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women's house to know how she did, and what would become of her; and his seeking an office in the king's household, evidently proceeded from the same affectionate cause.

There is a dignity about Mordecai, in the simple fact of his concealing his relationship with the petted and all-powerful queen of Ahasuerus—in his pursuing, undisturbedly, the calm and meditative tenor of a good man's way,

which we cannot fail both to reverence and admire. It was enough for him that he was one of the chosen children of God; what higher dignity. could he have ?

“ Esther had not yet showed 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.How eloquently illustrative of her sweet and gentle character! She was of that tender age, when the mind and temper are more liable to take the impression of things and characters around them, than to remember and act upon the education and impressions of earlier

She had been two or three years completely separated from personal intercourse with her adopted father. She had received nothing but indulgence; was translated from a lowly and retired home to be the sole possessor of a monarch's love, and the sharer of a mighty kingdom-surrounded by luxury and adulation : and yet, so unchanged was her gentle mind and loving heart, that, in her high estate, she did “the commandment of Mordecai, as she had done in her childhood and her youth.” The faith of her fathers was the safeguard; for strangers and heathens were around her: the pleasures proffered were all tinctured with

years.

earth and time. In the spiritual, the deathless, part of her nature, the youthful Esther was alone. How perseveringly and religiously must Mordecai have trained her infant years, that even, in this utter loneliness, she could yet have stedfastly trodden the one straight path; and never wavered in her duty, either to her guardian or her God.

So some few years passed on, the exact number we cannot ascertain from the widely differing chronologists. During that interval, a conspiracy had been formed against the king by two of his chamberlains, which becoming known to Mordecai, he imparted it to Esther, and by her it was “certified to the king in Mordecai's name.” Inquisition was made into the matter, and the facts being discovered, the plotters were hanged, and the account written in the chronicles of the Persian kings. The instrumentality of Mordecai appears, however, to have been entirely forgotten, though doubtless Esther's influence increased. Had he come forward himself with his important discovery, he would, no doubt, have at once received the honours afterwards bestowed; but he heeded them not, and the whole affair sank into oblivion with regard to man, but not so in the Divine economy of God.

CHAPTER II.

Esther (continued).

“ AFTER these things,” we are told in Scripture, which is a term always signifying some lapse of time, the exaltation of Haman took place. Raised, through the favor of the king, above all the princes that were with him, the royal household vied with each other in doing him reverence, such being the command of the king; but 66 Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.” He who neither seeks nor cares for ambitious advancement and earthly honors himself, acknowledges them not in others. Haman, also, was an Agagite or Amalekite, one of the idolatrous nations whose iniquities were such as to demand the signal punishment of the Eternal-an enemy from the first to His people: and, therefore, the very race of Haman would have been sufficient for Mordecai to refrain from noticing him. But even had he been of different lineage, the law of the Hebrews strictly prohibited all unseemly veneration to mere mortal man, as unbefitting those whose adoration was to be paid to God alone. We do not, therefore, at all agree with Milman's supposition, that it was merely because they were rivals in earthly ambition, that Mordecai refused to do reverence to Haman. We have already seen that Mordecai had had opportunities enough already to aggrandise himself, but had neglected them all; and, in fact, the word of God itself favours the inference, that his reason for refusing to do Haman homage, simply was, because she (Mordecai) was a Jew.” The servants of the king spake daily to him, demanding, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?" and seeing that he “hearkened not to them, they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew." This was a bold and fearless statement, exactly in accordance with the character of Mordecai as already displayed. He had made no show of his religion, when there was no necessity so to do; but his freely avowing it as his reason for refusing undue reverence to a man, and an Amalekite, ought to convince us that his desiring Esther to conceal her race and faith proceeded from no unworthy or cowardly motive—however we may fail to discover a satisfactory reason why he should have

done so.

Haman, full of wrath that any one should dare hold him in contempt-a wrath no doubt increased, when he heard that the bold man who did so was a Jew-one of a despised and captive people, determined on a signal revenge. That some connection existed between Mordecai and Esther, was, no doubt, secretly suspected by him: to attack Mordecai alone, would therefore avail him little, as he would be protected by the queen. The destruction of the whole Jewish people, if he could but procure the king's consent, might involve Esther (of whose influence he was very probably jealous), as well as the hated Mordecai; and the mandate once gone forth, according to the laws of the Medes and Persians, was, he knew, unalterable.

That nothing might fail him, he cast lots, according to the superstition of his age and country, to discern what month would be most favourable for his project. The lot, guided by a merciful Providence, who was permitting the temporary ascendancy of evil only to bring forth permanent good, fell on Adar, the last month in the year. It was then Nisan, the first month, and therefore twelve months intervened; an interval doubtlessly hailed by Haman as allowing the entire destruction of the Jews, even of those situated in the remotest province of the empire; but which was in fact their salvation.

With consummate caution Haman proceeded. Working upon the usual jealousy of the royal prerogative, he alluded to a certain people, who, dispersed amongst all the king's provinces, followed a worship and laws of their own; that it was not to the king's profit they should do so; insinuating, no doubt, that they were likely, from their disloyal practices, to turn others also from their allegiance and their gods : it would be wise, therefore, to have them destroyed-and, that the king's coffers should not suffer, the wily minister concluded his counsel, by a promise of paying ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasuries.

The instant accordance of Ahasuerus with this cruel counsel, by giving into Haman's hand his royal signet to do with the people as seemed good to him, certainly more resembles the character of the capricious Xerxes, than the mild and benevolent Artaxerxes Longimanus; but then, in the brief record of Scripture, we can hardly know all the subtle counsels of a minister already high in his master's favor. The noblest and best monarchs

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