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ing and gladness.

18 But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.

LECTURE 758.

The enmity of the wicked.

When the decree in favour of the Jews was published, and when Mordecai was taken into high favour with the king, "the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad." Ch. 8. 15. Yet on the day appointed there was a fierce contest carried on, both in the provinces, and in the city of Shushan. Hence it is evident that the Jews had many bitter enemies besides Haman; men on whose enmity Haman had reckoned for the execution of the first decree, men who had so long reckoned on the massacre of the Jews, that they were not deterred from the attempt by the decree which was made afterwards. And it was probably because some of these bitter foes had not shewed themselves at Shushan on the day appointed, that Esther requested leave of the king for the Jews to do on the second day even as on the first.

From the time of Cain and Abel there has ever been hostility, secret or avowed, between the men of this world and the people of God. This is one of the reflexions suggested to us by the whole history of the Israelites. Both under their judges, and under their kings, they were frequently at war with the heathen round about them. At the conclusion of these historical books, we find them still engaged, even in the land of their captivity, in a fierce warfare. We are well aware that this is no rule or precedent for the conduct of Christian nations. We gladly recognise in the Gospel a new principle of subjugating the heathen, by making them the servants and soldiers of Christ. But yet we may justly think, that there is a profitable lesson to be learnt for ourselves, from the state of warfare imposed on the Israelites of old. And it may profitably lead us to consider, that there is, and always will be to the end, an enmity either owned in public, or harboured in private, against those who love God, on the part of those who hate Him. Let us not be surprised, let us not be disheartened, if in our efforts to do God service, we encounter oftentimes the bitter scorn or active opposition of evil men. Let us not lightly give the right hand of fellowship to those, of whom we have strong reason to think, that there is no fear of God before their eyes. And however kindly we may treat those who are his enemies, let it be our joy to associate with those who glory in the title of his friends. 3 E

PART IV. O. T.

The days of Purim ordained.

20 And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far,

21 Tostablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly,

22 As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.

23 And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them; 24 Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and. to destroy them;

25 But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.

matter, and which had come unto them,

27 The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year;

28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.

30 And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,

31 To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry.

32 And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the

26 Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this book. LECTURE 759. Christian festivity.

It was in conformity with the spirit of the Law to commemorate great mercies by suitable ordinances. And it is probable, that Mordecai and Esther had authority from God for ordaining

8

this festival of Purim, to be observed by the Jews in all their generations. We find however no reference to any such authority. And it is remarkable that even the name of the Almighty is not once mentioned throughout this book. This circumstance, compared with the constant reference to God in the book of Nehemiah, makes it probable, that though Mordecai and his brethren might retain the true faith of God in the provinces of Persia, they lost much by not returning to Jerusalem, and by not attending on the services at the temple; and that at a distance, and in a foreign land, they were less likely to set God always before them, and always to glory in his name. That under such circumstances they should enjoy the light of revelation, and should experience the signal mercy which is the subject of this book, and the object of this festival, these things prove, that God still remembered them, even when they were in great danger of forgetting Him.

And when God proved that He remembered them by sending them so great a deliverance, what could be more likely to stir up their affections, and to quicken their memories to remember Him, than the perpetual celebration of a festival, in honour of their marvellous escape? And what could be a more fitting way of celebrating a festival, when they had neither temple nor altar nor sacrifice at hand, than to mark in each year the days wherein they "rested from their enemies," and to "make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another and gifts to the poor?" These were practices ordained in the Law on the occasion of all their great annual feasts. And as we consider it one of the characters of this people, that they lived in a state of warfare with many enemies, we may justly consider this to be another, that they enjoyed no small measure of glad festivity among themselves. It was God's ordinance that his people should be happy. He thought fit indeed to use them for a scourge in chastising the heathen round about them. But He delighted to see them dwelling in peace and plenty, every man under his own vine, and under his own fig tree; and He commanded them to meet together three times in each year, at once for the observance of religious solemnity, and for the enjoyment of social festivity. Let us be assured, that God delights to see us in like manner partaking of the best of happiness which He has placed within our reach. Let us be persuaded that no other feast can be compared with the spiritual blessings set before us in the Gospel. And by communicating these things to each other, and sending gifts of like kind unto the poor, let us endeavour to make all the days we spend on earth "days of feasting and joy."

The greatness of Mordecai.

1 And the king Ahasuerus laid of the kings of Media and a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea.

2 And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles

Persia?

3 For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.

LECTURE 760.

Of shewing kindness to the Jews.

Thus ends the history of the people of Israel, as given us in the Old Testament. It ends with mention of their prospering in this present world. But though they had victory in the conflict with their enemies, they were still dwelling in the land of their captivity. Though they celebrated a festival with joy, it was far from the place of which the Lord had said, his name should be there. And though "Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus," his greatness was recorded, not amongst the archives of Jerusalem, but "in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia." To the Jews this must have been a sad reflexion, as betokening the displeasure of Jehovah, stamped upon their history, in condemnation of their sin. Whilst to us, the favour still shewn them by the Lord, and the advantage still given them over those who hated them, may supply a powerful argument against ever joining to tread down Jerusalem, or ever ceasing to pray for the conversion of Israel. In their present condition, as of old, they are a people afflicted, but not finally cast off. And we may yet look to see fulfilled in them these words of the prophet Isaiah, that the Lord "shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and shall gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." Is. 11. 11, 12. Great will be then the joy of those, who have helped God's people in their need, and helped to turn them from their blindness to the light of truth. Oh may God therefore give us the heart to love those whom He so signally has loved, and to pray fervently in behalf of those to whom He so abundantly has promised, that though He hide his face away from them for a time, He will never fail them nor forsake them!

END OF VOL. II.

GILBERT & RIVINGTON, PRINTERS, ST. JOHN'S SQUARE, LONDON.

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