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spirit into His presence. Queen Esther had no friend near the throne who dared to open his lips to plead her

The king's favorite was her greatest enemy. But, brethren, if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, even his own Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. He ever liveth, to make intercession for us. The golden sceptre in His hands is always stretched out. He is touched with a fellow-feeling for our infirmities.

them to prayer.

7. 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

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. Call upon me, saith the Lord, in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee. Doubtless the iminent peril into which the Jews were brought, was to remind them of their dependence on the God of their fathers. They were, as we are, ready to forget him, and especially so, when far from home. But now that there seems to be no other ear to hear, no other hand that can save, they are brought to their knees—and with fasting, and humility, and fervency of spirit—they call upon God, that peradventure He will be gracious to them. It was so also with Manasseh. And it was when the prodigal began to be in want, he thought of returning home. Aflictions sanc

THE GREAT RESOLVE.

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tified are blessings. And how exceedingly appropriate for you, poor sinner, is the queen's resolve. As a sinner, you are condemned, and under sentence of death. There is no escape

for
you

but to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor is there a moment to lose. Tomorrow, even to-morrow, may be too late. Remember, then, that Jesus Christ came to seek and save that which is lost. He casts out none that come unto Him. He is the sinner's friend. Try his love this one time, by casting yourself as a guilty sinner upon his mercy. Say with the hymn:

I'll go to Jesus though my sin

High as a mountain rose,
I know his court, I'll enter in

Whatever may oppose.

Perhaps he will admit my plea,

Perhaps will hear my prayer ;
But if I perish, I will pray,

And perish only there.

I can but perish if I go,

I
I am resolved

try;
For if I stay away, I know

I must forever die.

CHAPTER XIII.

THE BANQUET AND THE SLEEPLESS KING.

“No action, whether foul or fair,
Is ever done, but it leaves somewhere
A record, written by fingers ghostly,
As a blessing or a curse.—

Longfellow.

We have seen that the king promised to attend the queen's banquet, and ordered Haman to make haste, that he might do as Esther had said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. See verses 6, 7 and 8 of the fifth chapter of Esther.

At the banquet the king is delighted, and demands of the queen what she desired, and declares that her request, even to the half of the kingdom, shall be granted. This seems to have been a common form of court promises, meaning that nothing would be denied. Herod made a similar proposition, but instead of giving half of his kingdom, in compliance with a wicked woman's request, he gave her the head of John the Baptist, which was of more value than the whole of his kingdom.

Among the Persians and Orientals, generally, wine banquets were common, they seem to have been de

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signed chiefly for pleasure, rather than for eating-delightful social intercourse, and as tokens or occasions of showing honor, rather than for the gratification of the appetites—"the feast of reason and flow of soul” —"a dejuner sans fourchette.” Our authors are not agreed, however, whether the wine banquet was before or after the principal meal, or whether it was a feast above and independent of all other kinds of fare. It is clear, however, that some of their wine banquets comprised fruits, and mutton, rice, fowls, game, as well as Shiraz wines.

And the queen answered, “My petition, and my request is, if I have found favor with the king, let him and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them to-morrow.” Now why did not the queen at once acquaint the king with the matter so much in her heart?

We answer, by delaying her petition she showed that it was one of no ordinary importanceproved her modesty and self-command—and perhaps she was a little daunted by the king's august presenceher heart may have been ready to fail her—and perhaps she thought it best to try how far she had gained on the king's affections, and to test the influence she had over him—and perhaps she thought to-morrow the king will be more amiable and ready to grant my petition; or, in the meantime, Haman may show some signs of insolence, or make himself less agreeable to the king, or God may, in some way, display his power, and open up some other door of hope—whether any or all of these thoughts passed through her mind, we do not know; but it is recorded that the queen deemed it most becoming—that it was wisest to engage the king's

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