Esther 4:15
Deep and intense, if not prolonged, must have been the struggle in the breast of the beautiful queen of Persia. The doom that awaited her if she was unfavourably received was terrible, and would be immediately executed. She had not only to do that which was "not according to the law" (ver. 16), but also to ask a great boon of the king, to bring before him her Jewish extraction, and to measure her influence against that of the great favourite. She did not seem at this time to be in any especial favour with Ahasuerus (ver. 11), and it appeared as if the human chances were much against success. But the nobler motives triumphed in the struggle; she would not refuse to attempt this great deliverance, let come what might. The worst was death, and "if she perished, she perished" (ver. 16). These are memorable words; if they are not often on human lips, the thought which breathes in them is often in human minds, and the feeling of which they are eloquent is often in human hearts. Men in every age and land are running great risks, trusting everything to one cast of the dice, imperilling life, or much if not all that makes life dear, on some one hazard. The words of Esther are sometimes found on lips unworthy to use them; they are perverted or misapplied. Sometimes they are

(1) the motto of a foolish fatalism. There is a certain keen but desperate pleasure in the intense excitement which precedes the moment when for- tunes are either made or lost. The gambler, as well as the hypocrite, "has his reward," such as it is, in the slaking of that feverish thirst for highly-wrought feeling, and he either wins what he he has not fairly earned, and what he is certain to squander in dissipation, or he loses perhaps all the precious fruits of many years' toil. He risks everything on one throw, and "if he perishes, he perishes. In whatever ways men run such risks, whether it be a kingdom or a fortune or a competency, they greatly exceed their rights; they run risks which they have no moral right to run, and are walking in a perilous and guilty path. These words are

(2) the expression of a needless fear. It is sometimes said by those who are anxiously seeking salvation, that if they perish, they will perish at the foot of the cross. This is, perhaps, only the trembling of a great hope, the shadow of a new and great joy. The earnest soul seeking salvation from sin through Christ Jesus cannot perish. He that believeth shall not perish. God's word, which is the very strongest basis on which to build any hope, is our sure guarantee. So also with the future blessedness. We need not, in presence of death, indulge even in this measure of uncertainty. Death is finally conquered. Christ is the Lord of life eternal, and will most assuredly bestow it on all who love his name. We shall not perish in the darkness of death, but live on in the brightness of immortal glory. That, however, to which these words of Esther are specially applicable is this; they are - THE UTTERANCE OF MORAL HEROISM. Esther came to her conclusion after serious and earnest thought. Her life was dear to her. She had everything to make it precious and worth keeping if she honourably could, but affection for her kindred and interest in her race weighed all selfish considerations down. She would go forward, and if she did perish, her life thus lost would not be a vain and worthless sacrifice, but a glorious martyrdom. Such struggles men are still called on to pass through, such victory to gain: the soldier as he steps into rank on the day of battle; the philanthropist as he visits the hospital or waits on the wounded ones lying stricken on the field of slaughter; the physician as he goes his round when the pestilence is raging; the sailor as he mans the lifeboat; the evangelist as he penetrates into the haunt of the vicious and the violent criminal; the missionary as he lands among the savage tribe. In presence of this risk-running of ours, we remark -

1. That though we may timidly shrink at first, yet afterwards we may do noble service. Witness this case of Esther, and that of Moses (Exodus 4:13).

2. That if not the greater, yet the lesser risks we should all be ready to run. If not life itself (1 John 3:16), some precious things in life. Something surely, if not much, in health, or money, or friendship, or reputation, or comfort we will venture for Christ and for our fellows. If we never undertake anything but that in which there is perfect security from injury and loss, we shall do nothing, we shall "stand all the day idle."

3. That we have the very strongest inducement to run great risks. The will of Christ (Matthew 16:25); the example of Christ; the example of Christian heroes and heroines; the crying need of the world; the blessed alternative of present triumph, for if we perish we do not perish, but live eternally.

4. That we should sustain the hands of those who are passing through perils for us. Esther's maidens and "the Jews present in Shushan (ver. 16) fasted (and prayed), that the end might be as they hoped. We who wait while others labour or fight must "strengthen our brethren;" we must seek by our earnest prayer to touch the hand that turns the heart of kings, and that holds and guides all the threads of human destiny. - C.







Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan.
Sermons by Monday Club.
The spectacle presented reminds us —

I. THAT IN NEITHER PLACE NOR FORTUNE HAS ANY ONE SECURITY AGAINST TRIAL AND DANGER. The palace may be a prison to its inmate, the hut cannot exclude the approaches of a grief.

II. THAT ONE REASON NOT ONLY FOR GIFTS OF PLACE AND FORTUNE, BUT FOE EXPERIENCES OF TROUBLE ALSO, MUST BE THAT WE MAY HELP OTHERS IN THEIR PERILS. Power and opportunity measure obligation. Even sorrow and peril as they enrich and mellow the nature, enhance the power to help and bless.

III. THAT RISK AND DIFFICULTY DO NOT EXEMPT FROM DUTY OR RELEASE FROM OBLIGATION. It is told of the Duke of Wellington that, in one of his campaigns, an officer awoke him to say to him that a certain enterprise to be carried into effect that night was impossible. As the officer was going on to give reasons for this opinion, the Duke replied, "Bring me my order-book." Turning over its leaves, he said, "It is not at all impossible; see, it is down in the order-book." Whereupon he lay down to sleep again. Risks are not to be unprovided for. Difficulties are not to be despised; but had there been none to run great risks, to undertake in the face of great hardships, prophets and apostles had been few. There had been no Elijah or Daniel, no John the Baptist or Paul the apostle, no Luther or Knox.

IV. THAT HELPING TO SAVE OTHERS IS OFTEN THE BEST WAY TO INSURE OUR OWN SALVATION. The teaching of experience and history is that mere self-seeking is self-ruin. There is such a thing as the solidarity of human interests. The capitalist thrives best when he promotes the weal of the labourer, the labourer when he regards the interests of his employer. To save my children I must help to save my neighbour's. To one who inquired if the heathen can be saved if we do not give them the gospel, the apt reply was, "A much more practical question for us is whether we can be saved if we do not help to give it them." An eminent statesman early professed his Christian faith, and, for some years maintained a godly walk. After a time he ceased to be religiously active, and allowed his light to be hid. While not renouncing his faith, yet his Christian character did neither himself nor Christ any honour. One evening he dropped into a little school-house gathering, and at the close he introduced himself to the preacher, and after an earnest conversation with him, he said, "Sir, I would give all the fame I now have, or expect to have, for the assurance of that hope of which you have spoken to-night." To be ourselves saved we must help to save others.

V. OF THE TRUE SOURCE OF COURAGE AND HELP IN PERPLEXITY AND ILL. Although no distinct mention of prayer is made, yet it is evidently implied. It is an instinct of the human heart to resort to the Hearer of Prayer. In its distress the soul cries unto God. When a great steamship was hourly expected to sink in mid-ocean we are told that all on board gave themselves to prayer.

VI. THAT GOD'S PROVIDENCE IS ALWAYS OVER HIS PEOPLE FOR GOOD.

(Sermons by Monday Club.)

1. Esther's heart was moved not to shrink from manifest duty. "Add to your faith, virtue," courage, a manly and determined purpose to carry out its calls to their utmost extent. Stop not to ask leave of circumstances, of personal convenience or indolent self-indulgence, but go forward in your appointed work. How prone we are to shrink from disagreeable or dangerous duty. How many excuses we are able to frame for our neglect. How easy it becomes to satisfy our sinful hearts that God will not require that which it is so difficult or so dangerous to perform. Fly from no duty when the word and providence of God call you forward. Go on, and trust yourself to God.

2. Esther's heart was moved to sincere dependence on God. Prayer seems the natural voice of danger and sorrow. The ancient philosopher said, "If a man would learn to pray, let him go to sea." The hour of the tempest will be to multitudes a new lesson in their relations to God. When men are in affliction and trouble they are easily led to cry unto God. Esther and her maidens prayed. What if the husband does not or will not bless his household? Cannot the mother and the wife collect her children and her maidens for prayer?

3. The king's heart was moved to listen and to accept her. The clouds have passed, and the Lord whom she loved has given her a token for good. This is the power of prayer, the work of providence, the influence of grace. The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord, and as the rivers of water, He has turned it according to His will. What a lesson in providence is this! The same power which leads to prayer, and supports us in prayer, at the same time works over other minds and other things to make an answer completely ready for our enjoyment. How easily can God remove all the stumbling-blocks out of the way of His children! "What art thou, O, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain." Anticipated difficulties suddenly vanish; enemies whom we had expected are not found; the things which apparently threatened our hurt turn out to our advantage; and blessings which we had not dared to hope for crowd around our path. Thus Paul found it at Rome.

4. God moved Esther's heart to great wisdom and prudence in her management of the undertaking she had assumed. Peculiar wisdom anal skill often are imparted to us in answer to prayers for the accomplishment of the work of the Lord. Our dependence and prayer have no tendency to make us headlong or rash. We are still to employ all the proper means and agencies which our utmost wisdom will suggest to attain the end we have in view. True piety in the exercise of its faith and love and hope towards God, is the highest wisdom. It unites all the wisest calculation and effort of man with all the goodness and power of God. It is a fellowship, a partnership with God in which He furnishes all the capital, and employs our sanctified labours alone; in which we strive to be faithful, and He promises to bless.

(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)

Moray Club Sermon.
I. WE NOTE THE FACT THAT EVERY ONE HAS SOME SPECIAL MISSION. Esther's special mission was to avert the destruction which threatened her people. Is it true that all have some such peculiar charge? We read of the decisive battles of the world and their commanders; of the dominating philosophies and their masters; of the ruling arts and their teachers; of the controlling religions and their high-priests; of the great reforms and their leaders. Yet these elect ones are but as a handful of sands to the grains which make the shore, For the rest, mere existence seems to be its own end and object. But it is not so. A persistent pressure is in and on every heart to enter into secret communication with God, and linking its weakness with His strength, exerts a blessed influence which, like the sound-waves, goes on endlessly. That hour of audience with its Maker is its greatest possibility. For that, at least, it has a special mission. From Him it receives what almost might be called "sealed orders." Saul of Tarsus was given his at Damascus, and so he went to Jerusalem, not knowing how they would read as he opened them there. So every Christian goes his way, till we find Henry Martyn preaching Christ to the Hindus, Isaac Newton solving the problem of the apple's fall, Leigh Richmond writing "The Dairyman's Daughter," George Muller erecting his orphanage, Mary Lyon opening collegiate doors to her sisters, and Abraham Lincoln issuing the emancipation proclamation. And though not yet widely observed, the prayers, counsels, and inspirations by which gifted souls have roused, led, and saved society originated in the closet, and kitchen, and field, where the godly parent or teacher has fulfilled a holy and particular mission. The successful general is feted and praised. Every soldier in the ranks is just as essential to the victory. Every individual, however insignificant, has his momentous obligation. The child's hand in the lighthouse tower may turn the helm of a whole navy, that it is not strewn along the reefs.

II. NOTE THE FACT THAT LOVE FOR OTHERS IS WORTHY LOVE OF SELF. To lose one's love of life, comfort, and honour in the greater love of the life, comfort, and honour of his kin is counted the highest of human virtues. Mettus Curtius, in spurring his horse into the yawning chasm to save Rome, was not the first nor the last to hold the welfare of the many above that of the individual. "We have no religion to export," meanly argued a legislator against the Act of incorporation of the American Board. "Religion," was the profound reply, "is a commodity which the more we export the more we have."

III. NOTE THE NEED OF TIMELY PREPARATION FOR OUR WORK. Then — always — the idea has prevailed that united petitions, like the volume of the sea, would be mighty, while the solitary plea, like the single drop, would be null. Jesus promised answer when two or three were agreed in their request. Spiritual momentum, like physical, seems to be proportioned to the quantity of soul multiplied by its eagerness. The Church has upborne its ministers, and made them speak with authority when it has been praying with them. Individual preparation must also be made. Esther must fast no less than her people. She does all she can to pave the way for a favourable reception of her cause. Jacob's present of flocks and herds, sent forward to placate Esau, with the greeting "and behold he is behind us," fitly represents the forethought and tact which oftenest gains its end. We may call it "policy"; but what harm, if it be not bribery?

IV. NOTE THE REWARD OF VENTURING IN A GOOD CAUSE. The supreme hazard gains the supreme desire. The fearless champion of a full and free religious life oftenest triumphs. St. Patrick before the Druid chieftain; Wickliffe before the angry bishops, and Luther before the Diet, succeed, when others of as noble wish, but of less courage, must have failed. Into the densest heathenism the soldier of the Cross penetrates, and a redeemed people build their monument of thanksgiving, not for his piety simply, but for his bravery. Holy causes seem often to clothe their advocates in such shining dress, that assaulting powers are abashed at the sight.

(Moray Club Sermon.)

We have here illustrated —

I. HUMAN OBLIGATION TO SUGGESTION. By far the majority of the imports into the soul and life of the world are marked "via suggestion." As the present holds in it the past, so suggestion is the essential of progress, the root of accomplishment, the spur of duty. Compute, if you can, the poet's debt to suggestion; Burns and the mouse, etc. The prime factor of invention is suggestion. Men see something, hear something, touch something, and in a flash an idea springs full-armed and captures the mind. The eye suggests the telescope, the heart the engine. Is naval architecture to be completely revolutionised? Is the new leviathan to be the future type of ocean steamers? Subtract the suggestion of a whale's back, and what then? Human experience is largely the outcome of suggestion. Mordecai could not command Queen Esther, but he could pace in sackcloth before the palace gate. He could send a message to the queen making an entreating, pitiful suggestion.

II. THE STRUGGLE WHICH ENSUES IN CARRYING A SUGGESTION OVER INTO PRACTICE. Carlyle has said, "Transitions are ever full of pain." Thus the eagle when it moults is sickly, and to attain his new beak must harshly dash off the old one upon the rocks. There is no more critical experience for a human soul than when a suggestion lodges in it; especially When it means the readjustment of all our spiritual furniture, burying of cherished plans, crucifying selfish ambition, stripping off desire, defying danger, releasing power, and making us risk the sarcasm, the scorn which are ever the pall-bearers of failure. This gives scope for the true heroism of life, a heroism which finds its choicest exhibit, not in those who have the leverage of a great enthusiasm and who are consciously beneath the eyes of a great multitude, but in those duels between souls and suggestions fought out in the solitude of the human breast. Thus John Knox, when summoned in public assembly to the ministry, rushes from the congregation in tears to enter, in his solitary chamber, upon a struggle which should last for days, but the outcome of which should be a face set like a flint. Thus Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel shrink and wrestle but obey. Thus Esther hesitates and excuses herself on the ground of personal danger, till at last the suggestion rides over her soul roughshod, and in the heroism of a great surrender she declares, "So will I go in unto the king... and if I perish, I perish."

III. THE AVAILING OF ONE'S SELF OF ALLIES IN THE EXECUTION OF A DETERMINED PURPOSE. Esther made three allies.

1. With herself. She knew her royal spouse was impulsive; she knew he was susceptible. And so, bent on subduing him, she bedecks herself with jewels, and right royally attired stands in the court. Impulse leaps, susceptibility flames: "She obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre."

2. With her husband. In the execution of a worthy purpose one may find and may avail himself of the ally which resides in that which is to be overcome. It makes a deal of difference how you take hold of a thing. The handle of a pail is the water-carrier's ally; he may despise it and fare worse! Said one of the keenest logicians in this country, "In entering upon a debate, find, to begin with, common ground with your antagonist, something you can both accept — a definition, a proposition, or if nothing else, the state of the weather." Here is a deep truth. There are natural allies in the enemy's country; it is strategy, it is generalship, to get into communication with them. Esther recognised her ally, and so she approached her husband, not with entreaty or rebuke, but with invitation. The suggestion of a feast prepared under her direction in honour of his majesty was the warder within the castle of the fickle king's soul, who would not fail to raise the portcullis of his will to admit the entrance of a queen's desire.

3. With time. There is a ministry in wise delay; haste is not of necessity success. Is procrastination the thief of time? Then precipitation is the assassin of it. To work and wait — to wait for the order, the chance, the moment to strike, was a lesson Esther had learned by heart, and so she refused to unbosom her petition till the hour struck. When Leyden was besieged by the Spaniards the inhabitants sent word to the enemy that they would eat their left arms and fight with their right before they would surrender. At last, in their extremity, they told the governor they must surrender. "Eat me, but don't surrender," was the heroic reply. Then some one thought of cutting the dykes and flooding the enemy's camp; they did it, rushed upon the enemy in the confusion, and out of apparent disaster snatched a glorious victory.

(Nehemiah Boynton.)

Learn —

I. THAT IN THE EXIGENCIES OF RELIGION AND OF GOD'S KINGDOM, THE CHURCH MAY DEMAND OF US THE DISREGARD OF PERSONAL SAFETY.

II. THAT WHEN GOD GIVES US A MISSION WHICH WE ARE WISE ENOUGH TO SEE AND TO FULFIL, THEN WE MAY HUMBLY EXPECT THAT HE WILL ACCOMPLISH BLESSED RESULTS BY THE FEEBLEST INSTRUMENTS.

(W. E. Boggt, D. D.)

I also and my maidens will fast likewise
Some, it is probable, of Esther's maids were heathens when they came into her service. Yet we find her promising that they would fast. She can answer for them, as Joshua for his household, that they would serve the Lord. If mistresses were as zealous as Queen Esther for the honour of God and the conversion of sinners, they would bestow pains upon the instruction and religious improvement of their female servants. If women may gain to Christ their own husbands by their good conversation, may they not also gain the souls of their servants? and if they are gained to Christ, they are gained to themselves also.

(G. Lawson.)

It is remarkable that nothing is here said about prayer, but fasting was in itself a prayer; for it was not a form put on from without, but the natural expression of the inner emotion, and as an application to God, it is to be explained much as we do the touching of the Saviour by the woman, who in that way sought her cure. Words are signs, just as fasting is a sign. That which is essential in either is genuineness. God does not look to the words themselves, any more than He does to the fasting in itself. He has regard only to that which the soul expresses, either by the one or through the other. The touch of the soul of the woman went to the Master's heart through her touching of His garment with her fingers; and the yearning of the soul of Esther, through her fasting, made its appeal to Jehovah, even though she did not breathe His name.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

And so will I go in unto the king
She will not think that her duty is done when she has prayed and fasted. She will seek, by the use of proper means, to obtain that blessing which she has been asking. The insincerity of our prayers is too often discovered by our sloth and cowardice. We ask blessings from God, and, as if He were bound to confer them, not according to His own will, but according to ours, we take no care to use those means which He hath appointed for obtaining them, or we do not use them with requisite diligence.

(G. Lawson.)

There are two kinds of courage — the mere animal courage, which results from well-strung nerves, and is exerted by impulse rather than by reflection; and the moral courage, which, on a calm calculation of difficulties, and of the path of duty, will face the difficulties and prosecute the path of duty at any hazard, even at the risk of life itself. It will often be found that men are deficient in the latter of these qualities, while they are remarkable for the former.

(A. B. Davidson, D. D.)

The Study and the Pulpit.
I. THE PREPARATION: fasting and prayer.

1. Fasting is abused by the Church of Rome, therefore disused by many who belong to the Church of Christ. Deep feeling will make fasting natural. Moses (Exodus 34:28), Elijah (1 Kings 19:7, 8), Christ (Matthew 4:2), fasted forty days each. See Ezra's fast (Ezra 8:21, 23). Directions how to fast (Matthew 6:16-18). Paul was given to fasting (2 Corinthians 6:4, 6; 2 Corinthians 11:27). Fasting is useless without faith. The Pharisee (Luke 18:12).

2. Prayer. Three days' special prayer. The Jews in their synagogues. Esther in the palace. With what humility, sorrowful confession, and earnestness did they pray!

II. THE RESOLUTION: "So will I go in unto the king," etc. There are some points of resemblance and of contrast between the case of Esther and that of the poor sinner.

1. Points of resemblance.

(1)She was in extreme danger (ver. 13). So with the sinner (Psalm 7:11-18).

(2)There was no other way for her escape. "By no means" (Psalm 49:7).

(3)This way seemed full of difficulty and danger. Haman's influence. the king's temper. The royal guards.

2. Points of contrast.

(1)She went into the presence of an earthly monarch who was partial, changeable, irritable, weak. God is always the same.

(2)She was uninvited. The sinner pressed to come.

(3)The law forbade her to come.

(4)The king has apparently forgotten her for thirty days.

(5)She might have been stopped by the guards.

(6)She might have been misunderstood.

(7)She might have failed by going the wrong time.Lessons —

1. Warning. Danger threatens.

2. Instruction. Prepare.

3. Encouragement.

(The Study and the Pulpit.)

And if I perish, I perish.
"If I perish, I perish." Our lives are not our own; they cannot be long preserved by us. They will be of little value to us without a good conscience. The life which is purchased by neglect of duty is shameful, bitter, worse than death. Whoever shall save his life in this manner shall lose it in this world as well as in the next. But to lose life for the sake of Christ and a good conscience is truly to live. A day of life employed in the most hazardous duties, by which we show that our love to God is stronger than death, excels a thousand days of a life spent in the service and enjoyment of the world.

(G. Lawson.)

The Study and the Pulpit.
I. THE IMPENDING DANGER.

1. A wicked, crafty, designing foe.

2. An irrevocable decree of destruction.

3. No visible way of escape,

II. THE BOLD RESOLUTION.

III. THE SOLEMN PRELIMINARY: fasting and prayer.

IV. THE SUCCESSFUL ISSUE.

1. Life spared.

2. Enemy is destroyed.

3. Honour is given.

(The Study and the Pulpit.)

I. OBSERVE THE QUEEN'S MODESTY — her extraordinary prudence at the very moment that she is most successful. Her request was a simple invitation to have the king come to a banquet of wine the next day, and as a mark of regard for his preferences, she wishes him to bring Haman.

II. In Esther's fasting and prayer and pious courage we see THAT FAITH AND PIETY ARE NOT ALWAYS SHORN OF THEIR FRUITS UNDER UNFAVOURABLE INFLUENCES; they may flourish in a palace. In a chaotic state of society a pious man may have greater difficulties to overcome in maintaining a godly walk, but then, in overcoming these difficulties, he will gain a greater degree of spiritual strength.

III. QUEEN ESTHER WAS A TRUE REPRESENTATIVE WOMAN. Every one is raised up as she was, not to be a Sultana, and do just the work she did, but to do his or her own work. Every one has a duty to perform — a post to maintain — a lot to fulfil.

IV. It may sometimes be our duty to ourselves, our country, our fellow-men and our God to put our LIVES IN JEOPARDY FOR THE TRUTH, OR FOR THE CHURCH, AND FOR THE SAKE OF JESUS. True piety ought to make men brave.

V. WE SHOULD NEVER FEAR TO DO OUR DUTY. The God whom we serve is able either to sustain us under our trials or to deliver us out of them. Why should we yield to the fear of man that bringeth a snare, seeing that we are in the hands of Him who holdeth the hearts of all men and of devils in His hand?

VI. THE PRIVILEGE AND EFFICACY OF PRAYER.

1. As Henry remarks, here is an example of a mistress praying with her maids that is worthy of being followed by all housekeepers and heads of families.

2. And we are here encouraged to ask the sympathy and prayers of others when we undertake any great or perilous enterprise. The king's favourite was her greatest enemy. But if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, even His own Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

VII. ONE OF THE GRACIOUS DESIGNS OF AFFLICTION IS TO MAKE US FEEL OUR DEPENDENCE UPON GOD. A gracious result of trials to the people of God is that it drives them to prayer. But the court of heaven is not like that of Persia, into which there was no entrance for those that were in mourning or clothed with sackcloth. Such could not come near the palace of Ahasuerus. But it is the weary, the heavy-laden, and the sorrowing that are especially invited to the throne of grace, and invited to come boldly. "Is any among you afflicted," saith the apostle James, "let him pray."

(W. A. Scott, D. D.)

The exigencies of human existence call loudly for the cultivation of courage. Victory is frequently suspended upon boldness. Cromwell's Ironsides were accustomed to enter the battle shouting, "The Lord is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." They were always victorious. The Christian's heroism should be like that of the Prince of Conde, who, when offered by his monarch the choice between three things — "To go to Mass, to die, or to be imprisoned" — heroically replied, "I am perfectly resolved never to go to Mass, so between the other two I leave the choice to your majesty." If Luther dared to enter the Diet of Worms relying on the justice of his cause and the protection of God, assuredly the Christian in this age may confidently face the dangers which confront him. Genuine piety has a powerful tendency to develop heroism. Moses, Elijah, Nathan, Daniel, John the Baptist, etc.

(J. S. Van Dyke, D. D.)

1. The Christian should make no concealment of his piety. If Esther dared to reveal her religion, asking her maidens to unite in imploring the interposition of Jehovah, surely the Christian ought not to cloak his.

2. Sympathy shown to the suffering is advantageous to the giver as well as to the receiver.

3. Those who resist the evidence that the Church is not infrequently in a condition calling for immediate deliverance are enemies of true religion, not friends.

4. Christians should possess moral heroism.

5. If desirous of securing deliverance for the Church, we should endeavour to impress upon each a keen sense of personal responsibility.

6. We should endeavour to sustain those who are passing through trials for us. Mordecai and the Jewish people engaged in prayer while Esther exposed herself to death on their behalf.

7. Assurance of deliverance should impel to the performance of present duty.

(J. S. Van Dyke, D. D.)

Notice —

I.THE SITUATION IN WHICH ESTHER WAS PLACED.

II.HER CONDUCT IN THE EMERGENCY.

III.THE SUCCESS WHICH ATTENDED HER APPLICATION.

(R. P. Buddicom.)

This was not —

I. THE RESOLUTION OF A FATALIST WHO ACTS UPON THE PRINCIPLE THAT WHAT IS DESTINED TO BE MUST BE. II. THE RESOLUTION OF DESPERATION, WHICH FEELS "MATTERS CANNOT BE WORSE, and to have done the utmost may bring relief, while it cannot possibly aggravate the evil."

II. THE RESOLUTION OF A PERSON PROSTRATED UNDER DIFFICULTIES, AND YET, WITH A VAGUE HOPE OF DELIVERANCE, saying, "I will make one effort more, and if that fail, and all is lost, I can but die." Esther's purpose was framed in a spirit altogether different. It was the heroism of true piety, which in providence shut up to one course, and that, full of danger, counts the cost, seeks help of God, and calmly braves the danger, saying, "He will deliver me if He have pleasure in me; if not, I perish in the path of duty."

(A. B. Davidson, D. D.)

I remember at the time of that marvellous "blizzard," as it was called, in America, there was an astounding instance of roundabout communication. There were parties in Philadelphia who wanted to communicate with Boston, but all the telegraph lines were down, and they actually cabled the message across the sea to London, and from London by cable to Boston, in order to get the message through which it was desired to communicate to parties in that city. This may illustrate what I mean, that sometimes, when interruption of communication exists on earth, or there are closed doors or insurmountable obstacles which hinder our effective labour, and when in vain we knock and ring at the closed doors, or attempt to overcome the hindrances that exist between us and the ends that we desire to attain — if we can get access to the King of kings, and if we can send our message up to the throne, from the throne the answer will come. We shall find that the surest way to get to the upper storey of the house, or to reach across the intervening obstacles that have accumulated in our path, is to approach the desired end by way of God's throne.

(A. T. Pierson.)

does not go farther than this. Everything dear and valued was left behind in order that she might serve God. "All things were counted but loss" that she might maintain "a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man." Ah! how this believer, in old times, when as yet the Saviour was only had in promise, puts to shame many in these latter days who are in possession of the finished salvation! Even the pleasures of sense, and the wealth and rewards of the world, keep them in a state of indecision and vacillation, if not of absolute indifference, to the call and claims of the gospel.

(T. McEwan.).

Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel
"Now it came to pass." These words call for special notice in a book which strikingly illustrates the providence of God both in regard to nations and individuals. They remind us that there is nothing stationary — that what comes is moving on. Seasons of trial and perplexity would be overwhelming if they had the character of fixedness. It is happily not so. As you have stood gazing on a mountain, bathed in sunlight, you may sometimes have observed a dark shadow creeping along the side of it, as though hastening to accomplish its mission, and quickly gliding away out of sight, leaving the landscape all the more beautiful because of your remembrance of it. So is it with what is painful and sad in providence. Events of this kind have come at intervals, but it was only to pass — not to abide — like the floating of little clouds between us and the sun, and when past, giving to human life, as to nature, a greater richness and variety. Biographies are but commentaries on these familiar words. Indeed, men themselves but come to pass.

(T. McEwan.)

Esther was not one of those who resolve and promise well, but do not perform.

(G. Lawson.)

I. We have here an illustration of the fact THAT WHEN THE CRISIS COMES GOD GIVES HIS PEOPLE GRACE TO MEET IT. Doubtless Esther looked forward with much trepidation to the moment of her entering in before the king. When the time came she found that the way was clear. This is far from being an uncommon experience with the children of God. That which in the prospect is most formidable turns out to be in the reality most simple. The women at the sepulchre. When God asks us to perform some dangerous duty, we may rely that the way up to the duty will be made open to us, and that strength will be given to us for its discharge. "I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight." "As thy days so shall thy strength be." "My grace is sufficient for thee."' How often have these promises been made good to Christians in these days. It is a time of extremity; the enemies of truth are bitterly assailing the very citadel of the faith, and now a stand has to be made which shall determine the issue for years. The eyes of all humble Christians are turned to one singularly gifted man; all are saying that, like Esther, he has come to the kingdom for such a time as this. But he is full of anxiety and trepidation. At length he consents to lift the standard and enter on the conflict, and when the time comes he is carried away out of himself, and so sensibly helped by the Spirit of God that he sweeps everything before him on the resistless torrent of his eloquence. Or there is a terrible disease invading the frame; it cannot be cured, and if let alone it will issue in a lingering illness and painful death. There is nothing for it but a critical surgical operation, and yet from that the patient shrinks. At length, however, the consent is given. It is to be performed on a certain day and at a certain hour. The meanwhile is given to prayer, and all the friends and relatives are requested, each in his own closet, to join in the supplication. Then when the hour strikes the diseased one walks with a strength that is not her own into the room, and gives herself into the hands of the surgeons, saying, "Living or dying, I am the Lord's." The shrinking is gone, the fear is subdued, and there is nothing but a calm heroism, which is the gift of God for the occasion. Or, yet again, a difficult duty is to be performed — a brother to be expostulated with for some serious sin, or to be warned of some insidious danger. But we do not know how he will take it, and the question comes to be whether our effort to save him may not aggravate the danger to which he is exposed. Who will undertake the task? There is one who, of all others, seems to be the fittest; but the very idea of it fills him with anxiety. How shall he pro. ceed? There is nothing for it but prayer; and in the faith that God will answer he goes forward. He finds the way marvellously opened. He has a most satisfactory interview. All his fears are dispelled — he has saved his brother.

II. WHEN THE HEART IS NOT RIGHT WITH GOD A LITTLE MATTER WILL MAKE A GREAT MISERY. Happiness does not consist in the bearing of others towards us, but in the relation of our own souls to God. A self-centred heart cannot avoid misery. The one thing needful to happiness is a new heart.

III. WHEN A LITTLE MATTER MAKES A GREAT MISERY, THAT IS AN EVIDENCE THAT THE HEART IS NOT RIGHT WITH GOD.

IV. IT IS A GREAT MISFORTUNE WHEN A MAN'S WORST COUNSELLORS ARE IN HIS OWN HOUSE. A good wife would have turned his thoughts in another direction. Here, then, is a beacon of warning for all wedded wives. Let them beware of adding fuel to a fire already burning far too strongly in their husbands' hearts, as Zeresh did here. When they see those whom they love best going in the way of envy or passion or revenge, let them exert themselves wisely, yet firmly, to alter their determination. And let those husbands who have wives that are wise enough to see when they are going astray, and brave enough to endeavour to keep them from doing that which is wrong, thank God for them as for the richest blessings of their lives. A wife who is merely the echo of her husband, or who, as in the instance before us, only seconds and supports that which she sees he is determined upon, is no helpmeet for any man.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

I. THE BOWED FORM OF THE SUPPLIANT QUEEN. To bend the knees for others is the noblest attitude possible for the children of men. What shall be said of the selfish pietist who prays, "Forgive us our trespasses," and gives no heed to the multitudes who lie in darkness and the shadow of death? What shall be said of those Christians who "don't believe in missions"? When the ship Algona went down and the captain made off with one of the boats, leaving forty-eight passengers to drown, the whole world stood in horror of him. It is far better to sing "Rescue the perishing" than to make too much of "When I can read my title clear." A glorious award awaits those who in self-forgetfulness have adventured all in behalf of their fellow-men.

II. THE OUTSTRETCHED SCEPTRE. It means to us that the great King is ever ready to hear intercessory prayer. In the rabbinical legend of Sandalphon an angel is represented as standing at the uttermost gates of heaven, one foot on a ladder of light. He is listening for a mother's appeal, the sob of a burdened heart, the cry "God be merciful to him!" On hearing these voices of intercession he bears them aloft, and they turn to garlands as he lays them before the feet of God. It stands in the nature of the case that God should be most willing to hear unselfish prayers.

III. THE SEQUEL. The Jews were saved and the Feast of Purim instituted in recognition of this deliverance. The world waits to be won by Christian intercession. When General Grant was languishing on his bed of pain, no message of sympathy touched him more than that from an aged quaker: "Friend Grant, I am a stranger to thee. I would not intrude upon thy suffering, but I am anxious for thy soul. Trust in Jesus; He will not fail thee." The abundant entrance into heaven is for those who by prayer and its supplementary effort have wrought deliverance for others. At the close of the American Civil War, when Lincoln went down to Richmond, the freedmen loosed the horses from his carriage and dragged it through the streets, shouting, "God bless Master Lincoln!" He had broken their chains, and this was a slight expression of their gratitude. In the apportionment of the honours of heaven there is nothing comparable with this, "He hath saved a soul from death!"

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

I. ROYAL APPAREL MAY COVER A SAD HEART.

II. THE ROYALTY OF FAITH SUSTAINS IN SADNESS. Faith possesses the true alchemy which can transmute the base metal of sadness into the celestial gold of abiding gladness. The sick saint; the imprisoned martyr; the lonely missionary bereft of wife and child on a foreign shore; the pastor labouring amongst an unresponsive people — all acknowledge the sustaining power of faith.

III. THE ROYALY OF FAITH LEADS TO DARING VENTURES. Abraham was ready to offer up his only-begotten son; Esther was ready to offer up herself. Hers was a Divinely inspired faith, worthy of a place among those celebrated in Hebrews.

IV. THE ROYALTY OF FAITH IS GREATER THAN THE ROYALTY OF MERE CIRCUMSTANTIALS. The Caesars and the Neros do not now rule — the Pauls and the Peters do. Faith is better and mightier than weapons of war, words of wisdom, or the gilded trappings of earthly royalty.

V. THE ROYALTY OF FAITH COMMANDS SUCCESS.

VI. THE ROYALTY OF FAITH SWAYS THE GOLDEN SCEPTRE.

(W. Burrows, B. A.)

One of the most stirring passages in history with which I am acquainted tells us how Cleopatra, the exiled Queen of Egypt, won the sympathy of Julius Caesar, the conqueror, until he became the bridegroom and she the bride. Driven from her throne, she sailed away on the Mediterranean Sea in a storm, and when the large ship anchored she put out with one womanly friend in a small boat until she arrived at Alexandria, where was Caesar, the great general. Knowing that she would not be permitted to land or pass the guards on the way to Caesar's palace, she laid upon the bottom of the boat some shawls and scarfs and richly dyed upholstery, and then lay down upon them, and her friend wrapped her in them and she was admitted ashore in this wrapping of goods, which was announced as a present for Caesar. This bundle was permitted to pass the guards of the gates of the palace, and was put down at the feet of the Roman general. When the bundle was unrolled there rose before Caesar one whose courage and beauty and brilliancy are the astonishment of the ages. This exiled Queen of Egypt told the story of her sorrows, and he promised her that she should get back her throne in Egypt and take the throne of wifely dominion in his own heart.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Among the treasures most coveted are jewels, but in the "Diary" of Madame D'Arblay, whose maiden name was Burney, and who was lady-in-waiting on Queen Charlotte, consort of George III., we read: "The queen told ms how well at first she had liked her jewels and ornaments. 'But how soon,' cried she, 'was that over! Believe me, Miss Burney, it is a pleasure of a week — a fortnight at most. The trouble of putting them on, the care they require, and the fear of losing them, made me in a fortnight's time long for my own earlier dress, and wish never to see them more.'"

The splendour of Esther's career is seen in the fact that she does not succumb to the luxury of her surroundings. The royal harem among the lily-beds of Shushan is like a palace in the land of the lotus-eaters "where it is always afternoon," and its inmates in the dreamy indolence are tempted to forget all the obligations and interests beyond the obligations to please the king and their own interests in securing every comfort wealth can lavish upon them. We do not look for a Boadicea in such a hot-house of narcotics. And when we find there a strong, unselfish woman such as Esther conquering almost insuperable temptations to a life of ease, and choosing a course of terrible danger to herself for the sake of her oppressed people, we can echo the admiration of the Jews for their national heroine.

(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)

It is a constant fact in nature that the sight of a face do what nothing else can do in the way of awakening love, touching sympathy, securing trust, evoking help, or, it may be, in the way of provoking and stimulating feelings of a very opposite description. If a purpose be very important and very good, generally it will be better promoted by a personal appearance than by any kind of representation. If I am seeking a good thing, my face ought to be better than the face of another for the getting of it; better, too, than my own letter asking it. If the poor widow had sent letters to the unjust judge, he probably would not have been much discomposed, but by her continual coming she wearied him, and won her quest. When the king saw Esther she obtained favour.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

And the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand
Did this haughty monarch hold out the sceptre, and say, "What wilt thou, and what is thy request?" and shall not God hear His own elect — His chosen spouse — crying to Him day and night? Esther had to go into the presence of a proud imperious man, we to go into the presence of a God of love and condescension. She was not called; we are invited. She went in against the law; we have both precept and promise in our favour — yea, precept upon precept, and promise upon promise. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." She had no friend at court on whom she could rely, and the great favourite was the accuser of her brethren, the mortal foe of her name and race; we, even when we have sinned, and sinned after light and pardon, have an Advocate with the Father, His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased, who also is the propitiation for our sins. Esther was encouraged to ask to the extent of the half of the kingdom of Persia; we are encouraged to ask to the whole of the kingdom of heaven, with a life-rent on earth of all that is needful for us. Ought we not then to "come boldly to the throne of grace"?

(T. McCrie.)

1. Ahasuerus held out the sceptre to his queen, who had never offended him, nor been unfaithful to him; but Jehovah holds out His sceptre to the unfaithful.

2. But the king not only bade the queen to his presence, but made her a bountiful offer. "What is thy request? It shall be given thee to the half of my kingdom." This offer he makes three times over. Surely the Lord wrought marvellously herein, and in His goodness to His people, exceeded their largest expectations. God grants a kingdom to His people, and that an everlasting kingdom — their crowns fade not away, their purses wax not old. Their riches cannot be corrupted by moth and rust, and thieves cannot deprive them of their treasures. Their joy no one taketh from them, and their pleasures are those which are at God's right hand for evermore. Oh! let us approach the heavenly King in the all-powerful name of the one Mediator, and fervently pray for these imperishable blessings.

(J. Hughes.)

The Church is "the Lamb's wife." She has free access to the throne of the King of kings. Oh! how timidly and doubtfully do believers sometimes draw near to Him! It is as though they feared His royal sceptre, forgetting that it is the sceptre of mercy; as though they were apprehensive that He had taken away His love from them, forgetting that "having loved His own who were in the world, He loves them unto the end." He has no half-measures — no half-kingdoms to offer. He promises you the kingdom — wholly, willing, unreservedly — and even chides you for having hitherto asked nothing in His name, and encourages you to "ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." King Ahasuerus could not anticipate the request of Esther; after his own carnal heart he thought that it must be some additional temporal good. But our King knows all beforehand, and has provided for, and is ready to bestow upon us all that we can need upon the earth, and all that we can desire to prepare us for heaven. And surely, if we require to be stirred to earnestness and importunity by the presence of a great cause, we all have it in the condition of our own hearts, the souls of others, and the salvation of the world.

(T. McEwan.)

In reverence, in submission, and for safety, she touched the top of the sceptre, and then all the power of the empire was between her and harm. We cannot assert that this was meant to be a symbolical act; but certainly it does express in a striking way the method and the result of our coming as sinners to God. The golden sceptre of grace is ever in the King's hand. Never does He cast one wrathful glance upon any who approach unto Him; He is on the throne of grace, that He may be gracious. When we touch the sceptre we yield submission; we are reconciled, accepted, and protected by all the forces of the universe, and by all the perfections of God.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

I. THE SCEPTRE IN THE HANDS OF CHRIST. We read that He is "head over all things," and more than this, "head over all things to the Church." He holds that sceptre for them — for their protection — for their highest and best interests. Christ is on the throne! The steps which lead to that throne ought to assure us what He is, now that He is there. The Cross best explains Christ. His character in all its transparency and purity, its glory and beauty, fitted Him to reign over all. But we want more than a righteous King; more than a true King! Love must be on the throne which is to sway the hearts of men, and "herein is love."

II. IN ALL APPEALS TO HIM WE TOUCH THAT SCEPTRE.

1. When we touch that sceptre, we prove that we believe His Word. It is certain that actions bespeak faith more than words. Do we believe in Christ's purposes of mercy? Do we believe that all the vice, misery, wrong, around us, Christ desires to do away with? that it grieves His heart more than it ever can ours? We must believe this in the light of His Incarnation, coming into this world as He did to seek and to save that which was lost. When we touch His sceptre, we proclaim our belief in His mercy, we come to the King as those who know that He is the same Saviour that walked this world, and went about doing good, and preached deliverance to the captives everywhere.

2. When we touch that sceptre, we bespeak its aid; we imply confidence in its power. We manifest cur consciousness that there is a greater power than that of evil: that Jesus must and will reign. It were sad to live were it otherwise. We who know Christ for ourselves, have confidence in His ability to realise the ideal of the Inspired Word, "Godliness is profitable for all things: having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."

3. When we touch that sceptre, we imply our oneness of spirit with Him. Many would like to touch other sceptres, and turn their purposes of success into golden achievements. See how men wait on others. But Christ's purposes are moral and spiritual purposes. His kingdom is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; and we say by our touch of His sceptre, "Master, we do desire this end; deliver our people from slavery, from the plots of our Hamans, from the desires which would destroy their peace of mind, hinder their happiness, and harm their souls hereafter. Oh! King Jesus, we are one with Thee!"

4. When we touch that sceptre, we imply that Christ loves us. We love Him, and He loves us. We know that the fact of His love to us will make our petitions powerful before Him.

III. THE SCEPTRE MAY BE TOUCHED BY THE HUMBLEST HAND. Yes; and it often is. Poor and humble saints, weak and afflicted saints, that can do little else, can pray. Not through door-keepers, and past stately sentinels, do we reach the Royal Pavilion! No! Esther goes straight in to the king. So may we! The privilege of prayer itself is not more wonderful than the freeness of it. The Heavenly Royalty needs no poor pageantry of outward state. You can touch that sceptre. You can come in, and be face to face with the King.

IV. THIS SCEPTRE IS NOT SWAYED BY US, BUT TOUCHED BY US. Esther touched it! And then the king said unto her, "What wilt thou, Esther?" And thus it is with us. It pleased the king to grant her widest request. But still it was the king's will. And so it is with us. I would ask this question: Who would dare to touch the sceptre, if the touch was to turn to swaying it? Not I! Not you! No; you know enough of life to wish at all events its government taken out of your hands. We touch the sceptre, but we do not take it. No. That moment an awful consciousness would come over us, and we should flee from mountain to city, to be absolved from the responsibility. We might seem to benefit ourselves, but whom might we not harm? We might seem to gain a transitory good, but what beneficent laws of the universe, working for the common good, might we not endanger? It is a comfortable thing to be able to cast all our care upon Christ.

V. IN SWAYING THAT SCEPTRE CHRIST CAN OVERCOME ALL THE DESIGNS OF OUR ENEMIES. The danger seemed great to the company of Jews in the Persian empire, but in one brief hour the darkening cloud had disappeared, and Esther had "come to the kingdom for such a time as this."

(W. M. Statham.)

What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is
To make prayer of any value, there must be definite objects for which to plead. We often ramble in our prayers after this, that, and the other, and we get nothing, because in each we do not really desire anything. We chatter about many subjects, but the soul does not concentrate itself upon any object. Do you not sometimes fall on your knees without thinking beforehand what you mean to ask God for? You do, as a matter of habit, without any motion of your heart. You are like a man who would go to a shop and not know what articles he would procure. He may, perhaps, make a happy purchase when he is there, but certainly it is not a wise plan to adopt. And so the Christian in prayer may afterwards attain to a real desire, and get his end; but how much better would he speed if, having prepared his soul by consideration and self-examination, he came to God for an object at which he was about to arrive, with a real request. Did we ask an audience at her Majesty's court, we should not be expected to go into the presence of royalty and then to think of some petition after we came there. Even so with the child of God. He should be able to answer the great question, "What is thy petition? and what is thy request? and it shall be done unto thee." Imagine an archer shooting with his bow, and not knowing where the mark is! Would he be likely to have success? Conceive a ship, on a voyage of discovery, putting to sea without the captain having any idea of what he was looking for! Would you expect that he would come back heavily laden either with the discoveries of science or with treasures of gold? In everything else you have a plan. You do not go to work without knowing that there is something that you designed to make; how is it that you go to God without knowing what blessing you design to have?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. With respect to the largeness of the offer. "Even to the half of my kingdom," the king said, "will thy request be granted." "All things are yours," it is said to believers; and it may well be said, since Jehovah gives Himself to them as their God, and Christ is theirs, and the Spirit dwells in them.

2. But then as Esther was afraid all at once to ask what she most desired, so God's people are often slow or afraid to avail themselves to the full of their privilege of asking. Many are contented to live from year to year with little more to uphold them than an indistinct hope that they shall reach heaven at last, when, if they would but take home God's promises in all their freeness and richness, they might be able to rejoice in Him as their portion. But perhaps it may be that as Esther did not feel herself in a condition all at once to close with the king's most liberal offer, so some among us, for other reasons than the feeling that it would be presumptuous, may be exercised in the same way with respect to spiritual privileges.

(A. B. Davidson, D. D.)

I. There must be METHOD in prayer. "What is thy petition?" Self-examination is especially beneficial as we are about to approach God. Prayer with too many is too much like the hurried salute given to a passing friend; or it is like the quick march of an army past the royal standard. It is often little better than counting beads strung on a cord; or as one turning a praying wheel. More strength in prayer would be obtained by more method in prayer.

II. There must be ASSURANCE in prayer. Not merely the assurance that God is ready to hear prayer, but the assurance that we "have found favour in the sight of the King." Esther desired to feel her ground sure here. How shall we know if our heavenly King is favourable to us? By looking to the unspeakable gift. "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly." The gift of Christ implies the gift of all things needful.

III. There may be HESITANCY in prayer. Not the hesitancy of doubt, but of deliberation. That is sometimes the truest prayer, when the heart is too full for utterance.

IV. There must be SUBMISSION to the Divine will in prayer. "I will do to-morrow as the king hath said."

(W. Burrows, B. A.)

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