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with anger ! shortly, his very brow and his motion bade Mordecai look for the utmost of revenge.
Mordecai foresees his danger, and contemns it ; no frowns, no threats can supple those joints : he may break, he will not bow.
What shall we say then to this obfirmed resolution of Mordecai ? what is it, what can it be, that so stiffens the knees of Mordecai, that death is more easy to him than their incurvation ? Certainly, if mere civility were in question, this wilful irreverence to so great a peer could not pass without the just censure of a rude perverseness. It is religion that forbids this obeisance, and tells him that such courtesy could not be free from sin ; whether it were, that more than human honour was required, to this new-erected image of the great king, as the Persians were ever wont to be noted for too much lavishness in these courtly devotions, or whether it were, that the ancient curse, wherewith God had branded the blood and stock of Haman, made it unlawful for an Israelite to give him any observance : for the Amalekites, of whose royal line Haman was descended, were the nation with which God had sworn perpetual hostility, and whose memory he had straitly charged his people to root out from under heaven; how may I, thinks he, adore where God commands me to detest ? how may I profess respect, where God professeth enmity ? how may I contribute to the establishment of that seed upon earth, which God hath charged to be pulled up from under heaven ? Outward actions of indifferency, when once they are felt to trench upon the conscience, lay deep obligations upon the soul, even while they are most slighted by careless hearts.
In what a flame of wrath doth Haman live this while ! wherewith he could not but have consumed his own heart, had he not given vent to that rage in his assured purposes of revenge. Great men's anger is like to themselves, strong, fierce, ambitious of an excessive satisfaction. Haman scorns to take up
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the blood of Mordecai, this were but a vulgar amends ; poor men can kill where they hate, and expiate their own wrong
with the life of a single enemy. Haman's fury shall fly a higher pitch ; millions of throats are few enough to bleed for this offence: it is a Jew that hath despited him ; all the whole nation of the Jews shall perish for the stomach of this one. narchy of the world was now in the hand of the Persian: as Judea was within this compass, so there was scarce a Jew upon earth without the verge of the Persian dominions : the generation, the name shall now die at once ; neither shall there be any memory of them but this, There was a people, which having been famous through the world for three thousand four hundred and fourscore years, were, in a moment, extinct by the power of Haman, for default of a courtesy.
Perhaps that hereditary grudge and old antipathy, that was betwixt Israel and Amalek, stuck still in the heart of this Agagite; he might know that God had commanded Israel to root out Amalek from under heaven; and now therefore an Amalekite shall be ready to take this advantage against Israel. It is extreme injustice to dilate the punishment beyond the offence, and to enwrap thousands of innocents within the trespass
that were yet unborn, when Haman was unsaluted, must rue the fact they lived not to know! How many millions of Jews were then living that knew not there was a Mordecai! all of them are fetched into one condition, and must suffer, ere they can know their offence. Oh the infinite distance betwixt the unjust cruelty of men, and the just mercies of the Almighty! Even Caiaphas himself could say, “It is better that one man die, than that all the people should perish ;" and here Haman can say, “It is better that all the people should perish, than that one man should die." Thy mercy, O God, by the willing death of one that had not sinned, hath defrayed the just death of a world of sinners! while the injurious rigour of a man, for the supposed fault of one, would destroy a whole nation that had not offended. It is true, that by the sin of one, death reigned over all; but it was, because all sinned in that one; had not all men been in Adam, all had not fallen in him, all had not died in him ; it was not the man, but mankind that fell into sin, and by sin into death. No man can complain of punishment, while no man can exempt himself from the transgression. Unmerciful Haman would have imbrued his hands in that blood, which he could not but confess innocent.
It is a rare thing, if the height of favour cause not presumption : such is Haman's greatness, that he takes his design for granted, ere it can receive a motion: the fittest days for this great massacre are determined by the lots of their common divination : according whereunto, Haman chooseth the hour of this bloody suit; and now, waited on by opportunity, he addresseth himself to king Ahasuerus : “ There is a certain people scattered abroad, and dispersed among the people, in all 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: if it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of the officers." With what cunning hath this man couched his malice! he doth not say, There is a Jew that hath affronted me, let me be avenged of his nation ; this rancour was too monstrous to be confessed ; perhaps this suggestion might have bred in the mind of Ahasuerus a conceit of Haman's ill-nature, and intolerable immanity: but his pretences are plausible, and such as drive at no other than the public good: every word hath his insinuation, “It is a scattered people:” were the nation entire, their maintenance could not but stand with the king's honour; but now since they are but stragglers, as their loss would be insensible,
so their continuance and mixture cannot but be prejudicial: it was not the fault, it was the misery of these poor Jews that they were dispersed, and now their dispersion is made an argument of their extirpation: therefore must they be destroyed from the earth, because they were scattered over the earth. As good, so evils draw on each other; that which should plead for pity in the well-affected, is a motive to cruelty in savage minds. Seldom ever hath extremity of mischief seized where easier afflictions have not been billeted before.
All faithful Jews had wont to say unto God, “Have mercy upon us, O God, and save us, for our soul is full of contempt, and we are scattered amongst the Heathen;" and here this enemy can say of them to Ahasuerus, “ Destroy them, for they are scattered !” root them out, for they are condemned. How much better is it to fall into the hands of God, than of men, since that which whets the sword of men, works commiseration in the Almighty! besides the dissipation of the persons,
“ Their laws are diverse from all people.” All other people live by thy laws, they only by their own : and how can this singularity of their fashions but breed disorder and inconvenience? Did they live in some corner of the earth apart, the difference in religion and government could not import much ; now, that they are dispersed amongst all thy subjects, what do these uncouth forms of theirs but teach all the world to be irregular ? why should they live under thy protection, that will not be governed by thy laws ?
Wicked Haman! what were the laws of Israel but the laws of God ? if this be a quarrel, what shall the death of the Jews be other than martyrdom ?
The diversity of judgment and practice from the rest of the world, hath been an old and envious imputation cast upon God's church. What if we be singled from others while we walk with God ? In matters lawful, arbitrary, indifferent, wisdom teaches us to conform ourselves to all others; but where God hath laid a special imposition upon us, we must either vary or sin. The greatest glory of Israel was their laws, wherein they as far exceeded all other nations, as heaven is above earth ; yet here their laws are quarrelled, and are made the inducements of their destruction. It is not possible that the church of God should escape persecution, while that which it hath good is maligned, while that offends which makes it happy.
Yet that they have laws of their own were not so unsufferable, if withal they did observe thine, O king ; but these Jews, as they are unconformable, so they are seditious: “They keep not the king's laws." Thou slanderest, Haman; they could not keep their own laws, if they kept not the king's; for their laws call them to obedience unto their sovereigns, and adjudge hell to the rebellious. In all those hundred and seven and twenty provinces, king Ahasuerus hath no subjects but them; they obey out of conscience, others out of fear: why are they charged with that, which they do most abhor ? what can be the ground of this crimination? Ahasuerus commanded all knees to bow to Haman: a Jew only refuses. Malicious Haman! he that refused to bow unto thee, had sufficiently approved his loyalty to Ahasuerus; Ahasuerus had not been, if Mordecai had not been a good subject. Hath the king no laws, but what concern thine adoration ? Set aside religion, (wherein the Jew is ready to present, if not active, yet passive obedience,) and name that Persian law which a Jew dares break.
As I never yet read or heard of a conscionable Israelite that hath not passed under this calumniation, so I cannot yield him a true Israelite that deserves it.
In vain doth he profess to acknowledge a God in heaven that denies homage to his deputy on earth.
" It is not for the king's profit to suffer them." Worldly hearts are not led by good or evil, but by