Nehemiah 6:5
The fifth time, Sanballat sent me this same message by his young servant, who had in his hand an unsealed letter
The Christian WorkmanW. Clarkson Nehemiah 6:1-9
God with UsR.A. Redford Nehemiah 6:1-14
The Temptations of Earnest Moral Life and ServiceJ.S. Exell Nehemiah 6:1-16
HinderersHomilistNehemiah 6:1-19
Nehemiah's HeroismJohn McNeill.Nehemiah 6:1-19
PersistencyHomiletic CommentaryNehemiah 6:1-19
The Witness to the TruthW. Ritchie.Nehemiah 6:1-19
Nehemiah was an instance, and will ever be the type, of a faithful workman in the cause of God; from his conduct and career we may learn -

I. HOW VALUABLE ONE WORKMAN MAY PROVE (vers. 1, 2). Sin sometimes pays an unconscious tribute to integrity and worth. It acts on the assumption that righteousness is more than equal to its energy, and that, to gain its evil end, it must have recourse to "poisoned weapons." Thus, e.g., Philip of Spain, striving vainly to extinguish Protestantism in Holland, concluded that it could only be done by "finishing Orange," and set plots on foot to murder that noble patriot. Sanballat concluded that he could not accomplish his evil designs until Nehemiah was subdued; hence his murderous plans. What a tribute to one man's influence! Men "full of faith" are also "full of power" (Acts 6:8). One single soul, animated by faith, love, and zeal, may defeat all the agencies of evil.

II. WHAT NEED HE HAS OF WARINESS (vers. 2, 4). "They sought to do me mischief" (ver. 2); "they sent unto me four times after this sort" (ver. 4). The enemies of God endeavoured, with a persistency worthy of a better cause, to entrap Nehemiah and despatch him. But he, fearless as he afterwards proved, was not to be taken by their craft. Heroism is unsuspicious; but it is not, therefore, credulous. It can distinguish between the overtures of a friend and the machinations of an enemy. We read of "the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13); and both in the guarding of our own personal integrity, and in the defence of the Church of Christ, we must be on the alert against the enemy, who after the failure of open assault will probably resort to stealth.

III. WHAT NEED HE HAS OF COURAGE (vers. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Sanballat, failing to impose on the charity of Nehemiah, adopts another course: he intimates in an open letter which every one may read, that, if the interview be not given him, he will send an evil report to the king of Persia, putting the worst construction on the proceedings at Jerusalem (vers. 5, 6, 7). Nehemiah, feeling that ceremony would be out of place, charges Sanballat with direct falsehood (ver. 8). "Thou feignest them out of thine own heart." There are times when softness of speech is not courtesy, but weakness; when hard words are not rudeness, but faithfulness. But this ruse of the enemy threatened to succeed, notwithstanding the governor's un- varnished retort. "For they all made us afraid" (ver. 9). Fear seems to have possessed the minds of many, and Nehemiah was driven to prayer. "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands." When other hearts are trembling, and timidity is within us, we must seek, and we shall gain, renewed courage at the throne of grace. "In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul" (Psalm 138:3). "For this cause I bow my knees to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16).

IV. How EXCELLENT IS DEVOTEDNESS TO WORK (ver. 3). An admirable message was that of the patriot: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down," etc. His place was amongst his friends, encouraging and helping them to build, not outside, parleying with the enemy. To have left his post of active duty, of useful work, for such discussion would have been to "come down" indeed. To forsake the good and great work of building for Christ in order to debate with those who are hostile to it is to "come down," is a descent from devotion to danger. We axe safer and better employed in the high places of prayer and activity. - C.

A great work.
A story is told of an old man who rived long ago. A friend asked him the cause of his complaints, since in the evening he so often complained of great weariness and pain. "Alas," answered he, "I have every day so much to do: I have two falcons to tame, two hares to keep from running away, two hawks to manage, a serpent to confine, a lion to chain, and a sick man to tend and wait upon." "Why, this is only folly," said the friend; "no man has all these things to do at once." "Yes indeed," he answered, "it is with me as I have said. The two falcons are my two eyes, which I must diligently guard, lest something should please them which may be hurtful to my salvation; the two hares are my feet, which I must hold back lest they should run after evil objects, and walk in the ways of sin; the two hawks are my two hands, which I must train and keep to work, in order that I may be able to provide for myself and for my brethren who are in need; the serpent is my tongue, which I must always keep in with a bridle, lest it should speak anything unseemly; the lion is my heart, with which I have to maintain a continual fight in order that vanity and pride may not fill it, but that the grace of God may dwell and work there; the sick man is my body, which is ever needing my watchfulness and care. All this daily wears out my strength." The friend listened with wonder, and then said, "Dear brother, if all men laboured and struggled after this manner, the times would be better, and more according to the will of God."

(J. M. Randall.)

The ancient Greeks had an aphorism which is worthy of remembrance: "He is formidable who does one thing." A man must have a fixed design, or he will not have a steady course. As the instrument tuned to no key-note, so is the man whose spirit is strung to no commanding aim. In vain does the vessel launch forth from the harbour if she have no haven for which to steer and no helm by which to shape her voyage. Take a just view of your life, and all is but dung and dross in comparison with your final acceptance with God. This is the object, the one object which you must enterprise, prosecute, and secure. What a work is before us!

(Hugh Stowell, M. A.)

The Christian has a great work to do for himself, working out under gospel influences his own salvation with fear and trembling. It is great in regard of others. We are not merely children of God going home to glory; but we are fellow-workers with God — keepers of beacons to imperilled mariners in a dark night of storms — oarsmen of a lifeboat out on the wild ocean saving drowning souls from destruction. Yea, we have a great work in regard of our glorious God and Saviour. We may not understand it, yet we are assured by God Himself of the truth that more than in all His works of creation and providence is there manifestation made of His manifold wisdom in this work of salvation. Every soul saved on earth by our human instrumentality is a radiant diadem in the many crowns of Jesus. Moreover, like Nehemiah, we are doing this great work in the face of strong antagonisms, and against the insidious opposition of enemies striving to hinder us. Alas! how many are the Sanballats and Tobiahs of the world! I am not railing at the world itself, for it is a good world for Christian work — a world whereof we are to make the most; and the pleasures and honours and riches of it, when accepted as gifts of God and used for His glory, are among our mighty means of grace, whereby our own souls may be edified and Christ's kingdom enlarged. I am thinking now of the world as used by Satan to hinder Christian work — those scornful words or seductive arts of temptation, and, I repeat, they are many. Pleasure comes to the scene of Christian labour with all-bewitching beauty and bewildering blandishments, and she pleads for sensual indulgence, and would draw the worker for Christ forth and down to the fair plains of Ono. Avarice comes with jewels of great price, and keys offering coffers of untold wealth in the stronghold of Mammon. Ambition comes, in the pomp and glory of an archangel, fallen from heaven, and points to a perspective of surpassing splendour, with shining palms and triumphal processions, outflashing diadems and uprising throne. With these and many other specious beguilements come the great adversaries of the soul and the Church. They plead with the Christian worker as he builds the walls of Zion, crying eloquently and earnestly, "Oh, come down and meet us in some plain of Ono!" And to all this our reply should be just that of Nehemiah, "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down." Oh, fellow-worker with God in this glorious salvation, take to your heart as the inspiration of your lives this strong argument; rise to a comprehension of the magnificent part you are acting in the face of the universe; of the vastness of the issues you are working out for God! Say to the assaulting tempter, "Let me alone. I am working — working. I am working out my own destiny. I am striving for a guerdon in the skies grander than the Conqueror's. I am working for others — for the beloved of my own house-hold — my child, my parent, my brother, my friend. Oh, do not hinder me! I am working for a world — a world for which the Son of God bled in the garden — died on the Cross! See! see! that world rolls like a shattered wreck on the stormy seas of time, and I am keeping the beacon aflame! Oh, hinder me not! Nay, more, I am working for Jehovah — that God who, when I was lost, sent His own Son to save me."

(T. L. Cuyler.)

In studying Nehemiah as a man of business we notice —

I.He was a model of EARNSTNESS.

II.He was a model of UNSELFISHNESS.

III.He was a model of FAITHFULNESS.

IV.He was a model of PRAYER.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

This narrative illustrates —


1. A high purpose. It was —

2. Beset with difficulties. A true work will have generally to surmount —

(1)Men's scorn.

(2)External hindrances.


1. Temptations from armed enemies.

2. Temptations from professed friends.


1. Prayer for the work.

2. Earnest prosecution of it.

3. Resistance of all temptations to leave it.

(Urijah R. Thomas.)

We learn from these words —





(James Shore, M. A.)

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.

(A. Twiss.)

I. GOD'S WORK IS STILL A GREAT WORK. It resolves itself into two parts —

1. Work in relation to one's self — faith in the Redeemer, progressive holiness and final glory.

2. Work in relation to others.

II. GOD'S WORK MUST BE DONE FIRST. To Sanballat's complimentary note Nehemiah replied by his conduct, "God's work first, compliments next."





Christian work is —

1. A SAFEGUARD AGAINST VICE. All honest work, indeed, is an antidote to vice, but Christian work is especially so.

1. It fills up those leisure hours that so often prove fatal to the unguarded soul.

2. By its very nature it supplies positive motives against temptation.

(1)It strengthens all one's Christian principles.

(2)It keeps one constantly under the play of Christian influences.

(3)It prevents the spiritual life from dying of disuse.

II. A SAFEGAURD AGAINST SPIRITUAL DECLENSION. Our spiritual life depends in the first instance on the work of Christ for us; but its continuance is dependent on activity — on the work we do for Christ.

1. Physical growth is dependent on activity.

2. So, too, with intellectual life.

3. So in a still higher degree it is in spiritual life.Selfishness is the greatest spiritual poverty. Life loses in the proportion in which it withholds itself, and gains by all it gives. According to the width of my sympathies and the self-forgetting ardour of my zeal is the true power and opulence of my being. If it be lawful or possible to enlist the higher selfishness in the service of unselfishness, as you value your religious life, as you would protect it on the one hand against innate tendencies to declension, and on the other against the sapping and undermining influences of the outer world, give your sympathies, your energies, your substance to the cause of God and man. It is not enough for your religious safety that you abstain from evil — you must engage in positive good.

III. A SAFEGUARD AGAINST SCEPTICISM. NOT THAT SCEPTICISM CANNOT BE MET IN THE FIELD OF ARGUMENT. BUT ARGUMENT is not, in every case, the best way to meet the native scepticism of the heart. Christian truth is of such a nature that to understand it fully you must live it. "If any man will do God's will he shall know of the doctrine." There was a minister who at an early period of his life was in doubt about the truth of Christianity. He had almost lost his faith, when hearing this text he resolved to make trial of it. He went and gathered a number of boys together from the streets and taught them as best he could; from that he went to something else as opportunity offered, with the result that he found the text to be true; that in doing God's will, especially in doing good to others, his doubts had all fled and never troubled him more. He found, as Carlyle says, "that doubt of whatever kind can be ended by action alone." As a rule it is not from the great class of Christian workers that scepticism draws its recruits, but from those who stand aloof from all Christian activities, and in many cases look down on them with contempt.

IV. A SAFEGUARD AGAINST DESPONDENCY. It is an old saying and true that while the water flows and the mill-stones revolve unless the grain be thrown between them to be ground, the stones will grind each other. So the heart and mind which are inactive, which have no subjects of interest, to engross them, turn their force inward and prey upon themselves. The water that is stagnant soon loses its freshness of colour and of flavour, and engenders the worthless weed, the green scum, the foul mud and noxious exhalations; so the man or woman who leads a useless, purposeless, inactive life not only degenerates in inward character, but loses the freshness and brightness of life, becomes restless, discontented, and a prey to melancholy. To a woman of the desponding type who was wont to bewail her spiritual poverty in the language of the prophet, "My leanness i my leanness I " a shrewd and faithful friend, well-known for her good works, administered the needed and merited reproof, "Nay, but it would better become you to say, 'My laziness! my laziness!'"

(Robert Whyte, D. D.)



1. Whenever the Church believes it is going to cease.

2. When Christians consent that it should cease.

3. Whenever Christians suppose the work will go on without their aid.

4. When Christians begin to proselytise.

5. When the Church in any way grieves the Holy Spirit.

6. When Christians lose the spirit of brotherly love.

7. When Christians are frequently reconverted.


1. Ministerial humiliation.

2. Churches which have opposed revivals must repent.

3. Those who promote the work of revivals must repent their mistakes.

(G. Finney.)

I. MARK THE CHARACTER OF GASHMU. His history we know nothing of. Parentage, training, chieftainship, whether inherited or won, life's events, end — all are secret from us. But it is not secret that he was in friendship with Nehemiah's enemies Sanballat and Tobiah. These three were one in their desire to keep Jerusalem weak. Whatever Gashmu thought of Sanballat, we can see that Sanballat thought much of him. "Gashmu says it." That must, thinks Sanballat, carry conviction of peril even to Nehemiah and bring him to a stand.

1. Gashmu evidently was a man with a great reputation. His word had weight. It was the word of a superior person — of one who perhaps spoke but little, but who took care when he did speak to put a sting into what he said. He took care not hastily to commit himself. He not only thought before he spoke, but chose the words in which to .pack most strikingly the thought. His was a quoted opinion. It went on long .journeys. "A wise word that! A fine remark that! Whose?" "Gashmu says it!" Men looked up to Gashmu. From silent heights he spoke down to them. He despised most of them, as one of a loftier race, and yet strangely loved their reverential attention, prompt praise, and their homage to his wisdom in quoting:far and wide his opinion. He was great in criticism. If there was a fault in anybody, he could spot it. No number of excellences, however bright, could blind him to that fault. He could not only see it, but could excel all others in speaking disagreeably about it. Who could expect such a superior person to have pity on human infirmities? It is not a difficult thing for a man to build up to-day such a reputation as Gashmu's. Let him be blind to all that is good in others. Let him darken and exaggerate the faults he sees, and when he cannot see them, imagine them. Let him pick the keenest and most poisonous words. Never ,commend anybody. Let him have a clever tongue, with a bad heart, and he would be a great man among pigmy souls. Let Christian men and women be on their guard. In the effort to live purely, and to serve God by serving their generation, they will meet with Gashmu. Let not such hinder you from Christian life and labour. Answer not this railing with railing; answer it only with a more devoted piety, and a larger Christian service.

2. Gashmu was a man without sympathy with goodness. Nehemiah was a patriot. From love to his country and his God he had given up an honourable and lucrative office at the Persian Court. If Nehemiah is dependent upon outside sympathy for the prosecution and completion of his work, he had better at once get his retinue together and go back to Babylon! No sympathy for him from clever and oft-quoted Gashmu! Welcome to all the inspiration of sympathy. The kindly eye, the warm-grasping hand, the love-kindling appreciation, how welcome! Difficult duty becomes easier, the burthened life is lightened of its load. But do not live on this; don't look for this. Live a life that lives above it. Live in God. Then let not their opinion dishearten you. Does Gashmu say it? Who is Gashmu? A man who, whatever his worldly shrewdness and reputation, is in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity. What judge can he be of the quality of Christian labour, of the beauty of a holy and Christian life?

3. Gashmu had keen hatred of religious enthusiasm. Nehemiah's religion was the root of his patriotism. He lost no time in carrying out the rebuilding of the ruined wall. He allowed not the quickened and responsive zeal of the people to flag. He was as ready to fight as to build. No specious pretence could call him from the work. On it went — on till done. This was gall and wormwood to Gashmu. If Nehemiah had only talked, however loudly, of his intentions, it had not mattered. Gashmu could not tolerate enthusiasm. He is still alive, though in English garb. The earnest Christian is certain to meet with him. He hates earnestness, and enthusiasm he cannot away with.

4. Gashmu was a man skilful to read motives. Or so he deemed himself. He could not only look at the rising walls of the city, but right through them. He could not only see Nehemiah on the wall inspiriting the armed masons; but he could see into Nehemiah's heart. He knew the secret meaning of all this rapid labour. "What do you think, Gashmu, about it?" He knew, and soon the report is flying abroad among the surrounding heathens, that the Jews intend to rebel against the Persian power, and that Nehemiah means to be their king — King Nehemiah. So the lying rumour goes on its journey, and "Gashmu saith it" gives it wings. Not an atom of truth in it! But Gashmu smiled and nodded, and calmly whispered into willing ears the lie that no amount of confidence and conceit and cleverness could make true. But his lie is written here. "Gashmu says it!" And for that lie Gashmu is remembered to-day. Live to God — do any brave stroke of work for Him, and some present-day Gashmu will know all about your motive for doing it. He will know more about you than you know about yourself. Engage in work for Christ, and Gashmu will say, "I know pride is at the bottom of this; he wants to show how much better he is than anybody else. He wants to be talked about. Anything to make headway. Anything to build up business. He knows that Sunday will help Monday." Slanderous Gashmu! Is he not alive to-day?

II. IMITATE NEHEMIAH'S TREATMENT OF GASHMU. He would not be hindered. He kept to prayer. He kept to work. He would not go down. Are you seeking to build up your character in truth, purity, holiness? This is God's work. Be not hindered in it. Be not diverted from it. Are you seeking to build up some other — some neglected, broken-down, and ruined character? Do the work — finish it.

(G. T. Coster.)

I. WHO GASHMU WAS. Personally we do not know Gashmu from the ten thousand men of his era. He was Gashmu the Arabian, and that is all. But his real identity is not centred on the year of his birth, or who was his father, or how much he was worth. When our life begins, our name is almost everything; but when our life is ended it has been heavily freighted with good or evil, and is what the things are to which it gives personal identity. What we do know about Gashmu is that he came out square against a man who was determined to do good, and was earnestly doing it, and tried to put him down.

II. WHAT HE TRIED TO DO. A good man was doing a good work and bad men tried to stop him. They tried to hurt his person. Gashmu was above that, yet he will sit there and nurse his dislike, and be glad to hear the petty stories that float like thistledown in the neighbourhood against the innocent man. One story in particular gets credence. This man means to be a king. Gashmu hears the floating absurdity. On any other subject he would pronounce anything so empty as this silly; but when this man is the subject of the rumour, he would rather believe it than not. He goes and sees for himself, and when he returns, ready ears listen, and the fatal word is uttered: "That man, certainly means to be a king." Before night it is repeated by twenty tongues: "He intends to rebel; Gashmu says it." Gashmu has permitted his prejudices grow into a lie. He is the representative man of unprincipled gossips and narrow bigots.

1. There are Gashmus in the Church, and "Gashmu said it" is at the bottom of nine-tenths of all the differences in Christendom.

2. There are Gashmus in social life. Your social Gashmu means well on his own estimate of things. Perhaps he is on the whole a good man, lives a life that wins the respect; of a whole town; tells the truth so constantly that his word is as good as gold. But some one man does not train with him, he does not like that man at all; does not understand him; and so cultivates a little feeling of dislike, until it bulges into a receptiveness of idle rumours, that would be like mere straws if they were reported of a man he loves. Yet he will nurse them and cherish them, and at some moment his dislike will come to a head, and he will say, "I have no doubt it is true." Then "Gashmu said it" clips that man's margin at the bank, draws the sunshine out of half the faces he meets on the street, and puts him in a position that, it may be, brings the very tendencies for which Gashmu has spotted him. How many grown men and women regret bitterly to-day some such misjudgment on another — the hasty word of a single moment, that we could never recall and never atone for, by which the life of the man or woman about whom we said it has been darkened and injured past redemption! It was a small matter of itself, but Gashmu said it, and that was like sowing the thing in black prairie loam, insuring to us a harvest of bitter regrets, and to our victim a harvest of bitter memories.

3. There are Gashmus in the nation and the public life.

III. WHAT CAME OF IT. It came to nothing. It was common rumour, and Gashmu on the one side, and God and the right on the other; and alas for Gashmu when he is found fighting against God!Conclusion: To every earnest man and woman I would say —

1. Keep true to your task, whatever it may be, and never mind Gashmu.

2. When Gashmu comes and begins to say this and that to annoy you, do not come down to talk to him.

3. If you come across Gashmu in the Church, or in society, or in: any way whatever, keep out of his way as much as you can — have nothing to say to him.

4. Let us take care that we are not Gashmus.

5. We must pity Gashmu.

(R. Collyer.)

That some people will say things about their neighbours is a great evil. That some persons will repeat what others, have said is a greater evil. That some persons will be disturbed by what other persons report that other persons have said about them or their friends, and will permit themselves to be turned aside from useful service, to be embittered in their personal feelings by such reports — this is the greatest evil of all. We hear a great deal about bigotry, intolerance, and persecution. These things have ever withstood the onward march of truth and righteousness. But no fiercest blast of persecution, no form of open antagonism, has ever injured the Church or hindered its work to such a degree as the secret and unrecorded workings of gossip and slander. The power of these evils lies in their very uncertainty and elusiveness. Whoever would fight them finds himself beating the air. Who tries to hold them fast closes his fingers upon a shadow. Do you wish to know all about the spirit of gossip and the method of its working? Then read the sixth chapter of Nehemiah. It antedates Sheridan's "School for Scandal" by more than twenty centuries, and surpasses it in quality even more than in age. It is a drama from real life. Toward every case Of slander or gossip four relations may be sustained. In the completing of the chain four persons may be involved. These relations and persons are represented by Sanballat, Gashmu, Shemaiah, and Nehemiah. First is Sanballat. He is not the originator of the slander, but he is the originator of the mischief, for he reports what he has heard, or professes to have heard, from another. Here is your typical scandal-monger. Who among us is so fortunate that he does not know Sanballat, yes, many Sanballats? The tribe of Sanballat is numerous. They are the persons who tell you so much, not on their own responsibility, but on the authority of others. They are dealers in cast-off testimony, traders in biographical second-hands. They keep no new goods, but they are master hands at polishing up that which is old and giving it a fresh lustre. They are the real mischief-makers, I say, for it is chiefly by this process of polishing and revamping that stories or statements become injurious and acquire unpleasant sharpness of venom. The most innocent and well-meant utterance falls into the hands of one of these repeaters and it is quickly transformed into a poisonous shaft. Some little modification of emphasis or inflection, an added or omitted word, and it becomes a source of heartburnings and bitterness and pain, a wedge that may sunder the strongest ties of affection and friendship. We are wont most severely to denounce the careless speaker, to lay all the blame of gossip and slander on the heads of those who say things about their fellows. And far be it from me to excuse or justify unkind speech even at first-hand, or to minify the sinfulness of "idle words." But I insist that he is a greater sinner who repeats what others say, especially if in the repetition he gives it the slightest change of form or emphasis. It is the Sanballat who comes to you with some story and tells you that "Gashmu saith it" who deserves the severest rebuke. He is the real pest of society, the enemy of all good. We may almost say, with Carlyle, that he "is among the most indubitable malefactors omitted, or inserted, in the criminal calendar." But what of Gashmu, the originator of the story? Who was Gashmu? A most important question, and one that has never been satisfactorily answered. The name occurs nowhere else except in this verse. The preceding narrative speaks of "Geshem the Arabian," and all the commentators assume that Gashmu is Geshem. Every reader assumes that the two are one. In fact, nobody doubts it. But it is worthy of notice that the names are not identical. Sanballat does not say, "Geshem saith it," but "Gashmu saith it." Why? He wants Nehemiah to understand the source of his information, but he does not propose to get caught by an exact statement. Nehemiah might take it into his head to trace the slander, and that would be extremely awkward for Sanballat. Is it not true to life? Is not Gashmu about as near as the modern retailer of gossip ever comes to Geshem? How often has one come to you with some injurious tale and left on your mind a very distinct impression as to its source without exactly telling you? How many a spicy bit of personal news is laid on the shoulders of the general public in the words, "They say." It matters little that you think you know Gashmu. Try to identify him and make him a responsible author of stories, and he will elude you every time. Go to Geshem with the stories that are attributed to Gashmu, and he will know nothing whatever about them. He will be utterly surprised that you could have imagined him to be their author. He will probably be very indignant that any one should have had the hardihood to invent such tales. Now this Gashmu, unreal though he may be, is an absolutely essential link in every chain of gossip. Gossip could not live without him. It were easier to spare the Prince of Denmark from the play of Hamlet than to omit Gashmu from the real School for Scandal. That is to say, there must be some point on the way which gossip has travelled where the trail becomes lost. Authority must vanish into impersonality. You attempt to follow up any bit of gossip or slander that you hear, and if you do not come to Gashmu sooner or later, your experience will be unique, not to say marvellous. The third person in this drama is Shemaiah. Shemaiah is the man who is afraid of gossip and runs away to hide himself, turning aside from good work and letting duty go by default. His invitation to meet in the house of God has a very pious sound, but, after all, it is only the expression of cowardice. Not for worship, but for safety, does he wish to enter the sanctuary. Now this, I submit, is a greater evil than gossip — this minding of gossip. You say that people will talk about you. Well, what if they do? Did talk ever kill anybody yet? Did it ever seriously hurt anybody when he was hard at work minding his own business and the Lord's? Keep a clear conscience, then, and you need have no fear of gossip, however venomous. Now listen to Nehemiah, the last of this quartet: "And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being such as I, would go into the temple to save his life?" That is the secret of it all. Get so thoroughly absorbed in work for God and man that the work shall seem great, and you will not mind gossip and slander any more than you mind the buzzing of flies outside the screen. Gossip may be afloat, but we are not obliged to hear it, still less to flee from it, or to pay it respectful attention, Our hearing is for the most part a matter of choice as well as our speaking. We are as truly responsible for the right use of our ears as for the right use of our tongues, though we seldom look at the matter in that light. "Take heed what ye hear."

(G. H. Hubbard, D. D.)

Christian Age.
A young clerk's eyes flashed as he read an article in the morning papers. It was an outrageous attack upon the gentleman at the head of his department for a course of action which was represented as both base and cowardly. All the correspondence relating to the affair had passed through the young man's hands, so he knew that the published statements were false and most damaging to the reputation of his beloved chief. Carrying the paper to the gentleman assailed, he asked if he might write a reply. The elder man read the paragraphs calmly, smiled, and shook his head. "What will you do?" the clerk asked. "Live it down," was the reply, "as I have done so many other calumnies. Talking back is the most futile and undignified exertion in the world. If you succeed in cutting up one falsehood, each part will begin to wriggle against you. Let it alone, and it will die of starvation." Frederick the Great looked with serene indifference on all that his enemies might say of him. One day, as he rode through Berlin, he saw a crowd of people staring up at something on the wall, and, on sending his groom to inquire what it was, found it to be a caricature of himself. The placard was put so high that it was difficult to read it, so Frederick ordered it to be placed lower in order that the people might not have to stretch out their necks. The words were hardly spoken when, with a joyous shout, the placard was pulled down and torn into a thousand pieces, while a hearty cheer followed the king as he rode away.

(Christian Age.)

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