On the seventh day, when the king's heart was merry with wine, he ordered the seven eunuchs who served him--Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas--
I. AN ABSOLUTE TYRANT. He occupied a position of unlimited authority, and exercised his authority in an arbitrary manner. Note -
1. That the possession of absolute power is in itself a great wrong. It is a violation of the inalienable rights of communities that any man through the mere accident of birth - or even through his own superior abilities - should become an irresponsible ruler over them; and history shows that this violation has always been fraught with disastrous consequences.
(1) It subordinates the common weal to individual interest. The well-being of society is possible only on the supposition that the good of the greatest number should be of the first importance, and that individuals should be willing to sacrifice everything if necessary for its attainment. Despots, however, proceed on the supposition that everything exists for their private benefit - extensive territories, the wealth of nations, and even the lives of their subjects.
(2) It tends to make the ruler himself capricious. To expect a man to be moderate, reasonable, and just at all times in such a position is to make too great a demand on human nature; the temptations to which he is exposed are more than an ordinary mortal can withstand.
(3) It tends to make the people servile and unprincipled. Where one will is supreme there is nothing certain: law, justice, rectitude become meaningless; duty resolves itself into pleasing the potentate, who holds the power of life and death in his own hands. The natural outcome of this is the spread of meanness, duplicity, dishonesty among all classes, from the highest to the lowest. The apologists of despotism sometimes refer to the position of a father in his family in justification of the institution. But a father is not absolute in the widest sense; and even if he were, the danger inseparable from the possession of so much power is neutralised by the love he bears for his own flesh and blood.
2. The use made of absolute power in the case before us. This is a most ignoble passage in the life of a king of such high pretensions.
(1) He seemed to assume that no consideration was due to anybody but himself. The sole purpose of the prolonged festivities was to gratify his own vanity. And when he thought that the presence of the queen would add to his own pleasure, he never paused to consider whether it might not be painful to the queen herself. Selfishness makes men thoughtless, unjust, and cruel, even to those who have the strongest claims upon their tenderness.
(2) He commanded what was unlawful according to the accepted notions of the time. Eastern women led a secluded life, and were not permitted to expose their countenances to the gaze of strangers. Besides, for a modest woman to display her charms in the presence of drunken revellers was a degradation from which she must have recoiled with unutterable aversion.
(3) He afterwards punished as disobedience what was really obedience to a higher law of duty. The queen was deposed simply for daring to protect her honour. In this respect she takes her place among, a noble band - the glorious army of martyrs, who, rather than violating their consciences at the bidding of bloodthirsty tyrants, submitted to imprisonment, torture: and death. Wrong can never really flourish. It may appear prosperous to superficial observers, but a deeper knowledge of the state of things must reveal the penalty which it entails. This king, amidst the dazzling splendours with which he surrounded himself, might have imposed upon his fellow-men, and made them gaze with longing eyes upon the elevated position which he occupied; but after all there are unmistakable indications here that the absolute tyrant was -
II. AN ABSOLUTE SLAVE. We find that -
1. He was a slave of his appetite. "The king's heart was merry with wine;" he had taken more drink than was good for him, and was beginning to feel the effects of it. A sorry spectacle! He who ought to have set a pattern of dignified demeanour to those beneath him, degrading himself below the level of the brute creation. Millions have done and are doing the same thing. Alexander conquered the world, but a lawless appetite conquered Alexander.
2. He was a slave of his passions. "The king was very wroth, and his anger burned within him." Accustomed as he was to be implicitly obeyed, he could not endure his will to be thwarted. The demon within him was roused, and he was no longer master of himself; he must obey the promptings of unreasoning rage, however much he might regret it in calmer moments. Truly, "he that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."
3. He was a slave of his pride. He was induced to depose the queen because he imagined that his dignity had been compromised. No doubt he loved her, and it must have cost him a pang to be separated from her, but pride would not allow him to revoke his decree. Like King Herod, who preferred to behead John the Baptist rather than confess that he had made a foolish oath. He may have called it courage to himself, but it was in reality the most contemptible cowardice. - R.
When the heart of the king was merry with wine.
(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)
Clapham's Selected Sermons.I. THE DRUNKARD'S EXCUSES.
1. Good-fellowship. But can friendship be founded on vice; especially on a vice which impairs the memory and the sense of obligation, leads to the betrayal of secrets, and stirs up strife end contention?
2. It drowns care. But the drunkard's care must arise either from the ill state of his health, the unfortunate position of his worldly affairs, or the stings of a guilty conscience; and in either case his temporary oblivion is purchased at the cost of an aggravation of the evils which cause him to desire it.
II. THE DRUNKARD'S WOE. This is made up of the miserable effects.
(1) (2) (3) (4) 2. Spiritual. (1) (2) (3) (Clapham's Selected Sermons.)
(2) (3) (4) 2. Spiritual. (1) (2) (3) (Clapham's Selected Sermons.)
(3) (4) 2. Spiritual. (1) (2) (3) (Clapham's Selected Sermons.)
2. Spiritual. (Clapham's Selected Sermons.)
(Clapham's Selected Sermons.)
(G. W. Blaikie.)
(John B. Gough.)
Sunday School., A. M. Symington, B. A.There was a half-witted boy in one of the southern counties of Scotland who was known as an "innocent" or "natural." Upon one occasion he was enticed into a public-house where a company of young men were drinking. Some of them offered spirits to this supposed simpleton, whereupon he instantly and absolutely refused them, saying, "If the Lord Almighty has given few wits to Daft Davie, He has at least given him sense enough to keep the little that he has!"
(Sunday School.)All's well that ends well; but wine never ends well.
(A. M. Symington, B. A.)
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