For Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews and highly favored by his many kinsmen, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.
patriot in the portrait we have of Mordecai. But the honourable summary of this verse reminds us that he had passed the mere politician and patriot. He has won for himself the name of the great and the good statesman. He is "next to Ahasuerus;" and what he did and what he was affected not the Jews only, but the whole empire - all of the various and wide dominion of the king. He is stamped on the sacred page as the type of A BENEFICENT STATESMAN. There have been not a few who have extorted from their own day and generation the title of great statesmen, but the claim has not survived them long.. The number of the really beneficent statesmen is much smaller, but their renown is for ever. In the amazing wealth and variety of Scripture lesson for every need of human life, and of Scripture model for every office of authority and influence in human society, this of the honest and beneficent statesman is not overlooked. Neither must we overlook it, nor omit to notice, as afresh suggested by it, how intrinsic an argument is herein given us for the Divine inspiration of the Bible. Whence but from such an original could have come to us so many, so perfect models? It is doubly important that we should remark how ample a share of these the Book of Esther contains - evidences of inspiration of the highest kind and value. The brief summary of this verse is the more impressive as coming at the very end of the book. But passing by all other suggestions, it speaks of a certain greatness, and a greatness evidently of very comprehensive character. It is the greatness of an emphatically good statesman. Let us take the opportunity suggested by a leading instance of considering -
I. THE STATESMAN'S OFFICE.
1. It is the expression of government. If man were only gregarious, he would need, and undoubtedly be subjected to. government. ALL living things are subject to government, need it, and are rapidly being brought under the rule of man, according to the charter originally given to man.
2. It is the expression of order. Man is emphatically not merely gregarious; he is social. The variety of his sympathies and antipathies is very large, and their range amazing. So much so, that the saying, "The chiefest study of mankind is man," might, if reversed, express to perfection a great truth for some, and read, "The chiefest study of man is mankind."
3. It is the expression of concentrated purpose, of intelligent, united advance. The highest and most beneficent results of SOCIETY would without it he unattainable by the human species. Development of society is always tending toward higher developments of government. And the beneficial reaction is sometimes abundantly evident. Again, the higher-developed form of government is always tending to render possible higher social results.
4. It is in some degree the expression of morality and religion. Where the religious sense is lowest, then it is lowest, and vice versa It has been well said that "the organisation of every human community indicates some sense of a Divine presence, some consciousness of a higher law, some pressure of a solemn necessity." Government (and therefore the chief personage of government) is the outcome of the most elementary necessities of humanity in some of the very highest aspects of that same humanity. From the very first this was testified; and through exceedingly various forms, lower and higher in type, the principle has ever held its ground, and still excites attention and interest second to not one of the profoundest problems.
II. SOME OF THE GENERAL REQUISITES FOR IT.
1. A certain passion for humanity as considered in large masses.
2. A natural gift for discerning the genius of a people.
3. Natural qualifications for exercising rule.
(1) Sympathy strong.
(2) Justice clear and inviolable.
(3) Authority, often indefinable in its elements, but evidencing its own existence conclusively.
(4) Temper and moderation.
4. Carefully-trained ability to calculate the effects of certain legislative treatment on Whole communities of people, and on their mutual adjustments.
5. Favourableness of position, as marked out by Providence.
III. SOME OF THE MORE SPECIALLY MORAL AND BENEFICENT REQUISITES OF IT.
1. The "greatness" which it inevitably marks will he, as far as possible, free from the taint of personal ambition. Surely there was a minimum of this in Mordecai, as there was a loathsome maximum of it in Haman. The very way in which high position is attained will be a happy omen, or the reverse.
2. Its "greatness" will partake largely of the moral element.
(1) It will have ready for the hour of special need of it an inflexible moral courage. What an illustration of this Mordecai gave before he attained high office, and when he would not bow to wrong, and, when wrong became more wrong, still refused to "move," though dread punishment overhung.
(2) The natural temper and gift of authority will more and more become transmuted into moral authority, and become superseded by moral influence. Express mention is made of this in the career of Mordecai. "The fear of him," of the moral power that was behind him, spread over enemy and grew comfortingly in friend.
3. Its greatness will lay itself out in practical devotion to the interests of the crowded multitude. Mordecai "sought the wealth of his people," and it made him "accepted of the multitude of his brethren."
4. Its greatness will speak the things of peace. Special emphasis is laid on the fact that Mordecai "spoke peace to all his seed." The statesman is not to seek to give the impression of caste. He is not to flourish upon war or strife. He is not to propagate the methods and the ideas of the high-handed, but all the contrary. Like the spiritual teacher, he also must not "cry, Peace, peace, when there is no peace;" but he is to make peace as far as may be possible by breathing peace upon all.
IV. SOME OF ITS REWARD. Beside all such as he will have in common with every obscurest fellow-man who is faithful, in the satisfaction of fulfilling duty, in peace of conscience, and in a persuasion of Divine approval, he may reckon upon -
1. The joy of seeing a prospered community, due in some part to his work.
2. The gratitude of a discerning people growing round his accumulating years.
3. An honourable, enduring place on the best of the pages of history. - B.
And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
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