Esther 1:9
A noticeable feature of the king's banquet was that even the women were not excluded from participation in the festivities. In the court of the garden the king entertained only men. But inside the palace Queen Vashti made a feast for the women.

I. A PICTURE OF QUEENLY DUTY. As queen, Vashti entered into the king's mind, and gave his projects such support as she could in her own circle of duty and influence.

II. A PICTURE OF WIFELY DUTY. AS wife, Vashti was mistress of the female portion of the king's household. She took charge of the women, and ruled them to the advantage and comfort of her husband.

III. A PICTURE OF ORIENTAL CUSTOM WITH RESPECT TO WOMEN. The two sexes are rigidly separated in public and social life. Women rarely travel beyond the narrow limits of the house or the apartments assigned to them. They live together in mysterious seclusion, and are carefully guarded against intercourse with the outside world.

IV. THE INFLUENCE OF WOMAN.

1. On the field of governmental policies and national events. It has often been dominant, even though unseen, both in civilised and in uncivilised countries. A beautiful and clever woman may easily make a weak prince her slave, and through him affect the current of history either for good or evil. There are not a few instances of the exercise of the feminine power in the region of politics both in sacred and secular history, both in ancient and modern times.

2. On the field of domestic, social, and religious life.

(1) Mothers. To a large extent mothers give the mould of thought and character to each generation. The early years, the formative periods, of men and women alike, are in their hands. The early home, whatever its character, is never forgotten.

(2) Wives. The power of a trusted and loved wife over her husband cannot be estimated. It will, as a rule, work its way gradually and surely, either to his well-being or to his detriment. The effect of so close, and tender, and constant a companionship will inevitably show itself, somehow, in his character, his happiness, and his work. The spirit that rules his wife will come in some real measure to rule him; it will strengthen or weaken his character, brighten or darken his home, benefit or blast his life. Is there anything more beautiful, and strong, and good in human society than the influence of the modest, loving, virtuous, and Christian wife?

(3) Women generally. In societies which allow free intercourse in the family and world between men and women of all ages, feminine influence touches human life at every point. When it is pure it is always purifying. When it is impure it has a terrible power to corrupt. Intercourse with a high-minded and good-hearted Christian woman is a lift heavenward. Willing intercourse with an unprincipled or unsexed woman is a plunge hellward. In all circles, and in all directions, the influence of women powerfully tells. It is at once the best and the worst element in all grades of society.

V. THE IMPORTANCE OF A FULL RECOGNITION OF THE JUST CLAIMS OF WOMEN. The effect of secluding women, and treating them as the chattels and toys of men, has been to degrade them, and to deprive society of their proper influence. It is undoubtedly true that the position assigned to women in Eastern nations has been one of the chief causes of their decay, and is now one of the chief obstacles to all civilising or Christianising movements.

VI. THE BENIGN POWER OF CHRISTIANITY IN RELATION TO WOMEN. Wherever the gospel of Jesus is allowed to govern families or communities, the gentler sex is raised by it into its true relative position. We think of the holy women to whom Jesus gave such a mingled respect and affection, and of those who were associated with the apostles in their work, and of whom such honourable mention is made. The Christian religion ever brings with it the emancipation of women from the thraldom of man's tyrannical lust, and secures to them their rightful share of work and influence. It makes them mistress in their own sphere. It clothes them with a new responsibility and power, and, by surrounding them with high duties and ministries, draws into beneficent activity the best qualities of their nature. Nations that degrade their women are doomed; nations that cherish a Christian respect for them have a spring of life that will make them strong and enduring. The greatest trial of gospel missionaries arises from the utter ignorance of heathen women and the difficulty of reaching them with the Divine truth they teach. - D.







And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel
It is not entirely, however, in moral recoil that sanction is thus given in law to the better practice. There is a touch of political prudence in it. For here at the feast are princes from all parts, with their retainers and tribes. There are men here from the mountains who are famous for their temperance and for the strictness and simplicity of their manners. Such men would not be won, but dis. gusted rather and alienated from the royal cause, by anything like Bacchanalian excess. In prudence, therefore, as well as from possibly higher motive, the principle of temperance must have the reinforcement of public law.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Did an absolute prince pay such regard to the laws of his country, and to the liberty of his subjects, and shall not Christians pay an equal regard to the laws of their religion? Are these laws less obligatory upon us at feasts them on other occasions? Shall we requite the liberal Giver of all good things with insults on His authority, at the very time that our table is covered by His bounty?

(G. Lawson.)

Whether we do not, on a wider scale, as a people in fact, and with the force of law, practise compulsion still, sad that on the weakest and most helpless part of our people, is a very serious question, and one which, to say the least, we cannot answer with the same confidence. If places where drink is sold to the common people are multiplied much beyond the reasonable needs of the community; if exceptional privileges are given to the sellers; if their houses, with many exits and entrances, are planted in the most conspicuous spots; if they burn the brightest lights in the streets, and are allowed to keep open long after other trades and industries are closed and silent, does not all this and more of the same kind amount to a sort of compulsion to working-people, and trades-people, and thoughtless young people of both sexes?

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

The statement here made reminds us of an incident which is said to have occurred at the table of Queen Victoria in one of the early years of her reign. The temperance movement was just beginning to make its way into the upper classes of English society, sad on the occasion to which I refer a British nobleman, well-known for his activity in all good causes, declined to comply with the request of one of his fellow-guests that he should drink wine with him, whereupon the appeal wait made to her Majesty that she should exert her authority in the case; but she nobly replied, in the spirit of this Persian law, "There shall be no compulsion at my table"; and that reply did much to discountenance the old custom of badgering, and browbeating and insisting upon guests drinking out of regard for their hosts, until they felt themselves in a position where it was difficult to refuse, and were virtually compelled either to act against their better judgment or to do that which was considered rude and unmannerly.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

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