Copyright
James Comper Gray.

The Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 5) online

. (page 22 of 67)
Online LibraryJames Comper GrayThe Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 5) → online text (page 22 of 67)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


eye. I mention it to show from what trifling circumstances the ; heiven has cor-
mind will sometimes derive consolation; for though the ^vhole p^^^"^^^*^^^""^"
plant was not larger than the top of one of my fingers. I could i v-ulup'tuous do-
not contemplate the delicate conformation of its roots and leaves { sires by stinting
without admiration. Can that Being, thought I. who planted. ' ^-^ »-trength and
watered, and brought to perfection in this obscure part of the
world a thing which appears of so small importance, look with
unconcern upon the situation and sufl:'erings of creatures formed
after His own image ? Surely not ! I started up, and. disregard-
ing both hunger and fatigue, travelled forward, assured that
relief was at hand ; and I was not disappointed.''

13, 14. (13) think . . Jews, he appeals to her own love of
life. wh. through the fickleness of the king might not be safe.
(14j enlargement, I'd. respiration, breathing time, prolonged
life, and . . place, he had faith that God would deliver His
people, and that she would, if obedient, be the honoured instru-
ment of their safety, who . . time, she was not to regard the
exaltation to the throne as the Divine purpose in her life. It
seemed to Mordecai that the strange life of Esther was designed
by Providence to effect the safety of the Israel of God.

(tO(V.^ pin-po.sr and man's opportunity . — I purpose, in humble
dep-^ndence on Divine help, to draw from the text the following
general truths : that running through the Providence of this
world there is a gracious Divine purpose for its ultimate salvation :
that rich and rare opportunities occur in the progress of things,
by Avhich believing men are allowed to come effectually '"to the
help of the Lord against the mighty ;" that the neglect of such
providential calls has a tendency to bring destruction : that
obedience brings elevation and blessing. Let us then consider —
I. The Divine purpose. II. Human opportunity. III. The law
of destruction. IV. The law of life."

U'rt// to a':c('pt pror'uh'ntial diyfensafions. — ^My darling child |
lies sick — my only daughter, and am I. as a minister of God and j
an exemplar to men, in submission to the will of my Master, to
say that this sickness is unto death ? Because the physician says
Bhe will not recover, and the nurse says she cannot recover, and )



coutriicriu;? his
c 1 i)aci ties."— 7**7-
!otson.

b Mmao Park.



Esther is
reminded
of iier duty

ft;, 1-3. 14. Dr. A.
Reest, iii. 3S6; /.
Ailing, Gp. 2,
pa s. 2, 15S.

*' Every subject's
duty is the
kiutr's: but every
subject's soul Is
his owa."-5/jai-«-
speare.

•■We are apt to
mistake our vo-
cation by looking
out of the way
for occasions to
ex-?rcise great
and rare vii tues,
and by st<'pi)ing
over the ordi-
nary ones that
lie din cily in
the road before
us." — Ilaiinan
More.
a Dr. Rihigh.

"There are not
good thingi



128



ESTHER.



[Cap. iv. 15—17.



B.C. 510.

* • gh in life
t'> iidemnify us
f(pr the neglect of
a single fluty." —
Had. Swttchine.



JEsthcr is
commanded
to do her
duty, and
commands
a feast

a Ge. xliii. 14.
r. 16. Dr. J.

Dovne. vi. 70 ; R.
P. Buddicom, i.
314.

'• I was acquaint-
ed once with a
^'••li ant soldior
wlio as.sured me
tbat his only
measure of
courage was this:
upon the tJrst
fire, in an en-
gagement, he
immediately
looked upon
hirn^elf as a
dead mnn. He
then fought out
the remainder of
the day perfectly
regardless of all
manner of
danger, as be-
comes a dead
man to be. So
that all the life
or limbs he car-
ried back again
to his tent he
reckoned as
clear gains, or,
as he himself
expressed it, so
much out of the
fire " — Sterne.
b S/mrgeon.
"Behold us will-
ing to suffer in
this life the worst
it may please
Thee to bring
upon US; here
lay Thy rod upon
us ; consume us
here, cut us to
pieces here, only
spare us in eter-
nity!'' — St. Au-
gustine.



my own fears say she may not recover, am I to say, " It is the
will of the Lord she should die ; the will of the Lord be done ?"
No ! I will jBght death to the last ; and when I have made good
battle, with all the love, and wisdom, and patience, and fidelity I
possess, and the shadow has fallen, and I am deJfeated, then I
accept the event ; it is proved a true prophet at last ; but I would
not believe it until I had tested it. Then I say, " It was the will
of the Lord she should die ; the will of the Lord be done." Not
I when the revelation first comes do I accept it as an expression of
the will of God, but when it has done its last work — that is the
revelation. Facts threatening are not revelations ; facts accom-
plished are.

15 — 17. (15) answer, an answer that, manifesting Esther's
piety, must have greatly comforted him. (16) gather . . fast,
etc., by fasting and prayer she thought to arm herself with the
protection of God. perish., « she could but perish at the worst.
(17) so . . way, etc., it was now his turn to obey.

The valorous queen (v. 16). — Esther may be regarded as a
type of a soul anxious about his salvation, resolving to dare
everything* for this We shall endeavour from the be-
haviour of Esther in this particular case to excite all classes of
men to earnest importunity for spiritual blessings. Observe — 1.
The momentous considerations which led her to make this resolu-
tion. 1. Personal considerations ; 2. National considerations ; 3.
Religious considerations. II. The almost insuperable ob jles
in the way of her enterprise. 1. The king's indifference to her;
2. The established law ; 3. The power of Haman. III. The in-
domitable courage displayed both in the making of this resolution,
and in the prosecution of this enterprise. The conduct of every

earnest sojul is very much alike Her eye is fixed on the

goal ; she will either reach it or perish in the attempt. Saith the
Scrijjture, ''Add to your faith valour."

Providence tlie guardian of our weahness. — That image in
Lowell's poem of "The Changeling" fascinates me. It is so
much what I am and ever wish to be.

" I feel as weak as a violet

Alone 'neath the awful sky.*'
Unable to defend myself and apparently undefended, yet guarded
by omnipotent love, I would fain pour out a perfume of praise
to the Great Invisible who watches over me, and would feel that
under the care of Providence I may claim the sweetness of the
poet's next stanza: —

" As .weak, yet as trustful also ;
For the whole year long I see
All the wonders of faithful nature
Still worked for the love of me.
Winds wander and dews drip earthward.

Rains fall, suns rise and set,
Earth whirls, and all but to prosper
A poor little violet."*
God kno7Cs Tvlten to ansrcer prayer. — " God always hears when
we scrape the bottom of the flour barrel." So said the child of a
poor widow to his mother, one morning, after she had prayed as
only the needy can, " Give us this day our daily bread." Beautiful
faith of childhood I Why may it not be ours ? God alwayt*
hears the prayers of His_children, and He knows when to answer.



Cap.v. 1— 5.:



ESTHER.



129



CHAPTER THE FIFTH

1, 2. (1) now . . day,« of the feast, her . . apparel, Vt.

her royalty ; i.e. the insignia of her titles. (2) when . . court,*
whom he had not seen for some time, king" . . hand, the usual
sign of favour and welcome, touched . . sceptre, in token of
her submission.

A hold petitioner. — The Romans had a law that no person
should approach the emperor's tent in the night, upon jiain of
death ; but it once happened that a soldier was found in that
situation, with a petition in his hand, waiting for an opportunity!
of presenting it. He was apprehended, and going to be im-
mediately executed ; but the emperor, having overheard the
matter in his pavilion, cried aloud, saying. " If the petition be
for himself, let him die ; if for another, spare his life."' Upon
inquiry, it was found that the generous soldier prayed for the lives
of his two comrades who had been taken asleep on the watch.
The emperor nobly forgave them all.

3 — 5. (3) given . . kingdom, an expression denoting great
liberality. (4) let . . prepared, customary to grant requests at
banquets ; by that time she would be able to frame her request,
(o) cause . . haste, Esther invited Haman as the kings
favourite. It might also be so to move him by her kindnts'* ;.s
to lead him to counteract the decree.

A royal prom\sc fill filled. — Dr. Lyons, who was preferred to the
bishopric of Cork. Cloyne, and Ross, during the latter part of the
reign of Queen Elizabeth, held the benefice for twenty years, but
never preached but once, which was on the death of the queen.
On that melancholy occasion he thought it his duty to pay the
last honours to his royal mistress, and accordingly ascended the
pulpit in Christ Church, Cork, where he delivered a good dis-
course on the uncertainty of life, and the great and amiable
qualities of her majesty. He concluded in the following waim
but whimsical manner : — " Let those who feel this loss deplore
with me on this melancholy occa.-^ion ; but if there be any that
hear me who have secretly wished for this event (as perhaps
there may be), they have now got their wish, and may it do them
all the good they deserve." The bishop's aversion to preacliing is
supposed to have arisen from his not having been intended for
the Church. His promotion is very singular : he was captain of
a ship, and distinguished himself so gallantly in several actions
with the Spaniards, that, on being introduced to the queen, she
told him that he should have the first vacancy that offered. Tlie
honest captain, who understood the queen literally, soon after
hearing of a vacancy in the see of Cork, immediately set out for
court, and claimed the royal promise. The queen, astonislied at
the request, for a time remonstrated against the impropriety of
it, and said that she could never think it a suitable office for^
him. It was, however, in vain ; he pleaded the royal promise.}
and relied on it. The queen then said she would take a few days
to consider of the matter, when, examining into his character,
and finding that he was a sober, moral man, as well as an
intrepid commander, she sent for him, and g^ave him the bLshopric,

VOL V. O.T. A



■.C. dr. .510.

Eather ven-
tures before
the king-

a iv. 1(5.

b iv. II. vi. 4
S.'e lip. HiiH,
Co t.

A man c o m-
plaii;e i t<} h s
paMf)r that h-}
hatl yrxy it a
whole yeir for
the coinfo ts of
reJigiou, hu,, had
rpc-ivpd no an-
swer. Hi« viinis-
te.- lejilie I. •' (Jo
honi-" an I pr<iy,
• Kat HT, glorify
Thyself."

Esther's
invitation to
a banquet

"Liberal of
criielti Hift those
who I'aaipor with
pr iiii-es: pro-
uiisers dr-htroy
wlii e thf-y ■ e-
Cfive, ami tho
•lope they rai e
!• -Uarly pnr-
c''a8e<l tiy the
(lepend-r.ce "h^t
is ^^ q LMit to dis-
•vtipiMntujeut." —
Zi •inner man.

" I had rnther do
ami not pnnise,
th m p ro III i • a
and n t d '."' —
Artuiir lyuiuki'.

' All acre o' ppp-
fornianoo is
worth the whole
woild of pro-
ro'.se."— //ytfj'/.

It was said of
one of thf^ .nn-
P' r ipH of Rnine,
that hft wa.s i-ai-e-
lul of what .v>ia
d n^ by him ' tit
careless of what
was sxid of him.
Kiadfoid aiya,
' Uo well «nd
bfar ill '' is wit-
teo upon i<i«
gales of heaven.



130



ESTHER.



[Cap. V. 6—11,



B.C. r/r. 5l0.

a Percy Anec.

at thp ban-
quet Esther
proposes
another ban-
quet

V. 6. .S. Lavington,
i. 481.

" As thnsfl who
kee.i clocks wind
thom lip (iaily,
lest I he weights
shou d iiin down
find the cloek
stop; so we must
set apart, some
portion of ever}'
dtiy for medita-
tion and prayer,
lest onr hearts
should so far
descend, thnn^li
the weigh! of the
Cires of this
^orli, that our
Course in g:odli-
ness should be
hindered and
•■ topped." — Cato-
iray.

Apl'iin man once
en d. " Before my
conversion, when
I praj^ed in th
p r e ^; e n c e of
others I praved
to them ; when
I prayed in
Rpcrer I praye>i
to myse.f; 'but
now I pray to
<Jod."

Prayer Is the
vei-y essence of
spirituality.



Haman re-
]atea his
greatness to
triends

a iii. 5.
h 2 <. xiii. 22.
c Said to have
b'^en fiau of Tat-
nai, who was
pnv. of W. of
Euphrates in
time of Darius,
Ezr. V. 3, fi, vi. C,

'"Tia t'uis th^tt
pride triiitiiphant
rears her head, —
aliitle while, and
all Vie power is
fled."- Godsinith.



saying, she " hoped be would take as good care of the Church ba
he had done of the State. "«

6—8. (6) king . . wine, etc., reminding her of what he had
promised. (7) my . . request, she saw that the moment had
not come for preferring her request. (8) king- . . them, though
kings ate alone, his guests were allowed to take wine with him
afterwards.

Esiher an example in prayer. — I. Consider the noble conduct
of Esther on this trying occasion. 1. The cause she undertook
was God's cause ; 2. The service she performed was at the peril
of her life ; 3. With glowing zeal she combined consummate
prudence. II. The encouragement to believing prayer which her
example affords. 1. We come into the presence not of a tyrant
but of a kind and indulgent Father ; 2, We are not forbidden,
but expressly invited, to approach Him ; 3. While Esther had a
rigid law to repress her, we have promises in our favour ; 4. We
have not a Haman at court opposed to us, but a heavenly Friend
and Intercessor to plead with us and for us. Learn : — ("1) Cod in
His providence prevents the fears and exceeds the expectations
of those who wait upon Him ; (2) God must be served and
honoured in the face of danger and rebuke ; (3) To embark in
the cause of God is to be allied to an interest certain of success ;
(4) If the love of life could inspire such pathetic pleadings, how
much more the love of souls, both of our own and others !

Earnest seeking. — An old phrase speaks of " leaving no stone
unturned," when one makes an earnest search. It is as though
hidden beneath some stone there was a treasure, and the searchers
who were determined to discover it went forth, not merely looking
upon the ground, or upon every stone, but actually turning each
stone out of its place, to make sure of the concealed treasure if
it were beneath. So Ahab and Obadiah went forth to search for
water. A man who had long been seeking religion in a half-
hearted way, one day lost his pocket-book. He said to his wife,
" I know it is in the barn ; I had it after I went there, and
before I left it was gone. I am going back to find it ; and find
it I will, if I have to move every straw." Such seeking soon
secured the prize, and enabled the wife so clearly to illustrate
the way to seek Jesus, that the man soon found Him also, and
rejoiced in a found salvation.

9 — 11. (9) then . . heart, forth fr. the king's presence puffed
up by vanity, but . . Mordecai," the increased favour of the
king made him the more indignant. (10) refrained,* he could
afford to do so, since the day of his revenge was at hand, he . .
friends, some that perh. he would mortify by recounting the
honours heaped upon him. Zeresh,*^ he sent for her, as one
would bear rule in his own house. (11) Haman . . riches, etc.,
what contemptible vanity was all this !

PersuJial vanity. — " Thou hast (saith a man to himself) rare
endowments of soul, and wonderful skill and ability in this and
that matter ; thou art master of excellent things ; thou hast
managed very important business ; hast accomplished hard
designs ; hast achieved brave feats with great wit and industry ;
thou hast framed and vented very curious orations, very facetious
speeches, very nervous and pithy discourses ; thou hast put obliga-
tions upon this man and that ; thou hast got much credit and



Cap. vi. 1—3.]



ESTHER.



131



interest among- men ; the world much lookoth on thee, loveth and
prizeth thee hugely, resoundeth with thy fame and praise ; surely
thy worth is notable, thy deserts are eg-req^ious ; how happy art
thou in being such a jierson, in performing such things, in
enjoying such advantages 1"'*

IS— 14. (12) moreover, rf^*.," reserving this crowning honour
as a final surprise, come . . myself, in this respect treated
with equal honour to the king. (18) yet, etc., one small draw-
back embitters the whole. Tlie story of his honours seems to
have been intended to enhance the enormity of Mordecai"s
offence. (14) gallows,^ Tleb. tree.*' fifty . . hig-h, or ab. 7.5 ft.
then . . banquet, after thou hast had thy revenge ; perh. they
thought it justice, and . . Haman, wherefore then were all
the Jews to be slain, if this one was to be signally punished for
his fault ? lie . . made,'* in anticipation of the king's approval.

Hamaii's confession. — I. It is calculated to impress two things
upon us. 1. That material things cannot make us happy ;
2. That human happiness is all too easily destroyed. II. The
mistakes into which Haman fell. 1. He thought far too much
about Mordecai's refusal to pay him the homage to which he
considered he was entitled ; 2. He set too high a value on the
respect of Mordecai. III. The principal lesson to learn is to
think more about what we have than what we want.*

Vanity rebuked. — A young clergyman, boasting among his
relations of having been educated at two colleges. Harvard and
Cambridge, an aged divine, being present, said, '• You remind me
of an instance I knew of a calf that sucked two cows." "What
was that?" said a third person. " WTiy, sir, the consequence
was, that he was a very grea^j calf."/ — Pride. — Take some quiet,
sober moment of life, and add together the two ideas of pride and
man ; behold him. creature of a span high, stalking through in-
finite space in all the grandeur of littleness. Perched on a speck
of the universe, every wind of heaven strikes into his blood the
coldness of death ; his soul floats from his body like melody from
the string ; day and night, as dust on the wheel, he is rolled along
the heavens, through a labyrinth of worlds, and all the creations
of God are flaming above and beneath. Is this a creature to make
for himself a crown of glory, to deny his own flesh, to mock at
his fellow, sprung from that dust to which both will soon return 1
Does the proud man not err ? Does he not suffer ? Does he not
die ? When he reasons, is he never stopped by difiiculties ? When
he acts, is he never tempted by pleasure ? \\Tien he lives, is he
free from pain ? 'SMien he dies, can he escape the common grave '
Pride is not the heritage of man ; humility should dwell with
frailty, and atone for ignorance, error, and imperfection.?



B.C. rir. MO.

d Dr. Barrow.

the advice oi

Ham.an'3

wife

a ix. 7.

h vi). 9.

c The Viil^. has
crux; in Josophiis
(Ant. ix. fi. in),
and in the LXX.
it is .til on, iho
wonl usc'l for
cross; Ac. V. 30,
X. 39. xiii. 29. xvi,
24 ; I Pet. ii. 24.

d vii. 10.

j i'.13. H.Wharton,
i ii. 51 ; R. Tlf^ed,
I .Sm- rUog. 1.57 : /V.
I .T. Coney, i. 21*1;

F. Wfbb. ii. 171;
I J. Bd'giiu. i. 77;
i Dr. II. hiair, i.
I 173; J. Cltarles-

tcortlt, ii. 21 :i; I).
! W. Gorroic, 145;
I ir. RidtarJion, ii.
j 166.

j e G. Cron.

\f Dr. Beaumont.

" It isvauity, that
mental luole, ihe
dcose oph'lial-
niia of the, vacant
mind, w li 1 c h
whispcr.s \vc may
stem the strong
control of every
wave that in our
course we finci."
-CaUler Canijibeil.

g Sidney Smith.

'• When pride
begins, love
ceases."'-Z,ai'(*/er.



CHAPTER THE SIXTH.



B.C. dr.



•0.



1—3. (1) on

unusual thing.

to sleep, they

ttc.. ii. 21. (8)



sleep, lit. the king's sleep fled away ; " nn

he . . chronicles,* to pass the time, to lull him

. . king, a providential selection. (2) written,

what . . this ? his conscience pricked him for

suffering the saviour of his life to be possibly unrewarded,

Ahasnems' sleeple.'is nii/ht. — l. Who is the sleep monarch on
this night 1 2. What was the book he read that night I 8. What
was the discovery he made that night ? We learn hence lessons

1 2



the ki>'.{2-'s

sleepless

uierht

a 'th' \U'\> v-'rb

dcpcr. 'iic IJuilO''-

\u^, undul'itorj)

n<overaciUs of a

bird's wii-ijs. Ib.

X.14; Pr. xxvii. S;

Je. iv. 25.

^iL 23. See Bp.



132



ESTHER.



[Oap. VJ. 1—3.



B.C. cir. 510.

An'lrewes. iv. oO<',
Sec /;p. Hall. Cont.

V. I. n. Melcill,
i. 141.

c Dr. T/.omas.

'•Eveiybiillethas
its bitlt't."- Binves.
All providences
to a gracious
b( art are but so
many f u 1 fl 1-
meiits.

" He who plays
with (lol'ars in
his yduth will
have t . beg for
faitriiiigs in his
age." — limine.

d Hice.

" When one ask-
ed Alexander
how he could
sleep s ) soundly
and securely iu
the midst of dan-
ger, he told them
that Parmenio
watched; he
niig!it well sleep
when Pa menio
watched. Oh
how securely
may they sleep
over whom He
watches that
never slumbers
nor sleeps! ' I
will,' said David,
' lay me down
and sleep, for
Thou Lord luak-
est me to dwell
in safety.' " —
Venning.

"God gives sleep
to iht! bad, in
order that the
good muy be un-
d i s t u rbod." —
Sadi.

"Oh, sleep,
Rwcet sleep!
whatever foim
tliou takest, thou
art fair, holding
unto our lips thy
goblet till'd out
of h 1 i V i o n' s
well a healing
li!mghtI"-Z,ortt/-
fel/oto.



e I.niure



Hour,



in connection with God's government of the world. I. He
often works out His purposes through the free workings of
depraved minds, unconscious of His influence. II. He always
overrules the conduct of sinners for the overthrow of their plans.
III. He sometimes works out His purposes by means apparently
the most insignificant.*" — SlerpUss nir/Jd.'i. — Sketch the scene-
night coming down on the great city, night in the palace ;
everj-thing to court sleep— soft couches, gentle strains of music.
But — I. God is the Lord of sleep. He made sleep (see Topics,
vol. ii. 2), and night for sleep ; we should be ill if long without
sleep. II. God sometimes withholds sleep. Men variously
account for not sleeping ; it may be Providence ; was so in thia
case. III. God both gives and withholds sleep for our good.
Hence, be thankful for sleep and improve its absence (Ps. Ixiii. 6).
We have a " book of records " — memory : its pages may remind us
of things to be done and things to be repented of. In this case
the fate of a nation depended on the use made of ^vaking hours.**
Providence of God in withholding sleep. — The late Sir Evan
Nepean, when Under-Secretary of State, related to a friend of
his that one night he had the most unaccountable wakefulness
that could be imagined. He was in perfect health, had dined
early and moderately, had no care— nothing to brood over — and
was perfectly self-possessed. Still he could not sleep, and from
eleven till two in the morning had never closed an eye. It was
summer, and twilight had far advanced ; and to dissipate the
cnnni of his wakefulness, he resolved to rise and breathe the
morning air in the park. There he saw nothing but sleepy
sentinels, whom he rather envied. He passed the Home Office
several times, and at last, without any particular object, resolved
to let himself in with his pass key. The book of entries of the
day before lay open on the table, and in sheer listlessness he
began to read. The first thing appalled him I — " A reprieve to
be sent to York for the coiners ordered for execution the next
day." It struck him that he had no return to his order to send the
reprieve, and he searched the minutes, but could not find it. In
alarm, he went to the house of the chief clerk, who lived in
Downing Street, knocking him up (it was then long past three),
and asked him if he knew anything of the reprieve being sent.
In greater alarm, the chief clerk could not remember. " You are
scarcely awake," said Sir Evan ; " collect yourself : it must have
been sent." The chief clerk said he did now recollect he had
sent it to the Clerk of the Crown, whose business it was to
forward it. " Good ! " said Sir Evan ; " but have you his
receipt and certificate that it is gone ? " " No ! " " Then come
with me to his house. We must find him, though it is so early! "
It was now four, and the Clerk of the Crown lived in Chancery
Lane. There was no hackney coach, and they almost ran. The
Clerk of the Crown had a country house, and meaning to have a
long holiday, he was at that moment stepping into his gig, to go
to his villa. Astonished at the visit of the Under-Secretary at
such an hour, he was still moi-e so at his business. With an



Online LibraryJames Comper GrayThe Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 5) → online text (page 22 of 67)