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Perhaps there were many poor Jews who did the same, and yet, being poor, were thought unworthy of notice, and passed over.
But when a man becomes great, there are sure to be some to envy him, who will be glad of an opportunity to do him mischief. And if he be good as well as great, then the wicked will only hate him the more for that. Thus it was with these faithful servants of God of whom we have been reading: they were high in the king's favour, and they well deserved it, for they were good men; they served God religiously, and this made them serve their king in all his business faithfully. But their greatness exposed them to a trial which, had they been poor, they most likely would have escaped. Happily they went through their trial in a very beautiful and noble manner, and it ended well. But this is not always the case. Learn then, my child, never to be too eager for worldly riches and honours.
Grieve not hereafter, if God should keep them from you. We little know the troubles and trials which attend them, and how seldom the rich and great really deserve to be envied.
This world is not the only world in which we are to live. Let us pray then that God would give us grace contentedly to do our duty here, in whatever station he may have placed us; and not to envy those to whom he has given more of this world than we possess.
And now, my son, it is time to leave off; yet I cannot let you go without begging you to learn one lesson more from the beautiful story you have just
heard. Observe, I pray you, how able God Almighty is to help, deliver, and reward those who trust in Him. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be burnt alive for serving God. It seemed as if nothing could save them. The fire was so hot and fierce that it slew the men who cast them into it; yet they were taken care of; and came out without the least harm whatever; and when the king saw what was done, he gave glory to God, and added fresh honours to these his servants. fear then ever hinder us from serving God. The Almighty is ever at hand to help his faithful servants. We must not indeed expect such deliverances as the one of which we have now heard, neither have we reason to expect such trials. But God can help and deliver in a common way, as well as in a strange one. He can savė without sending an angel to us, and without making his hand seen ; God is everywhere to behold, and, for Jesus Christ's sake, to make all things work together for the good of the humble and sincere Christian.
SIXTY-FIRST SUNDAY EVENING.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR KING OF BABYLON.
E. Did king Nebuchadnezzar become a better man, mother, and leave off idolatry after he had seen what the true God could do for his people ?
M. There is nothing in the Bible to lead us to suppose that the wonderful miracle he had seen made any deep impression on his mind. Indeed, we have every reason to suppose that he continued a very proud and wicked man; and that he remained wilfully ignorant of the true religion, although the faithful servants of God, by whom he was surrounded, recommended that religion to him strongly by their own holy and upright example. But Nebuchadnezzar was a great and powerful monarch; the Most High God had given him such a kingdom, and glory, and majesty, and honour, that all people, nations, and languages trembled before him; and his power was such, that whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive; whom he would he set up, and whom he would he put down; or, in other words, the life and death, and fortunes of his subjects were entirely at his will.
E. But, mother, had not God given him this great power?
M. He had, my son; and Nebuchadnezzar's crime lay not in being so great and powerful, but in forgetting that he had received all his advantages from the Most High God, and in not endeavouring to make a good use of them, but allowing them instead to turn away his heart from God; for his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, so that he fancied himself greater than God himself. This was an awful state of mind, and God was graciously pleased to warn him of he danger he was in by a very remarkable dream, which the prophet Daniel explained to him. We will read the dream in the Bible : you will find it in the fourth chapter of the book of Daniel.
E. And what was the meaning of it, mother?
M. Daniel toid him that it was a message from heaven to him, to inform him that his pride was very hateful in the sight of the Almighty, and that God meant to humble it to the very dust, and to bring him down from his high station; lower far than any human being had ever been brought before,—even to a level with the beasts of the field. For the reason which had been given him, and of which he had made so bad a use, was to be taken away from him, and his heart was to be changed from man's, and a beast's heart was to be given to him, and he was no longer to be treated like a human being, but to be turned out to live with the beasts on the grass of the earth, among them to remain until he had learned that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
E. O, mother, what a terrible dream! I hope he listened to it, and grew a better man.
M. It would have been well for him, my son, if he had allowed this awful message to sink deep into his heart: if he had listened to the prophet Daniel, who, when he gave him this dreadful but true explanation of his dream, entreated him to let it lead him to repentance; to break off his sins by righteousness, and instead of his past cruelty and iniquity, to begin to show mercy to the poor. Had he done so, the prophet gave him reason to hope that the dreadful sentence which had been passed upon him might have been changed. But his heart was hardened like the heart of Pharaoh and Sennacherib, and twelve months more passed away without any alteration in this proud king for the better.
E. I suppose, mother, he did not believe what the prophet Daniel told him ?
M. No; mý soñ; he seemed determined not to believe it, but the blow came upon him suddenly, when he least expected it. For several months after the message had been sent to him; he continued to be a flourishing king, and at the end of a year he was walking proudly in his palace in the kingdom of Babylon, without the least expectation of the evil that was approaching him.
On the contrary, he was saying to himself in the pride of his still unhumbled heart, " İs not this great Babylon, which I have built by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty ?” He was walking, most likely, at this moment upon the roof of his palace, for the houses and palaces in eastern countries used to be built with flat roofs, upon which persone could walk very pleasantly. From this