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upon it.” (Lev. xxvi. 34, 35.) But her Sabbaths. It was not said that notwithstanding this fearful com the captivity should then inevitably mination, they became guilty of the close. So long it should endure. offence. “Thou hast despised mine Its termination, or continuance afterholy things, and hast profaned my wards, would depend on events, in Sabbaths.” (Ezek. xxii. 8.) And their relation to the divine govern“ God is not mocked.” As he had ment; which is a wise and intellisaid, “I will also make to cease gent administration, and not an her Sabbaths,” (Hosea ii. 11,) 80 inexorable fate. And the laws of did it come to pass. “Therefore he that administration Daniel knew. brought upon them the King of the Man is concerned in them, and Chaldees, who slew their young therefore they are revealed to him. men with the sword in the house of The inspired volume is “the law of their sanctuary. And them that the Lord;" law divinely sanctioned, had escaped from the sword carried and divinely promulgated. Daniel, he away to Babylon; where they therefore, looked not at the question were servants to him and his sons of the continuance or termination of until the reign of the kingdom of the captivity as a mere contingency, Persia: to fulfil the word of the -an event only depending upon Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the developement of political unceruntil the land had enjoyed her Sab tainties. Whatever the instrumen.
for as long as she lay deso tality, the captivity was from God, late she kept Sabbath, to fulfil three as his punishment of a disobedient score and ten years.” They were people. And in the same Scriptures to remain in captivity for a period of truth in which the punishment is of time equal to that which was the threatened, there are promises of sum of the sabbatical years which mercy, if their persormance be rightly they had neglected to observe; 80 sought. that their sin, as is usual in the How, then, did Daniel act? The righteous and holy administration of calamities which bad smitten down Providence, was shown forth in its and scattered Israel, he regarded as punishment. And this Daniel knew. the determined result of God's disIsrael had sinned. God was dis- pleasure against sin. The removal pleased with them. His displeasure of the punishment he believed to be was shown in the series of events as possible as the infliction of it. issuing in their captivity. That God inflicted it; God must remove series of events was not miraculous. it. But “for this he will be sought The interference which directs events unto,” in deep humiliation and earand circumstances, according to es nest prayer. Thus Daniel humbled tablished laws, indeed, but for the himself before God in fasting ; thus accomplishment of particular pur he poured out his heart before God poses, is one branch of the divine in prayer. And not vainly did be administration. Without it, the fast and pray. An extraordinary reign of God would be only nomi cominunication was made to him. nal. The occurrences which con An angel was commanded to appear ducted Israel to Babylon were all in and announce the merciful plans the ordinary course of human affairs. of God respecting both Israel and But that course is always observed, mankind. controlled, and directed by divine It is an important question, wisdom and power, in reference to Have we any concern in what is specific objects ; and this observa- thus related of Daniel ? tion, control, and direction consti- his conduct anything that is designtute the providence of God. This, ed to be exemplary in reference to too, was known by Daniel: and in us, “ upon whom the ends of the the light of this knowledge he saw world are come ?” Is this one of the important fact, that the deter- the things written aforetime for our mined period of captivity was draw. instruction ? ing to its close. Seventy years was Cases, to be instructive, must be, Judea to be desolate, and to enjoy in some respects at least, parallel.
Is there in
The question, therefore, comes to Daniel himself speaks : “ Yea, all this,- Is there any parallelism be. Israel have transgressed thy law; tween our circumstances, and those therefore the curse is poured upon us ; of Daniel?
therefore hath the Lord watched His circumstances, in brief, were upon the evil, and brought it upon these : He was a member of the us.” The Jews were in captivity,
great Jewish community, both reli not merely because of the successful giously and civilly considered. At ambition of the Chaldeans, but bethe time to which his conduct refers, cause of their own sins. Had they that community was in a state of not sinned, they would not thus strongly-marked adversity; that ad. have suffered. "They were under versity proceeding from the appoint- the divine government, they had ments of divine Providence. Second transgressed the divine law; and causes, indeed, had been, and still the evils which had cruslied them continued to be, in full operation. to the earth, were the consequences The ambition, for instance, of the of the divine displeasure. Babylonish Monarch had led to the But the evil was not without invasion, and ultimate captivity, of remedy. He who had punished, Judab. But that ambition might could pardon. He who had brought have been restrained, or directed by down, could raise up. He had even circumstances to other objects; or promised to do this; for his governthe strength of the Jews might have inent is one of mercy, as well as been augmented, so as that the inva. justice. Daniel knew this, and knew, sion might have been successfully too, that the Lord, the Sovereign, resisted, and so have had a very dif was the hearer of prayer. By these ferent issue. But without any such solemn truths was the holy Prophet interference with moral agency as influenced. He believed them, and would be inconsistent with the divine he acted accordingly.
“And I set government of individual man, in my face unto the Lord God, to seek reference to his personal responsibi- by prayer and supplications, with lity and future judgment, there was fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes." such a providential interposition as Daniel set bimself thus to seek unto was sufficient to secure the invasion, the Lord his God, for the removal and to render it successful. And of the terrible calamities under which thus was it God's work,-God's his country and countrymen labisitation. And it had been occa boured. sioned by sin. For sin the Jews But is there a providential governhad been rebuked, and threatened; ment of nations generally? If there and thus, at length, was the threat. be, is it conducted on moral princiening accomplished. And of its ples? And is there any warrant for accomplishment, thus does the Scrip- pursuing a line of conduct similar to ure speak: “Moreover all the chief that which Daniel adopted ? of the Priests, and the people, trans A careful examination of the Old sressed very much after all the abo. Testament will show us, that what ninations of the Heathen: and the is often called the “theocracy,” was Lord God of their fathers sent to only peculiar to the Jews as it was a hem by his messengers, because he government according to express nad compassion on his people, and stipulations,-stipulations of partion his dwelling-place. But they cular commandments, particular pronocked the messengers of God, and mises, and particular threatenings. lespised his words, and misused his It was not peculiar as it was a goProphets, until the wrath of the Lord vernment generally, but as it was a irose against his people, till there government of a particular characvas no remedy. Therefore he brought ter. The Scriptures uniformly speak pon them the King of the Chaldees, of the God of the Jews as the Ruler vho slew their young men with the of mankind at large,-the Ruler of word in the house of their sanctu men according to the constitution ry; he gave them all into his hand.” he had given them; and their Ruler, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14–17.) And thus therefore, considered under all the
positions and aspects in which that giveth it to whomsoever he will. constitution, in conjunction with his And whereas they commanded to own wise and ever-active providence, leave the stump of the tree roots, would place them. Now, one of the thy kingdom shall be sure to thee, results of this constitution, governed afier that thou shalt have known that by this divine providence, would be the heavens do rule.” (Dan. ir. their existence in the form of na 25, 26.) tional collections. “ God setteth But the language of Jeremiah is the solitary in families.” He who sufficient to determine the point, es"giveth to all life, and breath, and pecially when considered in con. all things, hath made of one blood nexion with the events related in all nations of men, for to dwell on the book of Jonah in regard to all the face of the earth; and hath Nineveh. “At what instant I shall determined the times beforehand, speak concerning a nation, and conand the bounds of their habitation." cerning a kingdom, to pluck up, And over all nations does his morally, and to pull down, and to destroy it; providential rule extend. Such texts if that nation, against whom I have as these are surely not limited to pronounced, turn from their evil, I the Jewish theocracy. Hezekiah will repent of the evil that I thought said, “ O Lord God of Israel, which to do unto them. And at wha: dwellest between the cherubims, instant I shall speak concerning 2 thou art the God, even thou alone, nation, and concerning a kingdom, of all the kingdoms of the earth; to build and to plant it; if it do evil thou hast made heaven and earth.” in my sight, that it obey not my (2 Kings xix. 15.) “All the ends voice, then I will repent of the good of the earth shall remember and wherewith I said I would benefit turn unto the Lord : and all the them.” (Jer. xviii. 7-10.) And kindreds of the nations shall wor. these principles of the divine gorernship before thee. For the kingdom ment were strikingly shown in the is the Lord's, and he is the Governor case of Nineveh. among the nations.” (Psalm xxii. Nor inay it be said, that the Gos27, 28.) “The Lord reigneth : let pel has altered all this. The Gospel the earth rejoice ; let the multitude does not say so; and the reasons of of the isles be glad thereof.” (Psalm this providential reign are just what xcvii. 1.) “The Lord hath prepared they have been from the beginning; his throne in the heavens, and his And the advent of Christ is declared kingdom ruleth over all.” (Psalm to be that of one who should“ judge ciii. 19.)
“Who would not fear the world with righteousness, and thee, O King of nations ?” (Jer. x. the people with his truth;" so that 7.) The mind of Daniel was tho. “the saints of the Most High shall roughly imbued with the subject : take the kingdom :” the kingdom “Blessed be the name of God for of Christ shall so spread, that entire ever and ever : for wisdom and communities, being composed of might are his : and he changeth the Christian people, their political artimes and the seasons : he removeth rangements shall be governed by Kings and setteth up Kings.” (Dan. Christian principles, as well as their ji. 20, 21.) To Nebuchadnezzar, re personal conduct; so that “the presented by the “head of gold” in kingdoms of this world” shall “be. the vision, he says, “Thou, O King, come the kingdoms of our Lord, art a King of Kings ; for the God and of his Christ.” The exalted of heaven hath given thee a king- Saviour is therefore styled, -and dom, power, and strength, and the style implies a real and exercised glory." (Verse 37.) The punish- power,—“the Prince of the Kings ment to be inflicted on Nebuchad. of the earth; " * King of Kings, nezzar was intended to bring him to and Lord of Lords.” And Isajah, the acknowledgment of this morally. speaking of his days, gives forth providential government of nations, this most remarkable prophecy, -"tili thou know that the Most High proving that divine Providence sets ruleth in the kingdom of men, and itself against the nations that refuse
to be " kingdoms of our Lord and vernment are those of the Gospel of of his Christ :" · For the nation our Lord Jesus Christ. and kingdom that will not serve What, then, is the duty of the thee shall perish; yea, those nations Christian, in reference to a period shall be utterly wasted.”
of national distress ? It was necessary to establish this The question does not refer to point of the morally providential those personal afflictions which may government of nations, and to show be experienced by individuals when that where a community is composed the nation itself, and therefore its of Christians, it is their duty, in all inhabitants generally, may be in a their political arrangements, to ac state of even great prosperity. The knowledge God as the God and government of God has always reFather of our Lord Jesus Christ, lated to individuals, as well as to revealing himself in his word gene- communities ; and individuals may rally, and more especially in that be dealt with as their character and part of his word which constitutes state shall require, when the com"the glorious Gospel of the blessed munity at large is experiencing the
" because, otherwise, what result of that providential dominion had been recorded of Daniel would of which it is the subject. By the only in a very indirect manner, and covenant made with Israel nationto a very limited degree, contribute ally, temporal prosperity and peace to our instruction.
And it was
were promised to national obedi. necessary to go somewhat more ence; but it is impossible to read fully into the question, because, of the Old Testament without perceivlate, many, in their proper anxiety ing that the usual government of to keep the spiritual kingdom of Providence was going on in referChrist unspotted from the world, ence to individuals. To what but have employed arguments which this do such texts as these refer? have sought to prove that there is "Many are the afflictions of the no such government of nations, as righteous.” “Who is among you nations themselves are called practic that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth cally to acknowledge. I am per the voice of his servant, that walksuaded to the contrary. It is both eth in darkness, and hath no light? the duty and the privilege of a na let him trust in the name of the tion to be a Christian nation ; and, Lord, and stay upon bis God.” if there be truth in prophecy, no And the hortative declaration, “My unchristian nation shall ultimately son, despise not the chastening of prosper. And if God is to be ac. the Lord ; neither be weary of his knowledged according to the princi. correction : for whom the Lord ples of that revelation which he has loveth he correcteth; even given, authenticating it by amply father the son in whom he delight. sufficient evidence, so that they to eth,”—is quoted by Solomon from whom it is clearly proposed do actu- the book of Job, the inspired record ally incur guilt by its rejection; of the patriarchal dispensation; and, then, whatever interferes with such in the peculiar form which is given principles and forms of acknowledg- to it in Proverbs, is both quoted ment becomes a national offence, and argued upon by the inspired the removal of which is to be Apostle. sought; and the sin of which, dur It may not be easy--not, at least, ing its continuance, is to be humbly without much circumlocution-to confessed by those who see that it describe what may be termed nais a sin.
tional adversity. Every particular Thus far, then, the cases instance would require its own deparallel. There is a providential scription.
a providential scription. But, whenever it exists, government of nations, administered it will be known at the time. It on moral principles; and when the will be seen to be so connected with Gospel has been proposed to a peo national circumstances, that, ple, and accepted by them, the moral whilst it includes a wide extension principles of that providential go. of personal affliction, it is, at the
sime time, something beyond. It when his dispensations bring dismay be a period of very remarkable tress and suffering upon a land, "is sickness. The harvests may have there not a cause?” There is great failed for a succession of years, and danger of our forgetting, practically, scarcity and great dearness of provi the doctrine of providence we prosions may be the effect. The re fess to believe; and of so attending straining hand of Providence may to human causes, and seeking for be, to a greater or less degree, re. human remedies, as that God, and moved from the “unruly passions his almighty and righteous adminisof sinful men ;” and there may be tration, shall be overlooked. Let great agitation, and commotions the Christian most carefully guard which seem as though they were against this. It is adding sin to sin. the forerunners of civil broils, and They who refuse to see the hand of seditions, and revolutions. The in God in one calamity, render a yet terests of commerce and trade may heavier calamity inevitable. In such languish, and those large masses of a period of distress, God has a conthe population which depend on troversy with the people. Often, their daily labour for their daily “when the hand of the Lord is bread, may have little or no em lifted up, they will not see ;” but ployment; or their labour may have other means, yet heavier judgments, an insufficient remuneration, so that shall be employed,—“ but they shall they shall rapidly sink, together see.' Nothing is more painful than with their families, into a gloomy- to see forgetfulness of God increasand it shall almost appear to be a ing, when he is using methods to hopeless, helpless-poverty. Na- make himself remembered and ac. tional distress is a general term, knowledged. The Christian is to which may be applied to a large guard against this most carefully, as diversity of particular cases, dif. to himself; and all that he is able, fering in circumstances, differ in his own particular circumstances, ing in degrees ; but all of them to do, to guard others against it, he carrying with them sufficient evi. is bound to do, both by piety and by dence to make their character patriotism. When the conviction known.
becomes deep and general, one proAnd when such a state of things vidential object is secured, and the exists, what is the duty of the Chris- rest may be anticipated. Let the tian, whether he be himself affected Christian, therefore, set bis face by it or not?
against the practical atheism which, Let him, in the first place, seek in national adversities, refuses to 80 to strengthen his convictions of acknowledge an interposing Provi. the divine government, as that he dence. Let him seek to possess may acknowledge, with proper feel. and diffuse the conviction which ings, the present exercise of it; and shall produce the devout acknow, let him seek, piously, to make the ledgment, “This is the finger of same state of mind more general. God.” The command is, “ Hear ye the rod, And as to the conduct which he and who hath appointed it.” At should pursue, the example of proper times, if Providence call him Daniel is full of invaluable instructo the task, he may have to consider tion. He humbled bimself before the question of visible and second- God, and confessed his own sins ary causes ; but as he is a servant and the sins of his people. Holy of the most high God, seeking to do and faithful as to us he appears, his Master's will, he is to look be. and as inspiration declares him to yond all these, and deeply ponder have been; yet even he would be the two grand truths of revelation conscious of many imperfections, he on the subject : National distress is would remember the faults of ear. a risitation of Proridence ; and, It is liee days. He confessed his own a visitation which is occasioned by sin. sins. And if he did so, whose cbaGod “ doth not afflict willingly, nor racter stands so high, the question grieve the children of men;" and only requires to be suggested, with