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such evident tokens of God's care in collecting and protecting them, and in punishing their irreconcileable enemies, as shall be greatly to their honour, and lead all the world to admire and adore the providence of their God.
1. N habitual sense of God's holiness is the most effectual
preservative against sin. Jerusalem was grown corrupt; she regarded neither God's instructions, nor his corrections : but neglected his ordinances, and slighted his word. The reason was, because they forgot that the just Lord was in the midst of them. They boasted that God was with them, (as many now rely on their privileges) but forgot his purity and justice. Let us be careful to remember that this God is an holy and righteous Being, who will not connive at iniquity, even in those whose privileges or professions are most distinguished : be ye therefore holy, for he is holy.
2. How solicitous should we be not to disappoint God's reasonable expectations from us, v.7. We are here taught what God's design is in public judgments, and in afflicting others, namely, that we may learn to fear him ; let us then receive this instruction. If we do not, his end is defeated, his anger provoked, and we may assuredly expect to be cut off.
3. We are shown upon what terms we are to expect the favour and blessing of God. We must maintain purity of language, in opposition to every thing that is profane, false, or indecent; a good conversation ; that is, piety, and seriousness in our discourse ; union of hearts in his service ; exhorting, assisting, and quickening one another ; meekness and humility, which will lead to trust in God, and to be gentle to all men ; and particularly, a regard to his worship and ordinances ; calling upon his name, and frequenting the solemn assembly ; grieving at any thing that detains us from it, or that brings a reproach upon it. When God intends salvation for his people, this will be their character ; and it is necessary for every one, who desires that his own soul may be saved in the day of the Lord.
4. How condescending is God thus to rejoice over his people, and how careful should they be to rejoice in him. We have one of the most animating, delightful, and amazing passages in scripture, in v. 17. God represents himself as in silent transport, rejoicing over the conversion of sinners, and in the happiness of his people ; and at length, as expressing his joy by singing. How much more will this be the case at the great day, when he shall gather together all his people, a multitude which cannot be numbered, and make them a name and a praise. Let his servants greatly and constantly rejoice in him, especially in solemn assemblies, for his worship, and in all their religious services : for this joy of the Lord will be their strength.
The Book of the PROPHET
HAGGAI is the first of the three prophets who were sent to the
Jerus after their return from the Babylonish captivity. He lived about five hundred and twenty years before Christ, and abcut fifteen years after Cyrus' grant of release, and commission 10 rebuild the temple ; in which work they were too negligent, till roused by this prophet. Ezra yii. 11,50.
In this chapter Haggai reproves the negligence of the people, incites
them to build the house, and promises God's assistance. 1 N the second year of Darius the king, the son of Hystaspes,
in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, . governor of Judah, and grandson of Jeconiah king of Judah, and to Joshua the son ef Josedech, the high priest, who was
carried captive with Zedekiah, saying, 2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say,
The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built ; we have yet neither leisure nor substance to do it ;
nor encouragement from the Persian court ; the restraints are 3 not yet taken away. Then came the word of the Lord by 4 Haggai the prophet, saying, (Is it) time for you, 0. ye, to
dwell in your ceiled houses, which you find time and money lo 5 erect for yourselves, and this house (lie) waste? Now there
fore thus saith the LORD of hosts ; Consider your ways; the
impropriety of your conduct after my extraordinary interposi$ tion in your behalf. Ye have sown much, and bring in little ;
ye eat, but ye have not enough ; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; you plead that you have not enough for your selves and families, as your excuse fur neglecting to build my lemple ; while this very neglect prevents your prosperity: ye clothe you, but there is none warm ; and he that earneth wages earneth wages [to put it] into a bag with holes ; what you get does you no good, but a secret curse consumes it, v. 9. Vol. VI.
7 8 Thus saith the Lord of hosts ; Consider your ways. Go
up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house ; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the
LORD; I will own you as my people, and accept this as done for 9 my glory. Ye looked for much, and, lo, [it came) to little ;
and when ye brought [it] home, I did blow upon it, by vermin, or mould. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of
mine house that [is] waste, and ye run every man unto his 10 own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from 11 dew, and the earth is stayed (from) her fruit. And I called
for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon [that] which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands ; all suffered
by the violent hear. 12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son
of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him,
and the people did fear before the LORD ; they feared his dis13 pleasure, and therefore set to work. Then spake Haggai the
Lord's messenger in the Lord's message unto the people, saying, I [am] with you, saith the Lord; to pardon what is
past, and prosper your labours in this work. 14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son
of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people ; and they came and did work in the
house of the LORD of hosts, their God; with one heart, and 15 great resolution, In the four and twentieth day of the sixth
month, in the second year of Darius the king, and about three weeks after they had received their commission.
1. CONSIDERATION of our ways is a great friend to true re
ligion. We have reflecting powers, and ought to employ them in the examination of our moral and religious conduct and character. Every part of religion has the highest reason on its side. Wickedness, and even neglects of duty, are owing to the want of thought. My people doth not consider what way they are walking in, or where it will end. Let us apply our minds to this great duty, and prove our own works. I thought on my ways, saith the Psalmist, and turned my feet to thy testimonies.
2. God is highly displeased, when men are so intent on their worldly concerns as to neglect his house and glory. Strange conduct in the Jews, just after their return, that they could find time and money to build fine houses, while the house of God was
left in ruins. It shows a great contempt of God and religion when men think no cost and finery too much about their own kouses, and the meanest accommodations good enough for God's house ; when they scruple no expense in dress and diet, yet complain of charitable applications, and being saddled with expenses for God's catwe and glory : and God often blasts the designs of such worldly people; their affairs succeed the worse for neglecting devotion and charity. Some unexpected disappointment often sweeps away the substance which they have withholden from God and his service.
3. Our success in worldly affairs, and our comfort in every creature, depend upon a divine blessing. The changes of weather, on which our supplies so much depend, are in God's hand. On his providence it depends whether the seed shall come up, or ripen : and when it is gathered, he can blow upon it and blast it : or, we may eat, and not be satisfied. Man liveth not by bread alone : therefore let us acknowledge God in all our ways, and seek his blessing; and in order to obtain that, we should abound in the exercises of piety and charity.
4. God exercises a secret influence on the minds of men, by which he can stir them up to what is great and good. The prophet preached ; his reasons were strong, and his arguments forcible : but God stirred up their spirits. All convictions of the reasonableness and importance of duty will be insufficient without this. Vain is the labour of ordinary ministers, or even of proph. ets, unless this influence of God concurs. We see the necessity therefore of fervent prayer, if we desire to do good to others, or reap advantage ourselves by the means of grace.
5. If we faithfully attempt to build up God's temple, he will be with us, v. 13. A short encouragement, but sufficient; for it comprehends every thing. It is encouragement to ministers to edify the saints ; to parents, to build up their children aɛ spirit. ual temples ; and to all, to edify one another. If we attempt this with vigour and dispatch, God will strengthen our hands, and prosper our work. Let us then, be us, and doing, and the Lord will be with us.
Haggai in this chapter encourages the people to the work, bye
promise of greater glory to the second temple than was in the firsr.
N the seventh [month,] in the one and twentieth [day]
of the month, came the word of the Lord by the prophet 2 Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Sheal
tiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, 3 the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who
[is] left among you that saw this house in her first glory?
and how do ye see it now? [is it] not in your eyes in com4 parison of it as nothing ?* Yet now be strong, o Zerubba
bel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Jose. dech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the
land, saith the LORD, and work : for I (am) with you, saith 5 the Lord of hosts : (According to) the word that I cove
nanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, that is, to return to you, if you would return to me, so my spirit, my invisi
ble presence and gracious assistance, remaineth among you : 6 fear ye not. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, (a solemn
introduction of a celebrated prophecy of the Messiah,) Yet once it [is] a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and the dry (land ;] there shall be one other violent commotion in the world, and, comparatively in a little while ; not only shall the Persians be overcome by the Gree
cians, and they by the Romans, and Judea subdued and desolai, 7 ed, but one great and final religious revolution ; And I will
shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come ; That is, Christ, who is worthy to be desired by all ; and who shall make such discoveries of God and his mercy, as are the no. ble objects of ralional, ardent, and universal desire :f and I will fill this house with glory by the presence of the Messiah, saith the LORD of hosts; or, this shall be the filling of its glory,
that which shall make it complete ; a promise designed to en8 courage the people in their work. The silver [is] mine, anch
the gold [is] mine, saith the Lord of hosts ; I could give this
temple all ornaments of gold and silver, if I pleased ; but I in9 tend a better glory for it. The glory of this latter house shall
be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts; though this second temple will not be so grand and splendid as the first, though it shall want the ark, the Shekinah, the oracle, &c. yet it shall have a greater glory, because it shall be honoured with Christ's presence, and the gospel be preached there : and in this place will I give peace, all kind of happiness, saith the LORD of hosts ; referring to the spiritual blessings offered by Christ. Thus it appears that Christ was to come while this temple slood, and therefore Jesus of Nazareth must be the true
In the four and twentieth [day] of the ninth [month,] in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord by 11 Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts;
* It was sixty eight years since the destruction of the temple, so that those who were seventy five and upwards could well remember it, as Ezra and some others dido
+ The Jews did expect him, and many heathens wished for such a person.