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Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are delivered. 19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar Son of God. full of fury, and the form of 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came his visage was changed against near to the mouth of the burnShadrach, Meshach, and Abed- ing fiery furnace, and spake, nego: therefore he spake, and and said, Shadrach, Meshach, commanded that they should heat and Abed-nego, ye servants of the furnace one seven times more the most high God, come forth, than it was wont to be heated. and come hither. Then Shad

20 And he commanded the rach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, most mighty men that were in came forth of the midst of the fire. his army to bind Shadrach, 27 And the princes, governors, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and and captains, and the king's to cast them into the burning counsellors, being gathered to fiery furnace.

gether, saw these men, upon 21 Then these men were bound whose bodies the fire had no in their coats, their hosen, and power, nor was an hair of their their bats, and their other gar- head singed, neither were their ments, and were cast into the coats changed, nor the smell of midst of the burning fiery furnace. fire had passed on them.

22 Therefore because the king's 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, commandment was urgent, and and said, Blessed be the God of the furnace exceeding hot, the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedflame of the fire slew those men nego, who hath sent his angel, that took up Shadrach, Me- and delivered his servants that shach, and Abed-nego.

trusted in him, and have chang23 And these three men, Sha- ed the king's word, and yielded drach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, their bodies, that they might fell down bound into the midst not serve nor worship any god, of the burning fiery furnace. except their own God.

24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the 29 Therefore I make a decree, king was astonied, and rose up That every people, nation, and in haste, and spake, and said language, which speak any thing unto his counsellors, Did not amiss against the God of Shawe cast three men bound into drach, Meshach, and Abedthe midst of the fire? They nego, shall be cut in pieces, and answered and said unto the their houses shall be made a king, True, O king.

dunghill: because there is no 25 He answered and said, Lo, other God that can deliver after I see four men loose, walking this sort. in the midst of the fire, and 30 Then the king promoted they have no hurt; and the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedform of the fourth is like the nego, in the province of Babylon.

LECTURE 1369. The blessedness of believing when we cannot see. How fearful is the storm of passion in those who have never practised self restraint! How frightful is the visage, how furious the voice, how hasty and rash the words, proceeding from ungovernable rage! But whom do they terrify? not those who trist God, not those who are aware that He can baffle the wrath of the most violent, nay rather, who believe that He will make it work together for their good. The furnace may be heated seven times hotter than ever. The strongest of men may be employed to bind and cast into the fire. The flames may be so fierce as to lick up those who execute the threatened vengeance. And yet can they not daunt those for whose death they are prepared. There is a God, they know, who reigns above; He is Lord of all. And those who serve Him faithfully He never will forsake. To such He will abundantly fulfil his promise thus given to his people : “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Is. 43. 2.

Such doubtless were the thoughts, and such the faith and hope, which animated Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, as“ they fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” Such is the confidence with which we ought to stand fast and firm, whatever fiery trial we are called on to encounter. They perbaps expected, what we can have no reason to expect, that God would work a miraculous deliverance. But we know that He will do that which for us is better, in case it ever were our duty to resist unto death, He will take us out of this world, to be with Christ where He is. Little then need we account of the worst we can suffer here, if we have a change so full of glory close at hand. Little need we shrink from any trial, whether of life or death, of pain, or shame, or want, of annoyance or affront, of calumny however ingeniously devised, or of unkindness however relentlessly inflicted. God can and will make all these things work together for our good, all redound to our gain and glory.

The king's sentence has now been executed. It has cost the lives of the most mighty of his host. And yet the intended victims of his passion are not hurt. He sees them, with their bands loosed, walking at large in the midst of the fire, and with them a companion whom he describes as like unto a divine being. Now he can call them “servants of the most high God.” Now he can invite them to come into his presence, to receive tokens of his favour, instead of to hear the sentence of his wrath. And now he can make a decree to uphold the honour of their God, “because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” It was well to be convinced, when conviction was thus forced upon his mind; it was better than not to be convinced at all. But “ blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20. 29. Blessed are they, whether high or low, rich or poor, who subdue their own passions, honour God's faithful servants, and strive to glorify God himself, out of regard to his unseen majesty. The less He now manifests his presence to the sense, so much the more may we attain unto the blessedness of faith. And the more we are free to choose, unfettered by the decrees of princes, unconstrained by the sight of miracles, so much the greater is our gain, if we heartily believe.

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Nebuchadnezzar proclaimeth the account of his dream. i Nebuchadnezzar the king, and behold a tree in the midst unto all people, nations, and of the earth, and the height languages, that dwell in all the thereof was great. earth ; Peace be multiplied unto 11 The tree grew, and was you.

strong, and the height thereof 2 I thought it good to shew reached unto heaven, and the the signs and wonders that the sight thereof to the end of all high God hath wrought toward the earth :

12 The leaves thereof were 3 How great are his signs ! and fair, and the fruit thereof much, how mighty are his wonders ! and in it was meat for all: the his kingdom is an everlasting beasts of the field had shadow kingdom, and his dominion is under it, and the fowls of the from generation to generation. heaven dwelt in the boughs

4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest thereof, and all flesh was fed of
in mine house, and flourishing it.
in my palace :

13 I saw in the visions of my
5 I saw a dream which made head upon my bed, and, be-
me afraid, and the thoughts hold, a watcher and an holy one
upon my bed and the visions of came down from heaven;
my head troubled me.

14 He cried aloud, and said 6 Therefore made I a decree thus, Hew down the tree, and to bring in all the wise men of cut off his branches, shake off Babylon before me, that they his leaves, and scatter bis fruit: might make known unto me the let the beasts get away from interpretation of the dream. under it, and the fowls from his

7 Then came in the magicians, branches :
the astrologers, the Chaldeans, 15 Nevertheless leave the
and the soothsayers: and I told stump of his roots in the earth,
the dream before them; but even with a band of iron and
they did not make known unto brass, in the tender grass of the
me the interpretation thereof. field; and let it be wet with

8 But at the last Daniel came the dew of heaven, and let his
in before me, whose name was portion be with the beasts in the
Belteshazzar, according to the grass of the earth :
name of my god, and in whom 16 Let his heart be changed
is the spirit of the holy gods : from man's, and let a beast's
and before him I told the dream, heart be given unto him; and
saying,

let seven times pass over him. 9 0 Belteshazzar, master of 17 This matter is by the dethe magicians, because I know cree of the watchers, and the that the spirit of the holy gods demand by the word of the is in thee, and no secret trou- holy ones: to the intent that bleth thee, tell me the visions the living may know that the of my dream that I have seen, most High ruleth in the kingand the interpretation thereof. dom of men, and giveth it to

10 Thus were the visions of whomsoever he will, and settech mine head in my bed; I saw, up over it the basest of men.

18 This dream I king Nebu- my kingdom are not able to chadnezzar have seen. Now make known unto me the inthou, O Belteshazzar, declare terpretation : but thou art able; the interpretation thereof, for- for the spirit of the holy gods asmuch as all the wise men of is in thee.

LECTURE 1370. The acknowledgements which Christian rulers owe to God. When God had vouchsafed to deal so graciously with Nebuchadnezzar, as is recorded in this chapter, it was well that the record should be published abroad by the king himself. It was well that one who had thought so highly of his own supreme power, should confess before all his subjects the greatness and loving kindness of the Lord. Would that Christian sovereigns, and Christian states, were always thus ready to tender their acknowledgments to the Giver of all good things! Would that they were always thus free to admit the wonders of his providence and grace, and their own obligations to his bounty !

In this singular proclamation the monarch states before the world how much he had been troubled with a dream, at a time when he was at peace and in prosperity, and how vainly he had attempted to learn from his magicians the interpretation thereof. But at the last he says that Daniel came in before him, to whom he had given another name derived from the name of Bel his god; and he then recounts the particulars of his dream, as he had related it to Daniel, with a view to his declaring what it meant. In many of these particulars this dream has a remarkable resemblance to a description of another mighty monarch, then no more, which begins thus in the Book of the prophet Ezekiel : “ Behold the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs.” Ezek. 31. 3. And it is not impossible that these very words might have been previously heard by Nebuchadnezzar, and might have helped to trouble bis thoughts when he awakened from his dream. In the mention of the holy ones and the watchers, it is probable that he described the beings whom he seemed to see in language taken from such notions of divine things as his own religion would suggest. And in his application to Daniel, whilst he owns the superiority of the prophet, he seems to ascribe it rather to the inspiration of his own false deities, than to the help of the one living and true God. He resorted to Daniel's aid on this occasion, not as to a prophet of the Lord, but as to the most wise of his own wise men, and more with a view to satisfy his curiosity, than with any notion of having his mind enlightened, so as to amend his life. Not so let us resort unto God's prophets ; not so let us read the pages of God's book; but under this impression, that the things of which He thereby tells us are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Daniel interpreteth Nebuchadnezzar's dream. 19 Then Daniel, whose name even with a band of iron and was Belteshazzar, was astonied brass, in the tender grass of the for one hour, and his thoughts field; and let it be wet with the troubled him. The king spake, dew of heaven, and let bis portion and said, Belteshazzar, let not be with the beasts of the field, the dream, or the interpretation till seven times pass over him; thereof, trouble thee. Belte- 24 This is the interpretation, shazzar answered and said, My O king, and this is the decree lord, the dream be to them that of the most High, which is come hate thee, and the interpretation upon my lord the king: thereof to thine enemies. 25 That they shall drive thee

20 The tree that thou sawest, from men, and thy dwelling which grew,

and was strong, shall be with the beasts of the whose height reached unto the field, and they shall make thee heaven, and the sight thereof to eat grass as oxen, and they to all the earth;

shall wet thee with the dew of 21 Whose leaves were fair, and heaven, and seven times shall the fruit thereof much, and in pass over thee, till thou know it was meat for all; under which that the most High ruleth in the beasts of the field dwelt, the kingdom of men, and giveth and upon whose branches the it to whomsoever he will. fowls of the heaven had their 26 And whereas they comhabitation :

manded to leave the stump of 22 It is thou, O king, that art the tree roots; thy kingdom grown and become strong: for shall be sure unto thee, after thy greatness is grown, and that thou shalt have known that reacheth unto heaven, and thy the heavens do rule. dominion to the end of the earth. 27 Wherefore, O king, let my

23 And whereas the king saw counsel be acceptable unto thee, a watcher and an holy one com- and break off thy sins by righing down from heaven, and say, teousness, and thine iniquities iny, Hew the tree down, and by shewing mercy to the poor; destroy it; yet leave the stump if it may be a lengthening of of the roots thereof in the earth, thy tranquillity.

LECTURE 1371. The general nature of the decrees of the most High. The interpretation of the king's dream shews that it was a vision graciously sent him from God most high. And the manner in which Daniel communicated its fearful meaning, proves how sensible he was of the kindness he had met with from the king, how well he knew the duty which he owed to his master upon earth, as well as that which he faithfully discharged to his sovereign Lord in heaven. In this respect his language is a pattern for God's ministers, in any situation which requires them to speak unwelcome truth to those who are exalted in authority and rank. Nay, and if it be to the poor and lowly in station that they have to utter words of warning, it no less strictly behoves them to feel, and to express, regret at being obliged to give pain, even bro

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