Ezra 1:5
Then rose up, etc. The edict of Cyrus had been issued (see vers. 2 4). The voice of God was in the voice of the king (see ver. 1). But who responded?


1. Happy the people whose magistrates lead them nobly.

(1) In politics. The voice of the king. The purpose of that voice.

(2) In religion. The voice of God. The purpose of that voice: immediate; ulterior with respect to fulfilment of prophecy, etc.

2. Politics cannot be divorced from religion.

(1) God has joined them in the constitution of our nature.

(2) He holds citizens, as such, responsible to himself.

(3) Experience proves that godly men are the best citizens.

3. Evil rulers are scourges of God to wicked peoples.

(1) Not appointed without his providence (see Isaiah 3:4).

(2) Rulers are no worse than their people.

Representative governments - responsibility of the franchise. In hereditary magistracies (see Isaiah 1:10). "Rulers of Sodom" associated with "people of Gomorrah" (see Isaiah 1:25, 26). When the vices of a people are purged away, then worthy magistrates are raised up to them.


1. Priests, leaders in religion.

(1) Sons of Aaron - type of Christ, also of Christians.

(2) Offices at the altar.

(3) Offices in the sanctuary.

2. Levites, leaders in literature.

(1) Scattered in Israel - schoolmasters, scribes of the law (2 Chronicles 34:13).

(2) Services about the temple. Literature should be the handmaid of religion. When otherwise, inversion of God's order fearfully mischievous.

III. SKILFUL ARTIFICERS RESPONDED. Those whose spirit God hath raised to go up and build the house of the Lord.

1. All useful labour is from God.

(1) He is the Author of our faculties.

(2) His providence furnishes opportunities for their culture.

2. All talent should be devoted to God.

(1) In building up his material temple.

(2) In furthering the building of his living temple.

(3) In our secular calling (see 1 Corinthians 10:31).


1. All they that were about them.

(1) Not all the nation. Some elected to remain in Babylon. Gain of merchandise, etc., etc. So it is still when God calls us to forsake the world.

(2) Those responded whose sympathies were true - "about them." Frequently the children of godly persons elect the service of Christ.

2. These strengthened their hands.

(1) True sympathy is help. Moral influence of virtuous citizens strengthens the hands of magistrates.

(2) Where sympathy is true it will furnish active help. Gifts from the wealthy - viz., things of "gold and silver," "goods," "beasts," viz., for transport (see Ezra 2:66, 67); "precious things." Gifts from the multitude - "freewill offerings." All is precious that comes from a loyal heart.

1. Learn that religion and politics may be harmonised without resorting to compulsion. The response was voluntary. Uniformity is not unity. Endless variety in living things.

2. Harmony in religion and politics is truest when free. With compulsion comes resistance and contention. Admit the principle of coercion, then the question is not between religion and politics, as abstract principles, but becomes often an ambitious and unholy strife. - J. A. M.

Let the men of the place help him with silver.
"Not many years since," writes a clergyman, "I had occasion to solicit funds to aid in the prosecution of a work of benevolence. I stepped into the office of a Christian friend, with whom I had a partial acquaintance, and incidentally mentioned the unpleasant business before me, and inquired of him for the residence of a certain benevolent individual, and added that I hoped to get one dollar of him. After receiving directions, I turned to go out. 'But stop,' said this brother, 'suppose you let me have the privilege of contributing a little of the money which the Lord has lent me to this cause. Put down £20 for me.' I expressed my surprise that he should contribute so liberally, and remarked that I should feel myself in duty bound not to call on him very soon on a similar errand. 'Well, then,' said he, 'my brother, I think you will very much mistake your duty. If you knew how much pleasure it gave me to contribute of my substance to the Lord, you would feel no reluctance in calling again. And now let me charge you, when engaged in similar business, never to pass me by. Call, and I think I shall be able to do something; and if not, my prayers shall go with you.'"


Two weeks ago I told you that three thousand dollars had got to be raised to pay for the repairs of this house. The plates were sent round, and about six hundred dollars were raised. I was heartily ashamed, and have not got over it yet. Last week the trustees came, and asked me if I would name the matter again, and I said, "No, I will not." But this week, upon their renewed application, I have consented to speak once more. If this don't do, you may pay your debt how you can, for I will never mention it again. I'm not going to be a pump to be thrust into men's pockets to force up what ought to come up freely. When the surgeon comes to a place where he must cut, he had better cut. For more than a year I've seen that our plate collections grew meaner and meaner. I didn't want to face you with such things as I've got to say to-day, and I put it off as long as I could. Now I shall speak plainly once for all, not having the face to bring the matter up again. This debt has got to be paid, and will you meet it honourably, and pay it like men, or will you let it drip, drip, drip out of you reluctantly, a few dollars st a time? You can take your choice. I'm not going to try to drill money out of you as I would drill stones. The amount of meanness among respectable people is appalling. One needs to take a solar microscope in order to see some men.

(H. W. Beecher.)

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