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gerous for her to venture uncalled into his presence. There is something in the reply of Mordecai truly worthy of observation. Esther had now been five years queen, she had increased in years as well as in dignity ; but Mordecai seems to overlook it all, and addresses her in a tone of command, and even of severity, which she seems to receive with the unaffected meekness of a child under her guardian. “ Think not with thyself,” he says, " that thou shalt escape in the king's house more than all the Jews.” Do not satisfy yourself in being silent at this extremity, with the thought that your own life at least will be spared, because you are so nearly allied to the king. “For,” he adds, with strong

faith in God, and in the spirit of prophecy, “if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed, as a punishment for this want of faith in God and love to thy people.” Then again to encourage her confidence, he suggests, that perhaps God had an eye to all this in elevating her to her present dignity : "who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this ?” This strong appeal to her piety and love for her nation, removed the timid spirit of Esther, and she resolved to go forward in the strength of the God of Israel. She promptly returns to

Mordecai this answer, “go, gather. together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night nor day; I also and my maidens will fast likewise, and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law, and if I perish, I perish.” She thought it more desirable even to meet death in the way of obedience to God, than by any means to evade the path of duty. She remembered probably the severity exercised towards Vashti ; she thought of the high accusation she should have to bring against Haman, the confidential friend and favorite of the king ; she was ignorant of the circumstances under which the decree was made, and knew not how

large a part the king might have had in projecting the scheme ; very possibly her imagination suggested that he had discovered her origin, and this might be the cause of her long absence from him. What faith in God then, what holy courage, did her resolution call for! But she would not take so dangerous a step rashly. She now, in her turn, stirs up Mordecai to devotion, and proclaims a fast to all the Jews present in Shushan ; she and her maidens would fast likewise : for whether Jews or Gentiles, they were under her control, and would undoubtedly sympathize with her in this threatened calamity. It is not likely that they abstained wholly from food during all this time, but they probably

omitted their more important meals, one of which was supper, as Esther speaks of fasting night and day. The language of Scripture on this subject is evidently general, as in Acts xxvii. 33, when Paul and his companions are said to have fasted fourteen days, taking nothing.

So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther commanded him. Having thus wept and prayed before the Lord, on the third day of the fast, Esther put on her royal apparel, perhaps as she was accustomed to do when presenting herself before the king, or because she would now avail herself of every external attraction, and came into the inner court of the king's house, to enter which uncalled

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