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gicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." Insomuch that this most haughty monarch, openly acknowledged the living and true God.
In Daniel's account of Nebuchadnezzar, we have some traits of the character and conduct of one of the most distinguished personages of antiquity, whether we regard him in a political or military point of view.
The pride of absolute power, which could not bear any control, is remarkably exemplified in his threatening to cut the Chaldeans to pieces, and to make their houses a dunghill, if they did not make known to him a dream which he himself had forgotten. This monarch was advanced to the highest pinnacle of worldly splendour and pre-eminence, as if it were to convince all the kings of the earth, of the vanity and instability of human glory, when the heart is corrupted by it. What was said to Pharaoh, when his heart was hardened against the Lord God of the Hebrews, may be applied with great aptitude to Nebuchadnezzar: "And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power: and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth." This was remarkably verified in the decrees of Nebuchadnezzar; he was not only brought, like Pharaoh, to ac K
knowledge the sovereign Lord of the universe, but to publish his power to the nations.
Upon Daniel's discovery and interpretation of his first dream, we find he fell upon his face, and exclaimed: "Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldst reveal this seeret." He was convinced that the power by which the discovery was made, was omnipotent and irresistable; yet it does not appear to have been long before he set himself in opposition to it, by commanding all men to worship an image he had set up in the plain of Dura; when, in defiance of the living God, he reproached Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, with the taunting language: "Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands ?"
But how soon was his language changed, when he said: "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve, nor worship any God, except their own God! Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made
a dunghill, because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort."
We may however conclude, this had not the lasting effect of inducing him to humble himself before the Most High; for we find the interpretation of the second dream, contained a severe denunciation of Divine judgment against him; to avert which, Daniel admonished him to break off his sins by repentance, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. This probably was but little regarded, for at the end of twelve months, all that had been predicted, fell upon him ; and, in the event, seven times passed over him, until he knew that the Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth them to whomsoever he pleaseth.
When Nebuchadnezzar was truly humbled under the Divine power, he gave a testimony worthy to be engraven on the minds of princes and rulers throughout all generations: "And at the end of the days, I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up my eyes unto heaven, and my understanding returned unto me; and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honoured Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in
the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?”
The affair of queen Esther and Mordecai, and the decree of the emperor Ahasuerus, in favour of all the Jews in his empire, consisting of 127 provinces, must not only give the Jews every where great distinction and honour, but also render the true God more known, and his religion more reputable. Besides all this, Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, and in the reign of Cyrus, the Persian. Darius's decree unto all people, nations, and languages, when Daniel was delivered from the den of lions, was, "I make a decree, that in every dominion of my kingdom, men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God, and steadfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end."
From all this, it is clear, that the Jews, notwithstanding their depravity in their own country, must, during their captivity of seventy years, have been a burning and shining light all over the eastern countries. Many of the Persians became Jews, or proselytes to the Jewish religion.
The great mass of the Hebrews were exceed
ingly indisposed to the religious institutions of Moses, and that they preferred those of the neighbouring nations is evident from the whole of their history, until the time of their captivity. And yet when they saw the complete overthrow of Babylon, which was more addicted to idol worship than any other city in the world, and the fulfilment of the prophecies of Moses and Jeremiah concerning themselves, both in their punishment and their deliverance, they reverted to the observance of their religion, when it was most natural to expect they would have entirely abandoned and forgotten it; and they have not swerved from their attachment to it, down to this day.
Here we see that punishment was more efficacious in subjecting to the law and to the commandments, their untoward dispositions, than all the favours and blessings which had been conferred upon them.
In the wonderful prophecy of Isaiah, Cyrus was called by name a hundred years before his birth, to be the deliverer of the Jews from their captivity.
He is stated to be the son of Cambyses, king of Persia, and of Mandane, daughter of Astyages king of Media. Cyrus was undoubtedly the founder of a vast empire, which he estab