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numerous than even a candid and careful ob-
server might see reason to believe. Had we
possessed no particular records concerning the
Jews, in the Babylonish captivity, we might
have supposed it very probable that under the
circumstances in which they were then placed,
the worship of the Almighty was entirely dis-
regarded and forgotten : but some there were,
even at that time, and in the midst of an idola-
trous people, who continued faithful to their
God, and whom no dangers could induce to
dishonour Him. Of three such persons we have
an account in this chapter: the narrative here
given is one of the most remarkable in the Old
Testament, and like all the other things which
were by divine inspiration written aforetime, it
was doubtless written and transmitted for our
learning

In considering this account, let us attend
I. TO SOME THE LEADING CIRCUM-

)

OF

STANCES OF THE CASE.

The scene of the events here recorded is laid in the province of Babylon, to which many of the Jews had been carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar. This sovereign was then one of the greatest princes of the East: he had been very successful as a warrior; he ruled with absolute authority over many rich and populous coun

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reason.

tries; and he has added one proof more of the mischievous influence arising generally from great wealth and unlimited power. Having set up an image in the plain of Dura, he, in the pride and arrogance of his heart, commanded the chief persons of his empire to repair to the dedication of the idol; and, on a signal given by various instruments of music, to fall down and worship it, on pain of a terrible death. There is something so absurd as well as tyrannical in this decree, that we might almost conclude the author of it to have been bereft of his

In addition to the unwarrantable outrage thus offered to the public at large, he must have been aware that there was one class to whom the decree would be peculiarly offensive, and whom it was not good policy to exasperate: he well knew that amongst his subjects were multitudes of Jews, and of their principles in this particular he could not be ignorant: it appears, moreover, that some individuals that race had been advanced to high stations in the government, and were much in his confidence. A few years before, on occasion of Daniel's repeating to him and expounding his dream, the king had avowed his conviction, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods,

numerous than even a candid and careful observer might see reason to believe.

Had we possessed no particular records concerning the Jews, in the Babylonish captivity, we might have supposed it very probable that under the circumstances in which they were then placed, the worship of the Almighty was entirely disregarded and forgotten : but some there were, even at that time, and in the midst of an idolatrous people, who continued faithful to their God, and whom no dangers could induce to dishonour Him. Of three such persons we have an account in this chapter: the narrative here given is one of the most remarkable in the Old Testament, and like all the other things which were by divine inspiration written aforetime, it was doubtless written and transmitted for our learning

In considering this account, let us attend
I. TO SOME

OF

THE

LEADING

CIRCUM

STANCES OF THE CASE.

The scene of the events here recorded is laid in the province of Babylon, to which many of the Jews had been carried captive by Nebuchad

This sovereign was then one of the greatest princes of the East: he had been very successful as a warrior; he ruled with absolute authority over many rich and populous countries; and he has added one proof more of the mischievous influence arising generally from great wealth and unlimited power. Having set up an image in the plain of Dura, he, in the pride and arrogance of his heart, commanded the chief persons of his empire to repair to the dedication of the idol; and, on a signal given by various instruments of music, to fall down and worship it, on pain of a terrible death. There is something so absurd as well as tyrannical in this decree, that we might almost conclude the author of it to have been bereft of his reason. In addition to the unwarrantable outrage thus offered to the public at large, he must have been aware that there was one class to whom the decree would be peculiarly offensive, and whom it was not good policy to exasperate: he well knew that amongst his subjects were multitudes of Jews, and of their principles in this particular he could not be ignorant: it appears, moreover, that some individuals of that race had been advanced to high stations in the government, and were much in his confidence. A few years before, on occasion of Daniel's repeating to him and expounding his dream, the king had avowed his conviction, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets. * Yet now all these things seem to have been forgotten; and we behold this prince, almost without an intelligible motive, trampling upon the feelings and consciences of his people, and impiously insulting the Majesty of heaven. For the explanation of this conduct it is not necessary to suppose that his heart was naturally worse than that of any of his subjects. Like others, he was shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin: t and the circumstance of his high birth, although he was the son of an usurper, and the probable nature of his education, and the extent of his power and riches, were but too well calculated to give force to his evil propensities, and to exhibit them in all their formidable malignity. Of salutary discipline in early life he had probably no experience; and as he advanced to maturity, few persons would be disposed to rebuke or to restrain him. Suppose a prince, under such circumstances, to arrive at the years of manhood, and to be further corrupted by the spirit of ambition, by the possession of arbitrary power, and by great prosperity in his wars, it should occasion no surprise if he prove as intolerant, as inconsist

nezzar.

+ Ps. li. 5.

* Dan. ii. 47.

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