The men of Jericho built next to Eliashib, and Zaccur son of Imri built next to them.
I. Devotion and effort in the cause of God are worthy of DISTINCTION AND REMEMBRANCE. Names have great power, both among contemporaries and successors. We are stimulated by individual examples.
1. The priests are mentioned first; and God's ministers should be first and foremost in every good work, especially that which is most closely connected with his house.
2. Not only individuals are honoured in thin record, but families. Our household life should be intimately bound up with our Church life. The best family title is that which is won in the field of holy enterprise.
3. While all were invited, some refused. The "nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord." But over against that disgraceful idleness we can place the superabundant zeal of others, who not only did their own work, but the work of others as well.
II. Even THE WOMEN WERE READY TO DO THEIR PART, and, understanding "daughters" in the sense of women, the daughters of Shallum, "ruler of the half part of Jerusalem," not too high or too weak to unite in such a cause. In the building of the spiritual Jerusalem the "daughters" contribute no mean portion.
III. SOME UNDERTOOK THE WORK "OVER AGAINST THEIR OWN HOUSE." We may find the opportunity close at hand. No greater honour can we attach to our own house than to connect it with the praise and glory of Jerusalem.
IV. The EFFECT of this general and contemporaneous effort of all the Lord's people to repair the ruins of their city in uniting them, effacing wrong distinctions, developing great qualities, lifting up their faith to a higher platform. Reformation both effect and cause of revival. - R.
By the king's garden.
II. The garden of GETHSEMANE..
III. The garden of THE BURIAL AND THE RESURRECTION.
IV. The garden of THE HUMAN HEART. The heart is meant to be a garden for God. By nature it scarcely deserves the name; it is rather a tangled wilderness of all manner of noisome things. What must be done to this neglected garden? The rough plough of conviction must be dragged through it. The spade of trouble must break up the surface, and smash in pieces the clods, and kill the weeds. Into this prepared soil the Holy Spirit must put in the seeds of faith, and love and hope, and patience and perseverance, and zeal. Then there must be drained out of us much superfluity of naughtiness and excess of carnal confidence, or our heart will be a cold swamp, a worthless plant-killing bog. And in addition to all this, there must be constant hoeing and raking and digging. After a garden is made, the flower-beds are never left long alone; if they were left to themselves they would soon breed weeds again, and return to the old confusion. So with the garden of the heart, cleansing and pruning must be done every day, and God must do it through ourselves, and we must do it through constant examination and repentance.
V. The garden of THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Follow me in each word of the text.
1. What is it? A garden. So it is called in the book of Solomon's Song. Many thoughts are gathered in that one metaphor like bees in a hive.(1) It implies separation. I earnestly desire to see the wall of separation between the Church and the world made broader and stronger. Christians should always wear their regimentals as Christ's soldiers. They are to go forth without the camp bearing His reproach. "Be not conformed to this world."(2) It is a place of order. You do not, when you go into a garden, find the plants arranged anyhow, but the wise gardener arranges them according to their tints and hues, so that in the midst of summer the garden shall look like a rainbow that has been broken to pieces and let down upon the earth. Let us all try to maintain order in all things as the servants of Christ. We seek not the order which consists in all sleeping in their places, like corpses in the catacombs, but we desire the order which finds all working in their places for the common cause of the Lord Jesus.(3) A garden is a place of beauty. Such should the Christian Church be. If there be no holiness, no love, no zeal, no prayerfulness outside in the world, yet you should see these things in the Church.(4) It is a place of growth.(5) It is a place of retirement. When a man is in his garden, he does not expect to see all his customers walking down between the beds to do business with him. So the Lord Jesus would have us reserve the Church to be a place in which He can manifest Himself to us as He doth not to the world.
2. Whose is it? It is the King's garden. He chose it for Himself. He bought it. What a nobility this gives to Christ's Church?
3. What does it need?(1) It requires labour. In every Church there should be —(a) Planters. I had a letter last week from a young woman. She says she has been here for two years, that she has been very anxious about her soul, and she has often wished that somebody would speak to her, but nobody has done so. Somebody has been negligent, very negligent. We want planters who can get the young slips and put them where they will grow.(b) Some to watch over those who are planted.(c) Some to collect the straggling.(d) Some to burn up the rubbish and sweep up the leaves. In the best Church there will always be some falling leaves. Whenever a brother sees any mischief he ought to sweep it up and say nothing about it. Whenever you find that such and such a brother is going a little amiss, talk to him quietly; do not spread it all over the Church and make jealousies and suspicions. Pick up the leaf and destroy it. When a brother member has offended you, so that you feel vexed, forgive him. If every one would seek to make peace, there never could be much accumulation of discord in the King's garden to annoy Him.(2) It wants new plants.(3) It wants rain and sunshine; the dew of the Holy Spirit and the sunshine of the Divine favour.
4. What does it produce? "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit."
VI. The garden of the PARADISE ABOVE (Revelation 22:1-5).
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. I should like you to remember THAT GARDENS ARE MADE OUT OF WASTE PLACES. We want our heart to be nice and kind, and like a king's garden ought to be; and we look at the brambles and the waste places, and fear sometimes that it never can be made into a garden. "I never shall be good," you say; "I never shall be like so-and-so." When I was a little boy I learnt drawing, and one day when I had tried again and again, and couldn't do it right, I flung down the pencil and said angrily, "I never shall be able to draw." The master was a very and a very wise man. He laughed pleasantly, and said, "Come — never is a long time. I couldn't draw any better than you can when I was your age." That put new life into me. He who could draw anything with his pencil, and could make it exactly right with just a touch — to think that once he could not draw any better than I could! I went at it again then, and never felt inclined to give up afterwards. And so with all good people that ever lived — their hearts were wild and waste before they became the King's garden.
II. BEFORE THE KING CAN MAKE A GARDEN HE MUST OWN THE LAND. Jesus says to us, "My son, give Me thine heart." He wants the heart, not because it is a garden, but that He may make a King's garden of it.
III. IT MUST BE CLEARED AND PLANTED. "Ah," you say, "this is hard work." The weeds will grow so fast when you've pulled them up. But suppose you could get some one to come and change the ground, so that instead of bringing forth weeds it should bring forth flowers and fruits. That is just what we can do. Jesus has come on purpose to create clean hearts.
IV. WE HAVE TO KEEP THIS GARDEN FOR THE KING.
1. We must plant it well. "The seed is the Word of God."
2. We must water it twice a day, and prayer is the watering.
3. We must watch against enemies.When I was a boy we used to set little heaps of "grains" to attract the slugs and snails, and then creep out at night with a lantern and take these mischievous creatures, that otherwise would have spoiled all the fruit and many of the flowers. Take care of these, of habits that spoil all the fruit; of little neglects and forgetfulnesses that ruin the King's garden. The peach-trees and plum-trees have a matting or net hung in front of them — in winter to keep off the frosts, or in summer to keep off the busy birds. We must be watchful against all things that hurt the King's garden. We must be on our guard against bad companions, bad books, and bad influences of all kinds, and also of hasty words, thoughtless ways, and little harmful thoughts and feelings.
V. IF IT BE THE KING'S GARDEN THE KING HIMSELF WILL COME TO IT. Cyrus used to say, "I take so much interest in my garden because I have planted every plant, and have sown every seed in it." So it is that Jesus loves His garden. He turned it from a waste into a garden, and has sown the good seed and planted the trees. I have heard of a poor man who lived in a very poor cottage far away from everybody else. One day somebody called to see him and said, "My friend, you must be very lonely here." "Lonely!" he replied, "ah, so I might be, but Jesus is such blessed company!" He had been walking in the King's garden with the King, and this made him so happy.
(Mark Guy Pearse.)
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