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know how it had fared with the Hebrewsthe delivered ones'-'the escaped ones. Born in exile, as we are inclined to think Nehemiah was, like Ezra, his contemporary, he would naturally wish to learn all he could about those who had gone back to Palestine. The answer to this part of the question was, “The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach

The other aspect of the question here put by Nehemiah has reference to Jerusalem. I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.' Connected as he was by ancestral ties with the holy city, not to mention other reasons, it would indeed have been strange if his inquiry had not taken this form. We ourselves can testify to the hold which one's native place or native land has upon us. And this feeling is not peculiar to Englishmen. It is shared by other nationalities, and not the least by the Jews. An exiled Londoner or Parisian's love for London or Paris would not, we may be sure, be deeper, stronger than that

, which Nehemiah must have had for the promised land, and for the city, the place of his fathers' sepulchres.' As was to be expected, he asked for information concerning Jerusalem. His friends could give him what I suppose we may call late and reliable intelligence on the subject, though in

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these days of rapid travelling and electric communication tidings several weeks or it may be two or three months old would date too far back to suit our ideas. And if we should consider the date unsatisfactory, the news itself would be deemed still more so by Nehemiah. It was to the effect that the city was a waste, its wall broken down, and the gates thereof burned with fire. Through what changed circumstances had Jerusalem passed, and was destined to pass ! The earliest glimpse we have of it in the Bible is as a smitten city. In course of time we see it a great and flourishing capital, its temple one of the wonders of the world. ' Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. Walk about Zion, and go round about her; tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generation following.' These were Jerusalem's palmy days. Again sad reverses await her. The city is besieged and taken, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah,' are given into the hands of their enemies.

'Where now thy pomp, which kings with envy viewed ?
Where now thy might, which all those kings subdued ?
No martial myriads muster in thy gate,
No suppliant nations in thy temple wait.'

These words not inappropriately describe the

fallen fortunes of the city at the time the conversation referred to in the text took place; for notwithstanding that the temple had been rebuilt and reopened ere this, Jerusalem was still little better than a ruinous heap. 'The wall of Jerusalem also was broken down, and the gates thereof burned with fire.'

It has been well said, 'No place is so strong, no building so grand, no wall so firm, that sin cannot undermine and overthrow it. Let no man trust in ceremonies, or sacred houses, or sacred traditions, so long as his heart is far from God, and his life is not in accord with his righteous creed. The destruction of the temple was a testimony that God will spare no house in which any other name than His is worshipped, or in which He is worshipped only with the lips, while the heart is far from Him.'-(Lange, 2 Kings, ch. xxv. p. 304.)

II. Let us notice the emotion of Nehemiah on hearing the tidings alluded to. "I sat down and wept,' he says, “and mourned certain days, and fasted.' He also adds, ‘and prayed before the God of heaven.' His prayer we shall consider byand-by. It will be sufficient, at this point, to direct our thoughts to the grief of Nehemiah as seen in his tears and lamentation and fasting. He wept. Nor was it weak or unmanly for him to do

· His was the tear most sacred shed for other's pain.' To weep at trifles, or at fictitious sorrows, may be effeminate; but 'twas no trifle, no imaginary


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sorrow that now drew tears from Nehemiah. They were wrung from him by a great calamity, and by details only too true. His grief was further manifested by lamentation and fasting. He 'mourned certain days, and fasted. Tears sometimes relieve the stricken heart. Tennyson beautifully expresses this idea in the lines beginning, Home they brought her warrior dead.' Tears, no doubt, sometimes give relief; but they do not appear to have done so in this case. Nehemiah's heart-ache continued despite his weeping : for he not only sat down and wept,' he ‘mourned certain days, and fasted.'

It was a profound grief which seized him. Then with a keenness, never perhaps experienced by him before ; he felt for Zion 'reft of her sons, amid her foes forlorn. He was deeply moved, cut to the quick by the recital of her unhappy state, and by the sufferings of 'the remnant that were left of the captivity:'

The forms in which his grief exhibited itself were indicative of its intensity. For the royal cup-bearer to weep and groan and fast betokened surely a mind ill at ease, a spirit sorely oppressed.

It was a somewhat prolonged as well as profound grief. It lasted, at any rate, certain days. Had it been merely a momentary ebullition of feeling, at once expressed and relieved by a burst of tears, a passing pang, such as this, would hardly have

been recorded. For days his distress knew little or no mitigation.

It was a patriot's grief. And let us mark this well, for seldom has patriotism of a purer or nobler kind been shown than was displayed by Nehemiah. Personally, what occasion had he to pine and weep? High in favour with the mighty monarch whom he served, a palace for his home, and luxuries and pleasures at his command, which thousands covet in vain, why make this ado just because an old city, hundreds of miles away was dilapidated and unfortified, and the people thereabout not so well off as could be wished ? Ah! those poor Jews, it was now apparent, had a stronger hold upon him than the fascinations of a court; and that waste and wall-less city was graven as deeply on his heart, as was Calais, according to the legend, on that of Mary.

Again, it was a penitent grief. It was akin to that 'godly sorrow' which 'worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of. What a picture of distress does Nehemiah thus present! See him yonder—with tear-blinded eyes, or prostrate in anguish of soul. He will not eat, or drink, or be comforted. A burden grievous to be borne is upon him.

Nehemiah's grief reminds us of another and yet more touching spectacle, the tears which Jesus shed over Jerusalem. · And when He was come near,

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