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was raised up to show his power, and so was Haman. “God taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and ensnares the wicked in the works of their own hands." In the darkest hour, it is our duty and our highest happiness, still to trust in God. Behind a frowning cloud, His face beams with ineffable love. And if a day of fiery trials come, when for the testimony of Jesus, we must endure cruel torturings, even unto death, then martyr-grace will be given unto us. I believe there are thousands of men and women, in our own times, who would make as brave confessors and martyrs, as any that have ever honored Christ at the stake, or on the Roman arena. And why should we fear to die for Jesus, or at his bidding? Death is but departing to be forever with the Lord and with his saints in glory.
" The grave itself is but a covered bridge,
"A man on earth may have too much love to weep. His highest duty is thought and then action.”
BATTLES and conquests, the rise of conquerors and the reign of kings and their fall—the treachery and flattery of courtiers and the toils of statesmen, chiefly make up the history of the world. Here and there, but, “ like angel's visits, few and far between," we have an episode for harmonizing hostile nations into concord, and for the advancement of the glorious arts of peace. Such was the international jubilation for the ocean telegraph, which is, by no means, a failure, even if the lips of this cable should never utter another syllable. It cannot be pronounced a failure, because the laying of the cable was really and truly accomplished. It is a fact, therefore, added to the chronicled deeds of the human race.
And again, communication by telegraph across the Atlantic is now certain. Enough has
been done to prove that it is practicable. And, besides, the interchange of good fecling between the Old and the New World, on that occasion, was worth all the expense, and a great deal more than all the expense of the cable and the jubilee. It is seen to be a part of God's plan, in the government of the world, that a Howard shall appear, now and then, to remind mankind of the sublime benevolence of which they are capable. The internal history of the world is, however, a very different one from its external. The internal lies deeper. It is a history of hearts—the hearts of rulers as well as of subjects. For it is not true that the great and the mighty of the earth have no hearts. It may be that, sometimes, they try to hide their hearts, or to smother up, or enfeeble their higher and better natures. But kings and queens have human hearts. In the history before us, we have both external and internal conflicts pictured out. Our chronicle here is according to Esther, iv chapter.
If we could convict Mordecai of selfishness, pride, or wicked ambition, in his conduct toward the king or the prime minister; or of any unhallowed purpose in his presenting Hadassah, his angelic cousin, to the chief of the officers of the king's household, as a candidate for the crown royal, then we should now begin to fear for him, and say, with Job's friends, that it was for his iniquities this calamity had come upon him. But we have not found anything against him. We have, thus far, found him a well educated, refined gentleman, of high principles, tried integrity, and unwavering loyalty and piety. He may have felt a just satisfaction with himself in what he had done in bringing up Hadassah, MORDECAI'S MOTIVES.
and advancing her to the king's favor. This would not have been sinful. There was nothing dishonorable nor sinful in his conduct, nor in his cousin's relations with the king. But, doubtless, Mordecai's motives were higher than mere personal gratification or honor. His character is proof that he was an attentive observer of the unfolding providences of the God of his fathers. Indeed, throughout the history, we see the use of means in subordination to an overruling purpose. Esther's rare beauty, exquisite form, faultless features and radiant eyes were all given to her by Him who opened the heart of the chief officer to show her favor. And He whose Spirit moved Mordccai to use such means as were proper for the education and success of Esther, caused the pious Jewess, when she came before the king, to appear to him as a vision of perfect beauty and loveliness. Her personal charms were a part of the i means to be used for the deliverance of the scattered Hebrews. There is no let or hindrance in the accomplishment of the Divine purposes, nor is there any confusion or cross-purposes between Divine efficiency and human effort. Man is free and God is sovereign, and salvation is always of grace-free grace.
When Mordecai perceived all that was done, he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth. The promulgation of this decree must have been sad news throughout the empire. The king's posts flew with the royal command almost as swift as the winds, and throughout all the provinces, withersoever the decree
there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
Great was the wailing that filled the Hebrew quarters of the royal city and every synagogue. And, no doubt, Mordecai's former monitors, his fellow servants of the palace, added insult to grief. “Did we not tell you so ? Did we not admonish you that such would be the end of your stupid obstinacy? It is strange you will run your head against a stone wall. You have come to a pretty pass.
You would have none of our advice, therefore we will now leave you to your sackcloth, and may it be very soft to you! But tell us, old stiff knees, what is to be the end of a contest between a Jew, like you, and Haman, the favorite of the great king of Persia? Which will be the hardest, when your carthen pitcher knocks against his of brass ?” And so, wagging their heads and greatly delighted with their own wit, they left Mordecai to his grief and to his pious meditations, the reading of the Psalms of David, the Book of Job, the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah and the writings of Moses, and to find relief in prayer.
And Mordecai, in sackcloth, went out into the midst of the city, and came even before the king's gate, for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth. It was and is still the law in the East, that no one in sackcloth can be admitted to the presence of royalty, nor in any habiliments of mourning, unless by special favor. Perhaps the reason of this prohibition was that the sight of such things would put the king in mind of sickness and death, and so disturb his pleasures. As Mordecai could not, therefore, enter the king's gate or palace, with such marks of oppressive grief, he went out into the midst of the city. His cry must have been peculiarly loud and bitter, because he had been made