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splendor, would depart and say, What advantage is it to Ahasuerus to rule so many provinces afar off, if he cannot command at home? In vain doth he boast of governing so many thousands, when he is thus checked, repulsed, and disappointed in his own house. What little dependence is to be placed on external gran. deur, when such various and sometimes trifling circumstances may spoil and embitter it. A little rudeness, or unkindness in those whose affections we depend upon, may destroy all our comfort, while in the greatest splendor and amidst the highest gratifications of am: bition and pleasure.

2. We may observe that it was a good custom which was practised at Ahasuerus' feast of compelling none to drink more than they lik, ed; and it is a good pattern for us all to imitate. Who can but blush when healths are forced at christian banquets, while the civili. ties of an heathen prince allowed this liberty! Many think they never make enough of their friends, unless they tempt them to eat and drink to excess ; but this is doing them the greatest unkindness. Nay we all guard against such cruel kindness; and while we are desirous to be temperate in all things ourselves, let us do nothing to make our friends otherwise.

3. See how unwise it is to form positive determinations while ve are under the influence of tumultuous passions. Had the king taken time to cool before he made the decree, he had not experienced the uneasiness which he afterward felt, When men are merry with wine, the passions get the better of reason, they form rashr resolutions, and do what they wish a thousand times never had been done. This should be a caution against intemperance, and a hint to those whose passions are naturally strong, to guard their minds and tongues with double diligence when their hearts are warm with in them; and in all affairs of importance to deliberate calmly, and to determine without being too peremptory.

4. Observe how much a little obstinacy and ill humour may affect the future happiness of life, especially in the married relation. It becomes all persons, more especially husbands and wives, to guard against all differences and quarrels, particularly before company ; than which nothing is niore scandalous. This vnalterable decree of the king of Persia, that every inan should trar rule in his own house, $s likewise an uualterable decree of the King of kings, and a rule of the gospel ; and the peace and happiness of families would be very much secured, if the apostle's precept was observed, Let every man love his wife as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Eph. v, 33,

CHAP. II. We had an account in the last chapter of queen Vashti's divorce ; in

this we find Esther chosen to succeed her. AFTER these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus I was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had cone, and what was decreed against her; the king was in 4

great strait between the return of his passion for Vashti, and the res membrance of her undutiful behaviour, and his decree ; his servants

therefore propose an expedient to divert his thoughts, and to fura' 2 nish him with a new queen. Then said the king's servants that

ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought 3 for the king : And let the king appoint officers in all the prova

inces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege, or Hrgui, v. 8. the king's

chamberlain, keeper of the women ; and let their things for pu4 rification be given (them :] And let the maiden which pleaseth

the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king ; and he did so.

[Now] in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose naine (was) Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimci. the 6 son of Kish, a Benjamite ;* Who had been carried away from

Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah, or, Jehoiachin, 2 Kings xxiv. 6. king of Judah, whoin Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon had carried away. And he brought up Hadassah, that [is,) Esther,t his uncle's daugly ter : for she had neither father por mother, and the maid (was) fair and beautiful ; whom Mordecai, when her father and moth

er were dead, took for his own daughter, 8 So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his de

cree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered togethn er unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Est

her was brought also among the rest unto the king's house, lo 9 the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. And the maiden

pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him ; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her; and seven maidens, (which were) meet to be given her, out of the king's house, and be preferred her and her maids

unto the best place of the house of the women; he gave her 10 proper attendants, and the best apartment in the seraglio. Esther

had not showed her people nor her kindred : for Mordecai

had charged her that she should not show [it,] best she should be 11 contemned, and looked ufion as no beller than a slave. And Mora

decai followed her with great solicitude, and walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of ber.

Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that slie had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so wcre the days of their purifications accomplished, [10 wit,] six months with oil of myrrh, and

six months with sweet odours, and with (other) things for the 13 purifying of the women ;) Then thus came [every) maiden un

to the king ; whatsoever she desired was given her to go wieri 14 her out of the house of the women unto the king's house. It

• This Kish was his great grandfather, who was carried away in the Babylonisti captivity: Hadassah was her Hebrew name, and Esther her Persian name.

the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines : she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.

Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chainberlain, the keeper of the women, ap

pointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them 16 that looked upon her. So Esther was taken unto king Ahasue

rus into his house royal in the tenth month, which [is] the

month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign; the same year · in which he granted a commission to Nehemiah to repair the walls 17 of Jerusalem. And the king loved Esther above all the women,

and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins ; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. All the rest were considered

as the king's wives, and were not allowed to marry any other, and 18 they and their children were supported by him. Then the king

made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, [even] Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, either of taxes, or an act of grace for prisoners and debtors, and

gave gifts to the new queen, according to the state of the king. 19 And when the virgins were gathered together the second time,

for a second trial, lest she should be hated for the sake of her nation,

or envied for her good fortune, then Mordecai sat in the king's 20 gate. Esther had not (yet) shewed her kindred nor her people;

as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment

of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him. 21. In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of

the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus ; they formed a conspiracy against the king, and pro.

bably were the creatures of Vashti, who was incensed at her die 22 vorce. And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told [it] un

to Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king (thereof) in 23 Mordecai's name. And when inquisition was made of the mat

ter, it was found out; the informalion appeared to be well ground. ed; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was write ten, the circumstances were recorded, in the book of the chronie cles before the king.

REFLECTIONS.

1. THOSE who have early been left orphans, should reflect on

1 the care of Providence in raising them up guardians and friends. It was happy for Esther, when in a strange land, to find so faithful and tender a guardian as her cousin Mordecai was. Those who have found, in relations, or friends, persons who acted

with the tenderness and kindness of parents, should thankfully own the goodness of God. This should be a motive to all to be the friends of orphans, that they may live to see the good effects of their care and charity. Such works are very benevolent and pleasing to God, who hath taken it among the titles of his honour, to be the father of the fatherless, and hath commanded us to be merciful, as he is merciful.

2. Let young people learn from this story, to reverence, love, and regard those, who show a real concern for their welfare. Esther paid great regard to Mordecai's advice ; even after her advancement she did as he directed her. It is happy for young people when they know who are their friends ; and it is the wisdom of youth, (especially those who are fatherless,) to hearken to the advice of kind and faithful friends, to submit to their direction, and retain a grateful sense of their kindness, even when they do not any longer need the continuance of it.

3. The method taken to please and gratify the king, leads us to reflect on the necessity and excellency of the christian revelation. When so many persons were, in a manner, sacrificed to his pride and lust, and deprived of the comfort which arises from such regular marriages as christianity recommends, it shows the excellency of that religion, which checks disorderly lusts, reduces marriage to its primitive institution, and has such a tendency to sanctify men throughout, in body, soul, and spirit.

4. An easy, moderate, contented temper in young people, bodes well as to their future advancement. It is observed that Esther was contented without all that apparatus of perfumes, dress, and ornaments, which the other women had; and it was no wonder that this recommended her first to the king's officers, and then to the king himself. Fondness for dress, ornament, and show, is a sign of a light, trifling mind. Those who are most fond of these things generally defeat their own ends, and render themselves contemptible in the eyes of those whom they desire to please and allure. Vira tue, modesty, and good nature, are the truest charms.

" It is the artless catch the game ; . " And they scarce iniss who never aim.” 5. God can make the disorderly affections and dispositions of the human mind answer his own wise and gracious purpose. We hear nothing yet of Haman and his plot ; but God is here taking methods to defeat it, before it was formed. Vashti's rage, the king's inordinate passion, the choice of virgins, the chamberlain's treason, all subserve the divine purposes. It is a comfortable thought that God knows how to overrule the lusts and passions of men to answer his own purposes, and bring about the happiness of his church and people. In this we may rejoice, that though thera are many devices in the heart of man, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.

VOL. IV.

CHAP. III.

We have here Haman's advancement by the king ; he is despised by

Mordecai, and for thai reason seeks revenge upon all the Jews. 1 AFTER these things, about five years after his marriage

I with Esther, did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite,* and advanced him, and set 2 his seat above all the princes that (were) with hiin. And all

the king's servants, that were] in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman : for the king had so commanded concern.

ing him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did (him] reverence.t 3 Then the king's servants, which [ were) in the king's gate, said

unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's command. ment? They expostulated with him, to make him sensible of his 4 danger and his duty. Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and Ire hearkened not uirto them, that they told Ilaman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand ; to see whether Mordecai would persist in his refusal, and whether such behaviour would be borne voith : for, that it might not appear to be

from pride and stiffness, but from a principle of religion that he re5 fused, he had told them that he[was]a Jew. And when Haman, who had not observed it till somebody gave him notice of it, saw

that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Ha6 man full of wrath ; And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mor

decai alone; he scorned so poor a revenge as destroying him only; for they lrad showed him the people of Mordecai, and he determined to destroy the whole nation, whom he knew to be his enemies, and fierhaps knew likewise what they had done to the Amalekites formerly : wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were] throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, [even] the people of Mordecai, even those in Judea, for that was a

firovince of Ahasuerus' kingdom. The In the first month, that sis,] the month Nisan, in the twelfth

year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that [is,] the lot before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, (to] the

twelfth [month,] that [is,] the month Adar.! 8 And Haman said wito king Ahasuerus, There is a certain

people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in al} the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws [are) diverse from all people ; neither keep they the king's laws , therefore it (is) not for the king's profit to suffer them ; speaking of them with

a

* Or, the Amalekite ; he was descended from the kings of that ccantry, among whom

was a cominon name.

other it is difficult to account for Mordecai's conduct. I should apprehend it was a kind of idol.ro is worship that was to be paid to him ; because there would have been no need o:

w Conand from the king concerning him, it it were only the usual form of respect to pune minister. There might also be a personal reason, because Haman was an Amalekite, 3:1 accursed nation, which the Jews were commanded to blot out the remembrance of trom under heaven. Dint. XXV. 19. Exodus xvii. 14.

This was done to find out a lucky day, making sure of success in his application to the king. It was a very remarkable providence that it fell twelve months after, as Morde sa Estber, and the other Jews, hand time to concert measures to deteat his scheine.

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