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of Dura, and sent to call together all the great men of his kingdom, to come and assist at the dedication of the image, that is, the setting it apart as an object of worship. Every thing was done in the most solemn manner. The princes, the governors, the captains, the judges, the treasurers, and the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of provinces, came according to the king's commandment, and stood before the image of gold which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up, ready to do whatever more he should require of them. Now the king's commandment was, that instruments of music of many different kinds should sound together, and that as soon as the people heard them they should fall down and worship this golden image, or else be cast the same hour into a burning fiery furnace, which was heated already to receive them; for a herald, or messenger from the king, cried with a loud voice, “ To you it is commanded, 0 people, nations, and languages, that at what time
hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, 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 it, shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” Here was a terrible commandment; a most wicked action, or else a most dreadful punishment; to deny the only true God, and give his honour to another, or else to be burnt alive.
E. Did the people obey the king, mother?
ignorant to know better, or too much frightened to dare to disobey. When, therefore, they heard the sound of the music, they fell down and worshipped the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
But the worshippers of the true God were not to be frightened into so great a sin. The three Jews whom I have told you of before, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, would not obey this wicked commandment of the king. In all lawful matters they were the first to do as he required; but when he wished them to rebel against God, then they could no longer comply with the wishes of Nebuchadnezzar. The king was soon told that the three Jews whom he had set over the affairs of the province of Babylon did not regard him, nor serve his gods, nor worship the golden image which he had set up. Then the king in his rage and fury desired that they might be brought before him; and when they were come into his presence, he said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do ye not serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now, if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of 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 ?
Now observe, my child, the conduct of these three Jews ; how quiet and sober it was, yet how brave and bold touching their duty towards God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and
said to the king, “O king, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us 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."
When the king heard these words, he became, as you may suppose, exceedingly enraged. manded the fiery furnace to be heated seven times hotter than it was before, and bade some of the strongest men in his army to bind the three Jews, and cast them into the fire.
The thing was done ; but the fire of the furnace, instead of consuming Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, only burnt the cords by which they were bound, and slew the men who cast them in. As for themselves, they were unhurt, and walked loose in the midst of the fire, and with them was seen a fourth person, so exceeding glorious in his appearance, that the king could not help crying out, “ 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.” What a victory was this, Edward, of truth over falsehood; what a triumph for the servants of God! What a glorious deliverance !
E. What did Nebuchadnezzar do then ?
M. When he saw what great things their God had done for them, he called the young men by their names, and bade them come out; and they came forth, as if it had been from a pleasant garden,
without even a hair of their heads singed, or the smell of fire on their clothes. Well, then, may we cry out with this heathen king, “Blessed be the God who can thus deliver his servants that trust in him ; who is there thạt can save after this sort, but the living and true God, who ordereth all things in heaven and in earth, according to the good pleasure of his own will."
E. What a beautiful and wonderful story, mother! Can you tell me any thing that I ought to learn from it ?
M. Yes, my son ; I think I can find a great deal that you may learn from his interesting bistory. I suppose you ask this, because you think you are not likely to be called to such a trial as these three faithful Jews were.
We in no danger of being called with the sound of the trumpet to fall down before an idol, and then if we refuse, to be burnt alive. No, my child, we are happily free from so dreadful a trial. But for this, let us remember, praise and thanksgivings are due to the mercies of our gracious God. It is of his goodness, you know, that we live in a Christian country, instead of a heathen one. In many parts of the world, even now, men fall down before the images which their own hands have made, and worship them as Nebuchadnezzar's people worshipped the, golden image which he had set up. it is that we are not living in such countries, or that we were not born the subjects of king Nebuchadnezzar ! We might then have been so foolish and ignorant as to think that a piece of gold or wood or
What a mercy
stoné, could hear our prayers, and we might have known nothing at all of the true God, who is a spirit, and is present, unseen, throughout the whole world. But it hath pleased this great and only God to call us to the knowledge of Himself, and of his Son Jesus Christ, whom to know is eternal life.
Think, I pray you; what a blessing it is to have an opportunity every day, of learning something about
your God and Saviour, and of knowing that truth which is able, by God's help, to save your sout alive. We are not called to worship gold or silver, or stone, but we are called to give ourselves up to serve the God who made us, the blessed Saviour who died for us, and the Holy Spirit who is ever near to help us to become good and holy.
This then is one use we should make of the history of the three faithful Jews who were cast into the burning fiery furnace for not bowing down before an idol. Let it make us thankful beyond measure, that we live in a Christian country, and careful by God's grace, to benefit by the light of the gospel, and to worship God in spirit and in truth, and to become true disciples of his Son Jesus Christ; Christians, not in name only, but in deed and in truth.
Again, Edward, when we hear the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, let it teach us not to be envious of the rich and great. Had these three Jews not been great men, and governors of a province, most likely they would not have been noticed, or if noticed, they would not have been minded when they refused to bow before the image.