And I sent messengers to them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease…
I. THAT THE WORK OF RELIGION IN GENERAL IS A GREAT WORK. This will appear when we contemplate it as being —
1. God's work. It originated with God; its foundations were laid in heaven; it emanated from the throne of the Eternal; it is the product of infinite wisdom, love, and truth. It bears on its countenance the image of its immaculate Author, and it is every way worthy of its great Original. Unmistakable traces and manifestations of its Divinity are seen in the loftiness of its character, in the purity of its principles, and in the efficiency and permanency of its influences. Nothing is worth the name of greatness compared with the system God has devised to heal the sorrows and cleanse the pollutions of the soul. And is there not a glory and majesty about it immeasurably great? God appears great in the works of creation. If, then, God is so great throughout the wide range of creation, how great must He be in restoring man to His favour, in giving life, vigour, and beauty to souls once dead in trespasses and sins! That religion is a great work is evident —
2. From the importance attached to it in the Bible. The Bible, God's holy book, is pregnant with it, its glory and beauty being reflected from every page. This book was written expressly to pourtray religion, its doctrines, principles, and duties. Let the question be settled in our minds — religion is the "principal thing"; it is emphatically the world's great bless ing; so the sacred penmen estimate it. They speak of it as "God's salvation"; as the "great salvation"; as the "pearl of great price"; as the "one thing needful"; as the "good part"; the "more excellent way"; "the bread of life"; and "life eternal." That religion is a great work is evident from —
3. The qualifications necessary to engage in it. A high state of intellect is not essential to it. The most gigantic intellect is no qualification for God's service, if not renewed and sanctified by the Holy Ghost. The qualifications necessary to engage in this work must have their seat in the heart rather than in the head. Right moral emotions cannot be dispensed with.
4. That religion is a great work appears from its blessed results on human character and conduct. The history of the past in relation to God's work unfolds a series of wonderful achievements and glorious results. Its wide spread influence amongst the various nations and tribes of men has told a marvellous tale.
II. THE GOOD MAN IS ENGAGED IN THIS WORK. This expression denotes —
1. Decision of character. In a world like ours fixedness of purpose is invaluable, whether it relate to the active duties of every-day life or to the more lofty and ennobling duties of religion. It is essential to success. The man whose movements are changeable, and who is never steady to one point or purpose, brings nothing to a good issue. What a paralysing influence indecision has upon the soul in relation to religion. Men dream and talk about their future course of action, and yet they are never found at the starting-point. They are decided for the future, but not for the present. The diligent man says, "'I am doing a great work'; I am in it; it form part and parcel of my very being." The Scriptures furnish us with specimens of the decision we plead for. We see it in Joshua, when he says, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." So, too, David said, "O God, my heart is fixed"; "I have chosen the way of truth."
2. Labour. "I am doing a great work." Religion is essentially active; it has no sympathy with sloth and inactivity.
III. THE SPIRIT OF PERSEVERANCE IS REQUIRED IN THIS WORK. The good man engaged in this work cannot come down, because —
1. The work requires close and constant application. To acquire anything like an approach to perfection or completeness in religion is no easy task. The world, with its blandishments, its false maxims, and glittering snares, says, "Come down." The flesh, naturally in favour of indulgence and ease, and opposed to self-denial, joins in the cry, and says, "Come down." Satan, whose malice breaks out more bitterly as he sees the wall rising higher, repeats the order, "Come down." Thus every new stone added to the building is the subject of dispute. The builder cannot leave his work, because —
2. Shame and misery would be the result. A more pitiful sight than that of a good man "cast down from his excellency" is certainly not to be found. My reason, my judgment, my conscience, all concur with the inspired admonition, "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
IV. "WHY SHOULD THE WORK CEASE, WHILST I LEAVE IT, AND COME DOWN TO YOU?" We must not suppose that God's work would entirely cease, even though a thousand such men as Nehemiah were to desert it.
1. All the infidelity and wickedness of men cannot stop this work. Observe, finally, that —
2. Were it possible that His work should cease, it would be the greatest calamity the world ever knew.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I sent messengers unto them, saying, 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?