i. 8-11).

By day and by night Nehemiah prays, and nearly four
months go by before he does anything further.

The next step was not an easy one. He had deter-
mined to speak to the great Persian monarch—to bring
before him the desolate condition of Jerusalem, and to
ask for leave of absence from the court at Shushan, in
order that he might go to Jerusalem, and do all in his
power to restore it to something of its former grandeur.

It is not surprising that Nehemiah dreaded this next
step. The Persian kings had a great objection to being
asked a favour. Xerxes, the husband of Queen Esther,
when on his way to Greece with his enormous army,
passed through Lydia in Asia Minor. Here he was
feasted and entertained by a rich man named Pythius,
who also gave him a large sum of money for the expense
of the war, and furnished five sons for the army. After
this Pythius thought he might venture to ask a favour
of the Persian monarch, so he requested that his eldest
son might be allowed to leave his regiment, in order that
he might stay at home to be the comfort and support of
his aged father. But, instead of granting this very
natural request, Xerxes was so much enraged at having
been asked a favour, that he commanded the eldest son
to be killed and cut in two, and then caused his entire
army to file between the pieces of the body.

Artaxerxes, the king whom Nehemiah served, was
22) THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

considered one of the gentlest of Persian monarchs, and
yet even he was guilty of acts of savage cruelty, of which
we cannot read without a shudder. For example, when
he came to the throne, he found in the palace a certain
eunuch named Mithridates, who had been concerned in
his father’s murder. He condemned this man to be put
to death in the most horrible and cruel way. He was
laid on his back in a kind of horse-trough, and strongly
fastened to the four corners of it. Then another trough
was put over him, leaving only his head and hands and
feet uncovered, for which purpose holes were made in
the upper trough. Then his face was smeared with
honey, and he was placed in the scorching rays of the
sun. Hundreds of flies settled on his face, and he lay â„¢
there in agony for many long days. Food was given
him from time to time, but he was never moved or
uncovered, and it was more than a fortnight before death
released him from his sufferings.

It was the very king who had put one of his subjects
to this death of awful torment before whom Nehemiah
had to appear, and of whom he had to make a request.
No wonder, then, that he dreaded the interview, and that
he felt that he needed many months of prayer to make
him ready for it. It was in the month Chisleu (Decem-
ber) that Hanani had arrived, it was not until Nisan
(April) that he made up his mind to speak to the king.

Before leaving his room that morning, he knelt down,
and put himself and hig cause in the Lord’s hands,
Neh. i. 11.

Then, attired in his official dress, the Rab-shakeh
sets forth for the state apartments of the palace. The
central building of that magnificent pile in which the
THE KING’S TABLE. 23

king held court was very fine and imposing, as may be
seen to-day from the extensive ruins of Shushan. In
the centre of it was the Great Hall of Pillars, 200 feet
' square. In this hall were no less than thirty-six pillars,
arranged in six rows, and all sixty feet high. Round this
erand hall were the beautiful reception rooms of the
king, and these were carefully arranged, in order to
ensure perpetual coolness even in the hottest weather.
There was no room on the hot south side of the palace,
but on the west was the morning room, in which all the
morning entertainments were held, whilst the evening
banqueting hall was on the eastern side. By this
arrangement the direct rays of the sun were never felt
by those within the palace. Then, on the cool northern
side was the grand throne room, in which the king sat
in state, and through which a whole army of soldiers,
or an immense body of courtiers, could file without
the slightest confusion, entering and leaving the room
by stone staircases placed opposite each other. The
steps were only four inches in depth and sixteen feet
wide, and were so built that horsemen could easily
mount or descend them.

Into one of the grand halls of the palace Nehemiah
the cup-bearer enters. The pavement is of coloured
marble, red, white, and blue; curtains of blue and
white, the Persian royal colours, drape the windows and
are hanging in graceful festoons from the pillars; the
fresh morning breeze is blowing from the snow-clad
mountains, and is laden with the scent of lemons and
oranges, and of the Shushan lilies and Persian roses in
the palace gardens.

There is the royal table, covered with golden dishes
24 THE KING’?S CUP-BEARER.

and cups, and spread with every dainty that the worid
could produce.

There is the king, a tall, graceful man, but with one
strange deformity—with hands so long that when he
stood upright they touched his knees, from which he
had received the nickname of Longimanus, the long-
handed.

He is dressed in a long loose robe of purple silk, with
wide sleeves, and round his waist is a broad golden
girdle. His tunic or under-garment is purple and white,
his trousers are bright crimson, his shoes are yellow,
and have long pointed toes. On his head is a curious
high cap with a band of blue spotted with white. He is
moreover covered with ornaments: he has gold earrings,
a gold chain, gold bracelets, and a long golden sceptre
with a golden ball as its crown.

The king is sitting on a throne, in shape like a high-
backed chair with a footstool before it. The chair stands
on lion’s feet, and the stool on bull’s feet, and both are
made of gold.

By the king’s side sits the queen; her name was
Damaspia, but we know little more of her in history,
except that she died on the same day as her husband.
Behind the king and queen are the fan-bearers, and fly-
flappers, and parasol-bearers, who are in constant
attendance on their royal majesties, and around are
the great officers of the household.

Fifteen thousand people ate the king’s food in that
palace every day, but the king always dined alone. It
was very rarely that even the queen or the royal children
were allowed to sit at the king’s table, which is probably
the reason why Nehemiah mentions the fact that the
THE KING'S TABLE, 25

queen was sitting by him. Perhaps he hailed the
circumstance as a proof that the king was in good
humour that day, and would therefore be more likely to
listen to his petition. But no one who was not closely
related to the king was allowed to sit at the royal table,
even the most privileged courtiers sat on the floor and
ate at his feet.

The feast has begun, and it is time for aie Rab-shakeh
to present the wine to the king. He takes the jewelled
cup from the table in the king’s presence, he carefully
washes it, then he fills it with a specially rare wine,
named the wine of Helbon, which was kept only for the
king’s use. This wine was made from a very fine growth
of grapes, at a place in the Lebanon not far from
Damascus, named Helbon. Then Nehemiah pours a
little wine into hig left hand and drinks it, and then,
lightly holding the cup between the tips of his fingers
and thumbs, he gracefully presents it to the great
monarch.

Artaxerxes glances at his cup-bearer as he rises from
his knees, and at once notices something remarkable in
his face. Nehemiah is pale and anxious and troubled ;
his whole face tells of the struggle going on within, and
the king cannot fail to perceive it. ‘Turning to the Rab-
shakeh he asks: ‘ Why is thy countenance sad, seeing
thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of
heart.’ ‘Then,’ says Nehemiah, ‘1 was very sore afraid.’
It is no wonder that he was alarmed, for it was actually
a crime, proscribed by law, for any one to look sad or
depressed in the presence of a Persian king. However
heavy might be his heart, however sorrowful his spirit,
be must cross the threshold of the palace with a smiling
26 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

face, and show no signs in the king’s presence of the
trouble within. But Nehemiah’s face has betrayed him.
What will the king do? Will he dismiss him from
office? Will he degrade him from his high position ?
Will he punish him for his breach of court etiquette?
Or can it be that this is a heaven-sent opportunity in
which he may make his request? He answers at once:

‘Let the king live for ever: why should not my coun-
tenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’
sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are con-
sumed with fire?’ ’

And the king, quite understanding from Nehemiah’s
speech that he wants something from him, asks imme-
diately :

‘For what dost thou make request?’

Oh, what a critical moment! How much depends on
Nehemiah’s answer to this unexpected question! What
shall he say? What dare he propose? The whole
future of Jerusalem may hang on hig answer to the
king’s question.

There is a moment’s pause, but only a moment’s, and
then Nehemiah’s answer is given. Only a moment, and
yet great things have been done in that short time. ‘ I
prayed,’ says the Rab-shakeh, ‘ to the God of Heaven.’

Did he then rush away to his own apartment to pray P
Did he kneel down in the midst of the banqueting hall
and call upon his God? No, he spoke no word aloud,
he did not even close his eyes. The king saw nothing,
knew nothing of what was going on; yet a mighty
transaction took place in that short time between the
silent man, who still stood holding the cup in his hands,
and the King of Heaven.
THE KING’S TABLE. 27

We are not told what the prayer was, perhaps it was
only, ‘ Lord, help me.’ But quick as lightning the answer
came. His fear fled, wisdom was given him to answer,
and his heart’s desire was granted.

How often we hear the complaint, ‘1 cannot pray long
prayers, like the good people | read of in books. I lead
a busy active life, and when work is done my body is
weary and exhausted, and I find it impossible to pray
for any length of time, and scmetimes I fear that because
I cannot offer long prayers I cannot therefore be the
Lord’s.’ But surely it is not long prayers that the Lord
requires. Most of the Bible prayers are short prayers,
the Lord’s pattern-prayer is one of the shortest. It is
the heathen who think they will be heard for their
much speaking. Nehemiah’s was a true prayer, and an
answered prayer, yet it was but a moment in length.

Nor are uttered words necessary to prayer. The
followers of Baal cried aloud, thinking their much
shouting would reach the ear of their god, but Nehemiah
speaks not, does not even whisper, and his prayer is
heard in heaven. Surely now-a-days, when there are
some who seem to think that much noise, that loud
shouting, that the uplifted voice must needs pierce the
sky, it is well for us to be reminded that God heeds no
language, hears no voice, but the language of the soul,
the voice of the innermost heart.

Nor is posture a necessary part of prayer. Some
choose to pray standing, others prefer to kneel. It is not
the posture of body God looks at, but the posture of the
heart. BReverence there must be, but such reverence as
comes from the inner sanctuary of the soul, and which
only finds outward expression in the body. Nehemiah
28 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

stood with the jewelled cup in his hands, yet Nehemiah’s
prayer was heard.

So we see that heartfelt prayer—prayer which is
prayer indeed—may be short, silent, and offered in a
strange place and ata strange time, and yet be heard
and answered by God.

Let us try to grasp the full comfort of this thought,
for we live in a world of surprises. We rise in the
morning, not knowing what the day may bring forth.
We are walking on a road with many turnings, and we
never know what may meet us at the next step!

All of a sudden we find ourselves face to face with an
unexpected perplexity. What shall we do? What
course shall we take? Here is the little prayer made
ready for our use—

Lord, guide me.

Then, at the next turn, comes a sudden temptation.
Unjust, cruel words are spoken, and we feel we must
give an angry reply. Let us stop one moment before
we answer, and in that moment put up the short
prayer—

Lord, help me.

Or a sudden danger, bodily or spiritual, stares us in

the face. At once we may lift up the heart and ery—
Lord, save me.

There is no need to kneel down, no need to speak
aloud, no need to move from our place. In the office,
the workshop, the schoolroom, the place of business, the
railway carriage, the street, wherever we may be and in
whatever company, the short silent prayer may be sent
up to the God of heaven.

Thank God, no such prayer is ever unanswered !
CHAPTER III.
The Good Hand.

of kings, who shall give us even a faint idea of its
size ?

It has been calculated that about 100,000,000 stars
can be seen from our world by means of a telescope.
Yet who can grasp such a number as that? Which of.
us can picture in his mind 100,000,000 objects? Let
us suppose that instead of 100,000,000 stars we have
the same number of oranges; let us arrange our oranges
in imagination on a long string, which shall pass through
the centre of each of them. How long will our string
have to be if it is to hold the 100,000,000 oranges? It
will have to be no less than 6,000 miles long, and our
100,000,0C0 oranges will stretch in a straight line from
Iinegland to China.

One hundred million stars, and of all these God is
King. But these are but as a speck compared with His
vast universe. Each telescope that is invented, which
enables us to see a little further into space, discovers
more and more worlds unseen before. Who can even
guess how many still lie beyond, unseen, unnoticed,
unheard of? The regions of space are endless, as God
their Maker is endless.

And all these countless worlds are under the eye of

(aN) : 3 : :
F um mighty universe, the great empire of the King
ql

Kh
30 THE KING'S CUF-BEARER.

the King of kings. He rules all, watches all, guides all.
Can I, then, believe that He will have time to take
notice of my tiny affairs? Can He care if I am sick,
worried, or poor, or depressed? Surely I must be ready
to say with the Psalmist—

“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy
fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast
ordained, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him 2?
and the son of man, that Thou visites$ him?’

Yet that quaint old saying of John Flavel the
Puritan is right, ‘The man who watches for Providence
will never want a Providence to watch.’ In other words,
he who trusts his concerns to a higher power, he who
puts his cause in the Lord’s hands, will never be
disappointed. The God who rules the universe will not
forget to attend to him, but will watch him, and guide
him, and help him, as tenderly as if he was the only
being in that universe.

St. Augustine used to say, ‘Lord, when I look upon
mine own life, it seems Thou hast led me so carefully
and tenderly, Thou canst have attended to none else; but
when I see how wonderfully Thou hast led the world
and art leading it, ] am amazed that Thou hast had
time to attend to such as I.’

How much more must we wonder at God's loving
care, when we look beyond this tiny world to the
countless millions of worlds in the universe!

Nehemiah was watching for Providence. He had
taken his case to God, he had trusted all to Him, and
Nehemiah did not want a Providence to watch; the
God in whom he had put his confidence did not
disappoint him.
THE GOOD HAND. 31

‘Let me go that I may rebuild Jerusalem,’ says the
cup-bearer ; and the great Persian king does not refuse
his request, but (prompted, it may be, by the queen
who was sitting by him) he asks: ‘For how long shall
thy journey be? and when wilt thou return P’

‘And I set him a time.’ How long a time we are not
told. Nehemiah did not return to Persia for twelve
years; but it is probable that he asked for a shorter
leave of absence, and that this was extended later on,
in order to enable him to finish his work.

Cheered and encouraged by the king’s manner, feeling
sure that God is with him and is prospering hin,
Nehemiah asks another favour of the king. The Persian
empire at that time was of such vast extent, that it
reached from the river Indus to the Mediterranean, and
the Euphrates was looked upon as naturally dividing it
into two parts, east and west. Nehemiah asks, ch.1. 7,
for letters to the governors of the western division of
the empire, that they may be instructed to help him
and forward him on his way.

He asks, ver. 8, for something more. There is a
certain man named Asaph, who has charge of the king’s
forest or park (see margin of R.V.). The real word
which Nehemiah used was paradise—the king’s paradise.
The derivation of the word is from the Persian words
Pairi, round about, and Deza, a wall. Up and down
their empire, in various places, the Persian kings had
these paradises—parks or pleasure grounds—surrounded
and shut off from the neighbouring country by a high
fence or wall. These paradises were places of beauty
and loveliness, where the king and his friends might
meet and walk together, and enjoy each other's society.
32 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Is not this the Lord’s own picture of the place He
went to prepare for His people? Did He not say to the
thief on the cross, ‘To-day thou shalt be with Me in
Paradise?’ It was a new name taken by our Lord from
these paradises of the Persian kings, and given by Him
to that new place which He went to prepare for His
people, even the Garden of the Lord, the pleasure ground
of the King of kings, the place to which His people go
when they die. There they enjoy His company, and
see His face, and walk with Him and talk to Him,
waiting for that glorious day when they shall pass from
the garden of the King into the palace itself.

We are not told where this particular paradise was,
of which Asaph was the keeper, but probably it was the
place which the kings of Judah had always made their
pleasure ground. This was at Htam, about seven miles
from Jerusalem, where Solomon had fine gardens, and
had made large lakes of water, fed by a hidden and sealed
spring.

Solomon himself twice used the word paradise of his
gardens, and these are the only places in which the word
occurs in the Old Testament, except in Neh. ii. 8.

Sclomon says, Eccles. ii. 5, ‘I made me gardens and
paradises.’ In Cant. iv. 13 he speaks of ‘ a paradise of
pomegranates, with precious fruits.’

For three purposes Nehemiah wanted wood frora
Asaph’s paradise, and asked the king to give him an
order for it, that he might deliver to the keeper.

He wanted it (1) for the gates of the palace of the
house. The house means the temple, and the palace
should be translated the castle. It was a tower which
stood at the north-west corner of the temple platform,
THE GOOD HAND, 33

and commanded and protected the temple courts. (2) He
required wood for the gates of the wall, and (8) for ‘the
house that I shall enter into,’ i.e. for my own dwelling-
house.

All is granted—the royal secretaries are called, and
are bidden to write the required instructions to the
governors beyond the river, and to Asaph, the bailiff of
the forest. Nehemiah takes no credit to himself that
all has gone so prosperously, he does not praise his own
courage, or wisdom, or tact in making the request, he
knows it is a direct answer to a direct prayer, he recog-
nises the fact that it is God’s doing, and not his.

‘The king granted me, according to the good hand of
my God upon me.’

That was Ezra’s motto, quoted by him again and
again (Hizra vii. 6, 9, 28; viii. 18, 22,81). In all his
deliverances, in every one of his mercies, he had seen
the good hand of his God, and he had taken those words,
‘The good hand of my God upon me,’ as the keynote of
bis praise, and as the motto of his life. But Nehemiah
had in all probability never even seen Ezra, yet here we
find him quoting Ezra’s favourite saying. Can it be
that Hanani, his brother, who had been one of Hzra’s
companions, had repeated it to him? Can it be that in
order to cheer and encourage his brother when he under-
took the difficult task of speaking to the king, he told
him how Ezra was always repeating these words, and
how he found them a sure refuge in time of need? Ifso,
how gladly would Nehemiah hasten to his brother when
his duties in the palace were completed, to tell him that
Bzra’s motto has held good again, for ‘the king granted
me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.’

D
34 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER,

‘The good hand of my God.’ What blessed words!
Let trouble come, or temptation come, or death itself
come, I will not fear. The good hand of my God is over
me. None can pluck me from that hand. ‘All my
times are in Thy hand, O Lord,’ and are safe there from
even the fear of danger. Oh, how blessed to be one so
sheltered, so shielded, underneath the good hand of my

God! But the same hand is against them that do evil.
~ I must either be in the hand, or have the hand raised
against me! Which shall it be?

All is ready now, the preparations are ended, and
Nehemiah, accompanied by his brother Hanani, and by
a royal escort of soldiers, sets forth on his long journey.
Jerusalem, the City of David—how often he had dreamt
of it, how earnestly he had longed to seeit! Now, at
last, his desire is to be granted. The travellers could
not sing, as they rode slowly over the scorching desert,
‘Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem,’ for
the gates of the city were burned with fire, and only a
blackened space showed where each had stood, but they
may have joined together in that other psalm, which
was probably written about this time, Psalm cil.

‘Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the
time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.

‘For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and it
pitieth them to see her in the dust.’

There is no misadventure on the journey, they travel
safely under the care of the king’s guard; but surely
Nehemiah saw adark cloud on the horizon as he handed
in his letters to the governors beyond the river. One
of these was Sanballat, the satrap or governor of
Samaria. His name was an Assyro-Babylonian one,
THE GOOD HAND. 35

so that he was probably descended from one of the
Babylonian families settled in Samaria, and it signifies
‘The Moon God gives life.’ His native place was
Horonaim in Moab. and Sanballat was by nation a
descendant of Lot.

With the Samaritan governor was his secretary
Tobiah, the servant or the feud slave, a man also
descended from Lot, for he was an Ammonite, and
standing evidently very high in Sanballat’s favour.

It was probably Tobiah who read Artaxerxes’ letter
to his master, and very black and gloomy were both
their faces as they heard the news it contained.

At the court of Sanballat was a friend of his, Geshem
the Arabian, the head or chief of a tribe of Arabs, which
we find, from the ancient Assyrian monuments recently
discovered, had been planted in Samaria by Sargon,
King of Assyria. This man Geshem was therefore a
Bedouin, a descendant of Esau. :

These three, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, cannot
conceal their disgust that anyone has been sent from
Persia to look after the welfare of Jerusalem. So far
they have trampled the Jews under foot as much as
possible, and the Jews have been powerless to resist
them. But now here is a man come direct from the
court at Shushan, with letters from their royal master
in his hand, and with orders to rebuild and fortify
Jerusalem,

From that moment Sanballat and his friends became
Nehemiah’s bitter enemies, determined to thwart and to
oppose him to the utmost of their power.

At length the wearisome journey is over, and Nehemiah
arrives in Jerusalem. He tells no one why he has come ;
36 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

but, worn out with the fatigue he has undergone, he
goes quietly to the house of a friend, probably to that
of his brother Hanani, and for three days he rests
there. Then, on the third night after his arrival, when
all Jerusalem is asleep, he rises, mounts a mule or
donkey, and, with a few faithful followers, steals out to
explore for himself the extent of the ruin, to see how
ings really were, what was the state of the walls, and
how wouch had to be done to put them into good repair.
Stealing out of the city on the south side, at the spot
on which in better days the Valley Gate had stood, a gate
which was so called because it opened into the Valley of
Hinnom, he turned into the ravine, and went eastward.
No doubt there was a moon, and by its quiet light he
could see the heaps of rubbish, and the work of the fire
which had destroyed the gates 150 years ago. How sad
and forsaken it all looked in the moonlight, as he turned
‘towards the Dragon’s well’ (see Revised Version). The
site of this Dragon’s Well is very uncertain, but it is
generally identified with Upper Gihon. It is sometimes
confounded with the Virgin’s Fount, called by the Arabs
the Mother of Steps, because there are twenty-seven
steps leading down to it, and the descent is very steep.
This is the only spring near Jerusalem, and its water is
carried by an underground passage to the Pool of Siloam.
It is an intermittent spring, suddenly rising and as sud-
denly falling, at irregular intervals. ‘Two explorers, Dr.
Robinson and Mr. Smith, were just about to measure the
water, when they found it suddenly rising ; in less than
five minutes it had risen a foot, in ten minutes more it
had ceased to flow, and had sunk to its former level.
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38 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Now Nehemiah has seen the work before him, and has
realised that it is both vast and difficult. He is ready
now to put his scheme before the people of Jerusalem.
He finds the city governed by no single man, but by a
kind of town council. He now summons a meeting of
these rulers, and he also invites the nobles and the
working men to be present. Then he makes his appeal :

‘Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth
waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come,
and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no
more a reproach.’

Then, to cheer them on to make the effort, he tells
them how God has helped him up to that point; he tells
them what the good hand has done for him already in
openir g the king’s heart and the king’s purse.

What response does he meet with? As one man that
large assembly rises and joins in the ery, ‘ Let us rise up
and build.” Happy Nehemiah to find such ready help,
to find those he speaks to willing at once to fall in with
his scheme, and to aid him in his work.

It is to be feared that had he lived in our more cautious
and calculating days, Nehemiah would have had many a
bucket of cold water thrown on him and his plan. One
would have risen and would have said, ‘The work is too
. hard, the heaps of rubbish are too great, it is impossible
to undertake such atask. Look at the south-east corner,
who will ever be able to clear away the heaps that have
accumulated there P ’

Another would have been sure to grumble at the
expense, would have asked how they, poor down-trodden
Jews as they were, could ever afford to give time or
money to such a vast undertaking ?
THE GOOD HAND. 39

A third would have risen with a long face, and would
have asked, ‘What will Sanballat say if we rebuild the
wall? What will Tobiah do? What will Geshem
whisper? Now indeed we have no open rupture with
the governors, but who can tell what the result of our
taking action in this matter will be? Surely it is better
to let well alone.’ ;

A fourth would have given as his opinion, that what
had served for 150 years would surely last their time.
True, Jerusalem was forlorn and defenceless, but they
had grown accustomed to it now. It struck Nehemiah,
of course, coming as he did fresh from the glories of
Shushan, but they had become used to it, and he would
soon do the same. There was no need surely to make a
disturbance about it or to run into any risk about it.

A fifth would have suggested, with some warmth, that
surely old inhabitants of the city were better judges of
its requirements than a stranger, and that it was for the
town council to propose such a scheme if they saw the
necessity for it, and not for a new-comer who had been
less than a week in Jerusalem.

These, and countless other objections, might have
been raised, had the meeting been called in our luke-
warm. days.

But the Jerusalem committee did not act thus, they
did not fill Nehemiah’s way with difficulties and his soul
with discouragement. A plain bit of work lay before
him and before them; he was ready to lead, and they
were ready to follow. ‘Let us rise and build,’ they cry.
And ‘they strengthened their hands for this good work.’

Let us take heed that we, as servants of Christ, follow
their example. ‘Let us never be seen with the bucket of
40 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

cold water, ready to throw on the efforts of others for
good. As ‘iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth
the countenance of his friend.’ Let us ever be ready
with the word of encouragement, with the helpful hand,
with the cheering spirit of hope. There is work for us
amongst the ruins of God’s fair world, and the labourers
are few.

Let us then rise and build, each of us in earnest, each
of us encouraging his brother, each of us looking beyond
the diseouragements of earth to the Master’s ‘ Well done,
good and faithful servant.’ :
at

CHAPTER IV.
Co Every Wan his Work.

Lays a year, in the University of Cambridge, there
Js) is a grand day called Commemoration Day. On

that day, in the middle of the service, in each
college chapel a list of honours is read out, a list
containing the names of all those who, in times gone by,
gave money or help to that college. The bodies of those
whose names are read have many of them crumbled to
dust long centuries ago, but their names are remembered
still, remembered for what they have done; and that
they may never be forgotten, they are publicly read
aloud, year by year, on the great Commemoration
Day.

Let us now take up God’s honour list, and see who
are entered upon it. We shall find it filled with the
names of those who have been dead more than 2000
years, but whose names are not forgotten; they stand
out fair and clear in the Book of God, all are entered on
the great list of honours, and are remembered for what
they have done.

Where shall we find God’s great honour list? It is
the list of all those who responded to Nehemiah’s appeal,
and who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. In Neh. ill. we
42 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

have a list of their names, not one is omitted. There
those names have stood for 2000 years; there they will
stand fo the end of time. Brave men, noble men were
those Jews, who, as soon as the scheme was laid before
them, cried, ‘ Let us arise and build;’ and who not only
responded by word of mouth, but who at once set to
work to do what they had promised.

Let us take a walk round the walls of Jerusalem and
watch the builders at work. We will begin where they
began, ver. 1, at the Sheep Gate on the east side of the
city. As we stand by the gate we see beneath us the
Kedron valley, and beyond it the slopes of the Mount of
Olives. Close by us, but inside the city, is the
sheep-market, where the sheep and lambs are sold to
those who wish to sacrifice in the temple, and near this
market is the pool where the sheep are washed before
being led up into the temple courts. This is the pool
mentioned in John v. 2, where in later times lay the
impotent man waiting to be healed.

Who are these who are busily engaged repairing the’
Sheep Gate and the wall beyond it; they are the priests,
who have left their work in the temple courts close by,
and who, with their loins girded and their long white
tunics turned up, are leading, as it was right they should,
the van of Nehemiah’s effort.

Heading these priests, and superintending their work,
is Eliashib the high priest. The meaning of his name
is God restores, @ grand name for the man who began
the restoration of the Holy City. This Eliashib was the
grandson of the high priest Jeshua, who had returned
with Zerubbabel. He is honourably mentioned by
Nehemiah as leading the way in this work; but, sad to
TO EVERY MAN AIS WORK, 43

say, though he earnestly built the wall round the city,
Eliashib was afterward the one who let sin come within
those very walls.

The priests are building from the Sheep Gate as far
as the two towers, Meah and Hananeel, which stood at
the. north-east corner of the city.

We pass on, and next we see a number of men
building; we notice at once, by their dress, that they
are not priests, so we ask them where they come from.
We find they are men of Jericho, the city of palm trees,
fourteen miles away in the Jordan valley. They are the
descendants of the 845 men of Jericho who returned with
the first detachment of Jews in the time of Cyrus. This
piece of the wall has been allotted to them because it
faces their own city Jericho; they are building at the
very spot from which the road started that led from
Jerusalem to Jericho.

Passing the Jericho men we come to a bit of the wall
where one solitary man is working. His name is
Zaccur. He can only have a small piece of the wall
allotted to him, for we are close now upon the Fish Gate,
where other builders are at work, the sons of Hassenaah.
Possibly this Zaccur was a man of no importance, for
_ we never hear of him again; probably his share of the
work was only a small one, yet it was well and faith-
fully done, and his name stands fast in God’s honour
list, and will stand there while the world shall last.

We have come now to the Fish Gate, on the north
side of the city. Close by us is the fish-market, for
through that gate comes all the fish sold in Jerusalem.
Men of Tyre are there with baskets of fish from the
Mediterranean, and Galilean fishermen with fish from
44 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

the great inland sea, on which in later times the
apostles toiled for their daily bread.

Three men, who were probably well-known citizens,
are repairing the three next pieces of the wall, their
names are Meremoth, Meshullam, and Zadok. We will
notice one of these three men, Meshullam, for we shall
hear more of him presently. If Meshullam’s name is
honourably mentioned here as one of the builders of
Jerusalem, we shall find it very differently mentioned
as we go on with Nehemiah’s story.

Passing these three men, we come to a part of the
wall which is being built by the inhabitants of Tekoa,
a small village not far from Jerusalem, whence came
the wise woman whom Joab sent to King David. What
is the matter at this part of the wall? The work does
not get on as it should. They seem to have no leaders,
these people of Tekoa, and to have a long stretch of
wall, and but few hands to build it. We ask how this
is, and we find that some in Tekoa have shirked the
work (ver. 5):

‘Their nobles put not their necks to the work of

their Lord.’ ,
- ‘They have been like oxen, too idle to draw the plough,
which have pulled their necks from under the yoke,
and have stubbornly refused to go forward. So have
these nobles of Tekoa stood aloof, too proud to work
side by side with the common people of the village, or
too idle to join in anything which requires continuous
effort; they have left their poorer neighbours to bear
the burden alone, and to do it or not as they please.

-We are now passing the Old Gate, on the north of
the city, the Damascus Gate of modern days, from
TO EVERY MAN HIS WORK. 45

which goes the great northern road to Samaria and
Galilee.

The men of Gibeon and Mizpah, whose villages lay
near together, we find next on the wall, working side by
side as neighbours should, and building the part of the
wall which faced their own homes, two villages standing
on the hills about five miles from the northern gate.

Coming round the city. we find ourselves passing the
Gate of Ephraim and the Broad Wall. Here we see
no workmen, for that part of the wall does not need
repairing. Uzziah, King of Judah, had built a strong
piece of wall here, about 200 yards long, and the
Chaldeans had not been able to destroy it with the rest

-of the city. This wall was twice the thickness of the
rest, and was always called the Broad Wall.

Near this wall we find men of two different trades
working, goldsmiths and apothecaries. Trades in the
East are almost always hereditary, passing down from
father to son for many generations. Thus these
goldsmiths and apothecaries were joined together in
family guilds or unions, and came forward together to
the work. The apothecaries were the spice makers,
important persons in the Hast, where spices are so
largely used in cooking, and where so many sweet-
smelling and aromatic spices are employed in embalming
the dead.

Then, passing on, we see the tower which protected
the furnaces or brick kilns, in which the bricks were
made which had been used in rebuilding the houses of
the city. So unsettled was the country, that it is
supposed it was found necessary to erect a tower for the
defence of these brick-makers, who were often at work
46 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

by night as well as by day. Close to the furnace tower
we see a strange sight, and one which is well worthy of
our notice. This part of the wall deserves our earnest
attention, for here are actually young ladies engaged in
the work, standing, trowel in hand, toiling away side
by side with the other workmen. Who are these girls?
They are the daughters of Shallum, the ruler of the half
part of Jerusalem (ver. 12) (or rather of the country
round Jerusalem). Shallum was evidently a wealthy
and influential man, but he did not. withdraw from
the work, like the nobles of Tekoa, and so anxious
are his daughters that the Lord’s work should be done,
that here we find them toiling away by their father’s
side. God noticed the effort made by these young
ladies of Jerusalem, and did not forget to notice them
in His great honour list.

Passing on, we come to the part of the wall which
Nehemiah had examined in his moonlight ride. We see
the Valley Gate, the Dung Gate, and the Gate of the
Fountain, opposite the Pool of Siloam. This part of
the city has suffered much from Nebuchadnezzar’s work
of destruction, and the work of rebuilding it is therefore
very heavy. But close to the south-east corner, at the
place where Nehemiah’s mule stumbled and was unable
to proceed, the builders have a stiff piece of work indeed.
The piles of rubbish are so many and so deep, there is
so much to be cleared away before they can commence
building, that we find accordingly the piece given to
each man to repair is not great, and that many hands
are making the labour light.

We notice, too, that most of those who. are working
in this part of the city are repairing that bit of the wall
TO EVERY MAN HIS WORK. 47

_which is immediately opposite their own houses. No
- legs than six times we are told that the builder’s own
house was close to the part of the wall he built.

One man we cannot help watching as we turn round
towards the eastern wall. His name is Baruch, and
there is something about him which attracts our
attention at once. He works as if he were working for
his life, he does not lose a moment; whoever is absent,
Baruch is always at his post; whoever is idle, Baruch
is ever hard at work, early in the morning and late at
night, when the hot sun is scorching the city and when
the night dews are falling, Baruch is always busy,
toiling away on the wall with all his might and main.
Ver. 20 tells us he ‘ earnestly repaired.’ The word means
to be hot, to be on fire with zeal and energy. He
‘earnestly repaired the other piece,’ or as it would be
better translated ‘another piece.’ Having finished his
own portion, in another part of the wall, Baruch has
- come to the rescue at the south-east corner, where the
rubbish is deepest and the work is hardest. Baruch
therefore receives the mark of distinction on God’s list
of honour. Round the corner, on the eastern wall, one
builder we cannot pass without notice, for he is an old
white-headed man. His name is Shemaiah the son of
Shechaniah. We find this man mentioned in 1 Chron.
iii. 22 as a descendant of King David. His son Hattush
had returned with Ezra, twelve years before; now here
is the old man himself, determined not to let his white
hairs prevent him from helping on the good work (ver.
29). He builds by the gate which was his charge, the
Golden Gate, at the east of the temple court and facing
the Mount of Olives.
48 THE KRING’S CUP-BEARER.

The last piece of the wall is being done by the goldsmiths
and the merchants; and now, as we pass them, we find
ourselves again at the Sheep Gate, at the very spot from
which we started in our walk round the city. .

Listen to the ring of the trowels, hearken to the
shouts of the workmen, as they call to one another and
cheer each other on in the work. From morning till
night, day after day, the trowels are kept busy, and the
work goes on, and already, as we-watch, we begin to see
the gaps filled up and the ruin of many years repaired.

It was the work of the Lord, a grand work, a glorious
work, which those builders of Nehemiah were doing, and
God noticed and marked, and put on His list of honour
every one who joined in it.

Times have changed, manners have altered, kingdoms
have.passed away, since the eastern sun streamed upon
Nehemiah’s workmen, but there is still work to be done
for the Lord. The Master’s workshop is still open, and
the Master’s eye is still fixed on the workers, und He
still enters the name of each in a register, His great list
of honour, kept not in earth, but in heaven.

Is my name then on God’s honour list? Am I
working for Him? Am I to be found at my post,
faithfully carrying out the work He has given me to
do?

Looking at the walls of Jerusalem, surely the Lord
would have us learn three great lessons.

(1) Who should work.

(2) Where they should work.

(3) How they should work.

Who should work? What say the walls of Jerusalem?
liveryone without exception. Do we not see people of
TO EVERY MAN HIS WORK. 49

all classes at work—rich men and poor men, people of
all occupations, priests, goldsmiths and apothecaries,
and merchants? men of all ages, the young and strong,
and the old and white-headed? those from all paris of
the country—men of Jericho, and Gibeon, and Mizpah,
side by side with inhabitants of Jerusalem? people of
both sexes, men and women? The goldsmith did not
say, ‘I don’t understand building, therefore I cannot
help.’ The apothecary did not object that it was not
his trade, so he must leave it to the bricklayers and
masons. Old Shemaiah did not say, ‘Surely an old
white-headed man like myself cannot be expected to do
anything.’ The men of Jericho did not complain that
they were fourteen miles from their home, and that
therefore it would be inconvenient for them to help.
The daughters of Shallum did not say, ‘We are women,
and therefore there is nothing for us to do.’

But all came forward, heartily, willingly, cheerfully,
to do the work of their Lord.

There is only one exception, only one blot on the
page, only one dark spot on the register. The nobles of
Tekoa, for 2000 years their names have stood, enrolled
as the shirkers in God’s gtand work.

Who then are to work for God? Every one of us,
whoever we are, whatever is our occupation, whatever
our place of residence, whatever our age, whatever our
sex, the motto in God’s great workshop remains the
same—‘T'o every one his work,’ his own particular work,
to be done by him, and by no one else.

Where then shall we work? Imitate Nehemiah’s
builders; those living in the city built each the piece of
wall before his own door, those living outside built the

E
50 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

part of the wall facing their own village, whilst the
priests built the piece nearest to the temple. Let us
then, as God’s workers, begin at home, working from a
centre outwards; our own heart first, surely there is
plenty of work to do there; then our own family, our
own household, our own street, our own congregation,
our own city, our own country, letting the circle ever
widen and widen, till it reacheth to the furthest corner
of God’s great workshop, to the uttermost parts of the
earth.

How then shall we work? ike Baruch, the son of
Zabbai, hot with zeal, on fire with earnestness and
energy. Baruch did not saunter round the walls to
watch how the other builders were getting on; he stuck
to his post. Baruch:did not work well one day and lie
in bed the next, he persevered steadily and patiently.
Baruch did not work as if he were trying to make the
job last as long as possible, idly pretending to work,
but dreaming all the time, but he worked on bravely,
earnestly, unceasingly, till the work was done. So let
us work while it is called to-day, for the night cometh
when no man can work.

Tt was no easy work those Jerusalem builders had.
Outdoor work in the East is always hard and heavy ; it
is no light matter to stand for hours in the scorching
sun without a particle of shade, toiling on at heavy and
unaccustomed work. But the builders bravely endured,
and were stedfast in the work, and they have their
reward. Their names stand on God’s honour list, not
even the most insignificant amongst them is omitted.

Workers for God, does the work seem hard? Are the
difficulties great ? Are you weary and faint as you keep
TO EVERY MAN HZIS WORK. SI

at your post? Does the hot sun of temptation often
tempt you to throw up the work? Think of Nehemiah’s
builders. Hold on, cheer up, work well and bravely,
remembering that the reward is sure. We read of
certain people who lived at Philippi whose names were
written in heaven. Who were theseP (Phil. iv. 8.)
St. Paul tells us; they were his fellow-labourers, the
workers of God in that city.

No human hand, no hand of angel or archangel,
enters the names on that register, for it is the Lamb’s
book of life. None but the Lamb can open it, none but
He can write in it, none but He will read its contents in
the ears of the assembled universe.

What an honour, what a wonderful joy, what a
glorious reward it will be to each faithful worker, as
he hears his own name read from the list! Surely it
will well repay him for all he has undergone in the
working days of earth.
52

CHAPTER V.
The Sword and the Crowel.

qi sea is calm and quiet, blue as the sky above i,
rb, not a wave, not a ripple is to be seen ; it is smooth
as polished silver, shining like a mirror, and
peaceful as the still lake amongst the mountains. On
‘the sea is a boat, floating along as quietly and as gently
as on a river. The man in the boat is having an easy
time, as he rows out to sea, almost without an effort.
But what is that in the far distance? It is a black
cloud, rising from the sea. In a little time the wind
begins to moan and sigh, white lines are seen on the
distant water, a storm is coming, and coming both
swiftly and surely. The man in the boat at once
rouses himself and prepares for action; it was an
easy thing to go forward when all was still, he will
find it a very different matter to meet the rising storm.
So found Nehemiah the governor. Up to this time
all had gone smoothly and easily, the king had granted
his request fully and freely, Asaph had given him the
wood from the royal ‘paradise, the committee, composed
of the leading men in Jerusalem, had at once fallen in
with his scheme, the people, great and small, men and
THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. 53

women, old and young, had responded to his appeal, the
walls were being rebuilt, the trowels were busy, the
rubbish was being cleared away, and all was bright,
cheerful, and encouraging. As Nehemiah walks round
the city directing the builders, dressed, as a Persian
governor, in a flowing robe, a soft cap, and with a gold
chain round his neck, he feels his work both easy and
pleasant. It is always a light task to direct and
superintend those who have a mind to work, and
Nehemiah for some time went peacefully on his way,
ag the man in his boat rowed easily along in the still,
untroubled water.

But what is that dark cloud rising north of Jerusalem ?
What is that moaning, muttering sound in the far dis-
tance? Can it be a storm coming, a terrible storm of
opposition and difficulty? Surely it is, for we see
Nehemiah rousing himself, and preparing to row his
frail boat through troubled waters.

Sions of the approaching storm had indeed been seen
by him, before the first stone had been placed on the
city wall. No sooner had he revealed his plans to the
people of Jerusalem, no sooner had they responded,
‘We will arise and build,’ than something had occurred
which might well make Nehemiah feel uncomfortable.
A messenger had appeared at the northern gate, bearing
in his hand a letter, written on parchment, and ad-
dressed to the Tirshatha, or governor. Nehemiah
opened the roll, and found it contained an insulting
message from Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, a
message which was evidently expressed in very scornful
and unpleasant words. The upshot of the letter was
this (i. 19):
BA THE KING’S CUP-BEARER,

‘What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against
the king ?’

Do you, Nehemiah, intend to fortify Jerusalem, and
then set up the standard of rebellion against Persia ?
Our master, the king, may be deceived by you, but I,
Sanballat, see through your hypocrisy and your wicked
designs. ,

Nehemiah’s answer was clear and to the point. Three
things he would have Sanballat know:

(1) We have higher authority than that of man for
what we do.

‘The God of heaven, He will prosper us.’

(2) We intend to go on with our work in spite of any-
thing you may say or do.

‘ We His servants will arise and build.’

(3) It is no business or concern of yours. You,
Sanballat, have nothing whatever to do with it.

‘Ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jeru-
salem.’

Be content then, Sanballat, to manage your own
province of Samaria, and to leave Jerusalem and the
Jews to me and to their God.

No answer came back to Nehemiah’s letter, and
perhaps he and his companions fondly dreamed that
this was an end to the matter, that the storm had blown
over, and that Sanballat, when he saw that they were
determined, and that they did not heed his threats or his
ridicule, would in the future let them alone.

But one day, quite suddenly, the clouds returned, and
the storm rose. he work is progressing splendidly.
The priests and the merchants, and the goldsmiths and
the apothecaries, the daughters of Shallum, earnest
THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. 55

Baruch, and white-headed Shemaiah, are all at their
post, when suddenly, as they look up, they see an
unexpected sight. A great crowd of Samaritans is
gathered together outside the northern wall, and is
standing still, staring at them, and watching their every
movement as they build the wall.

Sanballat the governor is there, Tobiah the secretary
stands by his side, his chief counsellors have come with
him, as have also the officers of his army. Dark and
thick the storm is gathering, and surely the builders
feel it, for the trowels cease their cheery ringing sound,
and all are listening, waiting and wondering what will
come next.

The silence is broken by a loud scornful voice, loud
enough to be heard down the line of workers, and by
Nehemiah as he stands among them. He knows that
voice well; it is the voice of Sanballat the governor. In
scoffing disagreeable words he is speaking to his com-
panions, but he is talking about the builders, and is
talking for their benefit too, that they may feel the full
sting of his sarcastic words.

‘What do these feeble Jews?’ A poor weak, miserable
_ down-trodden set of men; what can they do?

‘Will they fortify themselves?’ Do they fondly dream
they will ever finish their work, and fortify their city ?

And how long will it take to build walls like these ?
Do they think it will be done directly? ‘Will they
sacrifice? Will they make an end ina day?’ Do they
expect to offer the sacrifice at the commencement of their
work, and then the very same day to finish it?

Why, they have not even the necessary materials.
Where will they get their stone from? Are they going
56 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

to do what is impossible, to make good, solid building-
stone out of the heaps of rubbish, the crumbling burnt
masses which are all that remain of the old walls?

‘Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of
the rubbish which are burned?’

Then when Sanballat had done speaking, there follows
the loud coarse sneer of Secretary Tobiah. Why if a
fox (or. jackal) tries to get over their miserable wall,
even his light foot will break it down.

‘Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall
even break down their stone wall.’

We can picture to ourselves the burst of laughter with
which this speech would be hailed by the bystanders,
the officers and courtiers of Sanballat.

What does Nehemiah answer? How does he reply to
this cruel ridicule, these sharp, cutting, insolent words,
that provoking laughter ?

If we study Nehemiah’s character, we shall find that
he was a man of quick feelings and of a sensitive nature.
He was not one of those men who are so thick-skinned
that hard speeches are not felt by them. He was
moreover a man of great power and spirit. He must
have felt much inclined to give Tobiah the bitter retort
he so richly deserved, or to call upon his men to drive
Sanballat and his party from the walls.

But Nehemiah speaks not. He does not utter a single
word to Sanballat or to his friends. He remembers that
this is God’s work, not his; and he therefore complains
to God, not man:

‘ Hear, O our God; for we are despised : and turn their
reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey
in the land of captivity.’
THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. 57

Then, quietly and steadily, as if nothing had happened,
he takes up his work again, and the people follow his
example; they take no notice of the jeering company
below, but they build on in silence, all the quicker and
the more carefully for the scoffs of their enemies.

Sanballat and Tobiah soon tire of laughter and
mockery, when they see it ig of no avail; they move
off discomfited, and the work goes on as before.

Satan, the great enemy of souls, is the same to-day
as he was in Nehemiah’s time. He never lets a good
work alone; he never permits Christ’s servants to row
in smooth water, but immediately he sees work done for
the Master, at once he stirs up the storm of opposition.

The young man who is careless about eternity, who
is living simply to please self, has an easy time ; he will
not come across even a ripple of opposition, his sea will
be smooth as glass. But let that young man be aroused,
be awakened, be converted to God, let the good work of
grace be begun in his soul, and at once Satan will stir
up the storm of difficulty and opposition. Very often it
begins, just as Nehemiah’s storm began, in laughter. It
has been said that laughter hurts no one. That state-
ment might be true if we were all body, but inasmuch
ag we have a spirit within us, it is not true that laughter
cannot hurt. Surely it stings, and cuts, and wounds
the sensitive soul, just as heavy blows sting, and cut,
and wound the body. Satan knows this, and he makes
full use of the knowledge.

The man who sets out for heaven will scarcely fail,
before he has gone many steps, to come across a
Sanballat. He will have his taunt and jest all ready.
‘ What is this I hear of you? Have you turned a saint ?

a
58 THE KING S CUP-BEARER.

I suppose you are too good for your old companions
now; you are going to set the whole world to rights.’
Or, if the words are unspoken, Sanballat has the shrug
of the shoulders, and the scornful gesture, which are
just as hard to bear. Nor must the man who has his
face heavenwards be surprised if he hears Tobiah’s
sneer. ‘Ah, wait a bit,’ says Tobiah; ‘let us see if it
will last. Hiven a fox will throw down that wall; the
very first thing that comes to vex him, the very first
temptation, however small, will be sufficient to overturn
the wall of good resolutions, and his religious professions
will lie low in the dust, and will be shown to be nothing
but rubbish.’

It is well to be prepared for Sanballat and Tobiah,
for any day we may come across them. How shall we
answer them? Let us follow in Nehemiah’s footsteps,
let us turn from man to God. He hears the taunt, even
as it is spoken, and He says to each of His tried,
tempted children:



‘For My Name’s sake, canst thou not bear that taunt,
That cruel word ?

Is not the sorrow small, the burden light,
Borne for thy Lord ?

For My Name’s sake, I see it, know it all,
Tis hard for thee,

But I have loved thee so, my child, canst thou
Bear this for Me?’

Sanballat and Tobiah have moved away from the
walls of Jerusalem, and the work goes on prospering ;
the gaps are being filled up, and already the wall is half
its intended height (iv. 6), for the people had a mind
to work, and much can be done in.a short.time when
THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. . 59

that is the case. Not a word more has, for some time,
been heard of Sanballat, and perhaps the builders
fancied and hoped they had seen the last of their
enemies, when one day, suddenly, dreadful news is
brought into the city.

Sanballat and his friends, having failed to stop the
work by laughter and mockery, are going to take
stronger measures, and have agreed to resort to force.
Dark secret plots are being formed to gather an army
together, and to come suddenly upon the defenceless
builders and kill them at their work.

All the surrounding nations are invited to join
Sanballat in his enterprise. Not only the Samaritans
in the north, but the men of Ashdod from the west, the
Avabiang from the south, and the Ammonites from the
east, are gathering together against Jerusalem. Psalm
lxxxiii. is supposed by many to have been written at this
time, and describes the great storm. as it arose, and
threatened to destroy the defenceless city (Psalm Ixxxiil.
1-8).

Poor Nehemiah! he sees the raging of the waters, and
he feels that the little boat needs a careful hand at
the helm. He has a double receipt against this new
opposition—a receipt which may be summed up in the
two words which the Master has given us as our watch-
word—Watch and pray.

‘Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and
seta watch against them day and night.’

But the billows rose higher. Three mighty waves
came sweeping on, and threatened to swamp Nehemiah’s
frail vessel.

(1) The builders grew discouraged and tired. The cry
60 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

was raised inside the city, ‘We had better give up
attempting to work, the rubbish is too deep, it will never
be cleared away, the men who are carrying it away are
worn out, we cannot build the wall, it is of no use to try
any longer.’

Ver. 10: ‘And Judah said, The strength of the bearers
of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so
that we are not able to build the wall.’

(2) News was brought in from all sides, that any day,
any night, at any moment, a sudden attack might be
expected, for their enemies were boasting loudly to all
they met that they were confident of taking the builders
by surprise. _

Ver. 11: ‘And our adversaries said, They shall not
know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them,
and slay them, and cause the work to cease.’

And not only was there discouragement inside the city
and threatened danger without, but the number of hands
was lessened upon the city wall, for (8) men arrived from
different parts of the country, saying that it was abso-
lutely necessary that their brethren who had come up
to work on the wall should at once return home. They
were needed to guard their families and their homes
from the approaching foe. Ten times over Nehemiah
received deputations of this kind (ver. 12); and the
spirits of the builders sank lower and lower.

But Nehemiah, like a true leader, rises to the occasion,
and does not allow himself to be cast down. He did not
make light of the difficulties he saw around him, but he
manfully faced them, and in the hour of trial his people
did not desert him.

One day, ver. 14, looking towards the north, Nehemiah
THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL,. OI

suddenly saw the enemy coming. ° But all was ready ;
the weapons were laid where they could be taken upina
moment. No sooner is the alarm given than the work
ceases, and the whole company of builders is changed
into an army of soldiers, and swords, and spears, and
' bows are to be seen on the walls instead of trowels and
hammers. Nehemiah had carefully arranged the position
which each man was to occupy; he drew up his soldiers
after their families, probably giving to each family the
part of the wall nearest to their own house, that they
might feel that they were fighting for their homes, their
wives, and their children. Then when all were put in
readiness Nehemiah called upon them to be brave in the
defence of their city, and not to fear the foe.

‘Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which
is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your
sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.’

The enemy approaches; but instead of taking Jerusa-
lem by surprise, as they had boasted they would, they
find they are expected, and will meet with a warm
reception if they advance farther. They are afraid to
make the attempt; God guards the faithful city, and
Sanballat and his allied forces withdraw discomfited.
No sooner has the enemy beaten a retreat than the work
begins again.

‘We returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his
work,’

But, from that time, the sword and the trowel must
never be parted. Each builder worked with a sword
hanging by his side; each porter held a hod in one hand,
and a weapon in the other. They were always on the
alert, ever ready for action.
62 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Nehemiah had brought with him from Shushan a
large following of faithful servants or slaves ; on these he
could thoroughly rely. He divided them into two parties,
half worked at the building, filling up the gaps left by
- those who had returned home; the rest stood behind
them, guarding the weapons, the shields, and the spears,
and the bows, and the swords which were laid ready for
immediate use. By Nehemiah’s side stood a trumpeter,
ready to blow an alarm at the first sight or sound of the
enemy.

For, says Nehemiah, ‘I said unto the nobles, and to
the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is
great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one
far from another. In what place therefore ye hear the
sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our
God shall fight for us.’

So the work and the watching went on all day long,
and when the sun set over the Mediterranean, and the
stars came out in the quiet sky, and darkness made the
work impossible, still the watching went on as before.
Those who had laboured at the building all day lay
down and slept, whilst others kept guard on the wall.
The workmen who lived outside the walls were requested
by Nehemiah to stay in the city all night, in order to
increase the strength of their force. As for the governor
himself and the little body of faithful servants, they
gave themselves hardly any rest, either by night or by
day. They were almost always on duty, not one of them _
even undressed all that long time of watching; if they ,
laid down to sleep, they laid in their clothes, ready at
any moment for the attack of the enemy (chap. iv. 28).

Thus, day by day, the work grew and the walls rose
THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL. 63

higher, strong lines of defence once more encircled the
city, and the prayer of the captives in Babylon, offered
so earnestly and amongst many tears, was already
receiving an abundant answer.

‘Do good-in Thy good pleasure to Zion, build Thou
the walls of Jerusalem.’

The scene changes. Nehemiah and his workmen fade
away ; the walls of Jerusalem become dim and obscure,
and, in their place, we see coming out, as in a dissolving
view, other figures and another landscape. We see the
Master, Christ Jesus, standing in the midst of His
countless labourers and workmen, the great company of

-His faithful servants. We notice that each one is
working busily at the special work the Master has
given him to do, we see that this work is very varied,
no two labourers have exactly the same task. But in
one respect we notice that all the Master’s servants are
alike, they all carry a sword, for it is not possible for
any one to be a worker for Christ without also being at
the same time a soldier.

Nor is it difficult to see the reason of this, for, if
we serve Christ, we are certain to meet with opposition.
The mighty hosts of hell will come against us, to hinder
and te oppose us.

Let us, then, be prepared for their attack. Let us
set a watch against them. Satan and his forces always
watch for our weakest point. Let us find out what that
point is. What is the weak part of our defences? Is
it selfishness? Is it pride? Is it prayerlessnessP Is
it temper? Is it an unkind spirit? Whatever it is by
which we are most easily led astray, that is our weak
spot, and there we ought to set a double watch. David
64 THE KING'S CUP.BEARER.

had his weak spot, and he knew it: unguarded, hasty
words were ever coming out of his mouth, but he found
out the weak point in his defences, and there he set
a strong and powerful guard. He called upon God
Himself to keep out the enemy at that weak place:

‘Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth. Keep the
door of my lips.’

Let us not only watch, but let us ever be ready to
fight. Never let us iay down the sword of the Spirit,
or the shield of faith. Never fora moment let us put
off our armour, for we never know when the next attack
may come. The unguarded moment is the moment for
which Satan always watches, and which he knows only
too well how to use.

Above all, let us pray, for the watching and the
fighting will be of no avail unless we ask and obtain
strength from on high. ‘Our God shall fight for us,’
cried Nehemiah to his discouraged men. But they had
prayed day and night for the help which bore them
safely through. ‘Ye have not, because ye ask not.
Ask, and ye shall receive.’

‘Christian, seek not here repose,
Cast thy dreams of ease away,
Thou art in the midst of foes,
Therefore, Watch and pray.
CGird thy heavenly armour on, i
Wear it ever night and day, i

Near thee lurks the evil one,
Therefore, Watch and pray.’
65

CHAPTER YI.
Che World's Bible.

voices, a cry which resounds through the streets of

the city, and which is echoed by the surrounding
hills. What can be the matter? What can be the
cause of this mournful wail ?

There was a great ery in Egypt on that awful night,
when there was not a house in which there was not one
dead. That was the great cry of terror.

Hsau raised a great cry when he found that he
had lost his father’s blessing, the great cry of
disappointment.

There arose a great cry in the council chamber of
Jerusalem, when the Apostle Paul stood before his
judges,—the ery of conflicting opinion.

- But the great ery which is sounding in our ears now
is no ery of terror or of disappointment, and the men
who join in it are all of one mind; yet the cry is none
the less bitter or heartrending. As we listen to it, we
can distinguish the shrill voices of women mingled with
_the deeper ones of men, and we notice also, that,
although the cry is one of sorrow and distress, there ig
a deep undertone of anger and complaining.

F

oh GREAT cry, a piercing cry, raised by hundreds of
oh
65 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

Who are crying, and what is the cause of their
distress? Who are crying? An excited mob of men
and women, standing in the streets of Jerusalem.
Look at them well, surely we know some of their faces.
Is it possible, can it be, that we recognize some of those
whom we saw working so happily and cheerfully on the
walls? What a change, what a terrible change in their
faces !

What is the cause of their distress? What can
have happened to move them so deeply? Have the
Samaritans returned to attack the city? Are the walls
on which they have spent so much labour overturned
and laid low in the dust? No, all without is peaceful,
there is no sound of war in the streets, and the hills
around stand out brightly in the sunshine, and are
untrodden by the foot of any foe. The trouble is at
home this time, and as poor Nehemiah listens to the
dismal noise, and as he tries to still the shrill cries, that
his voice may be heard, and as he watches the people
rocking to and fro, as Hasterns do when moved by
sorrow, he may well feel downcast and disappointed,
for a city divided against itself cannot stand, and as
Nehemiah listens to the cry, he clearly sees that, at
that moment, Jerusalem, the city he loves best on earth,
is indeed a divided city.

Who then were these citizens of Jerusalem, these men
and these women, who raised the great cry? They were
the poorer classes of the city; it was a cry of the poor
against the rich, a cry like that which was raised all over
France at the time of the French Revolution, a cry for
bread.

Nehemiah listens carefully to the cry and complaints
THE WORLD'S BIBLE, 67

ofthe people, and as he does so he feels sure they are
not raised without cause. There is undoubtedly great
and distressing poverty in the city, and he finds that this
may be traced to three principal causes.

(1) The King of Persia had only allowed the returned
captives a very small tract of country to live in. The
rest of the land was filled up by the Samaritans, the
Arabians, the Edomites and other nations who had
settled in Palestine whilst the rightful owners were in
Babylon. Consequently, as their families increased, the
Jews found this narrow strip of country was not sufficient
to maintain them, and, as is always the case, over-
population and over-crowding was followed by great
poverty.

(2) Then there had evidently been a severe famine,
which had made matters worse, for there had been
numbers of mouths to feed and barely anything to feed
them on. No country is more subject to famine than
Palestine, for the harvest there is entirely dependent on
the rainfall. There are but few springs, there is no river
but the Jordan, and that runs in a deep ravine; the
whole fertility of the country hangs on the amount of
rain that falls in autumn and winter. Norain means no
corn, no corn means starvation, and the people know it
well. Nowhere on earth are there such fervent prayers
for rain, prayers which are offered by Turk, Jew, and
Christian alike, as there are in Palestine to this very
day, if the rainy season is passing away and a sufficient
quantity of rain has not fallen.

(3) Then Nehemiah found there was a third cause of
distress. Every year, in addition to earning money to
keep his wife and children alive, the poor man had to be
68 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

ready for a visitor, and this visitor never received a very
hearty welcome. Once a year there arrived at his door
an official sent by the King of Persia. He was the tax-
collector, sent to collect the tribute which had to be paid
yearly to their master, the great sovereign at Shushan.
Whatever else went unpaid, that tribute must be paid; |
whatever other debts they incurred, that sum must be
paid in full, and paid at once.

Over-population, famine, tribute, it was no wonder
that the people were so poor.

But the great cry in the streets of Jerusalem was not
merely a cry of suffering and distress; it was an angry
complaining cry; it was the cry of those who felt that
others were to. blame for their sorrows.

As Nehemiah walks amongst the weeping crowds, and
as he talks to the people one by one, he finds that there
are no less than three sets of complainants.

(1) There are the utterly poor people, those who have
no private means whatever, but who are entirely
dependent on the work of their hands and on the wages
they get for that work. These come to Nehemiah and
pour out their sorrowful tale. ‘We,’ they say, ‘have
large families, for

“We, our sons, and our daughters, are many.’

But ‘Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of
them,’ so runs the Psalm, and are not children a heritage
and gift that cometh of the Lord? Yet when the quiver
is more than full (for a quiver only held four arrows), and
when bread is scarce and work bad, it needs faith to trust
the children which the Lord has given to His care, and
to feel sure that He who sent them will send the bread
to feed them.
THE WORLD'S BIBLE. 69

‘Now,’ say these overburdened parents to Nehemiah,
‘we cannot let our children starve. We have been
building this wall and earning nothing, but we have had
to eat all these weeks; we have been obliged to take up
corn for our families lest they should die, and the
consequence is we have run very heavily into debt’
(ver. 2). That was the first class of complainants.

(2) But amongst the weepers Nehemiah found a
second class, those who had once been somewhat better
off, and had, in happier days, owned a little property,
and had some means of their own, but who, at the time
of the late famine, had got into difficulties. ‘I,’ said
one, ‘had a little farm in a village near Jerusalem.’ ‘I,’
' said another, ‘was the owner of a nice little vineyard or
oliveyard on the hill side” ‘I,’ said a third, ‘ built a
house in the city on my return from captivity, and hoped
to leave it to my children.’ ‘But so terrible was our
distress in the famine,’ say these men, ‘that we were
obliged to borrow money of our neighbours the rich
Jews in Jerusalem. They were willing to lend the
money, but they required security for it, and we were
compelled to pledge or mortgage our little property to
these men, and now times are still bad, and we see no
hope whatever that we shall be able to buy our little
possessions back again’ (ver. 8).

(8) But the shrillest cries of all came from the third
class of complainants. These were men who, up to a
certain point, resembled the second class. They had
once possessed a little property, but in the time of
famine they had parted with their lands, their houses,
and their vineyards like the rest. But the story of the
third class did not end here, these had since then got
7O THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

into still worse difficulties. The tax-collector had come
round to collect the tribute for Artaxerxes, and he had
demanded immediate payment. They had, however,
nothing to give him. What could they do? They were
obliged once more to borrow money of their rich
neighbours, who lent it to them at the rate of 12 per
cent. (one eighth part of the money to be paid
monthly). And what pledge, what security did these
nobles require for their money? The poor people had
already lost their houses and their vineyards, there was
nothing left to them but their children, and actually the
son or the daughter was pledged or mortgaged to the
rich money-lender. If the heavy interest is not paid, at
any moment the child may be seized, and carried off to
the noble’s house to be brought up as a slave. ‘ Nay,’
ery some of the mothers in the crowd, ‘ our case is worst
of all; some of our daughters have been taken as slaves
already, and we have no power to redeem them. Yet
we love our children just as much as these rich people
love theirs, they are just as dear to us as eu are to
them ’ (ver. 5).

‘ And then,’ says Nehemiah, ‘ when I had heard their
ery and listened to their tale, I was very angry.’ But
surely it was wrong of Nehemiah to be angry. Is not
anger a bad thing? . Is it not one of the works of the
devil, which we are bidden to lay aside ?”

Yet what says St. PaulP ‘Be ye angry, and sin not.’
So it is possible to be angry, and yet to be sinless. And
we read, Mark ii. 5, that, in the synagogue at Capernaum,
the Lord Jesus looked round on the hard-hearted
Pharisees with anger ; and in Him was no sin.

Nehemiah was very angry, yet Nehemiah sinned not
THE WORLD'S BIBLE. 7Y

in being so, for it was anger at sin, anger at the wrong-

‘doing which was bringing disgrace on his nation, anger
at the conduct which was offending God and doing harm
to God’s cause. It was righteous anger against the
cruelty and selfishness of those who, in those hard
times, had profited from the poverty and distress of
their poor fellow countrymen.

For some time Nehemiah did nothing, but he carefully
‘turned the matter over inhismind. He says, ‘I consulted
with myself,’ or as it is in the margin, ‘My heart
consulted in me.’ We can picture him pacing up and
down, saying again and again, What shall I do? What
is the wisest course to take? How can this great evil
be stopped? Doubtless, too, he took this trouble, as he
had taken all his other anxieties and cares, and laid it
before the God of heaven.

Then he sends for the nobles and all those who had
cppressed the people, and he gives them very plainly
his mind on the matter:

‘I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto
them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother.’

And thereby they had broken the law, for no Jew was
allowed to take interest, or increase, of another Jew,
much less to exact usury: see. Mxod. xxii. 25; Ezek.
xviii. 8, 17.

The Hebrew was to look upon every other Hebrew as
his brother, and to treat him as such. There was to be
brotherly love in time of misfortune, such love as would
prevent the receiving of increase from the one who was
in trouble. With reoard to the mortgaging of land, it
does not seem that these rich men had actually broken
‘the law, such pledges were allowed, provided that the
72 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

property mortgaged was returned in the year of jubilee.
But, whilst they had not broken the letter of the law,
these Jews had certainly acted in a hard, self-seeking
way, showing no sympathy whatever for the sorrows of
those around them.

How different was this from the generous conduct of
Nehemiah himself! All the time of his government he
drew no taxes or contributions from the people over whom
he ruled, as other governors did, and as his predecessors
in Jerusalem had done. THastern governors in’ those
days, like Turkish governors now, were accustomed to
farm their provinces. That is to say, the king allowed
them no salary, but he put the taxation of the people in
their hands. A certain fixed sum was to be sent to him
every year from the province ; and whatever the governor
could grind or squeeze out of the people, over and above
this stated amount, went into his own pocket and formed
his salary. Jerusalem now-a-days rings with many a
cry of distress caused by the unjust means used by the
pacha to increase his stipend by putting fresh burdens
on the people. The former Jewish governors had made
as much as forty shekels a day, or £1,800 a year out of
the people in their province. But when Nehemiah came
to Jerusalem, he found the people so poverty-stricken
and oppressed that he would not take a single penny for
himself. It is probable that his salary as cup-bearer had
been continued, and on this he lived and kept his
household going all the time of his government. Not
only so; not only did Nehemiah pay all his private
expenses, but he kept open house for the people of
Jerusalem; every day 150 of the rulers and chief men
dined with him, besides all the visitors to Jerusalem,
THE WORLD'S BIBLE, 73

- Jews from other countries, strangers from foreign nations
who were staying but a short time in the city, all of
whom were invited to the governor’s house, and sat down
at the governor’s table.

Nehemiah himself gives us his daily bill of fare,
ver. 18.

1 ox.

6 fat sheep.

Fowls without number.

A fresh supply of wine of all kinds stored in every
tenth day.

It was no small expense to have above 150 men to
dinner daily, yet for all this Nehemiah took not a penny
from his province, so touched was he to the heart by the
poverty of the people. Not only so, but all the time the
walls were being built he toiled away, and allowed all his
household servants to work both night and day, and yet
looked for no payment or compensation, ver. 16. Then
besides all this, Nehemiah had been most generous in
the time of the famine; he had supplied the poor people
with money and with corn, and yet he had firmly
refused to allow them to pledge or mortgage their lands,
much less their children, ver. 10.

And Nehemiah tells us the secret of his consistent
conduct; he tells us why he differed so much from the
governors who went before him. him back from sin.

‘So did not I, because of the fear of God.’

_ Thus Nehemiah had a right to speak, for he practised
what he preached. But in spite of this, his private
appeal to the nobles appears to have been in vain. They
seem to have given no answer, to have taken no notice
74, THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

of his appeal, and to have given him no reason to think
that they intended to change their conduct.

So he set a great assembly against them. He called
a monster meeting of all the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
rich and poor, for he felt that if their conduct was
publicly exposed and condemned, they. might possibly be
ashamed to continue It.

Nehemiah’s speech at the meeting was very much to
the point. He first tried to shame the nobles by
reminding them that whilst he, ever since his return, had
been spending his money in buying back those Jews who
had been sold into slavery to the heathen round, they
on the other hand had actually been doing the very
opposite, bringing their fellow citizens into slavery to
themselves. Was this right, or fair, or just? The
argument told, noone could answer it, there was dead
silence, ver. 8. :

Now, says Nehemiah, consider: ‘Ought ye not to
walk in the fear of our God?’ Ought ye not to be careful
in your conduct, kind, and just, and generous in your
dealing? And why?

‘Because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies.’

Because you Jews are God’s people, and all these
heathen round will judge your God by what you are.
You make a profession of religion, you claim to have
high motives; but if they see you grasping, greedy, hard,
like themselves, what will they think of your religion?
Surely they will say, ‘These Jews are no better than
ourselves, their religion cannot be worth much.’

Now, says Nehemiah, remembering all this, bearing in
mind the disgrace you are bringing upon the name of
Jew, I call upon you at once to give up this practice of
THE WORLD'S BIBLE. ro

mortgaging and pledge-taking. Not only so, but I bid
you restore at once the vineyards and the oliveyards,
the fields and the houses, you have taken from these poor
people. I bid you also return the interest they have
paid you (the eighth part of the money), and I call
upon you, in every way you can, to undo the evil you
have done already, and for the future to do unto others
as you would they should do to you, vers. 10, 11.

Nehemiah’s earnest words prevailed,

‘Then said they, We will restore them.’

This promise was followed by a very curious act on
the part of Nehemiah.

‘TI shook my lap.’

The lap is what the Latins called the sinus, a fold in
the bosom of the tunic, which was used as a pocket.
Eastern-like, Nehemiah used a sign to show what will
happen to any man who shall break the promise he had
just made. God will cast him forth as a homeless
wanderer, emptied of all his possessions, all his ill-gotten
wealth. He shall be void or empty, just as Nehemiah’s
pocket was void or empty, ver. 13.

‘And all the congregation said, Amen.’

Then, instead of the great ery of distress, was heard
the great shout of joy, for

They ‘praised the Lord.’

And the promise was not one of those promises made
to be broken, for

‘The people did according to this promise.’

It has been well said that Christians are the only
Bible that men of the world read. In other words, those
who will not read the Bible themselves, judge the reli-
gion of Christ simply by the Christians they happen to
76 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

come across. This is not a fair way of judging; it
surely cannot be right to condemn Christianity itself,
because some of those who profess it are not what they
ought to be.

Let us picture to ourselves an island in the Pacific
Ocean, where no European has ever been seen. A large
ship is wrecked not far from this island, and three men
are able to make their escape in a boat, and to land
upon its shore. The men belong to three different
nations—one is a Frenchman, another is a German, and
the third isan Englishman. The people of the island
receive them most kindly, warm them, and feed them,
and shelter them, and do all they can for them till a ship
shall come to take them away.

What return do the three men make for their kind-
ness? The Frenchman is grateful, and willing to make .
himself useful in any way: he can: he amuses the
children and helps in the work of the house, and does
all he can to make return for the hospitality he is
receiving. ‘The German is very clever with his fingers,
and spends his time in teaching the natives to make
many things which they had not been able to do before;
he becomes indeed so helpful to them that they dread
the day coming when he will have to leave them. But
the Englishman is a man of low tastes and bad morals.
He spends his time in drinking the spirit he finds on the
island, in quarrelling with the inhabitants, and in ill-
treating their children; there is not a soul on the island
who does not rejoice when the ship bears him away,
never to return.

Soon after this, news is brought that a small colony
from Europe is anxious to settle on that island, and to
THE WORLD'S BIBLE, 77

trade with the inhabitants. ‘The commercial advantages
of this step are laid before the natives, and leave is asked
for the party of traders to land. One question, and one
question only, is asked by the inhabitants. Of what
nation are these colonists? The answer is brought back,
They are English. At once the whole island is up in
arms. They shall not land, they cry, we will not hear
of it; we know what English people are, we have had
plenty of the English. Had they been French or
Germans we would have given them a hearty welcome,
but we never wish to sée an Englishman again.

But surely that was not fair, it was not right to judge
a whole nation by one bad specimen. Nor is it right to
judge the followers of Christ in that way. I know a
man, says one, who is hard and grasping and self-seek-
ing, and that man makes a religious profession, therefore
I will have nothing to do with religion. I know a
Christian who is bad-tempered; I know a Christian
who is not particular about truth; I know a Christian
out of whose mouth come bitter, unkind words; I know
a Christian who is unpleasant in his manner; I know a
Christian with whom I should be sorry to do business ;
I know a Christian who is always mournful and miser-
able. These are your Christians, are they? Then do
not ask me to be one; I have no opinion of any of
them.

Yet, after all, the man who speaks thus draws an
unfair conclusion. Because I find in my bag of gold
one bad half-sovereign, or even two or three bad ones,
am I therefore to throw all the rest away? And because
one Christian, or several Christians, disgrace their
Master, and act inconsistently, am I therefore to con-
78 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

demn Christianity itself? Am I therefore to cut off my
own soul from all hope of safety ? s

But, remembering this, bearing in mind that many
eyes are on us, that our conduct is being read, our
ways watched, our actions weighed, our motives sifted,
Christian friends, let us walk carefully. Do not let us
bring disgrace on our Master, do not let us hinder others
and be a stumbling-black in their way; do not let us
give the world a wrong idea of Christ.

We are not half awake, we are not half careful enough ;
let us walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Let
us, whenever we have been tempted to any inconsis-
tency, be able to take up Nehemiah's brave noble words, »

‘So did not I, because of the fear of God.’

T could not get into a temper, I could not be hard or
grasping, I could not do that piece of sharp practice, I
could not stoop to that deceit, I could not disgrace my
Master, because in my heart was a principle holding me
back from sin, the fear of the Lord. I feared to grieve
the One who loved me, and that fear kept me safe. ‘So
did not I, because of the fear of God.’
CHAPTER VII.

Crue to his Post.

(y iors wife was changed into a pillar of salt; and if that

“iy pillar still remained, we should see her to-day

standing in exactly the same attitude in which she
was standing when death suddenly came upon her.

About a hundred years ago, a baker in the south of
Italy sunk a well in his garden ; and whilst doing so he
suddenly came upon a buried city, a city which had been
lost to the world for 1800 years. The underground city
was no empty place; it was peopled with the dead, and
these were found in the very attitude and position in
which death had overtaken them, standing, sitting,
lying, just as they had been on that awful day when
Mount Vesuvius sent out terrible showers of ashes,
destroying them all.

Very various were the positions of the dead in that
buried city. Many were in the streets, in the attitude
of running, trying to make their escape from the city
gate; others were in deep vaults whither they had gone
for safety, crouching, in their fear of what might fall
upon them; others were on staircases and flights of
stone steps leading to the roof, in the attitude of climbing
to a place where they hoped the lava might not bury

«a
80 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

them. Two men were found by the garden gate of a
large and beautiful mansion. One was standing with
the key in his hand, a handsome ring on his finger, and
a hundred gold and silver coins scattered round him.
The other, who was probably his slave, was stretched on
the ground, with his hands clutching some silver cups and
vases. These men had evidently been suffocated whilst
trying to carry off the money and treasure.

But one man in that buried city deserves to be
remembered to the end of time. Who was he? One
Roman soldier, the brave sentinel at the gate. There he
had been posted in the morning, and there he had been
bidden to remain. —

And how was he found? Standing at his post, with his
hand still grasping his sword, faithful unto death. There,
by the city gate; whilst the earth shook and rocked,
whilst the sky was black with ashes, whilst showers of
stones were falling around him, and whilst hundreds of
men, women and children brushed past him as they fled
in terror from the city, there he stood, firm and unmoved.
Should such a man as I flee? thought the sentinel.
And in that same spot, in that post of duty, he was
found 1800 years after, faithful to his trust, faithful
unto death.

Oh, that the Lord’s soldiers were more like that brave
man in Pompeii! Itis so easy to begin a thing, so hard
to stick to it; so easy to start on the Christian course,
so difficult to persevere; so easy to enlist in the army,
so very hard to stand unmoved in the time of danger or
trial. Yet what says the Master? He that endureth to
the end (and he alone) shall be saved. What says the
Captain? that it is the soldier who is faithful unto
TRUE TO HIS POST. 81

death (and no one else) who shall receive the crown
of life.

Who then amongst us are faithful, true and unmoved ?
Who amongst us can stand firm in spite of Satan’s
efforts to lead us aside? Who can hold on, not for a
week only, but still faithful as the weeks change into
months, and the months into years, faithful unto death ?
About 100 years before the time of Nehemiah, there
lived a wise old Chinaman, the philosopher Confucius.
Looking round upon his fellow-men, Confucius said that
he noticed that a large proportion of them were ‘ Copper-
kettle-boiling-water men.’ The water in a copper kettle,
said Confucius, boils very quickly, much more quickly
than in an iron kettle; but the worst of it is that it just
as quickly cools down, and ceases to boil.

So, said Confucius, is it with numbers of my fellow-
men: they are one day hot and eager, boiling over with
_ weal in some particular cause; but the next day they
have cooled down, and they take no interest in it what-
ever. Soon up, soon down, like the water in a copper
kettle.

Just so is it in the service of God. There are, sad to

say, many copper-kettle-boiling-water Christians, hot
and earnest in the work of God one moment, but in
the next they have cooled down, and are ready to leave
the work to take care of itself.
. But Nehemiah was no copper-kettle-boiling-water
man, he comes before us as a man faithful to his post,
standing firm to his duty, a man whom no one could
draw from his work, or cause to swerve from what he
knew to be right.

The Samaritans have made a mighty effort to stop

G
82 THE KING’S CUP.BEARER,

Nehemiah’s great work, the building of the walls of
Jerusalem. They began with ridicule; but the builders
took no notice of the shouts of laughter, but built on as
before. Then they tried to stop the work by force; but
they found the whole company of builders changed, as
by a magic wand, into an army of soldiers, ready and
waiting for their attack. Now the news reaches them,
chap. vi. 1., that the walls are progressing, that the gaps
are filled up, the different pieces are joined together, and
that nothing now remains but to put up the gates in the
various gateways.

They feel accordingly that no time is to be lost; they
must, in some way or other, put a stop to Nehemiah
and his work at once. They determine, therefore, to.
try a new plan, they will entrap Nehemiah by stratagem
and deceit. So they send an invitation to Jerusalem,
begging him to meet them in a certain place, that there
they may settle their differences by a friendly conference.

Sanballat is to be there as the head of the Samaritans,
Geshem as the head of the Arabians, and Nehemiah as
the head of the Jews; and surely, meeting in a friendly
way, and embued with a friendly spirit, nothing will be
easier than quietly and peacefully to confer together,
and then to arrange matters in a comfortable and
satisfactory manner.

The place appointed for the meeting is the Plain of
Ono—the green, beautiful plain between the Judean hills
and the Mediterranean—called elsewhere the Plain of
Sharon. There in later days stood Lydda, the place
where St. Peter healed Auneas; there stood Joppa, from
which Jonah embarked; there, at the present day, may
be seen fields of melons and cucumbers, groves of orange
TRUE TO HIS POST. 83

and lemon trees, and fields of waving corn. Nehemiah
would have a journey of about thirty miles before he
reached the appointed meeting-place.

Sanballat’s proposal sounded very fine and even very
friendly, but it was a trap. His real desire was to
tempt Nehemiah from behind the walls of Jerusalem, to
entice him to a safe distance from his brave friends and
companions, and then to have him secretly assassinated.
Who then would ever hear again of the power of Jeru-
salem? Who then would ever see the gates put in their
places ? ,

Is Nehemiah moved from his post of duty by San-
ballat’s message? Does he leave his work at once, and
set off for the Plain of Ono? Look at his decided
answer.

‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come
down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and
come down to you?’

God’s work would be done better, and with more
success, if all His workmen were like Nehemiah. But,
alas! many who call themselves workers for God are
ready to run off from the work at every call, every
invitation, every appeal from the world, the flesh, or the
devil. I am doing a great work, but there is that
amusement I want to take part in, the work must be
left to-day.

Iam doing a great work; but Ido not feel inclined for
it just now, I feel idle, or the weather is too cold to go
out, or the sun shines so brightly I should like a walk
Instead, I must leave my work to others to-day.

I am doing a great work; but I love my own ease,
or pleasure, or convenience, better than I love the
84 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER

work, these must come first and the work must come
second.

So speak the actions of many so-called workers, aa
thus it is that so much Christian work is a dead failure.

But, says Nehemiah, ‘I am doing a great work, so that
I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst
I leave it, and come down to you ?’

Let us remember his words, let us inwardly digest .
them, and the very next time that we are tempted to
give up work for God and to run off to something else,
let us take care to echo them.

But Sanballat is determined not to be beaten, he will
try again and yet again. Four times over he sends
Nehemiah a friendly invitation to a friendly conference,
four times over Nehemiah steadily refuses to come.
Then, when that plot com euely fails, Sanballat loses
his temper.

One day a messenger arrives at the gate of Jerusalem
with an insult in his hand. The insult is in the form of
a piece of parchment; it is a letter from Sanballat, an
‘open letter,’ ver. 5.

Letters in the Hast are not put into envelopes, but
are rolled up like a map, then the ends are flattened and
pasted together. The Persians make up their letters in
a roll about six inches long, and then gum a piece of
paper round them, and put a seal on the outside. But
in writing to persons of distinction, not only is the letter
cummed together, but it is tied up in several places with
coloured ribbon, and then enclosed in a bag or purse. »
To send a letter to such a man as Nehemiah, not only
untied and unenclosed, but actually not even having the
ends pasted together, was a tremendous insult, and
TRUE TO HIS POST. 85

Nehemiah, who had been accustomed to the strict
- etiquette of the Persian court, knew this well.

‘ But Sanballat probably sent this open letter not only
with the intention of insulting Nehemiah, but also in
order that every one whom the messenger came across
might read it, and that the Jews in Jerusalem and its
neighbourhood might be frightened by its contents, and
might therefore be inclined to forward his plans.

The letter contained a piece of gossip.

‘It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith
it.’

So the letter began, and then there followed the
scandal, the gossip about Nehemiah. :

People’s tongues were busy 2,000 years ago, just as
people's tongues are busy now, and the gossips of those
days, like the gossips of to-day, were not particular
about truth.

What was the gossip which Gashmu had started
against Nehemiah? It was this: Jerusalem ig being
built, we all see that, says Gashmu. But now, what is
at the bottom of this business? Hush! says Gashmu,
do not tell any one, and I will tell you a secret. You
would never believe it, you would never guess it;
_ but what do you think? As soon as those walls are
‘ built and those gates are finished, you will hear news.
There is going to be a king in Jerusalem, and his name
is Nehemiah. As soon as ever he has a strong city in
which to defend himself, he is going to rebel against
Persia. Nay, he has already paid people inside Jeru-
salem to pretend to be prophets, and to say to the
people:

‘There is a king in Judah.’
86 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

That is the gossip, says Sanballat, that is going the
round of all the gossips’ tongues in the land. And now
what will be the result? If the King of Persia hears of
it, and it is sure to reach his ears sooner or later, it will
go badly with you, Nehemiah. The best thing you can
do is to consent to meet me, and we will talk the matter
over and see what can be done to prevent this report
reaching Persia.

‘Come now therefore, and let us take counsel
together.’

Nehemiah hag stood firm under ridicule; he has been
unmoved by force or deceitful friendships; will he be
frightened from his duty by gossip? No, he cares not
what they say, nor who says it. He simply sends
Sanballat word that there is not a vestige of truth in
the report, nor does he intend to take any notice of it.

‘There are no such things done as thou sayest, but
thou feignest them out of thine own heart.’

Over the entrance to one of our old English castles
these words are carved in the stonework :—

THEY say.
WHAT Do THEY say?
Let THEM SAY.

These words are well worth our remembering. It is
not pleasant to be talked about, especially if the words
spoken about us are untrue, but it will be a wonderful
thing if any of us escape the gossip’s tongue.

They say, and they always will say, to the end of
time; people will talk, and their talk will chiefly be of
their neighbours.

What do they say? Do you answer like the Psalmist,
‘They lay to my charge things I knew not?’ They
IRUVE TO IlS POST, 87

speak unkindly, untruly, unfairly. Never mind, Let
them say. You cannot stop their mouths, but you can
hinder yourself from taking notice of their words. Let
them say, for they will have their say out, but they will
end it all the sooner if you take no notice of it.

Let us try for the future to be thick-skinned, and
when Gashmu’s tongue is whispering, and whenever
some busybody like Sanballat repeats Gashmu’s words
to us, let us act as Nehemiah did. Let us take no
notice of the repeated tittle-tattle.

Yet, although we may practically ignore the gossip-
ing tongue, if we are naturally sensitive and highly
strung we cannot help feeling some sting from the
unkind or untrue speech. Poor Nehemiah, unmoved
though he was by the gossip, yet feels it necessary to
remember the meaning of his name, and to turn from
Sanballat’s letter to ‘ the Lord my Comforter.’

‘O God, strengthen my hands.’

So he cries from the depths of his soul, and so he
was comforted.

Sanballat now feels that he is attempting an impos-
sibility. It is of no use trying himself to move
Nehemiah, for Nehemiah is thoroughly on his guard
against him. If he reaches him at all, he must do so
through others, whom Nehemiah does not suspect. So,
by means of his gold, Sanballat tempts some of the
Jerusalem Jews over to his side.

There is a woman living in Jerusalem named Noadiah,
and she (to her shame be it spoken) is bribed by
Sanballat to give herself out as a prophetess, and to be
the bearer of messages to Nehemiah, pretending that
those messages were sent to him by God. Nor is
88 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

Noadiah the only one who is bribed by the Samaritan
governor to pretend the gift of prophecy.

One day, Nehemiah is sent for to the house of one of »

these people who profess to be able to prophesy. He is
a young man of the name of Shemaiah, whose family
had returned from Babylon with Zerubabbel, but who —
had never been able to prove their Jewish descent (vii.
61, 62, 64).
' This young man professes to be very fond of
Nehemiah, and begs him to come to see him. Nehemiah
does so, and finds him shut up, his doors barred and
bolted, his house barricaded like a fortress. He admits
Nehemiah, and seems, as he does so, to be in a great
state of fear and terror.

Then he whispers a dreadful secret in his ear. He
tells Nehemiah that his life is in immediate danger,
that there is a plot set on foot by Sanballat to murder
him that very night, and that this plot has been
revealed to him by God. He tells him that he feels
his own life, as one of Nehemiah’s best friends, is also
in danger, and therefore he proposes that they shall go
together after dark to the temple courts, and, passing
through these, enter into the sanctuary itself, the Holy
Place, in which stood the altar of incense, the golden
candlestick, and the table of showbread. There, having
carefully closed the folding doors of fir-wood, they
may hide till daybreak, and those who were coming
to assassinate Nehemiah will seek him in vain.

Shemaiah gives this advice as a direct message from
God, but Nehemiah saw through it. He felt sure God
could not have sent that message, for God cannot
contradict His own Word. And what said the Word ?
IRUE TO HIS POST. 89

Tt was clearly laid down in the law of Moses that no
man, unless he was a priest, might enter the Holy
Place; if he attempted to do so, death would be the
penalty.

‘The stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.’
So Nehemiah bravely answers:

‘Should such a man as I flee ? and who is there, that,
being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life ?
I will not go in,’

Who is there, that, being as I am—that is, being a
layman, not a priesi—as I am, could go into the temple
and live? for that is the better translation. In other
words, if I, Nehemiah, who am not a priest, should
break the clear command of God, by crossing the
threshold of the temple, instead of saving my life I
should lose it. I will not go in.

So failed this dastardly plot to get Nehemiah to sin,
in order that his God might desert him. The sentinel
stood unmoved at his post, Nehemiah goes on steadily
with his work. Should such a manas I flee? And in
fifty-two days after its commencement, in less than
two months, the wall was finished, vi. 15.

With a huge army, with hundreds of horses, and
with twenty elephants, Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, crossed
over from Greece to Italy to conquer the Romans. No
elephants had ever before been seen in Italy; and when
the two armies met, and the huge animals advanced
with their dark trunks curling and snorting, and their
ponderous feet shaking the earth, the horses in the
Roman army were so terrified that they refused to
move, and Pyrrhus won an easy victory. After the
battle was over Pyrrhus walked amongst the dead, and
90 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

looked at the bodies of his slain foes. As he did so,
one fact struck him very forcibly, and it was this, the
Romans did not know how to run away. Not one had
turned and fled from the field of battle. The wounds
were all in front, not one was wounded in the back.

‘Ah,’ said Pyrrhus, ‘with such soldiers as that the
whole world would belong to me.’

Soldiers of Christ, let us be brave for the Master.
Let the language of the heart of each in the Lord’s
army be that of Nehemiah, ‘Should such a man as I
flee?’ Nay, I will not flee, I will not desert my
post, I will stand my ground, bravely, consistently,
perseveringly, unto death.
91

CHAPTER VIII.
The Paidagogos.

(px Tarpeian Rock was the place where Roman
q criminals who had been guilty of the crime of

treason were executed. They were thrown head-
long from this rock into the valley below, and perished
at its base. The rock took its name from a woman
named Tarpeia, who has ever been a disgrace to her
sex, and whose name was hated in Rome, for she was
a traitress to her country. For a long time the war
had raged between the Romans and the Sabines. The
Romans were at last compelled to shut themselves up
in their strong fortress, which the Sabines attempted
to take, but in vain. So steep were the rocks on which
it stood, so strong were the walls, that the Sabines
must have given up their attempt in. despair, had it
not been for the treachery of Tarpeia, the governor’s
daughter. She looked down from the fortress into the
Sabine host, and she noticed that, whilst with their
right arms the Sabines held their swords, on their left
arms were hung massive golden bracelets, such as
Tarpeia had never beheld before. One day, leaning
over the precipice, she managed to whisper into the ear
of. a Sabine soldier her treacherous plan. She was
«

92 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

‘willing in the dead of night to unlock the gate of the

fortress, and to admit the Sabines, provided that they
promised on their part to give her what they carried on
their left arms. Tarpeia’s proposition was agreed to,
and that night the governor’s daughter stole the keys of
the fortress from her father’s room, and admitted the
enemy.

But the Sabines had too much right feeling to let
her treachery go unpunished. She stood by the gate,
hoping to receive the bracelets, but each Sabine soldier,
as he entered, threw at her head his massive iron
shield, which he also carried on his left arm, until she
was crushed to the ground, and buried beneath a mass
of metal. They had fulfilled their promise, but in a
way the treacherous Tarpeia did not expect. When she
was quite dead, they took up her body, and threw it
over the rock which ever after bore her name, as a
warning to traitors.

Treachery within the camp, those in league with the
enemy in the very midst of the citadel, those who whilst
pretending to be friends are secretly conspiring to hinder
and annoy. Surely such a state of things is enough to
move any man’s heart. Who could help feeling it
bitterly ?

David could not. Listen to his heartrending cry—

‘For it is not an open enemy, that hath done me
this dishonour ; for then I could have borne it. Neither
was it mine adversary that did magnify himself against
me; for then I would have hid myself from him. But
it was even thou, my companion, my guide, and mine
own familiar friend.’

Nehemiah could not help feeling it. He had borne
THE PAIDAGOGOS, 93

patiently ridicule, force, deceit from without; whatever
of harm or mischief Sanballat did, he could not help,
nor was he surprised at it. But when the trouble came
nearer home, when he found that in Jerusalem itself,
amongst those whom he had loved and for whom he had
sacrificed so much, there were actually to be found
traitors, then indeed Nehemiah’s soul was stirred to its
very depths.

He discovered to his horror that letters, secret,
treacherous letters, were constantly passing from Tobiah
the secretary to some of his so-called friends in Jerusalem.
Nay more, he discovered that these letters were dili-
gently answered, and that a quick correspondence was
being kept up by Tobiah on the one side and these
treacherous Jews on the other.

Worse still, Nehemiah found that many of those
round him were acting as spies, watching all he did,
taking note of every single thing that went on in
Jerusalem, and then writing it down for Tobiah’s benefit.
And in spite of this, these Jews. had the audacity and
the bad taste when they met Nehemiah in the street,
or sat at his table, or came across him in business, to
harp constantly upon one string—the goodness, and
perfections, and excellences of dear Tobiah.

‘They reported his good deeds to me, and uttered my
words to him.’

Nor was this communication with the secretary at all
easy to break off, for he was connected by marriage with

some of the first families in Jerusalem. Tobiah himself

had obtained a Jewish girl for his wife, the daughter of
one of Nehemiah’s helpers—Shechaniah, the son of
Arah.


THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.
94

Not only so, but Meshullam, one of the wealthiest
men in the city, one of the most earnest builders on the
wall, one who had worked so diligently that he had
actually repaired two portions (chap. iii. 4, 80), one who
must have been either a priest or a Levite, for we read
of his having a chamber in the temple, this man,
Meshullam, so well spoken of, and so much esteemed in
Jerusalem, had actually forgotten himself so far as to
let his daughter marry the son of the secretary, Tobiah.
We cannot excise Meshullam by suggesting that his
daughter may have been spoilt or wilful, and may have
married in spite of her father’s displeasure, for, in the
Fast, marriages are entirely arranged by the parents,
and Meshullam’s daughter probably had no choice in
the matter.

Seeing then that there are enemies without, and half-
hearted friends within, Nehemiah feels it necessary, so
soon as the walls are finished and the gates set up, to
do all he can to make Jerusalem secure and strong.
Solomon had appointed 212 Levites to be porters or
gate-keepers, to guard the entrances to the temple.
Fiver since his time there had been an armed body of
Levites, kept always at hand, to guard the treasures of
the temple, and to keep watch at the gates. From these
Nehemiah selects the keepers for his new gates. Surely
these Levites will be faithful, and they have had some
experience in watching, inasmuch as they have for so
long acted as temple police.

Nehemiah’s next step was to appoint two’ men to
superintend these guards, and to be responsible to him
for the safety of the city. At any moment he might
be recalled to Persia, at any moment he might have to
THE PAIDAGOGOS. 95

leave his important work in Jerusalem, that he might
stand again as cup-bearer behind the king’s chair. He
felt that he must therefore appoint deputies to guard
the city for him, so that all might not hang upon the
fact of his presence in the city.

Whom did Nehemiah choose for this post of enormous
trust ? One was his brother Hanani, the very one
who had come to see him in Persia. Why, he would
never have even thought of doing this great work, if it
had not been for Hanani; and he felt he could
thoroughly trust him, and rely upon him entirely.

His other choice was Hananiah, the ruler of the palace
or the fort, which was a tower, standing in the temple
courts on the spot on which, in Roman days, stood the
Tower of Antonia. Nehemiah tells us exactly why he
made choice of the man Hananiah.

‘He was a faithful man, and feared God above many.’

He was a faithful man, thoroughly trustworthy and
reliable. He feared God above many, and therefore
Nehemiah knew that he would be kept safe and free
from sin. ‘So did not I,’ he had said of himself,
‘because of the fear of God; that fear held me back
from sin,’ and he felt sure it would be the same with
Hananiah. THe feared God, and therefore he could be
depended upon.

These two rulers, Hanani and Hananiah, planned out
the defence of the city. They divided the wall amongst
all the men in Jerusalem, nolding each man responsible
for the safety of that part of the wall which lay nearest
to his own house. Then, by Nehemiah’s orders, they
saw that the guards took care that the gates were not
only carefully closed every night, but that they were
96 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

kept closed till the sun was hot, that is, till some hours
after sunrise. These orders were most necessary, seeing
that there were traitors inside the gates as well as
enemies without.

It was the sixth month of the Jewish year when the
walls were finished. Then came Tisri, the seventh month,
the greatest and grandest of the months. The Jews say
that God made the world in the month Tisri, and in it
they have no less than two feasts and one great fast.

On the first day of the month Tisri was held the Feast
of Trumpets, or the day of blowing. On that day
trumpets or horns were blown all day long in Jerusalem;
on the house-tops, and from the courts and gardens, as
well as from the temple.

Obedient to the voice of the trumpets, at early dawn
the people all gathered together, and stood by the water-
gate, in a large open space suitable for such a gathering.
This gate is supposed to have been somewhere at the
south-east of the temple courts, and to have taken its
name from the fact that through it the temple servants,
the Nethinims and the Gibeonites, carried water from
the dragon well into the city.

Here a huge pulpit had been erected, not such a pulpit
as we find in our churches, but such an one as is to be

"seen in the synagogues of Jerusalem, a pulpit as large
as a small room, and capable of holding a large number
of persons.

The pulpit by the water-gate was a raised platform,
made for the purpose. In it stood Ezra the scribe, and
beside him stood thirteen of the chief men of Jerusalem:
Meshullam was there; but one man was conspicuous by
his absence. Hliashib, the high priest, who should




THE PAIDAGOGOS. 97

surely have been found taking a principal part in the
solemn service of the day, was nowhere to be seen.

Before the great pulpit was gathered together an enor-
mous crowd, men, women, and children, all those who
were old enough to understand anything having been

brought there, that they might listen to all that went on.

It was early in the morning, soon after sunrise, when
the great company met together. The blowing of the
trumpets ceased, and there was brought out by a Levite
an old roll of parchment. What was it? It was the
Book of the Law, the Bible of Nehemiah’s day, consisting
of the five books of Moses.

Slowly and reverently Ezra unrolled the law in the
sight of all the people; and they, sitting below, watched
him, and as soon as the book was opened they stood up,
to show their respect and their reverence for the Word
of God.

Then the reading began, and the ears of all the people
were attentive to the book of the law. For no less than
six hours Hizra read on, from early morning until mid-
day, yet still the people stood, still the people listened
attentively. There was no stir in the crowd, no one
asked what time it was, there was no shuffling of fect,
no yawning, no fidgeting ; in earnest, fixed attention the
people listened.

As Eizra read, a body of Levites went about amongst
the crowd, translating what he said. So long had the
people lived in captivity that some of them had forgotten
the old Hebrew, or bad been brought up from children
to talk the Chaldean tongue. Thus many of Hzra’s
words and phrases were quite unintelligible to them.
So the Levites acted as interpreters; and besides ex-

H
98 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

plaining the words, they also opened out the meaning of
what was read..

‘The Levites caused the people to understand the
law: and the people stood in their place. So they read
in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the
sense, and caused them to understand the reading.’

And at the end of six hours there came tears—there
was not a dry eye in the crowd—men and women alike
wept like children. There was Ezra in his pulpit, his
voice faltering as he read, and there were the people
below, sobbing as they heard the words.

What was the matter? What had filled them with
grief? §t. Paul tells us the secret of their tears (Rom.
iii, 20).

‘ By the law is the knowledge of sin.’

You draw a line. How shall you know if it be
straight or not? Lay the ruler beside it, and you will
soon find out its crookedness.

You build a wall. How shall you tell if it be per-
pendicular? Bring the plumb-line, put it against it,
and you will soon find out where the wall bulges.

You take up a drawing of wood, and hill, and tree;
how shall you know if it be correctly sketched? Put
beside it the master’s copy, look from one to another,
and you will soon discover the mistakes and imperfections
of the pupil.

Take the perfect law of God, lay it beside your own
life, as these people did, you will find out exactly what
' they found. You will find that you are a sinner, that
you have left undone what ought to have been done,
that you have done what ought not to have been done,
and that you yourself are full of sin.
THE PAIDAGOGOS. 99

‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy
strength.’

Have you done that? No! Then you are not like
the copy.

‘Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the
Lord thy God.’

Have you done that? No! Then you are not like
the copy. :

So felt-the company at the water-gate, as they listened
to the word that day. And with the knowledge came
tears, bitter, sorrowful tears, as they thought of the
past. Hach man, woman, and child amongst them
was ready to cry out

‘Red like crimson, deep as scarlet,
Scarlet of the deepest dye,

Are the manifold transgressions,
That upon my conscience lie.

God alone can count their number,
God alone can look within,
O the sinfulness of sinning,
O the guilt of every sin!’

Some years ago there lived in Jerusalem a Scripture
reader. He was an Austrian Jew, and he worked
amongst the large Jewish population in Jerusalem.
That man had been brought up to a very curious
occupation. For years he had maintained himself in
a very strange way. His business was this—to take
children to school every morning, and to bring them
home again in the evening. Each morning he called at
the various houses, he led the children out, he carried
the little ones, some on his back and some in his arms,
he chastised with a stick those who were inclined to
I0o THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

play truant, and he landed them all safely at the school-
door. :

St. Paul, when he went to the Rabbi’s school in
Tarsus, was taken there by just such a man as that,
a man who was paid by his parents to drive him to
school regularly, and to see that he arrived there in
good time. This man was called in his day a Paida-
gogos, or Boy-driver.

Years afterwards, when the apostle was writing to the
Galatians, he remembered his old Paidagogos, and he
used him as an illustration. He said, in his epistle,
that that boy-driver was like the law of God; just what
the Paidagogos had done for him, that also the Word of
God had done. That man had driven him to the school
of the Rabbi, the law of God had driven him to the
school of Christ. ‘The law was our schoolmaster to
bring us unto Christ.’

The word schoolmaster does not mean the man who
teaches, but it is this very word Paidagoges or Boy-
driver. ,

How, then, does the law of God drive us to Christ ?
Because it makes us feel that we need saving, that we
are sinners and cannot help ourselves, that if ever we
are to see the inside of the golden gates of heaven, it
must be by learning in the school of Christ, by learning
to know Him as our Saviour, our atonement, our all
in all.

Lord, save me, or I perish, for I cannot save myself!
All my righteousness is as filthy rags, I myself am full
of sin. There is no hope for me except in Thee!

So the Law is our schoolmaster to bring us unto
Christ. -
Tot

CHAPTER IX.

Che Secret of Strength.

Surely there is no difficulty in answering that
question, surely there has never been anyone to
compare with Samson in wonderful feats of strength!
Did he not alone and unaided rend a young lion in two,
as easily as ifit had been a kid? Did he not lift the
massive iron gates of Gaza from their hinges, carry them
on his back for forty miles, and climb with them to the
top of a high hill? Did he not overthrow an enormous
building by simply leaning on the huge stone pulars that
held it up? We see trials of strength and feats of
strength nowadays, we may have seen a man who could
with one blow of the sword cut a sheep in two, we may
have seen another who, by the mere power of his fist,
could snap an iron chain, yet what modern Samson,
strong and powerful and mighty above his fellows though
he may be, can equal or rival the'old Samson of Bible
story.
Yet after all are we right in calling Samson the
strongest man ? It all depends upon the kind of strength
of which we are speaking. If we mean bodily strength,

We was the strongest person who ever lived?
ity
102 THE KINGS CUP-BEARER.

mere physical force, then undoubtedly Samson was the
strongest man.

But is bodily strength the only kind of force or power
aman can possess? Is it the chief kind of strength ?

What is one name that we give to physical power; do
we not call it brute force? Why do we call it this?
Because it is force which we have in common with the
brutes, nay, it is strength in which the brutes can
surpass us. ‘Take the strongest man who ever lived,
give him the most powerful limbs, the strongest back,
the greatest strength of muscle, what is that man
compared with an elephant? The mighty elephant has
more power in one limb than the man has in his whole
body. Bodily strength is then, after all, a kind of
strength that is worth comparatively little, and of
which we have small cause to boast, for even an animal
can easily surpass us in it.

A. stronger man than Samson, where shall we find
him? Come to the Senate House in Cambridge, look at
that man hard at work on the examination papers.
Look at him well, for you will see that man’s name at
the head of the list when it comes out. Look at his
broad forehead, his quick eager eye, his earnest face.
That man is the strongest man in England: strong, not
in bodily strength, he would do but little on the football
field, nor could he win a single prize in athletic sports;
he is a thin, slight, fragile man, but he is strong in
mind, powerful and mighty in brain. That man’s
memory is simply perfect, his powers of reasoning are
faultless, his grasp of a subject is enormous, he is a
giant in intellect.

Here then we have another kind of strength, mental
THE SECRET OF STRENGTH. 103

strength; and inasmuch as the mind is vastly superior
to the body, and inasmuch as power of mind is a power
which the animals so far from rivalling man, possess
only in a very limited degree, we shall be ready to
admit that the student is stronger than Samson, because
he is strong in a superior kind of strength.

But there is a stronger than he, and it is a woman.

She is weak and delicate, and has certainly no bodily
strength; she knows very little, for she is a poor, simple
country girl; she has no mental strength, but she is
stronger than Samson, stronger than the Cambridge
student, because she is endued with a strength far
superior to bodily or mental strength—she is strong in
soul.
’ A great crowd of people was gathered on the shore
that day in the county of Wigton in Scotland. There
lay the wooded hills and the heathery moors, and the
quiet sea dividing them like a peaceful lake. Two
prisoners, carefully guarded, were brought down to the
shore, one was an old woman with white hair, the other
was a young and beautiful girl. Two stakes were driven
into the sand, one close to the approaching sea, the
other much nearer to the shore. The old woman was
tied to the stake nearest to the sea, and the young girl
to the other. The tide was out when they were taken
there, but they were told that, unless they would deny
the Master whom they loved, unless they would renounce
the truth of God, there they must remain, until the high
tide had covered them, and life was extinct.

The old woman was questioned by her murderers.
Would she renounce her Lord? Never; she could not
deny the faith of Christ. So they left her to her fate,
104. THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

and the sea rose. Silently, quietly, stealthily it crept
on, till her arms, her shoulders, her neck were covered,
and then soon after the wave came which carried her
into the presence of her Lord. Then they pleaded with
the girl, they tried to make her change, they used every
argument likely to move her, but all in vain. She was
strong in soul, strong and mighty, so strong that death
itself could not make her flinch. Still the sea erept on,
still the water rose, and still they tried to make her deny
her Lord. But, strong in spirit, the girl held bravely on.
Higher and higher came that ever-encroaching water,
and soon her head was covered, and she thought her
sorrows were ended, but her tormentors brought her out
of the water, rubbed and warmed her, and brought her
to life again, only to put the question to her once more.
Would she deny her Master? No; again she refused to
do so, and was dragged back, wet and dripping as she
was, once more to be chained to the stake, and to lay
down her life a second time. But the Lord was with
her, and she was faithful to the end.

That girl was strong in soul, strong in the highest,
noblest form of strength ; she could say No when tempted
to do wrong, she was faithful when sorely tried. But
Samson was weak as water, he had no strength of soul ;
~ a woman’s pretty face, a woman’s coaxing word, was
quite sufficient to overthrow all the strength of soul he
possessed. He could resist no temptation that came
across his path ; he was an easy prey to the tempter.

Oh! that we were all strong, strong in this highest,
grandest form of strength, mighty giants in spirit!

But do you say, How can I obtain this strength, by
what means can I acquire it? I feel I need it. I am
THE SECRET OF STRENGTH. tos

often led astray ; I listen to the voice of the tempter, I
give way to my besetting sin. I want to break off from
it, but I cannot; I want to leave the companions who
are leading me wrong, but I have not the strength to do
it. How can I become strong?

Here, in the story of Nehemiah, we find the answer.
Let us come again to the water-gate, at the. south-east
of the city. There is the huge pulpit of wood, there is
Ezra with the roll in hig hand, there are the people,
sobbing as if their hearts would break.

But ‘ blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be.
comforted.’ It is for sin that their hearts are broken,
they feel they have left undone so much that ought to
have been done, they have done so much that they
ought not to have done, that they are crushed with
sorrow, and the tears will come.

But hush, who are these passing amongst the weeping
crowd? There is Nehemiah the Tirshatha, or governor,
there is Ezra the scribe, and they are followed by a com-
pany of Levites. hey call to the people to stop crying,
and to rejoice. Is not our God a God of mercy? Ig
there not forgiveness with Him? If sin is confessed and
forsaken, will He not pardon it? Dry your tears then,
and, instead of crying, rejoice. Be merry and glad that
God is willing to forgive, nay, that He has forgiven you. :

Cheer up, for this day is holy unto the Lord; it is a
feast day, the joyous Feast of Trumpets. Mourn not,
nor weep. Do not imagine that God likes you to be
miserable; He wants you to be happy. You have
owned your sin, you have repented of your sin; now -
let your hearts be filled with the joy that comes from
& sense of sin forgiven.


106 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Go home now, and keep the feast. Hat and drink of
the best you have, eat the fat and drink the sweet, the
new sweet wine made from this year’s grapes. Go
home and enjoy yourselves to the full; but do not forget
those who are worse off than yourselves, remember those
poor people who have suffered so much from the late
famine, who have paid their last penny to the tax-
collector, who have lost their all in these hard times.
Let them enjoy themselves too to-day. Hat the fat and
drink the sweet, but do not forget to send portions to
them for whom nothing is prepared. Remember the
empty cupboards, and the bare tables, and the houses
where the fat and the sweet are nowhere to be seen.

What a word for us at the time of our joyous
Christmas feast! God loves us to be happy. He
likes us to rejoice; He does not want us to go about
with long faces and melancholy looks. A long-faced
Christian is a Christian who brings disgrace on his
Master.

Then as we meet, year by year, round the happy
Christmas table, and sit down to our Christmas dinner,
let us remember that God loves us to be happy; but let
us also remember that in the midst of all our joy He
would have us unselfish. He would have us send por-
tions to them for whom nothing is prepared. Is there
no one whom we can cheer? Is there no desolate home
into which we can bring a ray of light? Is there no
sorrowful heart to which we can bring comfort? And
what about the portions? Is there no poor relative, or
neighbour, or friend, with whom we.can share the good
things that have fallen to our lot ?

Our own Christmas dinner will taste all the better if


THE SECRET OF STRENGTH. 107

we have helped some one else to happiness ‘or comfort,
our own festal rejoicing will be tenfold more full of
merriment and real joy, if we have helped to spread _
the festal joy into dark and gloomy places.

‘Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and
send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared :
for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry;
for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’

Yes, there we have the secret of strength, of the
highest kind of strength, of strength of soul. The joy
of the Lord, that joy which comes from knowing our
sin is pardoned.

Can I say—

‘O happy day, O happy day,

When Jesus washed my sins away?’
Then I have spiritual ‘strength, for the joy of the Lord
is my strength. He has forgiven me, He has washed
me from my sins in His own blood; how can I grieve
Him? How can I pain Him by yielding to temptation ?
How can I ever risk losing the joy of my heart by going
contrary to His will? I am joyful because I am for-
given, and I am strong because I am joyful.

Here then is the highest kind of strength, and it is a
strength within the reach of all. Bodily strength some
of us can never attain. We are born with weakly
bodies, we have grown up delicate and frail, we could
no more transform ourselves into strong, powerful men,
than we could make ourselves into elephants.

There was a man who lived in Greece long before
Hezekiah, who was determined to make his nation the
strongest nation on earth; he was resolved that it
should consist of mighty giants in strength, and that
10S THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

not one delicate or weak man should be found amongst
them. But what did Lycurgus find himself obliged to
do in order to secure his end? He was compelled to
have every infant carefully examined as soon as it was
born, and if a child had the least appearance of delicacy,
he took it from its mother, and sent it to some lonely
cave on the hill-side, where it was left to die of cold and
hunger. He found that it was not possible to turn a
puny delicate child into a strong man.

Bodily strength then is beyond the reach of many
men; weak they were born, weak they live, and weak
they will die, nothing will alter or improve them.

Nor-can strength of mind be attained by many. They
were born with no power of memory, no aptitude for
learning, no gift for study; you may teach them, and
labour with them, and they may work hard themselves,
but no application can instil into them what was not
born in them; they came into the world with second-
rate intellects, and they will die with the same.

But, thank God, the highest form of strength, strength
of soul is, in this respect, not like strength of body or
strength of mind. No one is born with it, we are all by
nature weak as water, an easy prey for Satan; but there
is not one of us who may not acquire this spiritual
power. If we will take the lost sinner’s place, and claim
the lost sinner’s Saviour, we shall be filled by that
Saviour with joy, joy because sin is forgiven, and with
the joy will come the strength of soul.

In Greece, in that city in which all the weakly babies
were murdered, those children who were spared and who
were pronounced to be strong, were looked upon from
that time as belonging not to their parents but to the
THE SECRET OF STRENGTH. 109

state, and they were trained and brought up with this
one object in view, to make them strong and powerful
men. They were taught to bear cold, wearing the same
clothing in winter as in summer; they were trained to
bear fatigue, being accustomed to walk barefoot for
miles; they were practised in wrestling, in racing, in
throwing heavy weights, in carrying burdens, in anything
and everything which was calculated to maké the streneth
that was in them grow and increase. And it was
wonderful how, by means of practice, the strength did
grow. ;

We are told of one man, who in the public games
carried a full grown ox for a mile, and we are told that
he accomplished this by gradually accustoming himself
to the weight. He began when the ox was a tiny calf
to carry it a mile every day, and the increase of weight
was so gradual that he did not feel it; his arms became
used to the weight, and as the ox grew bigger, he at the
same time grew stronger.

Strength of body then grows and increases in pro-
portion to our use of it. . '

So, too, does strength of mind. Here is a boy, born
with good abilities and with an intelligent mind. Take
that child, and shut him off from every possibility of
using his mind; never teach him anything, never allow
him to look at a book or a picture, keep him shut off
from everything that might tend to open his mind, tell.
him nothing, bring him up as a mere animal, and soon
he will lose all his powers of mind, and become an
imbecile, But, on the other hand, teach him, train him,
educate him, let his mind have full scope and exercise,

_and his mental powers will grow and increase a hundred-
IIo THE KING’S CUP-BEARKER,

fold, for strength of mind, like strength of body, grows
with the using. : g

Just so is it with strength of soul. Every temptation
you overcome makes you stronger, every lust you subdue,
every battle of soul you fight, every inclination to evil
you resist, makes you stronger.

‘From strength to strength’ is the motto of the
Christian.

So let us press forward.

‘Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man’ (or as
R.V. has it, a full-grown man) ‘unto the measure of the
stature of the fulness of Christ.’

Now we are but children in spiritual strength, then
we shall be giants in power, full-grown men, with full
powers and energy and strength, ready to work for the
Master through eternity.
be
be
a

CHAPTER X.
Che Cightp-four Seals.

ye the Christmas bells were chiming in the old
Ua city of York, on Christmas morning in the year
aoe 1890, speaking gaily and joyfully of the Christmas
feast, when suddenly there came a change. The merry
peal ceased, and was followed by the quiet sorrowful
sound which always speaks of mourning and death, a
muffled peal. News had reached the ringers that the
Archbishop of York, who had been known and respected
in the city for more than twenty-eight years, had gone
home to God.

And as we ate our Christmas dinner that day, as we
gathered round the table to eat the fat and drink the
sweet, the solemn voice of Old Peter, the great minster
bell, was heard tolling for the departed soul.

Truly in the midst of life we are in death, in the midst
of joy there comes sorrow, in the midst of festivity we
are plunged into mourning.

‘Shadow and shine is life, little Annie,
Flower and thorn.’

So the poet makes the old grandmother sum up her
life’s story.

And it is just the same in our religious life. One day
112 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

the joy of the Lord makes us strong, the next the sense
of sin weighs us to the ground; one moment we are
ready to overflow with thanksgiving, the next. we are
down in the dust mourning and weeping.

Just such a change as this, a change from the gay to
the solemn, from jcy to mourning, from feasting to
fasting, comes before us in the Book of Nehemiah.
~ Look at Jerusalem, as we visit it in imagination to-day,
and take a bird’s-eye view of the city. The whole place
is mad with joy. They are keeping the gayest, the
merriest, the prettiest feast in the whole year, the Feast
of Tabernacles. It was a saying amongst the Jews, that
unless a man had been present at the Feast of Tabernacles
he did not know what joy was. And in Nehemiah’s time
this feast was kept more fully and with more rejoicing
than it had been kept for a thousand years; noone had
ever witnessed such a Feast of Tabernacles since the
days of Joshua.

The city was a mass of green booths, made with
branches of olive, pine, myrtle, and palm; and in these
the people lived, and ate, and slept for eight days; whilst
the whole city was lighted up, and glad music was
constantly heard, and the people feasted, and laughed,
and made merry.

It was the 22nd day of the month Tisri when the
Feast of Tabernacles was ended, and only two days
afterwards there came a remarkable change.

Look at Jerusalem again, you would hardly know it
to be the same place. The green booths are all gone,
they have been carefully cleared away. There is not a
branch, ora banner, or a bit of decoration to be seen.
The bright holiday dresses, the gay blue, and red, and
THE LIGHTY-FOUR SEALS. 113

yellow, and lilac robes, the smart, many-coloured
turbans have all been laid by; there is not a sign of one
ofthem. We see instead an extraordinary company of
men, women and children making their way to the open
space by the water gate. They are covered with rough
coarse sackcloth, a material made of black goats’ hair
and used for making sacks. Every one of the company
is dressed in this rough material; not only so, but the
robe of each is made like a sack in shape, so that they
look like a crowd of moving sacks, and on their heads
are sprinkled earth and dust and ashes.

The rejoicing has turned into mourning, the feast
into a fast. A great sense of sin has come over the
people; they feel their need of forgiveness, and they are
come to seek it.

The meeting seems to have assembled about nine
o'clock, the time of the morning sacrifice. For a
quarter of the day, for three hours, they read the law of
God, for three hours more they fell prostrate on the
ground, and confessed their sin. Their prayers were led
by Levites, standing on high scaffoldings where everyone
conld see them, where all could hear them as they cried
with a loud voice to God.

Then just at the time of the evening sacrifice, at
three o’clock in the afternoon, the Levites called to the
kneeling multitude and bade them rise, ‘Stand up
and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever: and
blessed be Thy glorious name, which is exalted above
all blessing and praise.’

Then the Levites went through the history of God’s
wonderful goodness to His people, to Abraham in Egypt,
in the wilderness, in the land of Canaan; everywhere,

I
114 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER,

and at all times He had been good to them, again and
again He had delivered them. But they—what had
they done ?

‘Thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly.
Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our
fathers kept Thy law, nor hearkened unto Thy com-
mandments. . . . or they have not served Thee.’
Therefore, as a natural consequence and result, ‘ Behold,
we are servants this day.’

They would not serve God, they would not be His
servants, so they had been made to serve someone else ;
they had, as a punishment for their sin, been made
servants to the King of Persia. And what was the
result ?

‘The land that Thou gavest unto our fathers to eat
the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are
servants in it. And it yieldeth much increase unto
the kings whom Thou hast set over us because of our
sins.’

The amount of tribute paid by Judea to Persia is not
known; but the province of Syria, in which Judea was
included, paid £90,000 a year.

‘Also they have dominion over our bodies.’

They can force us against our will to be either soldiers
or sailors, and can make us fieht their battles for them.

They have dominion ‘over our cattle.’

They can seize our cattle at their pleasure, for their
own use or the use of their armies.

‘And we are in great distress.’

Yes, our sin has indeed brought its punishment; and
feeling this, realizing this very deeply, we have gathered
together to do what we intend to do this day, to make a
TUL EIGHTY-FOUR SEALS. 115

solemn agreement, a covenant with God. We intend to
promise to have done with sin, and for the future to
serve and glorify God.

Then a long roll of parchment was brought out, on
which the covenant was written, and one by one all the
leading men in Jerusalem came forward and put their
seals to it, as a sign that they intended to keep it.

In the Kast it is always the seal that authenticates a
document. In Babylon the documents were often sealed
with half-a-dozen seals or more. These were impressed
on moist clay, and then the clay was baked, and the
seals were each fastened to the parchment by a separate
string. In this way any number of seals could be
attached.

Weare given in Nch. x. the names of those who sealed,
honoured names, for they madea brave and noble stand.
_ First of all comes the name of Nehemiah, the governor,
setting a good example to the rest. He ig followed by
Zidkijah, or Zadok, the secretary. Then come the names
of eighty-two others, heads of families, all well-known
men in Jerusalem. Hach one fastened his seal to the
roll of parchment containing the solemn covenant. No
less than eighty-four seals were attached to it.

What then were the articles of the covenant ?

What did those who sealed promise ?

First of all, they bound themselves (x. 29) to walk in
God’s law, and to observe and do all the commandments.
What need after that to enter a single other article in
the covenant? Ifa man walks in God’s law he cannot
go wrong; if he keeps all God’s commandments, what
more can be required ?

But they were wise men who drew up that solemn
116 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER,

covenant. They knew and understood the human heart.
Is it not a fact, that whilst we are all ready to own that
we are sinners in a general sense, we are slow to own
that we are guilty of any particular sm? We do not
mind confessing that we are miserable sinners, but we
should indignantly deny being selfish or idle, or unfor-
giving, or proud, or bad-tempered.

So those who wrote the parchment felt it best to go
more into detail, and to put down certain things in
which they felt they had done wrong in the past, but in
which they meant to do better in the time to come.

(1) They promised that they would not in future marry
heathen people, that they would not give their daughters
to heathen men, or let their sons choose heathen
wives.

(2) They engaged to keep the Sabbath, and not to buy
and sell on the holy day; and they promised that if the
heathen people round came to the city gates with baskets
of fruit, or vegetables, or fish on the Sabbath, they
would refuse to buy.

(8) They stated that for the future they would keep
every seventh year as a year of Sabbath. The Sabbath
year had in times past been a great blessing to the land.
The one work and occupation of the Jews was agriculture,
farming of all kinds. Every seventh year God com-
manded that all work was to stop; there was to be a
year’s universal holiday, that the nation might have rest
and leisure to think of higher things. Yet they did not
starve in the Sabbath year, for God gave them double
crops in the sixth year, enough to cover all their wants
until the crops of the eighth year were ripe. All that
crew of itself during the seventh year, all the self-sown
THE LIGHTY-FOUR SEALS, 117

grain that sprang up, all the fruit that came on the

olives, and the vines, and the fig-trees, was left for the

poor people to gather; they went out and helped them-

selves, and comfort was brought to many a sad home,

and cupboards which were often empty during the six”
ordinary years were kept well filled in the Sabbath year.

But this command of God had been neglected by the

Jews; it needed more faith and trust than they had

possessed, and they had let it slip. Now, however, they

promise once more to observe the Sabbath year.

The rest of the covenant concerned the amount to be
contributed for the service of God. They agreed to pay
one-third of a shekel each year towards the temple
service, and to bring by turn the wood required for the
sacrifices, beside giving God, reeularly and conscien-
tiously, the first-fruits of all they had.

This was the solemn covenant to which were fastened
so many seals, this was the agreement by which they
bound themselves to the service of God. As they went
home, and shook the dust off their heads, and took off
their sacks, they went home pledged to obey and to love
their God.

Which of us will follow their example? Who will
bind himself to God? Who will put his seal to the
document, and promise to serve and obey the Master
who died-for him P Will you?

Is it not right, is it not wise to pull up at times and to
look at our life, at what if has been, and at what it
might have been? What about prayer? Has it been
always earnest, heartfelt, true? What about our Bible
reading? Has it been as regular, as profitable as it
might have becn? Do we not feel we have come short
118 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

in the past, and that we should like to do better in the
time to come ?

What about sin, that besetting sin of ours, so often
indulged in, so little fought against ? Are we going on
like this for ever, beaten by sin, overcome and defeated ?
Should we not like to leave the old careless days behind,
and for the future to fight manfully against the world,
the flesh, and the devil?

What about work for God? Have we done all that
we could for His service? Have we given Him the
tenth of our money? Have we consecrated to Him our
time and our talents? Do we not feel we should like to
do more for the Master in time to come ?

It is a good plan to get alone and quiet for a time,
and taking a piece of paper, to write down all we feel
has been wrong in the past, all we mean to do in the
future. Then let us sign our name to it, put the dato
at the bottom, fold it carefully up, put it away, let no
one see it but God, it is a covenant between us and Him.
He will give us grace to keep it if we only ask Him.

Will you try this plan this very night? Then you
will open your eyes to-morrow morning with the
recollection, ‘I am the Lord’s; I have given myself to
Him; I am His now by my own agreement; 1 am
pledged to His service.’

Lord, make me faithful, keep me humble, keep me
prayerful, give me grace and courage and strength !

For ‘ better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than
that thou shouldest vow and not pay.’
119

CHAPTER XI.
The Brave Volunteers.

: Sp ancsuume, my happy home, Name cyer dear
& to me.’
; So we sing, and it is the echo of the song that
went up from the heart of many a Jew in olden time.

We all love our native land, our dear old England,
yet none of us love it as the Jews loved Jerusalem.
We have only to open the Book of Psalms to see how
dear the city of their fathers was to the heart of the
Jews. d

‘Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the

city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness.
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is
Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the
creat King,’ Psalm xlviii. 1, 2.

‘Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together.
Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord. Pray
for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love
thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within
thy palaces,’ Psalm cxxiil. 2-4, 6, 7.

These are just samples of countless expressions of love
120 THE RING’S CUP-BEARER,

and devotion for Jerusalem, their happy home. And
all the time of the captivity in Babylon the Jews were
longing to be once more in Jerusalem! Oh, to see the
city of cities again; oh, to tread once more the streets
of the holy Jerusalem! They could not even think of
their far-off home without tears.

‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea,
we wept, when we remembered Zion. If I forget thee,
O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If Ido not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the
roof of ny mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my
chief joy,’ Psalm exxxvii. 1, 5, 6.

Yet, strange to say, although the Jews were longing
for the Holy City all the time they were in captivity,
when they did return to their native land, and it was
possible once more to live in Jerusalem, they seem
to have preferred any other place before it. It was the
most difficult thing to get any of them to consent to
take up their abode in the capital.

Nehemiah found himself face to face with this
difficulty when he had finished the repairs of the city.
The rubbish was cleared away, the walls were built, the
gates were set up, the fortresses were strengthened, but
the city itself was nowhere. Here and there houses
were scattered about, here and there was a group of
buildings, but inside the walls were many great empty
spaces, large pieces of unoccupied ground.

The walls had been set up on the old sites, and were
about four miles in circumference. It was a large
space to fill, and, as Nehemiah looked round, he saw
that whilst the city was imposing from without, it was
a bare, miserable place inside.
THE BRAVE VOLUNTELERS. I21I

‘The city was large and great; but the people were
few therein, and the houses were not builded.’

Not only so, not only was the city unsightly, but
there were not enough inhabitants to protect the walls.
In case of an attack, what would be done? Four
miles of wall was a long space to guard and defend,
how could more hands be secured? It was absolutely
necessary that Jerusalem should have a larger
population.

Yet Nehemiah found that no one wished to move from
the country places round, and to come into Jerusalem.
Every town, every village in Judea was more popular
than the capital. They had rather live in sultry Jericho
than on the mountain heights of Jerusalem ; they pre-
ferred stony Bethel to the vine-clad hills of the City of
God; they had rather live in the tiny insignificant
village of Anathoth than in the capital itself.

Why was this? Why had the Jews of Nehemiah’s
day such an objection to living in Jerusalem? Why,
after longing for Jerusalem all the time of the captivity,
did they shrink from it on their return ?

The reason was this. Jerusalem had become the point
of danger. All round the returned captives were
enemies. The Samaritans, the Moabites, the Ammon-
ites, the Edomites, and a host of others were ready at
any moment to pounce down upon the Jews. In case of
an attack from their united forces, what would be the
mark at which all these enemies would aim? What
place would have to bear the whole force of the attack ?
Jerusalem itself, They would pass by Jericho, Bethel,
and Anathoth, as places beneath their notice, but they
would all make for Jerusalem. To live in the capital
122 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

was consequently to live in constant danger and in
constant fear. So it is not to be wondered at that they
avoided it, and that they settled down in the villages
and left the capital to take care of itself.

Nehemiah sees that steps must be taken to put a stop
to this state of things. In order to bring about the end
he had in view, he first took a census of, the whole
nation, and\then he required each town and district to
send a tenth of its people to live in Jerusalem.

But of whom was the tenth to consist ? How should
the number of those who were to migrate to the capital
be chosen? It was done by lot; they drew lots who
were to go. and who were to stay. This was probably
done in the usual Jewish way, by means of pebbles. The
people of a village would be divided into tens, then a
bag would be brought out containing nine dark-coloured
pebbles and one white one. The ten men would all
draw from the bag, and the man who drew the white
pebble would be the one who was to remove to Jerusalem.
By this means the capital would be provided with about
20,000 inhabitants, and would be in a condition to defend
itself from attack.

No doubt there was much grumbling, and there were
many groans and complaints when the lots were drawn,
and those who drew the white stone found they must give
up their little farms, their pretty country houses, the
homes they had learnt to love so well and which they
had built for themselves and their children, the vine-
yards. which their own hands had planted, the olive
yards and fig groves of which they had been so proud,
and which had been so profitable to them, that they
must give up all these which had been so dear to them
THE BRAVE VOLUNTEERS. 123

and move at once into the city in which they would be
in constant danger.

But there were certain brave volunteers. Besides
those on whom the lot fell, a certain number came
forward and offered to go of their own free will and
choice to live in the capital. They would break up
their country homes, and for love of their country and
love of Jerusalem would move into the Holy City. The
post of danger was the post which most needed them,
and they were not afraid to go to it. Brave, noble men
and women, no wonder that we read that blessings were
called down upon them by the rest of their countrymen.
‘And the people blessed all the men that willingly offered
themselves to dwell at Jerusalem,’ Neh. xi. 2.

But those brave Jews, who are mentioned here with
so much honour, are not the only ones who of their own
free will and choice have gone with open eyes to the
point of danger.

Fourteen thousand pounds arrived in the course of a
few days at a certain house in London, the office of the
Church Missionary Society. One person sent £5,000 with
no name, only a day or two afterwards another sent a
second £5,000, whilst £4,000 was contributed in smaller
sums.

For what purpose was this immense sum of money
sent? It was forwarded to the Society in consequence
of a very famous letter which appeared in the Daily
T'clegraph of November 15, 1876. This letter was
written by Dr. Stanley, the great African traveller.
It told of a new country he had discovered in the heart
of Africa, a country inhabited by a nation clothed and
living in houses, and reigned over by a king of some
124 THE KING’S CUP-LEARER,

intelligence named Mtesa. Dr. Stanley had talked to
this man, he had shown him his Bible, and told him
something of Christianity, and in this letter in the
Daily Telegraph Dr. Stanley stated that King Mtesa
was ready and willing to receive Christian teachers, .
if any were prepared to go out to his kingdom of ©
Uganda,

The result of that letter was, that in a few days no
less than £14,000 was sent to the Church Missionary
Society, in order that they might have the means to
establish a mission by the shores of the Victoria Nyanza.
A committee meeting was accordingly held, and the
Society declared themselves ready to take up the work.

The money was forthcoming, but a great difficulty
stared them in the face. Where were the men? Who
would be found willing to go to sucha place as the heart
of Africa? The climate was most trying and dangerous
for Europeans, the food was bad and scanty, and, worst
of all, the country was so unsafe that all who went must
go with their life in their hands, feeling that at any
moment they might be attacked and murdered by tho
natives.

Would any offer for such a post of danger? Would
any be found willing to volunteer for the -work, would
any be ready to leave their safe, comfortable homes in
England to take up their abode in Uganda?

Yes, men were found who willingly offered themselves
for the work. Hight noble men at once came forward.
A young naval officer, Lieutenant Smith; a clergyman
from Manchester, Mr. Wilson; an Irish architect, Mr.
O'Neill; a Scotch engineer, Mr. Mackay; a doctor from
Edinburgh, Dr. Smith; a railway contractor’s engineer,
THE BRAVE VOLUNTEERS. I2

ut

Mr. Clark, and two working men, a blacksmith and a
builder.

‘And the people blessed all the men that willingly
offered themselves to dwell’ in Uganda.

A meeting was held in the Church Missionary Society’s
house, to bid them farewell and to pray for a blessing
on their work. Then each of the eight volunteers was
asked to say a few words to the friends who were taking
leave of them. Mr. Mackay, the young engineer, was
the last to speak. Looking round on those who were
sending him out, he said:

‘ There is one thing which my brethr en have not said,
and which I want to say. I want to remind the Com-
mittee that within six months they will probably hear
that one of us is dead.’

There was a great silence in the room as he spoke
these startling words.

‘Yes,’ he went on, ‘is if at all likely that eight
Englishmen should start for Central Africa and all be
alive six months after ? One of us at least—it may be I—
will surely fall before that. But what I want to say is
this, when the news comes do not be cast down, but
send some one else immediately to take the vacant
place.’ -

Mr. Mackay was not wrong. One of the eight, the
builder, died as soon as he landed in Africa. The seven
others set off for the interior to find the country of King
Mtesa. Two of these, Mackay the engineer, and Robertson
the blacksmith, were taken so ill with fever that they
were compelled to go back to the coast.

It was a long wearisome journey, of from four to five
months, from the coast to Victorla Nyanza; for a
126 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.,

little way they were able to go in a boat which they had
brought with them from England, but after a short
distance they were obliged to leave the river, and, taking
their boat to pieces, to carry it with them through the
tangled forest. When they arrived at a place named
Mpwapwa, it seemed such a good field for missionary
labour that one of their number, Mr. Clark, was left to
begin missionary work there, whilst the rest pressed
forward to Uganda.

The great lake at last came in sight, and they were
cheered by the sight of its blue waters. But, when they
arrived on its shores, the naval officer and the doctor
were both very ill; for thirty-one days they had been
carried by the porters, being quite unable to walk, and
only a few months after their arrival at the south end of
the lake the young doctor died. He was worn to a
skeleton, and suffered terribly. The three who remained
buried him by the side of the lake, and put a heap of
stones over his grave. On a slab of limestone they
carved—

‘Joun Surrn,
M.B. EDN., C.M.S.
Diep May 11, 1877,
Agrep 25 ymans.’

Now, only the clergyman, the architect, and the naval
officer were left to carry on the work. But that very
same year, in December, a quarrel broke out between
two tribes living at the south of the lake. A man named
Songoro, who had been friendly to the missionaries, fled
to them for protection, They were at once surrounded
by a party of the natives, and, on refusing to give up
Songoro to his enemies, Lieutenant Smith and Mr.
THE BRAVE VOLUNTEERS. 127

O'Neill, together with all the men who were with them,
were murdered on December 7.

Only two days before, Lieutenant Smith had written
a letter to a friend in England, in which were these
words :

‘One feels very near to heaven here, for who knows
what a day may bring forth ?’

Only one of the five who had arrived at the lake was
now left, Mr. Wilson, the clergyman. But, thank God,
man after man has offered himself to fill up the vacant
places. Some have fallen, some still remain, labour-
ing on.

The people blessed the men who willingly offered
themselves for the post of danger. Should we not bless
them too? Should we not day by day call down bless-
ings on the brave noble missionaries? Should we not
pray for them, that strength and courage may be given
them? Should we not help them all we can? Let our
daily prayer be:

‘Lord, bless them all!

Thy workers in the field,
Where’er they be;

Prosper them, Lord, and bless
Their work for Thee—

Lord, bless them all.

Lord, bless them all!

Give them Thy smile to-day,
Cheer each faint heart,

More of Thy grace, more strength,
Saviour, impart;

Lord, bless them all!?

The post of danger is the post of honour, and at that
post of honour Mr. Mackay, the engineer, died, February
128 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

8, 1890. Tor thirteen years he had bravely held on
to his work. He had never had a holiday, he had never
come home to see his friends. The Secretary of the
Church Missionary Society wrote at last, urging him to
come to England for rest and change. His answer to
this letter arrived ten days after the sorrowful telegram
which told of his death. He said, ‘But what is this
you write; come home? Surely now, in our terrible
dearth of workers, it is not the time for any one to desert
his post. Send us only our first twenty men, and I may
be tempted to come to help you to find the second twenty.’

So he was faithful unto death.

The people blessed the men who willingly offered
themselves, and surely God blessed them too, for ‘ God
loveth a cheerful giver.’ He who gives to God grudgingly,
or because he feels obliged to do so, had better never
give at all, for God will not receive the offering. The
money must be willingly given, the service must be
cheerfully rendered, the post of danger must be readily
occupied, or God will have nothing to do with it.

The only giver whose gifts He can receive is the
cheerful giver, the one who willingly offers himself.

To be comfortable is the great aim of our lives and
our hearts by nature. But sometimes God calls us to be
uncomfortable, to leave the cosy home, the bright fireside,
the comparative luxury, and to go forth to the post of
danger, or difficulty, or trial.

God grant that we may be amongst the number of
those who go forth with a smiling face amongst the
people who willingly offer themselves!
129

CHAPTER XII
Che Holy City.
is the time of the terrible siege of Jerusalem, when the
hy Roman armies surrounded the city, when famine
was killing the Jews by hundreds, and when every
day the enemy seemed more likely to take the city, a
strange thing happened. Some priests were watching,
as was their custom, in the temple courts at dead of
night. They. had passed through the Beautiful Gate,
crossed the Court of the Women, and had ascended the
steps leading into the inner court, which was close to the
Temple itself. Suddenly they stopped, for the earth
shook beneath them, whilst overhead came a noise as of
the rushing of many wings, and a multitude of voices was
heard saying, again and again, the solemn words, ‘ Let
us depart, let us depart.’

The angels of God were leaving the doomed city to its
fate.

For centuries Jerusalem had been known as the Holy
City. Why was it so called? Not because of its
inhabitants, for, instead of being holy, many of them were
sunk in wickedness and impurity. Jerusalem was called
the Holy City simply because of one inhabitant; it was

K
130 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

the dwelling-place of God, and His presence there made
it what no other city of the earth was, the Holy City.

‘In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling-
place in Zion,’ Psalm Ixxvi. 2.

‘Blessed be the Lord out of Zion, which dwelleth at
Jerusalem,’ Psalm exxxv. 21.

So wrote the Psalmist, and he was right. God
had chosen Jerusalem as His home on earth, His
abiding-place, His dwelling; and so long as He remained
there, Jerusalem and all its surroundings was holy.
The mountain on which it stood was the Holy Mountain ;
the city itself was the Holy City; the courts of the
temple were the Holy Place, the temple itself was the
Most Holy Place, whilst the inner sanctuary, in which
God’s glory appeared, was the Holy of Holies.

But at the time of the siege of Jerusalem, God was
leaving the city, it was no longer to be His dwelling-place,
and consequently it was no longer to be called the Holy
City. And therefore it was that the holy angels cried
aloud to one another, Let us depart, for it is a holy
city no longer, God has deserted it; it is His no more.

But in Nehemiah’s day, Jerusalem, in spite of her sins,
was still the Holy City. We find her twice called so in
his book, Neh. xi. 1, 18, and inasmuch as it was the
Holy City, God’s home on earth, His special property,
His constant dwelling-place, Nehemiah felt it was only
right that, as soon as the city was finished, as soon as
all within its walls was set in order, the city and all
it contained should be dedicated to the service of that
God to whom it belonged.

Accordingly, as we visit Jerusalem in thought, we find
the people busily preparing for a great and glorious day ;
Patt

7HE HOLY CITY. 131

they are going, by means of a grand and imposing ,
ceremonial, to dedicate the city to God.

It is nearly thirteen years since the walls were finished
and the gates set up. Why then did not Nehemiah hold
the service of dedication before? Why did he allow so
long a time to elapse before he summoned the people to
put the finishing touch to their work by laying it at the
feet of their King?

The Tirshatha had probably two good reasons for
the delay. In the first place, there was much to do
inside the city after the walls and gates were finished;
the city itself had to be rebuilt, strengthened, and put
into order. Then he probably dare not attempt such a
grand celebration without special leave from Persia.
If he made a great demonstration of any kind, it would
be easy for the Samaritans to put their own construction
upon it, and to write off at once to Persia to accuse
him of setting up the standard of rebellion. It was,
therefore, advisable to obtain direct permission for such
a step from Artaxerxes himself. Now the city is in
order, the necessary precautions have been taken, and
Nehemiah feels that there is nothing to hinder the
holding of the solemn ceremonial of the dedication of
the Holy City to God.

Who are these men who are arriving by companies
at all the different gates of Jerusalem? They are the
Levites, coming up from all parts of the country to the ,
service of dedication. hey are carrying with them
various musical instruments—cymbals, trumpets,
psalteries and harps—old instruments used by King
David, and some of them evidently invented by him and
bearing his name, for we find them called, in xii. 36:
132 ; THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

‘The musical instruments of David, the man of
God.’

Thege are to be used in the grand service which is
about to take place. Many new musical instruments
had been invented since the time of David, and the
Jews of the captivity had seen and used these in
Babylon and Shushan. We read, in the Book of Daniel,
of the cornet, the flute, the sackbut, the dulcimer ;
all these instruments were familiar to the Jews of
Nehemiah’s day. But we do not find one of these
newly invented instruments in use at this grand service.
They cling to the old instruments, used in the first
temple, dear to their hearts as being connected with
King David, and as having been used by their fathers
before them, ver. 27.

Not only the musicians, but the singers are called
together from the valleys round Jerusalem, in which
the temple choir had chosen to live, in order that they
might go up by turn to lead the temple singing, xi. 29.

When all who were to take part in the service had
assembled, there was a great sprinkling. The priests
and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the
people, and the gates, and the wall.

A ved heifer (see Num. xix.) was led by one of the
priests outside the city. There she was killed, her
blood was caught in a basin, and was sprinkled seven
times before the temple. Then her flesh was burnt
outside the city, and the ashes were carefully collected
and mixed with water. This water was put into a
number of basins, and the priests and Levites went
with if up and down the city, sprinkling it first on
themselves, then on the men, women and children in
THE HOLY CITY. 133

the city, and afterwards on the wall, and the gates, and
all that was to be dedicated to God.

All were to be made pure before they could be used
in God’s service. The Great Master cannot use dirty
vessels; they are not fit for His use, they cannot do
His work.

If you want God to use you in His service, you must
first be sprinkled, made pure from all defilement of sin.
Until this has been done you cannot do one single
thing to please God; until you have been cleansed, it
is impossible for you to work for God.

How, then, can we be cleansed? How can we be
made vessels meet for the Master’s use, fit for the
service of God? Thank God, we have a better way of
cleansing than by washing in the ashes of a heifer.

‘For if the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the
unelean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how
much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the
Hternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God,
purge your conscience from dead works to serve the
living God?’ Heb. ix. 18, 14.

The blood must be sprinkled, the conscience must
be purged, then begins the service of the living God;
all works before that are dead, works of no avail,
utterly worthless and good for nothing, in the Master’s
estimation.

When all was ready and the purification was
complete, the great company of the musicians met in
the temple courts. The blast of the priests’ trumpets
was heard on one side, and on the other the sweet
melodious songs of the white-robed minstrels.

When all were in order they marched to the Valley
134 THE KING'S CUL-LEARER.

Gate, on the western side of the city. Here Nehemiah
divided them into two companies, in order that they
might make the circuit of the city, walking in gay
procession on the top of the new walls. One company
was to go north and the other south, walking round
the city until they met on the other side; whilst all the
people stood below, watching the progress of the two
processions, each of which was formed of singers,
nobles and priests, who were dressed in white and
flowing robes.

Tt must have been a grand and imposing sight, as
the bright Eastern sun streamed on the dazzling white
of their fine linen, and made their instruments glitter
and shine. Then there was the sound of glorious
music, which seemed to encircle the city in a wave of
rejoicing and song. Everyone made merry that day,
and no wonder; it was a day to be remembered.

The order of each procession was as follows. First
and foremost went a band of musicians with their
various instruments. Then followed a small company
of princes, the finest men in the nation, arrayed in all
the brilliance of Hastern costume, and bringing up the
rear were seven priests, bearing trumpets. Hach
procession had a leader, Nehemiah conducted one, and
Ezra the scribe the other.

FEizra’s procession proceeded southward, and then
eastward. They passed the Dung Gate, whence was
swept out the refuse of the city. Then they came to
the Fountain Gate, opposite to the Pool of Siloam, and
here they descended by steps in the Tower of Siloam.
They probably came down in order that they might
dedicate the buildings over the Pool of Siloam and the
THE HOLY CITY. 135

Dragon Well, and then they climbed to the top of the
wall again, by the steps that went up to that part of
Jerusalem called the City of David. From thence
Eizra’s procession moved on to the eastern wall, where
they were to meet the other party.

Nehemiah’s company, on leaving the Valley Gate,
turned northward, passed the Tower of the Furnaces,
went across the Broad Wall, which was almost the only
piece of the old wall still standing, passed the Gate of
Ephraim, the Old Gate, the Tower of Hananeel, the
Tower of Meah, the Sheep Gate, and so down to the
temple, and the gate named the Prison Gate, because it
opened upon a street leading to the court of the prison.

Then, somewhere near the Water Gate, the two
processions met, and marched together into the court
of the temple, the two bands now joining together in a
united glorious strain, whilst the two companies of
singers formed again one enormous united choir, and
filled the temple courts with their harmonious song.

‘So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks
in the house of God,’ xii. 40.

Not a voice was silent, there was no idle person in
the choir. Headed by their choir-master YE did their
utmost to praise the Lord.

‘The singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.’

Nor were the musical people the only ones who
showed their joy that happy day. For, as the priests
offered great sacrifices, the rejoicing was both universal
and tremendous. ‘For God had made them rejoice
with great joy.’ Not the men alone, but the wives and
the children, so that ’

‘The joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off,’
136 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Women’s tears, how often we read of them in the
Bible! Rachel weeps over her children and will not be
comforted, Hagar lifts up her voice and weeps over her
son, Naomi weeps as she comes back to her desolate
home, Hannah weeps as she kneels in the tabernacle
court, the widow weeps as she follows her only son to
the grave, and the company of women weep as Jesus. of
Nazareth is led out to the cross.

So many women’s tears, so very few women’s smiles;
80 much mourning and lamentation, so very little happi-
ness and rejoicing. But, on this day of dedication, the
wives were as merry and glad as the husbands, and even
the children took part in the general joy.

It is interesting to notice that the Book of Psalms
was the national song-book of the Jewish nation, a
large number of the Psalms having been composed for
special occasions, in order to commemorate certain
memorable days in the history of the nation.

One Psalm, namely Psalm exlvii., was probably _
composed in the time of Nehemiah, in order that it
might be sung at the dedication of the walls.

Ver. 1: ‘Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing
praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is
comely.

Ver. 2: ‘The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: Ee
gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.’

Ver. 12: ‘Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise thy
God, O Zion.

Ver. 18: ‘For He hath strengthened the bars of thy
gates; He hath blessed thy children within thee.’

There follows in the Psalm a curious mention of snow
and ice. The dedication of the city took place late in
THE HOLY CITY. 137

the year, and probably Jerusalem was white with snow
as the singers in their white robes went round the walls,
the snow being a glorious emblem of the purification
which had just taken place. White as snow,—white in
the blood.

Vers. 16-18 : ‘ He giveth snow like wool: He scattereth
the hoar frost like ashes. He casteth forth His ice like
morsels: who can stand before His cold? He sendeth
out His word, and melteth them. He causeth His wind
to blow, and the waters flow,’

Surely as the people rejoiced on the day that the city
was finished, they must have remembered the words of
old Daniel the prophet, written whilst they were in
captivity, a hundred years before this time.

For what had Daniel declared? He had foretold that
his nation should return from captivity, and that
Jerusalem should be restored.

‘The street shalt be built again, and the wall, even in
troublous times.’

Nehemiah’s work was evidently revealed to Daniel,
and he was also told something about Sanballat, and
Tobiah, and the other troublers of the Jews.

Then, says Daniel, as soon as the command goes
forth to build Jerusalem, then can you begin to reckon
the time to the coming of the Messiah, only a limited
and stated time must then elapse before the Christ, the
Saviour of Israel, shall appear (Dan. ix. 25).

No wonder then that the joy of Jerusalem was heard
afar off that day, as they thought of the good days that
were coming. The word of the living God had come
true, the street was built, the wall was built, now they
had only to wait for the fulfilment of the resf of the
138 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER,

prophecy, for the coming of their own Messiah and
King.

We should all like to have stood in Jerusalem on that
joyous dedication day, and watched the glorious pro-
cession entering the temple on Mount Zion. But we
shall see one day a far grander procession than that.

The leader of that procession will ride on a white
horse. His eyes will be as a flame of fire, on His head
will be many crowns, His name will be King of kings
and Lord of lords. He will be followed in the pro-
cession by the armies of heaven, on white horses,
clothed in fine linen, clean and white (Rev. xix.)

Coming down to earth, His feet shall stand in that
day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem
on the east, and then passing through the Golden Gate,
the King and His followers will enter Jerusalem.

Then again Jerusalem will become the Holy City, for
from that day the name of the city shall be ‘ The Lord
is there,’ Ezek. xlviii. 35.

So soon as the Lord, who deserted Jerusalem, returns
to her, she must become once more the Holy City.
Even upon the bells of the horses and the vessels of the
temple shall then be inscribed, Holiness to the Lord;
all dedicated to Him and to His service.

Then indeed shall the glad ery go up:

‘Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion, put on
thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for
henceforth there shall no more come into thee the
uncircumcised and the unclean.’

Then again, in that glad day, the joy of Jerusalem
shall be heard afar off, for God Himself will call upon
all to rejoice with her.
THE HOLY CITY. 139

: Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all
ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that
mourn for her,’ Isa. Ixvi. 10.

And the King Himself will lead the rejoicing :

‘And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My
people: and the voice of weeping shall no more be
heard in her, nor the voice of crying,’ Isa. Ixv. 19.

Shall we indeed take part in that grand procession ?
Shall we stand with the King of Glory on Olivet? Shall
we pass within the gate into the city? It all depends
upon whether we are sprinkled, made pure, washed
white in the blood of the Lamb. Only those who were
purified could take part in Nehemiah’s procession; only
sprinkled ones, cleansed by Christ, will be allowed to
join in the song of rejoicing, when the Lord comes to
reign in Jerusalem gloriously.

If we are indeed His redeemed ones, let us keep the
blessed hope of that day ever before us. Let it cheer
us as we are tossed to and fro on the waves of this
troublesome world.

Courage! oh, have courage,
For soon His feet shall stand
Upon the Mount of Olives,
In the glorious Promised Land;
For the Prince of Peace is coming,
With pomp and royal state,
To pass, with all His followers,
Within the Golden Gate.

Courage! oh, have courage!
For the time it is not long,
E’en now across the mountains
Comes a distant sound of song 5
The dreary night is closing,
Tis near the break of day,
And thy King, the King of Glory,
Will soon be on His way,’
CHAPTER XIII.
faving no Root.

(Fey an sky is brilliant and cloudless, the snow-clad
mountains stand out clear in the distance, the air
is laden with the scent of orange and lemon groves,

and the sweet fragrance of thousands of lilies. Nehemiah

the Tirshatha is once more in Shushan; his feet are
treading again, as in days gone by, the streets of the
capital of Persia.

It is thirteen years since he left the City of Lilies
with his brother Hanani, in order that he might go to
Jerusalem, and do his utmost to improve the ruined and
desolate city. He has returned with his work accom-
plished. The walls are built, the gates are set up, the
bare spaces in the city have been built over, the whole place
has been strongly fortified, the people have been brought
back to their allegiance to God, and, as the topstone of
his work, he has seen, just before his departure for
Persia, the city and all it contained dedicated to the
service of the Great King.

Very glad, very thankful is Nehemiah, as he enters
once more the glorious palace on the top of the hill, and
stands before his master Artaxerxes, the leet)
HAVING NO ROOT. IAI

to give in his report of all he has done since the king
gave him leave to return to his native land.

Nehemiah finds himself once more surrounded by
luxury and refinement and beauty. What is Jerusalem
compared with Shushan? Surely, now his work is
accomplished, he will settle down to a life of ease in
Persia, where he may dwell free from fear or anxiety or
care, eating the dainties from the king’s table, and
partaking of all the pleasures of an Hastern court.
After the rough life he has led during the last thirteen
years, after the perils he has undergone, and the
difficulties he hag surmounted, he may surely retire, now
that his work has been so happily accomplished, and
spend the remainder of his life in peace and comfort.

But no; Nehemiah’s heart was in Jerusalem, he pre-
ferred Jerusalem above his chief joy. All the time he
had been absent he had been hungering for news, and
receiving none; there were no posts across the vast
deserts, nor did he live in these luxurious days when the
heartache of anxiety may be relieved and set at rest by
a telegram. What had been going on in his absence?
Were the Samaritans quiet, or had Sanballat and Tobiah
taken the opportunity afforded by his absence, and
invaded Jerusalem? And the people; how were they ?
Were they keeping the solemn covenant which had been
sealed in his presence? Were they continuing to serve
and obey the Heavenly King? All this, and much more,
Nehemiah longed to hear.

He is therefore only too thankful when, after spending
a year in Persia, Artaxerxes gives him leave to return as
governor of Jerusalem.

‘In the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes, King of


142 THE KING'S CUP.BEARER.

Babylon, came I unto the king, and after certain days
obtained I leave of the king.

‘ After certain days.’ This is a common expression in
the Bible fora year. The same Hebrew word is translated
a whole year in many other passages, e.g. Lev. xxv. 29,
Num. ix. 22. Thus we may safely conclude that a year
was the length of time that Nehemiah was absent from
Jerusalem.

As soon as he had received the king’s permission,
Nehemiah left the lovely City of Lilies behind, and set
out once more across the desert for Jerusalem. Probably
no one there knew when he was coming, or whether
he was coming atall. When Nehemiah left the city he
possibly had no idea that he would be allowed to return,
but expected that his royal master would again require
his services as Rab-shakeh in the palace of Shushan;
nor was it likely that any news had reached the city of
the permission given him to return. Suddenly, one
day, a small cavalcade of camels, mules, and donkeys
arrived at the northern gate, and the news spread
through the city that Nehemiah the governor had re-
turned. Was this intelligence received with unmixed
joy and thankfulness, or were there some in the city to
whom it came as anything but pleasant tidings ?

No sooner has the governor arrived than he begins to
look round the city, to see and to inquire how all has
been going on in his absence. He goes up to the temple,
and no sooner has he entered the gate leading into the
outer court, than he notices that the whole appearance
of the place.is changed. The temple enclosure looks
empty and deserted; a few priests in their white robes
are moving about, but where is the company of Levites
HAVING NO ROOT, 143

who used to wait upon them, and help them in their
work ?P

Nehemiah had left no less than 284 Levites in the
temple, now he cannot see one of them. And, not only
does he miss those Levites, whose duty it was to attend
upon the priests, but he misses also the temple singers ;
the sons of Asaph and their companions are nowhere to
be seen. The temple choir hag entirely disappeared,
and the services have accordingly languished. As
Nehemiah looks round the whole place appears to him
quiet, empty, and dismal. Nothing seems to be going
on, all is apparently at a standstill.

Nehemiah feels sure that something is wrong, and the
further he goes into the temple area the more convinced
he is that he is not mistaken. Passing through the
Beautiful Gate, he crosses the Court of the Women, and
ascends the steps into the Court of Israel, where stands
the temple itself.

Into the temple Nehemiah cannot pass, for none but
the priests may enter the Holy Place and Holy of Hollies.
But round the temple building there had been erected
an out-building or lean-to which surrounded the temple
on three sides, and which was made up of three stories,
each containing a number of rooms, some smaller, some
larger. Just such an out-building as this had been
made by Solomon in the first temple (1 Kings vi. 5-10),
and the builders of the new temple had copied the idea,
and had put up a similar lean-to against the outer walls.

In these rooms or chambers were kept all the stores
belonging to the temple. The corn, and wine, and oil
belonging to the priests and Levites; the first-fruits and
free-will offerings brought by the people for the temple
144 THE KING'S CUT-BEARER.

service; and the meat-offerings, which were cakes made
of fine flour, salt, and oil. One of these cakes was
offered twice a day, at the morning and evening sacrifice,
besides on many other occasions, and with several other
sacrifices ; so that it was necessary to have a number of
them always ready for use. In these chambers was also
stored the frankincense, of which a large quantity was
used every day, for a handful of it was burnt on the
altar of incense both morning and night. This frankin-
censé was very costly; it was brought on camels’ backs
from Arabia, where it was obtained by making incisions
in the bark of a tree which grew in no other country.
Out of these incisions oozed the gummy juice of the tree,
and from this was made the frankincense. It was very
rare, and could only be obtained occasionally, and there-
fore it was important to store it carefully in the temple.

Nehemiah wonders if the stores of the temple are in
good condition, and he throws open the door of one of
the chambers, to see if its contents are plentiful and
well-stored. As he does so, he starts back in dismay.
The whole place is altered, utterly and completely trans-
formed. The small rooms have all been thrown into
one vast chamber, the partition walls have been removed,
the corn, the wine, the oil, the frankincense, and all the
other stores are nowhere to be seen, they have. all been
cleared away ; the vessels in use in the temple, the knives
for cutting up the sacrifices, the censers for incense, the
priests’ robes and other garments have all disappeared.
There is not one single thing to be found which ought to
have been found there, and this chamber of the temple,
instead of being a useful and necessary store-house, has
become more like one of the grand reception rooms of
HTAVING NO ROOT i45

the King of Persia, a luxurious drawing-room, fit for the
palace of a king. Gay curtains cover the walls, costly
furniture is set in order round the large room, the softest
of divans, the most comfortable of cushions, the most
elaborate ornaments and decorations surround Nehemiah
on all sides, as he stands amazed and disconsolate in
their midst. é

Nehemiah calls one of the priests, and inquires the
meaning of this extraordinary change in the building.
He ig told, to his horror, that this grand reception room
has actually been made for the use and convenience of
Tobiah the secretary. Tobiah the heathen, Tobiah,
who had mocked them as they built the walls, and who
had done all that was in his power ever since to annoy
and to hinder Nehemiah and his helpers. This splendid
apartment has actually been made and fitted up, in order
that Tobiah may have a grand place in which to dwell,
and in which to entertain his friends whenever he
chooses to pay a visit to Jerusalem.

What an abominable thing is this, which the poor
governor has discovered! For was not this Tobiah an
Ammonite, a Gentile? and as such Nehemiah knew
perfectly well he had no right to set his foot in the Court
of the Women, or the Court of Israel; much less then
had he the right to enter the temple building.

Where is Eliashib the high priest? How is it that he
has not put a stop to this proceeding? Nehemiah finds,
to his dismay, that Hliashib has actually been the very
one who has had this chamber prepared. The very man
who was responsible for the temple, and who had, by his
office, the right and the power to shut out from the holy
building all that was evil, had been the man to introduce

L
1460 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Tobiah the heathen, with marked honour, into the
temple itself.

Eliashib had begun well. Earnestly and heartily he
had helped in building the walls; he had actually led
the band of workers, and had been the very first to begin
to build, chap. ii. 1.

But Eliashib had a grandson named Manasseh, and
this young man had made what he thought a very good
match. Priest though he was, he had married the
daughter of Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, a
heathen girl, who was rich and possibly good-looking,
and whose father was the most powerful man in the
country, but who did not fear or own the God of Israel.
And the grandfather, so far from forbidding the marriage,
seems to have connived at it and sanctioned it.

Nay, he seems not only to have allowed himself to
be allied with Sanballat the governor, but also with
Tobiah the secretary, chap. xiii. 4. In what way he
was connected by marriage we are not told, but inasmuch
as both Tobiah and his son had married Jewish wives,
one or both of these may have been closely related to the
high priest, chap. vi. 17, 18. So the friendship with
the Samaritans had grown; Eliashib had probably visited
Samaria, and had been made much of and royally
entertained by Sanballat and his secretary; and in
proportion as his friendship with the heathen had grown
warm, his love and earnestness in the Lord’s service had
grown cold.

In the latter part of the Book of Nehemiah we never
find Eliashib coming forward as a helper in any good
work. Hzra stands in the huge pulpit to read the law
of God, thirteen of the chief men in Jerusalem stand by

f
q
iH Oe;
LIAVING NO ROOT. 147

him to help him, but Eliashib the high priest, who
surely should have been well to the front in that pulpit,
is conspicuous by his absence. How could he stand up
. and read the law to the people, when he knew, and they
knew, that he was not keeping it himself?

Nehemiah draws up a covenant between the people
and their God, in which they promise to obey God and
keep His commandments. No less than eighty-four seals
are fastened to that document, but not one of those seals
bears the name of Eliashib.

How could he engage to keep that covenant, one article
of which was a promise to have nothing to do with the
heathen, when at the very time he was living on the
most friendly terms with both Sanballat and Tobiah?

Then comes the grand service of dedication, when the
city and all it contained was devoted to God. Nota single
mention ig made of Eliashib in the account of the services
oftheday. Many priests are mentioned by name, but the
high priest, who, we should have expected, would have
taken a prominent part in the proceedings, 1s never
heard of throughout.

Hliashib’s connection with toe heathen had made him
cold and remiss in the service of God. Itis no wonder
then that so soon as Nehemiah went away, and the
restraint of his presence was removed, Eliashib did worse
than ever, and at length actually entertained Tobiah in
the temple itself.

But poor Nehemiah had not come to the end of his
painful discoveries. He inquired next what had become
of all the stores of corn and wine belonging to the Levites,
all the tithes which the people were accustomed to bring
to the temple for their support, and which, in that solemn
148 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

covenant, they had so faithfully promised to supply.
Since these stores have been removed from the place
which was built on purpose to receive them, Nehemiah
wishes to know what new store-house has been prepared
for them. But the governor finds, to his sorrow and
dismay, that no sooner was his back turned upon
Jerusalem, than the people had ceased to bring their
tithes and their contributions for the house of God.

It was not surprising then that Nehemiah found the
temple so deserted. How could the Levites serve, how
could the choir sing unless they were fed? They could
not live on air, no food was provided for them; what
could they do but take care of themselves? In are to
save themselves from utter starvation, they had been
driven to leave the temple, and to go to their fields
and small farms in the country, which they had been
accustomed to cultivate only at such times as they were
not engaged in the work of the temple (Num. xxxv. 2).
Now they were compelled to resort to these fields, as a
means of keeping themselves and their families from
beggary. No wonder then that few were found ready to
help in the temple services.

The first Sabbath after Nehemiah’s arrival, he sets
out, with an anxious heart, to see how it is kept by his
fellow-countrymen. In the solemn covenant the people
had promised carefully to observe the day of rest. They
_ have broken their word in the matter of the tithes; have
they kept their promise with regard to the Sabbath : iy

Nehemiah, as he walks through the city on the
Sabbath day, finds a regular market going on in the
streets. He is horrified to find that all manner of fruit
and all kinds of food are being bought and sold, as on
HAVING NO ROOT. I49

any other day of the week. Wine, and oil, and mer-
chandise of all kinds is being bargained for, and the
streets are filled with the noisy cries and shouts of the
sellers and purchasers.

Going on to the Fish Gate, Nehemiah finds that a
colony of heathen Tyrians have come to live there, in
order that they may hold a fish-market close to the
gate. ‘The fish was caught by their: fellow-countrymen
in Tyre and Sidon, and was sent down to Jerusalem
slightly salted, in order to preserve it from corruption.
Nehemiah finds that these Tyrians are doing a grand
traffic in salted fish, especially on the Sabbath day.
The Jews loved fish, and always have loved it. How
they enjoyed it in Egypt, how they longed for it in the
wilderness!

“We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt
freely.’

So they sighed, and murmured, as they thought of
their lost luxuries.

There was nothing a Jew liked so well for his Sabbath
dinner as a piece of fish ; and, therefore, on the Sabbath,
the Tyrians found they did more business than on any
other day.

As Nehemiah leaves the city by the Fish Gate, he
meets donkeys and mules bringing in sheaves of corn,
or laden with paniers containing figs, and grapes, and
melons ; he meets men laden with all kinds of burdens,
and women bringing in the country produce that they
may sell it in the streets of Jerusalem.

Then, passing on into the fields, he notices that work
is going on as usual. They are tilling the ground,
gathering in the corn, pruning the vines, and standing
150 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

bare-footed in the winepresses to tread out the juice of
the grapes.

So the promise about the Sabbath has been kept no
better than the other promise; the covenant has been
totally disregarded.

Turning homewards, Nehemiah discovers that the
remaining article of the agreement has also been
broken. For, as he passes through the streets, and
listens to the children at play, he finds that some of
the little ones are talking a language he cannot under-
stand. Here and there he catches a Jewish word, but
most of their talk is entirely unintelligible to him. On
inquiring into the reason of this, he is told that these
children have Jewish fathers but Philistine mothers,
and that they are being brought up to talk the language
and learn the religion of their heathen parent. They
are making for themselves a strange dialect, a mixture
of the two languages they have spoken; it is half
Jewish, half Philistine.

‘Their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod,
and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according
to the language of each people,’ xill. 24.

Poor Nehemiah must have been filled with sorrow and
bitter disappointment, as he found Jerusalem and its
people in such a disgraceful condition. He had left the
holy city like the garden of the Lord, he comes back to
find the trail of the serpent all over his paradise. They
did so well whilst he was there, they wandered to the
right hand and the left so soon as he was parted from
them.

Nor is Nehemiah the only one who has had this bitter
disappointment ; many a parent, many a teacher, many
HAVING NO RCOT, I51

a friend can enter into his feelings, for they have gone
through the same.

The young King Joash ‘did that which was right in
the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.’
But as soon as the old man was in his grave all was
changed, and he did instead that which was evil.

And Joash has many followers, those who do well so
long as they are under good and holy influence, and
who do so badly when that influence is removed.

The young man, with the anxious, careful mother,
who does so well as long as she lives, and who wanders
from the right path as soon as she is taken from him;
the young woman, who, whilst living under her parents’
roof, sheltered and guarded by wise restrictions from all
that would harm her, seems not far from the Kingdom
of God, but, who, leaving home and becoming her own
mistress, drifts into frivolity and carelessness ; the man
or woman who, when removed from good and holy
influence, falls away from God and goes backwards; all
these are followers of Joash, all these cause pain and
distress to those who watch over their souls.

What is the reason of this sad change? Why is it
that some only stand firm so long as they are under the
care and influence of others? The Master has answered
the question. He tells us the reason.

‘These have no root.’

Last Christmas we had in our house a large green
fir-tree. It reached from the floor to the ceiling, and
spread its branches abroad in all directions. It stood
well and firmly; it had all the appearance of growing ;
it held its head erect, and seemed as likely to stand as
‘any of the trees outside in the garden.
152 THE KRING’S CUP-BEARER.

But our tree only stood for a time. So long as the
heavy weights and props which held it up remained, so
long as the strings, which were tightly tied to nails in
the wall, were uncut; just so long the tree remained
upright and unmoved. But the very instant that the
props and supports were taken away our tree came
down with a crash.

What was the reason of its downfall? Why did the
trees in the garden stand unsupported, and yet this tree
fell so soon as its props were removed ?

The answer is clear and simple. The trees in the
garden had each of them a root, our Christmas tree
had no root. Having no root, it was impossible for it .
to stand alone.

There is, alas, plenty of no-root religion now-a-days.
We see around us too many whose godliness is dependent
on their surroundings and their circumstances. They
mean well, they try to do right, but there it ends. They
have no root; the heart is unchanged, unconverted,
unrenewed. ‘Their religion is merely a surface religion.

So they for a time believe, for a time do well, for a
time appear to be true Christians, but in time of temp-
tation they fall away. Their ‘goodness is as a morning
cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.’

If we would stand firm, we must see to it that our
religion goes deep enough. I myself must be made new
if [ am to grow in grace; my heart must be Christ’s if
Tam to stand firm in the faith.

‘As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk ye in Him. Rooted and built up in Him, and
stablished in the faith,’ :
153

CHAPTER XIV.
Strong JWeasures.

Gay HAT an objection some people have to strong
We measures! They see around them, amongst those

under their influence, a great deal going on
which is downright evil. You call upon them to puta
stop to it, and to do all in their power to prevent it.

But what do they say? They tell you they will go
gently and quietly to work; but they do not like to hurt
other people’s feelings, or to tread upon their prejudices.
They have no objection to try gradually, quietly, and
gently, to turn the tide of evil into a good and holy
channel, but they hate and abominate anything in the
shape of strong measures.

And yet there are cases where nothing short of strong
measures will.be of any avail. Here is a man who has
a diseased hand. For some time the doctor has been
trying gentle remedies: the poultice, the plaster, the
fomentation, have all been tried. But now the doctor
sees a change in the appearance of the hand. He sees
very clearly that mortification is setting in. No poultice,
no plaster, no fomentation will be of any avail now,
nothing but the knife, nothing but cutting of the limb
will save the man’s life. What a foolish doctor he would
I54 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

be, who should refuse in such a case to take strong
measures !

The great reformer, Martin Luther, looked around
him, and what did he see? The whole civilized world
a slave at the feet of one man, the Pope of Rome, obey-
ing that man as if he were God; believing every word
that came from his mouth, following carefully in his
footsteps as he led thém astray.

Luther feels nothing will do but strong measures.
He will not go gently and quietly to work in his reform,
for he feels that would be of no use; the case is so
serious that nothing but a strong and decided step will
answer the purpose. His strong step consisted in the
making of a bonfire. On December 10, 1520, as the
students of the great University at Wittenburg came to
the college, they found fastened to the walls a notice
inviting them and the professors, and all who liked to
come, to meet Martin Luther at the east gate of the
college at nine o’clock the following morning.

Full of curiosity, they assembled in great numbers to
find a bonfire, and Luther standing by it with a paper in
his hand. That paper was a letter from the Pope to
Luther, telling him that if he did not recant from all he
was teaching in less than sixty days, the Pope would give
him over to Satan. After reading the letter to the
assembled crowd, Luther solemnly threw it into the
flames and watched it burn to ashes, that all might see
how little he cared for the Pope or his threats. From
that time there could be no more peace between Luther
and Rome.

It was certainly a strong measure, and Luther owns
that he had to make a great effort to force himself to
STRONG MEASURES. 155

take it. He says: ‘When I burnt the bull, it was with |
inward fear and trembling, but I look upon that act with
more pleasure than upon any passage of my life.’ For
Luther felt, and felt rightly, that the glorious Reforma-
tion would never have been brought about unless he had
used strong measures.

Nehemiah was the Martin Luther of his age, the
creat reformer of his nation, and never did he feel the
need of strong measure to be so great, as when he came
back to Jerusalem after his absence in Persia.

Four glaring evils were staring him in the face.

(1) In the temple itself a grand reception room had
been prepared for Tobiah the Ammonite.

(2) The people had refused to pay tithes-or eontribu-
tions to the temple service, and the Levites had con-
sequently all left the sanctuary.

(3) The Sabbath day was desecrated and profaned ;
trade went on ag usual both within and without the
city.

- (4) So common had marriage with heathen people
become, that even the very children in the street were
chattering in foreign languages.

Four evils, all of them very serious and deep-rooted,
all calling for instant reformation at his hand.

How does Nehemiah go to work? Does he shrink
from giving offence, or hurting people’s feelings, or
calling things by their right names? No, he feels his
nation have sinned; the disease of sin is spreading,
mortification is setting in, nothing will do but strong
measures. The offending members must be cut off, that
the whole body may be saved.

He begins first with the temple. Going into the inner
156 THE KING’S CUE-BEARER.

court, and taking with him a band of his faithful
servants, he throws open the door of the great store-
chamber and begins his work. Indignantly he bids his
servants to clear out all Tobiah’s goods, nay, he himself
gives a helping hand, and leads them in the work. The
grand divans, the elegant cushions, the elaborate mats,
the bright-coloured curtains are all dragged out and cast
forth outside. And’then, when the great chamber is
empty he has it thoroughly cleaned and purified and
put in order, to receive again the temple vessels and
stores.

A strong measure certainly, but a very necessary one.
If Nehemiah had stopped to think what Tobiah might
happen to say the next time he came to Jerusalem, or if
he had held back because he was afraid of hurting the
feelings of Hliashib- the high priest, the sin would never
have been stopped, the temple would never have been
cleansed.

St. Paul tells all those who are Christ’s, that they
themselves are God’s temple.

‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that
the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile
the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the
temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.’

Ye are the temple of God, you yourself God’s dwelling-
place. Examine then the secret chambers of your
heart. Are any of Tobiah’s goods there? Is there any |
secret sin hidden away in your heart ?

If so, be your own Nehemiah; cleanse the chamber
of your heart, or rather cry unto God to do it for you.

‘Cleanse Thou me from secret faults.’

This is an all-important matter, for, unless the hidden
STRONG MEASURES. 157

sin is removed, you will receive no answer to your
prayers, and therefore to attempt to pray is useless.

‘Tf 1 regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not
hear me.’

Then, too, the Holy Spirit will be grieved and will
cease to move you, and without His help you can do
nothing; He cannot inhabit that temple in the secret
chambers of which is to be found cherished sin.
~ Tn such a case nothing but strong measures will avail.
That sin must be given up, or your soul will be darkened ;
that chamber must be cleansed, or the holy presence of
the Lord cannot remain.

Do you say, It is hard to give it up, to clear it out;
it has become a second nature to me, and I know not
how to rid myself of it ?

Surely it is worth making the effort, however much
pain and suffering it may cause. Amputation, however
much agony it may entail, is necessary if mortification
has set in.

‘If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it
from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy
members should perish, and not that thy whole body
should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend
thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable
for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not
that thy whole body should be cast into hell,’

The first evil has been dealt with and cleared away,
Tobiah and his goods have been cast out of the temple.
Nehemiah now passes on to the next thing which had 80
sreatly shocked him on his arrival in Jerusalem, namely,
the neglect on the part of the people with regard to the
payment of what was due from them for the temple service.
1358 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Again Nehemiah takes strong measures. He calls
together the rulers, as the leaders and representatives.of
the rest, and he gives them very strongly his mind on
the subject. No smooth words or gentle hints will do.
He tells us, ‘I contended some time with them’ (that
is, I reproved them and argued with them), ‘and I said,
Why is the house of our God forsaken ?’

Then, without waiting for a response to his appeal,
he sends round to all the Levites and singers, bidding
them with all haste to come up to the temple and to
take up their work again. And the people, seeing he
was determined, and that there was no possibility of
his allowing the matter to drop, came also, bringing with
them the corn, and the wine, and the oil, with which
once more to fill the empty chamber.

‘Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and
the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.’

And, in order to prevent such a thing ever happening
again, Nehemiah appointed treasurers to look after the
temple stores. Eliashib the high priest had been the
store-keeper before, xiii. 4, but he had shown himself
unworthy of his office. Four men are accordingly
chosen to collect the stores, and afterwards to deal
them out to the priests and Levites. One is a priest,
one a Levite, one a layman of rank, and the fourth a
scribe, ver. 18. Nehemiah tells us why he selected
these four men. ‘They were counted faithful,’ and as
faithful men they could be thoroughly depended upon.

Now, having set the temple in order, Nehemiah
proceeds to fight the battle with regard to the
observance of the Sabbath.

Again he uses strong measures. He once more
STRONG MEASURES. 159

speaks strongly and hotly to the nobles, for they had
led the van in Sabbath desecration. They liked the
freshest fruit and the daintiest dishes for their Sabbath
feast, and they had, therefore, encouraged the market-
people to go on with their Sabbath trade. Then, as
now, there were plenty of people who, for their own
self-pleasing, were ready to argue in favour of the loose
observance of the fourth commandment.

Nehemiah reminds the nobles that the destruction of
Jerusalem, the overthrow of that very city which they
were taking so much trouble to rebuild, had all been
brought about through desecration of the Sabbath day.

For what message had Jeremiah brought their
fathers ?

‘If ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the
Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering
in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then
will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall
devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be
quenched.’

God’s word had come true. Their fathers, despising
the warning, had continued to break the Sabbath, and
Nebuchadnezzar had burnt and destroyed the very
gates through which the Sabbath burdens had been
carried. What safety, then, could they hope for now,
how could they expect to keep their new gates from
destruction, if they followed in the footsteps of their
fathers, and did the very thing that God, by the mouth
of Jeremiah, condemned ?

‘Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and
said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do,
and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers
160 | THE RING’S CUP-BEARER.

thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us,
and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon
Israel by profaning the Sabbath.’
.. But though Nehemiah began by rebuking the nobles,
he did not stop here. He took up the matter with a
high hand. He commanded the gate-keepers to shut
the gates on Friday evening, about half-an-hour earlier
than usual. On other nights they were shut as soon
as the sun had set, but now Nehemiah orders them
to close the gates on Friday evenings, so soon as. the
shadows began to lengthen and the day was drawing
to a close. They were also, in future, to be kept shut
the whole of the Sabbath, so that no mules, or donkeys,
or camels, or other beasts of burden, might be able to
enter the city on the holy day.

The little gate, inside the large gate, by means of
which foot-passengers might enter and leave the city,
was left open, in- order that people living in the
country villages round might be able to come into-the
city to attend the temple services. But at this smaller
gate Nehemiah took care to place some of his own
trusty servants, and gave them strict instructions to
admit no burdens, no parcel, no goods of any kind into
the city on the Sabbath day, xi. 19.

Very naturally, the merchants and the salespeople
did not like this. They did a good stroke of business
on the Sabbath day, and would not lose their large

profits without a struggle. Accordingly, what do we |

find them doing? ‘They were refused admittance into
the city, so they set up their stalls outside the walls.
If the Jerusalem people could not buy of them, because
of that strait-laced, narrow-minded Nehemiah, still
STRONG MEASURES, 161

the country people who came in to attend the temple
services could purchase at their stalls on their way
home. They might thus maintain a certain amount of
their Sabbath business, and secure at least a portion
of their Sabbath gains. Not only so, but surely many
Jews from the city itself, as they strolled through the
gates on the day of rest, might pass by their stalls,
and, in the conveniently loose folds of their mone
many, even of these inhabitants of Jerusalem, might
conceal a pomegranate, or a melon, a piece of fish, or a
bunch of grapes, a handful of figs, or a freshly-cut
cucumber, and might easily escape detection by
Nehemiah’s servants, standing at the gate.

Nehemiah, seeing this state of things, feels that once
again strong measures are required. He must make a
_ clean sweep of these traders at once. So, going out
to them, he gives them warning that they will be
arrested and imprisoned the very next time that they
come within sight of the city on the Sabbath day.

‘So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged
without Jerusalem once or twice. Then I testified unto
them: Why lodge ye about the wall? If ye do so again
I will lay hands on you.’

That put a stop to it.

‘From that time forth came they no more on the
Sabbath.’

Then, from that day, Nehemiah held the Levites
responsible for the strict observance of this rule. His
own servants had guarded the gates in the first emergency,
now he bids the Levites to take their place, and to do all
in their power to enforce and to maintain the sanctity of
the holy day. .

M
162 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

Surely we need a Nehemiah now-a-days, we need some
of his strong measures to stop the growing disregard of
the Sabbath, which is creeping slowly but surely like a
dark shadow over this country of ours. We need a man
who will not be afraid of being called strait-laced, or
narrow-minded, or peculiar, or Jewish, or Puritanical,
but who will speak hig mind clearly and decidedly on
such an all-important point, and who will not hesitate
to use strong measures to put down the Sabbath-breaking
and the utter disregard of God’s law, which is threatening
the ruin of our beloved country.

Let each of us ask himself or herself, What am I doing
in this matter? How do I keep the Sabbath myself?
God asks for the whole day; do I give it to Him, or do
I spend the best of its hours in bed? Am TI careful not
to please myself on the Lord’s Day, or do I think it no
shame to amuse myself on that day ag I choose, by
travelling, by light reading, or by any other means that
I have within my disposal? Am I anxious to dedicate
the day wholly and entirely to God, setting it apart
entirely for His service, and looking upon it as a foretaste
of the great and eternal Sabbath that is coming ?

And, if I myself keep and reverence God’s Sabbath,
do I see that those over whom I have influence are doing
the same? Am I anxious that my children, my servants,
the visitors who come to see me, all who are in my home
on the Lord’s Day should do the same? DoI help them
by every means in my power? Do I strive that in my
* home at least God shall have His due?

And if in my home the Sabbath is observed, what am
I doing with regard to it outside, in my own town, or
village, amongst my acquaintances, companions, and
STRONG MEASURES. 163

friends? Am I doing all I can, using all the influence
God has given me, to lead others to reverence and observe
the holy day ?

And my country, dear old England; am I praying day
by day that her glory may not depart, that her sun may
not go down because of desecration of the Sabbath day?
The old promise holds good still; it is true of individuals,
of families, and of nations.

‘If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from
doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath
a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt
honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine
own pleasure, nor speaking thine own word: then shalt
thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee
to ride upon the high places of the earth.’

‘For tHE mourH or THE LoRD HATH SPOKEN IT.’
164,

CHAPTER XV.
The Oldest Sin.

Gir E have all read the adventures of Robinson Crusoe,
iW and we have all pitied the man, alone on a desert

island, alone without a friend, without a single
companion, never hearing any voice but his own, being
able to exchange thoughts with no one, alone, solitary,
desolate.

Yet after all; in one tespect, Robinson Crusoe was to
be envied, for he was shut off from one of the greatest.
temptations which besets us in this world, a temptation
which comes across the path of each of us, and from
which it is by no means easy to escape. Of that
temptation, Robinson Crusoe on his desert island knew
nothing. He did not find himself ever tempted to one of
the most common of sins. Robinson Crusoe was never
tempted to keep bad company, for the simple reason that
there was no bad company for him to keep.

What curious beings hermits are! they are to be found
in China, India, Africa, in various parts of Europe, in
fact, all over the world. And in olden time there was
many a lonely cave, many a shady retreat on the hill-
side, which was inhabited by one of these hermits.

Who then were these hermits? They were men who
THE OLDEST SIN. 165

were so much afraid of falling into the snare of keeping
bad company, that they refused to keep any company at
all, men who so dreaded being led astray by their fellow
men, that they shut themselves off from all intercourse
with the human race.

It was not a right nor a wise thing to do, and these
hermits found that sin followed them even to their quiet
lonely caves; yet it is scarcely surprising that they
dreaded evil companionship, and did all they could to
avoid it, seeing as they did how much misery it had
brought into the world.

For what was the oldest sin? What was the very first
sin that entered into this fair earth of ours? Some say
it was pride, or selfishness, or hard thoughts of God.
But surely it was no other sin than this, the keeping of
bad company.

There was Eve in the garden. God had provided her
with company; He had given her Adam, the holy angels
came in and out of that fair paradise; nay more, God
Himself was her friend, in the cool of the day He walked
with Eve under the trees of the garden, walked and
talked with her as a companion and friend.

But, in spite of this, ve got into bad company. She
stands, she talks, she entertains Satan, the great enemy
of God, against whom she must often have been warned
by God and the holy angels. And the consequence was
that Hive lost paradise, became a sinner, and brought sin
and all its attendant miseries into the world. We should
never have had our weary battle with sin if Eve had not
kept bad company.

Nor was Eve the last of those who have brought
trouble on themselves and others by the same sin.
166 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

If the descendants of Seth had not kept bad company
and made friends of Cain’s wicked race, the flood would
never have swept them away. If Samson had not gone
into bad company he would never have lost his strength,
and have had to grind blindly and miserably at the mill.
If Solomon had not kept bad company idolatry would
never have ruined Jerusalem. If Rehoboam had not
kept bad company the kingdom of Israel would never
have been divided; and again, and again, both in the
history of the past and in the story of the present,
we see men and women led astray by keeping bad
company.

We have already seen Nehemiah taking strong mea-
sures to put down three of the great glaring evils which
he found in Jerusalem on his return. We have now to
see him battling with this dreadful curse and snare—
bad company. If the other three evils needed strong
measures, Nehemiah feels there is a tenfold need to take
decided steps in this fourth and all-important matter.

For what does he find ag he walks through the streets
of Jerusalem? He discovers that the inhabitants of the
holy city are fast becoming foreigners and heathen. He
hears the very children in the street talking a language
he cannot understand.

So common has marriage with heathen foreigners
become, that Nehemiah sees clearly that unless some-
thing is done to put a stop to it the next generation will
grow up utterly un-Jewish in language, appearance, and
dress, and worse still, heathen in their religion, kneeling
down to idols of wood and stone, and carrying on in
Jerusalem itself all the vile customs and abominations
of the heathen.
THE OLDEST SIN, 167

‘If the girls are pretty and nice, and if the men like
them, why should not they please themselves?’ So the
Jerusalem folk had talked in Nehemiah’s absence. They
quite forgot to what it was all leading. They shut their
eyes to the danger of keeping bad company, they thought
only of what was pleasant and of what they liked, they
quite forgot to ask what was right, and what was the will
of God.

Nehemiah, as governor of Jerusalem, summons into
his presence, and commands to appear before him in his
judicial court, every man in Jerusalem who had married
a foreign heathen wife.

When all were assembled:

(1) He contended with them, 7.e. he rebuked and
argued with them, as he had done with the rulers on the
question of Sabbath observance.

(2) He cursed them, or as it is in the margin ‘he
reviled them.’ Probably he pronounced, as governor of
Jerusalem, speaking in the name of God, the judgments
of God on those who broke his law.

(3) He smote certain of them. That is, he had some
of them publicly beaten. Nehemiah called upon the
officers of the court to make an example of some of the
principal offenders by inflicting corporal punishment
upon them.

(4) He plucked off their hair, lit., He made them bald.

The Hebrew word, marat, which is used here, means to
make smooth, to polish, to peel. The word hair is not
expressed in the original.

We are surely not to suppose that Nehemiah, with his
own hands, either struck these men or made them bald.
What he did was simply this. He, as the head magistrate,
rs

108 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

inflicted a judicial punishment upon them, a double
punishment.

(1) They were beaten.

(2) They were made bald.

We read (Matt. xxvii. 26) that Pontius Pilate took our
Lord and scourged him; but we surely do not imagine

- that the Roman governor with his own hands inflicted

the scourging, but we understand it to mean that he
gave the order for the punishment to the Roman soldiers.
Just so, Nehemiah the governor commanded these
offending Jews to be beaten and made bald by the officers
of the court.

One of the most flourishing trades in an Eastern city
is the trade of the barber. This may easily be seen by
walking through the streets of an Eastern town, and
noting the numerous barbers at work, some in their
shops, which are open to the street, and others outside
on the doorsteps, or in some shady corner. Especially in
the evening are these numerous barbers busy; when
the work of the rest of the city is drawing to a close the
barber’s work is at its height. Yet, strange to say,
although the barber is so busy, everyone in the East
wears a beard; aman inthe East would think it a terrible
disgrace if he was obliged to be shorn of his beard.

The beard is considered a very sacred thing; it is
thought a great insult even to touch a man’s beard, and

_ ifyou want to make any man an object of scorn and

ridicule, you cannot do so better than by shaving off his
beard. This was the way in which the Ammonites
insulted David’s ambassadors (2 Sam. x. 4,5). And we
read that they stopped at Jericho till their beards were
grown, for ‘the men were greatly ashamed.’
THE OLDEST SIN. 169

What then is the barber’s work? If men in the Hast
wear beards, what is.it that keeps him so busy? The
barber in the Eastern city shaves not the man’s chin,
but his head. It is a very natural custom in hot, dusty
climates, where the head is always kept covered, both
indoors and out of doors. It is also a very ancient
custom, for even in the old Egyptian hieroglyphics we
find pictures of barbers shaving the head. And we
find that in these modern days, Egyptians, Copts,
Turks, Arabs, Hindoos, and Chinese, all shave the head.
But there is one great exception to this rule. A barber
would find no work in a purely Jewish city, for not only
do the Jews wear beards, but they also never shave
their heads as their Eastern neighbours do. The only
ones amongst the Jews who were allowed to have
shaven heads were the poor outcast lepers. Hence the
shaven head was to them a sign or symbol of unclean-
“ness and of excommunication. They looked upon a man
with a bald head very much as we look upon one whose
hair is cropped very suspiciously close, and whom we
therefore imagine must have been in gaol.

Thus it came to pass that ‘Bald-head’ became a
common term of reproach and insult. Elisha, the holy
prophet, goes up the hill, wearing a thick turban to
protect his head from the sun. Out come a troop of
wicked, mocking children. Elisha is not bald, for he
is a Jew, nor, even if he had been bald, could these
children have seen it, since his head is covered; but
they wish to annoy and to insult the holy man, so they
cry after him,

‘Go up, thou bald head, go up.’

They simply use a common term of reproach. To

|
170 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER,

have a bald head was amongst the Jews a sign that a
man was cut off from his nation, that he was counted
as a Gentile and an outsider, and therefore to call a
man ‘a bald head’ was equivalent to calling him a
Gentile dog and an outcast.

Now Nehemiah inflicts this very punishment on these
Jews who have married heathen wives. He commands
them to be made bald, as a sign of shame and disgrace.
It was a very significant and appropriate punishment.
They had thrown in their lot with the heathen Gentiles,
let them then become Gentiles, let them be branded with
their mark, let- them, by being made bald, be stamped
as those who are no longer citizens of Jerusalem, but
who have become outcasts and foreigners.

Then, when this was done, Nehemiah calls them to
him, and makes them take a solemn oath before God,
that from that time forth they will never fall into the
same sin again:

‘I made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give
your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters
unto your sons, or for yourselves.’

Then he reminds them how dreadful the consequences
of the same sin had been to no less a person than their
great and glorious King Solomon, the wisest of men, the
beloved of his God. Even Solomon had been drawn
aside into sin by his love of heathen foreigners, or
outlandish women, as Nehemiah calls them, women
living outside his own land. If he fell, if he the wisest
of men, if he the beloved of his God, was led astray,
was it likely that they could walk into the very same
trap, and escape being caught and ensnared by it?

‘Did not Solomon King of Israel sin by these things?
THE OLDEST SIN. 171

Yet among many nations was there no king like him,
who was beloved of his God, and God made him king
over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish
women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you
to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God
in marrying strange wives P’

Did Nehemiah then break up the marriages which |
had already taken place, and send the wives away? We
are not told that he did. Probably he only insisted,
and insisted very strongly, that no more such marriages
should take place. For he knew that if the custom was
continued it would lead to ruin, shame, and disgrace,
and he was therefore perfectly right to take strong
measures to put a stop to it.

One man he saw fit to make an example of in a still
more decided way—one offending member he felt must
be cut off. This was Manasseh, the grandson of the
high priest, the very one who had been the cause of
Tobiah’s entrance into the temple, and of the friendly
feeling that existed between Eliashib and the Samari-
tans.

Here was Manasseh, a priest, living in the temple
itself, dressed in the white robe, and taking part in
the service of God, yet all the time having a heathen
wife, and allowing heathen ways in his household.
Manasseh’s wife was actually Sanballat’s daughter; and
' so long as he and she remained in the temple precincts,
Nehemiah felt they mould never be free from Sanballat’s
influence. :

Accordingly we read:

‘T chased him from me.’

Nehemiah banished him from the temple and from
172 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

Jerusalem, and Manasseh went away with his wife to
her father’s grand home in Samaria.

No doubt Nehemiah was far from popular in Jeru-
salem that night. There were many who thought he
had been too severe, too narrow, too particular. And
doubtless there were many who, if they had dared,
would have rebelled against his decision. But Nehe-
miah had done everything; he had taken all these
strong measures, not to please men, but to please
God. If the Master praised him, he cared not what
others might say of him. ‘Lord, what wilt Zhow have
me to do?’ was the constant prayer of Nehemiah’s
heart; and though the work was oftentimes unpopular
and disagreeable, Nehemiah did it both boldly and
fearlessly.

The wheel of time goes round, and history, which
works ever in a circle, constantly repeats itself, and so
also does sin. The sin of Nehemiah’s days is still to
be seen; the same temptation which beset those Jeru-
salem Jews, besets us even in these more enlightened
days.

We all love company. There is in us a natural
shrinking from being alone and desolate. That feeling
is born in us; we inherit it from our first father Adam.
‘Tt is not good for the man to be alone,’ said the Lord
in His tenderness and His pity.

But a choice lies before us, a choice of friends. Our
relatives are given us by God, no man can choose who
shall be his father, or mother, or brother, or sister.
But our friends are of our own choosing, and we do not
sufficiently consider that upon that choice may hang
our eternity. Heaven with all its brightness, hell with
THE OLDEST SIN. 173

all its darkness and misery, which shall be for me?
The answer may hang, it often does hang, on the choice
of a friend.

For there are only two divisions in this world of ours,
only two companies, only two flocks. The kingdom of
darkness and the kingdom of light, the Lord’s people
and those who are none of His, the sheep and the goats.
From which division, from which company, from which
flock shall I choose my friends ?

‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,
for what fellowship hath righteousness with un-
righteousness ? and what communion hath light with
darkness P’

Especially careful should we be in that nearest and
dearest of friendships, in the choice of the one who is to
be to us our other self. Would we be made one, would
we link ourselves by that firm and sacred tie, whilst
knowing all the time that the one who is to be dearer
to us than life itself is outside the fold? No blessing
can surely rest on such a marriage. Jesus cannot be
an invited guest at that marriage feast. For clear and
unmistakable is the trumpet call of the great Captain of
our salvation :

‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate,
said the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing ; and
I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you,
and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the
Lord Almighty.’
174

CHAPTER XVI.
Gods Remembrance.

{Gow fond some people are of collecting old books,
A and what a large price old books will fetch!
©ze Those who are so fortunate as to obtain posses-
sion of a book which is four or five hundred years
old may put their own price upon it, for some anti-
quarian will be sure to purchase it.

But how modern, how very far from being ancient,
the oldest of our English books, printed in the most
primitive black letter, appears, when it is laid side by
side with that curious old book which travellers, visiting
the little village of Nablus, are shown this very day.
Well may the old white-headed man who has charge of
that book bring it out with pride, for it is one of the
oldest books in the world.

The book is in the form of a roll of parchment. It
is made of goat skins, twenty-five inches broad, and
about fifteen feet long. The skins are neatly joined
together, but in many places they have been torn and
rather clumsily mended. The roll is kept in a grand
silver-gilt case in the form of a cylinder, embossed and
engraved. On this case are carved representations of
the Tabernacle, ef the ark, of the two altars, of the
GODS REMEMBRANCE, 175

trumpets, and of the various instruments used in sacri-
fice. A crimson satin cover, on which inscriptions are
worked in gold thread, ig thrown over this precious
book.

This old manuscript is written in Hebrew, and is said
by the Jews to be the work of a man whose name has
already come before us in Nehemiah’s story. We saw
that Eliashib, the high priest, had a grandson named
Manasseh, that Manasseh married the daughter of
Sanballat, the Samaritan governor, and that Nehemiah
feli very strongly that the temple would never be
cleansed, nor God’s blessing rest upon them as a nation,
so long as one of their own priests had a heathen wife,
and was in constant communication with Sanballat.
Accordingly he chased Manasseh from him, he made
him at once leave the temple and his high position
there; and Manasseh, in disgust and indignation, went
off to Samaria to his father-in-law, Sanballat, taking
his heathen wife and family with him.

Now it is that very Manasseh who was, according to
the Jews, the writer of the Samaritan Pentateuch, that
old copy of the Books of Moses. The Samaritans them-
selves declare that itis far more ancient; that it was
written soon after the Israelites entered the land of
Canaan, by the great-grandson of Aaron; whilst some
scholars think it is far more modern than some
other copies of the Pentateuch which have been dis-
covered; but the Jews pronounce it to have been the
work of Manasseh, the grandson of Hliashib, the high
priest of Nehemiah’s day.

Manasseh arrivedin Samaria, indignant with Nehemiah,
and determined to have his revenge. He and his
176 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

father-in-law were resolved not to be outdone by the
Jews. They in Samaria would build a grand temple,
just as the Jews had done in Jerusalem. One hill was
as good as another, so they thought; their own Gerizim,
with its lovely trees and its sunny slopes, was as fair or
fairer than Mount Moriah.

So they set to work with all their energy, to build the
rival temple on the very hill where 1000 years before, in
the time of Joshua, the blessings of the law had been
read, whilst the curses were pronounced from the hill
on the opposite side of the valley, Mount bal.

Here then, on Gerizim, the mount of blessing, rose
the new temple, which was built with one object in view,
that it might outvie in splendour the one in Jerusalem.
When it was finished, Manasseh was made the rival
high priest, and was able to do what he liked, and to
exercise his authority in any way he pleased in his
father-in-law’s province. °

Nor was Manasseh the only priest in the Gerizim
temple; many other runaway priests joined him, all
who were angry with Nehemiah, all who were offended
or touchy, all who thought themselves injured in any
way, all who had been found fault with for Sabbath-
breaking or for any other sin, left Jerusalem for Samaria—
chose the temple of Mount Gerizim instead of the holy
temple on Mount Moriah.

Yet of the Samaritans it is said:

‘They feared the Lord, and served their own gods.’

Tt was a half-and-half religion, Judaismand heathenism
mixed up together, the worship of God and the worship
of idols side by side.

Satan, now-a-days, has his modern temple of Gerizim.
GOD’S REMEMBRANCE, 177

He does not try to lead nominal Christians to throw up
religion altogether, for he sees that it would be of no
use to do so. He knows we have a conscience, he knows
that conscience is often busy, he knows that we fully
believe that some day we must die, and that after death
will come the judgment, and he sees therefore that we
shall not be satisfied without some kind of religion. So
Satan tries to tempt us to the Gerizim temple. Serve
God by all means, he cries, but serve the world too. Go
to church, say your prayers, have a fair polish of Sunday
religion; it is decent, it is respectable, it is what is
expected of you. But yet, at the very same time, serve
the world, please yourself. Take part in any pleasure
that attracts you, live as you please, enjoy yourself to
the full. Let the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life have their share in your allegiance.
Be half for God, and half for the world. Live partly
for the world to come, and partly for this present world.
By no means throw overboard religion altogether, but
let it have its proper place, let it stand side by side
with self-pleasing and worldliness.

But what says the Master ?

‘No man can serve two masters. Ye cannot serve
God and mammon.’

Let us then choose this day whom we will serve.
Shall it be Christ or Satan, Jerusalem or Gerizim, God —
or the world?

For centuries after the time of Nehemiah, these
Samaritans continued a source of annoyance to the
Jews, tempting all who were disaffected and lawless to
come to Gerizim, and vexing and troubling the Jews in
every possible way. No one who was travelling up to

N
178 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

the rival temple was ever made welcome in Samaria,
or treated as he passed through with the slightest show
of hospitality. As our Lord and His disciples journeyed
‘up to the feast, we read that they came to a village of
the Samaritans, and our Lord sent messengers before
Him to engage a lodging, where they might find refresh-
ment and shelter on their way. But we read,

‘They did not receive Him, because His face was as
though He would go to Jerusalem.’

Sometimes they carried this antagonism to such a
degree that they would even waylay and murder the
temple pilgrims who were on their way through their
country, and the poor travellers were compelled to take
a much longer route to Jerusalem, crossing the Jordan,
and journeying on the eastern side until they came
opposite Jericho, and then ascending by the long, wind-
ing, difficult road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

Once, in order to mortify the Jews, the Samaritans
were guilty of a very dreadful insult. The Passover was
being kept in Jerusalem, and it was customary in Passover
week for the priest to open the temple gates just after
midnight. Through these opened gates, in the darkness
of the night, stole in some Samaritans, carrying under

their robes dead men’s bones and bits of dead men’s |

bodies, and these they strewed up and down the cloisters
of the temple, to make them defiled and unclean.

But perhaps the most trying thing which the Sama- |

ritans did was to put a stop to a very old and very
favourite custom of the Jews. For a long time those
Jews who lived in Jerusalem had been accustomed to let
their brethren in Babylon know the very time that the
Passover moon rose in Jerusalem, so that they and their
GOD'S REMEMBRANCE. 179

absent friends might keep the feast together at the very
same time. They did this in a very curious and inter-
esting way. As soon as the watchers on the Mount of
Olives saw the moon rising, they lighted a beacon fire,
other fires were already prepared on a succession of hill-
tops, reaching all the way from Jerusalem to Babylon.
As soon as the light was seen on Olivet the next fire was
lighted, and then the next, and the next, till in a very
short time those Jews who sat by the waters of Babylon
saw the signal, and joined in the Passover rejoicing
with their friends hundreds of miles away in Jerusalem.
Ti showed them that they were not forgotten, and it
helped them to join in the prayer and the praise of those
who were in their father-land.

But the Samaritans annoyed the Jews and spoilt this
beautiful old custom, by lighting false fires on other
mountains, on wrong days, and at wrong hours, and
thus confusing those who were watching by the beacon-
fires. After a time, so many mistakes were made by
means of these false signals, that the Jews were com-
pelled to give up the system of beacon-fires altogether,
and to depend on the slower course of sending mes-
sengers.

We have now come to the end of Nehemiah’s story,
and we have, at the very same time, come to the end of
the history of the Old Testament. For if all the historical
books were arranged chronologically, Nehemiah’s book
would come the very last in the series. Nothing more
is told us in the Book of God of this world’s history,
until St. Matthew takes up the pen and writes an
account of the birth of the expected Messiah. Yet
between the Book of Nehemiah and the Gospel of St.
180 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

Matthew there is an interval of 400 years, years which
were full of interest in Jewish history, but of which we
are told nothing in the Bible story.

There was one prophet who lived in the time of
Nehemiah, and whose book ig a commentary on the book
of Nehemiah. The prophet Malachi was living in Jeru-
salem at this very time, and if we look at his book we
shall see that mention is made of many things of which
we are told in the Book of Nehemiah. For instance, if
we turn to Mal. iii. 8, 9, 10, we shall find the very
words which the prophet spoke to the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, at the time when the temple store-house
was empty, and when the people had ceased to bring
their tithes and offerings, and to give God the due
proportion of their possessions.

‘Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me.
But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes
and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have
robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the
tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in
Mine house.’

Thus, if we read the Book of Malachi carefully, we
shall find much that throws light on Nehemiah’s
history; and we can easily imagine how much the
prophet’s sympathy and help must have cheered and
strengthened the great reformer in his trying and
difficult work.

What became of Nehemiah, the great cup-bearer,
the faithful governor of Jerusalem, we do not know.
Whether he returned to Persia and took up his old
work in the palace, standing behind the king’s chair
in his office of Rab-shakeh, or whether he remained in
GOD'S REMEMBRANCE, 181

Jerusalem, guarding his beloved city from enemies
without and from false friends within, we are not told.
Whether he died in the prime of life, or whether he
lived to a good old age, neither the Bible nor profane
history informs us.

But although we know nothing of Nehemiah’s death,
we know much of his life. We have watched him
carefully and closely, and there is one thing which
we cannot fail to have noticed, and that is that
Nehemiah was emphatically aman of prayer. In every
trouble, in each anxiety, in all times of danger, he
turned to God. Standing behind the king’s chair,
Nehemiah prayed; in his private room in the Shushan
palace, he pleaded for Jerusalem; and all through his
_rough anxious life as a reformer and a governor, we
find him constantly lifting up his heart to God in
short earnest prayers. When Tobiah mocked his
work, when the Samaritans threatened to attack the
city, when the people were inclined to be angry with
him for his reforms, when he discovered that there
were traitors and hired agents of Sanballat inside the
very walls of Jerusalem, when he brought upon himself
enmity and hatred because of his faithful dealing in
the matter of the temple store-house, when he had to
encounter difficulty and opposition in his determination
with regard to the observance of the Sabbath, and
when he still further incensed the half-hearted Jews
by his prompt punishment of those who had taken
heathen wives, and by his. summary dismissal of
Manasseh; in all these times of danger, difficulty, and
trial, we find Nehemiah turning to the Lord in
prayer. a
182 THE KING’S CUP-BEARER.

There was one prayer of which he seems to have
been especially fond, three times over does Nehemiah
ask God to remember him.

‘Think upon me, my God, for good,’ v. 19.

‘Remember me, O my God,’ xiii. 14.

‘Remember me, O my God, for good,’ xiii. 31.

Can it be that this prayer was suggested to him by
the words of his friend, the prophet Malachi? Gan it
be, that as he and Nehemiah took sweet counsel
together, and spoke together of the Lord they loved,
Malachi may have spoken those beautiful words which
we find in chap. iii. 16, 17, of his prophecy, in
order to cheer and encourage his disheartened and
unappreciated friend :— .

‘They that feared the Lord spake often one to
another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a
book of remembrance was written before Him for
them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon
His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord
of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels;
and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own gon
that serveth him.’

Can we wonder that Nehemiah longed to know that
his name was in that book of remembrance of which
his friend Malachi spoke, and that he often turned
the desire into a prayer, pleading with God, ‘Remember
me, O my God ?’

It is a very touching prayer. Nehemiah evidently
felt that others did not value ‘his work, nay, that
some even condemned him for it. The people, instead
of being grateful to him for his reforms, found fault
with him, misunderstood him, and reproached him,
GOD’S REMEMBRANCE. 1383

But God knew, the Master did not blame him. He
saw that all Nehemiah did had been done for His
glory and for the good of his nation. And to the
Master whom he served Nehemiah appealed. Away
from the fault-finding people, he turned to the merciful
God.

Remember Thou me, O God, for good; others blame
- me, but it is Thy praise alone that I crave, wipe not
Thou out my good deeds, spare Zhow me in the greatness
of Thy mercy.

There is no pride or boasting in this prayer. Is it not
the very prayer of the penitent thief, ‘Lord, remember
me?’ Look carefully at the wording of it, and you will-
notice,as Bishop Wordsworth so beautifullypoints out, that
it is humble in its every detail. Nehemiah does not say,
publish to the world my good deeds, but wipe them not
out. He does not say, reward me, but remember me.
He does not say, remember me for my merit, but
according to the greatest of Thy mercies.

So Nehemiah passes away from our sight with that
prayer on his lips, ‘Remember me, O my God, for
good.’

And was the prayer heard? Was Nehemiah remem-
bered? Did God, has God forgotten His faithful
servant? Surely not, for ‘The righteous shall be had
in everlasting remembrance.’

Remembered by God, and remembered for ever, entered
in the great book of God’s remembrance, of which he had
so often thought, and of which Malachi had written.

The day is coming when we shall see Nehemiah the
cup-bearer. In God’s great day of reward, when one
after another of His faithful servants shall appear before
184 THE KING'S CUP-BEARER.

Him, we shall hear the response to Nehemiah’s
prayer. :

‘Remember me, O my God,’ said Nehemiah, long years
ago, as he toiled on, unthanked and unblessed by
man.

And we shall hear the Lord answer, ‘ Well done, good
and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy
Lord.’

THE END.

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Edinburgh. Crown 8vo., 4s. cloth boards.

The Home of Bethany: its Joys, its Sorrows, and its Divine
Guest. By the Rev. JAMES CULROSS, A.M., D.D. Crown 8vo., 2s. 6d.
cloth boards.

How to Study the English Bible’ By R. B. GrrpLestone,
M.A., Hon. Canon of Christ Church, author of ‘Synonyms of the Old
Testament,’ etc. Crown 8vo., 1s. 6d. cloth boards.

Popular Introduction to the Pentateuch. By the Rev. R
WHELER BUSH, M.A., Rector of St. Alphage, London Wall. Crown
8vo., 2s. 6d. cloth boards.

Popular Introduction to Joshua, Judges and Ruth. By the
Rey. R. WHELER BUSH, M.A. Crown 8vo., 2s. cloth boards.

An Introduction to the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.
By A. H. SAaycz, M.A., Deputy Professor of Philology at Oxford, etc.,
author of ‘Fresh Light from the Ancient Monuments.’ Crown 8vo.,
as. 6d. cloth boards.

Vox Clamantis: The Life and Ministry of John the Baptist. By
the Rev. ALEX. MACLEOD SYMINGTON, D.D. Crown 8vo., as. 6d. cloth
boards.

The Laws and Polity of the Jews. By Exisze W. Epersuerm.

Crown 8vo., 2s. 6d. cloth boards.

Lectures on the Lord’s Prayer. By the Rev. Ricuarp Grover,
of Bristol. Crown 8vo., 1s. 6d. cloth.

The Manners and Customs of the Jews. By the Rev. E. P.
BARROWS, D.D., author of ‘A New Introduction to the Bible,’ etc.
Carefully Revised, and with many Illustrations. Crown 8vo., 2s. 6d.
cloth boards,

Our Lord’s Life on Barth. By the late Wirittam Hanna, p.p.,
author of ‘ The Life of Dr. Chalmers,’ etc. Revised and Cheap Edition,
in One Volume. 8vo., 5s. cloth boards. 12s. morocco.

Outlines of the Life of Christ. A Guide to the Study of the
Chronology, Harmony, and Purpose of the Gospels. By EUSTACE R.
CONDER, M.A. With Map of the Holy Land illustrative of the Gospel
History, from the latest researches by Capt. CLAUDE R. CONDER, R.E.,
of the Palestine Exploration Fund. Crown 8vo., 3s. 6d. cloth boards.

Progress of Divine Revelation, or, The Unfolding Purpose of
Scripture. By the Rev. JOHN STOUGHTON, D.D., author of ‘ Homes and
Haunts of Luther,’ etc. 6s. 6d. cloth boards.

The Rites and Worship of the Jews. New and Revised Edition.
With Illustrations. Crown 8vo., 2s. 6d. cloth boards.



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THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY.

Stepping-Stongs to Bible History.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS,

In Small Crown 8vo, T'wo Shillings and Sixpence, cloth boards,



This is a series of books for children and young people, intended to cover
in time the whole Bible History. Each volume will embrace a period
complete in itself, such as the Life of our Lord, the History of David,
etc. The writers are selected for their known aptitude in writing for
children, and also for their accurate acquaintance with Scripture, and
their power of making it attractive to the young. The style is such
that the books can be read by children of eight years old and upwards.
They will also be found very suitable for reading to very little children.

].—Srories rRoM GENESIS.
By ANNIE R. BUTLER, author of ‘Glimpses of Maori Land,
and ‘ Stories of the Children’s Medical Mission.” With thirty-nine
Illustrations.

I].—Tue Promisep Kina.

The Story of the Children’s Saviour. By ANNIE R. BUTLER.



II.
STORIES FROM THE Lives of Moses & JOSHUA.

By JOSEPH JOHNSON.

IV.—Srories FRom THE Lire of Davin.

By the Rev. F. LANGBRIDGE, M.A.



V.—STORIES OF THE JEWISH HEROES,
By JoSEPH JOHNSON and F. LANGRRIDGE, M.A.



Loxpon: Tum Rericiovs Tracr Socimry, 56, Parmrnoster Row.
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Price Fifteen Shillings, in Handsome Cloth, Gilt Top.

IN SCRIPTURE LANDS:

Rew Biews of Sacred Places,

By EDWARD L. WILSON.

With 150 Original Tllustrations Engraved from Photo-
graphs taken by the Author.





Contents :—The Land of Goshen—Sinai and the Wilderness—
From Mount Sinai to Mount Seir—A Visit to Petra—A
Search for Kadesh—Three Jewish Kings—The South
Country—Round about Jerusalem—Where was Calvary ?
—Judea to Samaria—Round about Galilee—Nazareth,
Old and New—Sea of Galilee—Lebanon to Damascus.





“Mr. Wilson has written a delightful volume. There is freshness in the free and
sparkling style, and, strange to say, there is freshness in many of the subjects. Mr.
Wilson is a bold and adventurous traveller; he struck into tracks and districts seldom
explored. among rascally Bedouins responsible to no one. In the face of considerable
hardships and no little actual peril, he resolutely followed out his investigations, though
occasionally compelled to change or modify his plans. Comparing the opinions of
distinguished travellers by the hght of his personal experiences, his views on the sacred
sites are always intelligent and intelligible. A devout believer, he is mainly guided by
the sacred narrative and by geography ; but he takes tradition for what it is worth, and
it is often worth a good deal in countries where everybody is eminently conservative.
Moreover, Mr. Wilson is an admirable photographer, and the photographs not only
embellish the volume, but are sometimes a suggestive commentary on the text.’

Saturday Review.

‘ Altogether. the book, which is very sumptuously got up, will not only be of value
to the inexperienced traveller in the East, but will prove eminently helpful to all
students of Holy Writ.—Pati Mall Gazette.

‘We know of no work likely to convey a more vivid impression of Bible lands as
they ate to-day.’-—The Record.

‘A handsome addition to Biblical topographic literature. The illustrations are
beautifully executed.’—The Times.

“It will hold its own in the front rank of all Palestine books. We may be
saying too much, but we feel quite enthusiastic over this book. The daring of the
traveller was commendable, and his record is delightful,—Rev. C. H. Spurgeon.

‘The work has.so many independent qualities as to take a-place of its own, and
contribute material of no small value. Many of the illustrations reproduce places not
to be met with in the ordinary books of reference, and in all of them the choice of
the point of view helps the impressiveness of the scenes themselves.’—Ze Scotsman,



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