Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

the corporate or church weakness of the saints, be the least occasion for personal moral relaxation. This would be a sad and terrible use to make of the truths we are speaking of, and gathering from scripture. We are, most surely, to be separate from evil as distinctly as ever, and to cherish all the thoughts and ways of holiness as carefully as ever.

But further.—We may find some hesitation in know. ing exactly how to speak of Israel's history, whether it be that of a martyr or a penitent. It has something of each in it--more, however, I judge of the latter.- But whether or not, their recoveries and redemptions illustrate the mystery which we have now before us, that the apostate thing goes to judgment in the hour of its chiefest strength and greatness, and the true thing rises from amid its infirmities and ruins to its glory and blessedness.

They were in a low condition in Egypt, as brick-kilns and taskmasters tell us, and the exacted tale of bricks without the accustomed straw, just as the Lord was sending Moses and his rod for their deliverance. So again in Babylon. The enemy was insulting their bonds, making merry in infidel despite of the captivity of Jerusalem and her Temple, when, that very night, the Deliverer of Israel entered Babylon.-So again in Persia. The decree had fixed a day for their destruction, and that decree would not, could not, be changed. Their Amalekite persecutor was in power, and all, as far as the eye could reach, was utter destruction-but Haman fell, and the Jews were delivered.—And so will it be again with the same people (Deut. xxxii. 36 and Is. lix. 16). “At evening time it shall be light.” The city will be taken; all the people of the earth will be round it in its day of siege and straitness; half of it will go into captivity; the houses shall be rifled, and all will be waste and degradation-but the Lord from heaven shall, in that instant, plead their cause. "At evening time it shall be light.” The shadow of death shall be turned into the morning (see Zech. xiv).— And again, Caesar Augustus was in strength and majesty. His proconsuls were in far distant provinces, his decree had gone to the ends of the earth, and the whole Roman world was set

in beauty and order, just as Jesus was born (Luke ii). But the remnant were feeble. The family of David lived at Nazareth, and not in Jerusalem. The hope of the nation lay in a manger at Bethlehem. A devout, solitary, expectant saint or two frequented the temple, and it was shepherds during their nightly watches who had glories revealed to them. Israel had thus fallen, together with the house of David, and fallen, each of them, by their iniquity and the judgment of God. The sovereignty of the Romans could command the chief of Israel's sons from Galilee to Judea, to be taxed and estimated, like the rest of Roman property. But the Lord was at hand. The child, who was to be for the fall and the rise of things, and people, was just born.

Let us be emboldened according to God, and judge not according to flesh and blood, but by the light of the Lord. And again, I say, as the apostle teaches, it is better to be judged of the Lord, than to be condemned with the world. Judgment has begun at the house of God. He abaseth the proud and exalteth them that are cast down. The candlesticks are visited in the keen and searching power of Him whose“ eyes were as a flame of fire"- and as far as we know them here on earth, there they are left—but the place of judgment proves itself to be next door to the place of glory (Rev. i.-iv.)

It is all right and comforting to faith; strange to the reasoning and religion of nature. The church will from her ruins up to glory—the world will pass from its proudest moment of greatness to the judgment. God taketh the beggar from the dunghill to set him among princes.

Would that the saints of God were apart from the purposes and expectations of the world.

to come out of her, my people.

“The feeble saint shall win the day,

Though hell and death obstruct his way.." The Lord will vindicate His own principles, and establish His own thoughts for ever and ever, though the voices that witness them be feeble, and well nigh lost in the din of the world's exultation.--May the heart of the humbled, broken, saint be comforted in Him!

No. XXIX.

DANIEL. In the book of Ezekiel, we have seen the government of God on earth fully developed in connection with Israel; whether in condemning the sin which occasioned the judgment, or in the restoration of that people, under the authority of Christ, the branch that should spring from the house of David, and who, in the book of that prophet, bears even the name of David, as the true “beloved" of God; the description of the temple, with its whole organisation, being given at the end. In this development we have found Nebuchadnezzar, the head of the Gentiles, introduced as the Lord's servant (xxix. 20; xxx. 24), for the judgment of sinful Israel, who were rebellious and even apostate, worshipping false gods. But God had made Israel the centre of a system of nations, people and languages, that had arisen in consequence of the judgment on Babel, and that existed before God independently of each other. The nation of Israel doubtless

very

distinct from all that surrounded it, whether as a people to whom the true God was known, or as having in their midst the temple and the throne of God. But whatever the contrast might be between the condition of Israel as a nation, and that of the other nations, still Israel formed a part of that system of nations before God. In executing the judg, ment on Israel, Nebuchadnezzar set aside this whole system at once, and took its place in the absolute and universal dominion which he had received from God. It is of this order of things, and of its consequences, this dominion of the head of the Gentiles and of the Gentile kings, in the successive phases that characterised it, that the book of Daniel treats, bringing into notice a remnant of Israel, in the midst of this system, and subject to this dominion. The king of Judah having been given up into the hands of the head of the Gentiles, VOL. V. PT.IV.

16

was

the royal seed is found in the same position. The remnant becomes the especial object of the thoughts of God, revealed by His Spirit in this book. Besides the testimony rendered to the Lord, by the fact of the faithfulness of the remnant in the midst of the idolatrous Gentiles, two important things characterise their history, as developed in this book. The tirst is that the spirit of prophecy and of understanding in the ways of God is found in this remnant. We have seen this raised up in Samuel, when all Israel had failed, and subsist through their whole history under the shadow of royalty. This spirit of prophecy now again becomes the link of the people with God, and the only resting-place for their faith, amid the ruin which the just judgment of God had brought upon them. The second circumstance that characterises the dealings of God with regard to this remnant, is that preserved by God through all the misfortunes into which the sins of the people had cast them—this remnant will assuredly share the portion which God bestows on His people, according to His government and according to the faithfulness of his promises. We find this in the first and last chapters of the book we are considering.

This book is divided into two parts, which are easily distinguished. The first ends with the sixth chapter, and the second with the close of the book. The first and last chapters having, nevertheless, a separate character, as an introduction and a conclusion, respectively making known the position of the remnant, to whom, as we have said, the testimony of God was confided, at the beginning and at the end. The two great divisions have also a distinct character. The first sets before us the picture of the dominion of the Gentiles, and the different positions it would assume before God, according to the human pride which would be its active power. This picture contains historical features which plainly indicate the spirit that will animate the ruling power in its different phases; and then, the judgment of God. This division is not composed of direct revelations to Daniel, except for the purpose of recalling Nebuchadnezzar's dream. It is the heads of the Gentiles that are pre

sented. It is the external and general history of the monarchies that were to succeed each other, or the different and successive features that would characterise them, and the judgment of the one which God had Himself established, and which represents all the others, as being invested with this character of divine appointment. The others did but inherit providentially the throne which God had committed to the first. It is a question between God and Israel that gave this monarchy its supremacy. It is the spirit of presumptuous idolatry, and of blasphemy against the Lord, the God of Israel that leads to its destruction. The sixth chapter does not give the iniquity of the king, except as submitting to the influence of others. It is the princes of the people who will have none but the king acknowledged as God, and who undergo the same punishment that they sought to inflict on those who were faithful to the Lord.

he second part of the book exhibits the character of the heads of the Gentiles in relation to the earth, and their conduct towards those who shall acknowledge God; and at last the establishment of the divine kingdom in the person of the Son of Man. A kingdom possessed by the saints. The details of God's dealings with His people at the end are given in the last chapter. We may also remark that the seventh chapter gives essentially the history of the Western power; the eighth that of the Eastern. "The ninth chapter, although especially regarding Jerusalem and the people--the moral centre of these questions is connected on that very account with the Western power that invaded them. From the tenth to the end of the eleventh we are again in the East.

Let us now examine these chapters consecutively.

Chapter i. sets before us the royalty of Judah, formerly established by God over His people in the person of David, falling under the power of Nebuchadnezzar; and the king, the Lord's anointed, given up by the Lord into the hands of the head of the Gentiles, on whom God now bestowed the power. That which was announced by Isaiah (chap. xxxix. 7), falls upon the children of the royal seed; but God watches over them and brings them into favour with those that kept them.

« EdellinenJatka »