Then Haman informed King Xerxes, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples of every province of your kingdom. Their laws are different from everyone else's, and they do not obey the king's laws; it is not in the king's best interest to tolerate them.
Infant lips sometimes utter greatest truths. Shallowest brain sometimes originates most politic scheming. Swine root out and tread underfoot pearls of unpriced value. Bad men often preach good doctrine, Now "the Jews' enemy" (ver. 10) volunteers the highest description, the most complimentary characterisation, of the Jew. And this passage proffers for notice a contrast not only full as remarkable in the depth of it as any of these, but far more remarkable when its subject matter is also taken into account. It might be stated thus: A PEOPLE'S RELIGION RIGHTLY DESCRIBED, WRONGLY CONSTRUED, by one who was "none of them," and who had none of it. The case is that of a man bearing witness against a people and their religion; he is at the same time a willing and an unwilling witness; his words are true; the meaning he wishes to be drawn out of them is untrue. His indictment is verbally correct; the charge he launches out by means of it has no foundation of fact. His description is good for what it says, bad for what it means. And by chance it happens to be so
good for what it says that it tempts the thoughtful reader to pause, to ask whether he cannot learn a lesson of value from it. Haman dares a description of the nominal people of God; is he not in truth unconsciously throwing off a telling description of the real people of God, of God's real Church in the world? For this plain, brief description of the people to whom Mordecai belonged, which Haman now offers to the credulity of Ahasuerus, happens to seize three leading facts distinctive of the Church of God. Nor is it altogether to be assigned to the realm of chance. The fact was that, shaded though their race was now, dimmed though their glorious history, the people of Mordecai were
the separate people of God, and that Haman had noticed and scrutinised their essential peculiarities. These peculiarities, false as is the gloss he puts upon them, he has in some degree correctly caught. These are the shadows of answering realities in the economy of the Church, the kingdom of God. They remind us of -
I. THE FOOTHOLD THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS IN THE WORLD. For whatever may be its exact position at any given hour of the world's clock -
1. Its genius is towards ubiquity. "There is a certain, people... in all, the provinces of thy kingdom."
2. Its genius is towards being "scattered abroad," "dispersed," intermingled "among the people." Once for a short time, and for the special need of preparatory education, it is true that God's elect people were locally as well as morally separate from others, i.e. when they sojourned in the wilderness. But this was only a phase, and a transient one, of their national existence. Again, for a longer time, and with fender prospect, they dwelt in comparative seclusion in their own land. But this also was quite as transient a phase of their national life, taking into consideration the settlement there. What a business it was! And the true place of the people of God is not merely to find a settlement and found a colony everywhere, but to mix among men, and to seek health of every sort in work and fidelity, rather than in retirement and the infolding of self. And this actual contact with all the varieties of human character, position, life, is in order to two ends: .first, for the proof and the growth of individual goodness; secondly, for the gradual leavening with a little leaven of the whole lump.
3. Its genius is towards working its way among men, day and night, and growing into their affection and confidence, rather than summoning them to capitulate either to fear or to admiration.
II. THE OUTSIDE APPEAL WHICH THE SUBJECTS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD EVER CLAIM AND EVER HOLD IN RESERVE. Their special laws are, and are to be, "diverse from all people" who are not of themselves. And when these clash with any other, they are not to "keep the king's laws," but to keep their own distinguishing and esoteric laws (Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29). To know well, to do well, these "diverse laws" is the sustained aspiration of the Church of God. There is such a thing as unity in variety, and there is, and is to be, on the part of the Church of God, the close union of all its own members, by one common fellowship, by obedience to one common code of laws, by acknowledgment of one standard Bible authority, amid all their intermixture, in every conceivable relationship, with all the rest of the world and "the kingdoms of the world." The genuine, hearty, living obedience of a thousand, of a hundred persons to "laws diverse from all people" is an enormously strong link of connection among themselves, and an enormously significant testimony to the outside world of something special at work. If we as Christian people rose to this conception, to the eager veneration of it, to the hearty practice of it, what a witness ours would be! Meantime Haman's allegation against the certain people scattered abroad that while their own laws were diverse from all people, they did not keep the king's laws" - was untrue. Mordecai had indeed withheld obedience to the law which "the king had commanded" (ver. 2), that "all the king's servants in the king's gate should bow and reverence Haman," and his non-obedience was no doubt covered, by his fealty to the "diverse laws;" but this was by no means enough to cover a charge against all the Jews, or even against Mordecai in his general conduct and life. The kingdom of God then does glory to follow the lead and command of "laws diverse from all people," to claim the ultimate appeal as lying always to these; and in any conceivable case of option to decide in one moment for obedience to God rather than to men.
III. THE FORESEEN DESTINY OF THE CHURCH OF GOD, Haman's apprehension was perhaps not very genuine, and any way was premature, but his instinct in the real matter at issue was only too unerring and correct. The Church of God - "that certain people scattered abroad among the people," with their diverse laws, and their first heed given to them - beyond a doubt has its eye on all other kingdoms, is not what those other kingdoms would now think "for their profit," is destined to absorb them, gives evidence of that destiny as a very intention in those same manifestations of its genius, and in its appeal to the unseen, and in its first obedience thereto. Oh for the time when the chorus shall indeed open, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever." - B.
contained truth enough to make it plausible, and error enough to make it cruel, and enough personally agreeable to the king to make it popular with him.
And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus.
If we blame Ahasuerus for too readily listening to the invective of Haman, and condemning the Jews untried and unheard, we should be on our guard against committing the same sin, by giving heed to scandal in regard to others, without careful personal inquiry and observation, lest we should be only crediting the creations of the worst passions and distempers of our fallen nature.
There is no notice taken of Mordecai. Not a syllable about his own injured pride. No reference made to the enmity of the Amalekites to the Jews. The real merits of the proposal are all kept back, and only those things are mentioned which were fitted to arouse the indignation of the king against the Jewish people. They were "a certain people" — a nondescript race, scattered abroad, like so many rebels against the government, and yet preserving their own unity; having their own laws, and despising constituted authority; contemning the king's laws, and setting the example of insubordination; and sowing dissension and strife throughout all the provinces of the empire. For these reasons it was clearly not expedient that they should be tolerated any longer. How skilfully does the crafty conspirator conceal his malice and revenge under cover of the king's profit. He did not ask for the destruction of this disaffected people as a favour to himself, but in making the proposal he artfully insinuated that he was doing the king a service.
There is a certain people scattered abroad.
He stood high in the favour of his prince, but did he not risk the total loss of that favour by a proposal so evidently unjust and inhumane? Why did he not dread the wrath of the king, which is as messengers of death? Might he not have heard such words as these in answer to his proposal: "Audacious wretch! what hast thou seen in me that thou shouldst hope to make me the murderer of my people? Man of blood! thou scruplest not to seek the destruction, at one blow, of thousands of my subjects, upon a vague, unsupported charge which thou bringest against them! Wilt thou not another day follow the example of Bigthan and Teresh? Wilt thou be more afraid to lay thy hand upon one man, though a king, than upon many thousands of my subjects who have done thee no wrong?"
()But observe the cunning malice of his address to the king. He does not say, "There is an old Jew that has offended me, and, through me, offered an affront to your sacred majesty; therefore let me execute vengeance upon him." No, not a word of this sort. He feared to show his real character for rancour to the king, or courtiers. He professes to have no personal motives, but to be moved altogether by a desire for the public good.
()Having formed so thorough-going a purpose, Haman took steps to execute it. We need not wonder at his lying about the character of the Jews; for it is often possible to use nothing but the language of truth, and yet to utter only the greater falsehood. It was quite true of God's people, that their laws were "diverse from all people": it is true of them to-day, and was equally true then, that, being bought with a price, they cannot be slaves of men; that, if any human law interferes with the will of their Saviour, they can give only the one answer, "We ought to obey God rather than men." But it was false to say, "Neither keep they the king's laws"; for, in respect of everything that man has a right to command, God's people are the best subjects. To the fathers of these exiles the God of Israel had given this commandment: "Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace"; and Haman could scarcely be ignorant that both the former empire and this one had profited by the private virtue and public faithfulness of pious Jews. God will answer Haman in His own way. But we ought to be fully prepared for the calumny, seeing it arises from two causes which remain always in force. The world cannot under. stand what it is that we owe to the love of God and to the blood of Christ, and how He must, therefore, reign supreme in the believing heart; and the world extremely dislikes to hear a claim advanced for liberty of conscience which reminds it of a power higher than its own.
Therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.Worldly hearts are not led by good or evil, but by profit and loss; neither have they grace to know that nothing is profitable but what is honest; they must needs offend by rule, that measure all things by profit and measure profit by their imagination. How easy it is to suggest strange untruths when there is nobody to make answer! False Haman, how is it not for the king's profit to suffer the Jews? If thou construe this profit for honour, the king's honour is in the multitude of his subjects; and what people more numerous than they? If for gain, the king's profit is in the largeness of his tributes; and what people are more deep in their payments? If for service, what people are more officious? No name under heaven hath made so many fools, so many villains, as this of profit.
()It is, then, a question of profit or loss, not of right and justice. Never was there a scheme of villainy that was not gilded over with the plausible pretence of public utility. Nothing under heaven has made so many fools and so many heartless villains as supposed profit. The greatest good to the greatest number is indeed desirable, but such an object was never yet reached by a disregard of justice and right. Expediency is a fallacy. It is never allowed us to try the experiment of doing evil that good may come. How did it turn out in the case before us? The king is to get ten thousand talents for this execution. But instead of that his only profit was the blood and mangled bodies of thousands of his faithful subjects. Ah, cruel Haman! Are these the tender mercies of the wicked? Are these the profits of sin? What "if thou couldst have swum in a whole sea of Jewish blood, if thou couldst have raised mountains of their carcasses? What if thou couldst have made all Persia thy shambles, who would have given thee one farthing for all those piles of flesh, for all those streams of blood?" — Hall.
()I. THE COMMONNESS OF IT. In every age God's people have been hated for the very reasons that are here assigned. They worship the one true and living God. David tells of confederacies formed to "cut off the Jews from being a nation." The ten persecutions in the early ages of Christianity. At the present day private animosity is indulged as far as the laws of the land will allow. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
II. THE IMPIETY OF IT.
III. THE FOLLY OF IT. Haman with all his power could not prevail against the Jews, who yet in appearance were altogether in his hands.
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