A chemist will go to one of these summer watering-places and take the water and analyze it and tell you that it contains so much of iron, and so much of soda, and so much of lime, and so much of magnesia. I come to this Gospel well, this living fountain and analyze the water, and I find that its ingredients are peace, pardon, forgiveness, hope, comfort, life, heaven. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye” to this watering-place!
Crowd around this Bethesda this morning! Oh, you sick, you lame, you troubled, you dying—crowd around this Bethesda! Step in it! Oh, step in it! The angel of the covenant this morning stirs the water. Why do you not step in it? Some of you are too weak to take a step in that direction. Then we take you up in the arms of our closing prayer and plunge you clean under the wave, hoping that the cure may be as sudden and as radical as with Captain Naaman, who, blotched and carbuncled, stepped into the Jordan, and after the seventh dive came up, his skin roseate-complexioned as the flesh of a little child.
“Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to King Ahasuerus. On the seventh day when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. But the Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains; therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.”—ESTHER i: 9-12.
We stand amid the palaces of Shushan. The pinnacles are aflame with the morning light. The columns rise festooned and wreathed, the wealth of empires flashing from the grooves; the ceilings adorned with images of bird and beast, and scenes of prowess and conquest. The walls are hung with shields, and emblazoned until it seems that the whole round of splendors is exhausted. Each arch is a mighty leaf of architectural achievement. Golden stars shining down on glowing arabesque. Hangings of embroidered work in which mingle the blueness of the sky, the greenness of the grass, and the whiteness of the sea-foam. Tapestries hung on silver rings, wedding together the pillars of marble. Pavilions reaching out in every direction. These for repose, filled with luxuriant couches, in which weary limbs sink until all fatigue is submerged. Those for carousal, where kings drink down a kingdom at one swallow.
Light of silver dripping down over stairs of ivory on shields of gold. Floors of stained marble, sunset red and night black, and inlaid with gleaming pearl.