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thee, but they shall not prevail against thee, for I am with thee, to deliver thee.” This promise was fulfilled, for he continued, amidst all dangers, inflexibly firm in the discharge of his duty; and the astonishing deliverances wrought for him in times of the most imminent danger, proved that God had not forsaken him. The example of Jeremiah encourages all the people of God, but especially his ministers, " to obey God rather than man,
» and to conduct themselves with wisdom, courage, patience, and fidelity, assured that he, whom they serve, is able to deliver, and will never leave nor forsake them.
Daniel, * having been carried to Babylon among the captives in the first captivity of Judah, under Jehoiakim their king, with his three friends, was obliged to change his name, and they theirs, by order of Ashpenaz, master of the eunuchs. This was done in token of slavery: therefore they called Daniel, Belteshazzar; Hananiah, Shadrach ; Mishael, Meshach; and Azariah, Abednego. Being bred up in the learning of the Chaldeans, in order to qualify them for the king's service, Daniel, who was descended of the royal blood of Judah, and his three friends, had their daily allowance of meat and wine ordered from the king of Babylon's table. But Daniel, being a devout observer of the religion of his country, requested of the master of the eunuchs, that he and his friends might be excused from it, desiring only pulse and water, which he said was sufficient sustenance for them. This upon trial agreeing well with them, they had their liberty to eat it, without having other meat forced upon them. This religious abstinence appears to have been
Daniel. The Jews do not place him among the prophets, because he did not live after the manner of the other prophets. However, it cannot be denied that he was a prophet, and that what he wrote was a prophecy, as the Jews own. He prophesied at Babylon from tbe beginning of the captivity, till the reign of Cyrus, that is, above eighty years. We do not read that he returned into his country, and therefore suppose that he died at Babylon. His book is partly liistorical and partly prophetical.
pleasing and acceptable to their God; who, while they were pursuing their studies of the arts and sciences of the Chaldeans, furnished them with such an uncommon measure of understanding and knowledge, that, when at the end of three years, they were brought before the king, he found them by far to excel in wisdom all the Magi and Philosophers of his country; especially Daniel, to whom God imparted a wonderful faculty of understanding and interpreting dreams. A specimen of which he had soon an opportunity of displaying; for the king having a dream one night, it left such an impression on his spirits, as made him very uneasy; and that which added to his inquietude was, he could not recollect the substance of this dream.
Upon this, the most learned among the Chaldeans who pretended to divination were summoned; who excused themselves from telling the dream, but readily offered to interpret it, if he could recollect it. This was so far from satisfying the uneasy king, that it threw him into a rage, and he threatened them and their families with utter destruction, if they did not relate and interpret his forgotten dream. They still persisted in their inability to perform what he demanded, urging that it was the province of a Deity, and not of a man, so to divine ; and that no king had ever before required such a thing of men of skill and learning, Nebuchadnezzar looking upon this as trifling with him, gave order that all who professed the magic art in his dominions should be destroyed.
Daniel and his three friends were now sought for, to be executed among the rest ; but Daniel, addressing himself to the captain of the guard, to know the cause of this sudden decree, and the captain acquainting him with the whole matter, he went into the presence, and assured his Majesty that, if he would allow him time, he would both discover and interpret his dream. Daniel having obtained time, retired to his apartment, and communicated the whole affair to his companions Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, requesting them to unite with him in fervent prayer to God, that he would mercifully reveal
this great secret to them, that they might not perish. God was pleased immediately to answer their prayers,
and in a vision revealed the important secret to Daniel ; who, after a return of praise and thanksgiving, applied himself to the captain of the guard, desiring him not to execute the king's decree, but to introduce him to him, and he would discover and interpret his dream.
Arioch the captain, glad to be excused from this bloody work, readily introduced Daniel to the king, who asked him whether he had found out the dream? Daniel answered, that the secret was beyond the reach of human wisdom, and that none but the God of heaven could reveal it, who had been so gracious, for the sake of those who might receive the benefit of the interpretation of it
, to discover it to him. Then he thus began to declare the dream:
“ Thou sawest, o king, an image of vast dimensions, " admirable in brightness, but terrible in form. The head “ of this image was of fine gold, the breast and arms of “ silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and " the feet partly iron, and partly clay. Thou sawest, O
king, a stone cut out of the mountain, but from whence “ it came, you knew not; which stone, falling upon
the "feet of this image, brake them into pieces, and then the
rest of the image fell into dust, which the wind dispers" ed, so that it was no more to be seen; and the stone " that did this execution on the image, increased to a great “ mountain, and filled the earth. This, o king, was the “ dream ; and this is the interpretation of it.”
“ Thou art a king of kings, to whom the God of « heaven hath given power, strength and glory: thoa “therefore art meant by this head of gold; and after " thee another kingdom shall arise, as inferior to thine as “ silver is to gold: and after that a third kingdom, signifi
ed by brass, which shall govern the earth. But the fourth
kingdom shall be strong as iron, and destroy the other “ kingdoms; and whereas the feet were partly iron, and “partly clay, this kingdom shall be divided, and shall be
partly strong, like iron, and partly weak as clay, and “ shall not unite firmly together. But in the days of these
“kings, the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom “ which shall never be destroyed : and that kingdom “ shall not be left to other people ; but it shall disperse “ and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall abide for
And whereas you saw that the stone which “ broke the image in pieces was cut out of the mountain “ without hands, the great God hath made known to the “ king what shall come to pass hereafter; for the dream " is true, and the interpretation of it is certain.”
Nebuchadnezzar being satisfied by the discovery of his dream, that the interpretation must be true, prostrated himself on the ground, and worshipped Daniel, commanding an oblation and sweet odours to be offered to him ; but these extravagant honours Daniel piously refused,* and instructed the king to direct his devotions to Jehovah alone. For this great satisfaction which Daniel gave the king, in revealing and interpreting his dream, the king made him governor of the whole province of Babylon, and chief of all the learned men ; and besides many great and rich presents which he gave him, he pro. moted his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who, by deputation from Daniel, were to oversee the affairs of Babylon.
Some time after this, the king, elated with his success against the Jews, Egyptians, and others, and elevated with the interpretation of his dream, which compared him to the golden head of the image, ordered a statue of gold to be made, thirty yards high, and of a proportionable bulk. This stupendous figure he caused to be set up in the plains of Dura, and summoned his subjects of all degrees and conditions to appear at the dedication of it'; at which time proclamation was made, that when the signal was given, they should all prostrate themselves
Refused. Though this be not so expressed, yet we may conclude that Daniel would not admit of such profaneness, from the king's answering Daniel, ch. ii. v. 47, " I know of a truth, that thy God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldst reveal this secret."
and worship it, upon pain of being thrown into a burning furnace. This order was obeyed by all, except the captive Jews : which some of the Chaldeans observing, they complained of them to the king ; and not caring to meddle with Daniel, who at that time was the chief favourite, they impeached Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed. nego, his three friends. These being brought before the king, peremptorily refused to pay adoration to his image, assuring him they trusted in a God, who was able to deliver them from his rage.
This presumptuous answer (as the king took it) so incensed him, that he commanded them to make the furnace seven times hotter than it was before, and to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and cast them into it. This cruel order was immediately executed ; and though the heat was so intense that it burned those who threw them in, yet they themselves suffered no injury ; but the bonds with which they were tied were loosed, and they walked freely in the midst of the fire.
The king, at a secure distance, saw this execution; and the fierceness of the fire abating, he in great surprise and amazement cried out ; • Did we not cast three men into “ the furnace ? Behold, I see four men walking at large, « without any hurt, in the midst of the fire, and the form “ of the fourth is like the Son* of God.” Then, approaching the furnace, he called to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and said, " Ye servants of the most high “ God, come hither.” Upon which they came out of the furnace, in the presence of the king and all his attendants, who saw them unhurt, without so much as a hair
Son of God. That is, Angel of God; for so he is called, Dan. iii. 28. And in other parts of Scripture, angels are called the sons of God, as Job i. 6. and xxxviii. 7.
Some conceive that Nebuchadnezzar had heard from his pious and learned captives something of the expected Messiah-the Son of God; and had borrowed some notion of his appearance from the Cherubic Figures, taken from the holy of holies, which were now in his possession, and from other emblems of the temple, of which the Man formed a part.