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why might it not have come to Mordecai's | beginning of a durable promotion : otherear? what could he therefore now imagine wise, what recompense had an hour's riding other than that he was called out to that been to so great a service? execution? But, when he saw the royal | On the other side, Haman droops, and robe that Haman brought to him, he thinks, hath changed passions with Mordecai : Is it not enough for this man to kill me, neither was that Jew ever more deeply afbut he must mock me too: what an addi-flicted with the decree of his own death, tion is this to the former cruelty, thus to than this Agagite was with that Jew's hoinsult and play upon my last distress! But, nour. How heavy doth it lie at Haman's when he yet saw the royal crown ready to heart, that no tongue but his might serve be set on his head, and the king's own to proclaim Mordecai happy! Even the horse richly furnished at his gate, and found greatest minions of the world must have himself raised by princely hands into the their turns of sorrow. royal seat, he thinks, What may all this with a covered head, and a dejected mean? Is it the purpose of mine adversary countenance, doth he hasten home, and that I shall die in state? would he have longs to impart his grief, where he had reme hanged in triumph? At last, when he ceived his advice. It was but coid comfort sees such a train of Persian peers attend that he finds from his wife Zeresh, and his ing him, with a grave reverence, and hears friends : “ If Mordecai be of the seed of the Haman proclaim before him, “ Thus shall | Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, it be done to the man whom the king de-thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt lighteth to honour!" finding this pomp to surely fall before him.” Out of the mouth be serious and well meant, he imagines, in of pagans, O God, thou hast ordained all likelihood, that this unexpected change strength, that thou mayest still the enemy proceeds from the suit of his Esther; now and avenger. What credit bath thy great he begins to lift up his head and to hope name won with these barbarous nations, well of himself and his people, and could that they can out of all experience make not but say within himself, that he had not maxims of thine undoubted protection of fasted for nothing. ( the wondrous altera- | thy people, and the certain ruin of thine tion that one morning hath made in the adversaries ? Men find no difference in court of Persia! He that was yesternight themselves: the face of a Jew looks so like despised by Haman's footmen, is now waited other men's, that Esther and Mordecai were on by Haman, and all his fellow princes: not, of long, taken for what they were ; he he, that yesternight had the homage of all that made them, makes the distinction be. knees but one, and was ready to burst for twixt them : so as a Jew may fall before a the lack of that, now doth obeisance to Persian, and get up and prevail; but if a that one by whom he was wilfully ne- | Persian, or wliosoever of the Gentiles, begin glected! It was not Ahasuerus that wrought to fall before a Jew, he can neither stay nor this strange mutation; it was the overruling rise. There is an invisible hand of omnipower of the Almighty, whose immediate potency that strikes in for his own and conhand would thus prevent Esther's suit, that founds their opposites. O God, neither is he might challenge all the thank to himself: thine hand shortened, nor thy bowels straitwhile princes have their own wills, they ened in thee: thou art still and ever thyself. must do bis; and shall either exalt or de- If we be thy true spiritual Israel, neither press according to divine appointment. earth nor hell shall prevail against us; we
I should commend Haman's obedience, shall either stand sure, or surely rise, while in his humble condescent to so unpleasing our enemies shall lick the dust. and harsh a command of his master, were it not, that either he durst do no other, or that he thus stooped for an advantage. It CONTEMPLATION VIII. — HAMAN HANGED, is a thankless respect that is either forced,
MORDECAI ADVANCED. or for ends. True subjection is free and absolute, out of the conscience of duty, not Haman's day is now come : that venge. out of fears or hopes.
| ance which hath hitherto slept is now awake, All Shushan is in amaze at this sudden and rouseth up itself to a just execution ; glory of Mordecai, and studies how to re that heavy mourning was but the preface concile this day with the thirteenth of Adar. to his last sorrow, and the sad presage of Mordecai had reason to hope well: it could friends is verified in the speaking; while not stand with the honour of the king to the word was in their mouths, the mes. kill him whom he saw cause to advance; sengers were at the door to fetch Haman neither could this be any other than the to his funeral banquet.
How little do we know what is towards oftentimes, that, when large promises fall us! As the fishes that are taken in an evil suddenly from great persons, they abate by net, and as the birds that are caught in the leisure, and shrink upon cold thoughts snare, so are the sons of men snared in an here Ahasuerus is not more liberal in his evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon offer than firm in his resolutions, as if his them.
first word had been, like his law, unalterIt was, as Haman conceived, the only able. I am ashamed to miss that steadiprivilege of his dearness, and the comfort | ness in Christians which I find in a pagan. of his present heaviness, that he only was It was a great word that he had said; yet called with the king to Esther's banquet, he eats it not, as over lavishly spoken, but when this was only meant for his bane. The doubles and triples it with hearty assurances face of this invitation is fair, and pro of a real prosecution ; while those tongues, miseth much; and now the ingenious man which profess the name of the true God, begins to set good constructions upon all say and unsay at pleasure, recanting their events. Surely, thinks he, the king was good purposes, contradicting their own just tied in his honour to give some public gra. engagements, upon no cause but their own tification to Mordecai : so good an office changeableness. could deserve no less than an hour's glory. It is not for queen Esther to drive off any But little doth my master know what terms | longer; the same wisdom that taught her to there are betwixt me and Mordecai : had defer her suit, now teaches her to propound he fully understood the insolencies of this it: a well chosen season, is the greatest Jew, and should, notwithstanding, have advantage of any action, which, as it is enjoined me to honour him, I might have seldom found in haste, so is too often lost had just cause to complain of disgrace and in delay. Now, therefore, with an humble disparagement; but now, since all this and graceful obeisance, and with a countebusiness hath been carried in ignorance and nance full of modest fear and sad gravity, casualty, why do I wrong myself in being she so delivers her petition, that the king too much affected with that which was not might see it was necessity that both forced ill meant ? Had either the king or the queen it upon her, and wrung it from her: “ If abated aught of their favour to me, I might I have found favour in thy sight, O king, have dined at home: now this renewed and if it please the king, let my life be given invitation argues me to stand right in the me at my petition, and my people at my grace of both; and why may not I hope request." Expectation is either a friend or this day to meet with a good occasion of an enemy, according to the occasion; Aha. my desired revenge? how just will it seem suerus looked for some high and difficult to the king, that the same man whom he boon; now that he hears his queen beg for hath publicly rewarded for his loyalty, her life, it could not be but that the surshould now be publicly punished for his plusage of his love to her must be turned disobedience.
into fury against her adversary; and his With suchlike thoughts Haman cheers zeal must be so much more to her, as her up himself, and addresseth himself to the suit was more meek and humble: “For we royal banquet, with a countenance that are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, would fain seem to forget his morning's to be slain, and to perish; but if we had task : Esther works her face to an unwilling been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I smile upon that hateful guest; and the had held my tongue, although the enemy king, as not unguilty of any dignity that he could not countervail the king's damage." hath put upon his favourite, frames bimself | Crafty men are sometimes choked with to as much cheerfulness as his want of rest their own plots. It was the proffer of ten would permit. The table is royally fur- | thousand talents wherewith Haman hoped nished with all delicate confections, with both to purchase his intended revenge, and all pleasing liquors. King Ahasuerus so the reputation of a worthy patriot : that eats, as one that both knew he was, and sum is now laid in his dish, for a just argu. meant to make himself welcome : Haman ment of malicious corruption; for well might so pours in, as one that meant to drown his Esther plead, If we Jews deserved death, cares. And now, in this fulness of cheer, what needed our slaughter to be bought the king hungers for that long-delayed suit out? and if we deserved it not, what hor. of queen Esther: thrice hath he graciously rible cruelty was it to set a price upon inno. called for it, and, as a man constant to his cent blood ? It is not any offence of ours, it own favours, thrice hath he, in the same is only the despite of an enemy, that nath words, vowed the performance of it, though wrought our destruction. to the half of his kingdom. It falls out Besides, now it appears the king was
abused by misinformation: the adversary | face, and horror in every of his joints ; no suggested, that the life of the Jews could sense, no limb knows his office : fain would not stand with the king's profit, whereas he speak ; but his tongue falters, and his their very bondage should be more damage lips tremble: fain would he make apologies to the state, than all Haman's worth could upon his knees; but his heart fails him, countervail. Truth may be smothered, but and tells him the evidence is too great, and it cannot die ; it may be disguised, but it the offence above all pardon : only guiltiwill be known; it may be suppressed, but ness and fear look through his eyes upon the it will triumph.
enraged countenance of his master, which But what shall we say to so harsh an now bodes nothing to him but revenge and aggravation? Could Esther have been silent death. in a case of decreed bondage, who is now 1 In what a passionate distemper dot! this so vehement in a case of death? Certainly, banquet shut up! King Ahasuerus flies to a generous nature, death is far more easy from the table, as if he had been hurried than bondage : why would she have en away with a tempest. His wrath is too dured the greater, and yet so abhors the great to come forth at his mouth; only his less? Was it for that the Jews were already eyes tell Haman that he hates to see him, too well inured to captivity, and those evils and vows to see his despatch. For soliare more tolerable wherewith we are ac tarinesss, and not for pleasure, doth he now quainted? or was it for that there may be walk into his garden, and thinks with him. hopes in bondage, none in death? Surely self, “ What a monster have I favoured ? is either of them were lamentable, and such it possible that so much cruelty and preas might deserve her humblest deprecation. sumption should harbour in a breast that I
The queen was going on to have said, thought ingenuous? Could I be so bewitched But, alas! nothing will satisfy our bloody as to pass so bloody a decree? is my creduenemy, save the utter extirpation of me and lity thus abused by the treacherous subtilty my nation : when the impatient rage of the of a miscreant whom I trusted ? I confess king interrupts her sentence in the midst, it was my weak rasliness to yield unto so and, as if he had heard too much already, prodigious a motion, but it was the villany and could easily supply the residue of her of this Agagite to circumvent me by false complaint, snatches the word out of her suggestions: he shall pay for my error; the moutin with a furious demand: “ Who is world shall see, that as I exceeded in grace, he, and where is he, that durst presume in so I will not come short in justice. Haman, his heart to do so ?” It was the interest of thy guilty blood sha!l expiate that innocent queen Esther's person that raised this storm blood which thy malice might have shed." in Ahasuerus : set that aside, how quietly, / In the meantime, Haman, so soon as ever how merrily, was the determined massacre | he could recover the qualm of his astoof the Jews formerly digested! Actions have nishment, finding himself left alone with not the same face, when we look upon them queen Esther, loseth no time, spareth no with contrary affections.
breath, to mitigate her anger, which had Now queen Esther musters up her in- made way to his destruction. Doubtless, ward forces, and, with an undaunted cou. with many vows and tears, and solemn rage, fixing her angry eyes upon that hated oaths, he labours to clear his intentions to Agagite, she says, “ The adversary and her person, bewailing his danger, imploring enemy is this wicked Haman.” The word her mercy, confessing the unjust extent of was loath to come forth, but it strikes home his malice, proffering endeavours of satis. at the last. Never till now did Haman faction. “ Wretched man that I am! I am hear his true title ; before, some had styled condemned before I speak; and when I bim noble, others great, some magnificent, have spoken, I am condemned. Upon thy and some, perhaps, virtuous; only Esther sentence, O queen, I see death waits for gave him his own, “ Wicked Haman." II-me: in vain shall I seek to avoid it: it is deserving greatness doth in vain promise to thy will that I should perish; but let that itself a perpetuity of applause. If our ways little breath I have left, acquit me so far be foul, the time shall come, when after all with thee, as to call heaven and earth to vain flattery, after all our momentary glory, record, that in regard of thee, I die innocent. our sins shall be ripped up, and our iniqui It is true, that mine impetuous malice misties laid before us, to our utter confusion. | carried me against the nation of the Jews, With what consternation did Haman now for the sake of one stubborn offender; but stand! how do we think he looked to hear did I know there was the least drop of Ishimself thus enstyled, thus accused, yea thus raelitish blood in thy sacred person? could condemned! Certainly, death was in his I suspect that Mordecai, or that people, did
aught concern thee? Let not one death be I had never been ! O that I could not be ! enough for me, if I would ever have enter. How too truly have Zeresh, and my friends, tained any thought of evil against nation or foretold me of this heavy destiny! Now am man, that should have cost but a frown I ready to feel what it is that I meant to thou. from thee. All the court of Persia can suf- sands of innocents; I shall die with pain ficiently witness how I have magnified and and ignominy. O that the conscience of adored thee, ever since the royal crown mine intended murder could die with me." was set on thy head ; neither did I ever | It is no marvel if wicked men find nothing fail to do thee all good offices unto that my but utter discomforts in their end : rather sovereign master, whom thou hast now than fail, their former happiness shall join mortally incensed against me. O queen, with their imminent miseries to torment no hand can save my life but thine, that them. It is the just judgment of God, that hath as good as bereaved it: show mercy presumptuous sinners should be swallowed to him, that never meant but loyalty to thee. up of those evils, which they would not As ever thou wouldst oblige an humble and | fear. Happy is that man who hath grace faithful vassal to thee, as ever thou wouldst to foresee and avoid those ways which will honour thy name and sex with the praise lead him to a perfect confusion! Happy is of tender compassion, take pity upon me, he that hath so lived, that he can either and spare that life which shall be vowed welcome death as a friend, or defy it as an to thy service: and whereas thy displeasure enemy! may justly allege against me that rancorous Who was ever the better for favours plot for the extirpation of that people, | past? Those, that had before kissed the whom I, too late, know to be thine, let it feet and smiled in the face of Haman, are suffice that I hate, I curse mine own cruelty, now as ready to cover his head, and help and only upon that condition shall beg the him to the gallows. Harbonah, one of the reprieval of my life, that I shall work and chamberlains, seasonably tells the king how procure, by thy gracious aid, a full defeas- stately a gibbet Haman had newly set up ance of that unjust execution. O let fall for well-deserving Mordecai within his own upon thy despairing servant one word of palace. favour to my displeased master, that I may I hear not one man open his mouth to yet live."
intercede for the offender, to pacify the While he was speaking to this purpose, king, to excuse or lessen the fact. Every one having prostrate himself, for the more hu- is ready to pull him down that is falling, to mility, before the queen, and spread his trample on him that is down : yet, no doubt, arms in a vehement imploration up to her there were some of these courtiers whom bed, the king comes in, and, as not un willing Haman had obliged. Had the cause been to misconstrue the posture of him whom better, thus it would have been : every cur he now hated, says, “ What, will he force is ready to fall upon the dog that he sees the queen also before, me in the house ?" worried; but here, it was the just hand of
That which Haman meant as an humble God to set off all hearts from a man that supplicant, is interpreted as from a pre- had been so unreasonably merciless, and to sumptuous offender. How oft might he have raise up enemies, even among friends, to him done so, and more, while he was in favour, that had professed enmity to God's church. uncensured! Actions are not the same So let thine enemies perish, O Lord, unsucwhen the man alters. As charity makes a coured, unpitied! *Then the king said, good sense of doubtful occurrents, so preju. | Hang him thereon." There can be no truer dice and displeasure take all things, though justice than in retaliation : who can comwell meant, at the worst. It is an easy plain of his own measure? “Behold, the thing to pick a quarrel where we intend a wicked travaileth with iniquity, and hath mischief.
conceived mischief, and brought forth false. The wrath of the king is as a messenger hood. He made a pit and digged it, and of death. While these words were yet in is fallen into the ditch that he made ; his the mouth of Ahasuerus, Haman, in turn- | mischief shall return upon his own head, ing his head towards the king, is suddenly and his violent dealing shall come down muffled for his execution : he shall no more upon his own pate." see either face or sun; he shall be seen no There hangs Haman, in more reproach more but as a spectacle of shame and hor-than ever he stood in honour; and Mor. ror: and now he thinks, “Woe is me, whose decai, who is now first known for what lie eyes serve me only to foresee the approach was, succeeds his favour and changes inheof a dishonourable and painful death! What ritances with his enemy: for while Haman am I the better to have been great ? O that | inherits the gibbet of Mordecai, Mordecai inherits the house and honour of Haman. the shameful death of the procurer, the “ O Lord, let the malice of the wicked power of the party opposite, any one should come to an end, but establish thou the just." be found, throughout all the provinces,
One hour hath changed the face of the that would once lift up his hand against a Persian court. What stability is there in Jew, that with his own danger would enearthly greatness ? He, whom in the morn- deavour to execute a controlled decree? ing all knees bowed unto, as more than a | The church of God should cease to be man, now hangs up like a despised vermin, | itself, if it wanted malicious persecution : for a prey to the ravens; he, who this there needs no other quarrel than the morning was destined to the gallows, now name, the religion of Israel. rules over princes. Neither was it for no. Notwithstanding the known favour of thing that he this day rode in triumph: the the king, and the patronage of Mordecai, king's ring, that was taken from Haman, the thirteenth of Adar is meant to be a is now given to Mordecai as the pledge of bloody day. Haman hath too many abethis authority; and he, that even now sat tors in the Persian dominions: these join in the gate, is called up next to the throne. together to perform that sentence, whereof Wickedness and honest innocence have now the author repented. The Jews take heart paid their debts to both their clients. to defend themselves, to kill their mur.
Little joy would it yet have been to derers. All the provinces are turned into Esther, that her enemy was dead, her a field of civil war, wherein innocence vankinsman advanced, if still her people must quisheth malice. The Jews are victors, for all this expect their fatal day: her next and not only are alive, but are feared; the suit, therefore, is for the safety of her nation, most resist them not, many assist them, in the countermand of that bloody decree and some become theirs. The countenance which Haman had obtained against them: of the great leads the world at pleasure ; that which was surreptitiously gotten, and fear of authority sways thousands that are rashly given, is so much more gladly re. not guilty of a conscience. versed, by how much mercy is more plea- Yea, besides the liberty of defence, the sing to a good nature than cruel injustice. Jews are now made their own justices : Mordecai hath power to indite, seal, send that there may be none left from the loins out letters of favour to the Jews, which of that accursed Agagite, who would have were causelessly sentenced to the slaughter. left none of the Jewish seed, they slay the If a Persian law might not be reversed, yet ten sons of Haman, and obtain new days it might be counterchanged. Mordecai may of further executions: neither can death not write, “Let no Jew be slain;" he may satisfy their revenge; those ten sons of write, “ Let the Jews meet, and stand for Haman shall, in their very carcasses, bear their lives against those that would slay | the reproach of their father, and hang aloft them." This command flies after the for- upon his gallows. mer so fast, as if it would overtake that Finally, no man doth, no man dares which it cannot recall. The Jews are re- frown upon a Jew; they are now become vived with these happy tidings, that they lords in the midst of their captivity: no may have protection as well as enmity, marvel if they ordain and celebrate their that authority will not be their executioner, I joyful Purim, for a perpetual memory, to that their own hands are allowed to be their all posterities, of their happy deliverance. avengers.
It were pity that the church of God should Who would imagine, that after public not have sunshines as well as storms, and notice of this alteration at the court, when should not meet with interchanges of joy the world could not choose but know the in their warfare, before they enter upon the malicious ground of that wrongful edict, / unchangeable joy of their endless triumph.