Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
transition here from history to prophecy; the date, the first year of Belshazzar, that is, before the fall of the first of the world-powers about to be described; the form, a dream, - before this Daniel had interpreted others' dreams, he now dreams himself; the fact that it was at once committed to writing, i.e. not set down after fulfilment; and that the prophecy is only an outline, so that we must not expect too much detail. All this in ver. 1. The nature of the prophecy rebukes dogmatism. It may be well to call attention here to the fact that all these expositions and homilies are written independently of each other; there may be, then, possibly some diversity of critical judgment; this, however, will be no disadvantage to the student. For our own homiletic purpose we treat this chapter under three sections - in the first, we have a vision of brute rule; in the second, of Divine sovereignty; in the third, of a great rebellion.
I. ITS CONDITION. "The great sea" is distinguished from all inland seas. The ocean. The image of our troubled world (Isaiah 17:12-14; Revelation 21:1). Out of the commotion and confusion of troubled peoples the four forms of brute rule arose.
II. ITS CAUSE. "The four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea." As the wind plays on ocean, so do supernatural powers (in this case evil) lash into fury the passions of a troubled world; and out of revolutionary confusion emerges oft mute despotism.
III. ITS GENERIC NATURE. "Four beasts." Four great empires. Same as described in ch. 2. Why the different form? That vision gave the external glory; this the inmost nature. They had life in them, but it was a life less than human. Man sinks below the human when the πνεῦμα is no longer animated by the Spirit of God. As with man individually, so collectively, so with nations, governments. Government is of God, but may lose the Divine in it, and so become brutal. A boast may inspire terror; but its look is not heavenward, but earthward; hears no Divine voice; has no conscious relations with God. "Four beasts," but "diverse." All brutal.
IV. SPECIFIC FORMS.
1. The lion-form. The Babylonian empire. Dominant, like the king of the forest; swift and reaching far, like the eagle. Then came deteriorations. The deteriorations developed slowly. "I continued looking" is the sense. Swift energy was crippled. Not even with the speed of a lion walking did the empire advance; but painfully, slowly, as a beast marching on hind legs alone. Then instead of the lion-heart at the centre of government, the timid heart of a man. Here we have the glory of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon, its gradual decay under his successors, until it fell before one mightier than itself. So do governments without God go down.
2. The bear-form. The Persian empire. Less noble than the lion; fierce, heavy, slow. Of these characteristics, the most striking illustration would be the cumbrousness and slow advance of the Persian armies; e.g. the invasion of Greece by Xerxes (see the histories). Note the accessories of the symbol. Raising itself on one side, and perhaps striking out with its right forearm. This indicates the combination of Mode with Persian - the latter the stronger and more aggressive. The three ribs devoured stand for Lydia, Babylon, Egypt, subdued. "Devour much flesh" suggests the awful waste of life incident to Persian progress. How many of the two millions returned from Greece?
3. The leopard-form. The Greek empire, specially under Alexander. Characteristics: insatiable appetite for blood, swiftness, subtlety. "Four wings." "Four heads." The Greek dominion essentially one, but with four centres. Trace the analogy. Alexander's determination to conquer the world. Swift movement, equalled only by Napoleon I. The subtlety of his genius. The division of his empire into four.
4. The nameless form. The Roman empire. So terrible is this power, that no one creature can represent it, nor the combined attributes of many. The eminence and importance of this empire are apparent from:
(a) Its prominence in this chapter.
(b) Daniel's anxiety to "know the truth of the fourth beast."
(c) Its collision with the Divine kingdom.
(d) Its successive historical aspects.
(1) Its first aspect. (See ver. 7.) All this exhibits the utterly destructive energy of Rome. What it did not devour, it destroyed for destruction's sake. A contrast with the other powers. They ravaged, subdued, extorted tribute; "but their connection with the states which they subdued was loose and disjointed." Rome conquered all, kept all, assimilated all
(2) Two developments.
(a) "Ten horns. Horn is the symbol of power. The ten were on the head from the beginning, to manifest the unity of the Roman empire plus the European nations. Their development, however, was not at once.
(b) The one. Small at the beginning. Displaces a third (nearly) of existing powers. A development of the Roman domination. Eyes" for a certain intelligence. Pride and blasphemy out of its "mouth"? What can this be but the papacy?
V. ITS JUDGMENT AND OVERTHROW. Not for ever and for ever shall the brutal reign. How sublime the contrast ushered in by ver. 9! Below, the ocean, lashed by powers of evil; out of it the brutal, its last developments the worst. Now heaven opens. Thrones were set (not "cast down"). A central throne. On it the Eternal The throne the source of all splendour, the fount of energy (Revelation 4:5). Judgment proceeding. Not the last judgment. But the continuous judgment of men and nations. The Roman empire, and all that came of it doomed - annihilated. The other empires long gone, though for a while they lingered. Learn:
1. The eternal supremacy of God.
2. The righteousness of his judgments.
3. The certain doom of all that is alienated from his own Divine life.
Individuals and nations are human and. humane only as they live in him. The reign of the brutal in any form cannot be eternal. Animalism in all its ugly, cruel, sensual forms, must go down; for God in Christ "must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet." - R.
external fact. The mind of man has a creative faculty - a faint reflection of the Divine - and, when released from the domination of visible things, it asserts its original power. Daniel was advanced in years, had seen many changes in the government of Babylon, and probably had been brooding seriously over the fortunes and prospects of the Hebrews. The past and the future were inextricably interlaced.
I. NIGHT HAS ITS USES, AS WELL AS DAY. Night is not an entire blank in a man's history. God is as much with us by night as by day. "He giveth his beloved sleep." But, at the same time, he supports the imagination and memory in strange activity. Here we have a hint of the separate life of mind and body. If this occurs now, may not the mind be amply active, while the body is fast asleep in the grave? Night reveals to us pictures, which the garish day dissipates. Darkness is freighted with celestial light. What is darkness to the body need not be darkness to the mind. Trial may have a rough exterior, but there is latent good within. Sorrow is endowed with a Divine power of benediction. Death itself to the saint is but a veil that hides the dawning light. Reality is often the antipodes of phenomenon.
II. MATERIAL THINGS ARE MIRRORS IN WHICH MEN MAY SEE THEIR TRUE CHARACTERS. The mind, in its infantile state, is most impressed with visible and tangible things. "The great sea" is a significant picture of the mobility and restlessness of the multitude. The masses of men, having no settled beliefs, no fixed principles of action, are as fickle, and as easily wrought upon, as the unstable sea. As the briny waters are promptly driven hither and Thither by every wind that blows, so the multitudes are moved and tossed by every passing passion - by the faintest prospect of self-advantage - or by the fevered ambition of a stronger will than their own. The Jews, having relinquished their safe anchorage, viz. faith in God, were driven helplessly north and south, east and west, by the wind passions of unscrupulous conquerors. It seemed as if the four winds of heaven strive at one and the same time upon this Hebrew sea. "The wicked are like the troubled sea."
III. UNTAMED BEASTS ARE THE APTEST SYMBOLS OF MILITARY CONQUERORS. One is like a lion, though, as years roll on, he at length acquires a man's heart - the sensibility of human tenderness. A second is like a leopard; yet so swift is he for destruction, that the fleetness of the leopard fails to convey all the truth; therefore four wings of a fowl are added to the symbol. A third is like a bear, intent only on tearing and consuming much flesh. A fourth destroyer of men is so fierce and death-breathing that not one of the savage beasts in nature can represent him. He is a "beast dreadful and terrible," having teeth of iron. It is rare that beasts of prey make war upon their own species, much less upon their own kindred. God has provided the wildest beast with but two horns, to serve as weapons of defence; but this human monster was furnished with ten horns. One cannot but be struck with the singular incongruities we meet with in this prophetic dream; yet even this fact is instructive. The wildest vagaries of the imagination are outstripped by the moral incongruities of human character and human conduct. Where shall we find an incongruity so strange as this - the wilful degradation of the man to a level lower than the untrained beasts?
IV. GOD'S PRESENT REVELATIONS TO MEN ARE PARTLY OBSCURE, PARTLY CLEAR. "We know only in part; hence we prophesy only in part." We may be sure that this arrangement is best. It is an act of kindness and of wisdom on the part of God. It serves to stimulate inquiry on our part. We may learn from it to cherish humility, inasmuch as we are not at present competent to receive larger communications of God's will. Thankful ought we to be that we have enough knowledge of God's will for our practical guidance; and when we have worked up all this raw material into personal service, we shall obtain more. God "made known his ways unto Moses," but his acts only unto "the children of Israel." "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord." It is one of the attractions of the heavenly state, that fresh light will continually be shed upon the past history of our race, as well as upon the wisdom of the Divine government. - D.
One higher than they watched the moral chaos from his supernal throne, and, out of the tangled mass of conflicting ambitions and passions, brought a condition of permanent prosperity and peace.
I. OBSERVE THE DESCRIPTION OF HIS PERSON. He has the appearance of venerable age - "the Ancient of days." These inhuman monsters were "but of yesterday;" and, knowing that their time was short, were eager to make for themselves a name, be the methods what they may. But the Ruler of the nations is "from everlasting." His years outnumber all the generations of men. Human tribes come and go; dynasties rise and fall; to him they are like the meteorological changes on an April day. He sits unmoved, the calm Monarch of the universe. His clothing, "white as snow," betokens the immaculate righteousness of his administration. No intelligent being has ever detected the slightest blemish in his just and impartial sway. It is not consistent with his supreme dignity to give an account of his doings to human creatures, but to the extent that our moral judgments can comprehend his acts, we can join with the seraphim in the acclamation, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty;" "Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." He is not an indifferent spectator of human affairs. He may be slow to anger, yet is he the more sure to punish. "His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire." Sin, lust, crime, of every sort, shall be swept from his domains with a fiery besom; yea, all creatures who identify themselves with wickedness. Every force and element in nature is his servant, and a stream of fire issues from his feet. The earth, long stained with shameful crime, shall be purified, and the saints shall emerge from the trial "as gold that has been purified." Though long delayed, complete retribution shall in due time come, and the oppressed among the sons of men shall be publicly vindicated and honoured.
II. HIS SPLENDID RETINUE. His army is not reckoned by thousands, but by myriads, The largest number known to the ancients is put for an indefinite number. Everything that lives and breathes minister unto him. The orders and ranks of unfallen angels are his lieutenants. At a single glance of his eye they fly on fleetest wing to fulfil his Divine behests. One angel, with his invisible sword, scattered and decimated the proud army of Sennacherib. An east wind discomfited Pharaoh's host. A few flakes of snow annihilated the regiments of Napoleon. More than once a thunderstorm has defeated the most valiant troops of warriors. The locust, one feeble branch of God's military retinue, has chased a whole nation from the field. "To whom, then, shall we liken God?" And is not he a prodigious fool who challenges God to a contest? "Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth; but woe to the man who strives with his Maker!" Filled with Divine courage, "one man shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight."
III. HIS JUDICIAL. OCCUPATION. "The judgment was set." This language does not refer exclusively to the final and general judgment of mankind. It refers especially to a present judgment, and a special adjudication touching the ambitious kings. The activity of God's mental judgment is never in suspense. Judicial acts are always proceeding. "For judgment," said Christ, "I am come into the world." Still, it is permitted us to think of state occasions, when public investigations are made, clear proofs of human guilt are adduced, and world-wide approval is given of Divine verdicts. "The books were opened," viz. the volume of Divine Law, clearly read by men; the book of history; the book of memory; the book of conscience. The decision shall not be reached with unseemly haste. The investigation shall proceed under the superintendence of Wisdom herself, and her calm decisions can never be called in question.
IV. HIS ROYAL AWARDS. The act of Divine judgment, which was present to the view of Daniel, was an act concerning the "great beast." He had been seized by God's detectives, and arraigned before the bar of heavenly justice. His last daring act of rebellion was that of speaking proud and defiant words against God. Thus the haughty oppressors of nations boast, "Our wills are our own: who is Lord over us?" But their discomfiture will be complete and overwhelming. The beast was slain. Life was withdrawn. Nor this only. His body was destroyed. As he had consumed others, so, by a righteous retribution, he shall be consumed in the burning flame. Lesser penalties are imposed on the other beasts. Further opportunity of amendment is given to some. Dominion is forfeited, but life for a brief season is prolonged. Yet, in this heavenly assize, there are not only wrongs punished; rights are vindicated. Obedience, excellence, merit, axe commended, are exalted to the highest place. The human monarchs, who abused their sovereign trust, shall be dethroned - yea, destroyed; but in their place another shall arise - a King of righteousness, a pattern Prince. Instead of savage beasts, there shall be, as King of nations, a Son of man - a man fresh from the hands of God. His innate glory shall be partly veiled, "He came in the clouds of heaven." His is no usurped authority. He does not take this honour of himself. He professes allegiance to the world's Ruler and Judge, and receives the kingdom at the hands of God. "Angels and principalities and powers" delight to do him honour; "they brought him near" the everlasting Father. The Son of man does not disdain to receive the kingdom from the Creator and Originator of all things. Because of his meekness and righteousness (not because of muscular power and violence) the Son of man receives investiture of universal sovereignty. Others, like Alexander and Timour, had aspired to this, but they were not worthy. Real merit shall at length rise to the surface, and reach the topmost place. Before him "every knee shall bow," either attracted by his grace or awed by his power. To him shall appertain, not a kingdom only, but transcendent glory, and dominion born of love. All nations and languages shall ultimately serve him, and his kingdom shall be durable as eternity. Universality and permanency are the indelible marks of Messiah's empire. - D.
I. THE KING. We read ver. 13 thus: "I continued looking in the visions of the night, and behold I with the clouds of heaven like unto a Son of man was advancing, and to the Ancient of days to come, and before him they caused him to approach."
1. The Personage was Divine. Advancing, girt with clouds, marks the Divine. Clouds hide the glory behind and beyond. They symbolize the veil that dims the glory of God. Many are the scriptural passages to illustrate. Select a few, and we shall see how the same idea starts up in successive ages of the Church (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:24). If these describe the action of the Angel-God, they are all the more pertinent as illustrations of this passage in Daniel (Exodus 16:10; Exodus 40:34; Leviticus 16:2; 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14; Psalm 97:2). Christ takes up these representations, and applies them to himself (Matthew 26:64). (In this last passage, note "the Son of maul" so again in Matthew 25:31.) Similar, though not identical, is the imagery of 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:7. Holy Scripture is consistent in applying such descriptions only to God, and to God in Christ. See the charge against one enemy of the Church in olden time (Isaiah 14:13, 14). These intimations of the Divine in Christ of the Old Testament are like the grey that precedes the dawn. If Daniel anticipated that the Messianic Deliverer would be one of the race, it is clear, and will be clearer, that he had a glimpse of the truth that he would be Divine.
2. The personage was also human. "A Son of man." The phrase is used in the Old Testament:
(1) For man simply (Numbers 23:19).
(2) To remind the gifted and inspired of their oneness with the race. So eighty times in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:10, 11, 17, et passim). So here the advancing one was partaker of the infirmity (innocent) of the race. With "clouds," the engirdlement of the Divine, he might come; so also like "a Son of man." Of none other can this double affirmation be made - of none save the Lord Jesus. That the phrase here denotes the Messiah is clear:
(1) From a general consensus of rabbinical opinion.
(2) From the Lord's own assumption of the name. Christ calls himself "the Son of man," though others call him "the Son of God." What is its significance? Answering, we do not limit ourselves to Daniel's standpoint.
(1) The Christ was to be of the human race. The humanity is Christologically as important as the Divinity, and each is indispensable to the mediatorial office. See the Athanasian Creed, "For the right faith... rose again the third day from the dead."
(2) In the name is an intimation of the universality of the Saviour's mission. An implied protest against Jewish exclusiveness. "Son of David points to the throne of Israel. Christ's right to it, albeit the sway spiritual. Son of man to his relation to the race; Son of God" to his relation to the Eternal.
(3) Of world-wide dominion. "The Son of man" was to be no ordinary mortal, but King of the race, and King for the race (romp. Psalm 8:4 8 with Hebrews 2:5-9). (A most impressive missionary sermon might be preached from the words, "Now we see not yet all things put under him [man]; but we see Jesus!" i.e. on the way surely to universal empire.) [Note in this connection the wide horizon of Daniel's prophetic vision. It is no longer merely Israel, but the whole world, that is in view. In keeping with the prophet's historical position. His watch-tower is no longer Jerusalem, but Babylon. His look is across the Assyrian plain, at the great world-powers, their developments in relation to the everlasting rule.
II. THE ENTHRONEMENT.
1. The King came from the heavenly world. Out of it, and down from it. He "came with the clouds of heaven." This empire is not like those that arose out of "the sea," from the turbulences of men.
3. The enthronement has no relation to the categories of time or space. We are not to suppose that at some place, at some moment, there was to be some literal fulfilment; that the Eternal under venerable form, would sit on a throne; that the Christ would come to sue for empire, etc. This is the rock on which many interpreters are wrecked. Nor is there reference to the last judgment, for then Christ himself is on the throne. Broad views, free from mere literalism, on such matters are best.
4. And yet there are the pomp and circumstance of an indefinite and multitudinous accompanying of the King "They caused him to approach." A sort of grand indefiniteness in the expression. Not alone does Jesus come to reign.
III. THE KINGDOM.
1. Supernatural in origin. "There was given him."
2. Spiritual in character. Invisible rule over souls. We speak of the empire of mind; we see in vision matter at the footstool of intellect. But what shall we say of the empire of religion, of Christianity, of Christ? Mind at the feet of Jesus, and, as a consequence, all below mind! Imaginations cast down, etc. (2 Corinthians 10:5).
3. Universal in extent. "All people," etc,
4. Everlasting. "Shall not pass away," etc. - R.
the midst of [its] sheath. The soul a sword in its scabbard. He solicited information from one of the myriads in attendance on the Eternal. In answer, two or three suggestions were made, leading Daniel to inquire further, which he did, especially respecting the fourth brute power. The angelic interpreter explained, and also gave additional touches to the picture, of which we shall make use in the homily. All this is the dream, mark! We shall assume that the single horn does not stand for the antichrist of the Old Testament, viz. Antiochus Epiphanes; and that the schemes of interpretation which involve that it does so break down. The reasons for that assumption we could give, but would be more proper to the body of a critical commentary than to a homily. We must assume all this in homiletical treatment. This prophetic Scripture throws forward lights, then, on -
I. ROME IMPERIAL.
1. It was the fourth brute world-power. (Ver. 17.)
2. Its genius differed from those that had gone before. Diverse," etc. (ver. 23).
3. It appropriated to itself the good of every land. "Shall devour," etc. (ver. 23).
4. Its tyranny was oppressive. "Shall tread," etc. (ver. 23).
5. It survives until the final overthrow of all brute-power by the establishment of the eternal kingdom. Rome imperial, Rome dismembered, Rome papal, are still Rome. "One! - one mighty and formidable power, trampling down the liberties of the world; oppressing and persecuting the people of God, the true Church; and maintaining an absolute and arbitrary dominion over the souls of men; as a mighty domination standing in the way of the progress of truth, and keeping back the reign of the saints on earth."
II. ROME DIVIDED.
1. The "ten horns" were sovereignties.
2. Developments of the Roman empire.
4. The exact designation of them is not necessary.
The "ten" have been designated. But differences of opinion have arisen. This not wonderful, seeing that the new powers arose in a time of great confusion, and the boundaries were frequently changing. Perhaps strict literal and numerical exactness is not to be expected. The vague character of prophecy generally would warrant a contrary conclusion.
III. ROME FATAL. The rise and progress of the papacy constitute a truly wonderful fulfilment of Daniel's dream. But it is necessary in all contemplation of the Romish religious system to distinguish carefully and ever in our minds between the Christian element in it, and the corruption of that Christian element. (As illustration of this distinction, Collette's ' Novelties of Romanism,' R.T.S., is invaluable.)
1. The "other" horn was another sovereignty.
2. It sprang from the Roman domination. Papal Rome in many ways represents Rome imperial, in the world-wideness of its sway, in possessing the same capital, etc.
3. It came into being after the dismemberment. After the ten.
4. Small at the beginning. From the apostolic age there had been a bishop at Rome; but the rise of the papacy is to be dated from the assumption of civil power. When? This one of the most difficult questions in history. Different theories of interpretation depend on the answers. Enough that so small was the beginning, that none can answer with certainty - when?
5. The sovereignty differed from all other. (Ver. 24.) Combination of spiritual with secular power. This involves a mighty difference.
6. It displaced other sovereignties. (Ver. 25.) "He shall subdue three kings." Either three kingdoms went down before it, or a third, about a third of the power an I influence of existing monarchies disappeared. Distinct governments vanished before the rising papacy; and the papacy itself assumed civil functions. Here again it is not necessary to involve the broad incontrovertible facts with questionable historic detail (see end of ver. 20). "More stout" refers to the magnitude finally attained.
7. Has been distinguished by a far-seeing sagacity. "Eyes like the eyes of a man." A sagacity of human sort, not Divine. The diplomacy of Rome, the sublety of the Jesuit, are notorious. The historical illustrations, medieval and modern, are infinitely varied and innumerable.
8. By blasphemy. (Ver. 25.) "He shall speak great words against the Most High." Blasphemy
(1) either denies to God something of his essential glory;
(2) or assumes the names, attributes, and works of God for the creature. In both senses the papacy has been guilty. The illustrations are numberless which are to be found in the doctrine, ritual, practice, and history of the Roman Church. Some of them terrible. Many of them are now open before us, but we cannot present them here in our limited space.
9. By persecution.
10. The new sovereignty has" changed times and law. Not laws," but the fundamental and eternal law of right. Of this, too, the illustrations are without number.
IV. ROME JUDGED. (Vers. 11, 26.)
1. The dream even now waits fulfilment. Much has been fulfilled, but much remains to be. Imperial Rome has gone. The many other kingdoms have arisen; and a part of their power has disappeared before the growing supremacy of papal Rome. But even that has within the last hall-century been shorn of its strength. Still much remains for the future to disclose.
2. Rome papal will stand for a definite time. "Until a time," etc. (ver. 25). The time is definite, though to us, as we believe, unknown. (On the seeming impossibility of at present interpreting a measure of time like this, see Alford on Roy. 11:2, p. 655.)
3. But will certainly fall. (Vers. 11, 26.) Note the reason in ver. 11.
4. Then to vise no move. (Vers. 11, 26.) Are explicit and strong.
V. HER POWER TRANSFERRED. Given to the saints; once theirs, theirs everywhere, theirs for ever. War was indeed made against the saints, achieved, too, a certain success. But principle never dies. The final victory lay with the persecuted. Dominion passed over to them. In what sense? We might say that good men made the laws, but this would be a poor thing to say. Rather is this the truth - that the need of government almost passed away. THE INFLUENCE OF CHARACTER WAS ENOUGH. Some judicial administration might be necessary to arrange debatable points. But deliberate crime had now become non-existent. To illustrate: Mr. Goldwin Smith, after saying that, in a particular instance, "not the special form of the government, but the comparative absence of necessity for government, is the thing to be noted and admired," goes on to say, "The proper sphere of government is compulsion. The necessity for it in any given community is in inverse proportion to the social virtue and the intelligence of the people. The policeman, the executioner, the tax-gatherer, - these are its proper ministers, and the representatives of what we call its majesty. It is destined to decrease as Christianity increases, and as force is superseded by social affection, and spontaneous combination for the public good. The more a community can afford to dispense with government, the more Christian it must be" ('The Civil War in America,' p. 27). The Ancient of days gives over empire to the Son of man; his sovereignty is exercised through his saints. They have something of his own sway. What is that? The sway of spiritual supremacy. The rule of righteousness. The law of love. The empire of Calvary. - R.
I. GOOD MEN ARE MORE CONCERNED FOR GOD'S CAUSE THAN FOR ANY SELF-EXALTATION. Daniel was grieved in spirit, not because of personal ill, nor from fear of the lions' den, but because of the obscurity of the vision; in other words, because of the uncertain fortune of God's kingdom. The symbol of the fourth beast seemed to betoken disaster, suffering, yea, even destruction, for the people of God. That under the violence of this unnatural monster the saints of the Most High should be worn out with oppression, and that rude wickedness should prevail; this distressed and overwhelmed the heart of Daniel. He lived for one object. His life, from the early days of youth, had been directed towards one end - viz, the reversal of Israel's over-throw - the restoration of the Hebrews to Canaan. If this end seemed nearer, he was content; if this event was shrouded in doubt, he grieved. In his ease self was repressed - kept down. He was consumed with pious zeal for others' good - for God's honour. Never once do we find him plotting for his own elevation or for his own interests. He did not live for fame. Yet he had it. He thought mainly of God, and God set his thought and care upon him. He had so completely identified himself with God's cause on earth, that all his interest and happiness were indissolubly bound up with it. Herein God observed his promise, "Them that honour me I will honour." To him heaven was open. He moved in the society of angels. And, when his mind was enveloped with difficulty, he gladly sought counsel and instruction from one of the heavenly host. A wise man will ever seek to increase his wisdom. He welcomes light from every quarter.
II. SELF-EXALTATION IS EVENTUALLY DOOMED TO DESTRUCTION. The nature of man has great possibilities both of elevation and descent. He who will be a monarch, be the methods what they may, shall be degraded to the level of a beast. These four human sovereigns are represented by the Spirit of truth as four beasts. They were so rapacious after rule, that, on the road, they did not hesitate to devour much flesh. A thousand, or a myriad, human lives were, in their estimation, nothing, so long as they could climb to a throne, and see their proud wills obeyed. Yet they were only beasts in the guise of men. They had the tastes, inclinations, ferocity, of brutes. The fourth in the contemptible series was so wanton and lustful in his rage, that not one of the wild beasts on earth could fitly represent him. He was a very prodigy of brutality. But empire so gained could not continue. The seeds of decay were sown in it from the beginning. "They that use the sword shall perish by the sword." Their success is but for a moment - a vapour, which barely appeareth, and then for ever vanisheth. Who can point us to-day to an earthly throne, which has been founded by military arms, and has endured? Vaulting ambition has always overleaped itself. They that have determined to be rulers, be the cost what it may, shall sink into infamy - into the pit of human scorn. "The judgment shall sit." A King of all other kings calmly rules, with irresistible sceptre, in a higher sphere; and woe be to the puny tyrant that dares resist his will! Jehovah hath "prepared his throne in the heavens;" and this is a fundamental principle in his kingdom: "He that exalteth himself shall be abased." They that bite and devour shall be consumed one of another.
III. LOWLY GOODNESS SHALL RISE TO A GLORIOUS AND PERMANENT THRONE. They who sink self shall rise into the possession of a better nature and of a loftier state. To live for others is heroic - god-like. Real goodness thinks little about itself - is blind to its own virtues and charms. It deems others' merits superior to its own, others' faults to be less. Its eye is mainly fixed upon the true standard of excellence, and it strains every nerve to reach that. So long as that is beyond, unattained, it mourns and grieves. The mark of true saints, in their present state, is not perfection, but consecration. They are God's devoted ones - "the sacramental host of his elect." Their characteristic mark is loyalty - growing holiness. They are devoid of personal ambition. If they have crowns thrust upon them, they will place them at once at the service of their Lord. To acquire wisdom, righteousness, love, - this is their ambitious aim, even to be worthy friends of the King of grace. In process of time they become "more than conquerors," for they acquire a conquest which is permanent and irreversible - a conquest which serves as a vantage-ground for higher conquest yet. Whether the dominion, which the saints of God obtain, is over evil principles, or over living personalities, or over men, may remain an open question. It may very properly be said to include all. It is a dominion over self, over sin, over death, over Satan, yea, over their fellow-men. For, in the nature of firings, in proportion as any man has wisdom, purity, love, he rules with invisible sceptre over other men. Yet, kings and priests though the saints are, they are willing vassals under Christ. He is "Lord of all." - D.