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too often accompany extraordinary knowledge. The wisdom which Daniel at that time obtained was evidently from above, and came down from the father of lights*. And what has the wisest of mankind, that is not originally derived from the same divine.source ? A man has, perhaps, spent a large portion of his time in the study of various sciences, and obtained such a share of knowledge as lifts him far above the generality of his species : but the ability to pursue these researches was the gift of God ; nay, the very sciences themelves relate to the works of the Creator, and consequently the knowledge of their various properties, which is the foundation of science, must, in the first instance, have proceeded from the Deity himself, who, by means of a secret instinct, unperceived by the mind, points out the path which reason then is able to pursue. I speak of what is termed the first invention of useful arts and sciences.
As it is really true, that God alone giveth wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to those who have understanding, and that light dwelleth in Him alone, surely it is t he indispensable duty of every one, w ho possesses any degree of wisdom, to thank and praise God as Daniel did.
The prophecies of Daniel are astonishingly clear, and their dates very precisely marked.
The same observations may be applied to Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and the interpretation of it, as were, made on that of Pharaoh, which Joseph* explained. One circumstance indeed renders this at first sight more wonderful than that of the Egyptian king, which is, that Pharaoh was able to relate the particulars of his dream; but Nebuchadnezzar could recollect no more than that he had had a very significant dream, which
* James i. 17.
left left no farther impression on his mind than an earnest desire to know its import.
Far from arrogating to himself the knowledge which had been so graciously and so wonderfully revealed, Daniel began with ascribing glory to the Supreme Being, and called upon the king of Babylon to regard the answer he was going to receive to his anxious enquiries, as coming from heaven, and not as the result of human researches.
By the different emblems ofmetals and stones, God intended to signify to Nebuchadnezzar the great empires that were to be in the world. The Assyrian or Chaldean is represented by gold, because it is the first, and the most magnificent, if not the most extensive; and Nebuchadnezzar, being then on the throne, is said to be the head of it. That of silver is the Persian; that of brass, the Grecian ; that of iron, the Roman. The histories of these successive empires shew the wonderful completion of these prophecies. By the kingdom which was never to be destroyed, was meant the kingdom of Messiah.
Nebuchadnezzar was inexcusable for continuing in idolatry, when the Lord had revealed Himself to him, andfurnished him with the means of information in respect to his duty; for Daniel, without doubt, would have gladly instructed him : nothing therefore was wanting to complete the conversion of Nebuchadnezzar but a trilling mind.
SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND. ABED-NEGO, WONDERFULLY DELIVERED.
From Daniel, Chap. iii.
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth
thereof thereof six cubits : he set it up in the plain of Dura In the province of Babylon.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulerg.of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges^ the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up, and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Then an herald cried aloud^ To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up : and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute,-harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down, and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.'
Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
They spake, and said to the king, Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
Th Tu, O king, hast made a decree that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image ; and whoso falleth , ot not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego ; these men, O king, have not regarded thee ;they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king.
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? , •
Now if ye be ready at what time when ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made, well; but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace : and who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver from the burning fiery furnace : and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego : therefore he spake and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Therefore, because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Didnot we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace,and spake,and said, Shadrach,Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. .
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants, that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.