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attend this Agagite, in his supposed greatness, than one of the noblest princes. The ambition is too highflown, that seeks glory in the servility of equals.
The place adds much to the act: there is small heart in a concealed honour; it is nothing, unless the streets of the city of Shushan be witnesses of this pomp, and ring with that gracious acclamation.
The vain hearts of proud men can easily devise those means whereby they may best set out themselves. Oh that we would equally affect the means of true and immortal glory! The heart of man is never so cold within him, as when, from the height of the expectation of good, it falls into a sudden sense of evil : so did this Agagite. “Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel, and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai, the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate ; let nothing fail of all that thou hast said.” How was Haman thunderstricken with this killing word ! “Do thou so to Mordecai.” I dare say, all the honours that Ahasuerus had heaped upon Haman cannot countervail this one vexation. Doubtless, at first, he distrusts his ear, and then muses whether the king be in earnest; at last, when he hears the charge so seriously doubled, and finds himself forced to believe it, he begins to think, What means this inconceivable alteration ? Is there no man in all the court of Persia to be picked out for extraordinary honour but Mordecai? is there no man to be picked out for the performance of this honour to him, but Haman ? have I but one proud enemy in all the world, and am I singled out to grace him ? did it gall me to the heart, and make all my happiness tedious to me, to see that this Jew would not bow to me, and must I now bow to him? That, which he would rather die, and forfeit the life of all his nation, than do to me, notwithstanding the king's command, shall I be forced, by the king's command, to do unto him ? Yea, did he refuse to give but a cap and a knee to my greatness, and must I lacquey so base a fellow through the streets; must I be his herald, to proclaim his honour through all Shushan ? Why do I not let the king know the insolent affronts that he hath offered me? why do I not signify to my sovereign, that my errand now was for another kind of advancement to Mordecai ? If I obtain not my desired revenge, yet, at least, I shall prevail so far, as to exempt myself from this officious attendance upon so unequal an enemy. And yet that motion cannot be now safe; I see, the king's heart is, upon what ground soever, bent upon this action ; should I fly off never so little, after my word so directly passed, perhaps my coldness or opposition might be construed as some wayward contestation with my master ; especially since the service that Mordecai hath done to the king is of a higher nature than the despite which he hath done to me. I will, I must give way for the time; mine humble yieldance, when all the carriage of this business shall be understood, shall, I doubt not, make way for mine intended revenge Mordecai, I will honour thee now, , that by these steps I may ere long raise thee many cubits higher. I will obey the command of my sovereign in observing thee, that he may reward the merit of my loyalty in thine execution.
Thus resolved, Haman goes forth with a face and heart full of distraction, full of confusion ; and addresses himself to the attiring, to the attending of his old adversary, and new master, Mordecai. What looks, do we now think, were cast upon each other, at their first greeting ? their eyes had not forgotten their old language: certainly, when Mordecai saw Haman come into the room where he was, he could not but think, This man hath long thirsted for my blood, and now he comes to fetch it; I shall not live to see the success of Esther, or the fatal day of my nation. It was known that morning in the court, what a lofty gibbet Haman had provided for Mordecai: and why might it not have come to Mordecai's ear ? what could he therefore now imagine other than that he was called
out to that execution ? But, when he saw the royal robe that Haman brought to him, he thinks, Is it not enough for this man to kill me, but he must mock me too? what an addition is this to the former cruelty, thus to insult, and play upon my last distress ? But, when he yet saw the royal crown ready to be set on his head, and the king's own horse, richly furnished, at his gate, and found himself raised by princely hands into that royal seat, he thinks, What may
all this mean? Is it the purpose of mine adversary, that I shall die in state? Would he have me hanged in triumph ? At last, when he sees such a train of Persian peers attending him, with a grave reverence, and hears Haman proclaim before him, “ Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour :" finding this pomp to be serious and well meant, he imagines, in all likelihood, that this unexpected change proceeds from the suit of his Esther ; now he begins to lift up his head, and to hope well of himself, and his people, and could not but say within himself, that he had not fasted for nothing. Oh the wondrous alteration that one morning hath made in the court of Persia ! he that was yesternight despised by Haman's footmen, is now waited on by Haman, and all his fellow princes : he, that yesternight had the homage of all knees but one, and was ready to burst for the lack of that, now doth obeisance to that one by whom he was wilfully neglected: it was not Ahasuerus that wrought this strange mutation, it was the overruling power of the Almighty, whose immediate hand would thus prevent Esther's suit, that he might challenge all the thank to himself. While princes have their own wills, they must do his; and shall either exalt or depress according to divine appointment.
I should commend Haman's obedience in his humble condescent to so unpleasing and harsh a command of his master, were it not, that either he durst do no other, or that he thus stooped for an advantage. It is a thankless respect that is either forced, or for ends. True subjection is free and absolute, out of the conscience of duty, not out of fear or hopes.
All Shushan is in amaze at this sudden glory of Mordecai, and studies how to reconcile this day with the thirteenth of Adar; Mordecai had reason to hope well; it could not stand with the honour of the king, to kill him whom he saw cause to advance ; neither could this be any other than the beginning of a durable promotion ; otherwise, what recompense had an hour's riding been to so great a service?
On the other side Haman droops, and hath changed passions with Mordecai: neither was that Jew ever more deeply afflicted with the decree of his own death than this Agagite was with that Jew's honour. How heavy doth it lie at Haman's heart, that no tongue but his might serve to proclaim Mordecai happy! Even the greatest minions of the world must have their turns of sorrow.
With a covered head, and a dejected countenance, doth he hasten home, and longs to impart his grief, where he had received his advice. It was but cold comfort that he finds from his wife Zeresh, and his friends : “If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him.” Out of the mouth of Pagans, O God, thou hast ordained strength, that thou mayest still the enemy and the avenger. What credit hath thy great name won with these barbarous nations, that they can, out of all experience, make maxims of thine undoubted protection of thy people, and the certain ruin of their adversaries ! Men find no difference in themselves; the face of a Jew looks so like other men's, that Esther and Mordecai were not, of long, taken for what they were : he that made them, makes the distinction betwixt them ; so as a Jew may fall before a Persian, and get up, and prevail ; but if a Persian, or whosoever of the Gentiles, begin to fall before a Jew, he
can neither stay nor rise. There is an invisible hand of omnipotency that strikes in for his own, and confounds their opposites. O God, neither is thy hand shortened, nor thy bowels straitened in thee; thou art still and ever thyself. If we be thy true spiritual Israel, neither earth nor hell shall prevail against us; we shall either stand sure, or surely rise, while our enemies shall lick the dust.
HAMAN HANGED, MORDECAI ADVANCED. HAMAN's day is now come; that vengeance which hath hitherto slept is now awake, and rouseth up
itself to a just execution; that heavy morning was but the preface to his last sorrow, and the sad presage of friends is verified in the speaking: while the word was in their mouths, the messengers were at the door to fetch Haman to his funeral banquet.
How little do we know what is toward us ! ‘As the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.”
It was, as Haman conceived, the only privilege of his dearness, and the comfort of his present heaviness, that he only was called with the king to Esther's banquet, when this only was meant for his bane. The face of this invitation was fair, and promiseth much; and now the ingenious man begins to set good constructions upon all events. Surely, thinks he, the king was tied in his honour to give some public gratification to Mordecai ; so good an office could deserve no less than an hour's glory: but little doth my master know what terms there are betwixt me and Mordecai ; had he fully understood the insolences of this Jew, and should, notwithstanding, have enjoined me to honour him, I might have had just cause to