Also this week, I happened across an even earlier reference to this metaphor in Charles Bridges' neglected 1830 classic, The Christian Ministry:
Our constancy and love have been often put to a severe and searching trial; and though we can never forget the dignity of character and the principles of encouragement connected with the Ministry, we are made to feel, that "if a man desires" the office, he desires a toilsome and self-denying, as well as "a good work." We must work, like Nehemiah and his men, with the trowel in one hand and the sword in the other. The progress of the work would be stopped by the laying down of the trowel. The enemy would gain a temporary advantage by the sheathing of the sword. Nothing therefore remains but to maintain the posture of resistance in dependence upon our wise Master-builder, and the Captain of our salvation—waiting for our rest, our crown, our home.