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and, as we look at the pictures, without requiring the name to be written below, we are made to feel, by the clear light that falls upon them from above, that they are true pictures, and inimitably executed. There is a dramatic power in the performances of Bible penmen that no mere human artist ever possessed. And this dramatic power consists, in part, in selecting a man—a common man—a man not distinguished, so far as we can see, by any peculiar gifts above his fellows-a man who seems to be flesh and blood-agitated with the same passions, hopes and fears, as ourselves--and yet, to bring this human, material, sinful man, so livingly before us, that while we feel that he is indeed an individual of the earth, earthy, that yet he is more than an ordinary man-he is a sample man—a teaching man—a representative man-a man set forth by the spirit of God to illustrate the Divine displeasure at sin, or the Divine goodness. If I do not succeed in revealing, as I would in my Bible readings and expositions, the thought that here possesses me, still, I am perfectly sure, there is a grand purpose in God's plan in having revealed to us so large a portion of saving truth in biographies. And I am more and more convinced, that one great cause of the modern growth of fanaticism and infidelity, is to be found in the departure of so many teachers from the custom of reading and expounding the word of God. is worthy of serious consideration, whether there is not, and to what an extent, in our day, in the topical, metaphysical preaching of many, and in not a few of our popular tracts and treatises on practical and experimental religion, theological essays, religious tales, and pious novels, which are worse than “the pious frauds of the dark ages"-a dangerous tendency to draw away the public mind from the Book of God. Far be it from me to undervalue good books. Rather let us thank God for the genius, learning, talent, enterprise and wealth that have been employed in the publication of religious works; but, I submit it as an humble monitum, or inquiry, whether the frequent religious meetings, the cramming of the Lord's day, and the tendency of the popular religious literature, of our day, is not toward a substituting
of tracts and books, and newspapers about religion, for the Book of the Lord, which, in itself, combines, in the utmost plentitude and purity, all that is serviceable to the health of the soul. How much better, for one truly serious, and anxiously inquiring the way to be saved, to read the word of God itself, and then get down on his knees, in his closet, and bow his soul as well as his body, as Paul did, when it was said of him, “ behold he prayeth," and thus plead with God for the enlightenment of his Holy Spirit, rather than to read a whole
bundle of human tracts, or listen to a studied narrative of his + neighbor's conversion in a public meeting. There is no hand
book for revivals like the inspired history of remarkable Bible conversions. For family reading, and catechising on the afternoon of the Lord's day, the hot-house system, now so much in vogue, is a poor substitute. For the family, and the place of business, the church and the world, there can be no substitute for the Bible. It is our only hope. The history of Christianity shows that it has always flourished most when it is just let alone by Cæsar. It seeks not promotion, but simple protection from the State. And history now shows, that the first step in the church from the Bible, is a step toward error. In the measure that we neglect, depart from, or substitute any other writings in the place of the Holy Scriptures, in precisely the same measure we throw open the gates to the enemy. It must be remembered, as a highly significant fact, that our Lord contented himself, in his solitary combat with the devil, and completely foiled him, in all his assaults, by simply saying: It is written. And if the “It is written” of his day, that is, Moses and the prophets, was sufficient, how much more ought we to rely upon the whole Bible?
Whatever candid readers may think of the manner in which this volume is written, I apprehend they will all agree that the history of Esther is one of the most beautiful and interesting books of the Old Testament. These pages are not the result of undisturbed literary leisure. Very far from it. They have been written under the pressure of arduous pastoral duties
under the weight of the anxious soul-consuming cares that belong to a large congregation, in a new State, and in the first years of a great commercial city. That they are perfect, the author would be the last man to believe. No one can feel more sensibly than he does that imperfections attach to all his efforts, both from the press and the pulpit. If, then, it is asked, Why are they published ? the answer is, partly because the work has been called for by friends, whose wishes the author did not feel at liberty to disregard ; and, partly, because, as heretofore, so now, he is desirous of doing all he can toward the promotion of a sound Christian literature on this coast. “ To do good,” says Lord Bacon, “is the true and lawful end of aspiring. Merit and good works is the end of man's motion, and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of man's rest; for, if man can be a partaker of God's theater (or workshop,) he will be a partaker also of God's rest."
It may be proper here also to say, that I have complied with the wish of those who requested these lectures to be published, (that they should be published just as they were delivered,) as far as it has been within my power to recall and write out, from my manuscript notes, the precise language and illustrations used from the pulpit, with the following exceptions, namely, that the lectures are divided into chapters, which are shorter; and a part of what was delivered in the last lecture is inserted in the fourteenth chapter, because it seemed to belong rather to that part of the history. And, as in the great overland journey across our continent, the way is unequal—there is a variety of mountains and valleys, long and short stations, high hills and wide plains, and dark mountain gorges-so, also, is the Volume of Inspiration. And, as in the overland route, similar views are often presented, repeating the visions already past, and yet not the same; so here, in the following pages, there may seem to be repetitions, not so much of words as of ideas. If so, the reason is to be found, first, in the fact, that I have endeavored to follow the order and method of the sacred narrative itself, and to present the thoughts and lessons thereon just as they started up before me, taking the pictures of the way just as they came to hand. I could have avoided this, if I had thought it best to do so; but as it was my wish to follow the divine method, as far as I could, in presenting and explaining and vindicating the laws, the Word and the ways of the Lord, and as similar events are repeated in the text, so similar lessons are taught. Secondly, it has, also, just been said, that it was deemed best to publish these discourses, as nearly as possible, word for word, just as they were delivered from the pulpit, and as their delivery extended through several weeks, and was, in part, before different audiences, so some repetition was necessary, and, partly for the same reason, is still retained. And I am the more reconciled to have it so, from the fact that this is the Bible method, not only in Esther, but generally-namely, to teach little by little, line upon line, and precept upon precept. As it is pleasant to the traveler to have a change of scenery, rather than to have all the mountains together, and then all the hills, and then nothing but a wide plain ; just so it is in history, the pictures are always changing and always repeating themselves, and yet they are not the same.
The errors and skeptical objections which it is hoped this volume may refute, or remove from the minds of candid inquirers after truth, are not always enumerated, nor the names of their advocates and the titles of their works given. This has not seemed to be necessary. All opinions and objections as far as I know are fairly represented, but the size of the volume and many other reasons forbid their full elaboration. I do not see that in order to know the right way to a place, we must first hunt out and explore, by a personal survey, all the tracks and by-ways that lead away from it. It may be that some of my readers are in happy ignorance of the errors I have tried to refute; if so, they will not perceive my allusions, nor is it necessary they should. On the other hand, those who are acquainted with them will be able I hope to understand the refutation offered. As to the truth of some of the quotations used in this volume from old authors and from the reports of
the Royal Asiatic Society, and other readings of monuments, I have only to say with Pliny, “Penes auctores sit fides.” While I believe them to be reliable and substantially correct, I beg that the authors themselves may be held respectively responsible. And while I have freely used all the authors within my reach that afforded me what I considered reliable help in explaining the sacred text, yet as far as I know, all due acknowledgments are made in the body of the work, and as far as my knowledge goes, this is the only volume of the kind offered to the public on the Book of Esther. Indeed one reason why, in my humble publications, I have selected such subjects as “The Wedge of Gold,” “Samson, the Giant Judge,” and the Hebrew-Persian Queen, is that these portions of our holy writings seemed to be almost overlooked. As Truth is of too noble and holy a nature to be forced upon mankind, I have only to add as one before me has done : "Pray, place the Holy Scriptures, kind Reader, before you on the desk of your heart, and acquaint yourself with the WHOLE matter, before you arrive at a decision." "Happy is he that speaketh in the ears of them that will hear." God Almighty bless all the readers of this volume. Amen.
W. A. SCOTT.
SAN FRANCISCO, 10th March, 1859.