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the lives of so many thousands of her nation and of God's people, whatever had been the consequence. Providence may sometimes bring us into such circumstances ; we may be called to hazard our comforts and even our lives, for the good of our brethren, and a christian should not shrink back. We ought, says the apostle, to lay down our lives for the brethren ; and his love should constrain us to it, who gave his life a ransom for many.

CHAP. V.

Al the close of the last chapter we left the Jews fasting and praying, to

engage the favour of heaven ; we have here Esther's suit to the king, and the kind reception he gave her.

INTOW it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on

TV [her] royal (apparel,) and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house : and the king sat

upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate 2 of the house, where he could see every one who came in. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, [that] she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was] in his hand, as a sign of his favour, and to invite her approach. So Esther drew near and touched the top of the sceptre, in token of subjection, and 3 thankfulness for his favour.* Then said the king unto her,

What wilt thou, queen Esther ? and what [is] thy request ? it 4 shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.t And

Esther answered, If (it seemn] good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have pre

pared for him, when she intended to request some farther favour. 5 Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may

do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman immediately complied with her request, and came to the banquet that Esther

had prepared. 6 And the king said again unto Esther at the banquet of wine,

What [is] thy petition ? and it shall be granted thee : and

what [is] thy request ? even to the half of the kingdom it shall , 7 be performed. Then answered Esther, and said, My petition 8 and my request [is ;] If I have found favour in the sight of the

king, andif it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform

Josephus describes the splendor of her dress, and her appeal to God that it was not out of vanity ; but being struck with the majesty of the king, and a fear of his displeasure, she tainted in the arms of her attendants ; this touched the king so, that he ran to her and took her in his arms with great tenderness. See also the fifteenth chapter of Esther in the Apoc. typha.

+ This is a proverbial expression, similar to that of Herod in Mark vi. 23. as much as to say, I will grant any thing in reason, because thou art so dear to me.

It wis prudent in Esther not to open ber mind at once, and to try the king how far he stood affected to her ; for if he refused this favour there would be no hope of the other ; he mnight endear hersell to him the more by the enterta unent, and she would tasthes Please bim by inviting his favourite.

my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king hath said.*

Then went Haman forth that day, joyful and with a glad heart; pleased that he was in such favour with the queen as well as the king : but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of in. dignation against Mordecai ; when Mordecai heard of the queen's favourable acceptance, he put off his sackcloth, and came to his

place at the king's gate ; but still refused to bow down to Haman, 19 notwithstanding the bloody edict. Nevertheless Haman refrained

himself from sudden revenge, put a force upon himself; and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all (the things] wherein the

king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above 12 the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover,

Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the

king's gate ; to see him continue his place at court, is as odious as 14 if I had lost my all. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his

friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits, or twenty five yards, high, that it may be the more conspicuous, and tomorrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon ; do not wait till the general destruction of the Jews, but rid thyself of this enemy immediately ; you will then have a fair opia portunity of soliciting this, and it will be easily granted : then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet, which you will enjoy with double pleasure when this your enemy is slain. And the thing pleased Haman ; and he caused the gallows to be made, little thinking that he himself should hang upon it.

REFLECTIONS.

1. CEE the advantage of prayer. Esther and her countrymen

D fasted and prayed.' It gave her courage when she committed her ways to God; and it will embolden us to do any thing for him. He heard and answered her, and inclined the king to be favourable. God magnifies his mercy toward us when we are most humble and diffident. This is a great encouragement to pray. The golden sceptre is always held out ; God's chief favourite is our friend and advocate : therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need.

• Perhaps the queen's heart failed her at this time; or she might hope that at another en. tertainment the king would be still more affectionate and ready to grant her request ; ste might expect thar Haman would grow inore proud and insolent, and so be more easily ru. ined ; and the king's mind be prepared by the expectation of some great and important petition. Above all. God mighr order is thus, that Mordecai's honour might be displayed in the mean time, and the way be open to his advancement, and Hamas's ruin. See chap. vi.

VOL. IV.

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• 2. The hearts of kings, even those who act most arbitrarily, are in the hand of the Lord ; he can easily direct them to answer his wise purposes, and by his influence on their minds, often outdoes the fears or hopes of his people. Let us then wait on him by whom kings reign, and who does what he pleases among the greatest and most powerful of the children of men.

3. We here see the misery of a proud, envious, ungovertrable spirit. Haman had every thing he could desire, riches, honours, a large family, and the king's favour. A small part of this would have satisfied any reasonable modest man : but all was nothing to him, because only one man denied him the respect and homage he expected. It is of little consequence what such men have, if they have not every thing. The proud and envious will always have something to make them uneasy. May we guard our hearts against such a wretched disposition, or else we shall have no true enjoyment of what we possess, but have our hearts pierced through with many sorrows.

4. Here is an affecting instance of the vanity of all earthly grandeur. See how little a thing may spoil the enjoyments of the greatest affluence, dignity and pleasure. We cannot find perfect contentment in these things. Every man, be he ever so rich or honourable, and have he ever so many external comforts, has some mixture or other to embitter them : it is often seen where men endeavour tc conceal it. There is no true satisfaction to be had but in God, and his favour; and he who is truly wise will seek it there only, and there he will surely find it. His favour is life, and his loving kindness is better than life. Psalm xxx. 5. lxii. 3.

5. It is very unhappy for a man when his wife and friends are bis counsellors to do wickedly. Had Haman's wife and friends been religious, or even prudent persons, had they been true friends to him, they would never have given him such advice ; instead of encouraging and indulging those malignant passions, they would have endeavoured to moderate and restrain them. But many think it a kind of complaisance to their relations and friends to give them pleasing rather than profitable advice, and encourage those dispositions they should endeavour to correct. It is sad indeed when a man's enemies are of his own household, and his bosom counsellors are counsellors of iniquity. The truest friendship is to endeavour to promote in others quietness, meekness, patience, and a humble spirit, without which they can never be happy. He that exakeih himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

CHAP. VI. Ic left Haman pleased with the thoughts of destroying his enemy

Mordecai ; bui a wonderful turn of affairs here opens in favour of the Jews.

N that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles ; and they

2 were read before the king.* And it was found written, that Mor

decai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the

king Ahasuerus; it was a remarkable providence that the ser3 vants should light upon this place. And the king said, What

honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him. And when it was morning, the king said, Who [is] in the court ? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. The king was resolved immediately to shew his grateful sense of Mor

decai's fidelity, while Haman's malice had brought him early there 5 to seek Mordecai's destruction. And the king's servants said

unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in, he is one of the propereat persons to CONsult with.

So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? There is a certain person deserves some special token of my favour, what shall be done to him to raise his character to uncoma mon glory? The king would not have asked the question, but have ordered such honours as he thought proper, had not Providenice intended that Mordecai should have the greatest honour, and Ha. man the greatest mortification possióle, Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour

more than to myself, considering in what high favour 1 stand 7 with the king and queen ? And Haman answered the king, For 8 the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal

apparel be brought which the king (useth] to wear, and the

horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is 9 set upon his head : And let this apparel and horse be delivered

to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man (withal] whom the king delighteth to hon. our, and bring him on horseback thrqugh the street of the city,

and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man 10 whom the king delighteth to honour.t Then the king said to

Haman, Make haste," [and] take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate : how confused and thunderstruck must Flaman be at such an order ; and the king, perhaps seeing his disorder, is very peremptory in the command ; let nothing fail of all that

• One wonkl rather have expeeted that he would have called for music ; but his mind was composed, and at leizure for a more profitable entertainment; he called for a journal of the most material occurrences of his reign, in which they were used to insert what services were done for the king, and what rewards and honours were conte: fed in consequence.

+ Some think some reward had been ordered, but through the ill will of Haman, or some other courtiers, he had been deprived of it. Perhaps the account of rewards conferred us. on others, led the king to ask what had been done for him.

Maman considered that he did not want money, nor could he have a greater post, and therefore proposes the highest honour he could conceive. There scerns to have been nothing but the sceptre that he did not think it proper to invest himself with ; and probably thoug I would be an agrecable circumstance to have Mordecai hanged to grace the cavalcade.

12

il thou hast spoken. Then took Haman the apparel and the

horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to tonour. Haman instantly obeyed the order, and it may be easily con. ceived what looks passed between them. Mordecai now began te lift up his head, and concluded that he had not fasted and prayed in vain.

And Mordecai came again to the king's gate ; he did not spend the rest of the day in mirth and gaiety, but came to his place at the king's gate : but Haman hasted to his house mourning,

and having his head covered, with all the tokens of sadness and 13 dejection of spirit. And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all

his friends every [thing) that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai [be] of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou

shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him.. 14 And while they were] yet talking with him, came the king's

chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared. Being thus extremely mortified, and being discouraged by these discourses of his privy counsellors, he was not eager to go ; Providence ordered that he should be seized with this panic, and meet with this mortification just before he went to the banquct, and Esther fixed her charge upon him ; but indeed his cause was so bad, that if he had been in the same good spirits,

as in the morning, we can hardly think he could have been capable # of making a defence to any purpose.

REFLECTIONS.

1. TXTE are here shown some farther instances of the vanity of

VV the world. Ahasuerus, with all his pomp and grandeur, who commanded one hundred and twenty seven provinces, could not command one hour's sleep ; that is often the happiness of the poor, when it is denied the rich and the mighty. Haman, disap. pointed in his favourite schemes, shows the vanity of ambition, and the uncertainty of all hopes which depend on the caprices and humours of men.

2. Gratitude for public services and benefits, is always becoming, though not always met with.' Mordecai's fidelity and kindness to the king was forgotten, and was not at all likely to save him from destruction. This is too much the case in the courts of princes, where the greatest friends and benefactors often meet with less favour and kindness than flatterers and knaves. It was proper in Ahasuerus to reward Mordecai ; better late than never. It is much

They probably grounded this opinion upon recollecting some remarkable providence in favour of the Jews, and the destruction of those who had sought their ruin, as in the case of Daniel and the three Jewish youths. Such interpositions led them to conclude that they were more iminediately under the care of bcavct), and therefore that all their enemies would fall before them.

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