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to rest.“ Nothing but the grace of God can cure the heart of them;-and of this grace, to us so rich a "treasure, these unhappy men knew nothing. Therefore they said to one another, “We shall not find
any occasion to speak against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”
Happy Daniel! his most bitter enemies could find no fault in him, excepting that he served God too well.
Well, these wicked men agreed together that they would persuade the king to make a law, that for thirty days no man should ask any petition of any god or man, excepting of the king himself, and that whoever broke this law should be cast immediately into a den of lions.
King Darius listened to the words of these wicked men to make the law which they had asked of him, little thinking that they were but laying a trap for the faithful servant whom he loved so well. The law was written, and signed by the king, and made known throughout all his kingdom.
Now Daniel was in the habit of praying to God, as good men have always been, every day; and that not once, nor even twice, but regularly three times in the day, notwithstanding all the important business he must have had to attend to, as chief president of the great kingdom of Babylon. We know, too, that the business of his station was never in the least degree neglected. Now this piety of Daniel, this practice of constant prayer to God, was one which he could not, and would not, on any account neglect. He depended upon it for all his comfort and all his goodness. Were he to leave bff praying to God, he might become as wicked as his enemies were. Besides, it was duty to God, which could not be excused, and which no law of man could set aside.
E. But I thought, mother, that everybody must obey the king.
M. As long as he commands us to do nothing which would be displeasing to the King of kings. The laws of the country in which we live mand us to do any thing which is not wrong. If their commands should even be inconvenient of harsh, still we must obey them as long as they do not call upon us to do any thing which we know to be wrong. But if the laws of our king and of our country set themselves against God, and expect us to do what he forbids, or to leave undone what he commands, then there is nothing left but to obey God rather than man. When Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to fall down and worship his golden image, they answered him plainly, as I dare say you remember, "Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” For already God had commanded them, saying, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." As they refused to obey the wicked command of Nebuchadnezzar, so did Daniel refuse to observe the law which Darius had made: it was plainly against God's commandment, " Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God;" HO
the prophet determined at once to pay no attention to it, but to go on as he had done before, worshipping God three times a day, with his window, as was the custom of the Jews, open towards Jerusalem. He did not even try to pray to God more secretly than he had been used to do; he did not Jessen one of the three times, but " when he knew the writing was signed, he went into the house, and his windows being open in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he knelt down upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
What a noble instance was this of unshaken piety! He who knew his duty towards man so well, determined also to serve his God no less faithfully, and to persevere in the worship of his holy name, even to the danger of his life.
E. What did his enemies think, mother, when they saw this?
M. It was just what they expected, and they were, no doubt, greatly rejoiced to find that their plan for Daniel's destruction had answered so well. Immediately they informed the king of what they had seen, saying, “ That Daniel, who is of the chil. dren of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day." Then the king,
, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself for having made such a law, for he loved Daniel well, and he felt that in him he should lose the best man in his kingdom ; and all day he tried to think how he could possibly save Daniel
E. Why, mother, could he not undo the law which he had made, if he liked ?
M. No, my son; it was a particular law of the Medes and Persians, that when the king had once passed a decree, it could not be altered. Daniel's enemies took care to remind the king of this, for they knew how he valued Daniel, and saw how grieved he was at the idea of exposing him to such a cruel death. King Darius saw, however, that it was too late to save him, and therefore he was obliged to consent to his being thrown into the den of lions ; his only comfort was in the hope that the God whom Daniel served so faithfully would find some means of saving him from death.
Then Daniel was brought forth, and cast, according to the law, into the lions' den. Every care, too, was taken that he should not escape; for a stone was brought and laid at the entrance of the den, and the king sealed it with his own seal, and that of his lords, that so it might not be in any one's power to deliver Daniel. And now his death seemed certain. But with God nothing is impossible. He sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, that they should not hurt his servant, for innocency was found in him before God. Thus did Daniel, in the lions' den, sleep more sweetly than the king in his palace, on his silken couch. Indeed, the king was too unhappy to rest at all ; he would not allow the instruments of music, which generally lulled him to sleep, to be brought into his chamber, and he thought so much of Daniel that his sleep departed from him. Very long did that night appear, and in
the morning he arose early, and went with haste to the lions' den, anxious to know whether Daniel was really dead.
And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel, and said, “0 Daniel, thou servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions ?" Then said Daniel unto the king, “O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me.” Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found in him, because he believed in his God.
On the other hand, as a just punishment to those wicked men who would thus have murdered the blameless Daniel, they were brought by the king's command, and cast themselves into the lions' den ; but no protecting angel was near to preserve them; but immediately “ the lions had the mastery over them, and brake all their bones in pieces.” Thus, as is generally the case, these wicked men fell into the snare which they had laid for another, and reaped the due reward of their evil deeds.
Ē. What a beautiful story, mother! I have never heard one that I like better.
M. It is, my son, a most interesting story, and a very solemn one, too.
I will point out to you several most important lessons to be learned from it.
And, first, let us observe, that wicked men are sure of punishment in the end. They may triumph