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ance, or perhaps its increase, in extent and glory, through many a successive generation. With such thoughts as these he fell asleep; to change from waking dreams to a vision of terrible reality; dim indeed, and wholly unintelligible in its meaning to him that dreamed it, yet not the less calculated to trouble his spirit, and to make him wake in anxiety and fear. See ver. 1. Let it be our endeavour so to regulate our waking thoughts, as that our dreams may be more likely to be peaceful. Let us avoid proud thoughts, ambitious thoughts, presumptuous thoughts, and, what these often lead to, discontented thoughts, and murmuring thoughts. Let us cherish, whilst awake, holy thoughts, and heavenly thoughts. And then we may with reason hope, that God will give us peaceful and refreshing sleep, and make our very dreams devout.
There is another natural association to be observed in the tenour of this dream. Nebuchadnezzar was an idolater, or image worshipper. The thing which he was made to see in bis sleep was “a great image.” 6 And the form thereof was terrible.” This was often the case with the images made as objects of worship. They were so fashioned, as to inspire the beholders with fear rather than with admiration. In the different parts of the image, as presented in this dream to the mind's eye of the king, were seen the metals most in use in the idols made with hands. But there was a remarkable distribution of these metals in the different parts of the body, from the gold of the head to the iron of the legs and feet, which in the feet was mingled with clay. And whilst the king was contemplating this image with the awe and veneration of an idolater, lo, a stone cut out without hands is seen to smite the image upon his feet, and to break them in pieces; yea, the whole image, with all its parts, was broken to pieces together, and scattered to the winds; and the stone became a mountain, and filled the earth. Thus did Daniel describe to the king the dream which he had dreamed; taking to himself no credit for skill, but ascribing the revelation of this secret to the God of heaven; and stating that it was vouchsafed for the sake of saving the threatened lives of God's servants, and for the sake of making known to the king his thoughts. For our sakes too, doubtless, this secret was revealed; for our sakes this revelation was recorded, and the record has come down to our times, in order that we may admire and adore the wisdom and the goodness of the Lord. Praise then be unto his name, for the deliverance vouchsafed to his servants of old ! Praise be unto his name for the instruction herein laid up for his Church in all ages of the world ! Even as He has revealed it, so has it come to pass, so may it come to pass unto the end! So may all idolatry cease out of the earth! So may every idol that man sets up in his heart be utterly abolished, and every kingdom of the earth be altogether sanctified, by the growth of the Gospel in the world, and by the universal establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ !
Daniel interpreteth the king's dream. 36 This is the dream ; and we kings shall the God of heaven will tell the interpretation there- set up a kingdom, which shall of before the king
never be destroyed : and the 37 Thou, () king, art a king kingdom shall not be left to of kings: for the God of hea- other people, but it shall break ven hath given thee a kingdom, in pieces and consume all these power, and strength, and glory. kingdoms, and it shall stand for
38 And wheresoever the chil- ever. dren of men dwell, the beasts 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest of the field and the fowls of the that the stone was cut out of heaven hath he given into thine the mountain without hands, hand, and hath made thee ruler and that it brake in pieces the over them all. Thou art this iron, the brass, the clay, the head of gold.
silver, and the gold; the great 39 And after thee shall arise God hath made known to the another kingdom inferior to king what shall come to pass thee, and another third king- hereafter : and the dream is dom of brass, which shall bear certain, and the interpretation rule over all the earth.
thereof sure. 40 And the fourth kingdom 46 Then the king Nebuchadshall be strong as iron: foras- nezzar fell upon his face, and much as iron breaketh in pieces worshipped Daniel, and comand subdueth all things : and manded that they should offer as iron that breaketh all these, an oblation and sweet odours shall it break in pieces and unto him. bruise.
47 The king answered unto 41 And whereas thou sawest Daniel, and said, Of a truth it the feet and toes, part of potters' is, that your God is a God of clay, and part of iron, the king- gods, and a Lord of kings, dom shall be divided; but there and a revealer of secrets, seeshall be in it of the strength of ing thou couldest reveal this the iron, forasmuch as thou secret. sawest the iron mixed with 48 Then the king made Daniel miry clay.
a great man, and gave him many 42 And as the toes of the feet great gifts, and made him ruler were part of iron, and part of over the whole province of Baclay, so the kingdom shall be bylon, and chief of the goverpartly strong, and partly broken. nors over all the wise men of
43 And whereas thou sawest Babylon. iron mixed with miry clay, they 49 Then Daniel requested of shall mingle themselves with the the king, and he set Shadrach, seed of men: but they shall not Meshach, and Abed-nego, cleave one to another, even as the affairs of the province of iron is not mixed with clay. Babylon : but Daniel sat in the 44 And in the days of these gate of the king.
The nature and growth of Christ's kingdom. From the interpretation of the king's dream we learn, that the image, with its several parts, was a symbol of four successive kingdoms, the first being that of which Nebuchadnezzar was at that ti ne the sovereign. We learn further that these four kingdoms were to arise from distinct sources, the second being inferior to the first, the third to the second, as silver to gold, and as brass to silver; inferior in splendour, but not in strength, each prevailing against the one which went before it, and the fourth being, like iron, the strongest of them all. This description exactly answers to those four great empires, which form the principal objects in the history of the world ; first that of Babylon, next that of Media or Persia, thirdly that of Greece, and fourthly that of Rome. This last has, we know, not been succeeded by of the like nature and extent, but was severed into two empires, the eastern, and the western, of which the former has left little or no trace, whilst the latter has been broken up into several distinct sovereignties, some stronger and some weaker, answering to the toes of the feet of the image, “part of iron, and part of clay.”
But the chief object of this prophetic vision is the fifth monarchy, here represented by the stone “cut out of the mountain without hands.” This is no other than that kingdom of heaven, which Jesus Christ came to proclaim and to establish. In the days of the kings of the last of the four kingdoms, the stone smote upon the image. Christ crowned with thorns, and enthroned upon the cross, received a kingdom from the Father, to be supreme over all. Thenceforth He has reigned, and He will reign, until He has put all enemies under his feet. Then did the image, bright and terrible, representing man's arbitrary dominion in the earth, receive a blow from which it never can recover. And from that time to this, there has been growing, and spreading wider, a power new and before unheard of, the spiritual supremacy of Christ in the hearts both of kings and of their subjects. Obstinately as that power is resisted by many, and wickedly as man has attempted to usurp it, and far as it yet is from filling the whole earth, we doubt not that its success is at hand; we doubt not that soon will all the thrones and dominions of the earth be laid low, and Christ reign for ever and ever. Let us then study to subdue unto his will our unruly wills and affections. Let us glorify Christ as our King, by observing his laws, by obeying his commandments. And whatever influence or honour it may please Him to give us among men, let us use it, as Daniel did that which he obtained, in promoting our Master's cause, and the well being of our brethren.
PART VIII. 0. T.
Nebuchadnezzar dedicateth a golden image. 1 Nebuchadnezzar the king accused the Jews. made an image of gold, whose 9 They spake and said to the height was threescore cubits, and king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, the breadth thereof six cubits: live for ever. he set it up in the plain of Dura, 10 Thou, o king, hast made in the province of Babylon. a decree, that every man that
2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the shall hear the sound of the corking sent to gather together the net, fute, harp, sackbut, psalprinces, the governors, and the tery, and dulcimer, and all captains, the judges, the trea- kinds of musick, shall fall down surers, the counsellors, the she- and worship the golden image: riffs, and all the rulers of the 11 And whoso falleth not down provinces, to come to the dedi- and worshippeth, that he should cation of the image which Nebu- be cast into the midst of a burnchadnezzar the king had set up. ing fiery furnace.
3 Then the princes, the gover- 12 There are certain Jews nors, and captains, the judges, whom thou hast set over the afthe treasurers, the counsellors, fairs of the province of Babylon, the sheriffs, and all the rulers Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedof the provinces, were gathered nego; these men, O king, bave together unto the dedication of not regarded thee: they serve not the image that Nebuchadnez- thy gods, nor worship the golden zar the king had set up; and image which thou hast set up. they stood before the image 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. his rage and fury commanded 4 Then an herald cried aloud, to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and To you it is commanded, O Abed-nego. Then they brought people, nations, and languages, these men before the king. 5 That at what time
hear 14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and the sound of the cornet, flute, said unto them, Is it true, O harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulci- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedmer, and all kinds of musick, nego, do not ye serve my gods, ye fall down and worship the nor worship the golden image golden image that Nebuchad- which I have set up? nezzar the king hath set up: 15 Now if ye be ready that at
6 And whoso falleth not down what time ye hear the sound of and worshippeth shall the same the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, hour be cast into the midst of a psaltery, and dulcimer, and all burning fiery furnace.
kinds of musick, ye fall down 7 Therefore at that time, when and worship the image which all the people heard the sound of I have made; well : but if ye the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, worship not, ye shall be cast psaltery, and all kinds of musick, the same hour into the midst of all the people, the nations, and the a burning fiery furnace; and languages, fell down and worship- who is that God that shall deped the golden image that Nebu- liver you out of my hands ? chadnezzar the king had set up. 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and
Wherefore at that time cer- Abed-nego, answered and said tain Chaldeans came near, and to the king, O Nebuchadnez
zar, we are not careful to an- thine hand, O king. swer thee in this matter.
18 But if not, be it known 17 If it be so, our God whom unto thee, O king, that we will we serve is able to deliver us not serve thy gods, nor worship from the burning fiery furnace, the golden image which thou and he will deliver us out of hast set up.
LECTURE 1368. That we ought to fear not man but God. In the commandment of Nebuchadnezzar, and in the penalty with which he determined to enforce it, we see a painful instance of the gross abuse of sovereign authority. The image which he set up, and the worship which he commanded every one to pay to it, even these were for his own glory, rather than out of reverence for any of his gods. For the point dwelt upon in his proclamation for bowing down to it is this, that it was the image « that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up." And it was because he considered his own authority questioned, not out of any regard to the idol, that he fell into such a rage and fury towards those who refused to worship it. “And who is that God," he asks, “ that shall deliver you out of my hands ?” not as if he referred it to his idol god to execute judgment, but as if he felt that vengeance was his, and that there was no power in earth or heaven, able to arrest the execution of his will. Great must have been the shock given to such exceeding arrogancy by the cool and calm determination with which three of the captive Israelites refused to do homage to this idol. In vain are the chief officers of state all gathered together to set them an example. They bow not down notwithstanding. In vain are all the instruments of music sounded. They worship not. In vain does the enraged monarch summon them to his presence, and question them as if it were a thing incredible that they worship not bis gods, and threaten them, that if they bow not down, they “shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” They are not careful, they tell him, to answer him in this matter. That is to say, they are not afraid to speak the truth in reply, to avow their undivided allegiance to the true God. He was a God, who could, if He thought fit, deliver them from the worst that the king could do unto them. staked not his honour, or their own constancy, on any such mira. culous deliverance. They were prepared to glorify his name by enduring even unto death. What a contrast, in them and their oppressor, between calmness and passion, faith and sense, real greatness and its semblance ! May the good confession thus stedfastly maintained remind us of our bounden duty to confess Christ before men, at all risk of present harm! May it animate us with that true courage, which, springing from the fear of God, and from the conviction of his ever present help, enables us, even when in jeopardy the most imminent, to glorify his name !