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earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people ? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem."-Ezra i. 1-4. Here we see that it was the Lord who stirred up the spirit of Cyrus to make this proclamation. The prophecy concerning himself, it is evident from this document, had been laid before him; and the providential effect was the proclamation of liberty. Had it been the will of God that Cyrus should be hardened, the prophecy would have been neglected or mocked. How did Pharaoh resist amidst all the mighty works of Jehovah ! The effect, then, that the knowledge of the prophecy concerning himself had on Cyrus, is said to be a stirring up of his spirit by the Lord. Success depended on this, and not merely on the natural effect of the document submitted to the conqueror. God here effects through his Providence, by Cyrus, as mighty a deliverance to his people, as he had done by all the display of his power against Pharaoh in their deliverance from Egypt. God's people, then, have, in every age, a right to look to him with confidence for deliverance from the greatest dangers, and the most inex
tricable difficulties. Surely, the life of no sovereign,
As God stirred up the spirit of Cyrus to deliver his people, so he stirred up some of the people to return. At first view, we may be ready to think that all the Jews would have with avidity seized the opportunity to return to their native land, in which they had so high prospects. But it was not
And, as a matter of fact, all did not return. Very many, induced by connections which they had formed in the land of their captivity, chose to remain. But God stirred up the spirit of a number to return on the proclamation of Cyrus.
rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.”-Ezra i. 5, 6. Some were providentially excited to return, others to assist in persvading those who were inclined to remain.
OBSTACLES IN THE WAY OF THE JEWS, IN BUILDING
THE TEMPLE, ON THEIR RETURN TO JERUSALEM,
The house of God cannot be rebuilt without op. position,—opposition that will sometimes prosper, but at last will be completely overcome.
For a long time the building of the temple was opposed by the enemies of the Jews, and for a long time it was hindered. “ Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled then in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.”—Ezra iv. 4, 5. Plausible objections were made to excite the fear of the kings of Persia, and at first had the designed effect. The building of the temple is forbidden. Examine every
step of the process in the history, and see how naturally every thing is effected, both in the temporary interruption of the building, and in the final permission to build. When Providence designs that the work of building should for a time be interrupted, the enemies are led to a procedure that is most effectual to secure this event. They advert to the records of the former state of Jerusalem, and this confirms their allegations, and excites the suspicions of the king. When Providence designed to frustrate the opposition of the enemies of his house, they are led to refer the king to a decree of Cyrus, which effectually inclines him to encourage the work. The design of the enemies of God's people is not only frustrated, but the very thing by which they thought to succeed is employed to excite the king to great zeal and ardour in accomplishing the building of the temple of God. So shall it be with the house of God, which is the Church of God.
BOOK OF ESTHER.
The book of Esther is peculiarly the book of Providence. In it we see the people of God. provi. dentially brought to the very brink of ruin, and delivered without a single miracle. The means employed by their enemies to effect their destrúction are by Providence employed as the means of their exaltation and glory. The hand of God in his ordinary Providence has linked together a course of events as simple and as natural as the mind can conceive, yet as surprising as the boldest fictions of romance. This subject I have handled in a separate work, and shall take no farther notice of it in this place.
BOOK OF JOB.
In the book of Job we behold the Providence of God bringing affliction on one of his most favourite servants, for the trial of his faith, the exercise of his patience, the humbling of his self-righteous pride, the growth of his godliness, and the mani. festation of the Divine power in upholding him from falling. Here we learn that afflictions are sent by God on his people for wise and good ends, that he will not leave them under their afflictions, and that he will crush Satan under their feet. The people of God ought to take every affliction as coming from the hand of God. It may come by the instrumentality of Satan, or of wicked men, but it is also from God. Prosperity is also here seen to be from God. His Providence enriched Job in a most sig. nal degree, and after he was stripped of all, he was increased in his latter end far above his former state. All this was in the way of Providence. Job himself recognised the hand of God both in blessings and in afflictions. “ Shall we receive good,” says he, " at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil ?” Satan himself recognises the same truth, when speaking to God with respect to