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TO THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND,
DELIVERED IN A SERMON
AT SOUTH-HACKNEY CHURCH,
ON SUNDAY, APRIL 5, 1835,
BY THE REV. H. H. NORRIS, M.A.
Rector of the said Parish,
PREBENDAKY OF ST. PAUL'S, AND LLANDAFF, AND CHAPLAIN TO THE
EARL OF SHAFT ESBURY.
J. G. & F. RIVINGTON, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD, AND
WATERLOO-PLACE; COCHRAN, STRAND; C. COCK,
IN TIME OF DANGER TO THE CHURCH, AN
ABANDONMENT OF THE FAITH, &c.
Esther, chap. iv. verse 14. “ If thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time,
then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jeros from another place, but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed ; and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this ?"
The Book of Esther receives its designation froin a Jewess of that name, who found that favour in the eyes of Ahasuerus, the Persian monarch, that, in preference to a large assemblage of the fairest young virgins submitted to his choice, he raised her, from an obscure condition, to be the Queen of that mighty empire. To her it is that the text is addressed by her kinsman Mordecai, who had brought her up, and been secretly instrumental in her advancement. It is therefore the expostulation of a Jewish foster-father with his adopted child, whom, amidst the rebuke and blasphemy of a Heathen metropolis, he had sedulously nurtured in the principles of true religion. The occasion which called it forth, appears, upon the face of it, to have been a backwardness on her part to exert the influence belonging to her high station in averting from the Jews generally some great evil with which they were menaced ; and its purpose is, to make her sensible of how little avail to her own safety was the timid policy she was disposed to pursue—to call back her thoughts to the lessons of her youth on God's over-ruling providence in the affairs of men, with special reference to her own nation-and to put her upon considering how far the providing against the impending emergency may have been in the Divine counsels in her remarkable elevation-and thus to brace up the energies of her mind to a resolution better befitting that light of revelation it was her privilege to enjoy, and the distinguished token of the Divine favour towards her which she had already received.
To put you in full possession of the force of this remonstrance, it will be necessary, in the first place, to state the case to which it applies; and when that has heen done, and the grounds have been explained by which Mordecai's strong language of rebuke and intimidation is supported, I will then shew you how we are affected by it, and make the practical application to ourselves.
The parties then to be regarded as principals on the occasion are the Jews—the Church of God under the old dispensation, whilst the partition wall separated them from all other nations, as His peculiar people. At the period before us they had been released by Cyrus from their long captivity about twenty years; but, as during its continuance many of them had formed establishments, and realized property in the different places they had been sent to colonize, and a new generation had sprung up whose local attachments were of course biassed in favour of the land of their nativity, the parties so circumstanced, in very many instances, preferred remaining in their present abodes, to availing themselves of the permission granted to return to Judea ; and thus, though upwards of fifty thousand did go back thither, there was still, as the context states, a large residue dispersed among the Heathen inhabitants, in all the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the Persian empirea.
Of this number was Mordecai, who held a post in the King's household which required his daily attendance at the palace gate; and who so little affected worldly greatness that, even after Esther became the royal consort, and after he had, in addition to this title of consanguinity, established the strongest personal claim to advancement by the detection of a conspiracy against the life of Ahasuerus, he still studiously concealed the fact of
* Esther iii. 8.