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that the hearts of monarchs are under the rule and governance of the SUPREME BEING, she wisely determined to commend herself and her people to the protection of Gov, and to require her attendants to join with her; from which we may infer, that she wished, not only to, offer her own supplication in private, but to co-operate with that public humiliation, which the exigence of the case required. Having taken these resolutions, she resigned herself to the disposal of heaven.
With what true humility and piety did Esther offer up supplications and intercessions to the throne of grace. It evidently appears that she had not been a candidate for royalty through any desire of earthly grandeur; on the contrary, the crown which adorned her temples, was considered by her as a mark of igno miny, since it distinguished her to the world as the consort of an heathen prince. Not all the pleasures of a luxurious court had any charms for her; she experienced no joy, but that which she so ardently sought, by pouring out her soul in pious adoration to the LORD Gop of her fathers.
The situation in which Esther was placed, exposed her to many temptations; but, by the aid of Divine grace, she was enabled to resist them all, and to leave to'the world a shining example of FEMALE PATRIOTISM.
ESTIER GOES INTO THE PRESENCE OF AHASUERUS.
From Esther, Chap. v.-Apoc. Chap. xvi.
AND upon the third day, when Esther had ended her prayer, she laid away her mourning garments, and put on her glorious apparel.
And being gloriously adorned, after she had called upon God, who is the beholder and saviour of all things, she took two maids with her.
And upon the one she leaned, as carrying herself daintily. And the other followed, bearing up her train:
And she was ruddy through the perfection of her beauty, and her countenance was chearful, and very amiable; but her heart was in anguish for fear.
Then having passed through all the doors, she stood before the king, who sat upon his royal throne, and was clothed with all his robes of majesty, all glittering with gold and precious stones; and he was very dreadful.
Then lifting up his countenance that shone with ma jesty, he looked very fiercely upon her: and the queen fell down, and was pale, and fainted, and bowed herself upon the hand of the maid that went before her. :
Then GoD changed the spirit of the king into mildness, who in a fear leaped from his throne, and took her in his arms, till she came to herself again, and comforted her with loving words, and said unto her, Esther, what is the matter? I am thy brother, be of good cheer. Thou shalt not die, though our commandment be ge neral: come near.
And so he held up his golden sceptre, and laid it upon her neck, and embraced her, and said, Speak unto me.
Then she said unto him, I saw thee, my lord, as an angel of God, and my heart was troubled for fear of thy majesty. For wonderful art thou, lord, and thy countenance is full of grace.
And as she was speaking, she fell down for faintness. Then the king was troubled, and all his servants com forted her.
Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? It shall even be given thee to the half of the kingdom.
And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him..
Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
And the king said 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 be performed.
Then answered Esther, and said, My petition, and my request is, If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman conie to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to-morrow as the king hath said.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The beautiful description, in the beginning of this Section, of Esther's approach to king Ahasuerus, is taken from the Apocryphal book. It places the character of Esther in the most amiable light. While her heart, with truly feminine softness, trembled for fear, she assumed a cheerful countenance, that she might not by an appearance of timidity, impress the king with an idea that she was going to make an improper request. The trial was however too great for her delicate frame to sustain. The stern countenance of the king overcame her resolution; she fainted under the terror of his looks; but her sweet emotion was more powerful than eloquence, it spoke to the heart of the stern monarch; and hê, who had banished one queen for refusing to obey his unreasonable command was subdued by the gentleness of another, so as to give an unreserved promise of granting all she could desire. Scarcely recovered from her violent agitation of spirits, Esther thought it prudent to defer making her request known till she could do it
with composure. She also disdained to accuse the absent; and judged it advisable to explain her wishes to the king in those hours when, retired from state affairs, it was his usual custom to unbend his mind at the social board with his favourite Haman.
This part of Esther's history affords a striking example of the force of female gentleness, which should recommend the practice of it to every woman. There is a certain sense of superiority in the hearts of men, which it is the duty, and I may say the interest, of wives to gratify; for it is implanted by Heaven, that those who possess it not are seldom fit to govern their families, or able to afford to their wives that protection which they may frequently stand in need of.
Esther's example is also worthy of imitation in another particular: she assumed an amiable and cheerful countenance, and certainly intended to address her king and husband with gentle persuasion. The faintings which prevented her doing so were accidental, and by no means the effect of artifice or affectation. It seems, ⚫ that at the banquet her courage again failed her, which occasioned the delay of her petition to another day.
HAMAN ERECTETH A GALLOWS FOR MORDECAI.
From Esther, Chap. v.
THEN went Haman forth that day joyful, and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.*
Nevertheless, Haman refrained 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 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 to-morrow 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.
Then said Zeresh his wife, and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to-morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman, and he caused the gallows to be made.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
* From this account of Haman, we learn, that the happiness of nien depends more upon the state of their own minds than on any external circumstances. Inordinate passions are the great disturbers of life; and, unless we possess a good conscience, and a well governed mind, discontent will blast every enjoyment, and the highest prosperity will prove only disguised misery. Let us then fix this conclusion in our minds, that the destruction of our virtue is the destruction of our peace. Let us keep our hearts with all diligence, and govern them with the greatest care, for out of them are the issues of life. In no station, in no period, should we think ourselves secure from the dangers which spring from our passions
The annotations to this Section are taken from an excellent sermon by Dr. Blair on this subject, which may be read with great advantage as a farther comment on this striking passage.