Page images
PDF
EPUB

Again, she is represented in "royal apparel, the king sitting upon his royal throne, in the royal liouse, over against the gate,” holding out the golden sceptre in his hand. The scene changes, and there is Haman in the midst of his friends, with Zeres his wife, speaking of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him. Yet because a certain exile, a foreigner, a Hebrew man, would not rise up and honor him, he exclaims, in the bitterness of mortified pride, “all this availeth me nothing, so long as Mordecai the Jew sitteth in the king's gate!” Then comes the splendid banquet, with all its rich accompaniments, the king, in the fulness of his affection, promising to grant Esther's petition, even to the half of bis kingdom, while the suppliant presents her request in these words : 0! king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people, at my request !"

But referring you to the Bible itself for the rest of the history, where you will read of the king's sleepless night-the records of the Chronicles being brought before him-his desire to reward the Jew—and the vain-glorious and selfish ambition of Haman, who must needs be in his own opinion the man whom the king should most delight to honor. I shall merely notice the pleasure with which the young party beheld the king's beautiful horse led forth, with all his gay and superb caparison, and saw the good Jew, clothed in the royal apparel, with the crown-royal set upon his head, conducted by the crest-fallen Haman through all the streets of the city, proclaiming, “ Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor !"

The next section represented the last scene in the life of the wicked vizier ascending the gibbet fifty cubits high ; but upon this I will not pause, for the king's wrath was satisfied—the city of Shushan rejoiced-the Jews had light and gladnessand joy and honor-and a feast, and a good day in all their dwellings, and all was well. But this I may say, that as I looked over the heads of the little circle, a silent spectator of the varied feeliugs with which they viewed the scene, and heard the observations which their papa occasionally made as he sat beside them, a great many thoughts passed through my

mind, on the nature of despotism, and its unlimited power to do good, or to do evil-on the insolence of pride-on the hatred and cruelty of the men of the world in every age, towards the people of God-of God's tender, watchful, and ceaseless care of his own children at all times, but especially in times of trouble. That in the most imminent danger He is near them. That an instrument to accomplish his purposes

of mercy is never wanting-yea, is often provided before the exigency or difficulty arrives, as in the case of Esther, a Jewess, being wife of the king of Persia, at this time. “ IV ho knoweth whether thou be come to the kingdom for such a time as this ?” and even when there appears to be no hope of deliverance-when there seems as it were, hardly time enough left to save a people, or an individual, God appears, and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, all is right, and all is safe! I pass over the revolting selfishness and pride, exhibited in the character of Haman, and the retributive justice of God in his destruction; but I would dwell upon the noble, devoted, uncompromising integrity and loyalty of the Jew, who, with his unoffending, unresisting, unprotected, and calumniated people, sustains all-endures all-surmounts all-simply by a holy confidence in God, and the voice of prayer! Surely to all who, like Mordecai, thus trust, and thus plead, the king says-yea, the King of kings says, “ What is thy petition, and it shall be granted thee? and what is thy request, and it shall be performed !”

The history of Daniel next engaged their attention. There was the prophet on his knees, his chamber window being open towards Jerusalem. He was then seen cast into the den of lions, a stone laid upon the mouth of the den, and sealed with a signet. Then there was the king in his palace, tossing to and fro, upon his restless couch—the instruments of music being mute before him. The same royal personage again appeared in another scene, saying, and it was sweet to hear the lispings of childhood, repeating words uttered thousands of years before. “O! Daniel, is thy God whom thou servest able to deliver thee from the lions ?" And how unutterably precious the response-how true in the experience of God's people in the innumerable ages that have elapsed, since the prophet, in all the calmness and serenity of an unoffending man, the servant of the living God, and therefore watched over with a ceaseless care, replied, “O king! live for ever, my God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions mouth, that they have not hurt me, forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me, and also before thee O king! have I done no

hurt.”

Thus passed our winter day. Our morning walk, my dear young readers, has led me to speak to you of great and wondrous men; and no doubt has excited in your minds a desire to see that venerable edifice, where their ashes are deposited, and to read the memorials of their fame. But many

of

you reside at too remote a distance from the capital to hope for this. I would therefore recommend to such, and indeed to all of you who cannot enjoy the pleasures of our winter's walk in the morning, to enter into the pleasures of our winter's recreations in the evening. This you can do even at the greatest distance from the metropolis; and in a certain Record you will find memorials of kings more august-statesmen more illustrious-heroes more renowned-soldiers more valiant in the fight, than any deposited in Westminster Abbey. Marble and brass, indeed, are enduring things; but still they are perishable, and though inscribed by the finger of genius--by fond affection-by a country's gratitude-or a nation's praise-still they are perishable. But the memorials in that Sacred Repository to which I refer you, are written by the Spirit of God, and the very perusal of them under the divine tuition of the same Spirit, will be the means of inscribing them on the living tables of your heart, producing in you principles and actions which will never die. So that when all earthly monuments shall have crumbled into dust, and all monumental fame shall have passed away like a vapour-you will be the imperishable monuments of the grace of Godpillars in his temple above-and memorials of His praise for ever and ever,

M.G.

THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL. A contimation from the Papers entitled The Cousins.”- Page 130.

Before we take our final leave of the vicarage of Arundel, it may not, perhaps, be unpleasant to some of my young

friends, to accompany Jane to her Sunday-school. I have said that to instruct the young was one of her employments, and she esteemed it a delightful one, a pleasure and a privilege. Often, when entering the vestry at the hour of nine, have the breathings of ber happy soul been borne to her Saviour, in

that verse,

If thy condescending grace
In thy vineyard find a place,
Humblest service to supply ;
Glad I'll answer, Here am I!!

while the mingled expression of gratitude to Him, who deigned to employ and accept her; and love to those

young

immortals in whose eternal welfare she felt so deeply interested, would shed an indescribable sweetness over her countenance.

Many of the readers of the Youths' Magazine, are probably Sunday-school teachers : and I have peculiar pleasure in introducing them to the scene of Jane's labours; because she had enjoyed the advantage of her grand-papa's advice, in all her arrangements with the children. Not that it is designed by the following description to represent the office of a teacher as containing nothing but pleasure. On the contrary, there is often much to try the patience, and to discourage those especially, who are anxiously alive to the spiritual welfare of their charge. Yet, when undertaken from right motives, it js doubtless at all times, either a pleasant service, or an acceptable sacrifice: and under discouraging circumstances, the very self-denial which may be requisite, is in no small degree beneficial to the mind, helping it to exercise that inward government, by which we learn to overcome the feelings of selfishness, and patiently to endure the contradiction of our wishes. There are few teachers however, who have not spent many happy and profitable hours, while engaged in their useful employment: and it is of such an hour that I am now about to write. To describe an entire Sabbath, would encroach too much on these valuable pages: we will therefore wait till ten o'clock, before we visit the school. It has been opened with singing and prayer; Jane has taken her place in the vestry; and on forms placed before her, so as to form three sides of a square, her little flock is seated. Even this trifling arrangement seems by no means' unimportant: it prevents that weariness, disorder, and shuffing about, which are so frequent in a standing class. At the same time, to excite reverence for the Scriptures, with which they are engaged, and respect for the teacher who instructs them, each quietly rises, as she repeats or reads her verse. They have already said their lessons, which Jane has endeavoured, briefly, clearly, and feelingly, to explain. They have also brought such passages as they thought suitable, in proof of a scripture doctrine, which was stated to them the preceding Sunday. Having approved or disapproved of the texts they had chosen, according as they bore on the subject, and directed them to some selected by herself, our young friend has just named the 2d of St. Luke, as the chapter for their morning reading

And now, my dear children, she observed, let us lift up our hearts to God, that his presence may be with us. Remember, the words you are about to read are his words. God is speaking to us : may we be enabled to say with Samuel, Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth. May He teach me to teach you; and prepare your hearts to receive instruction. I shall not have time to explain more than the first twenty verses.

When they had reached the end of the 6th verse, their instructress told them to pause ; while she questioned them, and made the following remarks.

We can scarcely read any of the events recorded in Scripture, without being struck with the thought, that God orders and overrules all that takes place in the world, for the accomplishment of his own will. Who was Cæsar Augustus ?

The Roman Emperor.

Yes; and therefore the greatest man in the then known world : he had no superior upon earth to exercise authority over him. Yet under whose control were all his actions ?

Under the control of God.

This is a very pleasing thought to the true believer. All hearts, he says, are in the power of my heavenly Father. Does any one shew me kindness, I will praise the Lord, who gives me such a friend. Does any one seek to injure me, I will trust, and not be afraid : for my God can not only defeat

VOL. II, 3d SERIES.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »