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A Great Work
There are three thoughts in these words: a work greatness and elevation. They are exactly the three thoughts which every earnest man has about religion. They are exactly the three things which a man needs. An object a feeling that his object is worthy and a sense of height, which lifts him up, and does him good. 'I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.'
It is so essential that you should feel the greatness and the dignity of the 'work' to which you are called that I wish to place the matter before you a little more in detail.
I. Faith a Great Work. I hold it to be a very 'great' and a very high 'work' to believe. Else, why do so few, so very few, really believe? That inner life of faith, and the cultivation of it, is a thing, I believe, higher than an archangel's work. No archangel is called to believe. Very remote is it from the processes of our common world. Yet if you will be always coming down to the things of sense and sight if you will measure the invisible by what you find around if you will reduce faith to a sort of materialism if you will mix it up with the material, and qualify it by the ordinary principles of human reasoning you cannot believe! Faith will not grow down there. The only hope for it is to keep up in that region, which is the region of ideas and affections that upper region, where only such things live.
II. Sanctification a Great Work. It is 'a great work' which a man is pursuing, when he is engaged in his own sanctification. Depend upon it, it is no light matter to send upwards what have such an almost irresistible tendency to be always going downwards. It is no trifle to take the iron out of a man's heart, and to get it into such a soft, melted state, that it may be moulded into a perfectly different shape from what it is to take the image of God. Depend upon it, it is no light thing to root out that deep selfishness, and that miserable pride, and that clogging temper, which have so mingled themselves with you, that they have become your own moral being, and to show nothing in their place but daily proofs of a gentle, forgiving mind, a tenderness and self-forgetfulness.
III. Usefulness to Others a Great Work. There is another 'work' in which every Christian is occupied high, and blessed, and holy the 'work' of being useful to others, and extending the kingdom of God. I very much suspect the Christianity of that man who has not some distinct engagement, in which he is, every day, endeavouring to do something to serve God. We are so constituted that we must 'work'. It was the sentence on the whole family of man 'labour'. The Gospel has turned it into blessing; but still the sentence is upon every living man 'labour'. And no mind can be healthy, no man's soul will go on well, which cannot say, concerning some undertaking 'I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down'.
References. VI. 3. J. M. Neale, Sermons for Some Feast Days in the Christian Year, p. 95. R. White, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl. 1891, p. 251. R. E. Hutton, The Grown of Christ, vol. i. p. 265. VI. 11. W. L. Watkinson, Noonday Addresses, p. 98. VI. 14. F. Hastings, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 198. VI. 15. G. Campbell Morgan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. 1901, p. 217. VIII. 1. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 116. VIII. 1-12. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, p. 371. VIII. 4, 5. W. Page Roberts, Our Prayer Booh, Conformity and Conscience, p. 41.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Nehemiah 6". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19