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let us never forget, that the time may come, when we also may be thus called to suffer for conscience sake. Let us be animated by the example of those who have suffered in this glorious cause; and may we endeavour to imbibe the spirit of the martyrs, though we are not likely to be called to experience their fate. May these Lectures be rendered subservient in promoting this end! May we be induced, more attentively, to study the Sacred Scriptures!
We are more especially interested in the kindness of God, as displayed toward the Heathen world. For, are we not ourselves the descendants of Heathens? Let Salisbury Plain show the Druidical remains of its once famous temple. There the rising sun was worshipped; there the true God was unknown! We owe it to the steady perseverance and courage of our forefathers, that we have been taught the religion of Jesus; and that we have received it in its original purity. Let us be thankful for the advantages we possess; and, under the divine blessing, may we pursue our path through this world, till we arrive at that better state, where we hope to possess his favour to all eternity! Amen.
CHARACTER OF ESTHER.
And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? ESTHER iv. 14.
THESE Words form a part of the message sent from Mordecai to Esther, in consequence of the threatened destruction of the Jews. The whole verse runs thus; "If thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall their enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed; and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
The Book of Esther may claim equality, if not precedence, with any history, if we consider the simplicity of the story, the variety of the incidents, or the interesting nature of the events it relates. It has generally been allowed a superior title to admiration in each of these points; and those best versed in novels and romances, might be challenged to produce a story more calculated to excite the best feelings of the heart. I am aware that the authenticity of this Book has been questioned by Deists; in answer to their objection, I will only say, I have myself, within the last thirty years, attended the feast of Purim, in a Jewish synagogue. Would such a feast be celebrated to commemorate a fiction?
When we ascend an eminence to take an extensive prospect, it is necessary to attend to the position in which we stand, or we may lose one half of the view, and the other half may not appear to advantage; happy shall I be, if I am enabled to lead your minds to a right survey of this affecting story. I will freely acknowledge, that there is not one subject in fifty, on which I have formed and rejected so many plans, as that to which I shall now direct your attention. I trust you will, therefore, accept with candour what I finally offer.
My remarks will be comprised under the three following heads.
I. This story exhibits the diversities of human condition.
II. It affords striking examples of moral conduct.
III. It shows the power, wisdom, and mercy of God.
I. This story teaches us the vicissitudes of human condition.
Vashti, the Queen of Ahasuerus, (otherwise called Artaxerxes,) refusing to grant a favour to the king, (whether a proper or an improper request, it is not necessary here to notice,) was degraded from the sovereignty; and continued, during the remainder of her life, in obscurity. On this occasion, the king, desirous of making another choice, ordered a number of young women to be brought before him, that he might select one from among them, to be the partner of his throne. His choice fell upon Esther, who was immediately declared the successor of the deposed favourite. This young person was an obscure orphan of Jewish extraction, who, having early been deprived of her parents, had been protected and educated by a poor relation of
her father's house. Little did that aged relative imagine, while endeavouring to implant in her tender mind the seeds of piety and virtue, that he was fitting her to adorn a court; but to this high station was she raised; and, through the blessing of God upon the good instructions she had received, enabled to act with the dignity and honour becoming her advancement. When the Jews heard that one of their nation had ascended the throne, joy was diffused through their hearts. Many of that nation, availing themselves of the decree of Cyrus, had returned to Jerusalem for the sake of rebuilding their temple; but those that remained, celebrated her accession with every mark of rejoicing. Esther had been cautioned by her venerable relative, (to whose counsel she ever listened with reverence,) not immediately to declare herself of the Jewish people; though, at the same time, if questioned, she was to use no dissimulation. He well knew they had many enemies at court, which very naturally awakened his fears for her safety.
Shortly after Esther's elevation, a decree was obtained from the king, entirely to extirpate that devoted race, which was quickly circulated through the hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the empire. How was their rejoicing changed into lamentation, when their