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to forecast the danger of an offence or in. I is not over hastened on either part : worthy discretion, may have leisure enough of an dispositions labour only to deserve well, unseasonable repentance.
| leaving the care of their remuneration to That mind is truly great and noble that them whom it concerns ; it is fit that God's is not changed with the highest prosperity. | leisure should be attended in all his designQueen Esther cannot forget her cousin Mor. I ments. The hour is set, when Mordecai decai; no pomp can make her slight the shall be raised : is in the meantime there be charge of so dear a kinsman : in all her an intervention, not only of neglect, but of royalty she casts her eye upon him amongst fears and dangers, all these shall make his the throng of beholders; but she must not honours so much more sweet, more preknow him ; her obedience keeps her in awe, cious. and will not suffer her to draw him up with her to the participation of her honour. It troubles her not a little to forbear this duty, CONTEMPLATION V. – HAMAN DISRESPECTED but she must: it is enough for her that BY MORDECAI — MORDECAI'S MESSAGE TO Mordecai hath commanded her not to be ESTHER. known, who, or whose she was.
Perhaps the wise Jew feared, that while Besides the charge of his office, the care her honour was yet green and unsettled, of Esther's prosperity calls Mordecai to the the notice of her nation, and the name of king's gate, and fixes him there. With what a despised captive, might be some blemish inward contentment did he think of his so to her in that proud court, whereas, after- royal pupil! Here I sit among my fellows; wards, upon thie merit of her carriage, and little doth the world think that mine adopted the full possession of all hearts, her name child sits in the throne of Persia, that the might dignify her nation, and countermand great empress of the world owes herself to all reproaches.
me: I might have more honour, I could Mordecai was an officer in the court of not have so much secret comfort, if all Ahasuerus; his service called him daily to Shushan knew what interest I have in attend in the king's gate: much better might queen Esther. he, being a Jew, serve a pagan master, than While his heart is taken up with these his foster-daughter might ascend to a pagan's thoughts, who should come ruffling by him,
but the new-raised favourite of king Aha. If the necessity or convenience of his suerus, Haman, the son of Hammedatba occasions called him to serve, his piety and | the Agagite: him hath the great king un. religion called him to faithfulness in his ser expectedly advanced, and set his seat above vice: two of the king's chamberlains, Big. all the princes that were with him. The than and Teresh, conspire against the life gracious respects of princes are not always of their sovereign. No greatness can secure led by merit, but by their own will, which from treachery or violence: he that ruled is ever affected to be so much the freer as over millions of men, through a hundred themselves would be held more great. and seven and twenty provinces, cannot as When the sun shines upon the dial, sure himself from the hand of a villain; he every passenger will be looking at it: there that had the power of other men's lives, is needed no command of reverence, where in danger of his own. Happy is that man Abasuerus was pleased to countenance : that is once possessed of a crown incor- all knees will bow alone, even to forbidden ruptible, unfadeable, reserved for him in | idols of honour, how much more where heaven : no force, no treason can reach royal authority enjoins obeisance! All the thither ; there can be no peril of either vio servants, all the subjects of king Ahasuerus, lence or forfeiture there.
are willingly prostrate before this great The likeliest defence of the person of any minion of their sovereign ; only Mordecai prince, is the fidelity of his attendants: stands stiff, as if he saw nothing more than Mordecai overhears the whispering of these a man in that proud Agagite. wicked conspirators, and reveals it to Es. They are not observed that do as the ther; she (as glad of such an opportunity most, but if any one man shall vary from to commend unto Ahasuerus the loyalty of the multitude, all eyes are turned upon him. him whom she durst but secretly honour), Mordecai's fellow-officers note this palpable reveals it to the king. The circumstances irreverence, and expostulate it : " Why are examined, the plot is discovered, the transgressest thou the king's command. traitors executed, the service recorded in the ment?” Considerest thou not how far this Persian annals. A good foundation is thus affront reacheth? It is not the person of laid for Mordecai's advancement, which yet Haman whom thou refusest to adore, but
the king in him: neither do we regard so then again wax pale with anger! shortly, much the man, as the command; let him his very brow and his motion bade Morbe never so vile whom the king bids to decai look for the utmost of revenge. be honoured, with what safety can a sub-1 Mordecai foresees his danger, and conject examine the charge, or resist it? His temns it; no frowns, no threats, can supple unworthiness cannot dispense with our those joints: he may break, he will not bow. loyalty. What a dangerous wilfulness should What shall we say then to this confirmed it be to incur the forfeiture of thy place, of resolution of Mordecai? What is it, what thy life, for a courtesy? If thou wilt not can it be, that so stiffens the knees of Mor. bow with others, expect to suffer alone; / decai, that death is more easy to him than perhaps they thought this omission was their incurvation ? Certainly, if mere civility unheedy, in a case of ignorance or incogi- | were in question, this wilful irreverence to tancy; it was a friendly office to admo so great a peer could not pass without the nish; the sight of the error had been the just censure of a rude perverseness. It is remedy.
religion that forbids this obeisance, and tells Mordecai hears their challenge, their ad- him, that such courtesy could not be free vice, and thinks good to answer both with from sin : whether it were, that more than silence, as willing they should imagine his in human honour was required to this new flexibleness proceeded from a resolution, and erected image of the great king, as the Per. that resolution upon some secret grounds, sians were ever wont to be noted for too which he needed not impart : at last, yet much lavishness in these courtly devotions, he imparts thus much, Let it suffice that I or whether it were, that the ancient curse am a Jew, and Haman an Amalekite. wherewith God had branded the blood and
After a private expostulation, the con- stock of Haman, made it unlawful for an tinuance of that open neglect is construed Israelite to give him any observance ; for for a sullen obstinacy; and now the moni-the Amalekites, of whose royal line Haman tors themselves grow sensible of the con was descended, were the nation, with which tempt: men are commonly impatient to God had sworn perpetual hostility, and lose the thank of their endeavours, and are | whose memory he had straitly charged his prone to hate whom they cannot reform. people to root out from under heaven. How Partly, therefore, to pick a thank, and partly may I, thinks he, adore where God comto revenge this contumacy, these officers mands me to detest? how may I profess return informers against Mordecai; neither spect, where God professeth enmity? how meant to make the matter fairer than it may I contribute to the establishment of that was: they tell Haman, how proud and seed upon earth, which God hath charged stubborn a Jew sat amongst them; how ill to be pulled up from under leaven? Outthey could brook so saucy an affront to be ward actions of indifferency, when once offered to his greatness: how seriously they | they are felt to trench upon the conscience, had expostulated, how stomachfully the of. | lay deep obligations upon the soul, even fender persisted; and beseech him that he while they are most slighted by careless would be pleased, in his next passage, to hearts. cast some glances that way, and but ob- ' In what a flame of wrath doth Haman serve the fashion of that intolerable inso- | live this while! wherewith he could not lency. The proud Agagite cannot long en but have consumed his own heart, had he dure the very expectation of such an in- not given vent to that rage in his assured dignity: on purpose doth he stalk thither, I purposes of revenge. Great men's anger is with higher than his ordinary steps, snuffing like to themselves, strong, fierce, ambitious up the air as he goes, and would see the of an excessive satisfaction. Haman scorns man that durst deny reverence to the great to take up with the blood of Mordecai: this est prince of Persia.
were but a vulgar amends. Poor men can Mordecai holds his old posture, only he kill where they hate, and expiate their is so much more careless, as he sees Haman own wrong with the life of a single enemy more disdainful and imperious. Neither of Haman's fury shall fly a higher pitch: milthem goes about to hide his passion: one lions of throats are few enough to bleed for looked, as if he had said, I hate the pride this offence: it is a Jew that hath despited of Haman; the other looked, as if he had him ; the whole nation of the Jews shall said, I will plague the contempt of Morde- | perish for the stomach of this one. The cai. How did the eyes of Haman sparkle monarchy of the world was now in the with fury, and, as it were, dart out deadly | hand of the Persian ; as Judea was within beams in the face of that despiteful Jew: 1 this compass, so there was scarce a Jew how did he swell with indignation, and upon earth without the verge of the Per. sian dominions: the generation, the name, I the people, in all the provinces of the shall now die at once; neither shall there kingdom, and their laws are diverse from be anv memory of them but this, There all people; neither keep they the king's was a people, which having been famous laws, therefore it is not for the king's profit through the world for three thousand four to suffer them: if it please the king, let it hundred and fourscore years, were, in a be written that they may be destroyed, and moment, extinct by the power of Haman, I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into for default of a courtesy.
the hands of the officers.” With what cunPerhaps that hereditary grudge and old ning hath this man couched his malice! He antipathy, that was betwixt Israel and doth not say, There is a Jew that hath Amalek, stuck still in the heart of this affronted me, let me be avenged of his naAgagite; he might know that God hadtion: this rancour was too monstrous to be commanded Israel to root out Amalek from confessed; perhaps this suggestion might under heaven; and now therefore an Ama. have bred in the mind of Ahasuerus a conlekite shall be ready to take this advantage | ceit of Haman's ill nature, and intolerable against Israel. It is extreme injustice to | immanity: but his pretences are plausible, dilate the punishment beyond the offence, and such as drive at no other than the and to en wrap thousands of innocents with public good. Every word hath its insinuain the trespass of one. How many that tion: “ It is a scattered people :” were the were yet unborn, when Haman was un-nation entire, their maintenance could not saluted, must rue the fact they lived not to but stand with the king's honour; but now, know! How many millions of Jews were since they are but stragglers, as their loss then living, that knew not there was a would be insensible, so their continuance Mordecai! All of them are fetched into one and mixture cannot but be prejudicial : it condition, and must suffer, ere they can was not the fault, it was the misery of these know their offence. O the infinite distance poor Jews, that they were dispersed, and betwixt the unjust cruelty of men, and the now their dispersion is made an argument just mercies of the Almighty! Even Caia. of their extirpation; therefore must they be phas himself could say, “ It is better that destroyed from the earth, because they one man die, than that all the people should were scattered over the earth. As good, perish;" and here Haman can say, “ It is so evils, draw on each other: that which better that all the people should perish, should plead for pity in the well-affected is than that one man should die." Thy mercy, a motive to cruelty in savage minds. SelO God, by the willing death of one that dom ever hath extremity of mischief seized, had not sinned, hath defrayed the just death where easier afflictions have not been bilof a world of sinners; while the injurious | leted before. rigour of a man, for the supposed fault of All faithful Jews had wont to say unto one, would destroy a whole nation that had God, “ Have mercy upon us, O God, and not offended. It is true, that, by the sin of save us, for our soul is full of contempt, one, death reigned over all; but it was and we are scattered amongst the heathen!” because all sinned in that one: had not all And here this enemy can say of them to men been in Adam, all had not fallen in Ahasuerus, “ Destroy them, for they are him, all had not died in him; it was not scattered;" root them out, for they are conthe man, but mankind, that fell into sin, and temned. How much better is it to fall into by sin into death. No man can complain the hands of God, than of men, since that of punishment, while no man can exempt which whets the sword of men, works com. himself from the transgression. Unmerciful miseration in the Almighty! Besides the Haman would have imbrued his hands in dissipation of the persons, “ Their laws are that blood, which he could not but confess diverse from all people." All other people innocent.
live by thy laws, they only by their own; It is a rare thing, if the height of favour , and how can this singularity of their fashions cause not presumption. Such is Haman's but breed disorder and inconvenience? Did greatness, that he takes his design for grant- | they live in some corner of the earth apart, ed, ere it can receive a motion : the fittest the difference in religion and government days for this great massacre are determined could not import much; now that they are by the lots of their common divination ; dispersed amongst all thy subjects, what do according whereunto, Haman chooseth the these uncouth forms of theirs but teach all hour of this bloody suit; and now, waited the world to be irregular? why should they on by opportunity, he addresseth himself to live under thy protection, that will not be king Ahasuerus : « There is a certain peo- governed by thy laws ? Wicked Haman! ple scattered abroad, and dispersed among what were the laws of Israel, but the laws of God? if this be a quarrel, what shall the death strange untruths when there is nobody to of the Jews be other than martyrdom? make answer! False Haman! how is it
The diversity of judgment and practice not for the king's profit to suffer the Jews? from the rest of the world hath been an old if thou construe this profit for honour, the and envious imputation cast upon God's king's honour is in the multitude of subchurch. What if we be singled from others, jects; and what people more numerous than while we walk with God? In matters law. they? if for gain, the king's profit is in the ful, arbitrary, indifferent, wisdom teacheth largeness of his tributes; and wliat people us to conform ourselves to all others; but are more deep in their payments? if for where God hath laid a special imposition service, what people are more officious ? upon us, we must either vary or sin. The How can it stand with the king's profit to greatest glory of Israel was their laws, bereave himself of subjects, his subjects of wherein they as far exceeded all other na their lives, his exchequer of their tributes, tions, as heaven is above earth; yet here his state of their defence? He is a weak potheir laws are quarreled, and are made the litician that knows not to gild over the worst inducements of their destruction. It is not project with a pretence of public utility. possible that the church of God should No name under heaven hath made so many escape persecution, while that which it hath fools, so many villains, as this of profit. good is maligned, while that offends which Lastly, as Ahasuerus reaps nothing but makes it happy.
disprofit by the lives of the Jews, so he shall Yet that they have laws of their own reap no small profit by their deaths : “I were not so unsufferable, if withal they did will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the observe thine, O king! but these Jews, as king's treasury for this execution.” If rethey are unconformable, so they are sedi venge were not very sweet to the malicious tious : “ They keep not the king's laws." | man, he could not be content to purchase
Thou slanderest, Haman! they could not it at so high a rate. How do we see daily, keep their own laws, if they kept not the that the thirst hereof carries men to a riotking's; for their laws cail them to obedience ous prodigality of estate, body, soul ! unto their sovereigns, and adjudge hell to | Cruel Haman! if thou couldst have the rebellious. In all those hundred and swimmed in a whole sea of Jewish blood, seven and twenty provinces, king Ahasuerus if thou couldst have raised mountains of hath no subjects but them; they obey out their carcasses, if thou couldst have made of conscience, others out of fear: why are all Persia thy shambles, who would have they charged with that, which they do most given thee one farthing for all those piles of abhor? what can be the ground of this cri. Hesh, for all those streams of blood ? yea, mination? Ahasuerus commanded all knees who would not rather have been at charge to bow to Haman; a Jew only refuses for the avoiding of the annoyances of those Malicious Haman! he that refused to bow slaughtered bodies, which thou offerest to unto thee, had sufficiently approved his buy at ten thousand talents? It were a loyalty to Ahasuerus; Ahasuerus had not happy thing, if charity could enlarge itself been, if Mordecai had not been a good sub | but so much as malice: if the preservation ject. Hath the king no laws, but what of mankind could be so much beholden to concern thine adoration? Set aside religion our bounty, as the destruction. (wherein the Jew is ready to present, if not Now when all these are laid together active, yet passive obedience) and name that the baseness and dispersedness of the people, Persian law which a Jew dares break. As I the diversity of the laws, the irregularity of never yet read or heard of a conscionable their government, the rebellion of their pracIsraelite, that hath not passed under this tice, the inconvenience of their toleration, calumniation, so I cannot yield him a true the gain of their extirpation; what could the Israelite that deserves it. In vain doth he wit or art of man devise more insinuative, profess to acknowledge a God in heaven, more likely to persuade? How could it be that denies homage to his deputy on earth. but Ahasuerus must needs think (since he
" It is not for the king's profit to suffer could not suspect the ground of this suit), them." Worldly hearts are not led by good What a zealous patriot have I raised, that or evil, but by profit or loss; neither have can be content to buy off the incommodity they grace to know, that nothing is profit of the state at his own charge ! how worthy able but what is honest, nothing so despe is he rather of the aid both of my power and rately incommodious as wickedness; they purse! Why should I be fee'd to ease my must needs offend by rule, that measure all kingdoms of rebels? “ The silver is given things by profit, and measure profit by their to thee, the people also, to do with them as imagination. How easy is it to suggest seemeth good to thee.” Without all delay, the secretaries are called to write the war. | hope, by this undue means, to raise myself rants; the king's ring is given to seal them; and my people! yea, is not this carnal prethe posts are sent out to carry them into sumption the quarrel that God had against all the provinces: the day is set wherein all me? do I not therefore smart from these Jews, of all ages, of both sexes, through the pagans, for that I secretly affected this hundred and seven and twenty provinces of uncircumcised alliance? Howsoever it be, the king, shall be sacrificed to the wrath of yet, O God! what have thy people done? Haman.
O let it be thy just mercy that I may perish In all the carriage of Ahasuerus, who sees alone !" not too much headiness of passion ? Vashti In these sad thoughts did Mordecai spend is cast off for a trifle; the Jews are given his heart, while he walked mournfully in to the slaughter for nothing: his rage in sackcloth before that gate wherein he was the one, his favour in the other, is too im- wont to sit: now his habit bars his ap. potent. He is not a worse husband than a proach; no sackcloth might come within king: the bare word of Haman is enough to the court. Lo! that which is welcomest in kill so many subjects. No disposition can the court of heaven, is here excluded from be more dangerous in great persons, than the presence of this earthly royalty: “A violence of affection mixed with credulity. | broken and a contrite heart, O God thou O the seeming inequality of human con wilt not despise." ditions ! " The king and Haman sat down Neither did it a little add to the sorrow to drink, but the city of Shushan was per- of Mordecai, to hear the bitter insultations plexed.” It is a woful thing to see great of his former monitors : “ Did we not adones quaff the tears of the oppressed, and vise thee better? did we not fore-admonish to hear them make music of shrieks. thee of thy danger? see now the issue of
With what lamentation do we think all thine obstinacy:" now see, what it is for the synagogues of Jews, through the world, thine earthen pitcher to knock with brass. received this fatal message of their pro- | Now, where is the man that would needs claimed destruction! How do they bemoan contest with Haman? Hast thou not now themselves each to other! how do their brought thy matters to a fair pass? Thy stoconjoined cries fill heaven and earth! But mach had long owed thee a spite, and now above all, what sackcloth and ashes could it hath paid thee: who can pity thy wilfulsuffice woful Mordecai, that found in him- | ness? Since thou wouldst needs deride our self the occasion of all this slaughter! what counsel, we will take leave to laugh at thy soul could be capable of more bitterness sackcloth. Nothing but scorns, and griefs, than he felt! While he could not but think, and terrors, present themselves to miserable “Wretched man that I am! it is I that have Mordecai. All the external buffets of adbrought all this calamity upon my nation; versaries were slight to the wounds that he it is I that have been the ruin of my people! | hath made, and felt in his own heart. Woe is me that I ever put myself into the The perpetual intelligences that were court, into the service of a pagan ! How closely held betwixt Esther and Mordecai, unbappy was I to cast myself into these could not suffer his public sorrow to be long straits, that I must either honour an Agag concealed from her. The news of his sackite, or draw vengeance upon Israel! Yet cloth afflicts her, ere she can suspect the how could I imagine, that the flame of Ha- cause; her crown doth but clog her head, man's rage would have broken out so far? while she hears of his ashes. True friendMight that revenge have determined in my ship transforms us into the condition of blood, how happy should I have been! Now those we love; and, if it cannot raise them I have brought death upon many thousands to our cheerfulness, draws us down to their of innocents, that cannot know wherefore dejection. Fain would she uncase her fosthey die. Why did I not hide myself ra- ter-father of these mournful weeds, and ther from the place of that proud Amale- change his sackcloth for tissue; that yet, kite? why did I stand out in contestation at least, his clothes might not hinder his with so over-powerful an enemy? Alas! | access to her presence, for the free opening no man of Israel shall so much as live to of his griefs. curse me: only mine enemies shall record It is but a slight sorrow that abides to my name with ignominy, and say, Mordecai take in outward comforts: Mordecai refuses was the bane of his nation! O that my that kind offer, and would have Esther see zeal should have reserved me for so heavy that his affliction was such, as that he might a service! Where now are those vain am well resolve to put off his sackcloth and bitions, wherewith I pleased myself in this his skin at once ; that he must mourn ta great match of Esther? How fondly did Ideath, rather than see her face to live.