« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Composed at Sea.
DELIVERED AT KINGSBRIDGE, DEVONSHIRE, MARCH 21, 1824; AND AT
THE REV. DR. WAUGH'S, WELLS STREET, LONDON, MARCH 28.
[In a land far off, the most populous nation in the world, on the eastern limits of Asia, from whence your preacher has returned for a short season, the name of Jesus is hated by the rulers, and by most of the people. A native of that land is, through dread of the oppressor, afraid to have about his person, or in his house, either book or any written paper which contains the name of Jesus, that blessed name, which is your only hope.
Compared with such a state of things, how truly may the people of this country say, “ to us the lines have fallen in pleasant places, and we have a goodly heritage.” In Great Britain, princes, and nobles, and legislators, join with the ministers of the Gospel, and beseech men to receive the Bible. (How cheering to me, after many years exile and solitude, is such an assenbly as this!) Who can estimate the value of the Sabbath, and the Bible, and the ordinances of God's house !-And is it
possible that those nations which now hate the name of Jesus, and are slavishly attached to their idols, and their ancient sages, and their superstitions, and their vices, can ever be converted ? Is it not a hopeless task to endeavour to reclaim them? We say, no! and the reason we assign is this" The most High God ruleth in the kingdom of men.' For the encouragement of my own mind, and for your encouragement my fellow Christians, I have chosen the following words as my text.]
GOD THE SUPREME RULER.
DANIEL, IV. 32.
“ The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.” Human governments, whether the supreme authority be vested in a senate, a king, or an emperor, have, indeed, immense power over their fellow creatures; and the will of these governments, which thousands, or hundreds of thousands of armed men can enforce, seems, at times, quite irresistible. The absolute despots of Asia, and of other parts of the world, have often done whatever their caprice dictated with the persons and the property of their numerous subjects. And whilst millions have continually trembled at the oppressor's frown, the monarchs themselves have been puffed up with pride, and deemed themselves omnipotent as gods, and have forgotten their dependance on the Almighty; or bave practically acted, as if they were amenable to no higher authority. The sovereign of Babylon,* that mighty monarch, whilst walking on an elevated terrace, and surveying the great city which he had embellished, said, either mentally or audibly, with vain self-complacency, Dan. iv. 30. “Is not this great Babylon that I have built, for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my niajesty." But whilst the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from Heaven, denouncing a punishment of his pride and self-sufficiency, which punishment would last will be should learn to know and acknowledge, that “The most High ruleth in the
• Nebuchadnezzar is called Nabuchodnosor II. by Rollin, reigned over Chaldea, Assyria, Arabia, Syria, and Palestine, forty-three years. Ante J. C. 603.
kingdom of men;" and He giveth earthly thrones to “whomsoever he will;” and sometimes setteth up over nations “the bagest of men.” The doctrine taught is, that the most High God is the supreme ruler over the nations and the kingdoms of the earth ; and as his wisdom and justice may direct, he roots out and pulls down, or builds up and plants; no power on earth can obstruct his designs. The illustration of this much-neglected truth, I shall draw from a slight survey of the Book of Daniel, in which our text lies, and make such inferences in passing, as may tend to instruct, réprove, or admonish.
I. Daniel himself, the writer of this book, strikingly exemplifies how the Divine Ruler can and does employ some of all ranks and conditions of men as his special and beloved servants on earth. Kings and courtiers, shepherds and fishermen, - philosophers and unlettered men, have, according to Sacred Writ and the history of the church, all been especially employed by divine Providence. The kings, David and Solomon, were writers of parts of divine Revelation; Daniel and Joseph, were courtiers or statesmen, under heathen monarchs; and this Daniel was twice declared, by a divine message, to be “a man greatly beloved” in the heavenly world;-a clear proof that no secular duties, nor any station in society, is incompatible with the service of God. Daniel was, when a young lad, carried away (as a prisoner by a victorious army that had ravaged his native country,) to a foreign land, and there appointed to the menial duties of the royal harem. And from the age of eighteen till ninety, he served the pagan princes of successive dynasties with fidelity, and at the same time preserved a conduct that was pleasing to Heaven. The Jews, of late years, being grieved thać Daniel's prophesies point so clearly to Jesus of Nazareth, as the true Messiah, will not allow him the title of prophet, alleging as a reason, that he lived as a courtier, instead of living secluded from mankind, as did the prophets Elijah and others. But Heaven did not, because he was à courtier, withhold from him the gift of prophesy; and therefore how futile is it in man to with
hold the name. Beside, our Saviour has designated him “Daniel the prophet,” Matt. xxiv. 15. There are those in our day who despise the poor and unlettered, as if Heaven never employed them, as he did formerly the prophet Amos, who was a herdsman, and the fishermen of Galilee, who were the first Missionaries of the Saviour; and there are those in the lower walks of life, who seem to think that kings and statesmen cannot be faithful servants of the most High. But a review of sacred history, and human records, will shew, that there is no reason for such a supposition; nor is it often necessary to quit one's station in society, in order to serve the Lord; but it is practicable to serve him whereever we are, whilst we faithfully purpose, as did Daniel, not to defile ourselves, nor to be unfaithful in the things that concern our God. Daniel was a man of prayer, and neither flattery nor frowns could turn him aside. He would not desist from prayer to save his life; although it would have been no very artful subterfuge to substitute for his usual devotions, mental prayer, unknown to man; or to have retired to his closet, and shut to the door. But no, when his enemies at court, who envied the influence of the captive Jew, obtained the foolish and impious decree, that no person in the empire should for thirty days ask a petition of God or man, but only from the king; Daniel, knowing the decree was signed, went into his house, kneeled upon his knees three times a day, with his chamber windows open towards Jerusalem, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. For he thought it not right to conceal his prayers on this occasion, nor to act a lie, or do what implied an untruth, as a discontinuance of his usage would have been. Whilst praying, he was discovered, and suffered the penalty of his disobedience to the king's commands, for he obeyed a higher authority. He was cast in amongst lions, but the lions in the den could not hurt him: For the most High hath power, either to employ the ordinary course of nature in his government, or to stop it, or to change it, as he sees fit. He bids, the ravenous lions not devour, and the fiery furnace not burn, and it is done. Daniel came forth unhurt from the den;
and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who would not worship the king's golden image, walked in the midst of the burning fiery furnace and felt no harm. They trusted that God would see meet to deliver them; but if not, they were prepared to suffer. Their courage and firm resistance to the royal mandate did not arise from a foreknowledge that they should be delivered; but from faith in the divine power, and submission to the divine wisdom. “Our God, said they, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace," and out of thy hand, king; “but if not”-if he should not see fit to do so, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. They trusted in God and were delivered. These examples shew that the divine government, or providence, extends to individuals, and if to some individuals, why not to all individuals? Individuals constitute nations, and great affairs arise from small beginnings. A general providence implies a particular providence, as effects imply a cause ; or as the motion of a great machine implies attention to the minute wheels.
The character of Daniel, president of the empire; of Shadrach, and his two friends, who also held offices under government; of Nehemiah, cup-bearer to Artaxerxes, king of Persia; and the extraordinary circumstances which occurred to them, gave them, in all probability, such influence in the empire, as must have contributed to ameliorate the condition of the Jews in captivity, and, eventually, was the means of obtaining decrees for their restoration. Nor may we omit here the name of Esther, the captive Jewish orphan girl, who was raised by Providence to be queen of Persia, and the saviour of her nation. And be it observed, that the enemies of these just persons, of Daniel, of Shadrach, of Mordecai, and Esther, fell into the pit which they dug for the innocent. Daniels malicious and intended murderers were themselves devoured by wild beasts; those who heated the furnace were themselves burnt; and wicked Haman was hanged on his own gallows; for God knoweth (however complicated the case) how to deliver the righ