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Apostles' prayer, “ Increase our faith 8.” This is the shield which God has provided for your defence; this is his instrument to purify your hearts, and by this He creates you in Christ Jesus unto all good works.
Perhaps, however, there may be some here, who have little thought of being saved from sin at all; who go on in the way of their own heart carelessly, with little anxiety about the consequences. Alas! ye can worship the golden image; ye can do as the world does, and make it your principle to be conformed to its fashions; ye can yield yourselves servants to any sooner than to your rightful master; ye can praise the idols of the world, and the God in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways, ye can despise. And ye can despise the servants of that God, and account them devoid of charity, because they testify against the world's ways, and fools and blind because they walk not with the multitude. But let me forewarn you.
It shall fare with you at last as it did with Nebuchadnezzar and his counsellors; your minds and judgments shall be changed, whether your hearts be changed or not; you shall be obliged to own at last, that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is the true God; and his servants the only wise men in the world. For the day is coming, when the righteous shall “shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Fathero;" when at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and he that speaketh any thing amiss against Him shall fall into the hands of one better able to execute his threats than the mighty king of Babylon. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” “ for our God is a consuming fire10." There is one way for you to escape yet, and to find Him a Father of mercies and God of all consolation. Christ is the way; and ye must come to God by Him: but then ye must take his yoke upon you, and learn of Him. Ye shall not follow a multitude to
Luke xvii. 5.
9 Matt. xiii. 43.
10 Heb. xii. 29.
do evil, ye shall not worship with the world and adopt its maxims, and be conformed to its humours; but ye shall come out from among them, and be separate; and I will receive you, and be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty
DANIEL IN THE LIONS' DEN.
Daniel vi. 10.
“ Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into
his house; and, his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and
thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
When the Chaldean monarchy was destroyed by Cyrus, and Belshazzar, the last king of that race, was slain, and the government passed into the hands of Darius, king of the Medes and Persians, God's people the Jews still continued in captivity, and became, of course, the subjects of those new masters, to whom the government of the land in which they sojourned was now transferred. Still, however, the Lord watched over them, and the first act of Darius's administration of which we read, shows that He had not forsaken them. God took care that they should still have a friend in authority. When Darius ascended the throne, he would, of course, be speedily informed of the marvels which had occurred immediately previous to his coming into possession, and of the story of the hand-writing on the wall at Belshazzar's banquet, and Daniel's interpretation of it would be in every body's mouth; so that Daniel's former great actions, and his general fame for wisdom and ability, would hardly fail to be made known to the king. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at, that Daniel should be thought of, when the affairs of Chaldea came to be arranged by its conquerors; and so it befel.
The hearts of kings are in God's rule and governance, and He disposed the mind of Darius to make, indeed, the wisest choice that could have been made for his own interest; but, at the same time, the most beneficial choice that could have been made for the well-being of the captive Jews, by leading him to place Daniel at the head of his government.
“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three presidents; of whom Daniel was first.” Thus Daniel was set higher than ever, and became as eminent in station as he had long been in piety and virtue. But, exemplary as the life and conduct of Daniel was, and amply as the king's choice of him was justified by his whole behaviour, his preferment was regarded by those about him with jealous eyes. The native princes of Darius's land could not endure that any one, however deserving, should be advanced before them; and, therefore, out
; of mere envy, they determined upon Daniel's fall. This, however, it was no very easy matter to accomplish; for the king, seeing the excellent spirit that was in him, justly set too high a value upon his services to part with him out of condescension to the idle clamours of his rivals; and they, with all their malice, could find no colourable pretence for accusing him either of dishonesty or indiscretion in the management of affairs.
So that at last they are convinced that they must give up their enterprise, unless they can contrive to turn his piety against him, and make his zeal for the true religion the occasion of his ruin. “ We shall not find any occasion,” say they, “ against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God!." Observe here how they are obliged to pay the highest possible compliment to the man they hate. They are forced to own that nothing can shake the loyalty of Daniel, or induce him to disobey his sovereign, so long as he commanded what an honest man might do; but if they can but prevail upon the king to make a decree contrary to true religion, then they are sure that Daniel is so religious a man that he will instantly disobey it, though his death should be the consequence.
1 Dan. vi. 5.
Accordingly they go to Darius, and beg of him to issue an edict, forbidding any person, for the space of thirty days, to ask any petition either of God or man, except the king, upon pain of being cast into the den of lions.
Darius, of course, could not suspect the real design of his nobles in pressing him to confirm this edict; but yet at first sight one cannot but wonder that their artifice should succeed. One cannot but wonder how
. the sage counsellors of a mighty empire could come to their monarch, and gravely tell him that the princes and the governors had consulted to make a law that no soul in all Babylon should pray to God for thirty days, or ask any favour during that whole time, of any being, either in heaven or earth, except the king. For, to say nothing of the monstrous impiety of such a law, what could be more ridiculous ? what possible good could be produced by it either to the prince or people? One is astonished not to hear Darius object to the decree upon this ground of its extreme absurdity. But, as Solomon saith, “ A man that flattereth bis neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet ?;" in this net of flattery was king Darius caught. He was just come to the throne of Babylon, and therefore, as perhaps his artful advisers told him, it was necessary to do something which should make him appear great and noble in the eyes of the people; and this, the notable edict, which they proposed, was calculated to effect. The silly monarch was to set himself up for thirty days as a god: all the homage and all the prayers of a mighty nation were to be addressed to him alone; and
2 Prov. xxix. 5.